Sunday, December 31, 2006

And Another Year Bites the Dust

Let's usher the New year in with a smile, your choice of bubbly whatever, delicious eats and tons of good wishes. Here is wishing you all a cheerful Happy New Year.

2007, C'mon Down!

Ok here's some fashion looks to leave in 2006 per and me.

Fingerless Gloves
Radar says they "..never made anyone look "biker-tough" or "rock-n-roll chic".
I say, they never made anyone look biker-tough or rock-n-roll chic. Well, Madonna did it wayy back in the Material Girl days and it worked with the rest of her mish-mosh, but not on you. Yes, I've seen you in Chicago, in the winter heading to the emergency room to donate a couple phalanges.

Giant HeadPhones
I agree with Radar, this pretentious look is over. You are not a DJ or directing traffic at Midway OK! And I've seen you on bikes wearing these HUGE things that not only make you unable to hear but now you have no peripheral vision. Please stop it.

Cardigans Worn Over Shoulders
Radar says some think it's still Ralph Louren country club classiness and I agree it was. WAS. Barbara Walters does this constantly. Nuff said.

Sunglasses Worn Inside
This, per Radar means "I'm dying for attention." So unless there's an army ofpaparazzi standing by to snap your photo, just let it go. Well, I say this is harmless, unless your shades have white rims shaped like a heart. Also, if you wear big, very dark ones, don't be surprised when some do-gooder tries to help you walk. I've seen this happen, it's not pretty.

Muffin Top Look
This one is my addition and I say, YUCK! I know I'm ancient, but I am certainly not prudish and I know fashion is fun for young folk and all that, but YUCK. In my ancientness I thought at first that these young women just really had to wear low-riders even though they created an unsightly abdominal eruption all the way around the hip hugger area. Then I noticed no matter how thin the body was the eruption was still there. Finally, I learned the Muffin Top look was the desired effect. (These are conservative pics, believe me. It's usually more like the picture below).
Look, I like low riders (on other people) and love boot cut (c'mon they're bell bottoms) and I love the name, muffin top, cute, I but hope it stays in 2006.

Crack Exposure
You know what I'm talkin' bout. Going to the grocery store is the worse, with women bending to get items from the shelves. Some of course don't have to bend, it's there all the time for us to see. Now, put Muffin Top, Crack Exposure and a crack tattoo together. Yep, painful. I suggest you leave the crack attack to plumbers with tool belts. It's expected and accepted there. So unless you join the union and come to fix the sink, STOP IT!

I hope you weren't offended by any of this, it's all in fun and please know that I am only serious. I can't wait to see what 2007 brings.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Movies

Christmas season is a great time to watch movies. So get some hot apple cider and cuddle up with a Christmas classic. These are my annual favorites but I just know I've missed a couple so please feel free to remind me of others. They usually run these right through New Years, so go enjoy.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)- The first Peanut TV feature and the longest running cartoon special in history. Charlie Brown finds himself depressed at Christmas time, searching for the true meaning of Christmas amidst the commercialism of the season. Snoopy is no help because he and Woodstock are busy stringing lights on his doghouse for a decoration contest. Things get worse when Charlie Brown is fired from directing the school pageant, then ridiculed because he chose a spindly evergreen twig instead of a shiny aluminum tree. It all gets out of hand until Linus realizes Charlie Brown is right. They see the beauty in the tree and the real meaning of Christmas as Linus recites the story of Jesus' birth. His voice sets a tone full of wonder. This is my favorite scene followed by the children singing Hark The Herald Angels Sing .
Can't you hear Linus' voice

"...And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord."
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

A Christmas Carol (1938)- Charles Dickens classic starring Reginald Owen as Scrooge and Gene Lockhart as Cratchit. You know the drill on this great story but it doesn't hurt to be reminded at least once a year.

A Christmas Story (1983)- Story of Ralphie (Peter Billingsly) the year he did everything possible to convince his parents to buy him a Red Rhyder BB gun for Christmas despite admonitions that he could "put your eye out". Narrated by grown up Ralphie with such love and wit and fake heroics of Ralphies thoughts absolutely captures the emotions and logic of childhood. There are many adventures including Ralphie's friend's tongue stuck to the flag pole and the bunny suit. Darren McGavin as the irritable foul mouthed father is beyond funny.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)- Frank Capra classic with Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Beulah Bondi. George Bailey gets a glimpse of what the world would have been without him. Excellent and hopeful.

Miracle on 34th Street(1947)- An amazing testament to making room for imagination and fantasy and belief for belief's sake.
Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Edmond Gwen star. I love the scene when the prosecutors son testifies for the defense of Kris Kringle.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)- Animated feature based on the book by Dr. Suess. I actually saw it for the first time this year, I don't know why. I am adding it to my favorites because I enjoyed the songs the rhyme and Boris Karloff as narrator and Grinch.

Home Alone (1990)- Eight year old (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left behind when his family flies to France for Christmas. Enter the goofy burglars. Joe Pesci and the great Catherine O'Hara. Holiday romp for sure.

Frosty The Snowman (1969)- Frosty Along with Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa Clause Is Coming To Town are the videos every child should have in their collection. Frosty is the best coming to life the help with a magical top hat. Jimmy Durante narrates, Jackie Vernon is Frosty.

Bells of St. Mary (1945) Bing Crosby plays Father O'Malley coming from a big city Catholic school, to the small parish of Sister Benedict played by Ingrid Bergman. They have different ways of handling everything from the children to how to save the school from closing. I love Bergman teaching a boy to defend himself and then secretly watching him fight. I also enjoy the title song sung by the nuns. The harmony is beautiful. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, won for best sound. Heartwarming.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) Elia Kazan's first film is about the poor turn of the century Nolan family. Dorothy Mcquire is Katie Nolan who tries to hold things together and does. Johnny Nolan (James Dunn) is an alcoholic charmer with big dreams but no job. He is a doting father always promising, seldom delivering, but he is full of dreams and faith in his children especially young Francie (Peggy Ann Garner). Joan Blondell is Aunt Sissy the often married sister of Katie. Get your hankies ready for the emotional impact of this script and performances. Excellent.

Three Godfathers (1948) John Ford directed this film about three outlaws on the run, John Wayne, Harry Carey Jr., and Pedro Armendáriz, who help a stranded woman (Mildred Natwick) deliver a baby. They promise the dying mother to take the child to safety across the desert to the town of New Jerusalem. Lots of angst and funny scenes. I mean, John Wayne and a baby in the desert. But your heart strings and sense of justice get a workout too. Beautifully photograhed.

Holiday (1935) Directed by George Cukor, this is not only my favorite Christmas film but one of my all time favorites. Johnny Case (Cary Grant) falls for a millionaire's daughter and finds himself loaded down with obligations and expectations from her father. Johnny soon finds that Linda Seaton (Katherine Hepburn) and her brother Ned (Lew Ayres) are the black sheep of the Seaton family because they do not worship money and are not frozen into a conceited shallow lifestyle. Edward Everett Horton is marvelous as Johnny's best friend who is so out of place in the Seaton mansion until he goes up to Linda's playroom. I love the scenes in the playroom with the snobby cousins who have no idea why they Linda and Ned like it. Heart, wit and drama is Holiday.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Spear It!

Chicago, December 2006
He roams the streets, searching, driving up one street and down another, stopping to admire the religious wintry displays. Icicle lights dripping from eves and wrought iron banisters, and fragrant evergreen, holly berries and velvet ribbon bid welcome on doors. Sometimes animated reindeer graze while the child in the manger sleeps near his mother and the wise kings. This is beautiful, he loves it but it's not what he's after. Then, he sees one, and smiling, he looks around and notates the address. He must find more before he makes his move.
O K. He's found three, that's enough this time.

He makes his wicked approach in the dark, making sure even the glint of the blade is out of sight until the fatal moment. His victims are unaware, sleeping, lights out. His targets however are bright ones, shining, swaying in the quiet night. Scarlet suit and mittens, eyes twinkling or wearing only a hat and scarf, they are huge, massive, yet defenseless and doomed.

Bathed in the light of his targets he grabs hold of a mitten or corn cob pipe and plunges the knife in. The blunt sound is sometimes accompanied with a high pitched whirrrrrr. Now he pulls it out and moves away to watch at a safe distance. Sometimes the end is swift and violent and noisy...Bubububububububu bluba blub bl bl bl bl. Sometimes the end is slow and hissssing with simply folding and twisting over in a weird slump. Whichever, the once happy and bright, is now unrecognizable and grotesque.
Satisfied, the Snowman Slasher moves on to the next target. Then goes in for the night.

I wrote the above scenario while waitng in the car for Monica to come out of school. The Slasher is real, the scenario is mine. The whole thing struck me so damn funny. What can I say.

Then this next story came on the radio and again with my laughter. Is that wrong?
This is the real story from the Chicago Suntimes.

Dateline Chicago December 21, 2006
Wave of Jesus Thefts Hit Chicago
At this time of year little baby Jesus should be on everyone's minds but waking up to find 32 life-sized baby Jesus on your front lawn is probably more than anyone could bare.

