Wednesday, November 30, 2005

kitty power

the weather in Chicago ...


When The City Eats Your Soul

When The City Eats Your Soul
Where do you go when you've had enough of the urban grind but still crave it like heroin?
By Mark Morford

Then come those times, like when you walk out your front door on a calm sunny Sunday morn and find your shiny new car has been smashed by a hit-and-run driver to the tune of 14 grand's worth of repairs and your heart sinks and your normally Zenlike ennui boils over and you look around your grungy metropolitan neighborhood with a sudden mix of resignation and revulsion and an uncontrollable hissing sigh, that you realize how fed up you are with life in the city.

It happens, now and then, like a wave of nausea and heaving frustration, all aimed at the congestion and the traffic and the parking woes, the spitting lunatic homelessness and the lack of space and the lack of quiet and the random urban demons careening around the 'hood smashing windows and exchanging gunfire and peeing on your stoop when you say to yourself, You know what? I've loved and endured the city in equal turns for nearly 10 years now, and maybe that's enough, and isn't it about time I found some quiet and green and a yard and a dog and a parking space to call my own?

It's a question, I'm sure, asked by every city dweller past the age of, say, 32, the age where your hip grungy stained "artist's" apartment with the peeling vinyl flooring and limp water pressure and the horde of twentysomething partyers who live behind you and who smoke like factories and stay up 'til 5 a.m. snorting coke and playing acoustic guitar very very badly, it all switches from being funky and charming and urban to utterly obnoxious and tiring, and don't these people have jobs?

It is the time, in other words, wherein you hit that very special crossroads where you decide either to suck it up and accept the trade-off of calm energy for urban sophistication, or you think about getting the hell out. Or, better yet, you dream of doing both.

I am at this point. I have a lovely and well-maintained and relatively enormous flat in San Francisco and I love it to death, but I've been here a very long time and it can exhaust and frustrate and I've had two cars smashed and endured endless sirens and homeless screams in the night. There is not enough green. There is far too much gray. You cannot rent forever. Or can you?

If you live in the Bay Area, it is a question both complicated and unbearable. After all, where the hell can you go? Where can you still buy a home in this region that's even reasonably city-adjacent and urban-accessible that has its own delicious non-uptight community that will still clock in at well under half a million dollars for something more than 900 square feet of cheaply built, cracked-foundation bliss?

This is the real conundrum: where to obtain city-like charms with cabin-in-the-woods quiet and space for under the cost of selling the ovum of a blue-eyed geisha on the Japanese black market? After all, the Bay Area real estate market is nothing if not a hellbitch of investment discouragement. You take a deep breath and make a few Web site clicks and take one look at prices around the region and you go, Oh holy hell, I guess I'll just stay in my sad rent-controlled limbo a while longer and besides what's a little gunfire and urine when a small fixer-upper in Sausalito is 800K, without windows?

Of course, the ripest bohemian dream is to have, well, both: the hip urban pad and a weekend woodsy getaway, maybe Calistoga or Occidental or Bodega or Russian River or Sebastopol, something up in the rolling pristine fogless green, a place to escape the urban grind, a writing-sex-hot-tub-meditation-bring-some-friends-up-for-the-weekend retreat where you can go and plant some lavender and work on the deck and think about the meaning of single-malt scotch.

I have visited these regions. I have felt the calm verdant hum. When there, it is impossible not to fantasize about sticking around, about buying my own private quarter acre near the organic farmlands and the neohippies and the winemakers, the artist communes and the spiritual renegades and the slightly mad alt-millionaire geniuses who live well off the grid, all while still somehow maintaining a link to the beloved city.

Is such a dual existence possible? Check that: Is such an existence possible on a columnist's salary? Does Bush speak with nuanced polysyllabic intelligence?

Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe there is a way and I just don't know it, a way to live the dual urban/pastoral dream without going into 30 years of runaway debt, without cashing in every nest-egg stock you ever owned and without borrowing three-quarters of a million dollars from the bank even as you stock up on tuna and water and canned beans for when the Big One hits and wipes it all off the map anyway.

This, then, is the big conundrum. Because a city like San Francisco, well, it gets in the blood. It is difficult to shake. I want to get out, but I don't want to leave. San Francisco remains one of the most desirable places to live in the world, the most electric and accessible and radiant and walkable urban jungles still without a Wal-Mart in its city limits, all resulting in the eternal S.F. lament, ongoing for the past decade: Relatively young? Make a decent salary (even two, combined)? Love the city? Want to lay down some roots and maybe buy a nice house? Good for you. Now get the hell out, because you can't possibly afford it.

So then, like countless city dwellers, I wait. I long. For the lottery win, for the market to implode (ha), for miracles and magic and time to heal all ridiculously inflated prices. I read the stories that claim the Bay Area housing market is cooling off -- which, around here, is a bit like saying the sun has dropped eight degrees from its recent high of 59 billion Fahrenheit. I dwell in schizophrenia, longing to stay in the city but getting hit by massive cravings to flee to calmer regions whenever the drug dealers four blocks away look at me like they're the hammer and I'm the nail.

Meantime, the yellowish vinyl tile in my rent-controlled kitchen is from 1974. I shall convince myself it is full of urban personality and charm. I shall pretend that I have enormous storage space and a closet larger than a gym locker and that my car will be protected by a magic force field generated by fierce German angels sent me by the Audi corporation. I shall buy more plants, ignore the broken glass in the street, turn up the Supergrass and the BRMC and the Thievery Corporation to drown out the sirens and the screams. It is, perhaps, for the time being, the only way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the weather in chicago

28 degrees
"cold cut"

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 24, 2005

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 24, 2005

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
Writing in the Robb Report, Jack Smith reported on the fate of a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite claret from Thomas Jefferson's personal collection. In 1985, it sold at an auction in London for what would today be $187,000. A few months later, while it was being displayed, exhibition lights dried out the cork, which fell into the bottle. The prized collectible was spoiled. The moral of the story, as far as you're concerned, is this: When you obtain a valuable resource from the past in the coming weeks, either use it or protect it from prying eyes. Don't show it off or boast about it.

weather in chicago

50 degrees
"early Gift"

Salon on Harry Potter -Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"

Harry and his friends are growing up, but this latest Potter film may leave you struggling with your own childhood demons.

Editor's note: This review contains minor spoilers, particularly for those who haven't read the book.

By Stephanie Zacharek

Nov. 17, 2005 | Mike Newell's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the fourth film based on J.K. Rowling's popular but not easily categorized series of novels, may be likely to inspire admiration rather than warm affection, at least while you're watching it. There are stretches where Newell's picture, even as it radiates thoughtfulness and integrity, feels more methodical than magical. He and screenwriter Steve Kloves (who also adapted the first three Harry Potter pictures) have taken great care in streamlining the complicated fbplot of Rowling's novel, but even so, you can almost hear the gears turning from scene to scene.

But I now think "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" may be more like a drug that slips into your bloodstream and takes a few hours to get to work. I didn't sleep well the night after I saw "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire": In my dreams, the picture reshaped itself into a somber, shuddering, gray mosaic, a solemn reassurance that, just as I've always feared, everything is not quite right with the world. "Goblet of Fire," nobly faithful to its source material, is an end-of-childhood picture: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), now 14, has returned to Hogwarts for his fourth year. The school is to host the Triwizard Tournament, an international competition so dangerous it's been put on hold for many years. Students from two other wizard schools -- their fancifully descriptive faux-French and bogus-Bulgarian names are Beauxbatons Academy and the Durmstrang Institute -- will visit Hogwarts for the year; one student from each school will be chosen, after putting his or her name into the mystical Goblet of Fire, to compete in the games. No student under 17 is allowed to even enter.

But somehow, when the goblet spits forth the names of the chosen contestants, Harry's name is among them, inciting rancor and resentment among his classmates, especially Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), who, with Emma Watson's Hermione Granger, is one of his two closest friends. Ron is convinced that Harry put his own name into the cup, and his jealousy is so great that he refuses to speak to Harry, at one point withholding crucial information that could keep Harry from harm. But before long it becomes clear that someone at the school -- we don't learn who until the very end -- put Harry's name into the goblet in the hope that he'll be killed during the dangerous proceedings (which include outwitting a vicious dragon to procure a golden Faberge-type egg that contains the clue to the next task). And although we're never told as much, it's obvious that whoever dunked Harry's name in the goblet is a servant of the venomous Lord Voldemort, who wants to see Harry killed.

"Goblet of Fire" is neither as garishly dumb as Christopher Columbus' first two Harry Potter pictures, "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," nor as lyrical as Alfonso Cuarón's beautifully tuned "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." Cuarón's picture was a great romantic fantasy grounded in naturalism, and the first Potter adaptation to show any real understanding of its source material. Newell's movie is equally faithful to the fourth book's tone, but its poetry has a completely different texture. This is a brooding, somber story, a metaphor for the painful segue from childhood to adolescence. It balances the exhilaration of independence -- one of the great joys of growing up -- with the sobering realization that being a grown-up means there's no one around to protect you.

Newell begins building that sense of dread in the first scene: We see an old man climbing a shadowy flight of stairs and peering into a firelit room, where we get a glimpse of a small, pale, pinched embryo of evil -- Lord Voldemort, in his current, weakened form -- giving instructions to two of his henchmen, his voice a cross between a hiss and a purr. Later, Lord Voldemort's mark -- a skull with a swerving snake issuing from its lipless, leering mouth -- appears in the night sky tattooed in bold plumes of smoke, a signal to his followers that he's preparing for his reemergence into the world, stronger than he was before.

