Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Suitably Stuffed

Sorry about the long blog-drought, but between all the artery-clogging meals, family gab-fests, and movie-watching of the past week (not to mention, sparse access to computers), I just haven't had time.

Thanksgiving was fabulous - all good stuff. Went off without a hitch, even cooking in a strange kitchen with an electric stove and oven as opposed the gas I'm used to using. Saw family and friends, talked a blue-streak, played a few rounds of Clue (and lost miserably to a 10-year-old - and NOT on purpose!), and still had time to enjoy the left-overs while watching Grey's Anatomy and ER Thanksgiving night.

Watched a lot of movies on DVD and television and even roused my trypto-phanny (get it?) out to see Happy Feet with Joanna. Here's the TV/DVD round-up: Prairie Home Companion, Thank You for Smoking, Love Actually, The Break-Up, The Omen (the original, of course - who'd bother with a remake?), Titanic, Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Bad Santa, Ghostbusters, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and the whole first and second seasons of West Wing (damn good show - is anything more powerful than the "Two Cathedrals" episode?). I know it sounds like all I did was veg-out, but, yeah, that'd be about right. You gotta remember that there was a lot of conversation happening during all the movie/West Wing watching.

I'll catch up later (and check on the memes that tagged me), but things are stacked to the ceiling at work, so I gotta go. Mo' later!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Anyone else finding it a little disturbing . . .

. . . that Sally Field has just turned 60 and is doing Boniva commercials? Gidget! Sister Bertrille! Sybil! Norma Rae! Osteoporosis!

. . . that OJ Simpson has the nerve to crawl back out from under the rock he's been under since he killed Nicole and Ron? And that he's getting so much exposure?

. . . that so many Katrina victims got screwed over by the insurance companies? (CNN has a great documentary about the folks in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi - so dispiriting!)

. . . that Katie Holmes has a weird "Body Snatchers" look in her eye since she hooked up with Tom Cruise?

. . . that even Henry Kissinger says Iraq is unwinnable?

. . . that it's almost December? Where the hell did 2006 go?

I'm not a whole lot disturbed by any of this (well, except for the Iraq and Katrina things). Still, each one is kinda niggling the back of my brain.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanksgiving D'ruthers

Less than a week to go. So what are your Thanksgiving preferences? Feel free to play along, even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving.

1. Stuffing or Dressing?
I'm a dressing girl, myself. That's just the way we do it in the South. Good ol' cornbread dressing, baked outside the turkey, using the giblets and juices. Stuffing (cooked inside the bird) is just yukky to me.

2. "We Gather Together" or "Over the River and Through the Woods"?
Hmm. Tough one. I love 'em both. I'll go with "We Gather Together," if a gun's put to my head. I know all the words. Still, a rousing chorus of "Over the River" is so festive!

3. Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie (for Thanksgiving, I'm talkin' here)
I'll take two slices of pumpkin and one of apple, please.

4. Pilgrims or Indians?
Well, seems to me all the good food came from the Indians, right? Turkey, corn, and so forth. But I love those swell Pilgrim hats, too. I'm going with the Indians, though. They seemed more fun-loving.

5. Underdog Balloon or Kermit the Frog Balloon (Macy's Thanksgiving Parade)?
Speed of lightning, roar of thunder - Underdog! (Love ya', Kermie, but the Underdog balloon is tops with me.)

6. Football or Shopping?
Neither. I prefer eating leftovers and watching Miracle on 34th Street in my 'jammies.

7. Midday Thanksgiving Meal or Evening Thanksgiving Meal?
Midday. If you don't eat until evening, you don't get the mid-evening leftovers craze. (see above)

8. Hot Cider or Cold Cider?
Hot (for the holidays). Cold in the summertime.

9. Homemade Cranberry Sauce/Relish or Canned Cranberry Sauce?
Homemade. With orange peel and pecans and other goodies.

10. Turkey Carved at Table or Turkey Carved Ahead of Time?
Carved ahead of time. Carving at the table would take too long and be too messy. (And I couldn't pick at the warm turkey before everyone else gets at it.)

Your turn.

In Boston for a Tea Party

It's a lie. I'm in Westborough (30+ miles outside of Boston) for a conference, but I wanted to use the Fiedler album cover to illustrate. Haven't even had any tea yet, Boston or Westborough.

