Wednesday, November 30, 2005

By any other name

I think it would be most lovely to have the wordsmithing prowess of Donald Rumsfeld. I mean, the man's press conferences are downright poetic. There's a book to prove it. And, apparently, an album of art songs.

Poetry in motion is one thing. What I want to do is rewrite the dictionary. Rumsfeld would like to redefine insurgency. Actually, what he wants to do is to stop using the word "insurgent" because the word is too good for the people he used to describe with it.

Now, Rumsfeld is not the first to come up with this idea. Shakespeare, or possibly Christopher Marlowe pretending to be Shakespeare, put it this way:

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Regardless, this is absolutely BRILLIANT.

The possibilities, though Orwellian, are ENDLESS.

This whole who-uncovered-the-CIA-agent mess? Didn't actually happen the way people think it did. See, someone decided that "Valerie Wilson's husband" was a better name for a colonial seamstress than "Betsy Ross." "Couldn't find" was ever so much better than "sewed the first." "Yellowcake" is just so much more descriptive than "American flag." It's very simple, you see. No one was actually talking about weapons of mass destruction they said "Valerie Wilson's husband couldn't find yellowcake." It was just a third-grade history lesson gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Now I need to go see about dinner. I think I will grill a slab of nice, juicy filet mignon for dinner, where

grill a slab of = heat a can of
nice = cheap
juicy = salty
filet = vegetable soup
mignon = from Target.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Harry Plotzer and the Half-Good Rhymes

Now that the Season of Capitalism is upon us, I know I'm going to be bombarded with happy little Christmas carol arrangements every time I leave the house, not to mention also every time I turn on the TV or the radio. Sometimes I just want to POKE MY EYES OUT. Oedipus is so inspiring, fa la la la la, la la la la.

People parody Christmas carols all the time: Jingle bells, Batman smells. Deck the halls with gasoline. Joy to the world, [fill in the blank] is dead. We fish ewe a mare egrets moose. But really, what could be funnier sillier than parodying in English a song that was written in Hebrew?

(Well, okay, perhaps being attacked by vampiric squid wearing polka-dotted lederhosen and Santa hats is sillier. But not by much.)

There are a few full-length parodies of "Hava Nagila" out there, including one about a mystery food and one of many about tequila. During the vaguely sleep-deprived haze that was my Thanksgiving travel, I didn't have the patience for a whole song while. So I just came up with some lines that sound almost like "Hava Nagila." Of course, one must often force the rhyme.

* Have a sarspreelah
* My name's Bob Vila
* Root for the Steelahs!
* Drive a four-wheelah
* Mint or vaneela?
* Charles and Cameela
* Shaquille O'Neal, ah
* Giant goreela
* Hun named Atteela
* Used Pinto deelah
* Crappy tequila
* Kneecap: pateella
* Potato peelah
* Sink their floteella!
* Made of maneela
* Put out some feelahs

From my cage to yours, Happy It's Not Even December Yet and They're Already Selling Live Christmas Trees at the Grocery Store!

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I have some pet peeves. I don't have enough to be the peeve equivalent of the crazy cat lady, but I have some. Like when I look in the sink and there are remnants of dinner from two nights ago in the drain, or when people in the airport are looking every which way but the one they are going, or when bank tellers, retail workers, etc. have to compete with customers' cell phone conversations.

But I think my biggest one is People Who Take Notes In Library Books.

Some people apparently think it is their prerogative to decorate text with yellow highlighter pens. Others apparently cannot read without underlining entire paragraphs in pencil, blue ballpoint, or red felt-tip. Then they make notes in the margins that, if legible, often have very little to do with the actual subject of the book. It's like finding "♥♥♥TRISHA AND GERALD FOREVER♥♥♥" in your ninth-grade biology textbook and having no idea when anyone named Trisha (or Gerald) last went through your high school.

My lovely wife and I own hundreds of books. We have more books than we have room for bookshelves. In fact, when we moved into our current home, I had to re-box a lot of my books, and she still has boxes of books left to sort through. So, due to the limits of space (not to mention finances), she gets the books she needs for school from the library. These books are full of underlinings, asterisks, question marks, and footnotes--none of which were set in type. Occasionally she comes across marginalia like




and underlining marathons like

Today's world is multicultural, and since globalization does not mean exclusively a Westernization of the world, it is correct to say that the total world is being inculturated in and through a multicultural fusion of horizons. Cultural ways of thinking and cultural meaning structures are currently interactive. Thus, to speak of the world as a sacrament may have little meaning for a culture in which the very word "sacrament" is missing. Nor can theologians argue that most cultures have a unique symbol system in and through which the term "sacrament" becomes meaningful. When the word "sacrament" in the framework of these same theological traditions means only two rituals or only seven rituals, or the term "sacrament" refers only to the Roman Catholic Church or only to the Christian Church, or the term is only applied to a Jewish individual, namely Jesus, then "sacrament" has no facile entree into a non-Western culture simply on the basis of a given culture's symbolic framework. The exclusivity inherent in the term "sacrament," when used this way, precludes any meaningful relationship to the symbol system of a non-Christian culture.

