May 30, 2008

Talk About Mean Girls

Nice pile- on for Julie Couillard, Max Bernier's file-hugging, media-loving, biker-leaning former model and professional girlfriend. You'd think she was the Foreign Affairs Minister, ferchrissakes. Come to think of it, she probably couldn't have done a worse job than most of the buttheads that Harper roulettes into positons in his cabinet. And he's been known to overlook actual qualifications in deference to the pretty - Rona, anyone?

THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER FOR OUR COUNTRY LEAVES TOP SECRET FILES LYING AROUND LIKE YESTERDAY'S UNDERWEAR, and on more than once occasion. He promises helicopters with aid for Burma - which came as a surprise to the people actually in charge, because there were no choppers. He talks off- the- cuff (and we all know Dead Eye Harper has outlawed off -the- cuff) about firing the governor of Kandahar - which came as a surprise to diplomats who had been making progress in this area. I mean, it's not like Afghanistan is a sensitive part of the world, or anything.

This is the buffoon who spoke out of his ass about the NAFTA agreement and rocked the U.S. Democratic race.

So, of course the order of the day is to focus on his ex-girlfriend. Face it: everyone uses what they have. She has a beautiful face, a great rack and hair that swings when she walks. She works it. She's set her self quite nicely, from all accounts, being drawn to dangerous men with questionable pasts. And then she finds Bernier, and breaks out of her pattern: a dangerously stupid man, with a questionable future.

Should she have just handed the file back? Sure. But I'm rather glad that instead we got to see what Harper kept telling us wasn't there - a big risk. Bernier is a loose cannon with a big mouth - is that who we really want repping us around the world?

Everyone in Harper's world is trading on their connections to him, calling in favours and milking the public trough for all it's worth. And it's our money, our security, and our reputation.

Ms. Couillard is milking her moment in the sun, but it's not my money, and it's her reputation. I think its time to return the focus to the real story in all of this. There are definitely a couple of boobs in this screw up - but it's not the ones you think.


Seeing as how the Toronto Catholic School Board is forcing us all back to school, I figured I'd spell that out for them.

You'll remember the recent mess the trustees find themselves in - making check lists for school supplies that include trips to the Caribbean - and Education Minister Wynne indulgent response - "now, fix this, or I'll have to step in, here's your deadline," (which they promptly blew off). I would have handed each of them a cardboard box containing the personal crap off their desks, a summons to appear in court to face charges, and the door.

To be perfectly frank, I have no clue why we are funding two separate school boards. I am totally against funding a system based on religion, especially if we don't fund all religions. I know why it was done, but it is time for it to be undone.

But just when I thought this freespending bunch couldn't get any more outrageous, I splurted tea through my nose this morning reading this quote from trustee Oliver Carroll (you'll remember him - he claimed his master's degree as a legit expense, and they paid for it. Sorry, taxpayers paid for it. Usually you have to be a prisoner in this country to get a free education...):

"At the end of the day, the only way this board is going to learn how to run the board is to actually run the board - whether or not members of the public like it...[supervision would be] 'unbearable'".

Seriously? When you learn on the job, that's called being an apprentice. When you face an elecorate and use words like 'experience', 'honest' and 'involved', you are asking to do a job you believe yourself already qualified to do. It is this self-delusion voters apparently went for.

And now of course, the budget is badly out of whack. There's only so many Italian cell phone bills, car allowances and unentitled medical benefits you can allot yourself before you're staring into the bottom of an empty purse.

An announcement has just come down: The Toronto Catholic School Board has voted to axe 85 teachers. And the 'battered trustees' are still crying in their soup over the fact that they have lost credibility with the public. You think?

I think they posed the axe over the wrong heads.

Don't Mess With Texas...

...but you're apparently free to mess with their children.

In a breathtaking display of stomping on the vulnerable, the Texas Supreme court has ordered all those kids recently seized from the FLDS compound of Warren Jeffs to be returned. You know, those kids who were being bred to become breeders, and married off in polygamist marriages to the creepy old bastards who call themselves gods.

If your breakfast has settled, clink on this link. How lovely. Wedding shots of Warren with the young 'uns. It's seriously distrubing, but not half as disturbing as a bunch of judges who can see this type of thing and seriously not call 'child abuse'.

What a twisted world.

May 29, 2008

Meanwhile, North of Iran...

The next big race for oil is going to be in the Arctic, as global warming spurs the melting of the ice and the resulting seabed is accessible for the first time.

Grab a globe (whaddya mean you don't have a globe?!), and look at where all those little lines intersect. It looks a little like a pie, doesn't it? Now trace the slices and try to determine which countries own the most pie.

I'm unloading some serious stuff today, but like all the best infomercials ("call right now and we'll send you not 1, not 2, but 4! that's right 4! ginzu knives!"), get in early and the background knowledge will pay off later. The G&M has posted an article saying that the countries involved - Canada, U.S., Russia, Finland and Denmark - have agreed to play nice when it comes to claiming this area at the top of the world.

Call me stupid (okay, stop now), but while I think Denmark and Finland seem to be of fine moral character, and of course Canada hasn't made a single daring original move since it voted to have coloured money, I have a leetle problem with the other two members of that picnic. And while the United Nations has stuck out its chest and said it will be in charge on this, I'm wondering if that body shouldn't first erase all the bootprints on its back from getting trampled in the last great oil-inspired broohaha it declared itself in charge of.

For more background, you can Google till your fingers bleed, but I found this piece in Vanity Fair particularly insightful. It's supposed to rain on Saturday. Come back and read it. I'm thinking this is gonna get messy.

May 27, 2008

The Road

Nice piece in today's NYT from Charles McGrath on the filming of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

The book was a masterpiece; I've read other McCarthy stuff, but this one just kind of throws you down and stomps on you with its elegance and devastation. I knew they were making a movie, and I wondered how much would be lost. While the proof is in the pudding, as my mother would have said, the link makes me think I'll actually plunk down in a theatre for this one. And Viggo Mortensen? How's that for casting? Okay, I'll be quiet now.

Speaking of movies, I'm kicking myself for waiting for the video of There Will Be Blood. Amazing movie I should have seen in the theatre.

May 26, 2008

One For The Boys

This cracked me up. We make so much fun of the cougars, but maybe we're forgetting someone???

Raine vs Robin

I have a pet robin. I keep it in the yard. When it first appeared, I thought it was rather cute. A harbinger of spring and all that. The bunnies are still my favourite, but the robin has nuzzled a little space in my heart, mostly because it's the same one and I'm a sucker for anything that hangs around even after it's gotten to know me.

So. The robin. The robin is eating my grass seed. I have lousy grass, again. I'm actually starting to like the little white flowers that are growing on some of the weeds in it, and I'm becoming more confused by the day about which are weeds and which aren't. My neighbours throw around words like 'Sweet William' and 'Creeping Charlie' and I get so frustrated I don't know which guy is creepy and which is sweet.

I throw down grass seed like a flower girl dispensing rose petals at a wedding. Well, at least like they're supposed to, though I've yet to see a little kid actually do it; they usually cry and pee and hide behind their mother's dress. And you always know who the mother is - the pregnant woman the bride didn't want in her wedding party ("it'll wreck the photos!" - I've actually heard a woman say this), and has thrown a bone to by putting her kid in the wedding party. And all you usually hear echoing through the church is the wailing of the kid, as the groom considers a vasectomy. At my wedding, my flower girls were actually terrific. They stole the show, which in retrospect, was just fine.

Anyway - the robin. It's gotten to the point that every time I go out back, the robin flies down and waits a few feet away from me. If I turn on the hose, it hops under the water. It knows it's in for a feeding. Since I throw less bread these days, the squirrels have shifted their affections for more promising fields. I have a lovely bird feeder, but I gave up years ago putting out bird seed - it was just an appetizer for the squirrels. And I have yet to see 'squirrel proof' manage to be anything close to that. My neighbour put out a state-of-the-art feeder last year, and watched from inside as the squirrels performed their reverse-Houdini feats and were into it within ten minutes. They must sit over the shoulder of the Lee Valley engineers, chuckling.

My grass is growing miserably, but the inside of that robin must look like the little bugger is chugging Rogaine.

May 24, 2008

Kids & Cars

I don't know what it is, but at this time of year I always start worrying about the kids. Not just mine, but mine, yours, everyones. The weather gets that certain something in the air, and a familiar fear settles into my soul. I don't want to lose any more young ones to driving, whether it's speeding, drinking, recklessness or just being a kid. And it's always this time - I checked my backlist, and sure enough, here's columns from May 2006 and June 2007. Today's column is here. The photo? It's Allan, at 20. The year before he was killed.

This is driving weather. We all feel it, and police stats back it up. Linda McAvoy addresses it today as well in a nice piece. For me, it's always the deadly combination of kids, great weather, driving inexperience and that unquantifiable something that urges them to believe they are going to live forever.

Please be careful, kids. We love you.

May 21, 2008

Dear Hillary

I feel like we've known each other so long. While I never quite bought into the 'two for the price of one' platform you dragged into the White House way back in '93, I secretly applauded you for having the guts to say it out loud. Way too many women push the boys to the front of the line, and then are supposed to disappear into the mist of history. None of that nonsense for you, you non-cookie baker you. I like that. I don't bake cookies either.

Unfortunately, in this media age, your husband seems cut from a golden cloth, and you could do little but pale in comparison. I always believed you were incredibly bright, I always felt you were incredibly driven, you just weren't someone I could ever imagine confiding in. As you know, the men will only pretend to let you play on their team in this business as it suits them, and if a woman doesn't trust another woman, there is no going back. You never really picked a team. And while I will always believe in gender equality, I also believe that men and women are very different.

Bookended by Bush women as you were, those women groomed and trained for the big races like hot house ponies who learn their moves early on - and stick to them - your outspoken personality never stood much of a chance. Think about it; Barbara Bush never sits down to watch a war started by her husband or son without her pearls on.

And then there was the whole who's-he-boffing-now thing. Sigh. Such a stupid hillock to get your undercarriage caught on, don't you think? A generation (or 3) of women held their breath and watched you. This was the chance we needed to see how strong you really were. Do you really believe that a huge percentage of us hasn't faced down this same demon at some point in our lives? We needed to see how this smart, accomplished woman would deal. And you stayed. I know, I know - every marriage is different. But you didn't need Bill...and we wanted you to recognize that.

You've chosen to live on this most public of stages, where the good, the bad and the ugly simultaneously hold hands. You're stuck with the judgment, because we judge leaders and role models and surely as we judge criminals. It would be kind of wonderful if people stopped bugging you about your hair and dress, especially as your husband could have worn the same dark suit every day for 8 years and nobody would have noticed. But that is not who we are; you knew that going in, you watched your daughter go through hell learning it, and if our kids are any indication of our worth, I think you've done a bang up job in that regard.

But what now, Hillary? This was supposed to be a slam dunk, this candidacy. A cakewalk. This was supposed to be your time. Which of course means the straight course was destined to be littered with detours. You know that - when has it ever been smooth? But I worry for you. You've had your eyes so surely fixed on the prize for so long, I think you've forgotten what the prize is. It's not about being named the Grand Poobah. It's about fixing a broken nation. And why do I care? I mean, I sit here up in Canada - not my problem, right?

Wrong. We do care. We have to. Decisions made by your government are killing our young men and women, too. Decisions made by your courts are always watched with a jittery eye on the meter - we are two countries, but we are bound together by many financial, political, environmental and cultural ties. We may be the dysfunctional family that sits around the table together for Christmas, but we still sit around it together. Ferchristsakes, we can't even agree on when to have Thanksgiving, and you even celebrate your anniversary 4 days late.

So, Hillary, where am I going with this? My son came to me yesterday, and asked if John McCain was seriously the Republican candidate. I said indeed he was. While he is a bright lad, he'd felt the thundering and posturing between you and Obama was the contest - he'd forgotten that the real duel was yet to come. He also wanted to know if there was a hope in hell that McCain could actually win.

And I had to tell him that if this crap keeps up, I believe there is. If you and Obama succeed in splintering your party into toothpicks, in deeply dividing the demographic based on gender, age, colour or any other sorting you want to use, McCain may just waltz up the middle and return your country, and much of the world, to another 4 years of this criminal thrashing.

Someone needs to be Solomon here, and stop ripping the baby in half. Twist your kaleidoscope another turn, Hillary, and find a new focus that will make your legacy something that is worthy of you.

May 20, 2008

CHCH Live@5:30 Tuesday

How do we keep our kids safe at school? Reports are being handed down, but will anybody listen?

Tune in at 5:30, repeat at 11:30...

May 17, 2008

Sowing My Wild Oats

I was sitting at the table reading the papers and drinking tea this morning, as always. I'm so predictable, it's sick. We were having a bag o' dirt delivered first thing, but I'd still neglected to pull on some clothes or brush my hair. Sure enough, I heard the little scooter truck trundling up the driveway, bearing a yard of soil like an offering from the gardening gods. I yelped at Poor Sod to get out there as I scribbled a cheque. It was okay for him to go out there in his jammma bottoms, but not me.

It started to rain, as promised. I wondered how long I could delay distributing the dirt. Looking up, I saw my neighbour Jayne coming across the court. "There's a perennial sale. Come on," she said. We often garden together. Everything she plants flourishes; everything I plant dies. I ran upstairs, pulled on yesterday's clothes and off we went.

The sale was less than promised, so we did the only thing we could. We went for lattes. I sat there in Second Cup, in my steel toed boots, baseball cap and grubby pants. Jayne never looks grubby. We elected to head up to a bigger gardening centre. It rained harder.

In the pouring rain, we carefully selected perennials. There was much oohing and aahing. Jayne checks out plants heights, sun vs shade, and soil conditions. I like plants that look like they come from a Dr. Suess book. With a buggy laden with bits of this and that, we filled up the back of the van and headed home. I bought this Japanese tree thing that came with a one-year warranty. I will carefully tuck that warranty away, because I can guarantee I will be returning a dead stick for a new one.

The sun is struggling to come out, and I hope it wins. I have a big bag of dirt and a bunch of bug-eyed plants to put in the garden. After I put them in, Arlene or Roz will come over and tell me to replant them in the proper spots. Arlene will also ask me things like, "what was it about this plant you liked again?". I like the faith I feel at this time of year, and I like the promise. I know I will smell garlic as I dig around in the soil, my Dad talking to me. I will laugh and cry at the same time.

Mostly, I like that it never diminishes, regardless of the fact that things rarely turn out as planned. Maybe that's even that part I like best of all.

I am an eclectic gardener.

May 16, 2008

Where in the World?

This'll make you crazy. But in a good way. Think you know your geography? Check out this site when you have an hour or so. It's more fun than a proverbial barrel of monkeys. I am learning things about the world that I'm embarassed to admit. I couldn't even nail some of the places I've been, let alone never heard of. But, Editor Mock should take note that I'm prepping for a new junket...and waiting by the phone so he can send me on one.

Speaking of barrels of monkeys, WebGod Jeff stopped in with his little boy yesterday and we hauled out the kid box of toys, which contains a barrel of monkeys. Steven is 15 months old and may be the cutest kid I've ever seen. Gorgeous, smiling, sweet and outgoing. Totally takes after his mother.

Now, start playing geography.

May 14, 2008


Argh. Trying to renew my passport, because your passport is only good until 6 months before the date it says it expires. That's right. If you leave the country, you have to be returning within 6 months. What's the point? They've already shortened the life span of a passport, now there's this other inherent 6 month no-fly zone on it, and for this, we keep having to spend 87 bucks, plus the cost of the scary pictures?

I'm waiting for it to rain. It's supposed to rain. I have new grass seed down (every spring, hope springs eternal), and if it doesn't rain, I have to go out and nurture the stubble. I prefer mother nature to do the decent thing, because if mother Lorraine has to go tramp around in the mud again, she's going to be mighty crabby.

We are at 19 consecutive days for the no take-out meal deal. (Thanks, Louise for the recipe-a-day. It's like a club she started, and I'm the only member!) New record. It is making me a harpy, and last night I pitched a crabby fit and said I wasn't cooking. So they cooked themselves. I don't mean they, like, BBQed themselves, but they cooked for themselves. The upside is that I'm sure we're saving a ton of dough, which is a good thing, because the first headline I saw today was that natural gas is going up 20%. I'm ready to move into a tent and eat bugs.

I wanted to write today, but the muses are off watching TV with their feet up, drinking beer and burping and farting. At least I think they are - they sure aren't here in the kitchen, doing any heavy lifting. But because writing is work, and not a hobby, I've done some rather leaden note making, to at least fill in time until inspiration picks up something heavy and whacks me upside the head.

I'm scared for so many people in China - this picture on the cover of the NYT broke my heart, a tiny girl trapped, awaiting rescue I pray comes. The corrupt government and military of Burma are apparently the second crisis to hit those people. Once again, our human disasters will prove to be more detrimental than the natural ones - evil lurks everywhere.

Christer just came in and told me to look at the driveway. Our red maple has thrown down a blanket of bright green buds, and the driveway is a glorious carpet. He walked around, to save the effect for me to see.

