Drooling on the Pillow

Friday, July 22, 2005

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers, Number 10 

Tillie takes up residence at Casa Fausta, otherwise known as The Bad Hair Blog on Sunday. Don't miss the fun.

Apparently, as an added inducement for hosting, Enlighten-New Jersey is presenting each blog with an avatar. Here's Fausta's:

I think that captures her nicely. Don't forget to make submissions to njcarnival@gmail.com before Sunday.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Eudora Welty 

Years ago a friend and I spent most of a year working on a film adaptation of Eudora Welty's The Ponder Heart. We never obtained the rights, but I went as far as finding her agent and determining that the rights were available. We didn't spring for the rights because of a lack of faith in our collaboration, not the material.

If you've never read it, it's an extended monologue. One woman talking to one man in the lobby of a sleepy Southern hotel on a summer evening. For 150 pages. In a sense, she's trying to fascinate him, but towards that end she tells some of the most horrifying and hysterical stories you've ever heard about her family, the Ponders.

I've always been amazed that it's never been done as a film. It seems a natural for, at least, a PBS movie. Certainly because there isn't an actress over 40 in Hollywood that wouldn't kill for the part and I can think of a number of them with clout who would be great. Holly Hunter, for one. Also, because it presents unique, but surmountable challenges to the director.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal today which is a preview of a biography of Welty to be published next week by Suzanne Marrs which I've just ordered.

I've always been a big fan of Southern fiction and in college in St. Louis took a course in it in which a prerequisite was that we had to sign a statement that asserted (only semi-humorously) that Faulkner was God. Everyone's heard the remark of Flannery O'Conner's about how it is to write in the Shadow of Faulkner to the effect of "When the Dixie Limited comes along, you get your mule and wagon off the track." I'm not entirely unsympathetic to that point of view, but, honestly, if I wanted to be like any writer, it would probably be Eudora Welty.

She was complicated, but humorous, wildly inventive, and yet strictly and consciously regional, always funny and always heartbreaking, dry and contained, but completely unlimbered. She was a gentle, intelligent and shy woman, who was perfectly happy in her own skin. She was reconciled to her sex, her region, her nation, her talents and place in life. She was quite aware of her genius and her modesty was based on her undying interest in the lives of those around her.

The WSJ article tells the story of a novelist, Michael Malone, who received some valuable advice from her as a young writer. Years later and much more successful he made a pilgrimage to Jackson, Mississippi to thank her. He stood outside her house for a couple hours but never worked up the courage to knock on the door. More years went by and he ran into her in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel. This time he did approach her, introduced himself and told her the story of his trip to Jackson.
"And she looked at me and smiled, and she said: "Oh, honey,
was that you? I almost called the police on you."

I'd like to be someone who could say something like that and write The Robber Bridegroom.

As I say, it's been years since I read it and I originally had Edna Earle talking to the gentleman on the porch instead of the lobby.

They Don't Lie And They Never Shut Up 

I took Mr. Snitch!'s advice and took a look at Photomuse.org, "a collection of over 200,000 absolutely free archival images from the George Eastman House (Rochester) and International Center of Photography (midtown Manhattan) collections". It's a wonderful resource and if you need an illustration of two youngsters enjoying tasty treats at the movies, they've got it.


Both shots by Weegee.

UPDATE: SloppyDawg tells a story in comments I thought people would like:

I love the Weegee story where he shows up at a murder
scene, and gets there before the detectives show up. He's
looking at the body and says something to one of the
uniforms on the scene that goes something like this:

"Hey officer, can you help me move this body? The
light's not hitting it right."

Weegee has a lot to answer for as he is, with his New Yawk aggressiveness and thirst for the bizarre, the progenitor of the paparazzi, but he was also an artist and his frames throb with the truth. It's a stunning combination of salaciousness and honesty; life as a Robert Ryan movie. There's always something cheezy and disturbing going on in his pictures, but you know the people, you know what they're doing and the moments before and after the snap are crystal clear. It's a story you may have been able to do without, but that you find compelling and irresistable, like a fight breaking out in the banquette next to you at the diner. Once you start looking, it's hard to stop.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Not Where You Want To Be 

If you saw Pat Leahy and Chuck Schumer respond to the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court last night, you had to see that at one point the thought crosses Leahy's mind "Jesus, I'm standing between Chuck Schumer and a microphone." Schumer was looming over his shoulder with a look I only get in the presence of a nice leg of lamb. Leahey stumbled for a few moments and exited stage right. Right smart like.

