Check out my feature in this month's UR Chicago where I lived out Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir Eat Pray Love Chicago-style. To make life especially easy on you, I've compiled a bunch of ways for you to read it, either online (it's titled "Living Well"), download the PDF (it's quick and painless!), or look at the two pages I've posted here (clicking on each page will make it bigger and possibly readable).
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Check out my feature in this month's UR Chicago where I lived out Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir Eat Pray Love Chicago-style. To make life especially easy on you, I've compiled a bunch of ways for you to read it, either online (it's titled "Living Well"), download the PDF (it's quick and painless!), or look at the two pages I've posted here (clicking on each page will make it bigger and possibly readable).
Monday, April 28, 2008
This evening, I am joined again by John, who is is riddled with a mind-boggling fever. It's OK. Cause it's like Island Fever. Barbados island fever!
3 dates. 3 girls. Let's go.
Date with Shayne
Cue: Dramatic Bachelor music. Matt takes an introspective walk along the beach, deep in thought as the waves crash against the sand, sun glinting off Matt's sandy-colored hair and wind rippling his polo shirt against his broad chest. Oh, um, and he reflects on Shayne.
Enter: A frolicking, floppy-hatted Shayne frolicking through the surf and sun, floppy hat flopping. "What a mess!" says John. Matt and Shayne ride some Sea-Doos. "Is she old enough to operate one of those?"
Shayne and Matt also get a gigantic water trampoline. Matt focuses on Shayne's splits in the air while I focus on how cute that bathing suit is.
"Do they have palm treeeeees in London?" Shayne whines.
Shayne really knows how to play the ditz card. Matt thinks so too: "I want to know more about Serious Shayne." Um, good luck.
At dinner, Matt and Shayne discuss her life as a serious actor. "Do you understand that kissing someone on screen is ANYTHING but romantic?" Shayne is clearly exasperated. How many times does she have to explain how UNCOOL it is to be FAMOUS and an ACTOR and everything in her life is SO NOT a big deal. GOSH.
Acting Lesson From Shayne Lamas: To kiss while acting, don't use tongue. Instead, make a fish face and open and shut your mouth. You're welcome.
Shayne admits to Matt that she's blonde and she plays the role, but that if you know her, you know her. LIKE, YOU KNOW HER. Shayne says she is "intellectual," then asks if that was the right word. (It's not.) Matt asks Shayne if she really knows that there aren't palm trees in London. She says she does know that. Yawn.
Shayne needs to know that Matt looks at her that he really sees someone he can be with.When he assures her of that, she says that she is falling in love with him. After a moment pregnant with suspense, Matt says the fact that he is so happy that she feels that way and that he loves... wait for it... wait for it... spending time with her. Ouch.
Shayne reads the Fantasy Date Card outloud, proving to America her literacy. I cannot wait to see Shayne in upcoming Endless Bummer, in which she reads her lines like an eight-year-old asked to read a chapter aloud in class.
Matt and Shayne "get sexy," as ABC promised.
Date with Amanda
Matt has been drawn to Amanda since the start, and Amanda tells us that Matt is what she has been waiting for. Yaaaaawn.
Zip-lining! Both Matt and Amanda have a fear of heights, so this is a train wreck waiting to happen. "MEEP!!"
Amanda says she feels woozy around Matt. MEEP! WOOZY! I feel woozy whenever the two of them are together too.
Amanda tells Matt that she has a hard time opening up to Matt and that she likes him more than past boyfriends. They haven't even passed notes yet or anything, but she's that sure. Matt says that he can understand why she is slower to open up if this is the first time she's feeling something like this.
At this point, Amanda should have just stopped talking. She should have just started kissing Matt. But she doesn't. "I've never wanted to be with somebody so bad." (Zzzzz, says John.)
Matt shuts her up with kissing and then presenting her with the Fantasy Suite Card. Amanda is so excited to get the Fantasy Suite card because she wasn't sure whether he'd give her it. Really? Has she looked in the mirror lately? What is this girl worried about?
Amanda feels that she and Matt had a break-through. John's not so sure.
Date with Chelsea
Matt wants the chemistry to be right there right away. Let's see how that goes!
Chelsea: Look at the island! It's small! I heard that it's small. Did you hear that? Isn't the weather nice? This island is nice. It's also small.
Matt: I hate to use the A-word, but it was awkward.
Chelsea: Eww! Hand holding!! Yuuuuuck!
Matt: This is the worst date.
To try to salvage the date, ABC brings in some sea turtles. Sea Turtles to the Rescue! Or not.
Matt is mad because Chelsea won't come close to him. "The turtle was closer to me physically than Chelsea. I had better eye contact with a turtle underwater than with Chelsea. I was gutted." Gutted! Like turtle soup. Mmm... turtle soup.
Poor Chelsea. Honestly, though, what an awful way to try to be romantic. Snorkeling? Maybe Chelsea was having a hard enough time breathing through that tube.
At dinner, Matt tells us that if she isn't feeling it, he doesn't want her to pretend.
Matt: I'm confused about us.
Chelsea: Shoves some food in her mouth.
Matt: If there was a Bachelor for best friend, you would have won.
Yikes! Chelsea tells Matt that she is uncomfortable that there are other girls here, and she has been worried about getting hurt. Matt presents the Fantasy Suite card. Chelsea accepts. (Thank God.) And like the good girl she is, Chelsea comes in with the last minute game-saving play... in a very racy way.
After telling Matt she has a surprise, Chelsea is followed by the whole ABC camera crew into the bedroom where she gets all Demi Moore on us, bare-backed and undie-less. Um, somebody call Stacey from Chicago back. This was supposed to be HER moment!!
Chelsea emerges from the bedroom in a long, sexy black nightdress. At this moment, Matt realizes that Chelsea DOES have a romantic side. Bingo.
Everyone looks a little sweaty. Matt tells us that today he is losing someone who he cares very deeply about.
