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28 posts from December 2007

December 31, 2007

Brave New Year

Brave New Year

by Michele

                                                                 

I'm not gonna lie to you.  There have been other December thirty-firsts when it felt more natural to pop the cork and toss the confetti.  From the subprime mortgage crisis to the Bhutto assassination to the sleazy binge of popular culture, 2007 was not a banner year, and I'm feeling the anxiety heading into 2008.  But not every age can be gilded.  With hindsight, the 90s look excessive, like a wild party that we're still hung over from. (Though I admit -- I'm glad I went.)  If we're called upon to show a modicum of character, that's not such a bad thing, and maybe it's even overdue.

Here's what I'm raising my metaphorical glass to this New Year's Eve.

Counting blessings.  Family.  Friends.  Pets that give us joy.  Meaningful work.  Safe streets (or at least safer.)  Good food.  If we have these things, or to the extent we have them, we should count ourselves lucky, rather than fussing over what we don't have or envying others their good fortune.

Reading.  Television is on hiatus, and I don't really miss it.  The movies are all about men and violence (except Juno, which is so, so good.  Here's hoping that Hollywood won't squander Ellen Page.)  I'm bored with my computer.  It's a moment when books feel new and exciting again.  I've been eating up Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.  And I just reread Dune for the first time in fifteen years and found it fresher than ever.  I guess visionary science fiction stays relevant because it never stops predicting the future, even as the future unfolds and morphs into something stranger than we expected.  What the hell was Frank Herbert doing in 1965 forecasting a Sunni jihad that would overtake the known universe?  But read it; he did! 

Living Healthy. I'll eat and drink tonight, but tomorrow it's time for moderation.  Here's to friends who've quit smoking, started or kept exercising and moderated diet and drinking in the past year.  For those of you who want to, we're with you!

Voting.  This is a big one, and I have to say, I'm actually optimistic.  Voters are taking this election very seriously.  The focus is on issues over hairstyles, on who can lead rather than who'd be fun to have dinner with.  We can't predict what's ahead, so get out there and vote.  Just pick somebody who can navigate tough times.

Giving.  Whether it's bringing a meal to a sick neighbor or giving money to a worthy cause, thinking of others feels right.  What feels right feels good.

And finally, of course, here's to The Lipstick Chronicles, to my blog sisters, to our backbloggers, and to our lurkers too.  Thanks for keeping it real in 2007.  I can't think of better people to hang out with in 2008.

December 29, 2007

Tart News

Tart News

To paraphrase our homegirl Hillary, the Tarts have been doing more than baking cookies this holiday season.  (Though we've been doing plenty of that, too -- yum!)   Here's some fun news to celebrate as we begin an otherwise awfully serious new year:
Cover-Up is out in paperback!  Michele's series featuring Manhattan federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas has been descibed as Law & Order meets Sex and the City. In this third installment, Melanie investigates the brutal murder of scandal-mongering celebrity journalist Suzanne Shepard.  Melanie suspects that what first looks like a random sex crime probably isn't, given that half of New York City wanted Suzanne dead.  Untangling the ugly scandals that fueled the dead reporter's career stops Melanie from obsessing over her troubled love affair with sexy FBI Agent Dan O'Reilly.  Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review!  Read the first two chapters here
As we mentioned yesterday, but can't stop jumping for happiness about, our very own Miss Nancy has been nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the Female Sleuth category.  If you want to understand just how significant this is, and what an honor, take a look at the other nominees    -- Marcia Muller, Edna Buchanan and Carolyn Hart.  Nancy is up there with the stars of our genre where she belongs.  Speech please!  And what will she wear?
                                                                 
                                        

December 28, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

Charlie Wilson's War

by Rebecca the Bookseller

Blog_charlie_wilson_book
If my husband hadn't read the book, I might have skipped this movie. But he did, and he couldn't wait to see it, so we went.

Boy, am I glad. It's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Lots of reasons, mainly that it's a great story - and a true story. But also because the great Aaron Sorkin did the screenplay, and that man is the best at dialog since Neil Simon. If you ever watched "Sports Night" or " The West Wing" or my beloved "Studio 60" (and do NOT even get me started on why that show was cancelled given the absolute dreck that clutters the TV schedule) then you already know how good he is.