But none of this is adequate preparation for what happens at the end of "Goblet of Fire." To describe the unsettling form Lord Voldemort ultimately assumes -- a shape that Ralph Fiennes, with the cunning of a demon himself, has poured himself into -- would be tantamount to giving away the end of a thriller. (And "Goblet of Fire" is, in essence, a thriller.) The last moments of "Goblet of Fire" also contain a mourning scene that's operatic in scale. Its intensity is overwhelming, and it reaffirms the strengths of Rowling's books: Like all great children's literature, the Harry Potter novels are really explorations of the ghosts that haunt adults long after they've grown up and left home -- feelings of longing and loss, of vulnerability and the desire for transcendence.

Shot in misty gray tones by Roger Pratt (also the D.P. on "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"), "Goblet of Fire" has the hushed glow of old silver, like a weird treasure that's been locked away in a chest for decades. It's not a particularly pretty movie, and leaving the screening, I heard one moviegoer grumbling about its being "in black-and-white." But its look has the same grudging beauty that, once you get used to it, English weather does: It's so defiant in its grayness that you come to appreciate its conviction. Newell is the first English director to make a Harry Potter movie, and if Cuarón's vision of Potter's world was a dream England, Newell's is one that vibrates with realism -- nostalgic realism, maybe, since so much of the picture's imagery has a late '60s vibe. Early in the movie we see a small city of tents set up by the sports fans who have come to see the Quidditch World Cup, a scene of pseudo-hippie resourcefulness and bonhomie lifted straight from the 1969 Isle of Wight rock festival. (And then there are the movie's small, sly, rock 'n' roll touches, like the psychedelic-looking anti-Harry Potter badges worn by the more resentful students, and the Betsey Johnson-style fur-trimmed rock-star coats favored by the statuesque Beauxbatons' headmistress, Madame Maxime, played by English stage actress Frances de la Tour. There's also a fleeting cameo by Jarvis Cocker, the most English of English rock stars since Ray Davies.)

One of the pleasures of the "Harry Potter" series is reconnecting with familiar characters and seeing how new ones fit into the mix. "Goblet of Fire" brings us Cho, the Hogwarts classmate on whom Harry has a crush, played with great charm by young Scotswoman Katie Leung: She has only a few scenes, but they're lovely. And Brendan Gleeson is Mad-Eye Moody, a roughed-up, curmudgeonly newcomer to the Hogwarts faculty, who's fitted with a fake metal leg and a false eye that rolls around crazily in its artificial socket, like a cue ball with a mind of its own.

Another of the series' pleasures has been watching the actors who play the three leads, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson, grow out of their childish mugging and develop a greater range of subtle emotions. Newell is especially sensitive, as Rowling is, to that strange, underwater period in which girls and boys begin to realize what they want out of life, coupled with the miserable recognition that other girls and boys -- sexually elusive, maddening creatures that they are -- hold the key. This adolescent bewilderment manifests itself differently in each character: Harry, like a doofus, dribbles water from his mouth when he catches Cho looking at him across the dinner hall; Ron's jaw drops when he gets a gander at the twitching bottoms of the Beauxbatons' girls ("Bloody hell!" he mutters, the only appropriate response); and Hermione, most heartbreaking of all, can barely contain her frustration that it never even occurs to Ron to ask her to the big Yule Ball. (She ends up going with Durmstrang's star athlete, the sullen-sexy Viktor Krum, played by Stanislav Ianevski.)

The scenes leading up to the dance, as well as the event itself, may not be the most dramatic scenes in the picture, but they're its emotional center. In spirit, they're a twin to Alex Chilton's great Big Star song "Thirteen," which begins, "Won't you let me walk you home from school?/ Won't you let me meet you at the pool?" before winding its way to "Won't you tell me what you're thinking of?/ Would you be an outlaw for my love?" -- as devastating an encapsulation as any of the way, in retrospect, our first youthful attachments only appear to have been weightless; at the time they're happening, they mean the world.

Ron and Harry, both rejected by their first choices, ask girls they don't really know (very pretty ones, at that), and then, in their cluelessness, ignore them the whole evening. Hermione, who makes an entrance in a jaw-dropping satiny evening dress -- a triumph of Jany Temime's costuming, the dress makes her look like neither a dumb ingenue nor a tarted-up performer in a dance recital -- conducts herself far more gracefully, but at the end of the night, frustrated by Ron's inattentiveness (and, probably, by the fact that she wants his attention at all), she plunks herself down on a set of stairs and removes her shoes, probably her first grown-up pair, which are clearly hurting her feet.

Ralph Fiennes' Lord Voldemort may be the most deeply disturbing image from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." But the movie's overall aura of impending change is unsettling in itself. At the end of the picture, as Ron, Hermione and Harry are about to part for the summer, Hermione -- usually so brisk and matter-of-fact -- seems unusually troubled by something. She looks at Harry and blurts out, "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?" Harry reaches out to her, and with a little laugh of resignation, says, "Yes." Because everything is going to change. Voldemort is back, which is horrible enough by itself. But Hermione, earlier than the others have, has latched onto a disquieting truth. She's just realized they're all on the other side of childhood, looking back. There's nowhere to go but forward.

salon reviews RENT


Who knew a movie musical could be worse than last year's over-the-top travesty "Phantom of the Opera"?

By Stephanie Zacharek

Nov. 23, 2005 | Oh, the plight of the struggling artist in New York, circa 1989: It's so hard to maintain your integrity when your parents keep leaving annoying, concerned messages on your answering machine, your old roommate marries a rich girl and is suddenly no longer amused by bad performance art, and, worst of all, your friends insist on dying of AIDS.

Chris Columbus' version of Jonathan Larson's alleged rock musical "Rent" spends most of its time congratulating itself on its own open-mindedness. Experimental filmmaking? Neat! Exotic dancing? Yeah! Homosexuality? Everybody into the pool! The movie's spirit of aggressive inclusivity reaches its apex in the noisy song-and-dance number "La Vie Boheme," in which the characters take over a bunch of tables in the middle of an East Village restaurant and mime several mildly non-missionary-style sex acts, just to show how open they are to alternative ways of, you know, living life. "When you're living in America at the end of the millennium," sings one character earnestly, in a different number, after he's tried to sell out and discovers the world of actually making a living just doesn't suit him, "you are what you own." Truer words were never sung, at least not since Florence Henderson donned a dirndl in "Song of Norway."

I wasn't sure a movie musical could be worse than last year's styrofoam-and-gilt swan-boat travesty "Phantom of the Opera," but I'm afraid "Rent" proves me wrong. The early scenes aren't so bad: At least the performers, and the absurd lyrics they're asked to sing, have earnestness on their side. The crushed-by-life rock star (Adam Pascal), the aspiring experimental filmmaker (Anthony Rapp), the beautiful-but-troubled dancer (Rosario Dawson), all prance and pirouette with gusto through the big opening number, wondering aloud, "How we gonna pay last year's rent?" They may be poor, but they know what their assets are: Later Dawson, who has the hots for Pascal and hopes to jolt him out of the funk he's been in since his junkie girlfriend committed suicide, scoots down on all fours and sings, "They say that I have the best ass below 14th Street." The evidence, as it twitches before us, is irrefutable.

But because -- and consider this a spoiler alert -- "Rent" is a story about life, love and loss, someone is going to die, and you can bet it's not going to be the obnoxious, sub-Karen Finley performance artist played by Idina Menzel: The sacrificial lamb here is the sweet, beloved-by-all tranny (Wilson Jermaine Heredia, who at one point offers a reasonably enjoyable number dressed in a cute Santa-girl outfit, even if Columbus shoots the sequence with patchwork-quilt visual craziness). As if that weren't enough, we get a further milking from a shameless almost-death scene at the end of the picture, in which a character goes limp, supposedly hearing the angels' clarion call. Columbus' camera travels with unvarnished deliberateness down that character's dangling arm, lingering on the lifeless fingers, which, lo and behold, begin to twitch with life. Not 30 seconds later, the whole gang is laughing and hugging, remarking on what a close call that was. We get all the poignance of a death scene and still get to go home with our happy ending.

Looking back on that scene, I almost can't believe it wasn't some sort of sick joke. But "Rent" is dead serious. Even though the picture is jampacked with enthusiastic singing, it's devoid of any real feeling -- its robotic, "Up With People" vigor leaves behind a cold, metallic aftertaste. I never saw the stage version of "Rent," so I'm not sure if Columbus has cluelessly trampled on Larson's material or, worse yet, merely presented it faithfully. (Larson died of an aortic aneurym just before the play went into previews in 1996.) But either way, Columbus isn't graceful enough as a filmmaker to navigate the story's smiley-face/sad-face twists and turns. The movie feels cluttered and forced; the scenes clunk along with an oompah-band rhythm.

What's most disheartening about "Rent" is watching all these performers work so hard, for so little payoff: It's frustrating to have an ensemble of young actors who can sing and dance (among them the eminently likable Rosario Dawson, and Taye Diggs, who's wasted here), and to realize that this is the best material anyone has to offer them. There's very little that's remotely musical about "Rent": The songs are like a vaudeville performer's idea of that newfangled rock music the kids are so nuts about these days.