We all still live in a fabulous country; as long as nobody tips it over, the glass is indeed half full.

May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

It's Mother's Day. I've had two calls already - one from my friend Tonia, the other from my sister Gilly - wishing me a Happy Mother's Day. Both times, I started, thanked them, and returned the greeting.

I always forget about it. Another friend linked over a beautiful piece in the NYT from Thomas Friedman about his mother, which I took as a mother's day greeting, though Friedman's mother sounds waaaay cooler than I'll ever be. We used to spoil my mother stupid on Mother's Day, because she deserved it. She died 8 years ago in March, missing her own 71st birthday by just a week. I'm sure that pissed her off - that lady loved a celebration in her honour. She had no problem doing all the cooking as long as we brought all the gifts.

To me, Mother's Day was my mother's day, not mine. It still feels like a borrowed cloak. I am a good mother, but not a great one. I don't have her patience, her stillness or her easy way with the world. There's a little too much of my father's guardedness stirred into the mix to be able to distill the pure joy out of life that must be there - my mother could always find it.

She grew up during the Second World War outside London, and would tell us stories of bombs dropping literally all around them. Houses burned out, a brother off to war, herself, a teenage girl with a broken leg, awaiting treatment among soldiers torn apart by artillery. But for the dark history, my mother was always light. That's how I think of her - she was always singing, always baking, always generous.

I have these glorious irises at the side of the house, and many I've transplanted around the gardens. My mom's name was Iris, and she was named for the first flowers her mother saw when she opened her eyes after giving birth. My mother used to say that while she didn't love her name, she was thankful somebody hadn't sent my grandmother daffodils.

These flowers are older than I am. Every year they come up, and I wait for them. Three feet high, statuesque beauties, richly coloured. Even in death there is a certain grace about them.

My mother was aptly named.

May 8, 2008

Untrustworthy Trustees

Toronto Catholic school trustees have been caught brazenly padding their salaries with car allowances, benefits, mini bar tabs, crazy restaurant bills, dry cleaning, keeping office furniture and electronics and on and on.

The inquiry into the overspending has led them to admit that there is an element of 'entitlement' to this.

Bah. There is an element of 'fraud' to all this. Arrest them. Charge every single one who submitted bogus expenses at the expense of the kids. This crap makes me seethe. Hiring family members, claiming tuition for a master's degree, and, here's a cute one - 10 times in one year, submitting duplicate credit card charges and a restaurant receipt, to effectively double the claim.

Are you kidding me? And who the hell let it go by? My accountant - who I pay - won't let a single damned thing go by that isn't legit.

"I have no tolerance and the government has no tolerance for public dollars being used in inappropriate ways," Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said. "Where there are inappropriate expenses, inappropriate reimbursements, public money that's being used for private benefit, all of those things have to change."

Oh, I beg to differ, Ms. Wynne. The government seems to have a huge appetite for tolerating this kind of garbage. If trustees are told by policy makers and lawyers that they aren't allowed to do something, and they do it anyway, you should be suing their disobedient asses. School board trustees wining and dining on the public dime? Why? Access to gobs of discretionary funds, when our schools are falling apart at the seams seem to prove they have no discretion, why?

We elect these people. Most of them go into this and work hard to make sure our children have a voice and a future. But for the pseudo politicians who realize this is as high as they're going to go up the process, I say theft is theft, whether you divert funds to a numbered company, take home a fax machine or use your company credit card for vacations and clothes. Yes, they've done all these things.

Charge 'em. In my world, it's called fraud.

May 7, 2008

Motherlode's Kitchen

Okay, it's time to share the competition that's been playing out in my kitchen. Since gas started spiking, I made the grand announcement to my terrorized family that I was going to start making dinner every.single.night. We need to cut money somewhere.

Now, if you read my stuff with any kind of regularity, it's no secret that I'm not much of a hausfrau. I hate cooking. We eat too much take out. Not anymore. As of tonight, it will be 12 CONSECUTIVE days that I've cooked dinner.

TWELVE CONSECUTIVE DAYS. Sorry for yelling. I just wanted to see that again.

Now, we're not picky eaters, and it's the right time of year for my kind of basic, cook-with-the-season kind of grub. I've told the kids they will each be responsible for a dinner once a week, no matter how bad it is. Ari was cool with that - he's the best cook in the house. Christer looked stricken - he's even worse than me. I told Poor Sod he'd be responsible when his work hours get back to normal. We all looked stricken at that - I think he can make toast.

