Thursday, May 26, 2005

Beverly Feldman! The Blog!

Unlike the Manolo, I do not have a complex relationship with the shoes of the Beverly Feldman. I love them! They are deliciously over the top -- and I'm a proud owner of multiple pairs. But she does have her own blog and appears to be populating it with lots of pictures of aging, overtanned over the top dressers like herself. No wonder Manolo doesn't like the shoes. I like to think that even with all black and some understated elegance, Beverly Feldman's shoes work -- even if her blog is a just another celebrity blog...and over the top just like her shoes. The Manolo and I both recommend her. BTW, in Indianapolis, you can find Feldmans galore at Cynde's at Keystone, where as luck would have it, they'll be having a sale preview this afternoon. I hear there may be cocktails involved.

Parents Appeal Divorce Decree -- Judge Says No Pagan Teachings

Only in Indiana. I'm not kidding. This kind of story is what really sets me off living in the midwest. (And trust me, I was equally set off at times in California when some ex-hippie would force some granola-crunching edict down the political pipeline, so I'm a ranter at either extreme end of the spectrum.) So, a couple in Indiana gets a divorce. This particular couple happens to follow a different version of a religious belief than the judge granting the divorce decree. The couple follow the teachings of Wicca which, contrary to what popular television would have you believe about witches and magic, embraces a pagan spirituality around the earth and elements. Either way, it's a belief system different than the judge's -- read: non-Christian. So what happens in Indiana? According the the Indy Star, the judge adds language to the decree, inserting an "unusual order that prohibits [the father] and his ex-wife from exposing their child to 'non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.' "

I haven't re-read that pesky freedom of religion clause in the Bill of Rights lately, but last I checked, it was still there. What could possibly be the judge's constitutional reasoning for limiting the rights of these parents to follow their beliefs and expose their child to teachings about the Earth, nature and life? They're not Satan worshipers. They don't dance around naked in the forest. (At least the Indy Star asked them.) Frankly, I think a few more people should question a more things in life -- and teach their children to question them as well. Why punish parents for teaching their children a few more things that just God, God and only God?

The judge -- Cale Bradford, chief judge of the Marion County Superior Court -- says he based his comments on a report filed by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau who interviewed the couple's son and observed him for the court. The son attends a parochial school (the report doesn't say which one). Even the father attended Bishop Chatard High School as a non-Christian student. And of course, both parents of the child in question are incensed.

Thank God for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. I've never understood Republicans who cower in fear at the ACLU and its attendant state organizations. Why would anyone oppose an organization who steps in on the most egregious violations of civil rights? The ICLU is handling the appeal. The parents are appealing only the one paragraph of the divorce decree.

Worse, the judge's vague clause of "non-mainstream" is so vague that it gives the parents almost no lee-way. Who's to say what is "mainstream" and the parents fear a wrong step could land them in court again, this time arguing for custody of their son.

"When they read the order to me, I said, 'You've got to be kidding,' " said Alisa G. Cohen, an Indianapolis attorney representing Jones. "Didn't the judge get the memo that it's not up to him what constitutes a valid religion?"

More from the Star:
Doug Masson covers this today also and is tracking blogs picking this up across the country.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Spector...No! Phil Spector

This can't be happening. No, really, it can't. Phil Spector's hair is Not. Of. This. Earth. Even MJ doesn't dress this carefully for court.

MJ Gets Off...

...well, and gets acquitted, too. At least that's my prediction. I know, I know, it's been a long time since I've darkened the text of this page with the MJ trial. But with the defense case rumored to rest this week, and that hissing sound that is the air coming out of Tom Sneddon's case (and career), I just can't let it go. All that remains now is the mopping up -- and the verdict, of course. Most outlets are predicting acquittal (as am I) although a few think the jury might hang on the molestation charges. Frankly, I think there's a lot of sympathy in that box for MJ. And I'll be honest, I truly didn't think he'd make it this far.