Blog_charliewilsonswarm34His words help bring this story to life - in a very limited time frame. It's a big book, filled with lots more details and anecdotes about Charlie and Gust (the colorful CIA guy who helps Charlie get the job done). Worth a read, if you are interested. The movie is about as good as a book adaptation gets.

If you don't remember what was going on in the '80s over in the Middle East, guess what? Fighting was going on. What a surprise. But in this case it was Russian-funded Afghanistan rebels killing the natives. The story of how we got involved, how we helped engineer the Russian loss, and how it was the beginning of the end of the Cold War, is Charlie Wilson's story.

It's been categorized as a comedy (I know this because I checked to see who was nominated for Golden Globes - and if the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman doesn't win, there is going to be trouble at my house) but it's much more than that. It's a lesson on history and how it is doomed to repeat itself if we don't learn something from it. Duh. That seems so simple, and yet it eludes us.

The final frame is a quote from Charlie Wilson himself, and it's worth staying in your seat to read.

Oh - sorry about the delay in posting this morning - imagine my surprise when I checked in after a conference call to see that Mr. Typepad had not only failed to post this, but had lost it completely. I'm going to have to send Margie over there.

December 27, 2007

Christmas Miracles

by Nancy

Yes, I know there is only one real Christmas Miracle, but this year at my house, we had a few.

The first?  My kitchen remodeling project was finished hours before my house guests arrived.  Not finished finished, but functional and really pretty if you can pretend the walls were painted.  (I hired the contractor because she said she could finish the whole project in 13 days.  I'm not an idiot, so I didn't really expect to return from our vacation to a completed room, but I figured I stood a pretty good chance of having a kitchen in less than 4 months, which was another contractor's guesstimate. In the end, it took less than 5 weeks, which you have to admit is astonishing, although it felt much longer than that when I was making toast on the living room floor.) Oh, yes, there's a growing punchlist for the carpenters and electrician, but it was basically finished in time for me to start cooking for the starving hordes. 

Here's the kitchen:

kitchenphoto1.jpg image by smartin161 

The second miracle came while I was preparing a filet of beef (for which I paid an insane amount of money, but Christmas comes but once a year, right?)  As the roast roasted, I blithely tossed potato peelings and the stalks of two leeks into the sink and flipped on the brand new garbage disposal which promptly gargled and burped but did not drain.  Yes, my new sink was plugged----and we were minutes from serving dinner for 10, and you can imagine the number of dishes that would need to be washed once the food was consumed. 

But my hero---my husband--got out his Black and Decker collection and fixed the disposal in the nick of time.  That was our second miracle.

The third miracle?  My house guests departed before I collapsed from exhaustion.  Honestly, who decided to put Christmas in the middle of a week so the holiday lasts an inordinate number of days?  Why can't Christmas just be one day??  It's too much work.

Even in a kitchen as beautiful as this one:

kitchenphoto2.jpg image by smartin161

I welcome suggestions for a color for the walls.

kitchenphoto3.jpg image by smartin161

I highly recommend female contractors, by the way.  They don't try to mess with your head.  Ours gave me straight answers--even when the news was bad. And she understood the importance of having a working dishwasher for the holidays.

kitchenphoto4.jpg image by smartin161 

I'm thinking a kind of blue-green for the walls.  If you have the entire collection of Martha Stewart paint colors--as I do--it's the color called Atlantic.

   

December 26, 2007

How Old Are You Going to Be?

How Old Are You Going to Be?

By Elaine Viets

Let me say the words no woman in my family ever uttered:

I am 57 years old.

Damn, that felt good. Let me repeat:

I AM 57 YEARS OLD.

My mother and grandmother lied about their ages. No, they didn’t lie. They created an elaborate fiction equal to the Harry Potter saga.

Every December, my grandmother would call my mother and say, "How old are you going to be this year?" Then they would adjust their ages downward, while my grandfather giggled hysterically. Grandma never got her age out of the low forties, though she lived to be seventy-something.

I never knew my grandmother’s true age. But lying about it didn’t make her look any younger. She was a delightful old-fashioned grandma with crinkly gray hair, sensible shoes and a flour-sack figure.

Mom would have withstood waterboarding rather than admit how old she was. She looked younger than her actual age. But how much younger, I couldn’t say.