Picture it: LaGuardia Airport, 9am. Me, early for the 10am US Airways shuttle to Boston. Long, long line. Why? All the electronic kiosks are down. Oh. And all the electronic-anythings for US Airways are down, too. Now, seems to me, the way to handle this would be to call out everyone booked on the 10am flight, hand-write their boarding passes and let them make the flight.

Sorry. Too logical. Damn my common sense! No, they let everyone - folks booked on 11am, 12pm, 1pm - just snake through the same line. Took an average of 8-10 minutes per person to handwrite the passes, etc., and check bags. Roughly half of the 10am passengers missed the flight. So, I'm guessin' that flight went out half empty. That can't be good.

Anyway, made it through for the 11am flight. (Please, please US Airways - don't buy Delta!)

I'm not even going to talk about the $100 cabfare from Logan to Westborough Doubletree. We were told ahead of time that the cost would be around $45. Maybe we were assuming dollars. Possibly they were talking about pound-sterling.

Well, que sera. I must go perk up now, since I'm giving a workshop it a bit. And it's a perky workshop, if you know what I mean, so I need to up my perk-factor pretty darn soon.

If only I could find a cuppa tea . . .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I just participated in my first focus group. When they called me last week outta the blue, I was a tad suspicious; I mean, they were offering me $125 cash to spend a couple of hours spewing my opinion. Shoot, I do that for free 24/7. What's the catch?

Well, no catch, it seems. Jes' lil' ol' me and five others were asked many questions about a particular airline, shown lots of color/logo options, and listened to (via a two-way mirror) by the airline flunkys. Can't tell you any more than that, or I'd be breaking my "contract." Anyway, it was all very professional and kinda fun. Nice, toney 5th Avenue office, too. Not a bad night's work. And I didn't have to take my clothes off or fake anything.

I could make a living doing this. Your product. My opinion. $62.50 an hour. Count me in.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wake up and smell the turkey

This time next week I'll be waking up in Atlanta, ready to start the two-day Thanksgiving Food and Decor Frenzy. 'Cept it's not at my house this year. I'm homeless in Atlanta, as it were. Not houseless - still have the house and praying it will sell before too awfully long, but my stuff's not in it anymore, so we must celebrate Thanksgiving somewhere else this year.

Good friend Carey and the kids are taking up the slack and doing the hosting duties. We'll have a houseful of some family and lots of friends, just a little different mix than usual. But Carey's not much of a cook, so she's asked me to do turkey/dressing duties, while she and Joanna concentrate on the pies. Garth and his new bride Claire will join us, bringing (I hope) his sweet-tater casserole and mo' pies (I gave 'em really nice pie dishes for a wedding present - hint! hint!). Daughter Kate and her significant other will have to take up some of the food-slack of missing family members. Rest assured, however, that there will be plenty to eat and lots of festive decor. (Young Joanna and I will festoon the halls in pure Thanksgiving splendor, I guar-awn-tee.)

Things change, and that's a fact. As Kate reminded me last night, we're all pretty healthy and on good speakin' terms, and that's all that matters. A seismic change in our holiday tradition might be just the Thanksgiving ticket.

And while we're on the subject of Thanksgiving, feel free to re-visit last year's holiday posts:
My Favorite Pilgrims
The Great Thanksgiving Countdown
Thanksgiving Movies: Is there a reason the pickins are slim?
More turkeys for your Thanksgiving movie enjoyment

And PT, I'm still looking for that great English Thanksgiving classic: Thursday We All Went To Work As Usual.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Did ya' hear the one about . . .

What's so funny? Today's New York Times Magazine'll tell you.

"How to Be Funny" is a compilation of what to do and what to avoid from the likes of writers, directors, and a handful of comedic actors. Plus, it's very funny.