Fox News (and you know, consider the source) is reporting that advisors say MJ is planning a move abroad as soon as he gets his passport back. There he'll plan his career. I'm not so sure I agree with the career thing, but I think he has a real desire to be in a place where he still has a large group of people who love him and think him wrongly accused. I'm guessing Germany. (Fox guesses London or Paris.) He'll have to sell Neverland (although some rumors say it's already sold) but who can afford the zoo and staff now -- and, you know, it's no fun anymore. Unfortunately, I do think MJ will continue to solicit children in foreign countries, and sadly, I think parents will continue to let their children spend an inordinate amount of time with a man three times their age with the maturity level of a 12-year-old.

But for now, we almost await the verdict (which I think will come quickly, frankly if the rumors about the jury siding with MJ early on are true.)

More from Fox on their predictions and his flight from the US (and a few tidbits on the bogus Cruise/Holmes romance, too. He has to go for beards younger and younger these days. Just come out already, Tom. Nobody cares!)

Oh, Mildred, Go to Homecoming, Will Ya'?

You know some days, it just seems that every thing strikes me as funny. Or weird. This is one of those days. The following story isn't local or related but from Raleigh, NC via the SF Chron.

It poses that question that even if it's beside the question, is it still important it be right? That or it could just be The Geeks versus the Jocks as Adults, Part 467. Oh, so many headlines for this one with at least one requiring that you might need to be certified to use football analogies. At the very least, isn't it about time Mildred learns what a first down is?
North Carolina test muffs a question and draws a flag

Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The state's test writers tried to come up with a math question about football and ended up with a fumble.

On an end-of-grade test this month, seventh-graders had to calculate the average gain for a team on the game's first six plays. But the team did not gain 10 yards on the first four plays and would have lost possession before a fifth and sixth play.

The team opened with a 6-yard loss, a 3-yard gain and a 2-yard loss, which would have made it fourth down with 15 yards to go for a first down. The team's fourth play was just a 7-yard gain, yet it maintained possession for a 12-yard gain and a 4-yard gain on two additional plays. "Whoever wrote it didn't think it through," said Gene Daniels, athletics director of Salem Middle School in Apex.

Mildred Bazemore, chief of the state Department of Public Instruction's test development section, said the question makes sense mathematically and was reviewed thoroughly. "It has nothing to do with football," Bazemore said. "It has to do with the mathematical concepts that you're studying."

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Japanese Salarymen Lose the Suits

In Japan, business executives are stepping up for their new BizCool campaign. No, it's no how to be "cool" in business, it's how to survive the sweltering 82 degree temperature settings that offices are being encouraged to follow. In a move to save energy this summer and cut back on greenhouse gases, Japan is stepping up.

But in a culture where the suit is just as important as the job itself, can salarymen (and increasingly salarywomen) learn to function in short sleeves and khakis? To help out, the government has enlisted support of top CEOs. The idea being that if the boss is dressing down, then it will be OK for employees to dress down also. No word yet on how this will take, but BizCool is touted now in store windows, displays, office memos and television commercials. Time will tell whether Japanese business culture will lose the suit. I'm going to be more interested in how that 82 degree thermostat setting holds out.

Monon Trail expansions

The Monon Trail is one of the best enhancers of the quality of life in Indianapolis -- I'm convinced of it. For those not from here, the core Monon Trail is the old Monon railway easement that runs north/south right through the middle of the city. The original builders created a non-profit and raised money to buy the easements back from land owners as the railroad went defunct and pulled up the tracks. With bridges and crossings already in place, it's made for the perfect paved trailway allowing walkers, skaters, bicyclists, strollers, joggers, runners, and all. Over the years, as various organizations have developed the Canal Tow Path Trail, the White River Trail, Fall Creek Trail and others, walkers and bikers now have 100s of miles of options in trails that link up all around the city. (See the Indy Greenways site for a great map.) The Monon Trail extension has been working its way north for sometime (it now goes 10 miles north from Broad Ripple and at least that same distance south to Massachusetts Avenue) and it looks like there's more to come. Additionally, the city is looking at extending the existing Fall Creek Trail all the way out to Geist eventually. Currently, it ends at the trail head about 54th and Emerson. Planned extensions:

