Archive for July, 2008

Sgt. Pepper and Tim Gunn

Did everyone see the preview for next week’s Project Runway? I feel off my bed. Tim Gunn, “It’s sort of Sgt. Pepper-ish.” Blayne (that’s not a name, it’s an appliance!), “I have no idea what that means.” Um, shellow? What? I know I spent quite a bit of time in Beatlemania in my life, but not knowing who Sgt. Pepper is has got to be like not knowing who Marilyn Monroe or Charlie Chaplin or Liberace or the Pope is. He doesn’t know…I just can’t fathom that. I think that had to be staged, no?

And I don’t even want to write the words — you know the ones — but if that is repeated on the show again, season five will be forever tainted for me. Let’s just keep “make it work” and pretend that other phrase never happened.

A word on Emily. While I really thought that she should have stayed — the hem alone on Miss Plain Jane’s frock should have gotten her booted — what are these people thinking? Have they not seen the show before? Do they not understand who Tim Gunn is? When Tim says, “Emily, I’m concerned. I’m worried the judges will be very disappointed in seeing this dress at this point in the competition,” unless Emily wants to go home, she better change that dress rapido. Instead, she says to the camera, “Tim gave me a bit of a mixed review” and proceeds to tell us how stunning her dress is and how completely confident she is in it. There is really no learning curve there. Also, I didn’t really see how hers was THAT much worse than Blayne’s, which also had that weird boa-like contraption attached. I don’t know why anyone would want to wear an attached element like that, but apparently two designers thought peeps would.

Which brings me to the final two. I did think Kenley’s was fun — I love the tulle and thought it was really creative. Plus, when she won and shed those genuine tears, I was really, truly happy for her and, ultimately, in the result. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think Leanne should have won. If for no other reason that she did a 180 from last week — learning curve! But more for the reason that that skirt was — in the words of Klummers — IMPECCABLE. That thing was just gorgeous. I think it was the most stunning thing to walk down that runway. At least my fave made it into the real judging portion this time, instead of just being dismissed.

How many more episodes do you kids give Stella?

[Also, The Brett Favre Situation (BFS), as Mike McCarthy is apparently calling it, is a DISASTER.  I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is a total mess.  Favre is the Bill Clinton of the NFL.  Clinton had all this good will & political capital and he spent it by going totally nuts.  NPR last night said Hillary isn’t a VP choice because the Obama camp has no clue on how to handle Bill.  Favre could have been president of Wisconsin — were there such a thing — and now no one really wants anything to do with him.  Disaster.]

I’m not a fan

In what may be my most controversial post yet (not a lot of competition for that title, I realize), I have a few words to say about two subjects: BF who is no longer my BFF and mayo.

Today I was walking around the square when I was essentially accosted from some number 4-sporting uber-nerds who had just exited an Illinois-plated minivan decorated in high-school-state-competition-bound-green-and-gold paint with sayings like, “Save Brett.”  As if, I said to self.  Though, I admit Brett may need some saving from himself and Greta Van Susteren’s grip, I suspect this is not the saving the FIBs intended.  Annoyed and suspicious about the idea of Illinois “fans” coming to the Square to rally folks around Favre, I told myself just to walk by and not get involved.  After all, it was really just a few weeks ago that I was ready to welcome him back with open arms and prepared to say, “Aaron who?”  But today’s a different day and Favre’s said some things since then that I can’t really see him being able to undo.  I was actually ok — at first — with the brazen idea that he tell “his side of the story.”  I became more skeptical when I learned that it was Deanna who had emailed Van Susteren seeking such an opportunity.  Deanna has GVS’s email address?  This can’t be good.  Oprah?  Hell yeah!  Katie Couric?  Sure.  Meredith Viera?  Ok.  Tyra Banks?  Fine.  But GVS?  One of only two current archenemies of mine?!?!?  Egads.  This is not going to be good.  If skeptical, I still was open.  But as soon as terms like “bluffing” and “pressure” came out, I was out.  And day two and three of the interviews, and the days that have followed, have only confirmed my feelings.  So, when the suburban Chicagoan asked, “Are you Packer fans?” I enthusiastically answered, “Yes!  And that’s why I’m not signing your petition.”

Let me be clear.  I LOVE(d) Brett Favre.  When I was in high school, I remember my dad calling him stonehead and said he had a head full of rocks (this is a negative thing).  But I defended him.  He was so cute and so passionate and who doesn’t love a football player who runs around picking up his teammates and slinging them on his back in moments of sheer joy, as oppposed to the players who do some sort of odd choreographed dance work?  He was impossible not to watch and impossible not to delight in.  I watched the Superbowl in January 1997 in a discotheque in Florence in the middle of the night and took some really rude harrassment from the few Pats fans in the room.  My exuberance could not be contained.  I remember my friend Heather Keyes (a Minnesotan and really not much of a football fan either way) sending me stateside pics of the Wisco capitol proudly waving the Packer flag.  This was about the Packers, but Favre really WAS so much a part of anyone’s love of the team then.  And that was true until about last week or the week before.

We have been Packer fans before Favre and will be so long after Favre.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the state as we watched him announce his retirement decision.  Recognizing how hard a choice that was for him to make, we tried so very hard to respect him for it.  We tried to understand it and to emotionally move on to what it will mean to start a Packer game without him.  This has not been an easy process, but one I think we have really tried to make with grace and acceptance.