And then there are the lyrics: "I'm looking for baggage that will go with mine," coos one troubled character to her potential soul mate. "You'll be my queen, I'll be your moat," sings another character to the guy he's fallen hard for. Larson wrote "Rent" as a reimagining of "La Bohéme," an exploration of the beauty and pain of being young, poor and artistically inclined and striving to express yourself. It's a fine idea in theory, but in the end, "Rent" is about nothing more than the oppressiveness of other people's self-expression. The depressed rock star in "Rent" takes a year to write one song. But the three minutes we spend listening to it seems interminable.

Stephanie Zacharek is a senior writer for Salon Arts & Entertainment.

Story finder (3 ways to search S

thanksgiving week

I went to leave town on tuesday afternoon, after a beastly Monday afternoon. I left the parking lot late and headed home to get my cat and get back on the highway. 1/2 way home, i was flagged by an old lady and younger man (her son) in their car alerting me that i had a flat tired. I pulled into a FLAT place on HOward Ave in East NY and couldnt save my back tire that had a nasty screw deep in it. It cost me 50.00 CASH to get my ass on the road. I didnt like the sound of my new brakes, they have been back at the shop and i didnt like the sound but they screached Once and it was a rainy rainy day.
I decided to go to MAssachusetts and see how hte brakes were.

well 95 became a 3-6 parking lot and my new brakes got broken in. when i cleared 95 for 91 and then 84 i was cruising on at a great clip but i lost 2 hours travel time on 95. I made it to my parents with kitty o' love none worse for the wear. i picked up dinner and ate talking to my dad.
i got up wednesday and dropped my car off at the glass place. on my trip back from philly recently, i got hit by the flying rock and it nicked my windshield pretty bad so my dad called MILFORD GLASS and they could do my car wednesday and Bill my insurance directly for NO OUT THE POCKET costs to me. GLASS coverage is great.. so the toyota went to the shop and i went to WEight watchers in my father's maxima..
my mother went to meet my aunt and i met up with dad at home. i changed and we went to the bank, to get coffee, to the grocery store and the post office. we came home and i made these jello and yogurt and cool whip pies that i had made before.
MY neices have elevated PKU levels so they cannot have any sugar or fat free products, Those disclaimers that warn for Phenylalaine is for them. so they asked if i would make these pies especially for them. SO i did.
I then went to target with my dad and got home and my car was ready. I didnt have time to go to the outlet mall so i went to dinner with my parents.

Thursday, i woke up to a blanket of snow. I went out for coffee and the papers and ended up at BRooks or CVS twice for crap my mom forgot. Applesauce, PAM etc. it was cold in Massachusetts and my sister in law came over to start to cook. I had to run interference with her use of butter on veggies. She uses a stick of butter on everything. I baked butternut squash and a baked YAM and baked haddock and ate broccoli. I was able to avoid her peas, corn and pearl unions, mashed potatoes.

i played Rummy with my neices.. well i coached heather for a while. I looked at paiges cards and katies cards and cheated for heather. I didnt talk to my brother or my brother in law really. i dont have anything to say. My sister and i charted her black friday shopping.
i took her kids and she hit the stores. She hit the doorbusters on wednesday night and got some great bargains. She was going to sears and jc penny to get TVs and play station crap.

Paige and heather and i played cards and talked about current events. THey said they didnt care about the environment til we started talking about the ozone layer and hybrids and the oil prices and how the rainforest is being killed off. Paige talked about the second world war and hitler and asked alot of questions about the crematorium and the holocaust. she lives in a town where racism is rampant and she cannot disclose she is a jew. Kids walk around saluting hitler and we got to talk about how the town she lives in has the KLAN and the history of having the KLAN. crosses were burned on the neighors yard. my parents were talking with us about current events . i told paige about Anne Frank and how there were christians in europe who helped save jews. My dad will get them Schindlers list and i will send Paige the Diary of Anne Frank.

Unfortunately when you are the minority in a small new england town, you tend to want to hide. I still found myself putting my star of david in my shirt in NO WHERE North Carolina. Growing up as one of 35 jewish families, you learn to be unsafe. WE got to talk to paige about how unsafe being a jew facing anti semitism can feel.

paige and i watched FLY AWAY HOME and heather and katie watched Finding NEMO. they asked if they could sleep in my bed while i slept on the couch. Friday, i made em breakfast as my mom went to get her hair done and then i went to Kohl for their doorbuster. I scored the kids, Disney SCENE IT. These scene it games are DVD guessing games. So they had Harry Potter and wanted disney. I got it for more than 10.00 less then it was being offered. I went to get myself the MAGIC BULLET and got two pairs of levis and some socks.

i got home and we were ready to leave to go see Harry Potter. I liked this movie better than the last one. Paige has a learning disability so she doesnt read the books, Heather and Katie absorbed them this summer and read em all so they know more of the story and quoted me names and places. i had them bring me HP 1-3 so i could read em. so i brought them home with me. I will fill in the story and ill see the movies again
I really liked the movie. My father wanted more magic and my mom drifted off. She too is learning disabled and cant follow the plot lines easily. THe kids stuffed themselves on popcorn. I ate an apple. and we went back to my parents after a trip to the dollar store.
my sister, brother and their spouces were at my moms and we ate dinner. I then went shopping at Target again. i wanted the 4.14 crock pot for two and a new coffee maker for 4.14 as a spare.

saturday, i went to the outlets in wrenthem after i went to Kohls with my mom to get my neices some bras. I got two bras (thanks mom) and some cash from her. She paid me for the Kohls cash i got on friday and for some gift cards i had. I ended up with cash, she got the product

i went to the gap outlet and Liz Claibourne and ended up with sweaters and some shirts. I went to corning and bought some muffin tins (buy one get one free) and some pyrex bowls. I got gifts for Carol my favorite WW leader and i got my secret santa crap. I bought water proof boots for winter at BASS for 35 dollars and i bought gloves

i met up with my parents and we went to RENT. i was self conscious because of the topics and characters in the movies and was concerned about my parents response. They liked the movie and the characters. My mother thought that it was typical NY bohemia of the late 80s and thought some of it was dated. My dad didnt say much. I think i will see the movie again. I remember when they were filming it on Wooster street. I really understood better than the stage play. I think Angel needed a larger role and tie the characters together like she did in the play. The play was more confusing due to the limits of the setting but the plot is the same. I liked the movie alot.

i saw rent over 10 years i think. we had tickets for kids and i sat in the back of hte balcony on a snowy snowy january night. the theater was warm. it was cold and it was around my birthday. I remember the winter in the play and in the movie. I remember the night i saw them filming the scene where MIMI and Roger hook up and how they were making snow in soho while i walked to canal street. The large street that abuts the LOFT is supposed to be canal and Thompkins square park and 2nd ave are in the movie. I love seeing NYC in movies

i will not see KiNG KONG but ill see memoirs of a geisha and Munich. I remember the night Jim McKay reported the Israeli wrestling team was killed. I woke my parents up to times. i stayed up later and woke them when ARmstrong walked on the moon and the night the israeli wrestling team was killed. I remember being in tears for the loss.. the jews of the world felt that loss.

last night, i went to dinner with parents and i got up early and drove back to NY. I am going back to work a day early. my new boss seems to sign off on time off and then use it in emails or verbally as punishment. I dont need the day so i cancelled a day off. i emailed her and informed her that i would be back at work.

so i will go back to work... ho ho ho

The Smart-Mouth Wise Guy!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005


thanksgiving day growing up in Massachusetts always included a trip to Plimouth Rock and learning about the Pilgrims. School days leading up to thanksgiving was day trips and drawings of turkeys and buckle shoes.
Then thanksgiving day became about going to the HIgh School football game. when Milford HIgh school played St Marys it was weeks of rivalry and the winner had bragging rights for a year. It was the Public education against the only Catholic high school in the area. THere was always an undercurrent of tension, Thanksgiving day allowed it to be played out in the open. Medway vs Millis, the high school of my mother and my cousins still have a 60 or 70 year rivalry today.
when St Marys closed down, it was milford vs Shrewsbury. We didnt know them, they didnt know us. they were people, just a team to beat.
going to the games in sweaters and leather gloves was more about being seen and who was with who then about the game, To fit in you went to the game

once i went to college, it was about coming home and being with relatives who i realized i didnt like. My cousin Norma loved the Macys day parade. the holiday became about who did the work and who didnt and sneaking off to smoke cigarettes. Thanksgiving day didnt have the same meaning

one thanksgiving, my aunt and her clan decided not to come over at the last minute. Leaving my mother like a deflated balloon as my cousin's wife was cooking for them. Years of tradition... 40 years of tradition down the drain. The holiday changed again

my mother cooked and i invited my neices for a sleep over to cheer my mother. That sleep over continues. the kids come over and we watch movies and we eat popcorn and get goofy. My mom has them to replace the fact that her sister stiffed her and left her deflated. My neices will get donuts for breakfast (they love em) and we will go to see the latest HOTEST movie. Again, another Harry Potter movie.

another thanksgiving, now my sister in law cooks at my moms.. her sister refused to come to her so she and her dad will come to my mom.. she uses too much butter and really isnt flexible in her cooking. so i end up with separate meals.. i will take my neices for a walk and watch DVDs and play cards with them.

maybe ill take pictures of them and let them take pictures of me...

i am leaving on tuesday and will be there wed- monday..

i have lots to be thankful for this year and every year

weather in chicago


walk the line

i went to see Walk the Line on Friday.

Walk the Line From Imbd

Finding the trauma in his life whisked away by the power of song, Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) commits his early years to understanding how music works, and looking for his big break. After marrying young (Vivian Cash is played by Ginnifer Goodwin), Cash soon takes to the road, touring along with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) while his records climb the charts. Unsatisfied with his situation, Cash soon starts to chase Carter, who reluctantly gives in to him and soon regrets her decision when Cash's life dissolves into a kaleidoscope of anger, pills, and disappointment.

Writer/director James Mangold clearly has a soaring affection for Johnny Cash, since "Walk the Line" is a straight-up love letter to the late, great singing legend. However, in his effort to illustrate the power of will Cash demonstrated in his life, Mangold's focus is thrown askew, making "Line" all about Cash's demons, and displaying almost none of his joy.

Cringingly, "Walk the Line" is as formulaic a biographical picture as can be made. "Line" follows the same route as last year's Oscar winning "Ray," taking the audience on a ride through broken childhood, professional growth, heavy womanizing, and ultimately drugs and despair. It seems that anything related to music has to follow these pathways; yet, these films continue to be made, completely oblivious that they are all alike. Mangold is a director with some sense of personality ("Girl, Interrupted," "Cop Land"), so it's a surprise that he would stoop to keeping "Line" so attentive to the familiar. Thankfully, Cash's cinematic story is a convincing one, taking the singer from the tragic loss of his older brother as a child to the heights of fame to his stormy courtship with the unresponsive June Carter. "Walk the Line" is basic to a fault, but it has the raw materials to get it at least halfway to success.

Taking the film the rest of the way are the performances, which are spellbinding. Joaquin Phoenix takes the challenge to impersonate Cash very seriously, and he sweats, glares, and stalks his way to a meticulous performance. In a dramatic choice, Mangold has instructed his cast to do their own singing, allowing the performers to slip into the skin of the songs and feel around. Phoenix does a spot-on job mimicking Cash's baritone and swagger, at times becoming one with the man in black. Phoenix is no stranger to jittery, internalized roles, so his domestic Cash is decent work. It's only when Phoenix hits the stage does the audience see just how far the actor has dug into his role. The concert sequences are electric, and prop the film up when Mangold finds himself wailing the audience over the head with Cash's dark moments.

Reese Witherspoon's performance is the real surprise here. Also doing her own signing, Witherspoon has the perfect twang to bring June Carter to life. Her chemistry with Phoenix onstage is worth the price of admission alone, with the two actors making every moment together in performance glowing (also crucial to their characters). Unfortunately, when Carter is off the stage, the script reduces her to a nag, constantly berating Cash about his lifestyle choices. Mangold isn't particularly kind to women in "Line," and maybe that's the way Cash saw his own life. For the film to work, however, Carter needed to be seen as a siren that Cash couldn't live without, but that feeling is never solidified. Instead of swooning over the couple and their battles to love each other, "Line" becomes a giant exercise in figuring out just what Carter saw in Cash in the first place. Not quite what Mangold had in mind, I'm sure.

As "Line" delves further and further into Cash's addictions and downward spiral, less time to given to his musical triumphs, robbing the film of a true depiction. The legendary Folsom Prison concert, which lightly bookends the film, is a powerhouse, cleanly displaying the fire in Cash's belly, as well as his mischief. There isn't enough of that in "Line;" the dedication to the drug abuse encompassing way too much screen time, and steals away focus from the romance in the Cash and Carter union. "Walk the Line" only tells part of the Cash legend (the film ends in the late 1960s), with a heartbreaking coda (which states that Cash died in 2003 a mere four months after June), hinting that perhaps Mangold was looking in the wrong era to find out what made Johnny Cash tick. ---- 6/10


my personal opinion is that is a good movie. not a great movie. I liked that JP and RW did their own singing and i think that the chemistry between them waxes and wanes. I love the love story. The committment as friends. Their relationship is the centerpiece of the movie and i love how the movie is organized. From FOLSON PRISON and then in flashback
its similar to RAY but so wasnt CAsh's story.

i love that the other SUN artists were cast and did their own singing. I walked out wanted to know more about JUNE, maybe cuz i know alot about Johnny. I loved Reese WItherspoon in this role.. OSCAR NOMINATIONS all round
its a MUST see

Saturday, November 19, 2005

dreams of tickets and the mcgarrigles/wainwrights

i dreamed that i received a parking ticket. I then looked at all the cars on the same block and then they had tickets too for expired parking meters. I came back to my car after being away and i saw a slip of paper. I thought NO i cant get another ticket. it wasnt a ticket it was a note that someone put the fare in the meter and saved me from getting a ticket. it was Donna, the woman who cuts my hair. I went into the shop and i thanked her. I raised the issue of getting the ticket and her paying my meter fare. I wanted to thank her. I turned the leave and then reached in my pocket and handed her a dollar

I dreamed that i was at brownstone, like the ones in park slope and in the basement or lower apartment was the Mcgarrigle sister, I saw the family clan. Rufus Wainwright and Martha heading into the apartment. The feeling of the dream was i was watching it more than i was in it

Thursday, November 17, 2005

dreaming again

last night i had a crazy dream about chicago

dont ask anything else about it.

i have been sleeping fine except that oNE Time i wake up about 4am...

chicago has been a dream theme

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 17, 2005

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 17, 2005

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
In their new book The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, Brenda James and William Rubinstein make an interesting case for the theory that the real author of Shakespeare's works was the diplomat and courtier Sir Henry Neville. I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable about the subject to evaluate their arguments, but I'm pretty sure that you will soon have a feeling similar to what Neville might be having if he were alive. Some reward or credit that has long been denied you will finally be yours. Vindication is nigh.

dreaming again


I dreamed about something having to do with Chicago. The city not the musical but i saw a version of the word Eiliat or Eilat or Eliat in my dream and i am not sure if it refers to hte Israel city or some other obscure reference from my subscious

i know that I had something to do in Chicago...

snippets anyone

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

dreaming again

i dreamed that i got a period. I thought it was odd because i havent had one since March 2005. so the sight of blood in my dream caused me to know that i could still have a period any day. I dont think of it often anymore and know as long as i am having some sort of hot flashes i will not have a period. But in my dream i did.
the Loss of blood can mean a loss of energy and fatigue and loss of the life force

in another dream, i had a card or program that at locations on it. point pleasure was one of the places on the map. In the dream, i handed the card to Natalie Merchant who is not longer being called MS Merchant ( in the dream, at least) and she playfully drew and wrote on the card. she outlines the maps and in black sharpie wistfully played with the drawings, added her own. When she handed it back to me, i was surprised she was so playful. Point Pleasure was outlined on the card

Sunday, November 13, 2005

looks like Participant studio is socially responsible

Stand up and Participate

Participant studio who produced North Country, Good Luck and Good Night and Syriana
have webpages where forums of discussion about

informedia vs news for Good NIght and good Luck

Domestic Violence and Sexual Harrassment for North Country

and OIL usage and dependance for Syriana

its socially responsible movies and movie going .

i saw good quality movies and supported causes as well
i have been on a movie binge.

Last weekend, i saw Good Luck and Good Night.
george clooney directed this black and white movie depicting Edward J Murrow's expose of the McCarthy Hearings with the underlying themes of being accused of being guilty without evidence and how government can ruin the lives of people who are deemed Enemy of the state. In 1950, the media had to present both sides so McCarthy is allowed a rebuttal. News clips are used brilliantly by Clooney. Look for the oscar nomination for David strahairn as Murrow is magnificent and Clooney as fred friendly is great. Langella as Paley and Downey Jr is great too

there were some girls who were analyzing the character development and superficial plot. I informed them that Clooney's real state is the current state of the MEdia today and role of the government in making dissenters enemies of the state.
they just didnt get the analogy.

I then saw Chicken Little in 3D

its not the best movie but the characters are cool. The plot falls a part with the aliens and i thought that it would have been clever to add some ET references, which i missed totally. the little stranded alient sets the audience up for ET but fails to use that.
the Mallad who read beauty magazines so she can overcome being the ugly duckling and the runt of the little who self soothes by singing 70s r&B tunes are the best. Chicken Little has references that GO way over the kids heads but made me laugh and Garry Marshall is a great dad's voice
i loved the 3D and kept peeking beyond the glasses to see the screen
lots of the kids cried to have to wear them. the ages of the kids would be important to keep the glasses on

This weekend i finally caught North Country

i loved the midwest accents, Midwest culture that is depicted and the Dylan soundtrack
Charlize Theron doesnt take the easy road out. Her characters and performances are always intense. The theme of Domestic violence, Sexual Harrassment, Loyalty to oaths and the brotherhood, Union loyalty, and standing for what you believe and what is true run through the movie. Its an oscar nomination performances for Sissy Spacek, Robert Julien and Charlize Theron.

lastly a few weeks ago, i saw Capote

the story of Truman Capote from when he reads about the murder of the family in Kansas and pursuades his NYer Editor that he and his personal assistant Harper Lee are going to investigate to write an article for the NYer. It soon is obvious that his a book. The book becomes IN COLD BLOOD. Capote is depicted as a spoiled narcissistic devious imp who is determined and manipulative and getting the story that he wants. His impatience and arrogance and lack of understanding of those around him is putting it kind. Phillip Seymour Hoffman becomes Capote as Strahairn becomes Murrow. Look again to the Academy to nomincate PSHoffman for his portrayal of Capote

celebrity sightings

i have extended my recent celebrity sights to 3

1. Lou reed was two rows behind me at suzanne vega at zankel hall

2. huey lewis was on 7th ave coming from Whole foods

3. mayor koch was buying two tickets to the 725 show of Derailed at the union square theater. I then saw him again as he was entering and i was exiting. He was alone. and so was i

Thursday, November 10, 2005

mooch is the kitty o love

Mooch is the fun loving cat from Mutts. he loves his schnelly who is a house cat and you never see anything but her ears. he romances her and she disses him. he loves food and his little pink sock and sleeping all day. and eating and sleeping and eating..


