September 27, 2008

Meet Cadbury (photos)

Cadbury arrives! Jeff still fits in a MINI, sort of. But not like he did four years ago.

September 19, 2008

Take the R-(rated) Train

This is the thing about public transportation. It's, well, public. I don't have occasion to ride the CTA often, so when I do, it's an adventure.

I caught the train today to head downtown. So did crazy-swearing-screaming-cell phone girl. As a matter of fact, she sat right across the aisle from me.

"What the *$#&! I was in the %$:{?=%^car, too, ya }&$%#! Don't give me that *#~(*%." Heads turn. The entire car, filled with Cubs fans, and other hapless riders stare.

"Hang on a *=%^$ minute. What the *&*}% y'all lookin at? I paid my *&=^%# fare and I'm talkin on the *[&^#$ phone."

Train stops. A conductor comes to see what's going on. "I am just on the phone," crazy-swearing-screaming-cell phone girl says, lowering the volume slightly. Satisfied, the conductor leaves. "Who the *&{#* you pointin at, &#$*&! Hold on girl, I am on the *+%$%^ train. I told you to *%{^*&#."

Train stops again. A larger conductor enters. Crazy-swearing-screaming-cell phone girl lowers her voice a few decibles so that only our car can hear her braying at her sister. He leaves. A male rider sits down beside her and begins to talk to her quietly. No dice. "I can talk $*(#&$ on my phone. Just mind your own &#^$* business, (*&}+&^%."

Train stops a third time. An even larger CTA employee enters and sits down behind her. "Nah, I am just talkin on my phone. I'm getting off this &*%%^& train anyway, so y'all just turn the &"}*&^ around!"

During this long episode, I kept my earbuds in and stared straight ahead. But this was a mistake, too. The couple standing in the doorway of the train turned out to be equally fascinating. Oblivious to the hubbub, they were standing so close to each other, had they been closer they would have been behind each other. But as I looked closely, it appeared that the guy could have been no older than sixteen and the woman no younger than thirty. Creepy.

An hour later, my seatmate and I exited downtown. "Some adventure?" I said as we walked east on Chicago Avenue. She nodded. "I am new here. My first ride. I just moved here from Brazil. I was afraid to change seats and I didn't know what to do." Welcome to Chicago! "I think the woman was harmless, just obnoxious," I told her. "It was the porno pair that made me nervous." She laughed. We made hasty introductions as we headed east.

On the train ride home, there was a couple sitting a few seats from me, both clearly developmentally disabled. His head was thrown back as his girlfriend gave his crotch a playful massage. Weary, I closed my eyes. When I opened them a few minutes later, I could examine their tonsils while their tongues thrashed around. I closed my eyes firmly and didn't open them again until the Howard Street terminus was announced. I'll tell Maria from Brazil the epilogue of my train adventure if she calls.

September 14, 2008

"A Real Frog Strangler"

In case you haven't heard, we have had record rainfall here in Chicago. It's been pouring down relentlessly for about 36 hours. My entire backyard looks like a primeval swamp. Cattails wave gently along the perimeter. Dragonflies dart along the surface. Juvenile alligators bask on the patio. The basement looks similar, only without the charm of the lily pads and wildlife.

Yesterday, Jeff and I were to attend a Bar Mitzvah. Our street seemed passable, but the block to the south had been cordoned off for public swimming. Taking another route, we slowly made our way through the deep streets. But my car had had enough. Three-quarters of the way through a puddle, the car died. I switched on the hazard lights. All around me, Indifferent Samaritans slowed their SUVs to get around, leaving us gently rocking in their wake.

The AAA operator was very helpful. "The tow truck will arrive within seven hours. Do not leave the vehicle." she admonished. I also called my mechanic's cell phone. "Sorry, Lydia, I can't help you. I am in Aruba. You must leave the car. If it gets any deeper, you'll float!" "But we are wearing our synagogue clothes," I moaned, "We'll have to swim to the curb." But just then a Hummer came by, drowning out his response and causing Jeff to turn a bit green with mal de mer.

A half hour and seventeen passing cars later, help was at hand. A brave little Honda Civic offered to push our car to dry land. Ahoy! We were safe and on our way to the festivities, thanks to friend and his car who offered to drive us. We arrived just as the Bar Mitzvah boy began his reading.

The Bar Mitzvah party was a lovely, if soggy, affair. The kids stayed upstairs where the computers were, and the adults chatted and ate under the outdoor tent. Being Chicagoans, we all agreed that the weather was perfect. "Not too hot, not too cold."

Today AAA suggested that we wait to summon the tow truck until the rain stops. So Jeff and I are passing the time at home. Better close this post. Jeff is calling from the basement. He has reeled in a few big ones. I better get to work if we are to have them for dinner.

September 9, 2008

Jeff (photo)

It's true that if you seen one of my boys holding a car, it is most likely Jeff. Conversely, the one with a stuffed animal is generally Hart. Just to liven things up, they occasionally switch. Hart lent Jeff Erica the Elephant for a month, so here's evidence that Jeff is taking good care of her.

September 6, 2008

Bristol Palin: Shonde OF the goyim

I used to think I understood political rhetoric, that oblique insider way of speaking to like-minded people. For example, it used to be when people said "New Yorkers", that was code-speak for "Jews". As in, "that's fine for New Yorkers, but we here in Dubuque . . ."

When Dan Quayle railed against the "east coast liberal elite," I understood that to mean "Jews and their ilk." If that wasn't what he meant, what did he mean?

Now that the election is heating up, I am not sure what's going on anymore. Obviously the McCain-Palin ticket isn't speaking to me, but should I at least understand what they are talking about?

Samantha Bee, of THE DAILY SHOW, did a segment where she interviewed attendees at the Republican National Convention about Bristol Palin's pregnancy. There was no small schadenfreude watching the interviewees dodge and weave, desperate not to use the word "choice." Instead they universally co-opted the language of the last four decades of the abortion rights movement. "It is a private, family issue." "It is her decision." "This should not be a public issue." My understanding of all this obfuscation is the universal opinion, "We like it! We approve. We oppose abortion and contraceptives, too."

If Samantha Bee had interviewed New Yorkers, they would have screamed, "It's a shonde, an absolutely shonde!!"*

*A shonde; alt shande (Yid., אַ‮ ‬שאַנדע) – a disgrace; one who brings embarrassment through mere association, from German eine Schande, translated "a disgrace", meaning "such a shame"

September 4, 2008

Dear Mr. Obama

I am a life-long liberal Democrat, so it pains me to tell you that John McCain and Sarah Palin are going to win the coming election. This is how I know:

My mother, a life-long conservationist and environmentalist (even before it was fashionable) and a staunch pro-choice advocate, is leaning towards your opponent.

Hubris, stupidity, arrogance and lack of experience have never been a barrier to higher office.

Teen pregnancy is good, as long as the teens are white. It's heterosexual, anti-contraceptive and pro-life.

Proximity to another country is prima facie expertise in foreign policy.

Women who hunt and fish are hot. It's a primal thing that educated, elitists like ourselves do not understand.

Hart visits (photo)

Labor Day weekend dinner