Yet that's exactly what happened to a resident on Chicago's South side who woke to find dozens of plastic babies lined up along the fence in her garden.

The woman made the discovery following a traumatic week for South Side residents who were subjected to crime spree in which teenage pranksters stole Jesus dolls from nativity scenes in people's front gardens.

People looking to reclaim their own personal Jesus were directed by the Chicago police to a local church.

A spokesman said: 'Baby Jesus belongs in a nativity, not in evidence and recovered property, which is where they'll wind up if they're not claimed.'

OMG! What's wrong with people! It sort of reminds me of a scene in my favorite movie "Steel Magnolias" when Annelle made a wreath covered with little Jesuses explaining that the Christmas store had a closeout sale on Baby Jesuses so she just bought them all. Amazing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Devine Intervention

I got an e-mail from Rev. Ann Marie Coleman (University Church) letting me know about a recent analysis of our President's so called AIDS Program. So called is right, Ann Marie!
The new report released December 1 st, by the Center for Public Integrity finds that President Bush's $15 billion dollar initiative to combat HIV abroad is failing.
The report is titled "Divine Intervention" because the Center found that the initiative's faith-based ideology - including promotion of abstinence - often trumps science.

The report is the finding of a year long investigation by reporters in eight countries, that examined the policies and goals of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The report states that the programs did not take into consideration realities of life in these nations such as; marriage at very young ages for females, the high rate of sexual violence against women, the severely limited educational and economic opportunities for women, and the fact that sex work is the only option for many women. Emphasis on abstinence as prevention, rather than condoms as protection, is not realistic. The programs even desparaged the use of condoms vs abstinence to the point of pointing out condom failure rate and NOT including the importance of condoms in educational materials.
Well folks, it looks like another "Just say No program". Yeah, that works.

The report states,
"PEPFAR is failing to stop the global spread of AIDS and failing to help lead the world to stop this deadly disease. Instead of empowering people we are restricting them. We have a flawed framework with flawed policies."

The U.S. agency implementing and managing PEPFAR is USAID.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.

USAIDS HIV Prevention Program
"USAID seeks to work with communities to support a balanced and evidence-based “ABC” –Abstinence, Be faithful, and correct and consistent Condom use – approach to prevention. This involves the culturally and age-appropriate promotion of each of these elements in a manner that will prevent the most new HIV infections in a given setting and that will fundamentally ensure and protect the ability of girls and women to adopt such HIV prevention behaviors."

The A B C approach emphasized in that order, may work for some places on earth and are important goals but, what PEPFAR and USAIDS somehow miss is that these young girls and women often have no power over A and B. Before they can even think about A or B they need protection against rape, forced prostitution, and economical opportunities other than sex work. None of these are addressed in any realistic way by PEPFAR. The report shows that in many of the countries, the HIV infection rate has actually increased under PEPFAR.

We are paying for this ridiculous program being offered as our emergency plan for AIDS relief. And we will pay with more than money.

Oh, by the way, USAID is located 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
in the Ronald Reagan Building. Figures.

Friday, December 01, 2006


WE NEED A NEW ATTITUDE. More aggressive. More passionate and urgent. More personal. People understand personal.

People living with AIDS? Absolutely. But, aren't we ALL living with AIDS? This is the way I feel. It's personal. I remember people I have lost to this disease and I've had to live with that. There are people I love that have AIDS, so I am living with AIDS.
If you are out there dating, you are living with AIDS; if you have children out there in the world, you are living with AIDS. If you are a senior citizen who is after many years back out there seeking a mate, this time you are living with AIDS. Single women, teenagers, prisoners, athletes, sex workers and their clients, health workers, soldiers etc. etc. We are all living with AIDS in our lives.

Yes it's personal. Now feel the POWER!
See, here's the thing. We have the POWER! Complacency gives HIV the power. We, who are all living with AIDS, can take the power away from the virus. Together, we have the power to stop the spread of this disease and end the stigma attached to it. We must hold our governments and policy makers accountable for doing what needs to be done to end HIV/AIDS. Let them know it is a priority to deliver on their promises, fund the research, and provide medical care and medicine regardless of who or where you are. We need to take the responsibility to use this power as individuals, a nation and a world.

So today provides an opportunity to start a new attitude. Get re-informed, wear your red ribbons, go to memorials, join a group, talk to your kids, make a commitment to protect yourself, get tested, call a congressman, do something. It's personal. Do something powerful.

Think you know it all? Take these HIV/AIDS quizzes.