Big Bird

You scored 72% Organization, 66% abstract, and 66% extroverted!

This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert.
By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an
extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was
somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more
about herself.

You are very organized, more abstract, and both introverted and extroverted.

Here is why are you Big Bird.

You are both very organized. You almost always
know where your belongings are and you prefer things neat. You may even
enjoy cleaning and find it therapeutic. Big Bird is never sloppy and
always under control... pretty good for a 6 year old bird living
without a family.

You both are abstract thinkers. Big Bird is a dreamer who always
wonders what the world is like. You definitely are not afraid to take
chances in life. You only live once. You may notice others around you
playing it safe, but you are more concerned with not compromising your
desires, and getting everything you can out of life. This is a very
romantic approach to life, but hopefully you are also grounded enough
to get by.

You are both somewhat extroverted. Like Big Bird, you probably like to
have some time to yourself, but you do appreciate spending time with
your friends, and you aren't scared of social situations. Big Bird is
always very comfortable around others, but he often prefers the quiet
low-key presence that Snuffleupagus provides.

The other possible characters are

Oscar the Grouch





Kermit the Frog


Cookie Monster

Guy Smiley

The Count

If you enjoyed this test, I would love the feedback! Also if you
want to tell me your favorite Sesame Street character, I can total them
up and post them here. Perhaps your choice will win!

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 77% on Organization
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 77% on concrete-abstra
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 57% on intro-extrovert

Link: The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test written by greencowsgomoo on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

kay gibbons on Success

She recently summed up her philosophy of her success when asked whether she was surprised by everything she has achieved thus far in her career:

KG: I would’ve been surprised had I stumbled blindly into any of it, scratched a lottery ticket and found a prize that would then take me through the rest of my life. I wasn’t “lucky” that the books sold. I wasn’t “surprised” to learn that they’re also taught in literature classes. That sounds arrogant, but it’s not. To be able to write literature that sells takes an almost surreal amount of stubborn persistence; imagination; the ability to forego distractions, such as vacations, men, alcohol; and a willingness to lock oneself in a room and submit oneself to constant, ruthless self-criticism. If a writer is any good, he or she will criticize himself so unmercifully that the reader and the reviewer either have to be misguided or wrong to make too much of a complaint. And there’s something almost fun about fixing that deal in place. That sounds arrogant, and it may be. But it’d be more arrogant to subject readers, nice, hopeful people, to 250 pages of words I had not tried to perfect, that I’d merely typed, as Hemingway said of meaningless writing. I know when it’s being done to me, when clichés are bound or filmed and sold, and I don’t appreciate it, the disrespect for this gift of language and for the people we’re offering it to.

But getting there, to that lucky, sacrificial place, requires long, long stretches of unbroken concentration and more Diet Cokes than most people can or want to tolerate. I love the labor, the sheer manual labor that goes into making these books seem as though they were effortlessly written. I love what has come to feel like a habit of invention. I go about my days stunned that I didn’t waste what Walker Percy called a “knack” for writing.

And there’s the grace that comes when I’m in my daughters’ presence. I go about stunned that I didn’t drop or misplace my children or cause them to be expelled from school for repeating what they learned at home. You see, I live alone with three smart and sober teenage girls—it has taken skill, patience, stamina, and that same kind of “knack.” And like this 40-year custom of reading and writing, the girls are a seriously profound, sustained joy.

You see, I love what I do. I raise three human beings, and I do language for a living—it’s only as terrifying as it is lovely.

the weather in chicago


i will have heros again


i have had two or three nights of dreaming of Mary Chapin Carpenter. the dreams are about not being able to proceed with the charity auction i am organizing because i have not received the goods from her Personal Assistant. Her appearance in my dreams has been in the distance.

last night, i dreamed about the PROMIS system or electronic statistical report that has me consumed at work. the staff have been tweaking it and i have been living in it for days. It is due today.

i also dreamed about some boots i chose to buy, they were used and didnt match. they were gold in color and one was stripped in bold yellow. I hestiated in the dream and then decided to return them. I found where i laid the receipt and called the place. The word RYE was in the title and i had to ask if they were open on sunday.

i also dreamed about having my mamogram done. I walked in to a place that took blood and asked if they took OXFORD, my health provider and they did. I was lead to the mamogram machine, undressed and they took my xrays. I was told to follow up with the doctors persciption that i had at home and to get my prior films so they could do a comparison to my past xrays. I remember being hestitant and skeptical in the dream that i would not be charged for the mamogram and that how convenient it was and quick where my xray center has no parking which is a barrier to my getting the xray.
in the dream, i thought could i send them, get a copy sent, can not go there to get my prior films and how did they take the films without the Doctors perscription. Oxford they would bill my health care provider

needless to say, i dont sleep through the night. i wake with mild hot flashes but no longer get out of bed..

random thoughts

the CMA are coming to NYC, there were photos of brooks and Dunn with our past, current and future, millionaire, metrosexual mayor. it just didnt fit..somehow the only jew that should be wearing a cowboy hat is Kinky Friedman. Bloomberg looked silly
it didnt fit then, it still doesnt..

the promotion started in august with lunch time concerts by Gretchen Wilson, Big n Rich and that Rapping cowboy.. Tickets are scarce and pricey. I tried to get into the Nosebleed seats in the garden (the events i wanted to go to are sold out, industry only or on nights i couldnt make..

the banners annoucing the CMAs are on eastern parkway which isa huge boulevard in brooklyn along the west indian parade route that runs through a Hasidic neighborhood...i have not seem the banners on flag poles in manhattan so they have relegated them to these two minority neighborhoods.. i think they had to put them somewhere.

I turned on my radio monday and caught country music. NYC has not had a country station in at least 5 years. So my ears were caught.. i heard live interviews and two morning guys FROM SEATTLE being piped into NYC...and talking about NYC hosting the CMAs as if they were here but they saying they were in seattle..
something isnt right... that rapping cowboy guy just isnt right..

my ballot tuesday, had Bernard Goetz , a guy who shot three black kids on the subway at point blank. .he is out of jail and running for wasnt some guy named "rents are too high".. i didnt vote for either but i did celebrate my vote......and laughed out loud in the booth.. and pulled the lever...

also it is not right to hang those christmas ornaments before santa arrives on broadway in the macys day parade. actually santa will be coming to the mall in time for the veterans day sales.. when i see the sights and sounds of Xmas, the rockerfeller center xmas tree being put up and smell chestnuts on the reminds me NOT of Xmas IN NYC but of Winter.. the weather has been delightfully warm and i dread those thermals and fleece and down vests...but before xmas comes winter... its not right..

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 10, 2005

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 10, 2005

"The obscure we see eventually," said journalist Edward R. Murrow. "The
completely obvious, it seems, takes longer." You have recently taken
care of the obscure stuff, Capricorn. Through a blend of lucky
accidents and your dogged intelligence, you got to the bottom of a
stuffy old mystery and ripped away the veils that were hiding a
crippled old truth. Now you're finally primed to notice an open secret
that has been right in front of you for quite some time.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election night poem 2005

to mayor bloomberg, a jew with lots of money
who won the first round on the heels of Guiliani
Mr Bloomberg who refused to move to gracie Mansion
but considered the west side for stadium expansion

mr mayor with his teeth so bright
takes the subway to work but never at night
he flies here and there at stones throw
but doesnt think the media has a right to know

michael bloomberg whose campaign shots are so funny
i am sure that air brushing cost him lots of money
the blue blazer thrown over his shoulder
so it one hand that becomes his coat holder

michael bloomberg the man of big ideas
maybe this time, you mind will be clear
the schools are still a mess and subway is worse
maybe those will be NYC's curse

no more take hikes or give backs of taxes
no more hard ball, cuz the unions get the axes
no more talk of 911, terror and scare
if only you were a democrat, you're soul you would bare

mr mayor, i bet you will win again
mr mayor, i cannot say its a sin
mr mayor consider the poor among us
mr mayor i am not sure you have earned our trust

the weather in chicago

Grey area

i watched Anderson Cooper being aaron brown last night and it is anderson cooper 360. a show that was on earlier now covering two time slots. all signs of aaron are gone. the morning papers and the weather in chicago

you can find all the morning front pages of your favorite papers here

Monday, November 07, 2005

i am the champion, i am the champion of the world

Chicken Little saves the big game and does a TOM CRUISE in his underwear, singing I am the champion, I am the champion of the world... Posted by Picasa

Rick Rubin Rebbe to many

Rick Rubin rick rubin, def jam genius who worked with many artists including tom petty, the dixie chicks, red hot chili peppers, acdc, Run DMC/Arrowsmith, and won 4 grammy awards with the Johnny Cash American Recording Series has taken on Neil Diamond.he has stripped Neil's songwriting to its essence. he removed the production and sequined shirts and its all just neil and his words...As for Rubin, he looks like a rabbincal student from Borough park. Put him in a black coat and black hat and give him Tzitism and Payos and he could pass for a Satmar  Posted by Picasa

Neil Diamond will never be cool but Rick Rubin made him Hip ....