So, why tell you this? Start firing over the recipes! If it picks up, I'll get WebGod to set up a separate countdown and recipe suggestions. Keep it simple, nutritious and goofproof - dinner has to happen in the same time it takes to pick something up or have it delivered. Gas ain't going down, food is going up, so it's probably a good time to attempt something like this, and stop eating crap at the same time. I'll share the things my kids love that don't kill me to make. Oh, and extra points for using less dishes.

Mother of a Day

"Will you be doing a Mother's Day column?" asked Mark, my Wheels editor. Or, as Arlene now calls him after the Spelling Bee, 'Mock', as she mocks his gentle accent.
"Why?" I asked Mock. "I hadn't thought about it," I told him.
"Well, it will be Mother's Day, I'm just checking..."

Since my mother died, I don't do Mother's Day. And the fact I have two sons who each have only two days of the year they really care about (their own birthdays and Christmas), I kind of forget about it. Well, that's not all the way true. Usually by noon on that magical Sunday, I start to get pissy when I realize I'm scooping litter and doing laundry as I ponder what to make for dinner, and think 'this isn't so magical after all'. Then I yell at them, and they ride down to Shoppers and use what's left of their lunch money (usually $1.22) to buy me a gift.

If you still have a mother, just print out Garrison Keillor's column for her. It's perfect. It sums up nicely what being a mother means, the sacrifices, the rewards, the pain, the sacrifices....

My mother always said it was my little sister that cost her her figure, and my older sister that cost her her sanity. I of course was a dream child. (Watch the comments section now...)

I remember my mother always telling us she didn't want anything for her birthday or Mother's day or Christmas. And I thought she was trying to save us money she would have to later slip into our purses anyway, until I became a mother and realized what she meant.

Listen to Garrison - just give her a call. Or better yet, clean up your room.

May 5, 2008

Ari & Christopher

Okay, once more time for anyone that missed the memo...I changed my kids names to their proper ones. Originally, the Spec had me give them fake names (Marc and Jackson), but now they're going by their real ones. Christer is 16, Ari is 13...

May 2, 2008


I was in a spelling bee last night. I have never been in a spelling bee before. A big fundraiser for Literacy North Halton, I was asked to join the team of 3 when Nika, a friend and fellow auto journalist, couldn't make it. Joe Knycha, an auto journalist there for his 5th Bee was in. Then my Dear Leader, Star Wheels editor Mark Richardson, had to be bumped up to the Master of Ceremony position when Jim Kenzie decided France had more to offer than Milton. I hauled along Arlene, who most of my commenters know and love. Why? She's a retired high school English teacher. We had our ringer.

We got there at 4:30. A frenzy of activity, dozens of volunteers make this thing hum. Everyone is costumed on every take-off of the word 'bee' that you can think of. Bee-trayed, Bees in Bonnets, Cub-bees, everyone tries to top each other every year. Mark told me everyone comes in costume. I said 'really?'. He said 'yes'. Because it would be just like Mark to tell me that and be lying (so I'd show up in costume, but nobody else), I instead opted for a middle ground kind of idea.

Our team is called the Road Scholars. Get it? Ari made us three mortarboards. On the top of each one, he made a duct tape road, and glued a different hot wheel to each one. The tassel thingee was a a cut- out of the green air freshener pine tree swinging from the hat. He did a great job.

As a bee virgin, I nervously noted what the other contestants were doing regarding the bar. Mark was on his third beer, so I decided that a small gin and tonic couldn't hurt. Arlene smacked me. Joe turned down a beer. Two hours later, with another small G&T in front of me, Arlene grabbed it and took a sip, and flung up an eyebrow at me. At one point, the bartender, an nice gent who was 70 if he was a minute, sent over a free drink. Sex on the Beach. Randy old bugger. But I don't drink those, and I was done for the night. Arlene happily sipped away at the pink porno drink, I noted.

Our words? I believe in the correct order:


Those are the ones we got right. The one that tripped us up?


We all began it with 'a-u-t-o'...whaddya want from a bunch of auto journalists? Though come to think of it, Arlene? Your excuse?

David Sedaris

Present for a miserable Friday. Sedaris on not smoking, and smoking, and then not smoking again.

If you don't laugh out loud at least once, I'll return the price of admission.