The page of which I type is number 56 of Kenan Osborne's Christian Sacraments in a Postmodern World (New York: Paulist, 1999). This Christian stuff is still a mystery to this blogging Jewish chick. However, I have to snicker that someone accused a book about the post-modern era of being post-modern.

People. Library books belong to everyone. In fact, sharing knowledge is why we have libraries. For personal reflection, we have spiral notebooks, steno pads, composition books, lined journals... If underlining paragraphs and scrawling in the margins are necessary for your reading process, may I introduce you to If you'd still like to deface public property, get a can of paint and find a wall. Don't let everyone else's tax dollars, tuition payments, or endowments enable your resistance to learning the academic social graces.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Obsessions change, man.

When I was ten years old, I decided I wanted to be a clinical psychologist when I grew up. I made this decision initially because I wanted to be Deanna Troi and it was just so cool that her job was not, in and of itself, science fiction. By the time I was about 13 I had read about 80% of the psychology collection at Bucks County Community College, and it still seemed like a good idea.

When The Next Generation ended, I got into The X-Files. Scully rocked my world so much that I considered changing course. I didn't want to be a forensic pathologist--dissecting a fetal pig in ninth-grade biology was kinda gross--but I thought being a federal agent would be awesome. Mulder was pretty cool, too, and he was a psychologist. (The writers had apparently forgotten this by the third or fourth season, but whatever.) Forensic psychology was neat, in a creepy sort of way.

(Um, when Star Wars was re-released, I had some half-serious intentions of becoming a Jedi knight. But we won't talk about that one.)

Now the only show I watch is Law and Order: SVU. I am nearly done with my psychology degree, so it's a good thing I'm not yearning now to be a detective, a forensic psychiatrist, or a district attorney. Okay, maybe I do want to go to law school, but one degree at a time. But anyway, Detective Benson is hot. My wife and I enjoy Detective Benson immensely. For a while we thought maybe this character was gay. We really hoped she was. I mean we really hoped she was. When we finally finished watching the first season DVDs this summer, we were crestfallen.

About a year ago I'd written an ode to Detective Benson's sexual ambiguity. I used Bree Sharp's very clever song "David Duchovny" as its basis. Bree, my apologies; but you know, "David Duchovny" came out around the time I was thinking about coming out myself. But this is my song, here.

It's Tuesday night
And it's fast approaching ten
My eyes are bright
Time for SVU again
I know I always think too much
But I can't help thinking it'd be such
A pleasure to know the object
Of that hot detective's touch

And I can't wait any more to know her intentions
I've always wondered about Olivia Benson
Olivia Benson, are you a lesbian?

My friends all tell me,
"Girl, you know that she's made up"
But deep within my heart
I harbor feelings for this cop
Watching her words for a sign
I've learned to read between the lines
I'm waiting for the script that
Just confirms what I opine

In the form of Olivia Benson's sexual tension
Not for Eliot Stabler, but here's what I'm sensing:
Olivia Benson lets down her defense and is
Getting it on with some dyke bar denizen
Olivia Benson, what's your intention?

She runs really fast and
She's learned to kick ass
And I know this is crass
But I know I'll just pout
If she dances about
I'll scream and I'll shout but
I don't understand why she's not out

My bags are packed
I am ready to appear
Down at the station
And find out if she's really queer
I'm just envisioning her chest
As she makes her next arrest
Reading me my rights
Please don't say that I'm obsessed

And I would say, "Olivia Benson, why won't you mention
If you're attracted to women
Or attracted to men, hon?
Olivia Benson, who gets your attention?
Olivia Benson, I hope you're a lesbian
I've got apprehension this'll end in rejection, but
Olivia Benson, I'm good at prevention
My love is immense and
I'm moving to Brooklyn
Olivia Benson, I hope you're a lesbian..."

I admit that at the grocery store the other day, I bought the December issue of Redbook for its (lamentably short) interview with Mariska Hargitay.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ich bin ein East Coaster

The Governator is in China, spreading the good news about California.

Among the good news: "Come to California. Maybe Maria's going to cook some wienerschnitzel when you come!"

