Thursday, January 21, 2010

The winter of our discontent

It's been a great year so far to complain about the weather, keeping in mind that the continuing tribulations in Haiti make us seem remarkably self-obsessed for doing so.

Ice here early Wednesday added icing to the cake, but caused little damage because there was no wind to speak of. The trees still are coated this morning, the big pines across the street groaning under the loads. Everything other than the streets remain slippery, so it’s another good day to stay close to home or move as carefully and safely as possible from home to work and back again.

I poked my nose out long enough yesterday to go uptown and get a haircut, long overdue. As Margie clipped, we tried to figure out just how long it had been --- months --- but couldn’t.

So now I’ve carried out one of my two new year resolutions and will be neatly cropped on Sunday when the bishop visits St. Andrew’s, another nail-biter of an event, especially so because a baptism is part of the equation, dependent on the weather.

The current plan calls for Bishop Alan Scarfe (Episcopal Diocese of Iowa) to be at St. Paul’s in Creston for a morning service and lunch, then drive the hour over here for a 3 p.m. service and light supper before returning to Des Moines. We’ll see.

Few things are simple in bad weather in a parish as scattered as this one --- the bishop and our vicar emeritus (the Rev. Canon Richard Lintner) from Des Moines, our vicar (the Rev. Suzanne Palmer) from Albia, altar flowers from Indianola via Lucas with Suzie, soup from Corydon with Bill, and so on. Hopefully, it will all work out.

After the haircut, I came home to deal with a computer virus --- one of those aggravating ones that pretends to be a security system as it disables all your programs and tries to convince you to purchase something that does not exist. This arrived when I followed a search thread to BeliefNet (can’t remember what I was looking for) and if I’m not mistaken a similar visit from a similar virus early last summer came from the same source. Fortunately, the anti-malware program dealt with it, but running it (which I did twice to be on the safe side) takes an hour each time, followed up by an anti-spyware program, another hour. Lots of time babysitting a computer.

Evenings lately, due to a temporary trade of DVDs with friends, I’ve held my own Harry Potter festival, watching all the films available (lots of fun), followed up by the BBC “Planet Earth” series, still in progress. I'm really enjoying that even thought it does go on and on and on.

So it’s been a pretty slow January so far. I don’t mind. I like slow. On the other hand, it’s been fairly lively elsewhere and I'm not sure how I feel about that.


This morning, for example, former Democratic presidential hopeful and ex-senator John Edwards got around to acknowledging paternity of the 2-year-old girl he sired by a mistress while on the campaign trial soon after his wife, Elizabeth, announced that her cancer had recurred and that there would be no cure. What a piece of work. Sadly, at one point I thought he might make a good president.

It’s been made evident since that Elizabeth would have been fully justified in just shooting the bastard, not necessarily fatally but at least memorably, and that most jurors probably would have agreed. Of course there would have been the inconvenience of a trial amid all her other sorrows, so she wisely took the high road. Fact is, Elizabeth Edwards probably would have made a better president than her spouse, often the case among potential and actual first ladies.

And then there were those photos, also early this morning, of Tiger Woods at a rehabilitation center for sex addicts somewhere in Mississippi. Now I can empathize with addiction --- faced with a package of chocolate-covered caramel peanut clusters I will be unfaithful to lettuce every time. But really. Wasn’t this just infidelity on a grand scale?

At least here in Iowa we can be reasonably confident that neither Chet Culver nor Terry Branstad has a mystery love child out there somewhere or practices big-league adultery.


But what is this Terry Branstad business? For those who have forgotten, he was a four-term Iowa governor in the distant past, riding into office on the crest of a wave of good feeling generated by the admirable Robert D. Ray, his former boss, the last of the classic Republicans --- a case of froth rising to the top and staying there for a prolonged period of time.

It appears he still has no particular ideas for actually governing a state, relying instead on the fact that he is Terry Brandstad and isn’t Chet Culver.

Besides, the poor guy now looks like the dowager dutchess of Des Moines, a vaguely pear-shaped figure perambulating on tiny feet with glasses suspended around his neck on a shoestring (a practice image-makers apparently have advised him to discontinue). Oh well.


And my goodness isn’t it good news that Conan O’Brien has been bought out by NBC for $32 million or so and that we’ll no longer have to listen to his incessant whining.

Jay Leno has never seemed amusing to me, so I’m glad to get rid of him at 9 p.m. on the only network affiliate I have access to. On the other hand, my major reason for turning the TV on at 9 p.m. was to help put me to sleep --- and goodness knows Leno did that. Which is the obvious reason why he’s being booted back to 10:30.

So good for NBC for a smart business decision. Now, can we just move on? There’s nothing quite as uplifting as millionaires complaining about their misfortunes.


I blame the absence of sunshine so far during an unusually gloomy January for driving me to the coutch Sunday night for the Golden Globes’ complete broadcast, red carpet pre-show to the bitter end. Actually, I enjoyed it.

It was fun to see Drew Barrymore and Robert Downey Jr., both of whom have had their share of troubles, receive major awards. Redemption in Hollywood? Well maybe. And how about nice guy Jeff Bridges finally getting a nice award. “Glee” took home the top prize in the best comedy-or-musical category. Good!

Downey won the top award for best acceptance speech, I thought; Mo’Nique, a close second.

Penelope Cruz in vintage Armani was best dressed, but Sigourney Weaver has grown too old and stout for form-fitting green. I know Chloe Sevigny was admired in ruffles, but it looked to me as if she’d been attacked by some sort of fluffy fungus. Plus somebody stepped on her train, poor child. Eeek!

There seemed to be fewer breasts flopping around this year, something I was grateful for (obviously, if I were interested in breasts I’d probably feel differently). Mariah Carey was a notable exception, of course. What is it with these dresses with picture-window fronts?

And who in the world is Ricky Gervais and why was he host? I hadn’t thought it possible to find on air anyone less amusing than Jay Leno, but there he was. You know there’s going to be a rocky road ahead when the opening monologue deals extensively with the host’s penis.

And I’ve added “Crazy Hearts” and “Sherlock Holmes” to my list of must-see movies --- when they reach the $7-$9 DVD shelf at WalMart.


And that’s today’s report from the southern hills.

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