But Meeps gets angry and stands up for herself. I'm shocked, says Amanda. Matt tells Amanda that she has everything he wants, but he had a stronger attraction to the other girls. Amanda tells him that she's a ***** bastard, and Matt tells her that it's a harsh reality and he's sorry he let her down. Meeps holds in the tears until she's in the car, telling us she really thought they were going to get married.
Next week, the Bachelorettes Tell All!
And in two weeks, everyone goes to London. Meet the parents! And don't worry, folks. At every commercial break, ABC promises "the most romantic finale in Bachelor history." No Brad Womack repeats here.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
"News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve."
By Elizabeth Edwards, via NYT
FOR the last month, news media attention was focused on Pennsylvania and its Democratic primary. Given the gargantuan effort, what did we learn?
Well, the rancor of the campaign was covered. The amount of money spent was covered. But in Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country this political season, the information about the candidates’ priorities, policies and principles — information that voters will need to choose the next president — too often did not make the cut. After having spent more than a year on the campaign trail with my husband, John Edwards, I’m not surprised.
Why? Here’s my guess: The vigorous press that was deemed an essential part of democracy at our country’s inception is now consigned to smaller venues, to the Internet and, in the mainstream media, to occasional articles. I am not suggesting that every journalist for a mainstream media outlet is neglecting his or her duties to the public. And I know that serious newspapers and magazines run analytical articles, and public television broadcasts longer, more probing segments.
But I am saying that every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.
It is not a new phenomenon. In 1954, the Army-McCarthy hearings — an important if painful part of our history — were televised, but by only one network, ABC. NBC and CBS covered a few minutes, snippets on the evening news, but continued to broadcast soap operas in order, I suspect, not to invite complaints from those whose days centered on the drama of “The Guiding Light.”
The problem today unfortunately is that voters who take their responsibility to be informed seriously enough to search out information about the candidates are finding it harder and harder to do so, particularly if they do not have access to the Internet.
Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties.
What’s more, the news media cut candidates like Joe Biden out of the process even before they got started. Just to be clear: I’m not talking about my husband. I’m referring to other worthy Democratic contenders. Few people even had the chance to find out about Joe Biden’s health care plan before he was literally forced from the race by the news blackout that depressed his poll numbers, which in turn depressed his fund-raising.
And it’s not as if people didn’t want this information. In focus groups that I attended or followed after debates, Joe Biden would regularly be the object of praise and interest: “I want to know more about Senator Biden,” participants would say.
But it was not to be. Indeed, the Biden campaign was covered more for its missteps than anything else. Chris Dodd, also a serious candidate with a distinguished record, received much the same treatment. I suspect that there was more coverage of the burglary at his campaign office in Hartford than of any other single event during his run other than his entering and leaving the campaign.
Who is responsible for the veil of silence over Senator Biden? Or Senator Dodd? Or Gov. Tom Vilsack? Or Senator Sam Brownback on the Republican side?
The decision was probably made by the same people who decided that Fred Thompson was a serious candidate. Articles purporting to be news spent thousands upon thousands of words contemplating whether he would enter the race, to the point that before he even entered, he was running second in the national polls for the Republican nomination. Second place! And he had not done or said anything that would allow anyone to conclude he was a serious candidate. A major weekly news magazine put Mr. Thompson on its cover, asking — honestly! — whether the absence of a serious campaign and commitment to raising money or getting his policies out was itself a strategy.
I’m not the only one who noticed this shallow news coverage. A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals.
Watching the campaign unfold, I saw how the press gravitated toward a narrative template for the campaign, searching out characters as if for a novel: on one side, a self-described 9/11 hero with a colorful personal life, a former senator who had played a president in the movies, a genuine war hero with a stunning wife and an intriguing temperament, and a handsome governor with a beautiful family and a high school sweetheart as his bride. And on the other side, a senator who had been first lady, a young African-American senator with an Ivy League diploma, a Hispanic governor with a self-deprecating sense of humor and even a former senator from the South standing loyally beside his ill wife. Issues that could make a difference in the lives of Americans didn’t fit into the narrative template and, therefore, took a back seat to these superficialities.
News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.
And the future of news is not bright. Indeed, we’ve heard that CBS may cut its news division, and media consolidation is leading to one-size-fits-all journalism. The state of political campaigning is no better: without a press to push them, candidates whose proposals are not workable avoid the tough questions. All of this leaves voters uncertain about what approach makes the most sense for them. Worse still, it gives us permission to ignore issues and concentrate on things that don’t matter. (Look, the press doesn’t even think there is a difference!)
I was lucky enough for a time to have a front-row seat in this campaign — to see all this, to get my information firsthand. But most Americans are not so lucky. As we move the contest to my home state, North Carolina, I want my neighbors to know as much as they possibly can about what these men and this woman would do as president.
If voters want a vibrant, vigorous press, apparently we will have to demand it. Not by screaming out our windows as in the movie “Network” but by talking calmly, repeatedly, constantly in the ears of those in whom we have entrusted this enormous responsibility. Do your job, so we can — as voters — do ours.
Friday, April 25, 2008
The Public Editor's office at The New York Times responded to my question, and I'm so excited! (Cause I'm a total nerd.) Here it is!
Dear Ms. -------,
Thank you for writing. I sent your message to the Website for some explanation. Here is what they said:
Due to technical changes in the format of headlines provided by The
Associated Press, The New York Times has temporarily removed them from
the home page. They are still available on the site at this Web
My understanding is that temporarily, is the key word. I'm told that once the technical issues are resolved, the AP feed will be back on the home page.
I hope this helps.
Michael McElroyThe New York Times
Office of the Public Editor
Thursday, April 24, 2008
We all know I'm not exactly a fan of Thomas Friedman, so I wasn't too disappointed when I heard that a group of Brown students pied him in protest. How Medieval! I hope they get to include this moment in their loosey-goosey theses or whatever it is they have to do to graduate from Brown.
From the students' pamphlets:
Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face...