• Monon extension -- Planned in Westfield from 146th Street to 216th Street.
• Cool Creek North Trail -- Planned as a spur off the Monon that would wind through Carmel's northeastside.
• Polk Hill Trail -- Greenwood's first official greenway, which opened last month, runs from Craig Park east to near the Valle Vista Golf Course.
• Fall Creek Greenway -- Indianapolis hopes to extend the trail from its current trailhead east of the Monon all the way to Geist Reservoir.
• Farm Heritage Trail -- An agricultural-themed trail that would connect Lebanon to Lafayette along an old rail line.
• RiverWalk -- Noblesville's planned path along White River that will connect the downtown to its existing White River Trail.
• Midland Trace Trail -- Planned along the old Central Indiana Railroad, it would run from Boone County through Westfield to Noblesville.
• Vandalia Trail -- Work has begun on the greenway planned between Amo and Coatesville. The trail will be part of the larger, 150-mile cross-state National Road Heritage Trail.
• B&O Trail Association continues plans for a trail that would stretch 65 miles from Speedway through Hendricks County all the way to Parke County.

Off to get my bike out for the first long ride of the year. Plus, I'll most likely beat parking and ride up to the Broad Ripple Art Fair to beat parking and take advantage of the Pedal and Park bike corral. More on Trail development from today's Star.

Crazy Kessler House for Sale!

What a half-assed blogger I've been lately. I have no apologies to make. I could lie and say it's the weather, or job or whatever, but the reality is that I've been just plain lazy. Oh, and it's been sweeps week with season finales on TV. But, onward to bigger and more trite things!

The IndyStar is reporting that the crazy covered-with-lights house on Kessler is up for sale! For those who haven't seen it, let me only say it is the Winchester mystery house of the Midwest done in full white 80s style. Imagine a house that has grown in and back upon itself all the while sprouting weird gargoyles (on it's 80s style white slopped eaves) and more and more of those heinous fake Victorian globe lamps. Also bright white. Who knows what it's been built for (they say parties, although I've never heard of one there) and who knows who'll actually buy it. Talk about lookie-lous for the open houses -- this one will have them! Whole article (with no pictures of the outside, damn them) and one picture of one of the freaky interior "party rooms."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Stop or I'll Suck!

From the SF Chronicle:

Man gets 20 years for using vacuum attachment during robberies
Associated Press

MUNCIE, Ind. -- A man who pretended a vacuum cleaner attachment was a gun during two robberies last year has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Michael Shewman, 24, admitted to robbing a Village Pantry and Mutual Federal Savings Bank in July 2004, authorities said.

Delaware County Circuit Court Judge John Feick last week sentenced Shewman to two 20-year sentences, which will be served at the same time. Shewman had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery.

The Muncie man told Feick the robberies had excited him.

In 1999, Shewman was convicted of three robberies in Delaware, Kosciusko and Wabash counties, where he used a knife, authorities said.

Monday, May 16, 2005

What I Learned Yesterday...

... in the Indianapolis Star. And, well, it looks like the Indy Star learned it from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. A recent study of fish (published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science says size does matter. The good news? Female fish like mates with larger genitalia. The well-endowed get picked first. The bad news? It might not matter. Big fish genitalia slow down swimming speeds and make better hung fish the number one choice of predators. As one scientist says, "If there are predators around, good luck surviving long enough to find a mate. " More on big fish from the Star.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Marybeth on Sex in the City

