DAILY BRIEFINGSun, Moon, Harold, Linda
Oct. 4 - It was a long and lovely weekend despite the fact that Molli foreshortened two out of our only three social engagements—one of them to less than half an hour—by exhibiting an incipient aversion to crowded parties. She used to just shut her eyes and pass out when bombarded with too much stimulation. Her new reaction is to bombard the environment right back with piercing shrieks that can actually curdle milk.
So we spent a little more time than anticipated at home, and I tried to use some of that time to get caught up on some very backlogged stuff.
In sorting through my files at one point, I stumbled across one marked "Scan for the girls." I opened it up and a half-dozen pieces of notebook paper fluttered out, each of them covered with crudely-drawn crayon drawings and texts. Then I remembered: it was a "book" I had written with my nieces one Saturday afternoon a year or two ago. For want of anything else substantial to talk about, I give you the full text of this unpublished work below.
(No other website does this!)
The sun had a building. It was not nice. So the moon wrecked it. The sun got mad and pinched the moon.
("The Moon Goes Home")
The moon went home. He lives with his family. His family is the planets. Some of them have rings. The ringed ones are mean and spin people around even if they say they don't like it.
When the moon went home, the sun went, "Rrrrr!"
("The Ringed Planets")
They only have two rings because they don't like them. They are very mean. The mom and dad are looking for the sun so they can burn the ringed planets. The mom and dad are regular planets. The dad is crying because they can't find the sun.
("The Mom and Dad")
The mom and dad are Harold and Linda. They are happy because they found the sun. They say, "Yippee!"
The sun asked them, "What's your question?"
They said, "Burn them down, please, right now!"
"Yes, I'll meet you tonight and I'll burn them down first thing when I get there!"
* * *
I'm not being sarcastic when I say that I wish I could be one tenth as creative as my nieces. I wish I had the balls to begin a story with a line as simple but mysterious as "The sun had a building." I wish I had the balls to name a chapter "The Moon Goes Home" and begin it with the line "The Moon Went Home." I'm really not being sarcastic. I realize my nieces have some structural flaws in their narrative—their use of pronouns leaves something to be desired, for example—but it's easier to edit creative genius into proper English than it is to come up with an idea as creative as planets getting ornery because their rings are too tight.
And did it not break your heart when the dad began crying because they couldn't find the sun? The emotional resonance these girls achieve is astonishing!
* * *
A good uncle would have spent the time he just wasted on the preceding exposition actually scanning the documents in question and emailing them back to the nieces in question.
But maybe this uncle was hiding from the moon because he pinched it and the sun was going to tell the ringed planets.
Lousy goddam ringed planets. . .!
* * *
Did the foregoing bloggish seem a little breezy? I hope so, because just moments ago I stumbled across this story in The Guardian. Here are the money quotes, in case you don't feel like taking the full slog:
American warnings that Darfur is heading for an apocalyptic humanitarian catastrophe have been widely exaggerated by administration officials, it is alleged by international aid workers in Sudan. Washington's desire for a regime change in Khartoum has biased their reports, it is claimed.I'm sorry, but could we please have a list of senior officials in any self-respecting nation that haven't been hostile to the Sudanese government? Because we need to find these people and slap their heads until the marbles tumble out their ears.
'I've been to a number of camps during my time here,' said one aid worker, 'and if you want to find death, you have to go looking for it. It's easy to find very sick and under-nourished children at the therapeutic feeding centres, but that's the same wherever you go in Africa.'
While none of the aid workers and officials interviewed by The Observer denied there was a crisis in Darfur - or that killings, rape and a large-scale displacement of population had taken place - many were puzzled that it had become the focus of such hyperbolic warnings when there were crises of similar magnitude in both northern Uganda and eastern Congo.
Under the Bush administration, the work of USAID has become increasingly politicised. But over Sudan, in particular, two of its most senior officials have long held strong personal views. Both Natsios, a former vice-president of the Christian charity World Vision, and Winter have long been hostile to the Sudanese government.
I'm one strike away from completely abandoning politics altogether. I'm one strike away from voting as a pure American isolationist for the rest of my life. This is the harvest you are sowing, Europe. Be careful which America you wish for, because you just might get it.
And you may damn well deserve it.
* * *
On this date in 1957 Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite, was launched, beginning the "space race." The satellite, built by Valentin Glushko, weighed 184 pounds and was launched by a converted Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Sputnik orbited the earth every 96 minutes at a maximum height of 584 miles. In 1958, it reentered the earth's atmosphere and burned up.
Also on this date, just nine months after President John F. Kennedy had called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon before 1970, Mercury astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.
* * *
Rutherford Hayes was born on October 4, 1822, in Delaware, Ohio. That's not especially interesting in itself. Presidents, after all, must be born somewhere—and President Hayes was not the only one to have chosen Ohio. But consider: Jimmy Carter was born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia, and Chester Arthur was born on October 5, 1830, in Fairfield, Vermont. That's three presidential birthdays in a four-day period, a glut of presidential timber not to be found anywhere else on the calendar.
Hayes came into office by one electoral vote, accomplished nothing, and did not run for a second term.
Arthur came into office as James Garfield's vice-president and was promoted eight months later, upon Garfield's assassination. He accomplished nothing, and wasn't even nominated for a second term.
Through no fault of his own, Carter was elected president in 1976 (and must therefore bear his share of responsibility for my own difficult early adolescence). He sought but was denied a second term.
* * *
Besides President Hayes, today is also the birthday of Alicia Silverstone (1976), Susan Sarandon (1946), Anne Rice (1941), Alvin Toffler (1928), Charlton Heston (1924), Buster Keaton (1895), Damon Runyon (1884).
The 4th is Independence Day in both Belgium and Lesotho.
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac