Monthly Archives: November 2006


We have much to be thankful for this year. And we start out being thankful for the annual Thanksgiving Day hayride.

I go to help Papa Joe load up the bales of hay on the trailers promptly at 8:00 a.m., but he’s almost finished by the time I get down there. I feel terribly guilty. I try to grab two bales in each hand at once, to try to make up for lost time. I have trouble getting both hands loaded. Joe yells at me, saying I’m going to bust them.

My main job is to drive the Gator behind Joe on the tractor pulling the trailers, while he takes the rig up to the road and turns it around. I wait to drive him back to the house. People are starting to arrive. Getting closer to 9:00 we head down to the road to load up.

Riding around the farms, sitting on the bales, we drink Bloody Marys out of styrofoam cups. Heidi helpfully opens and closes the gates. Back at the house we have food, especially Mary’s biscuits and sausage gravy, and hot buttered rum. Then it’s downstairs to Joe’s pub where Jake is pouring the beers.

It’s good to be totally drunk at 10:30 a.m.


We drive from Washington to Atlanta. Well, to Newnan, somewhat south of Atlanta. We drive all day.

For some reason, on road trips, Dawn likes to drive first. And that’s just fine with me, because we’re up early and I’d just as soon snooze in the passenger seat as much as possible. She fires up the first CD of the day, the soundtrack to Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet. We listen to it through like four or five times, for a couple of hours. I’ll fire up something more rocking after lunch.

At some point Dawn plays some Philip Glass. It sounds to me like … insanity.

We leave just after seven in the morning and finally arrive at the Dillon farm around eight-thirty p.m. Long drive.

Veterans Day

So we’ve got Armed Forces Day, which is for current members of the military. And we’ve got Memorial Day, which is for past dead members of the military. And today is Veterans Day, which is for past living members of the military.

Happy Veterans Day, guys. Especially my father and brother.

Of course was originally Armistace Day, commemorating the end of World War I. And that’s a day worthy of Owen’s most famous poem.

Wilfred Owen
Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori

Happy Birthday, Ma!

My mother, Patricia Marie, was born this day. Some years ago, we won’t say when.

She retired to Florida this year. Was able to sell the house in Fairfax County and use the proceeds to buy a nice little place in the middle of the state. I’d never been to Florida, not before last week when I went to visit Ma’s new place and help install a door.

My mother’s a very private person. Even now I think I’m maybe revealing too much here.

It’s funny. Just now I’m thinking of memories I have of my mother, from when I was a little kid. And the first two that come to mind are, this one time when she was bundling me up to go out ice skating with the other kids and I stepped on her bare foot with my skate, and the other was when my dad got back from Vietnam. And I realize that I’m thinking of times when she cried. Wonder what that means.

When I was learning to drive, when I had my learner’s permit, I remember going out with my parents to drive the neighborhood when it was their turn to drive around for the neighborhood watch. We had this 1975 Buick Skylark. Had an eight track player, and I was playing Bruce Springsteen’s The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. My mother declared Incident of 57th Street to be the dumbest song she’d ever heard. I don’t know why, but that still tickles me to this day.

As a kid I used to complain about her smoking. She was surprised when as an adult I took up smoking too. I remember her dancing with Nana at my sister’s wedding. And she took me in and took care of me after my first marriage collapsed.

Rumsfeld and Mehlman

Secretary Rumsfeld “resigned” yesterday.

Most interesting to me is the timing. I haven’t seen any pundits anywhere say so, but to me the President’s announcement smacks of diversion, as a way of making big news himself the day after the Democrats made such big news of their own. He says that he would have been announcing Rumsfeld’s “resignation” either way, win or lose, but I don’t believe him.

And I say that I don’t believe him, I can say that the President is simply lying, because in his press conference the President admits to having lied about Rumsfeld’s tenure only a week before. (Emphasis mine.):

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld will be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this, and how much does it have to do with the election results?

THE PRESIDENT: Right. No, you and Hunt and Keil came in the Oval Office, and Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they’re going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.

The truth of the matter is, as well I mean, that’s one reason I gave the answer, but the other reason why is I hadn’t had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn’t had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point.

The President lies. The President admits to lying. Nobody much notices or cares.*

But what it makes me think of more is, after the Republican revolution in 1994, Speaker Gingrich seemed to be the bigger figure in Washington. There was even a press conference where a reporter asked President Clinton if he, if the presidency, were still relevant. I’m sure that’s why President Bush is if front of reporters and announcing major changes. To insist that he’s still relevant.

It’s a politically smart move, but then nobody ever accused this guy of being politically dumb.

And the long knives are out not just for Rumsfeld, though. News today is Ken Mehlman is “resigning” as well. Or, rather, not running for a second term as chair of the RNC. Looks like he’s taking the fall, for Libby Dole at the NRSC, for Tom Reynolds at the NRCC, but even more so for Karl Rove, the Emperor to Mehlman’s Darth Vader. (Or, Mehlman is to Rove what Rove used to be to Lee Atwater, and the lot of them being the bad cops to Bush good cops.)

* Now, if he’d lied about having sex with that woman, now that’d be some news, wouldn’t it?

Say Goodnight, Gracie

Burns and Allen concede. Republicans lose Senate as well.

Especially gratifying is the Allen loss, for the fact that he is so odiously repellent, but then also since it dashes whatever presidential aspirations he may have had. And that goes maybe double for Santorum in PA, although I do feel a slight twinge of guilt about him as well, being that he’s a fellow Catholic and I’ve seen him going to Mass at St. Joe’s.

Otherwise gratifying is McCaskill’s win in MO, after the whole flap where Michael J. Fox had to defend himself for having a debilitating disease. And then there’s the 22nd district in Texas, Tom Delay’s old seat, flipping to the Dems. Although that pickup is somewhat diminished because the GOP ran a write-in candidate named Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. Honestly, people, you expected voters to write in S-e-k-u-l-a-G-i-b-b-s? Next time try something less complicated and weird.

Glad to see Sherwood the mistress throttler lose in PA, but that’s offset by Gibbons the waittress molester winning in NV. Glad to see Curt Weldon lose, after he weirdly accused the FBI of some sort of Democratic conspiracy when they raided offices of lobbying shops connected to him.

Disappointed, though, by Ford’s loss in TN, after the outrageous RNC bimbo ad against him, and Ken Mehlman pretending that he had nothing to do with it. And disappointed that the evil Jean Schmidt seems to be holding on in Ohio’s 2nd district, although it’s still so close that it hasn’t been called.

And locally, glad to see both Ehrlich and Steele go down in flames. Apparently they hired homeless people to campaign near polling stations in Baltimore and PG County. Well, okay, except they hired homeless people from Philadelphia, who wouldn’t especially know that the sample ballots that they were handing out listed Ehrlich and Steele as Democrats. No, I’m not kidding.

Regime Change

I’d been so looking forward to today’s entry, hoping I’d be able to say something about the President and Republicans in general getting spanked by the American people.

And it seems to be the case, more or less, looking like the Repubs having failed to flip anything their way. The New York Times always has the best graphics for elections, and, where they have little blue cubes for Democratic gains and red for Republican, there’s not a single red. Not a single Republican gain. Not a single House or Senate seat. Not a single Governor. They held on to some, but they gained nothing. And lost quite a bit more. The House is clearly in the Democratic majority. More than half of Governors will be Democrats. And the Senate is hanging in the balance, but looks like the GOP will lose it.

But, I’d also been describing to people how I would be only happy with a real bloodletting. A Republican bloodbath, is what I called it. Just metaphorically, of course. But somehow the news about Adrienne Shelly being murdered kinda puts a damper on things. Makes me feel ashamed for using such coarse terms.

Still, the election news itself does cheer me somewhat. I wear a blue sweater, to celebrate the blue victory, but I’m wearing a green shirt underneath. Today I may be blue on the outside, but I’m still green on the inside. Tomorrow I’ll go back to remembering that I’m not a Democrat, that they’re not my party.

Somebody Got Murdered

I don’t normally read much normal news beyond the headlines on Yahoo and the Washington Post. I used to read the New York Times quite a lot, before they walled off so much behind Times Select. But today being election day I find myself unable to resist checking every other minute, trying to glean anything, any sort of belwether as to election results. And so then I’m also horribly tempted by worse than useless celebrity news. Faith Hill pretending or not pretending to be upset at losing at the CMAs. Kirstie Alley showing off her new sleeker physique. That sort of thing.

And some guy admits to killing some actresss. I hadn’t heard anything about any celebrity being murdered. What’s that all about, I wonder. So I click.

And I’m totally shocked and stunned and saddened. Immediately to the left of the story proper is a picture of Adrienne Shelly, a production still from some movie called Revolution #9, with one Michael Risley. Never heard of him or the movie, but seeing her picture and thinking that maybe she’s the actress in question, it’s a strange sinking sickening feeling. It’s not about her, is it? She’s not the one, is she? Murdered?

And of course it is.

She really was.

Now, I never met the woman. I’m the first to sneer at poor dim fools who think that they somehow know or are close to actors or actresses or pop stars or whomever, based on simply seeing them on TV or hearing them on the radio. So it’s not so much a personal reaction, finding out that she’s been killed. But then it really is a personal reaction, a real tangible visceral thing, although I’ve no fucking clue why.

I call Gordon, to find out if he’s heard this news, to wonder why he didn’t tell me if he did. Turns out he just found out today, and he sent an email to my Yahoo account about an hour ago. And he was similarly stunned. So we talk about it.

Gordon thinks maybe our strong reactions have something to do with discovering independent film as young adults, especially the films of Hal Hartley, where young Adrienne Shelly starred in his two first hits, The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. How maybe Adrienne Shelly forms a part of our youth, or a part of our lives, probably gone now, through age and cynicism. Hell, I don’t even go out to movies anymore, just do the NetFlix, right? And I didn’t even much like the last Hal Hartley that Dawn and I rented, The Girl from Monday. Although of course Adrienne Shelly wasn’t even in that one. And the last thing I saw her in was this movie called Hexed, with Ayre Gross and Michael Knight and R. Lee Ermey. Saw it with Cathy and Dave and my Dad of all people, in the theater in 1993. She was very cute in it, although the movie itself was thoroughly dreadful. But not her fault. But anyway I haven’t seen her in anything in a while. Or not new, I suppose. I’m sure I’ve re-watched Unbelievable Truth and Trust in the years since. I know I owned them on VHS up until just recently.

Maybe also for me this feeling of a cruel blow has to do a lot with Abby, with whom I had a somewhat long and difficult relationship. And one of the first times I ever talked to Abby was to ask her if she knew that she looked a lot like Adrienne Shelly. And Abby had seen something with her in it on like HBO or something that very weekend, so she even knew who she was.

And I suppose our reaction may be a bit intensified by the details, the especially grisly details of the murder itself. So not just that she died, but that she was so cruelly bludgeoned and strangled. And that she leaves behind a husband and a daughter only three years old.

Just awful.