Neil Diamond Given The Rick Rubin Treatement

by Paul Cashmere

November 1 2005

Def American founder, legendary producer Rick Rubin, has turned his talents to reinventing Neil Diamond.

Rubin, who has produced Red Hot Chili Peppers and AC/DC, has produced '12 Songs', the new album for Neil Diamond.

Rubin was responsible for putting Johnny Cash in the studio for his final four albums and teaming him with musicians such as Flea from the Chili Peppers and Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and introducing the country legend to songwriters like Nick Cave and Trent Reznor. The results are considered some of cash's best ever work.

Diamond's album features all original songs. "Most of the songs were recorded with Neil playing and singing at the same time," Rick Rubin told Rolling Stone, "and it's a different animal. It's taking him back to being more of a singer-songwriter. He really blows me away."

"I locked myself in the recording studio with a whole box of number 2 pencils, a big stack of my trusty yellow legal pads and a funky old three-quarter size Martin Guitar with an E minor chord that could break your heart" Diamond said in a statement. "Rick was determined not to rush the process, but to wait until we got to the essence of the songs I was working on. I loved the sheer freedom of creating music for its own sake."
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runt of the litter... I will survive

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Patrick McDonnell is the voice of MUTTS

N PERSON; Where The Mild Things Are

Published: September 25, 2005

THE comic strip ''Mutts'' is a throwback. Its daily tales of Earl the dog and Mooch the cat ooze an archaic innocence (and sometimes an anarchic knowingness) that would not have been out of place in a Sunday comics supplement from the 1920's. It's easy to imagine Earl and Mooch rubbing panels with classic strips like George Herriman's ''Krazy Kat'' or E.C. Segar's ''Popeye.''

The award-winning ''Mutts,'' which appears in nearly 600 newspapers in 20 countries, is certainly one of New Jersey's sweetest exports.

The keeper of the ''Mutts'' menagerie is Patrick McDonnell, who lives in a large house in Edison with hardwood floors and teeming greenery, with his wife, Karen O'Connell; their dog, Earl, and the inevitable cat, MeeMow.

Sitting in his sparely furnished studio one day recently, Mr. McDonnell, 49, who has the gentle air of a favorite uncle, gazed out the window and said, ''The strip is about a quiet joy, so it's nice just to look out at the trees.''

Quiet joy aside, these are boom times in Muttsville. Mr. McDonnell's first children's book (starring Earl and Mooch) is about to be published, the strip's mini-merchandising empire is chugging along, and there is talk of a ''Mutts'' television cartoon.

The children's book, ''The Gift of Nothing'' (Little, Brown, $14.99; Oct. 5), is a project close to Mr. McDonnell's heart. ''It's something I wanted to do for a very long time,'' he said. ''It's based on a story that appeared in 'Mutts' a few years ago. It's about Mooch wanting to give Earl a gift.'' But when Mooch sees everything that Earl already has -- bowl, bed, chew toy and more -- he is forced to get creative. ''He decides to get him nothing.''

''But,'' he added, ''he's also giving everything of himself.''

While the children's book is a nice bonus, the most important thing to Mr. McDonnell is the comic strip itself. ''Mutts'' takes place in a winsome dreamscape reminiscent of the work of Mr. Herriman and Mr. Segar -- who are two of Mr. McDonnell's heroes -- and is populated by characters like a girl named Doozy, a tomcat named Noodles, and squirrel hooligans named Bip and Bop.

Mr. McDonnell's work on the strip has received many accolades. In 1999, he was presented the Ruben Award for outstanding cartoonist of the year by the National Cartoonists Society. The award is named for Rube Goldberg. Mr. McDonnell has also won the Harvey Award for best comic strip six times since 1997.

Collections of the ''Mutts'' strips sell well. Andrews McMeel has sold more than 325,000 ''Mutts'' compilations in paperback. And in 2003, Harry N. Abrams published ''Mutts: The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell,'' a coffee-table book.

This year has been a particularly busy one for Mr. McDonnell. There is the daily strip -- with a deadline that is never tamed for long -- book signings to attend, forewords to write and charity work to tend to. He is on the boards of the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals.

Earlier this year, Mr. McDonnell served as the guest curator at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., for the exhibition ''Top Dogs: Comic Canines Before and After Snoopy.'' Mr. McDonnell is writing an essay about Mr. Schulz, another of his heroes, in connection with ''Masters of American Comics,'' an exhibition that is scheduled to open at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on Nov. 11.

One of the places where all these strands come together is on the ''Mutts'' Web site, For example, Mr. McDonnell said, ''We've been selling little 'Gift of Nothing' boxes.''

While selling empty boxes might sound like the ultimate example of capitalism gone amok, that is not the case here. ''All the money went to Toys for Tots,'' Mr. McDonnell said. Indeed, while product sales primarily help maintain the Web site, they also benefit many worthy causes, like the Wildlife Land Trust.

''Mutts'' products, including organic shirts and prints on recycled paper, are also environmentally friendly. Like the Web site, the comic strip is used to support animal-friendly causes, including pet adoptions and opposition to fur clothing. ''Nothing makes me happier than when I get letters from people saying they were moved to adopt,'' Mr. McDonnell said. In addition to dogs and cats, there are also buffalo and tigers to support.

''There's a little striped kitten named Shtinky Puddin in the strip whose passion it is to save tigers,'' Mr. McDonnell said. ''When I feel that it's right, I try to put that in the strip.'' Response to the tiger story has come from afar, including an e-mail message from Bittu Sahgal, the editor and publisher of ''Sanctuary Asia,'' a magazine published in Bombay devoted to India's environment and its endangered animals.

''We have a whole section of our Web site devoted to tigers right now,'' Ms. O'Connell said.

Mr. McDonnell is also doing his part to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, by auctioning original ''Mutts'' artwork on eBay.

The commercial aspects of ''Mutts'' are handled by King Features Syndicate, which distributes the strip. Mr. McDonnell's belief in conscientious living means that licensing deals can prove challenging. The licensing deals for ''Mutts'' are still in their infancy, but if other comic strip characters are any barometer, they could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nisreen Shocair, the director of marketing at King Features, said that while Mr. McDonnell admired the licensing of ''Peanuts,'' the marketplace is now different and Snoopy and friends had fewer restrictions. In 1990, for example, ''Peanuts'' was part of a Happy Meals promotion at McDonald's. Mr. McDonnell is a vegetarian, so most fast-food tie-ins are not options.

Instead, Ms. Shocair has focused on natural-food companies, apparel (like yoga outfits featuring Earl and Mooch striking various poses), pet accessories and stationery.

Licensing was probably the last thing on Mr. McDonnell's mind when, around age 4, he dreamed of being a cartoonist. ''Peanuts'' was a strong influence even then. The ultimate payoff is evident in a framed page from the San Francisco Chronicle that hangs in Mr. McDonnell's office. The page contains the first ''Mutts'' strip. Mr. Schulz mailed him the page, wrote ''Good start'' and signed it ''Sparky,'' his nickname.

''Probably the nicest thing about becoming a cartoonist was I got to meet and become friends with my hero,'' said Mr. McDonnell, who grew up in Elizabeth.

The first big move in Mr. McDonnell's career was illustrating Russell Baker's Observer column in The New York Times Magazine. ''I felt like I had a little weekly cast of characters,'' Mr. McDonnell said. One of them -- ''a guy with a big nose and mustache'' -- resembles Ozzie, the main human character in ''Mutts.''

''I did that for 10 years,'' Mr. McDonnell said, ''the whole time thinking, 'I'd really like to try a comic strip one day.'''

One source of inspiration for ''Mutts,'' which was first published in 1994, has been New Jersey itself. ''Even though I never gave the name of a town of where they live,'' he said of his characters, ''it's definitely a version of New Jersey.''

Mr. McDonnell and Ms. O'Connell have been married for 22 years and have been together for 26; they met as members of the Steel Tips, apunk band that opened for groups like the Ramones and Blondie. It was a good time, but the art world, they said, was slightly more sane and lucrative.

They ended up writing ''Krazy Kat: the Comic Art of George Herriman'' (Harry N. Abrams, 1986); a paperback version was released last year. These days, Ms. O'Connell is something of a communications director at ''Mutts'' central. Among other things, she is responsible for all e-mail correspondence, because Mr. McDonnell does not use a computer.

They make a good team. Nowhere is that clearer than when they discuss time management: ''We have no life,'' Mr. McDonnell said. ''When you do a daily comic strip, it really does take a tremendous amount of time. To a certain extent, it really is our lives.''

Ms. O'Connell said, ''He tells me it's getting easier, though.''

''It is getting easier.''

''So then he takes on more work.''

''Right. Then I take on more projects.''

