Well this was a Monday morning fit for the weekend it followed. I was in a bad mood for about 48 hours, entirely media-induced. I wish there was a way to check one’s hormone levels from day to day — gauges installed in the forehead, perhaps — so I’d know when to stay away from the papers.
It started Saturday with “This American Life” on Saturday, a particularly pungent episode called “The Audacity of Government.” (From the promo: “We’ve decided to spend an hour admitting and talking about the fact that everyone knows is true: America’s become a jerk.”) Part I was about the Bush administration’s attempt to buffalo an independent treaty commissioner, in order to enforce the “property rights” of a couple who built an illegal wall in their back yard, which backs up to the Canadian border. Part II was about the government’s relentless efforts to deport the immigrant widows of American citizens who died before their spouses’ permanent residency could be established — a group that numbers barely over 100.
It continued when I got home and read the story about this poor schmo, a former kindergarten teacher in his second trial for sexually assaulting two boys. It’s his second trial because his first conviction was overturned. The boys claim he grabbed them out of a lunch line and into an empty classroom and raped them both. Unfortunately, the classroom was never empty in the course of the day, and the kids showed all the signs of having been coached, and their stories changed with the wind. What happened? No one knows, but it’s highly likely the teacher on trial, practically the definition of a pencil-neck geek, didn’t do what he’s accused of. The jury has been deadlocked for a week, 11-1 for acquittal, but the holdout seems determined to hold out forever.
The funk lifted when he had our long-delayed dinner with friends Saturday. Main course: lamb chops. Mmm, lamb chops in the spring. Yum. But the next day, more outrages in the daily papers:
Remember when “vulgar” was a word everyone understood, and a description no one wanted to attract? Ah, those were the days:
Like so many of the over-the-top birthday parties that typically appear on “My Super Sweet 16” on MTV, Ariel’s celebration took the fairy-tale-princess theme to new heights.
Horse-drawn carriages delivered teenage guests to a faux-castle tent where they were met with dancing jesters and disco lights. The birthday girl, wearing a white dress and tiara, flew in via helicopter. And the evening ended with fireworks and the arrival of Ariel’s gift from her father: a brand new BMW 325i.
As viewers learned, Ariel’s dad was a successful oilman. “I love oil. Oil means shoes and cars and purses,” Ariel exclaimed to the camera as she and her father stomped around oil drilling sites in the muddy hills near her home in Campbellsville, Ky. When her father pointed to one of the sites and told viewers that it produced 120 barrels a day, Ariel asked, “How many Louis Vuittons is that?” Her father’s answer was “a bunch.”
Now there’s a lede that’ll keep you reading, even though you know what comes next: Ariel’s daddy is a swindler and thief, not to mention a man whose sense of restraint and decorum makes Tony Montana look like Prince Charles. Say what you want about WASPs, with their buttoned-down nerdiness and toothpaste tube squeezers and 25-cent tips for the yard man, but at least they don’t go around hiring choppers for their kid’s birthday party.
When the Obama administration sweeps into office, I look foward to seeing Ariel’s father face a firing squad. Ariel herself will be sent to a forced-labor camp for youthful offenders. ¡Viva la revolucion!.
Grumble, grumble. On to the Free Press and there was Mitch Albom, ever the edgy opinionator, going waaaay out on a limb to stake his claim that religious fanatics who shun doctors and sit idly by praying while their kids die of treatable diseases are — hold on to your hats — bad parents. But where is the qualifier? Ah yes, here it is:
Now I know there are many of us who believe “God has a plan.” And I hope and pray that’s true.
But I’m betting His plan doesn’t include us sitting around doing nothing.
Well-said, brave boy! My brother thinks picking on Mitch Albom is a waste of time. I heartily agree. And yet, I cannot stop.
Finally, in despair, I thought a little celebrity gossip might do me some good. Uh, no:
Madonna wants to remake “Casablanca,” set it in Iraq, and play the Ingrid Bergman role. Dr. Kevorkian on speed-dial for that one, baby.
So how was your weekend?
Oh, I shouldn’t complain. It wasn’t that bad. We got our drain cleared, the dog got his annual shots and an “excellent” from the vet, and as they say, who has anything to complain about, really? Not me. But I do still have some work to do, so that’s it for now.