One of my favorite SF friends, fellow Anna Nicole Smith fan and Korean BBQ eater, Mary Elizabeth Willilams is now an intrepid New Yorker along with all its perks -- and, well, downsides. With two fabulous babies and one tiny apartment she hilariously tells us in the NY Observer about trying to have sex with her husband, her former sex-pot self and longing for sex on a washing machine. Well, longing for sex...and a washing machine.
I’m having an affair with my husband. Ever since we became parents, the operative word for our sex life is "furtive." We’re sneaking around, exchanging coded phone calls and hush-hush quickies. I haven’t had to work this hard to score since the SAT’s. Friends with sprawling suburban abodes have bedrooms to themselves, bedrooms that maybe even lock. We, on the other hand, have two doors in our whole Carroll Gardens apartment. One leads to an impossibly tiny bathroom, the other to the hall. Neither is particularly helpful in getting me any play. Our 5-year-old sleeps in a small room directly off ours, where painted hinges are all that remain to remind us of the time something sturdier than a flimsy, shabby-chic-from-Target drape once hung. The baby rests, often fitfully, in the crib a few feet from our bed. And a white-noise machine delivers a whoosh of sound rarely found outside international airports.

Like most urban parents, the sleep of our children is a fragile, easily disturbed and deeply precious commodity. There are few things in life we cling to with such desperation as that brief window of time each night after our kids conk out but before we go to bed. We have neighbors who live with their twins in a one-bedroom and sleep on a futon, colleagues whose erratic schedules made hooking up a challenge even before they had kids. They say every child is a miracle. Now I know that’s because sex is damn near impossible.

For more...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I'm baa-aaack

I just flew in from Oklahoma City -- (altogether now) -- And boy, are my arms tired! (Ba-dump-bump.) OK, so maybe I'm still a little punchy. Actually, had a pleasant drive even with no reliable cellular service thanks to Steve Martin reading Shopgirl, a perfectly delightlful little book that I just never read even though I'm so thrilled to see Steve Martin moving into fiction. it was a really nice first effort. (Thank you, Guymon Public Library.)

So, looks like a few things are cooking. State Dems are upset (again) this time over Gov. Daniels' non-profit Aiming Higher. I'll look into this a bit more later, but at the surface, based on the Star's coverage, I'm not sure they're wrong in saying this group feels a bit more like a PAC masquerading as a non-profit. But R's had to park excess money from the campaign and inauguration somewhere. Of course, you have to read between the lines of vitriol in the quotes.

Looks like the IMA is finally moving on finding a new executive director after the resignation several months ago of star Anthony Hirschel. They'll be using Phillips Oppenheim who has placed similar museum positions although typically more specialized (but most with a heavy contemporary focus, which is good.)

Over at FeedMe/Drink Me, shortly, I'll be following up my trip with a food report. Good news: Shiner Bock. Bad news: I had only one meal that didn't involve a bun that that meal involved fried chicken.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Hello from Oklahoma!

Well, I can report that all is well out in the panhandle of Oklahoma. As close friends say, I always return from trips home with a much more pronounced Oklahoma accent, so my typing might start to sound a bit like the Erudite Redneck. (Nice to see ThePress in print in his natural newsprint habitat.)

They've had a lot of rain out here so the pastures are green. It was a beautiful drive out with lots of sky, foals in the fields with the horses, and what looks like a good calving season. (There are always more calves downstate as out here we have more feeder cattle destined to become dinner sooner, or as they call it here "beef on the hoof".)

The rodeo is over, the carnival packed up, and the trail riders are long home. Went to a very pleasant Pioneer Day Parade on Saturday morning with floats, cars, queens, and lots of riders. Almost worth the entire trip was seeing a large herd of Texas longhorn cattle being driven down main street by cowboys on all sides, so close I could have reached out and touched one of those mighty headpieces. The rodeo was terrific with tough competition from some of the nation's and even world's top cowboys right along side local Oklahoma and Texas boys just starting to make their way in the rodeo world. (You should see the rigs some of these guys drive. Part horse trailer, part RV, they're massive fifth-wheel trailers pulled by huge pickups and sometimes even tractor rigs.) Saw many, many friends and family members at a long succession of BBQs on Friday and Saturday. I've had only one meal so far that hasn't involved meat on a bun.

Yesterday, spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon catching up with an old friend and today, we're headed down to the farm in Texas to look at the wheat. We've had so much rain that everything looks good -- even dryland farms like my father's (classic problem, oil but no water).