One of those projects is exploring the possibility of a ''Mutts'' television cartoon. ''If I do it, I really want it to have the same spirit of 'Mutts','' he said. ''I'd want it to have the same social conscious message.''

What about the extra commitment of time? ''It's work. But it's nice when you love your work.''

good luck and good night

Good Night, and Good Luck

BY ROGER EBERT / October 21, 2005

Cast & Credits
Edward R. Murrow: David Strathairn
Fred Friendly: George Clooney
William Paley: Frank Langella
Don Hollenbeck: Ray Wise
Joe Wershba: Robert Downey Jr.
Shirley Wershba: Patricia Clarkson
Sig Mickelson: Jeff Daniels

Warner Independent Pictures presents a film directed by George Clooney. Written by Clooney and Grant Heslov. Running time: 93 minutes. Rated PG.

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"Good Night, and Good Luck" is a movie about a group of professional newsmen who with surgical precision remove a cancer from the body politic. They believe in the fundamental American freedoms, and in Sen. Joseph McCarthy they see a man who would destroy those freedoms in the name of defending them. Because McCarthy is a liar and a bully, surrounded by yes-men, recklessly calling his opponents traitors, he commands great power for a time. He destroys others with lies, and then is himself destroyed by the truth.

The instrument of his destruction is Edward R. Murrow, a television journalist above reproach, whose radio broadcasts from London led to a peacetime career as the most famous newsman in the new medium of television. Murrow is offended by McCarthy. He makes bold to say so, and why. He is backed by his producers and reporters, and supported by the leadership of his network, CBS, even though they lose sponsors, and even though McCarthy claims Murrow himself is a member of a subversive organization.

There are times when it is argued within CBS that Murrow has lost his objectivity, that he is not telling "both sides." He argues that he is reporting the facts, and if the facts are contrary to McCarthy's fantasies, they are nevertheless objective. In recent years few reporters have dared take such a stand, but at the height of Hurricane Katrina, we saw many reporters in the field who knew by their own witness that the official line on hurricane relief was a fiction, and said so.

Murrow is played in "Good Night, and Good Luck" by David Strathairn, that actor of precise inward silence. He has mastered the Murrow mannerisms, the sidelong glance from beneath lowered eyebrows, the way of sitting perfectly still and listening and watching others, the ironic underplayed wit, the unbending will. He doesn't look much like Murrow, any more than Philip Seymour Hoffman looks much like Truman Capote, but both actors create their characters from the inside, concealing behind famous mannerisms the deliberate actions that impose their will. In that they are actually a little alike.

Clooney co-stars, as Fred Friendly, Murrow's producer, who remained active into the 1990s. He also directed and co-wrote the movie. Because Clooney's father was a newscaster, he knows what the early TV studios looked like, and it is startling to see how small was Murrow's performance space: He sits close to the camera, his famous cigarette usually in the shot, and Friendly sits beside the camera, so close that he can tap Murrow's leg to cue him. They are also close as professionals who share the same beliefs about McCarthy, and are aware that they risk character assassination from the Wisconsin senator.

The other key character is McCarthy himself, and Clooney uses a masterstroke: He employs actual news footage of McCarthy, who therefore plays himself. It is frightening to see him in full rant, and pathetic to see him near meltdown during the Army-McCarthy hearings, when the Army counsel Joseph Welch famously asked him, "Have you no decency?" His wild attack on Murrow has an element of humor; he claims the broadcaster is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, the anarchist "Wobblies" who by then were more a subject of nostalgic folk songs than a functioning organization.

The movie is entirely, almost claustrophobically, about politics and the news business. Even its single subplot underlines the atmosphere of the times. We meet Shirley and Joe Wershba (Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey Jr.), who work for CBS News and keep their marriage a secret, because company policy forbids the employment of married couples. Their clandestine meetings and subtle communications raise our own suspicions, and demonstrate in a way how McCarthyism works.

Apart from the Wershbas, the movie is entirely about the inner life of CBS News. Every substantial scene is played in the CBS building, except for a banquet, a bar, a bedroom and the newsreel footage. Murrow and Friendly circulate in three arenas: Their production offices, the television studio and the offices of their boss William Paley (Frank Langella), who ran the network as a fiefdom but granted Murrow independence and freedom from advertiser pressure.

The movie is not really about the abuses of McCarthy, but about the process by which Murrow and his team eventually brought about his downfall (some would say his self-destruction). It is like a morality play, from which we learn how journalists should behave. It shows Murrow as fearless, but not flawless. Paley observes that when McCarthy said that Alger Hiss was convicted of "treason," Murrow knew Hiss was convicted not of treason but of perjury, and yet did not correct McCarthy. Was he afraid of seeming to support a communist, Paley asks, perhaps guessing the answer. He has a point. Murrow's response indicates he might have been a great poker player.

There are small moments of humor. After one broadcast fraught with potential hazards, Murrow waits until he's off the air and then there is the smallest possible movement of his mouth: Could that have been almost a smile? David Strathairn is a stealth actor, revealing Murrow's feelings almost in code. Clooney by contrast makes Fred Friendly an open, forthright kinduva guy, a reliable partner for Murrow's enigmatic reserve.

As a director, Clooney does interesting things. One of them is to shoot in black and white, which is the right choice for this material, lending it period authenticity and a matter-of-factness. In a way, b&w is inevitable, since both Murrow's broadcasts and the McCarthy footage would have been in b&w. Clooney shoots close, showing men (and a few women) in business dress, talking in anonymous rooms. Everybody smokes all of the time. When they screen footage, there is an echo of "Citizen Kane." Episodes are separated by a jazz singer (Dianne Reeves), who is seen performing in a nearby studio; her songs don't parallel the action, but evoke a time of piano lounges, martinis and all those cigarettes.

Clooney's message is clear: Character assassination is wrong, McCarthy was a bully and a liar, and we must be vigilant when the emperor has no clothes and wraps himself in the flag. It was Dr. Johnson who said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." That was more than 200 years ago. The movie quotes a more recent authority, Dwight Eisenhower, who is seen on TV defending the basic American right of habeas corpus. How many Americans know what habeas corpus means, or why people are still talking about it on TV?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

joan baez review from birchmere

Baez at the Birchmere: Still Plenty to Protest

By Dave McKenna
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, November 4, 2005;

After flubbing some words to her biggest hit, a 1971 cover of the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," Joan Baez wondered if she was getting enough gingko extract to keep her brain young.

But the years haven't damaged the voice or relevance of Baez, who appeared with a backing duo at the sold-out Birchmere on Wednesday. And while she's doling out homeopathic advice, fans would rather hear what sort of extracts keep Baez, 64, so cool and beautiful.

It helps, of course, that the times really haven't a-changed things too much. As she must, Baez did several tunes she got from her old muse-with-benefits, Bob Dylan. He's never gone away, but the recent Martin Scorcese documentary and our country's recent foreign and domestic foibles have made Dylan's old material, so much of which is joined to Baez's hip, seem contemporary. During an otherwise reverent version of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," she mocked Dylan's voice for a verse. "With God on Our Side," a onetime Dylan and Baez duet that chronicles America's history of aggressive behavior, begged for an update. "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," a song from the last time our country was as afraid of being attacked as it is now, was sad only for its relevance.

Baez also sang "Scarlet Tide," a dose of lefty idealism from Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett, a pal from the mid-1970s barnstorming Rolling Thunder tour backing Dylan. And more of the same from Steve Earle: "Jerusalem" and "Christmas in Washington," the latter of which begs for the return of Martin Luther King Jr., Woody Guthrie and Gandhi.

Given her life story, Baez doesn't need somebody else's lyrics to drop names. She told many tales about Being There for moments everybody in the crowd wished they'd been there for. Before an a cappella version of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," she recalled singing that same tune to wake a sleeping King while both were in Mississippi to march. She remembered getting "The Long Black Veil" from Johnny Cash when he was "cuter than hell." She spoke of going to Crawford, Tex., over the summer and learning that Cindy Sheehan, the face of the newest antiwar movement, has a favorite Joan Baez song: the labor anthem "Joe Hill."

Near the end of her two-hour set, Baez gave her fans the song they wanted most, "Diamonds and Rust." The autobiographical tune tells of her inability to get over a former blue-eyed lover from the Midwest who was good with words and insults ("My poetry was lousy, you said"). She never gives the fellow's name.

Friday, November 04, 2005

the weather in Chicago ...



CNN boots My Boy

Brown Exits CNN as Cooper Gains Slot
By Paul J. Gough, Reuters

NEW YORK (Nov. 3) - After days of rumors and an uncomfortable pairing on the late-night cable news schedule following Hurricane Katrina, CNN parted ways with Aaron Brown and gave Anderson Cooper sole possession of the flagship news time slot.

Out With the Old, In With the News

How will i know the weather in chicago or the morning papers. CNN should have booted themselves for changing their format to a magazine of the news and having Brown do fluff stories for an hour on topics like strip clubs and violence in america. They should have let him do his job and report the new. He is a great interviewer and one of the only casters to talk about the war honesty and lists the casualties. Who will ever forget Christine reporting from Bagdad on her video cellphone.....

I will miss aaron brown.....

CNN boots Aaron Brown after seeing a ratings spike in Anderson Cooper's broadcasts.