* because of his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism's conquest of the planet
* for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change. From carbon trading to biofuels, these distractions are dangerous in and of themselves, while encouraging inaction with respect to the true problems at hand.
* for helping turn environmentalism into a fake plastic consumer product for the privileged
* For his long-standing support for the US Occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Such committed support to the US War Machine and its proxy states overseas cannot be masked behind any twisted mask of "green" - the US Military is the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
* for his pure arrogance.
On behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists -- we, the Greenwash Guerrillas, declare Thomas Friedman's "Green" as fake and toxic to human and planetary health as the cool-whip covering his face.
Monday, April 21, 2008
It's our favorite episode--The Hometown Episode! We're promised that it'll be VERY strange. Get excited!
Four "Very Different" American Families:
Shayne in L.A.
Chelsea in Colorado
Noelle in Colorado
Amanda in Florida
Shayne and Papa Lamas in Los Angeles
Matt is nervous. Shayne thinks that Matt is skeptical. Shayne thinks she's made her intentions clear that she's here to meet Matt and fall in love and NOTHING ELSE.
Shayne and Matt practice her dad's name several time.
Enter: LORENZZOOOOOO LA-MASSSSSSS!!! I think LoLo is channeling that T Mobile commercial with the over-the-daughter's-shoulder wary glance at boyfriend.
LoLo tells us he got married at 21, things didn't work out, and now he's looking out for his daughter.
LoLo: "It surprised me to hear that Shayne was on the Bachelor, Matt. It was the idea of being on television that was enticing to her. The idea of being an actress is appealing to Shayne, but she wants to be a star more."
Shayne is furious. How dare Papa Lolo! She has valiantly fought this comment from Day 1. She tells LoLo and Matto that she would have left if she hadn't been in love with Matt. Don't you know that's the way The Bachelor works, Papa Lolo? You leave if you're not feeling it. Duuuhhh....
During dad-and-dude time, Lo and Matt seem to feel they're both genuine, they totally love one another, they pound rock fists and a couple beers together. Dude.
LoLo and Shayne share some quality father-daughter time, talking about how much Shayne loves Dad Lamas and Matt. Shayne cries in a moment that is better than any script. ABC considers hiring Shayne for bachelorette coaching in future seasons.
Shayne and Mama Shayne in Los Angeles
Shayne's mom is a scary warning of what Shayne may turn into if she continues to tan over the next twenty years. Next stop: Collagen City.
"Matt knows I come from a broken family," says Shayne. "That's not something I'm going to hide." Nor can she.
We discover that Shayne bought this house for her mom. Interesting. "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," says Matt of the decor. Leopard prints! Potpourri! More leopard prints! Fluffy toy dogs!
"I knew we wouldn't be the normal quaint American family. We're a little bit crazy," says Shayne, just to prove a point.
Shayne's mom impresses Matt by cooking an English meal. Or by ordering one for him. Or maybe by ordering ABC to order one for him.
Shayne says her mom is 20 times the firecracker that she is and that her mom will steal the show. Her mom shows off Shayne's tap dancing routine a la 1994 to Matt. To me, this is creepy. Wasn't Matt like in college at this point? If I had been in college in 1994, I wouldn't want to be watching this tap dancing routine by my future wife at the same year. Creepy.
Shayne's little sister is mini-Shayne. Quiet, whiny, wise, full of accessories like that Xena Warrior Princess headband. "Do you looooove him???"
Shayne's mom wants to know how Matt would handle it if Shayne is a successful actress who is making out with lots of hot men on the big screen all the time. Matt seems cool with it.
Matt says he is falling big time for Shayne and would never have expected this to work out so well. Um, me neither. "I'm gonna miss you, Monkey!" says Matt.
Chelsea's Family in Durango, Colorado
Matt says that Chelsea has been going hot and cold and he wants her to break down that barrier.
Chelsea warns Matt that she gets really emotional around her parents and being with her family. Matt and Chelsea walk to her house, arms linked, rather than hands held.
Everyone shares a dinner together. Chelsea jokes she doesn't speak "British." Heh. Heh. Heh. Matt tells Chelsea's family that when his dad had a stroke, he realized that he was ready to settle down. Mm, details! I wish ABC would divulge more of these things earlier on.
Chelsea's dad says that Matt doesn't seem to take himself too seriously and that he seems honest. He's impressed. Chelsea admits to her father that she didn't even want to like Matt. Um, then what were you thinking when you signed up for The Bachelor? Was Shayne actually more looking for love than Chelsea? My world is spinning.
Matt tells Chelsea's mom that Chelsea's reservations make him wonder whether she's into him. Her mom explains, a la mama style, that her daughter is only scared about getting hurt. Yawn.
Cut to Chelsea and her dad. On cue, Chelsea's dad tells her to open up and be honest with Matt. Chelsea decides she needs to express her real feelings. She does this by intensely making out with him out by the car. Good move.
Noelle's Family in Loveland, Colorado
Matt needs to get to know Noelle better, he tells us.
Matt rides up on a pick-up truck with a "cowboy" accent. They go on a horseback ride together.
Noelle tells Matt that he has all the sides that she doesn't have. They make a full brain together, apparently? I'm not sure if that was really the speech she practiced.
Noelle admits that she was nervous before he got there because her family is a little bit conservative. She's 26, and Matt's only the second guy she's brought home. To meet: her parents and two sisters? Step mom? I'm so confused about who these people are.
Matt's horse stops short of the picnic table. Tally ho!
Matt and Noelle's dad go off to shoot the shit and some horseshoes. Her dad wants to know what kind of person does The Bachelor. Matt doesn't really have a good answer for that.
Noelle tells her sisters and mom that she needs to put herself out there. They agree. So do we.
ABC sets the family up in this awkward dinner table pose via The Last Supper. Even Noelle's dad notices. I would have loved to have seen this set up: Um, the light isn't quite right. You're all going to have to sit on this one side of the table.
Noelle's mom, who looks like she could be Noelle's sister, and Noelle's sister take him out to find out whether he is falling in love with Noelle. He admits that there are a lot of girls at his disposal.