And You Look Like One, Too 

Happy 3 year blogoversary to 2Blowhards, the one place to go for your culture conversation. In blog-years that's wise old man territory.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Our Betters 

According to NJPolitic's Steve Kornacki, my congressman and possibly soon-to-be senator, Bob Mendendez was breathing a big sigh of relief the other morning as a widely-anticipated story about his relationship with a young woman named Kay LiCausi ran in the New York Times. The story wasn't as bad as some had feared. (Mr. Kornacki's story is not in the queue at NJPolitics and there was no permalink. If anyone can find it in a cache, let me know.)

The Times story mentioned the rumored romantic link between the two and detailed how she is becoming rich as a lobbyist dealing with the congressman's allies. However, according to David Rebovich, the director of Rider University's Institute for New Jersey Politics,
I don't think the dots have been connected in a way that
it's going to make people shake their heads in dismay."
Or, as Mr. Kornacki notes,
Scandalous in Nebraska, LiCausi's cashing in
is pedestrian by New Jersey standards.
Of course, Mendendez' day would have been better without his name and Golan Cipel's being mentioned in same paragraph, but scandal-fatigue may help him get past this one.

Mr. Wilson's Lies 

When the thing that is pursued is something that you love, it's a witchhunt. When the object of pursuit is a thing that you hate, it looks very much like justice.

The astonishing passion of the Rove/Plame debates and the seemingly bottomless dishonesty of the Democratic hunt for Karl Rove's scalp has, in a way, obscured the stakes involved. Perhaps that's the point.

After all, I doubt that even Joe Wilson will lie for no reason whatever. But if the focus of our attention was now upon Mr. Wilson's lies instead of the ridiculous architecture of beltway interview parameters we might find out something useful. Such as, did Saddam, in fact, attempt to negotiate a deal with Niger for nuclear materials in the years before the war? Mr. Wilson's famous report appears to support this notion. British intelligence thought so then and it thinks so now. The 9/11 Commission is on record that the evidence indicates that he did.

Since we now know that there were no WMD and that Bush lied about them in order to slake his blood-thirst, why ever would Iraq be seeking fissionable material?

Isn't that the real question?

Harry Potter Goes Froggie 

Harry comes under the spell of the Dean-Mentors and looks to the root cause of Voldemort's unhappiness at IowaHawk.
Suddenly the silence was torn by a violent reverberating

"Sorry, 'arry, you know 'ow it is with 'em cafeteria burri'os,"
said Hagrid sheepishly.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Boulder River 

Last week I told a story of winding up in jail in Montana and skating away from most of the charges because the judge's wife . . . well, I won't spoil the end of my own story. I'm not a leaker.

After that near debacle I remained in Montana for around another year. I wasn't hurting for money because I was living for free in my girlfriend's boyfriend's house and driving his car. For a few months I picked up and discarded a few non-career path jobs, like fry cook and taxi driver, but eventually we acquired a few additional hangers-on and started to run a little short of salty snacks and I realized if I was going to continue to live a post-adolescent fantasy life, I was going to have to work for it.

Anne's brother, Rusty, and I answered an ad placed by the state of Montana for hospital workers. The money and benefits were very, very good for back then. I don't remember the ad specifically, but either we were remarkably careless readers (certainly a possibility) or there was a little deception in the writing, because there was nothing in it, the application or the acceptance that prepared us for pulling up to the Boulder River School and Hospital in Boulder, Montana.

It was a hospital for the mentally retarded, or developmentally disabled, if you must. Boulder is, if I remember correctly, around 40 miles south of Helena, with nothing but big sky and beautiful mountains any closer than that. There's a reason. Maybe not a great one, but a reason.

Until I went to work there I had no idea, and I mean not the vaguest clue, how wrong things could go when we come into this world. What a flarking miracle a person with normal abilities is. I saw things and dealt with them daily that have stayed with me ever since and I don't go too long, even now, without thinking of my patients.

For the first six months we were, essentially, orderlies and we spent half our day in class. At the end of the training period we received something called a Certificate of Nursing Care from the U of M and were assigned a ward.

My ward was Adult Non-Ambulatory Female. I had about 25 women, most of whom knew how to chew their food fairly reliably. I had one woman who was taught how to brush her teeth by a well-meaning nurse, but had destroyed her gums by the time it was taken away from her. And that was as developmentally abled as they got.

My job was to first give 25 enemas and then 25 sponge baths. Medicate. Take temps. Feed. Brush their teeth. Medicate. Turn over the ones who couldn't do it themselves. Report bed sores. Change their diapers. Check for menses. Change the kotex where appropriate. And, all day, every day, time their seizures.

Most of them were epileptic and among their medications were phenobarbitals. I would note the time of the seizure and the duration and the doctors would adjust the medication accordingly. Twice, while I was there, I had a woman whose seizures started coming several times an hour and then every few minutes. Both times I came in one morning and found their names off the meds list. The doctors wouldn't discuss it with me, but a supervisor confided to me that the phenobarbs were killing them faster than the seizures. One of them died after a few days. The other stopped having seizures as soon as she was off the meds and, by the time I left, was still fine.

