Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Arms of Steel Still Need a Nice Drape Every Once in a While

Okay, let’s be honest. If we had been in the car this morning driving to work together, we might spend two seconds talking about Obama’s pretend-State-of-the-Union-Address (it was actually an Address to the Joint Session of Congress, which sounds, if possible, even more boring than the SotUA.). The rest of the time we would talk about Michelle’s arms.

We aren’t the only ones. Google “Michelle’s arms” and see how many hits you get. Being a person of amble jiggle in my upper arm region, I am not too excited to see her going this route. I fully agree with the NYT blogger who disapproved of her going sleeveless to what is essentially a business meeting (with the entire country on the conference line). Plus, it’s February. Sleeveless in February is never comfortable to watch, I don’t care if you’ve got the arm chiseling of G.I. Jane (which Michelle kinda does). Double plus—the thing took place at night. Girlfriend. Have you not heard of pashmina? Get the woman a wrap.

If this is February, people, it’s going to be a long fashion season. I’ll give her credit for her good choices so far (expect for the crepe paper thing on inauguration night that made her look like she escaped from a homecoming parade float) but really, I do not want to start bare-arming it in the winter months. If this keeps up, she’ll be setting fashion trends that have us all in our skivvies by May! My skivvies aren’t ready for that—are yours?

Grandpa Update

Thanks for the support & love, people. Grandpa remains at FMC. Not much has changed. His color looks good--which is one of those things people say, I guess, to offer a distraction from all the awful-looking stuff. Kind of like "she has a pretty face" or "she has a great personality."

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Grandpa’s in the Hospital

Last week, Grandpa fell. He hit his head. He’s 94 years old. An ambulance rushed to the Renaissance Marquis, where the two of them have lived for a year, scooped him up and whisked him back to Floyd Medical Center. Things progressed from there as I am sure they do in most families; relatives called other relatives, retold news, shared all the current information and frustration at all the unanswerable questions. Schedules were rearranged, plans were made, and family members started to trickle into town.

Hospitals operate in a different time zone. In a room like Grandpa’s, where no one’s life is in imminent danger, where what we are all doing is really just waiting for him to wake up, time moves in fits and spurts. The time between nurses arriving for blood pressure checks can seem like moments, while the empty space between one breath he takes and the next can seem like an eternity. Hospital vigils are one of the few instances where just sitting, unproductive for hours, is not only acceptable, it is expected. Nursing shifts rotate, visitors roam the halls, the rectangle of sky visible from the window changes from gray to black to the washed-out yellow of dawn. Outside the door there is activity; inside the room there is only the labored breathing of an old man and the steady hum of his assorted machines.

If you have spent the night sitting with someone in the hospital—hovering over them, squirming in the reclining chair and trying not to let your thoughts wander towards your own inevitable end—then you understand that feeling of walking out of the double doors in the morning. This is more true if you’ve been the one needing care. No mornings are so bright, so clean, so welcoming as that morning when you leave the stale, medical air of the building. This is another effect of hospital time; it feels like the rest of the world paused while you were in that room, and as soon as the sliding glass doors open to the parking lot, it is as if someone pushed a button to start it all going again. The dark night passes; life resumes.

I hope Grandpa gets another chance to have that morning.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Loving the Boulevard

About a year ago a local developer floated an idea for a convention hotel near the Braves stadium. A local newspaper published sketches of the building on the front page, below the fold, exactly where I happened to put down my mug of morning coffee. When I picked up my cup, a neat little caramel-colored ring circled what had to be the most uninspired, uninteresting structure since mid-fifties Moscow. A glass and concrete block set down next to the river. The most apt way to describe it? Blah. I dashed off a disgruntled letter to the editor, offended even that the paper would choose to publish such an offensive picture, much less that any company would consider building it. I don’t know what happened with that proposal but I will of course take full credit for saving you, dear reader, from such a horrid architectural destiny.

Now the developing duo of Doc & Dee plan to erect “timeless architecture” out by State Mutual Stadium. Their plans for The Boulevard, a fancy name for a string of nicer-than-average strip mall stores, certainly out-design anything we’ve seen put up recently by other local developers. Doc & Dee’s architects never miss the chance to toss in a gabled roof or a dramatic awning. I wonder if part of their design strategy is to toss a handful of materials into a bucket and pull them out at random to determine what part of the building that chunk of wood or stone or metal might be assigned to cover. There is an aspect of design-by-committee to their projects. Why have one type of siding covering your exterior walls when you can have eight?