Noelle tells her family that she doesn't let guys in. Matt says that he really wants to get to know Noelle better, that he wishes he could spend more time with her and that she seems like his "ultimate partner."
Amanda's "Family" in Tallahassee, Florida
Matt says that family is important to him and he needs to get along with them.
Amanda decided to play a prank on Matt by hiring two actors to play her parents. Amanda's also nervous that this won't go well. So am I.
Fake Mom laughs at everything serious Matt says. Fake Mom's laugh was super-awkward, says Amanda.
Fake Mom wants to know whether they've been intimate. So does Fake Dad.
Matt pounds his beer.
Fake Dad and Matt have a serious conversation alone where Fake Dad plays inquisition on Matt. Fake Mom goes out to interrupt and talk to Matt as Mrs. Robinson.
Fake Mom asks Matt is he's a good boy, calls him a big boy, and starts stroking his nipple. (ABC is not giving us ANY insight into how Matt feels about this in interviews.) Fake Mom rubs her face against Matt and thrusts her breasts in his face.
Amanda, seeing that maybe this is going to the breaking point, breaks the news of the prank to Matt. Matt looks nauseous and then in a later interview admits that it was funny.
Real Mom and Real Dad come out and Matt sighs relief. Matt and Amanda get some alone time together upstairs where he admits that he got got, and well, that's hot.
Chris "Love Destroyer" Harrison says that girls look like they're sick and because of that, they obviously know how important tonight is. He encourages them to squeeze their cheeks to get some blood flowing.
Matt seems truly flustered before having to announce his choices.
Matt says to his final three girls that he is excited to have them with him. And now, vacation time!
J and I saw Young@Heart this weekend at the Landmark, and I fell in love with it. While there’s nothing groundbreaking about how it was reported, shot or edited, the story—about a chorus of senior citizens—is magnificent. Watching how these individuals deal with the ordinary (but difficult) problems of aging and just everyday life in the most extraordinary ways is truly inspiring. By the end of the film, you really want to hang out with these people and get to know them better. I couldn’t help but post a video or two from the film to share. Check out the Young@Heart Chorus webpage or see the movie for yourself.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Perhaps you haven't noticed, but I happen to have this thing for The New York Times' AP newsfeed. I know I could go elsewhere for the AP's newsfeed, like say, the AP's RSS feed, but still. There was something about being able to get my news, easily, in one spot that I loved.
And now, that's all gone.
News From Reuters? That's it?
Now, I know that I will discover every little detail about the inquest into Princess Diana's death and what JK Rowling is up to, but I am in serious need of my Associated Press link to the US National News.
Not that their isn't focus on the US ("Annie Lennox on US Singles Charts After 13 Years" was one example of a US headline in Reuters' Entertainment section), but I need my dose of AP National through the Times. Where else will I find the crazies (like the guy who stole the bodies of Civil War soldiers and displayed them in his house) or the awesomes (like the 10-year-old kid who stopped his rolling bus from careening into highway traffic by steering it into a concrete pole)?
I emailed the Times' public editor in hopes that he might respond and explain the change. I'm sure he gets lots of emails like this from crazies (not like the Civil War guy, but people like me who spend too much time on nytimes.com), so it may take a while to get a response, if I ever get one.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I’m not sure how I remember this Folgers commercial if it’s dated from 1986 (although stranger things have happened with my memory from my early months/years), but perhaps it reran for years following. Regardless, I have this distinct memory of being curled up in an armchair and watching this Folgers ad, drowsy, almost drugged, from the energy of the Christmas holidays. I loved this commercial though and kept my eyelids from drooping when it came on. This commercial spoke to me. My family bought Folgers—I recognized that big red tub—and I was the youngest in the family with much older siblings. It only made sense that my family was like the one in the commercial—ideal and caffeinated. I’m glad I found this.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Unbelievable. I wish these stories about the way returning soldiers are treated by the government they served would get more coverage.
Sole-surviving son denied health benefits post-Iraq
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Forced to leave the combat zone after his two brothers died in the Iraq war, Army Spc. Jason Hubbard faced another battle once he returned home: The military cut off his family's health care, stopped his G.I. educational subsidies and wanted him to repay his sign-up bonus.
It wasn't until Hubbard petitioned his local congressman that he was able to restore some of his benefits.
Now that congressman, Rep. Devin Nunes, plans to join three other lawmakers in introducing a bill that would ensure basic benefits to all soldiers who are discharged under an Army policy governing sole surviving siblings and children of soldiers killed in combat. The rule is a holdover from World War II meant to protect the rights of service people who have lost a family member to war.
''I felt as if in some ways I was being punished for leaving even though it was under these difficult circumstances,'' Hubbard told The Associated Press. ''The situation that happened to me is not a one-time thing. It's going to happen to other people, and to have a law in place is going to ease their tragedy in some way.''
Hubbard, 33, and his youngest brother, Nathan, enlisted while they were still grieving for their brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, who was 22 when he was killed in a 2004 bomb explosion in Ramadi.
At their request, the pair were assigned to the same unit, the 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, and deployed to Iraq the next year.
In August, 21-year-old Cpl. Nathan died when his Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Kirkuk. Jason was part of the team assigned to remove his comrades' bodies from the wreckage.
Hubbard accompanied his little brother's body on a military aircraft to Kuwait, then on to California. He kept steady during Nathan's burial at Clovis Cemetery, standing in dress uniform between his younger brothers' graves as hundreds sobbed in the heat.
But Hubbard broke his silence when he found his wife, pregnant with their second child, had been cut off from the transitional health care the family needed to ease back to civilian life after he was discharged in October.
''This is a man who asked for nothing and gave a lot,'' said Nunes, R-Calif., who represents Hubbard's hometown of Clovis, a city of 90,000 next to Fresno. ''Jason is one person who obviously has suffered tremendously and has given the ultimate sacrifice. One person is too many to have this happen to.''