And don't miss "On a Desert Island . . ." - 22 yuk-yuk-y people choose their personal Favorite Five. Hilariously enough, most of the five comedies I'd take to a desert island weren't mentioned. I must not be very funny. Here's what I'd choose:

1. Dr. Strangelove - a true classic and worthy of high praise. Peter Sellers is genius.
2. Best in Show - or any Christopher Guest + crew offering; it's the gift that keeps on giving, making the real Westminster Dog Show a comedy treat every year!
3. Ghostbusters - an earnest Dan Ackroyd, a very-Bill-Murray Bill Murray, Gozer, and the Stay-Puft Marshamallow Man; what's not to love?
4. Sordid Lives - maybe only Southerners get it, but I know every character in this one (and am related to most of 'em).
5. The Women - the whole cast is hilarious (except for overly-dramatic Norma Shearer), but Rosalind Russell is a particular standout. The catty asides are priceless.

I'd also try to sneak Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery (for Tom Arnold's cowboy running commentary bathroom-scene alone) on to the island when no one's looking, just to fill out the collection. Oh, and Young Frankenstein. (This is harder than it seems at first glance. You try it.)

My theory is that a person's comedy favorites reveal more about them than any other thing. So now you know.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Little Fall Splendor in The Park Central

"A golden wind that shakes the grass"

by Siegfried Sassoon

The anguish of the earth absolves our eyes
Till beauty shines in all that we can see.
War is our scourge; yet war has made us wise,
And, fighting for our freedom, we are free.

Horror of wounds and anger at the foe,
And loss of things desired; all those things must pass.
We are the happy legion, for we know
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass.

There was an hour when we were loath to part
From life we longed to share no less than others.
Now, having claimed his heritage of heart,
What need we more, my comrades and my brothers?

On this Armistice Day: in honor of Walter Wildgoose (1st Lincolnshires, Machine Gun Corps) and in memory of his brother Bert (Black Watch) who died May 9, 1915 at Aubers Ridge.


In Scotland, not Barbados.

Thanks to the internet and BT, I tracked down the phone number of Jeannie and Aubrey's daughter in Aberdeen, and guess who answered the phone? Jeannie her-own-self. We both had a weepy moment, with me jabbering "What's happened? I couldn't find you! What happened to the house?" and her rattling off "We left so fast! I didn't have your new address and lost your email address! I've been worried sick about how to reach you!" and so forth.

The short version is that Aubrey's health began deteriorating (he has cancer) and they weren't getting the medical care they needed in high-tone Surrey, so Daughter arranged things for them in Scotland. It was quickly decided to sell the house in Walton (after 33 years) and get a cottage near the family in Aberdeen so that Jeannie wouldn't have to do all the nursing duties.

Jeannie said they left the house very quickly - in fact all of her stuff is still inside. Daughter and hubbie are going down to clear it out this weekend, since the buyers want to move in Dec. 1. Said it broke their hearts to leave it - it was home, after all - but at their age and with Aub's health, they just had to cut it loose.

At any rate, all is as well as it can be, considering Aubrey's problems, and we've found each other again. That's the important thing. That's the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket.

So no more Walton. Guess Aberdeen will be my new stomping grounds (except when I need to link up with the Moore clan!).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Feelin' Fall-y

Enough with election talk and trips to the four corners of the earth. It's autumn, glorious autumn! We're in that golden season between the mid-October ramp-up to Halloween and the grand finale of Christmas, with Thanksgiving smack in between.

What's not to love? The leaves - both here and in England last week - are stunning. Dying though they may be, those leaves are going out in a blaze of glory.

And don't we all hope to do the same some day? That's why my hair's just going to get redder and higher as the years go by. Till finally, I drop. Then, someone will pick me up and press me between two pieces of wax paper, run an warm iron over me, and preserve my red fabulousness for the ages. At least, that's how I hope it'll go down.

And as long as we're on the subject of fall, here are a couple of posts about autumn from last November's Shorty blog.

Now, go take a walk. Kick some leaves. Smell the smells. Bundle up.

(By the way, I took the picture of the tree last Saturday outside Washington National Cathedral. Ain't it grand?)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

About yesterday . . .

Real New Yorker?

