Out of the mouths of mothers

Mom’s got dementia/Alzheimer’s. It’s not fun to witness. She’s still (mostly) able to recognize me and my siblings as people who she knows and loves, though she’s not always clear on exactly who we are in relation to her (back in May, for example, she clearly thought my sister and I were married to each other, and we never figured out which one of us she didn’t recognize as her child).

Every once in a while, though, even when she’s clearly not performing very well, she manages to bring a smile to my face. Today, for instance, we had the following exchange:

Mom: I don’t even know what my name is.
Me: Your name is Jacquie.
Mom [clearly surprised, yet pleased, by this news]: Oh! Well. That’s very personable.

Childhood detritus

There’s been a tune stuck in my head for a day or two. Not a completely painful one, but not exactly a thrilling one either. The most annoying thing about it is that I couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

Until this morning, when I suddenly realized that I was channeling this TV show’s theme. (Embedding has been disabled.) Why this particular tune would rise to the surface now from the depths of 1973 is beyond me. But it scares me to think what else might be waiting there to take me by surprise in the future . . .

No Monday musical mayhem this week

Sorry.  Maybe next week.  All six of you who pay attention to this will survive for the next seven days, I’m sure.  (And, if not, then I’m truly sorry for having contributed to your early demise.)

Stuck in my head

Once again, I’ve found myself with an earworm so evil, so heinous, so persistent that I must impose it upon others so that I might free myself of the plague. To this end, I give you:

  • Elton John, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”

How bad has this been for me? That whiny harmonica solo and some truly pathetic lyrics (“laughing like children, living like lovers, rolling like thunder, under the covers”) have been stuck in my head for over a week now. I’ve managed to chase Elton away for brief periods of time by seeking out good music . . . but he’s always snuck back in as soon as as I’ve let my guard down again. So I’ve resorted to actively seeking out other, slightly less grating earworms because I feel I have a better chance of purging those from my system . . . or, barring that, I can at least have something bouncy and upbeat lodged deep inside my head for a while.

Who needs The Daily Show?

Sometimes, the satire simply writes itself . . . as in this gem from Reuters.

Who is it that doesn’t have a plan for Iraq?


After two weeks or so of making Big Payments to various creditors, I am now completely debt-free. No credit card balances. No student loans. No car loan. No house payments. Nada.

Of course, the road to this particular financial nirvana was not quite so easy as that first paragraph makes it sound. It took more than ten years after leaving graduate school and starting my first salaried job . . . and a cross-country move to a new (and better-paying) job . . . and the successful sale of a house that had been earning me equity for several years . . . and becoming part of a two-income household.

The most amusing moments of the whole process revolved around a couple of credit card companies that tried very hard to keep me from closing my accounts. I almost felt bad for the customer service rep who tried to convince me that my credit rating would be jeopardized if I cancelled my American Express card. But I had to laugh at the MBNA employee who wanted me to stick with a company that, over the past year, had consistently raised my interest rate after every month in which I paid more than the minimum balance due on my account.

I know that my momentarily balanced budget can’t last forever — if only because Margaret and I are hoping to buy a house together in the next year or so — but, for now, it feels damned good.

Who knew?

Internet personality quizzes vary wildly in their entertainment value (not to mention their accuracy), but this one’s more fun to play with than, say, your average “which comic book superhero are you?” quiz. And it gives you a pretty picture at the end. Evidently, I’m a “benevolent idealist,” which will undoubtedly surprise a few people I know (especially some of my students), but the Internet is always right, isn’t it?

Second order derivativeness

The title of yesterday’s post was cribbed from the chorus of “Me and Bobby McGee.” But you probably knew that already. (Less likely, though, is that you also knew that said tune — most famously performed by Janis Joplin — was penned by Kris Kristofferson.)

So imagine my chagrin when I was poking through some recently saved items in my RSS inbox, and I realized that, just a smidgen more than two weeks ago, Michael Bérubé used the exact same top-of-the-pops allusion as the title for a post on academic freedom. Some days, it seems, even my quotations are unoriginal.

But maybe I can make up for that oversight by offering up my favorite alternate ending for the original lyric . . . which comes from an article Greil Marcus wrote a decade or so ago (in Esquire, if my memory serves me well) on the death of rock. “Freedom’s just another word,” Marcus opined, “for a mess someone else has to clean up.” If that’s true, then maybe “we” (and I use the collective pronoun advisedly) are bringing “freedom” to Iraq after all.

Hollowed out

I lived in Tampa for nearly a decade, and the house I occupied for most of that time is actually the most long-lived address that I’ve ever had. So even though I’m entirely happy about my move to Minneapolis, there’s still a part of me that feels like I should have at least a little sentimental attachment to my old stomping grounds.

Nearly 48 hours into my week-long return to Florida, though, I’m feeling surprisingly little wistfulness about the town (people, mind you, are another story altogether). The coffee shop that used to serve as my second office lost its lease last summer and, as far as I know, never relocated. The once-bustling shopping “village” where said coffee shop was located is in the midst of a slow and ugly death (which is surprising, given that it’s situated in a neighborhood with more than enough money (and pretensions) to support its upscale ambitions). The supermarket I used to frequent is a cluttered mess of remodeling and renovation. Everywhere I go, it seems, something that was once familiar and charming has been ripped down and either is being replaced by something soulless . . . or it looks like it simply won’t be replaced by anything at all.

Fair trade coffee: The best argument yet

Not that I was likely to buy Folger’s anytime soon — I’m way too much of a coffee snob for that — but if this ad is supposed to represent what Folger’s is really all about, then I’m on a very different planet. And hope to stay there.

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