Hubbard went to Nunes, who began advocating for the former soldier in December, after hearing the Army was demanding that he repay $6,000 from his enlistment bonus and was denying him up to $40,000 in educational benefits under the GI bill.
After speaking with Army Secretary Pete Geren, Nunes got the repayment waived, and a military health policy restored for Hubbard's wife.
But the policy mandated that she be treated at a nearby base, and doctors at the Lemoore Naval Air Station warned that the 45-mile trip could put her and the fetus in danger. Hubbard said doctors offered alternative treatment at a hospital five hours away.
Meantime, Hubbard and his two-year-old son went without any coverage for a few months.
The Hubbard Act, scheduled to be introduced Wednesday, would for the first time detail the rights of sole survivors, and extend to them a number of benefits already offered to other soldiers honorably discharged from military service.
The bill -- co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. -- would waive payback of their enlistment bonuses, allow them to participate in G.I. educational programs, give them separation pay and access to transitional health care.
Meanwhile, Hubbard, his wife Linnea and his son Elijah, have permanent health coverage now that he is once again working as a Fresno County sheriff's deputy, the job he left in 2004 to serve in Iraq.
The Army will adopt to any changes in policy springing from the legislation, said Army spokesman Maj. Nathan Banks.
''Foremost the Army itself sympathizes with him for the loss of his brothers,'' Banks said. ''We will do everything within our means to rectify this issue. He is still one of ours.''
Hubbard's father, Jeff, said that resolving the family's bureaucratic difficulties would provide some comfort, but would not help lessen their pain.
''We're still very much deeply involved in a grieving process. We're pretty whacked,'' he said. ''This doesn't relate back to the loss of our boys, it can't, but we would consider it a positive accomplishment.'' [AP]
Monday, April 14, 2008
Trouble on the Slopes!
"Six girls remain, and this is a big week", says Chris Harrison. "Four of you will have the opportunity to take Matt back to your home towns."
"You're going to Sun Valley, Idaho!" says Chris.
SQUEEEEEAAAAL! say the six remaining bachelorettes.
The six girls arrive, and in no time, Matt tosses them all in the snow.
"I look fabulous!" says Marshana. "I don't want to get tossed in the snow!"
The girls arrive at a cabin. Shayne tells us that cuddling is one of her favorite things, and she's looking forward to doing it with Matt.
Who gets the 1-on-1 date?? Doorbell rings. The ABC staff leaves the date invitation just a little ways away from the door to make Marshana cold on her way out to the box.
"Come experience a winter wonderland, Chelsea!"
1-on-1 Date: Winter Wonderland Sleigh Ride with Chelsea
"Tally Ho!" says Matt.
Chelsea tells us her one pet peeve is PDA, specifically hand-holding. She is A-OK with linking arms! "No sudden movements, buddy!"
Matt wants someone who is affectionate.
Chelsea opens up and says she is very vulnerable and uncomfortable about being romantic. Matt says he feels a lot for Chelsea and "digs" her. He also says his parents would love her, which means let's get in bed together cause mum and dad would be okay with it.
Chelsea writes her own fantasy date: "I would love to spend time alone with you. Can we have our own fantasy date at your place?"
Brilliant, Chelsea! Totally well played. They return to Matt's place for some hot and heavy moments.
Group Date: Skiing with Amanda, Robin, Marshana and Shayne
"Two of these girls are virgins... on the slopes!" Good one, Matt. Har har har.
Robin makes it clear she has no problem getting one-on-one time on group dates. Robin is flaunting her crazy eyes.
Amanda thinks that Matt is going to make a good dad because of how patient he was with her on the slopes. Meanwhile, Marshana can't so much as stand up her skis.
Shayne impresses Matt on her snowboard. Shayne has brought blush, lipstick and lipliner on the slopes. Matt says that she has brought half her makeup kit onto the slopes, but I don't think he has any idea how much makeup she has.
While Shayne and Matt share a lasting kiss in the snow, Robin glares from on high. She will not stand for this.
With Jaws music playing, Robin stealthily descends upon the couple on her snowboard.
"Why DIDN'T IIIIIII get the ONE-ON-ONE?!" That one question, Robin tells us, will determine whether or not she brings Matt home with her! Um, right, because Robin seems like just the kind of girl to refuse a rose.
Matt explains that he knows Robin well enough not to invite her for the one-on-one since, you know, she's always stealing time away from all the other girls on the group dates.
Now, away from the slopes and to the spa for hot tub time.
Amanda pulls Matt aside to talk and she pulls the redneck card, telling Matt her family will cook him possum.
1-on-1 Date With Noelle: Ice Skating
Noelle is "super-excited" to get the one-on-one date and covers her face while blushing.
"It's important that I be me and say something that he likes!" says Noelle. Um, incongruous?
Matt thinks that Noelle is a serious contender. Noelle suffered a very serious car crash. Matt is impressed with how philosophical Noelle is about taking life for all it's worth after her accident.
Meanwhile, back at the house...
Robin is confident that she'll get the hometown date.
Marshana has risen to every occasion, Marshana says. She has seen how he lives.
Robin says that Marshana doesn't know how Matt lives, but OBVIOUSLY that study abroad
time ROBIN did in London exposed her to the intricacies of British life. Duuuh.
Marshana says she HAS seen his lifestyle.
Robin says that Matt doesn't actually live off ABC's money all the time. (Valid point.) Marshana throws some sass in Robin's direction.
When Chelsea suggests that Marshana is negative, Marshana proves her right by throwing a fit, screaming and then talking to the ABC producers about how "charitable" she is. I am scared of Marshana. I am also scared of Robin. Just... scared. Crazy eyes. I'm meeping on Amanda's behalf.
Back at the ice skating date...
Noelle lays it out that she wants to take him home with her. She says she calls men/emotional situations like Matt 'trouble.'
Matt: "I want to be trouble, and I think that you might be trouble too."
All the girls feel a strong connection with Matt, and none of them can imagine going home.