The announcement brings an end to Brown's job at the network and further raises Cooper's profile to the face of the new CNN. The new "Anderson Cooper 360" will run from 10 p.m.-midnight beginning Monday, with executive producer David Doss and a crew that will include staffers from "360" and "NewsNight With Aaron Brown."

Brown had once been the star of primetime for CNN, anchoring much of the breaking-news coverage and hosting "NewsNight" at 10 p.m. ET. But after Hurricane Katrina brought further attention to Cooper, Brown had been reduced to the role of in-studio host while showcasing his younger colleague. In an interview Wednesday, CNN-U.S. president Jon Klein said CNN decided to build its primetime schedule around "the two tentpoles that have the greatest potential and the greatest momentum": "360" and "The Situation Room."

"When you look at that landscape, there was little opportunity for Aaron," Klein said, adding that it was a "mutual decision." Efforts to reach Brown weren't successful Wednesday, but he was on vacation this week. Brown, who signed a new contract in the fall, reportedly was signed through 2007. Klein declined comment on contractual matters.

"There's no reason to delay making this move. We've got the pieces in place," Klein said. "We've got a two-hour show up and running that Anderson has been co-anchoring, and we've got 'The Situation Room."'

"Situation Room," anchored by Wolf Blitzer, takes over the 7 p.m. hour once occupied by "360." It will remain a three-hour program but begin at 4 p.m. instead of the 3 p.m. slot that it debuted in against Fox News' "Studio B" in early August. After two hours, Blitzer will throw to "Lou Dobbs Tonight" and then return for the last hour at 7 p.m.

"It gives us a four-hour block of real news and information, and you cannot find four hours that will make for a more satisfying meal than that on television," Klein said.

Klein sees a real opportunity for CNN between 10 p.m. and midnight; he said that the extension of "NewsNight" to two hours showed there's an appetite for news in the time period, particularly after 11 p.m.

Brown was joined by Cooper, reporting from the hurricane zone, in the aftermath of Katrina. Cooper's impassioned reporting from the Gulf Coast won a number of viewers, and it showed between 10 p.m. and noon -- 2.8 million viewers tuned in from Aug. 29-Sept. 4, according to Nielsen Media Research. Those numbers remained strong (1.1 million-1.9 million through September) but, as the expanded "NewsNight" continued, fell. Brown's last week of "NewsNight" averaged 782,000 viewers.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Shirley Wilder caused Marcia Lowry to demand change in the NYC child welfare system

A Perfect Test Case Shirley Wilder sued New York over its foster care system; the case was settled in her favor, but by then she was dead.

One of President Bush's first official acts was to propose that religiously sponsored organizations should get public money to provide social services. In ways this is an admirable proposal. Religious organizations can count on motivated participants, and those in need of help often trust religious charities more than the agencies of the local government. But there is always the danger that the religious organizations will favor their own, or impose their own moral views on their clients. ''The Lost Children of Wilder'' is a brilliantly researched account of an attempt to make the New York City foster care system fair for all its children. Obviously Nina Bernstein's book was written before George W. Bush took office; but it provides a vivid argument against his plans.

Since the 19th century, New York's foster care system had handled its needy children by contracting with private agencies to care for the children at public expense. Many, perhaps most, of the agencies were Jewish and Roman Catholic charities. The law allowed them to give preference to children of their own faith. In 1972, 90 percent of all foster beds were in the hands of these agencies, which could pick and choose among the children the city tried to place. Black children, of course, were mostly Protestant.

That was the year Shirley Wilder entered the foster care system. She was 13. Her mother had died when she was 4, her grandmother when she was 11; when she turned to her father, whose name she did not bear, he threw her out. Over the next 10 months, every religiously sponsored foster agency the court approached turned her down. But her lawyer really liked her, and didn't want to send her to the Dickensian reformatory at Hudson, N.Y., for children convicted of criminal offenses, then the last resort for children rejected by foster care. The lawyer came back to the court 12 times, as Shirley shuttled among relatives, shelters and jail-like detention centers, to find some alternative. None were available.

When Shirley arrived at Hudson she was raped by one of the girl gangs. She fought back, and the staff punished her for fighting by locking her in solitary confinement. When she was released, she ran away; she was caught, returned and placed in solitary confinement for three days. Then she was transferred to the Behavior Modification Unit, where the toilet paper was doled out one roll a month, the staff hit the kids, and to eat in the dining room you needed the tokens that were given out for good behavior. Shirley became rebellious and difficult. And yet a lawyer who visited her recalled: ''She had the most beautiful smile, a smile that lit up her face. She was pretty and she was funny. She had this great sense of humor.'' She was the perfect test-case plaintiff.

"'Being in foster care shouldn't mean that you grow up to die alone,' Ms. Lowry said, obviously fighting back tears. She told the judge that the new settlement was 'the best chance for making sure that other children don't have the experience Shirley had.'"

-- Nina Bernstein's New York Times article about the Marisol vs. Giuliani decision, Jan. 23, 1999.
The lawyer was Marcia Lowry, a fierce Jewish misfit who for years kept a tattered poster quoting Eugene V. Debs on her office wall: ''While there is a lower class / I am in it / While there is a criminal element / I am of it / and / while there is a soul in prison / I am not free.'' She had been hired by the New York Civil Liberties Union after working within the city's administration on foster-care issues; she was shocked by the fact that over half of the city's many thousands of wards were, like Shirley, black, but in the Catholic and Jewish agencies that received most of the public's dollars, fewer than a quarter were black. Bernstein, who wrote a series about the Wilder case while a reporter for Newsday and is now a reporter for The New York Times, tells us that in Lowry's view ''the city had delegated the public good wholesale to a collection of sectarian agencies with a license to discriminate.'' When Wilder was filed in federal court on July 14, 1973, it named as defendants six state and city officials and 77 voluntary agencies and their directors, and asked the courts to declare unconstitutional the entire statutory basis for the provision of child welfare services to New York City children.

''The Lost Children of Wilder'' describes the 26-year history of the case that was at last settled, more or less in Shirley Wilder's favor, in 1999. Its legal analysis is rich, but as in Jarndyce and Jarndyce the drama is human. People who saw themselves as genuinely committed to these difficult kids suddenly found themselves attacked for racism and in effect asked to turn their services over to the forces who had created hellholes like Hudson. The judge who first heard Shirley Wilder's plea had struggled to make wise choices within limited options for decades, and had been denounced in tabloid headlines: DAUGHTER OF RABBI WISE GIVES CHILD OF CHRIST TO THE BLACK BEARDED PROPHET OF MOHAMMED. She came from an unbroken lineage of rabbis stretching back 19 generations, and when the American Civil Liberties Union was prepared to settle the lawsuit with the city -- the settlement included a ''specially designated'' status for Orthodox Jews -- she fought against it with outrage and elegance. The man who became the city's corporation counsel was an heir to F. A. O. Schwarz, and yet somehow managed an austere authenticity sufficient to persuade opponents who hated each other to come to terms. And around these stories, bureaucracy becomes character, stage setting and plot, as the case drags through postponements, delay, appeal and absurdly irrelevant adjudications.

Above all, ''The Lost Children of Wilder'' tells the story of these abandoned kids. At 14, Shirley Wilder had given birth to a son, Lamont. (She herself would die from AIDS at 39, three weeks before the lawsuit was finally over.) ''It is almost boring to read her case record,'' one of her many caseworkers recalled, ''because you have read it so many times, in so many kids.'' While still in the maternity ward she was talked into signing her baby over to the state: she had no place to live, and she was too young for mother-child placement. She could visit him no more than once a month.

Lamont was lucky at first. He was placed with a Hispanic family in the Bronx for his first five years. The father sexually fondled him, but the mother loved him -- and then they were divorced, around the time that Shirley's parental rights were officially terminated, and, encouraged by caseworkers, his foster mother gave him back to the state. He was placed in a white family in another state, the only black child he knew. He didn't adjust. They gave him up within a year. Another white family took him on, but his behavior was worse. Transferred to a home for disturbed kids, he tried to make friends with various volunteers. They were kind for a while, and then moved on. He was classified as psychotic; he could have been going through normal but frustrated mourning for his losses. He entered the real world in his late teens without a high school diploma and with few skills.

This book makes two things clear. First, it is foolish to separate parents from children with the ease that our current system encourages. Our policies assert that it should be less comfortable to be on welfare than to work, which is sensible. They also assert that a mother who cannot feed and house her child should not raise him, which also is sensible. The consequences are not. Lamont's care cost the city half a million dollars, far more than it would have cost to support his mother, and it repeatedly and traumatically severed him from an enduring human relationship, as crucial to a child's development as food and heat.

Second, the problem is poverty. This is perhaps not a novel insight, but this history makes it sickeningly clear that the state cannot solve the problem of needy children without doing something about the conditions that produce them. There are so many children, so few resources -- in this stunningly prosperous age -- and, repeatedly, solutions born of crisis and good intention create disasters of their own. Children who enter the system tend to exit it as poor and unskilled as the parents who bore them, and the cycle grinds painfully on.

Indeed: on Jan. 22, 1999, the day Wilder finally ended, in the same courthouse a judge was deliberating over a class-action lawsuit brought by the Legal Aid Society, charging that new tough welfare practices endangered needy children. Unbeknown even to the Legal Aid lawyers, the child who stood at the center of the lawsuit was Shirley Wilder's grandson, Lamont's little boy.

As they say, it's better than the movies.