I was the only staff person on the ward during my shift.

Rusty had a male children's ward and had a young fellow with spina bifida and hydrocephalus who could add any numbers you threw at him. Two hundred ten place numbers and he would give you the answer as soon as the last one was out of your mouth. There were a few other very mildly retarded patients who had been put in Boulder as children and now, for lack of stimulation, belonged there.

I don't mean to give the impression that this was a hell hole. The doctors were dedicated and the nurses and ward chiefs gave compassionate and comprehensive care to the limits of our resources. I never once saw an example of abuse or neglect. But the profound helplessness and, from my point of view, permanent disconnectedness of their lives was deeply affecting and wearing.

After being on the ward for four or five months I began to realize that, despite the fact that they had no language and no apparent understanding of the simplest processes of normal life, they did have personalities and they were individuals. There was a young woman I'll never forget who would, whenever I was at her bedside stare at me with the sweetest, happiest smile. She would do it all day if she could. Others would hurt you if you gave them the chance. I had two women who could not abide to have their beds next to each other. No idea why. Their positions were fixed from decades of laying in bed and even if you faced them away from each other they would scream bloody murder until you moved one of them. Some cried all day. Some laughed at any stimulus.

I think the thing that disturbed me the most and that comes back to me when I think of the women is that most of them seemed anxious. Worried. Like something was going to happen that they wouldn't like. You can't reassure them. You can comfort them, which you do, of course, but you can't give them peace of mind any more than you can provide it for yourself.

I left after about a year because I had to go back east. That's another story. I went on with my life. The women went on with theirs.

Hank Lets It Rip 

The Council on Foreign Relations' website is running an interview with Henry Kissinger by Bernard Gwertzman.

The headline over the interview and the quote that will receive the most attention is "Kissinger: Don't Exclude Military Action Against Iran if Negotiations Fail"

In truth, Kissinger's recommendations are not bloodthirsty and merely common sense. For us to pull military action off the table is to concede that negotiations are useless. The same applies to North Korea.

The topics discussed include, besides Iran and North Korea, the invasion of Iraq, a Palestinian settlement, the London bombings and China.

Perhaps our elected officials could spare a few moments from blowing gas into the Plame/Wilson balloon to listen to a few clear-minded words from America's most knowledgeable foreign policy expert.

Via The Glittering Eye.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

New Jersey vs. California 

The Goddess' best friend lives in San Francisco. She's the only daughter of a Hollywood legend, now long deceased. Her husband teaches at Stanford and he's a conservative. Kind of like an Iranian Jew. Undoubtedly, there are a few, but you wouldn't know it because they tend to keep their heads down.

He had a very serious heart operation a month ago and is recovering slowly. Lisa was talking to the wife tonight about the recovery and said that a few days ago he collapsed right in front of a Whole Foods. Three very thin young women with yoga mats under their arms stepped over him on their way out the door and kept right on going.

Never would happen in Jersey. Not without checking his wallet first.

UPDATE: Lisa reminds me that her husband teaches at Stanford, not Berkeley, as I had it originally. Takes a little of the kick out, but Sluggo is all about The Truth.

Welcome Instanauts 

And thanks to Professor Reynolds for the Instanod.

Carnival of The New Jersey Bloggers, Number 9 

Oh, the excitement this week as the MainStream Media came a'callin'. Peter Applebome's peek under the Carnival's tent set things in motion. Smoking hit counters. Melted Technorati icons. Tillie's in a tizzy. Okay, settle down, everybody, we've got a lot of ground to cover.

To the right is the first concrete highway built in New Jersey, in New Village. Anybody know where that is? Well, it's where we're starting.

Fausta takes a break from terrorism, politics and smacking around Jacques Chirac to straighten out a Times reviewer at The Bad Hair Blog.

The Prop, of Coffeegrounds, muses on the ontological pile-up when popular aesthetics and consumer technology are heading in different directions.

TJ hasn't been posting much lately, but she has an excuse. She's opening this weekend in the musical Annie and is sharing the back-stage dirt at Twisty.

To the left is New Jersey's Governor's Mansion.

Drumthwacket, Drumthwacket, Drumthwacket.

Enlighten-New Jersey appreciates the fact that Jon Corzine can afford to live here. They just don't think he should.

Contrariwise, Big Windbag has a story of Republican shenanigans.

After a two year hiatus Gigglechick is back on stage. And you can catch her at the Improv on the 20th at 7:00 pm.

Shabe has some thoughts of an ironical nature on the New York Times' attention to our little carnival at The Jersey Side.

Here is one of the innumerable depictions of the Jersey Devil. The bottom's cut off so you can't see his skates.

Speaking of creatures of the night, Liz, at MyNewJersey has some tough love for David Hasselhof.