This week's Time Out New York (of which I'm a faithful subscriber) includes "The Essential NYC Quiz" to separate the real Noo Yawkers from the faux. Here's a sampling of questions (I'll post the answers in "Comment."):

1. MetLife is to Pan Am as Sony is to:
C. Trump
D. Mutual of New York

2. Which of the following wasn't invented in New York?
A. The Oreo
B. Baked Alaska
C. Caesar Salad
D. Pasta primavera

3. Whose death were the patrons of the Stonewall Inn mourning on the night of the "Stonewall revolution"?
A. Judy Garland
B. John Lennon
C. Marilyn Monroe
D. Edie Sedgwick

4. An egg cream traditionally contains:
A. eggs
B. cream
C. Eggs and cream
D. None of the above

5. You walk south on Fifth Avenue until the road dead-ends. What do you see in front of you?
A. The original Whitney Museum
B. Jefferson Market Library
C. Washington Square Arch
D. Duane Reade

6. On Sundays in NYC, you are legally allowed to start drinking at what time?
A. 6am
B. Noon
C. 4pm
D. Anytime you want

7. Which of the following celebrity couples recently relocated to Brooklyn?
A. Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich
B. Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal
C. Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker
D. Paulina Prizkova and Ric Ocasek

8. The nickname Gotham came from a work by which author?
A. Washington Irving
B. Lewis Carroll
C. Samuel Clemens
D. Nathanael West

9. How did the "21" Club get its name?
A. You had to be 21 to enter
B. It originally had 21 members
C. The club's address was 21
D. During Prohibition, members had to knock twice and then once to gain entrance

10. What is Manhattan's oldest public building in continual use?
A. St. Paul's Chapel
B . Gracie Mansion
C. Cathedral of St. John the Divine
D. City Hall

That's just ten of over 100 questions. How'd ya' do? (I'm not quite a real New Yorker, yet.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thanks for the room, Tennessee Williams

Yet another little trip for me. This time to the School of Theology at Sewanee, Tennessee. I'm guest lecturer for two ecclesiology classes tomorrow. And, no, I really don't know what ecclesiology is, per se, but I do know what I was asked to present, so I'm ready.

Tonight I'm in one of the guest suites at the school. Turns out, the room is compliments of playwright Tennessee Williams in memory of his grandfather, who was an Episcopal priest. The plaque and photo are outside my door.

Another bit of trivia: Tennessee Williams willed his literary rights to Sewanee. Funds from the legacy support a creative writing program here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Virgin Movie-Watching

Virgin Atlantic was my transport to and from London last week. I love the individual entertainment centers provided, except mine didn't work on the JFK-Heathrow leg. Sigh. There I was, surrounded by folks enjoying first-run movies while I worked through my sudoku book.

The good news is that I got an up-and-running system on the way home Friday. In the span of 7 hours I managed to zip through 3 and 3/4 films. The reviews are in:

The Queen: Well, Helen Mirren always kicks ass and this QEII portrayal is no exception. Boy, she looks just like old Betty - the pursing lips, the just-so hair, the clunky purposeful walk, the attitude. I hate that Oscars are always given to actors in true-life biographical roles, but I can't imagine Mirren not walking away with this one. She is spot on. The film did dig up all the Diana stuff again. And I wanted to just drop-kick Prince Phillip (but I think everybody wants to do that, so I'll have to line up).

The Devil Wears Prada: Just for fun. Like Mirren, Meryl Streep is always fun to watch. (Which persona today, Meryl?) A fluff film, but enjoyable.

Trust the Man: Really worth the time. Stars Julianne Moore, David Ducovny, Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal. A romantic comedy, but more than that. It's good to see Julianne Moore on-screen again - seems she was everywhere 2-3 years ago. A smart little movie.

An Inconvenient Truth: I got about 3/4 of the way through the Al Gore film on global warming before we landed. It sounds like it would be boring; it's anything but. Good mix of serious and funny. Despite his wooden reputation, Gore makes very serious stuff entertaining, believe it or not. You can't help wondering what the world would be like today if the man actually elected President by over 1 million votes in 2000 had gotten to serve. But perhaps he has a higher calling with the global warming issue.

See? "Virgin" movie-watching ain't so bad.