I may still be a cynical Philly girl at heart, but I swear I am not making this up.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Truth in advertising

I will be the first to admit that I am a people-watcher. I like people. People are funny creatures. Not only that, they keep us mental health provider types in business. I take the train (and sometimes some buses) to and from work, so I get to watch a lot of people during my commute.

Yesterday morning I observed a young woman sleeping quite soundly on the train. This is not so unusual; in fact I'd like to learn how to sleep on the train, without missing my stop. What made this sleeping woman unusual was that she was holding an open energy-drink can.

Also in the "people are funny creatures" category is pile of bumper stickers I saw in an ecology products store. These bumper stickers looked more or less like this:


I hope one must show a valid registration for an electric car in order to buy this bumper sticker.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Isn't it ironic?

First, some linguistic dorkitude.

irony: when words are used to express something other than their actual meaning. Also known as "rhetorical irony."
situational irony: when actual events are completely opposite of what is appropriate or expected.
dramatic irony: when characters in a literary work know less about their situation than does the audience.

And now, the snarkitude.

I like reading cereal boxes. Anytime other than breakfast, you would catch me reading something of more substance (currently I'm having fun motoring through Atlas Shrugged). But in the mornings I'm too sticky-eyed and stupid to read anything other than the backs of cereal boxes. When I was little, I learned a lot about the difference between dry cereal and cereal with milk from the nutrition side panel. When I was particularly bored or lonely, I would read this information aloud. Niacin: 25, 35. Vitamin B6: 25, 25. Vitamin D: 45, 100. What can I say? I was an odd child.

This morning I was reading the back of the Safeway Rice Pockets box. (Rice Pockets are pretty good. I think I'd fail a Rice Pockets vs. Rice Chex taste test.) The Rice Pockets box wished to test my knowledge of literature. Rather, it wished me to play Book Trivia. Dutifully, I played Book Trivia. I aced Book Trivia. And I noticed that one of the questions in Book Trivia referred to an "Ernest Hemmingway."

The Sun Also Rises was not written by Ernest Hemmingway, as Rice Pockets would have me believe. It was in fact written by Ernest Hemingway. Interestingly, there is an IMDB listing for an Ernest Hemmingway. His credits include movies about certain other things that tend to rise, wink wink nudge nudge.

If I were feeling particularly nasty, I would say this is dramatic irony. But I'm tired, so I'll call it a typo. A well-placed one.

(By the way, some say that Alanis Morissette's song "Ironic" is ironic in that none of the situations described in the lyrics is ironic, though all of them objectively suck. For an interesting but brief analysis, see this article on Wikipedia.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Don't forget your Freudian Slip!

There is definitely an Official Psychology Student Outfit. At least, there's an offical outfit for female students of clinical or counseling psychology. No one talks about it, but somehow everyone gets the proverbial memo every day and puts on synthetic-blend pants (black, grey, tan, or dark brown) and a little sweater or button-down shirt.

We also have an Official Interview Outfit. In 2001, we all interviewed in our solid black or navy suits and red or pink shells. This year the trend is a black or navy suit with red, pink, or white pinstripes. Last year I parted with my navy suit from 2001 because it had become far too big (or rather, I'd become far too small). I proudly replaced it with a black suit with pink pinstripes.

Someday soon I hope to stop wearing the Student Outfit and start wearing Licensed Professional Wear. Can I wear anything I want, or do the fashion police have a say in licensure? Maybe they ask questions like these on the licensure exam:

Please explain, in one or two sentences, why the following items of clothing should not be worn by professional psychologists.

1. Loud patterns.
Correct answer: Clients with poor reality testing will hear your sweater, tie, pants, etc.

2. Low-cut blouses or other suggestive items.
Correct answer: Clients with poor interpersonal boundaries will either try to pick you up or outdo you the following week.

3. High heels.
Correct answer: This is counterproductive for clients presenting with shoe fetishes.

4. All black.
Correct answer: Clients with severe depression may experience increased hopelessness.

5. Fuzzy sweaters or brushed flannel pants.
Correct answer: Therapeutic touch should never be initiated by the client.

6. Form-fitting items.
Correct answer: Clients with body-image concerns may be tempted to compare themselves to you, no matter what your build.

7. Anything with words on it.
Correct answer: This may upset clients with reading difficulties, and it may confuse those clients who are already looking for subliminal messages in your Jerry Garcia tie.

8. Argyle and paisley together.
Correct answer: General principle.

What should professional psychologists wear? Please answer in one or two sentences.
Correct answer: Psychologists should take their sartorial cue from nuns. After all, not all habits are maladaptive.

...Then again, perhaps what not to wear when seeing clients is less important than what not to do when seeing clients.