Headed home in a few days but wanted to at least stop in and say "hello" to all. Looking forward to returning refreshed -- even if it is with a thick Oklahoma accent.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

And she's off! the rodeo, that is. Blog entries will be sporadic at best over the next few days since I'm taking some vacation and heading to the old home town. This weekend is Pioneer Days, the biggest town celebration in the Oklahoma Panhandle. It's bigger than Beaver, Oklahoma's cowchip throwing context or Liberal, Kansas' pancake flipping race. Nearby Hooker, doesn't have anything special, but I just thought a small number of you would appreciate knowing I grew up within an hour of Beaver and Hooker, Oklahoma. Every year, Hooker High School would go to Washington DC and students would take extra shirts and logo items. They were always in high demand in the big city.

The Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo is the largest small town rodeo on the country with nearly 900 cowboys competing in 7 posted events. (There are usually a group of kids who show up for Mutton Bustin' before the show -- this is where small kids, toddler-size, don helmets and grab on to a big handful of wooly sheep. If they stay on the sheep's back for long enough, they win a prize. It's pretty hysterical to watch.) Even without the sheep, the Guymon rodeo is known as the Saddle Bronc rodeo to win although there's nearly always good bull riding, too. As far as pro rodeo goes (it's on the PRCA circuit) it's the number 10 purse in the country.

Riding rodeo is a hard life taken up by lots of young men in the late teens and early 20s taking it up. Many of these kids will ride in prelim rounds (called "slack") at various ranch arenas around the area during the week. Others will ride in the evening performance on Friday night, then pack up, ride in another rodeo on Saturday, and come back for the finals (called the "short go") on Sunday. Given the number of points needed to compete in the national event and the number of times you're likely to win or even succeed on any start -- say stay on the bull or keep your horse from breaking the barrier in a speed event -- it becomes clear that these young men have to ride in up to 100 or more events a year. It's a tough life with money problems, fleabag motels and vet bills, but they love it.

Rodeo is big business. The bucking horses, bulls, steers and other cattle come from stock contractors. Plus there are professional announcers, rodeo clowns (one of whom is called a "barrel man" and specifically is out during the bull riding events) and all kinds of cowboys. Sponsors, vendors, vets, hands, and even the rodeo queens are all part of the package.

So, if anyone needs me, I'll be home for a long round of BBQs, picnics, wagon trains, horses, fireworks and the parade with family and a few old friends.

Future Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? Not!

While this was posted as "news of the strange" in San Francisco, I'm almost certain it's an issue being taken very seriously in Texas. Football and cheerleading go hand in hand and -- apparently -- lead to teenage pregnancies. Who knew? (So what does this mean for those south Texas moms who are permently training their cheerleader daughters? Less money on dance lessons?) Maybe having such a short legislative session in Indiana isn't so bad -- less time for our lawmakers to spend outlawing cheerleading routines.
Texas House OKs ban on sexy cheerleading
April Castro, Associated Press

Sideline booty-shakin' at Texas high school football games would be restricted to more ladylike performances from the cheering squad, under legislation approved Tuesday by the Texas House.

The bill would prohibit "overtly sexually suggestive" routines at school-sponsored events, giving the state education commissioner authority to request that school districts review performances.

"Girls can get out and do all of these overly sexually performances and we applaud them and that's not right," said Democratic Rep. Al Edwards of Houston, who filed the legislation.Edwards argued that lascivious exhibitions are a distraction for high school students that result in pregnancies, high school dropouts, contraction of AIDS and herpes and "cutting off their youthful life at an early age."

Bawdy performances are not defined in the bill, which was approved on a 65-56 vote."Any adult that's been involved with sex in their lives, they know it when they see it," Edwards said.

In a state known for its reverence of Friday-night football, Edwards said he filed the legislation after seeing too many ribald routines by young girls in his district.