Marshana plays tattletale and tells Matt that Robin and Chelsea turned on her. Marshana says with a cool tone and crazy eyes, "I was in rare form last night... but that's just because people attacked my character."
Chelsea interrupts their one-on-one time, but Marshana refuses to leave. When she finally does, Chelsea talks a lot, and Matt says he doesn't care about all that crap and wants to know whether or not she can be romantic. Matt and Chelsea kiss.
Marshana goes back to the girls and whines. Shayne and Robin tell her to shove off. "I sleep every night!" says Marshana. Fantastic!
Robin finally gets her one-on-one time with Matt. He gives her his coat and they kiss. Shayne can't take this.
Shayne tells Matt how hard this is on her and wants him to meet her family. Matt then gropes Shayne while brushing her hair, and they kiss.
Chris "No Fun" Harrison breaks up the party for the rose ceremony.
Matt says that he's had a really wonderful time with these girls and that it will be an honor and humbling experience to visit their homes--especially Lorenoz Lamas's.
Shayne: "You chose me first!!" (Amanda squints and quietly meeps off camera.)
Marshana: "Crazy Eyes 1" says there is nothing left for her to do but go home. Except she trips on the way out.
Robin: "Crazy Eyes 2" gives a cold "Bon soir" on her way out, then spits and curses her anger at the cameramen, vowing her revenge.
Next week on The Bachelor, hometown dates!
And I know I already posted the video from 2 Days in Paris, but I couldn't help but post the accompanying words. I still think Julie Delpy cuts right through the surface to what we're really thinking in these moments.
-I don’t know you.
-What are you talking about? Are you drunk?
To sum up the four hours of discussion that followed, it’s not easy being in a relationship, much less to truly know the other one, and accept them as they are, with all their flaws and baggage.
He confessed to me his fear of being rejected if I truly knew him, if he showed himself totally bare to me.
He realised after two years that he didn’t know me at all, nor did I know him. And to truly love each other we needed to know the truth about each other, even if it’s not so easy to take.
So I told him the truth, which was I’d never cheated on him, and I also told him that I had just seen the other guy that afternoon. He did not get mad at me because nothing had happened of course. I confessed to him the toughest thing for me was to decide to be with someone for good _ the idea that this is the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.
To decide that I will make the effort to work things out and not run off the minute there is a problem is very difficult for me.
I told him I could not be for just one man for the rest of my life. It was a lie, but I said it anyway. He asked me if I thought I was a squirrel, collecting men like nuts to put away for cold winters. I thought it was quite funny.
Then he said something that hurt my feelings. The tone changed drastically. Then I misunderstood what he was saying to me. I thought he meant he didn’t love me any more and that he wanted to break up with me.
It always fascinates me how people go from loving you madly, to nothing at all. Nothing. It hurts so much. When I feel someone will leave me I have a tendency to break up first, before I get to hear the whole thing.
Here it is. One more, one less, another wasted love story. I really loved this one. When I think that it’s over, that I’ll never see him again… Well yes, I’ll bump into him, we’ll meet our new boyfriend and girlfriend, act as if we had never been together. Then we’ll slowly think of each other less and less, until we forget each other completely. Almost.
Always the same for me. Break up, break down, drink up, fool around, meet one guy, then another, fuck around to forget the one and only. Then after a few months of emptiness, start again to look for true love. Desperately look everywhere and, after two years of loneliness, meet a new love and swear it is the one, until that one is gone as well.
There’s a moment in life where you can’t recover any more from another break up. And even if this person bugs you 70% of the time, you still can’t live without him. And even if he wakes you up every day by sneezing right in your face, well, you love his sneezes more than anyone else’s kisses.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
These words won't do justice to the soul you were and are, but I want to write somewhere and let you know that I will miss you. It's hard to imagine someone with so much love, spirit and life inside them leaving us and in such a senseless way.
I am so happy that I met you through work and became your friend. It never failed that if you were working with me, my day at Blick was bound to be a good one. (Hell, you even made inventory fun when you mistakenly called our rainbow folders the "Anne Frank" part of the store rather than the "Lisa Frank.") You were eccentric, creative, gorgeous, and so much more. When I first met you, I was intimidated by your good looks (you'd scoff at me right now, I know) and how cool and at ease you were with yourself and everyone around you. But you made me feel welcome and were sweet to me from the very beginning. There are few people in the world that encompass the qualities you did. You were filled with light, and everyone could see it. I'm so glad that you shared that light with me, and despite your passing, I don't believe that light will be extinguished. I'll miss you, Miri.
With all my love,
10:14 AM CDT, April 10, 2008A 21-year-old woman was killed when struck by two cars Wednesday night outside Loyola University's Lake Shore Campus on Chicago's North Side.
Shortly before 9 p.m., a Mercedes vehicle was heading south in the 6500 block of North Sheridan Road when it hit the woman, forcing her into northbound traffic, police said. She was then hit by a Nissan sport-utility vehicle.
Miriam Benezra of the 9400 block of Kedvale Avenue in Skokie was pronounced dead at 3:54 a.m. Thursday in St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, according to a spokeswoman for the Cook County medical examiner's office.
The driver of the Mercedes, a 55-year-old Chicago man, and the Nissan's driver, a 29-year-old from Chicago, each were ticketed for failing to exercise due care to a pedestrian in a roadway.
Benezra, a photography student at Oakton Community College in Skokie and a graduate of Niles North High School, had just parked her car near Loyola and was trying to cross the street to board a CTA train to downtown when she was struck, said Ann Miller, who has known Benezra for years.
Benezra was known for her outgoing personality and wonderful sense of humor and had many friends at Loyola and Oakton. She was planning on continuing her studies at Columbia College in Chicago.
"She was very creative, very full of life," Miller said. In addition to attending classes, Benezra worked at Blick, an art supplies store in Evanston, Miller said. Her parents own the North Shore Kosher Bakery in West Rogers Park.
Friends leaving messages on Benezra's Facebook.com profile Thursday morning expressed disbelief about the accident.