So now, here’s Brett, months and months later complaining that he has not been accepted back by the team, the town and the management that has done nothing but adore him for years and years.  He made a decision.  He told us he was serious.  He promised it was real.  Ted and Mike went into the draft with the understanding that that decision was final.  Aaron has been preparing because he, like all of us, was told that that decision was final.  Aaron has patiently and respectfully waited his turn for years now, knowing that it was unknown when his starting days would begin.  He has been impressive in the few games he has played, but even more impressive for his enthusiasm on the sidelines for a team and a town that has yet to really embrace him.  But now it seemed they had.  But today there are Illinois-ites on the sidewalk of Madison trying to shove him away.

And maybe that’s part of my problem with all of this, too.  For all of our — and the country’s — love and admiration of him, Brett has always seemed to remain half-Mississippi, half-Wisconsin.  Though he’s undoubtedly handsome, he hasn’t had the off-field career that, say, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady have had.  We witnessed his attempt at acting in a comedy and while it was hilarious, not really for the right reasons.  He’s got the sort of everyman charm of Manning, but he can’t act so he can’t do those type of commercials.  And while he’s very good-looking, no one is going to buy cologne from seeing Brett in an ad for it.  It’s easy to believe Brady primps, but Favre?  Anyway, so I think so much of what we’ve loved about him has been his, for lack of a better word, humbleness.  Not that he doesn’t have ego, but he doesn’t run around and shove it in our face.  Until now.  It just seems so un-Wisconsin-y and un-Mississippi-y.  I’m now left wondering who Brett Favre really was all those years.  Maybe we just wanted him to be humble so we decided he was and looked the other way when he wasn’t.

Most of us don’t have the luxury that Favre has — to make a decision that we come to regret so we go on national tv and whine about it and have a couple of folks start a petition on our befhalf.  And while I appreciate everyone’s passions run high on these matters, I really hope that I would never act as he has acted in recent days.  Even if I had the luxury to do so.

I think Favre could have avoided this whole debacle by asking to come back, taking a seat as a back-up and coming in and saving the day when Rodgers breaks a nail in his first start.

As for mayo, I just don’t like it.  And when it came me on my Cafe Soleil take-out sandwich today (despite ordering it without the condiment and watching the counter person write it down just as such, “no mayo”), I admit I teared up.  It just always feels personal.  As if the chefs know how much I hate it, and just don’t care.  Or worse, put it on there just so I won’t eat the sandwich.  As if to say, “Yeah, we saw you ordering and you don’t deserve/need lunch.”  Is that as self-centered a feeling as Favre’s disbelief in how he’s causing all sorts of trouble in Packerland?

An enlarged heart

Turns out, a big heart can be a bad thing.  My uncle Mike passed away on Friday, July 4th, suddenly and wholly unexpectedly.  He was 64 years old.

My mom and Severa and I went up to Rhinelander on Saturday morning, taking Friday to try to process what had happened and get things in order, not knowing how long we’d be gone.  What this really meant, of course, was staring blankly into space and looking through old pictures.  I don’t know that there is a way to process the death of a loved one who has left you without saying goodbye.  Spending the last five days in Rhinelander was necessary, painful, comforting and strange.  I’ve never been to Rhinelander before when Mike wasn’t there.  At times, time went so slowly.  Maggie and I counted down fifteen minute blocks at the three-plus-hour open casket visitation (three down, nine to go).  The mass though, while two hours, felt like the shortest time I’d ever been in church.  I thought maybe I’d find some comfort in the rules and order of the mass, maybe trying to see the church through Mike’s faithful eyes would help me, but it really didn’t.  The church was packed with friends and family.   There were pews reserved for lawyers and boy scouts, more pews than Maggie and I thought could possibly be necessary (“How many lawyers could this town have?” asked Mags), but we were very wrong.  The eulogies — except mine (a Yeats poem that was probably left better unread) — were inspired and inspiring.  The classic stories of Mike’s tardiness, his love of the Cubs (I still don’t understand where this comes from), his appreciation of a good stout and his ability to make any event into a story worthy of publication are things we all knew too well, yet thirsted to hear from as many mouths as possible.  No one could ever be heard to say that my uncle lacked personality.

What he did lack, though, was some common sense.  For an incredibly bright and curious man, I will never understand his complete distrust of doctors and modern medicine.  I remember him once saying to me something about how because I have my law school diploma on the wall, I am to be trusted more than doctors whose diplomas may not hang in every patient’s room.  I was incredulous that this was a piece of asserted logic coming from the mind of my dear uncle.  For a man of supreme faith, I will never understand his total derth of trust in doctors. 

We will never know, of course, whether more regular — or any — trips to the doctor could have saved us from having to bury my uncle while we thought he was still in his prime.  Look at Tim Russert.  But, from the medical report, we now know that he had had a previous heart attack and that his heart was enlarged and that he was suffering from narrowed arteries, which caused his great fatigue. 

I know that the survivors need to ask these questions — could he have been treated, could he have stayed with us longer, can we be angry with him — but I hope my family and I don’t dwell on these queries too long.  I want us to remember Mike with love and affection and, occasionally, remembering how damn stubborn and bull-headed he could be.  I don’t think it’ll be possible to remember Mike as any other way than he was: loving, loyal, passionate, bullying, gregarious, bright, frustrating, and always late.

Except when he was too early, which he certainly was last Friday.

I thought coming home again would be good for me.  I thought getting back into a routine would be soothing, finding all the familiar things around me comforting, not having to look at any more green bean casserole.  But I miss Rhinelander and being surrounded by family who felt just as I felt.  I find it kinda scary being home again — everything is the same, except it just isn’t.  And I have friends around me who know I’m in pain, but can’t possibly feel it.  It was so nice to be up north because we could all laugh together, knowing that laughing wasn’t forgetting our sadness, but coping with it.  Here, I’m scared to laugh because I don’t want to forget.

As my aunt called it, this re-entry isn’t easy.


July 2008
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