For All the Saints

Cold, crisp, bright blue sky. Trees on fire with color. A long line of cheerful, excited Episcopalians snaking down the long access to Washington Cathedral. That's what greeted us yesterday morning when our bus - full of Church Center staff - pulled up to the cathedral for the Investiture of the 26th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

But this investiture was historic. At the point in the service when the new PB was invited into the sanctuary - after three loud knocks on the huge West Door - for the first time, the person knocking and being summoned inside was a woman. And a rather youngish woman, at that. A mother. A scientist (oceanography). A licensed pilot. A church leader as no other church leader has been before. Katharine Jefferts Sciori entered the cathedral to loud, loud cheers and applause ringing off the stone walls. A woman knocked and was invited to come in. Thrilling from the tips of the toes to the last hairs on the head.

Native Americans from Ute, Shosone, Crow-Creek-Sioux, and Chippewa tribes chanted and "smudged" the thousands of folks in the congregation (don't worry, we didn't get sooty or anything). The Gospel Choir of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas/Philadelphia sang rockin' gospel, as well as Zulu. The magnificent choirs of Washington National Cathedral raised the roof in the best Anglican choral music tradition. The Omega Liturgical Dance Company-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NY brought rhythm and color to the occasion. Thrilling!

As Bp. Gene Robinson passed us during the procession and as courageous out-going Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold (with a catch in his voice at the emotional moment) handed the primatial staff to Bp. Katharine, I was proud of my church and reminded of something an English priest said at last week's conference in Derbyshire in the middle of a discussion about Bp. Robinson and Bps. Frank and Katharine's decision to support him . "We Anglicans and the Roman Catholics have been ordaining gay bishops for 2000 years. The American Episcopal Church is just being honest about it." Theoretically, the new PB's support of honest behavior is why conservative bishops are rejecting her. I suspect the woman-thing looms pretty large, as well.

Yet contrary to headlines blaring "A Woman Now Leads an Embattled Church," there was no "embattled" yesterday. (There's really no "embattled" anytime, except for a handful of conservative bishops in the US and some power-wielding bishops in the Global South - note, I said "some" in the Global South, certainly not all.) No, the day was glorious. Witnessed by thousands of the faithful in the cathedral and many more thousands following the live webcast, there was hope, excitement, and a renewed commitment to mission and ministry.

Thanks be to God on this All Saints Sunday!

New Friends, Good Food

Pete has posted on the oddities of blogging - even when we don't consider ourselves "Bloggers" - with a capital B - in the same sense as the popular mega-bloggers. Somehow, someway, we little guys do gravitate to each other - shared experiences, a good laugh, a common quirk - and we form community.

And it's wonderful when we get to meet face-to-face, already knowing the other through our blogs, and finding that, yes, indeed, here's a new friend.

Doesn't young Thomas look cheerful, even though he had to
spend a boring lunchtime with the old folks!

Bloggers unite - Shorty, PT, and Jo.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Sitting in Heathrow waiting for my delayed flight to New York - a good time to think back on the best and worst of my week in England, me thinks.
The Good:
  • Lunch with Pete and Jo - yea, blogs!
  • Julie Andrews book-signing at Waterstones/Oxford Street
  • The pubs
  • Tea-making accoutrements in hotel and conference rooms (forget those stinky coffee-makers in US hotels - ugh!)
  • Cadbury chocolate
  • Fish and chips
  • New friends, new contacts
  • Heathrow Express into Paddington
  • Midlands train to Derbyshire + a really nice rail worker who let me slide on peak-time fare and brought me a cuppa tea, to boot!
  • Gorgeous autumn weather + first frost

The Bad:

  • Losing Jean and Aubrey (temporarily, I trust)
  • Ibis Hotel/Heathrow - depressing flourescent lighting, futon beds, limited wireless access
  • Hotels that only give you one towel and one pillow
  • Prices - yeowee! Everything's twice as expensive here, even considering the dollar/pound rate.
  • Most of the institutional food I had to eat (but isn't institutional food the same all over?)
The Ugly:
  • Air travel - tiring, inconsistent, mega-hassle, and - alas, necessary
  • Did I mention the Ibis/Heathrow?

God-willing, I should be back in New York by mid-afternoon, just in time to do a little laundry and head straight to bed, since I have to get up at 3:30am to board a 5am bus to Washington with my co-workers. Tomorrow's the big day - the Investiture of the first woman Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at the National Cathedral. I'll be tired, but the event is too historic to miss.

Ah - we're about to board. Yea!