"A woman who will tell her age will tell anything," Mom declared, as if she was delivering an important life lesson.

When I went to college, I needed my mother’s age for the paperwork. She refused to tell me, as if the University of Missouri would publish that top secret information on the front page of the campus paper. As a budding reporter, I was determined to get the facts.

I waited until Mom and Dad were out of the house. Then I dug around in the attic and found Mom’s birth and marriage certificates.

That’s when I learned her dirty secret: Mom was four years older than my father.

Nowadays, if a woman married a younger man – especially a handsome blond sailor – we’d say, "Go for it!" and cheer her on.

But Mom was deeply embarrassed by this mild deviation from the American dream. The way she hid her secret, you would have sworn she kept a love child in the attic. Many women from her generation did the same thing. The 1950s was a time of terrifying normality. These women seemed ashamed of being adults, and blushed and giggled like teenagers when some guy called them "girls." They actually thought that word was flattering.

I knew one thing early on: I was not going to play the age game. I was what I was. Besides, I couldn’t do the math gymnastics that Mom and Grandma did so that the major milestones in their lives were in proper alignment.

The ceremony of the age-changing went on all through my high school and college years. When I was 22, I got a job at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Three years later, during the Christmas holidays, my mother sat me down and said, "You have to do something about your age. You’re making us look bad."

Indeed, it was hard for Mom to claim she was 35, when she had a 25-year-old daughter. Missouri frowned on marriage at age 10 – especially since the groom would be six years old.

"I’m not going to lie," I said, summoning up all the righteousness I could at age 25 – which is considerably more than I have now.

Mom didn’t push the issue. Instead, she started lying for me. I found out when one of her women said to me, "I think it’s wonderful that the Post-Dispatch hired you right out of high school." Mom and Grandma had pushed my age back by four years without telling me. That made me a workplace prodigy.

If they wanted to lie, that was fine with me. As long as I didn’t. I belonged to the age of Aquarius. Lying to make yourself younger was old-fashioned.

In her long life, Grandma told the truth to only one man besides my grandfather.

When she collected her first Social Security check, Grandma suddenly aged more than 25 years.

Even she wouldn’t lie about her age to Uncle Sam.

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!!

Xmas_wreath And good cheer from the Tarts to all our readers and lurkers and posters. Thank you for bringing joy, fun, intelligence, perception and, best of all, laughter to our lives. You've made us better writers and maybe even better people. So our Christmas wish is that you'll stay with us for another year of hijinks, of Margie's misbehavin', of Nancy's wisdom, Michele's adventures, Harley's glamorosity, Elaine's humor and my own pursuit of finding the perfect pair of jeans.

In the meantime... does anyone know how to roast a 7 lb prime rib so that it's more rare than not?

Love,

Sarah

December 24, 2007

Holiday Cookies for the Ultra Competitive (Meowww!)

The Tarts are delighted to welcome guest blogger Jennifer Vido, on-line book guru extraordinaire.  Check out her monthly book review column, Jen's Jewels, which is carried on FreshFiction.com, JenniferVido.com, and on numerous library websites around the country.  As you'll see below, Jen is also an intrepid warrior in the great subsurban status battle, and she's here to report on what the desperate housewives get up to over the holidays in her tony Maryland suburb.

                                              

Holiday Cookies for the Ultra-Competitive (Meowww!!!!)

Living in suburbia, there are certain initiation rites that each housewife must pass through in order to be accepted by the in crowd.  I'm not talking about driving the right SUV (that would be the Range Rover, by the way) or even wearing the preppiest label (Lilly Pulitzer).  I'm talking about that ultimate party invite, the one every housewife covets . . . the holiday cookie exchange.

I know what you're thinking -- who cares?  When I moved to Maryland back in 1999, those were my thoughts exactly.  But all of that changed last year when I opened my mail and voila -- I WAS IN!  (If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I'm a tad bit competitive.  Okay, extremely competitive.)

Since I was a newbie, I thought it would be in my best interests to call the friend who invited me and get the lowdown on how this process worked.  This is how our conversation went:

Jen:  I'd love to come to your cookie exchange.  What should I bring?

Friend: Ten dozen cookies.  That might sound like a lot, but remember, you get ten dozen to bring home to your family.