NPR Stiffs Bob Edwards

Hey, NPR, what gives? So, correspondent/reporter and weekend Morning Edition host Scott Simon has a new book just published, Pretty Birds, a novel about a young girl turned sniper in the seige of Sarajevo. As if it's not bad enough that NPR is hawking the book all over the network (including a hefty 10-minute piece on yesterday's Morning Edition), the network is limiting other shows on which Simon can appear.

NPR has issued an edict to the author saying he cannot appear on the show run by former colleague Bob Edwards, the popular and longtime Morning Edition host fired by the network last year. Edwards now runs his own show on the XM Satellite Network.

An NPR spokesperson cited a policy against talent appearing on "competitive" programs but so far, Edwards' show is the only one shut out. Simon is booked to appear everywhere else. Additionally, Edwards is understandably irritated since other former colleagues ("talent" in NPRs books) have been allowed to tape interviews for his show including an hour-long interview with former co-host Susan Stamberg scheduled to air yesterday.

NPR's spokesperson said the restrictive policy was adopted well after her appearance. Huh. Cause if she taped last week and it was aired yesterday and the Simon interview was cancelled for last week, it sure sounds like it was adopted pretty much last week. Come on, guys, it's not enough that you let go one of the most popular and intelligent hosts in morning news, prompting thousands of listener complaints, but you have to be vindictive about it, too? Come on. Why not let Edwards have his audience on XM and worry about it when it's a threat? It looks bad for NPR and it's certainly bad for their talent. And it's no secret that Morning Edition has suffered in quality since Edwards' departure in hosting and reporting. Many of their regular columnists, writers and reporters have left or cut back their NPR commitments leaving the network with the still excellent All Things Considered. So, go ahead and continue the slide. But leave Bob Edwards alone, will ya'?

Washington Post on the story.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

John Kerry in '08?

Washington rumors have it that John Kerry is planning another run for the top job in '08. It's sad, really, that Dean hasn't done more in a visible way to shift the party to the center away from the radical liberal left. Hillary has been making some smart moves trying to reach across the aisle even on a couple of high profile issues like abortion. She knows where the middle is and how valuable it can be to her (although I'm not sure it will be easy to find another Republican candidate who comes off as so solidly religious as GWB.

Poor, manipulated, foppish John Kerry. He should save his money, only it's not his. Whole article from USNews and World Report:

With Republicans scrounging around for an able successor to President Bush in the 2008 election, Washington's focus is fast turning to an escalating battle on the Democratic side between front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and 2004 nominee Sen. John Kerry . Whispers learns that Kerry is not just testing the waters: He's running. ... Friends of Hillary, meanwhile, are touting her front-runner status and joining in the chorus of Democrats who think Kerry should crawl under a rock and go away.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Laura Bush, Rock Star

Over the weekend, journalists and celebrities (always a weird mix) gathered in DC for the annual White House Correspondent's Dinner. It was the usual mix of comedians and politicians including the President, but all reports have it that our little first lady stole the show. Mainly by razzing her husband...and Cheney, of course. I do like the line about the ranch and the chainsaw.

"I am married to the President of the United States and here is our typical evening. Nine o'clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I am watching Desperate Housewives. With Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentleman, I am a desperate housewife. I mean if those women on that show think they're desperate, they ought to be with George.

One night after George went to bed, Lynne Cheney, Condi Rice, Karen Hughes and I went to Chippendales....I won't tell you what happened, but Lynne's Secret Service code name is now Dollar Bill."

"George always says that he's delighted to come to these press dinners. Baloney. He's usually in bed by now. I'm not kidding. I said to him the other day, George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later."

"The amazing thing is that George and I were just meant to be. I was a librarian who spent 12 hours a day in the library, yet somehow I met George."

"People often wonder what my mother-in-law is really like. People think she's a sweet, grandmotherly Aunt Bee type. She's actually more like Don Corleone."

"I'm proud of George. He's learned a lot about ranching since thatnfirst year when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse."

"George's answer to any problem at the ranch is to cut it down with a chainsaw. Which I think is why he and Cheney and Rumsfeld get along so well."