And Patrick of JerseyStyle! has been spending a lot of nights at the poker table, analog and digital.

Red/blue, right/left, boxers/jockeys, charcoal/propane. Suzette has made a commitment at Cripes, Suzette.

TigerHawk wades into the Plame-Wars and finds a Jerseycentric hook in Rush Holt's call for an investigation.

Lucy, the Margate Elephant. Icon, tourist attraction, logo for If This Is Paradise, I Wish I Had a Lawn Mower.

Tom Evslin has good things to say about nuclear and solar. He also blogs from my home town, so pay attention to Fractals of Change.

The New Wisdom is written by eight New Jerseyists. I tell you, this blog thing might just catch on! In this post, Jonathan discusses the health risks of monosodium glutamate.

That's Dave Draper winning his Mr. New Jersey trophy in 1963. The guy gripping and grinning with him looks familiar.

Batfans and agents are lobbying to have their favorite actors cast as the Joker and Two-Face in the next Batman installment. Mr. Snitch is lobbying to have his favorite building cast in a leading role.

Riss has some sobering thoughts for every blogger at Tequila Shots for the Soul.

The Center of NJ Life's advice to Governor Cody on the fast-track legislation for developers is slow down.

The Art of Getting By muses on beginnings and endings.

Poetic Leanings would like to lean something heavy on Doug Forrester.

It was a hot night and the subjects of Barista of Bloomfield Avenue were unhappy. Debbie Galant goes pool-blogging.

Not sure which of you this is, but there's a blogger in Ocean County who's plenty steamed about something.

It might have been Daniella's Misadventures on her way back from Atlantic City. We do thank her for her contribution to our education fund.

Or maybe BeLOW Me going off on Scott McClellan.

Tami, The One True thinks about right and wrong and how to tell.

The USS New Jersey, transiting the Gaillard Cut in Panama.

I thought this would be a good place to hear from SmadaNek on asbestos and school gnidnuf.

Bevin and Sooner's Totally Knitting Universe put down their needles for a reality check with a Batman nay-sayer.

A twister game and olive oil, Barbecue Bob and an applesauce tower. These little things remind me of Poor Impulse Control.

A little baseball talk from 11th and Washington.

Fausti's Book Quest takes a Jefferson Airplane look at Alice in Wonderland.

Philly2Hoboken has done a lot of thinking about the Hoboken dating scene. It's not all that pretty.

Roberto, at DynamoBuzz is getting nervous about proposed D.W.D. (Driving While Distracted) laws.

Gregg Gethard wants everyone to know he spent some time in high school as an Omega Male.

The singer Jessica Rylan is interviewed by Ben Mattingly at goethe re scape (Livejournal).

You want to be listening carefully when people talk to you. Otherwise, you may wind up in Joe's Journal.

Look to the right. This is what the other side looks like.

Bob follows the money, your money, at eCache.

Nordette Adams marks the passing of Luther Vandross at Confessions of a Jersey Goddess.

Where Is The Remote? sniffs out a political stunt.

There's not much a refreshing cocktail can't cure. Share one with Kate at KateSpot.

All those hours you've spent on the couch and have you ever thought about the guy in the chair who sits there all day every day? Of course not. It's all about you. Well, Len Levitz has dietary concerns at Imaginary Therapy.

Maureen Burzok at Jersey Writers looks at James Fenimore Cooper. Thought of him as a New York guy, didn't you? We had him first. Born right here in Burlington, a true son of the knobbed whelk.

Steve Hart is grinding The Opinion Mill. The grist is the Oliver Stone 9/11 movie. What get pulverized is Showtime's DC 9/11: Time of Crisis.

There's always gotta be one. TPB, Esq. at Unbillable Hours was not content with the attentions of the New York Times. He posted on United States v. Berger and got himself Instalanched!

Kim Pearson takes us inside a pow-wow between Jon Corzine and some bloggers at Professor Kim's News Notes.

Kind of hard to believe Jim's never seen a cranberry bog, but I guess they've got everything he needs at the Parkway Rest Stop.

And here's a blog that tracks The Jersey Shore Real
Estate Bubble. Well, the mountains are nice.

dream4distance, another Livejournal poster, takes on Lyme Disease at Cresting Acrocorinthus.

Finally, Nightfly compares and contrasts Sears, Roebuck and Live 8. For those of you wondering what the 'Roebuck' is doing there, well, you're probably wondering who the little dude in the red hat at the bottom is, too.

To all my friends across New Jersey, I say Liberty and Prosperity!. And stop by, we'll have a slice. The rest of you can come. But you're buying.

I'm Sluggo and I am out of here.

Catch up with Tillie at the Carnival of New Jersey Bloggers #10
next Sunday, July 24th, at The Bad Hair Blog

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