I am fully qualified to tease them, of course, because of my excellent architectural design qualifications. I once built a Tee Pee out of popsicle sticks, you know. That takes skill.

Teasing aside (what am I saying—never will I put aside the teasing), I love the interesting jumble of structures they have planned for the big scraggly field out by the Braves stadium. Their enthusiasm and determination that it be absolutely the most super-fantastic awesome-est best string of strip mall buildings ever is also pretty cute. And nice to see, in these dreary, drained days. Best of luck, Doc & Dee. I look forward to strolling along the Boardwalk.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Snark & Malarkey

On the way into work this morning, my favorite leftist lunatic fringe radio station, NPR, interviewed a movie reviewer with sensitive skin. David Denby wants bloggers to quit being so mean all the time. He feels that snark is ruining the world. Denby feels so committed to the idea that snark is taking the fun out of everything that he wrote an entire book about it, which he would like for you to buy. This would make David Denby feel better about the world.

The OED defines “snark,” noun, as an imaginary animal, which shows how much David Denby knows. “To snark,” as a verb, means either to nag or to snore, depending on your context in 19th century England. One can be “snarky,” adjective, which means to scrunch up one’s face like an imaginary animal and nag someone who happens to be snoring.

In his rush to write his own book so other movie reviewers will quit calling him a wuss, David Denby assumed definitions not in evidence. I can only assume that he intends us to quit being snarky in the modern sense of the word. The modern connotation, leaving off the animals and the snoring, means “funny, witty, biting, sardonic, sarcastic, ironic, clever and only the slightest bit mean, but only towards those who really deserve it, like fancy movie reviewers who try to push their books on public airwaves.

David Denby feels offended by snark because he feels that snarky attitudes distance us from the reality of the events of our times. According to him, snarky blogs and fake news shows make us hard and uncaring, rather than all hugs and love like his people were back in the 60’s. On the contrary, a snarky blog is just the thing I need to help me feel the motivations of certain popular characters figures. For example, when reading a news story on Bristol Palin stating her opinions on abstinence, a snarky blog is just the thing I need to help me know whether to laugh or cry.

If the OED is right, and snark is an imaginary animal, let’s not let the David Denbys of the world force the poor thing into extinction. Snark deserves at least as much space on the planet as any other animal. Perhaps we could round up all the snarks for David Denby and send them up to the North Pole. They’ll be plenty of space for them up there once we’ve finished killing off all the polar bears and baby seals.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Life is a Highway


Making the transition from weekly columns in the print version of RNW to this intermittent virtual forum feels like…well, it kinda feels like buying a new minivan. The old model worked just fine. It got us from place to place, right dear reader? We had a few laughs, gasped at a few near misses, and meandered around town (and around the point) more than once in that old reliable format. Now we’re upgrading. Trading in. We’re looking for something that can take us all the way up to the mountains and back while we pass a bag of Doritos back and forth and sing along to the radio.

Regarding this new vehicle, the Minivan Chronicles blog…let’s kick the tires a bit, shall we?

To review: we started driving around together via the RNW column about a year ago. During that year, we’ve chatted (you and I) about public art, recreation departments, hedgehogs and hamsters, Thai restaurants, neighborhood schools, scary movies, movie theaters, community theater, standardized testing, Kroger, date night, bridges, budgets, banks and mothers.

If you just discovered the minivan—hop on in. Carpooling in the minivan should be as easy and fuss-free as a box of Rice-a-Roni. There are only two things you should know up front, lest you be caught by surprise and feel bamboozled: 1) I detest Wal-Mart and mushrooms and I make reference to those two dislikes with some regularity, and 2) I love Rome and Floyd County. Any subject that promotes & enhances the second two while corrosively eradicating the first will eventually find its way into a Minivan Chronicles column.

I think this little baby’s got enough get up and go to get us on our way. Let’s crank her up.

Oh, and I’ve exhausted my supply of car puns, you’ll be relieved to know. No more from here on out. And probably no more Rascal Flatts references, either.