Jen: (Did I mention I can't bake?  My reaction was, That's a lot of slice and bakes!)  Uh, alright.  I'm in. 

Friend:  Just give me a call back so I can approve your selection.

Jen:  Would you mind elaborating on that?  I've never been to a cookie exchange before.

Friend:  We have rules, so that the same cookie is not repeated.

Jen:  Fantastic!  I'll save you another phone call.  I'll bring chocolate chip.

Friend: Oh, I'm sorry.  Chocolate chip cookies aren't permitted. 

Jen:  Huh, okay.  Well, how about some yummy bar cookies?

Friend (in an awkward tone): Um, Jen.  No chocolate chip cookies.  No bar cookies.  No-bake cookies are absolutely forbidden, and above all, nothing can come from a box.  Try Martha Stewart's cookbook.  She has lots of yummy ideas.

Martha Stewart?  Uh-oh, I was in trouble. 

Trying my best to save face, I politely said my goodbyes and hung up.  For the next three days, I searched the internet for the perfect cookie that would be simple to make yet look difficult.  On the fourth day, I got a phone call from a dear friend who knew of my dilemma.  She suggested the Holiday Corn Flake Wreaths (yes, the ones Rebecca the Bookseller blogged about not too long ago.)  They fit the festive bill and seemed easy.  I was in business.

For the average, normal person, these cookies would be a cinch.  For me (culinarily challenged), they turned out looking like, as my son said, "green poop."  Kids!  What do they know?  After making the required number of cookies, I put them on wax paper to set and tossed them into the refrig.  The next day, I was ready for action.  I put on my most spirited outfit, pulled out my cute cookie platter and went to get the cookies.  Whistling a festive holiday song, I began taking the cookies off the paper.  I pulled.  I yanked.  Sure enough, the cookies came off, but with wax paper stuck to the bottoms.  I vaguely recalled something about parchment paper in the recipe.  Parchment paper?, I'd thought, What's that?

With only thirty minutes left until the party, I was stuck, literally.  Not willing to be defeated, I brought my creations to the party with my head held high.  I smiled and played nicey-nice with the ladies, but I wasn't surprised when my cookies were the only ones left at the end of the night.  And as if you couldn't guess, I haven't received a return invitation for this holiday season.  Ouch.  Oh well, that's a whole bunch of extra calories that I can do without!

Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2007

Holiday Music - Best of 2006

Holiday Music - Best of 2006

by Rebecca the Bookseller

Last Sunday, I told you about some of the best new holiday music. Today, I am going to give you my list of the best of 2006 - there were so many, I had to break them up into three categories. Which is a lot of music. You can find most of these songs on iTunes.

Best of Christmas 2006

1. Introduction / Opening - Gladys Knight & The Saints Unified Voices
2. Silent Night - Autumn Ayers
3. God With Us / We Three Kings - Todd Agnew
4. The First Noel/Mary Mary - Sarah McLachlan
5. Christmas Pipes - Celtic Woman
6. Jesus, What A Wonderful Child - John Legend
7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Rascal Flatts
8. Bethlehem Calls - NewSong
9. Born In Bethlehem - Third Day
10. Christmas In My Heart - By The Tree
11. Hark The Hearld Angels Sing - Ella Fitzgerald with Az Yet
12. Angels, We Have Heard On High - Nicole Mullen
13. There's Still My Joy - Oleta Adams
14. Some Children See Him - James Taylor
15. The Virgin's Lullaby - The Nativity Voices
16. Christmas Song - Dave Matthews Band
17. In the First Light / Do You Hear What I Hear? - Todd Agnew
18. Let There Be Peace - The African Children's Choir
19. O Holy Night - Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip

Best of Holiday 2006

1. Cool Yule - Bette Midler
2. Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland - Michael Bolton
3. Deck the Halls - Aly & AJ
4. Up On The Housetop - George Strait
5. Jingle Bells - James Taylor
6. Merry Little Christmas (with Dontaé Winslow) - Mary Mary
7. I'll Be Home for Christmas (Single Version) - Josh Groban
8. Silver Bells - Marti McCall
9. We Are Lights/Shalom Alaychem - Susan Egan
10. Even Santa Fell in Love - Jim Brickman
11. White Christmas - Aimee Mann
12. 'Til The Season Comes 'Round Again - Kenny Rogers
13. Christmas Time Is Here - Sarah McLachlan Feat. Diana Krall
14. Christmas Wish - Stacie Orrico
15. Merry Christmas - Bette Midler
16. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Perry Como, The Fontane Sisters
17. Christmas Time's a Comin' - Rhonda Vincent
18. Jingle Bells - The Manhattan Transfer
19. You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch - Aimee Mann
20. Everybody Loves Christmas - Eddie Money Feat. Ronnie Spector
21. Santa Baby - The Pussycat Dolls
22. 12 Days Of Christmas - Relient K
23. Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday (Featuring The Buckaroos) - Brad Paisley

Best of Holiday Peace 2006

1. From A Distance (Christmas Version) - Bette Midler
2. The Song of Christmas - NewSong
3. Peace On Earth/God Bless Us Everyone - Susan Egan
4. Glory to God / O Come All Ye Faithful - Todd Agnew
5. Alleluia,Alleluia (Peace On Earth) - Oleta Adams
6. Oiche Chiuin (Silent Night) - Enya
7. A Time for Peace - Roger Whittaker
8. Peace For Christmas - Paulette Miechle - Featuring Robbyn Kirmsse'
9. Prince Of Peace - Sheila Walsh
10. All I Want for Christmas Is Peace On Earth - Tim Noah
11. Peace On Earth - Kaskade
12. Peace On Christmas Night - Out of the East
13. What A Wonderful World - John Legend
14. Silent Night/O Holy Night - Gladys Knight & The Saints Unified Voices
15. Let There Be Peace On Earth - Vince Gill & Jenny Gill
16. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - The Fray
17. Medley: I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day / We Will Know Peace

Ho ho ho and Fa La La La La

Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2007

Susan and Me

Susan and Me

by Kathleen George, author of the newly released AFTERIMAGE, published by St. Martins.

She's Susan Elizabeth George.  I'm Kathleen Elizabeth George. She started out with Bantam.  I started out with Bantam.  (Delacorte.) Her first trip to England was in 1966.  So was mine.

Okay, the similarities end there. She has two dogs and lives on the West Coast (for a long time in California, but more recently near Seattle.) I have no dogs and live in Pittsburgh (chosen as #1 in Places Rated Almanac, chosen as a great travel destination, actually on lots of "best" lists this year.)

Once, many years ago, I got a check written to Elizabeth George. (I wonder why it hasn't happened since, and I certainly hope the money isn't going in the other direction. Who needs it more, right?) The check was for $500--from Denmark, I think it was--for an essay or a short story in a journal. I had only published short fiction at that time, so perhaps that contributed to the mix-up. Somebody in some office was assigned to look up an address and found. . . me. I was listed, full name, with the Author's Guild and Poets and Writers.

I am nerdily honest. I immediately called Bantam, explained what happened, got the name of an editor to whom I could forward the check with a letter---all to be forwarded to Elizabeth. Or Susan. I had just happened to read FOR THE SAKE OF ELENA, which I like very much and so I added this compliment to the letter that accompanied the check. A month or two later, I got a brief thank you note for the check.  That was it. No sisterly hug through the mail.

I don't think it had occurred to me to write a mystery--that is, to write something like the book I had just read and liked.

Not long after that, I got two fan letters intended for Elizabeth. One said, "You are so fantastic, my favorite author. How can I get your previous books. I live in ______"  This one might have been Finland. Or Germany. I had the impression of an overly thin, bookish man, shy, fantasizing about a writer. He gave his name and address; he seemed to hope for a letter back.

The second fan letter was a bit creepier. "You are so beautiful and wonderful.  I look at your picture . . . . " That kind of thing.

In both cases, I sent the letter off to her publisher to forward them.

Then without ever planning it, I wrote a book that caused a check to come to me in the mail. What a feeling! I even got a few fan letters---no creepy ones, thank heaven.  This is a pretty fun trade to be in.

But I wonder, do people mix us u? Do they ever go to a bookstore, looking for me and buy her? Or vice versa? And worse, does she ever get a check meant for me?

I'm a bit saddened that she uses the name Elizabeth. I like my middle name. When I was a freshman in college, I signed a story Elizabeth Borge. My teacher freak out. "Why don't you want to be yourself," he asked. But that was one of my selves, my middle name and my family's real last name. If tehre's not an Elizabeth Borge out there, who knows, I may use it some day.

Kathleen George writes page-turning thrillers.  "(The) skillfully rendered characters draw you into their lives. And excellent procedural. "  Kirkus.

December 21, 2007

Joseph's Christmas Ups

Joseph's Christmas Ups

By Me, Margie, who thinks Joseph deserves them. Seriously.

Last time, I told the Hanukkah story. I was going to tell the Christmas story, but everyone knows that one, and if you don't, all you have to do is listen to Linus Van Pelt: Peanuts Christmas

Instead, I am going to tell the story of Joseph, Mary's husband, who really does not get enough props. And he deserves 'em. Totally.

Can you imagine - here's a teenager, training to be a carpenter, and his girlfriend shows up one day and says 'Hey, uh, Giuseppe (yeah, I know, but it's my story) I'm uh, having a baby.' And Joseph, who has been, you know, respecting her wishes to wait until they are married to do it, says: 'Yeah. Good one, honey. Hand me that lathe, will ya?'

Blog_joseph_mary

But then she convinces him that not only is she pregnant, but she's still a virgin. You know how many teenage girls have tried that? Millions. Nobody believed them either. And let's remember that Joseph didn't get any visits from angels or anything telling him how this was all supposed to come down. Because a message from an angel? Okay, I'd believe that, because angels are the total 'Holy shit!' experience, y'know?

So Joseph, God bless the guy, takes it all on faith. Even though she's having a baby that's not his, they get married, probably right away so it's not so totally obvious, y'know, that she's got - I mean, with child. And he settles in to his carpentry and she does whatever, and goes to visit her cousins and stuff, where they probably had a baby shower, except instead of little monogrammed bibs, they got a goat. Or in this case, probably a donkey.

Then she gets back and they find out that the whackjob dictator has decreed (which means he made them do it even though it was dumb as hell) that everybody had to go to their father's city - and I'll tell you, if some nutball told me to go to some other place just so I could pay taxes, I'd tell them where to stick it, but that's me and I didn't live back then, thank heaven, because they didn't have indoor plumbing, which is totally gross.

So they go on this long trip, and Mary is totally uncomfortale - because can you imagine being that pregnant AND having to ride on a donkey? We're talking major pain in the ass. heh. And then they finally get there and no room at the inn and so forth, and they end up in a barn. (P.S. Next time someone says: "Whatsa matter wit' you? Were ya born in a barn?" Consider your company. Just saying.)

Blog_nativity_joseph_mary_jesus

So here's Joseph, having to help deliver a baby with no female relatives around. And you know, birthing babies is a big mess, which I'm sure he wasn't ready for either, because I'm sure his Mom didn't let him anywhere near his sisters when they had kids - women in olden times knew that if the men knew too much about labor and delivery, they'd run screaming into the night and the species would die out. I'm not making that part up, either. Everyone knows that. Duh.

Plus he had to have been really upset too because I know he was planning to make a kickass crib, but they had to use a trough or something.

And just when he gets everything cleaned up - as much as you can in a freaking stable - all these people start to show up. Shepherds and kids with percussion instruments, which are nice except when you just got the baby to sleep, which is why my brother Joe always gets the drum set for the oldest kid after the second one is born.

Then these wise guys (and they look nothing like Pacino, DeNiro, or even Paulie Walnuts) show up and deliver gifts - but not the good kind, like food or wood to build a house, or morphine or something, or even a camel, so it's easier to travel. No - they bring stuff that is shiny and smells good. Great. Plus, they say 'Uh, we hate to break it to you, seeing how you just had the baby and all, but some psycho is going to try to kill you, so you want to get the hell out of dodge.' Super.

And then they're off again, back into the desert. Do you know what kind of havoc the desert wreaks on a decent set of carpentry tools? Nightmare. By this point, Joseph, no matter how swell of a guy he is, has got to be wondering how in blazes he got into this mess. But does he bail? No way. He sticks, and he gets them out safely, and everything.

And that is why I think Joseph deserves the proper respect. Which he totally did not get. Until now. Capisce?

The end.

And Merry Christmas.