"I love you. i was thinking about you yesterday," wrote one poster. "i'll never forget you or your beautiful outlook on life."
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The City Room at the Times today must have been reading my mind. I've been craving a burger and mojito from my favorite Brooklyn spot, Soda Bar (629 Vanderbilt), all day. I even went as far as tracking it down on Google StreetView (evidence provided) just to salivate.
So my heart skipped when I saw that The City Room has posted about this awesome new book named (simply) "Brooklyn Storefronts." Even more simple is the fact that photographer Paul Lacy snapped these images with his Canon digital camera--not with any fancy digital SLR or film.
I love these images and they're making me seriously miss New York, so I'm posting some of them here. Enjoy!
Monday, April 7, 2008
Welcome, remaining 9 bachelorettes and America. London is calling.
Chris Harrison arrives to tell us that things are about to get ruh-eeeel! This week, one group date, one 1-on-1 date, and one 2-on-1 date that will send one girl home.
Group Date: Wimbledon in L.A. and High Tea!
"I know what high tea is!" says Robin.
"I don't!" says Shayne.
"I can't believe we're having high tea," says Matt. "I don't exactly do that on a regular basis, but okay."
It's tennis time. Shayne thinks her skirt is really big. Kelly may actually be sober while playing tennis. Matt tells us that he cannot control himself around Chelsea today.
Chelsea and Shayne have a gymanstics competition. Robin thinks that this is a scream for attention. She would NEVER sink to this behavior!
Ashlee, who still looks 12, gets some one-on-one time with Matt. Ashlee is wearing a couple small animals on her fat furry coat.
Matt: You seem to take everything in stride.
Ashlee: Giggle! Yeah-wait, what does that mean?
Matt: "Ashlee starts singing and I just get mesmerized." (Really?) They kiss.
The other girls aren't buying Ashlee's game either. Whiny, baby-voice Shayne thinks she feels like being around Ashlee is like hanging out with a baby.
Cut back to Ashlee and Matt, still kissing, except now Ashlee's furry coat is off! Scandalous!
Now, high tea. Robin and her family love tea. They traveled the whole world to find tea. Robin doesn't stoop to cheap games, remember. Does anyone want more jam?
Robin pulls Matt away from the girls. Robin says that she's fallen pretty hard for Matt, and Matt says he appreciates that.
Shayne calls Robin out on hogging Matt. Robin cries because she has no girl friends.
Back at the house, Marshana, Amanda, and Holly receive the one-on-one date for Amanda, which means Marshana and Holly will be on the 2-on-1 date.
Matt gives Chelsea the rose for playing great, looking great and charming the English gentleman. Ashlee thinks that sucks! Does what they have mean nothing?? Robin is surprised too! "A rose is a rose," she says, looking only slightly crazed look.
1-on-1 Date with Amanda: 50's Themed!
Amanda wants to be the hot girl on this date and to show Matt her wild side.
Matt has a cute moment where he freaks out about how awesome the ABC-rented car is. They're on their way to a diner.
Amanda shows off how much she knows about cars, and Matt thinks Amanda is the all-American girl.
After chocolate shakes and burgers, Matt asks Amanda to show him some dance moves, and Amanda tries her best.
Back at the house, Marshana and Holly discover that they will be cooking on their date. Robin and Marshana--arguably the two women who are most on edge 24/7--have it out. Marshana breaks down on-camera about how much she loves Matt and then throws some cutlery down as a sign of her anger.
Matt offers Amanda a rose, they kiss, and I discover that Amanda is from Niceville, Florida, which I think is awesome.
ABC can't get in their ferris wheel car, but their cameramen do manage to capture the romantic moment from a different ferris wheel car.
2-on-1 Date: Marshana, Holly, and Some Food
Marshana and Holly are going on their 2-on-1 date. Holly truly believes that something special is happening between her and Matt. Marshana thinks that she and Matt need more time to get to know him. Marshana also thinks that wearing this chef hat will give her an edge.
Their "cooking" date turns into just an "eating" date.
Matt wants to know whether they would be willing to move to London. Marshana is willing to move, so is Holly. Big surprise.
"Put me on an island in the middle of nowhere, and I can survive...as long as I'm with you," says Holly.
Marshana looks like she's going to throw up.
Matt takes Marshana off for her one-on-one date. No guts no glory, says Marshana. I'm sorry we haven't kissed yet, says Matt. Really? What an approach!
Matt and Holly end up on Matt's bed, which Robin had previously been eying last episode.
Matt offers the rose to Marshana, telling her that he wants to get to know her better. Matt explains he found conversation difficult with Holly. Holly feels like she put her heart out and that Matt was giving her some response back. I am really feeling for Holly at this moment because it did seem like Matt was, uh, reciprocating on the bed.
Final cocktail party: In Which We All Drink and Feel Kind of Down
Everyone is nervous, which means that Amanda is meeping and Kelly is drunk again.
Bachelor walks in, half-hearted SQUUUEEEEAAAAL!
I'm sad, says Matt. Yesterday was tough.
The mood goes from zero to negative 60.
Matt is so serious! says Ashlee. He's here to find a wife! That's seeeeerious!
We can't always rely on looks and music, says Matt.
Giiiiggggggle! says Ashlee.
Ashlee says that she is okay with being away with family and that it's possible for things to work out between them if she is touring.
Matt takes Noelle aside. Matt asks Noelle to "go for it now," and Noelle promises that she has a lot to offer.
During their one-on-one time, Kelly tells Matt, "Thank you for fitting me in." Matt points out that she's physically cutting him out. Matt is in the middle of a conversation with Kelly discussing this behavior when Kelly decides to rip off the front of her dress. Matt looks like he can hardly believe what's happening until Kelly loses her balance and hits her forehead on her knee. This is the kind of behavior that I saw drunk sorority girls in college pull off, and I always felt bad for them now, and I am really feeling bad for Kelly now too.
Happy to be free of Kelly, Matt finds solace in Shayne who makes baby noises and says she doesn't like shaaaaaaring Matt. Matt somehow finds this attractive and kisses her very softly.
Chris "Love Killer" Harrison arrives to break up this somber party.
"There's a different feel here tonight," says Chris "I know because I killed love" Harrison.
Goodbye, Ashlee and Kelly. And of course, goodbye Holly.
Kelly makes one last final impression, "I'd be into me. Any dude would want to date me."
Ashlee wants to find someone who sees more in her than a songwriter. I wrote a song for him, and it's much more powerful ad emotional than any words can say. And here, much to everyone's disbelief, she sings once more. One. Last. Time.
Next week: Marshana falls down the slopes of Sun Valley!
Friday, April 4, 2008
To me, this moment was as important as my first driver's license or passport. At age 11, I would have my own identification card--a weighty two-by-three inch piece of plastic marked with my own name and photo.
I stood in the steel-barred line, nervously adjusting my glasses, and considered removing them for my photo. Cold fluorescent light blanched my skin, and the unheated room seemed sterile with its white walls and concrete floors. Pounding against my rib cage, my heart struggled like a prisoner who wildly shakes iron bars to break free. I crossed my arms, certain that not even my spring jacket could hide this thumping betrayal of my nerves. A cold sweat broke out across my face, my glasses slid down my nose. I felt as if I was about to be processed rather than photographed.
"Are you excited?" my mom asked cheerfully.
I shrugged and nodded at the same time, pressing my chin against my chest and focusing my attention down at my feet. I pushed my toes up against the insides of my sneakers until they hurt, hoping that the pain might distract me from worrying about my glasses.
Ahead of me in line, older kids from the nearby high school were waiting for their turns too. They flashed bright teethy smiles at the camera and then waited as a bulky printer grinded and then sputtered their likenesses onto the card. One by one, they grabbed their cards when the machine finally spit them out, fanning them theatrically in the air to dry. After looking over one another's and laughing, they shoved the cards into their wallets and purses.
A purse. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind until now: I didn't have a purse. Where would I keep my new card?
As quickly as the problem had arose, its only solution dawned on me in a cold realization. I would have to buy a purse, of course. The "pretend" purses I had wouldn't do. Some girls in my fourth grade class already had real purses, anyway. Now, my time had come.
Suddenly, this card bore a much bigger burden than I had expected. The photographer called me forward, and I reeled, my future spinning before me:
When this photo snapped, the machine would cough up my own black-and-white image on a glossy canvas of plastic. Pressed into my hand, the card would demand a safe-keeping place. Hung about my shoulder, the purse would bear other responsibilities--more cards, dollar bills, and what else? I eyed my own mother's bulging purse as I pressed my feet into the two painted soles before the camera. What was in that thing? Was this overpacked fate mine as well? It seemed that within a few months time, I'd wear a diaper bag and push a stroller.
Why, God? I frantically thought as the flash went off. Why had I signed up for this card?
"Here you go!" smiled the photographer when the machine finished printing my destiny. "Have a great season!"
As my mom and I walked back to our Toyota station wagon, I carried my new weight in plastic, staring at my reflection and thinking quietly about my future.
"Do you want me to carry that for you?" my mom interrupted my thoughts.
"Oh!" I turned to her, surprised "You'll keep it for me?"
"Well, sure. You don't have to hold onto that," she said. "Just don't let me forget to give it to you when you and your friends go."
I looked back down at the card where my likeness stared wide-eyed back up at me:
CAITLIN G."Okay," I smiled, handing it over to her and thinking about another year free of my fate. "I won't forget."
PARAMOUNT'S KINGS ISLAND AMUSEMENT PARK
SEASON'S PASS 1996
Thursday, April 3, 2008
More headlines the AP could only wish for.
Woman Bites Dog Who Attacked Her Dog By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSPublished: April 3, 2008
Filed at 10:03 a.m. ET
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Amy Rice feared for her dog's life when a pit bull jumped over a fence into her yard and attacked her pooch. So she took matters into her own mouth.
Rice says she bit the pit bull on the nose Friday after trying to pull the dog's jaws off her Labrador retriever, Ella. The dog had jumped a fence to get into Rice's northeast Minneapolis yard, and Rice says she feared the pit bull would kill Ella.
''I didn't plan it, that's what happened. I broke the skin and had pit bull blood in my mouth,'' said Rice, 38. ''I knew what happened, and I knew that it wasn't good.''
The pit bull was quarantined Wednesday by Minneapolis Animal Control officers while rabies tests are being completed. Rice's doctor will determine whether she needs shots for rabies.
''I was sure that my dog was dying in my arms; it was horrible,'' Rice said.
Ella is recovering with staples and stitches to her head and a crushed ear canal, but she is afraid to go for walks, Rice said.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
OK, it's no secret that I have a mega-celeb crush on John Krasinski. (I explained to my own John last week that JK is my "if ever" one celebrity.) Nor is it a secret that I might set aside my mega-loathing of Renee Zellweger in order to see JK in Leatherheads this weekend. (That is really asking a lot, John Krasinski. I'm going to have to cover my eyes every time RZ is squinting and pouting her way through every scene.) Nor is it a secret that when I saw in Star today that JK and Rashida Jones are dating again my heart dropped like I was the 13-year-old girl he snubbed at the middle school dance. (OK, so I may have some issues with reality.)
But I have serious issues with a spin-off of The Office and big fears that my favorite cast will be split into two separate shows, The Office, Thursday 9 PM EST, followed by its wacky spin-off, The Branch, or something like that. Say it ain't so, John, say it ain't so.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
You have really got to hand it to the BBC and The Telegraph. Their April Fool's joke--Flying Penguins Found by BBC Programme--takes the cake. The print version of the story (also online) led people to the newspaper's online video page (and the BBC iPlayer). Perhaps this prank is better than Google's Custom Time joke because it's such a marketing plug for the new video player... aaaaaaand it features flying penguins. So up-points there, too.