Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The News From Albany

A Solemn High Tridentine Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, October 5, 2003 at 12:30 PM at St Peter's Roman Catholic Church at 2310 Fifth Street, Troy. NY. The New York Catholic Chorale, under the direction of Thomas Savoy, will perform Hans Leo Hassler's Missa Octo Vocum and Andrzej Hakenberge's motet O Sacrum Convivium.

This is the first Solemn High Tridentine Mass celebrated at a parish church in the Diocese of Albany since 1969. A Solemn High Mass is celebrated with the assistance of a deacon and subdeacon. A free-will luncheon at St Peter's Lyceum, across Fifth Street from the Church, will follow, as will as a parish bake sale.

Contact 518.272.2750 for further details.

Monday, September 29, 2003

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• You already knew about the passing of Elle Kazan (who directed those classic movies starring Marlon Brando A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront, not to mention James Dean in East of Eden...). But did you also know...?

• Author George Plimpton, best known as the man who would try damn near anything once (Including playing for the Detroit Lions), then write about it, but was bumped out of playing himself in the movie about himself (Not funny enough, they said; the job went to some new guy at the time named Alan Alda...), died last Thursday night at 76.

• Singer Robert Palmer, who wrote and performed Addicted to Love and Simply Irresistable with those look-alike models in the background pretending to be his band (Personally, my money's still on his recording of Alan Toussaint's Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley...), died last Friday night at 54.

Meanwhile, in the land of the living...

• Drew Carey does Baghdad. He brought "Mimi" (Kathy Kinney) along: "I know that you've been here for a long time. But the longer you're here, the closer the Olsen Twins get to being 18 years old. June 13, 2004. They're worth like ... $50 billion between the two of them, but I bet they couldn't decorate your tents as good as I could."

"Decorate"? I don't get it.
Michaelmas Day

Today, the Roman Calendar traditionally commemorates the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, who led the armies of heaven against Lucifer and his posse, casting them into Hell. All this whoop-@$$-kickin' action, before the creation of the world. The celebration extends to the other two Archangels as well: Raphael, who gave both physical and spiritual sight to the young Tobit in the Old Testament; and Gabriel, who gave the news to a young virgin of Nazareth, that she would be the Mother of Jesus.

Throughout the Catholic world, dinner will feature an angel food cake, topped with three candles. As each candle is lit, the traditional prayer for each archangel is said. Most of us pushing 50 and over will remember the first one:

"Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our guard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil..."

"Sancte Míchael Archangele, defende nos in proelio contra nequítiam et insídias diaboli esto presídium..."

"San Miguel Arcángel, Defiéndenos en la batalla; Sé nuestra protección contra la maldad y los engaños del diablo..."

Sunday, September 28, 2003


"In the afterlife
You could be headed for the serious strife
Now you make the scene all day
But tomorrow there'll be Hell to pay."

-- from the song Hell by The Squirrel Nut Zippers

Heaven is where:

the police are British,
the chefs are Italian,
the mechanics are German,
the lovers are French,
and it is all organized by the Swiss.

Hell is where:

the police are German,
the chefs are British,
the mechanics are French,
the lovers are Swiss,
and it is all organized by the Italians.

Purgatory is where:

(Stay tuned...)

Thursday, September 25, 2003

"I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of the Lord..."

"...than to dwell in the tents of the wicked."
(from Psalm 84)

This weekend, for the third year in a row, I'll be working for an annual Catholic convention that meets in a hotel near Dulles Airport.

I'm the sacristan for this convention, and I wear the title proudly. I gather whatever materials are needed to erect and operate the chapel at the convention, from vestments to candlesticks. I arrange for young men to serve the priest, a gentleman who serves as master of ceremonies, and in some cases, the schola cantorum that sings in the choir. I also see to the needs of the priests who celebrate the daily and Sunday Masses. In return, I have my own room at the hotel, bill my meals to the room, have access to the indoor pool, and get to hob-nob with people I normally don't party with. Oh, and when it's over, I am handed an honorarium in the form of a check, which never hurts.

It's a hectic weekend when I'm there, but I often have the privilege of meeting people who inspire me in some way. I'm usually free to come and go when my business is done. But last year I had the chance to help an older and infirm priest say a private Requiem Mass in his room. It was an intimate experience, helping him keep his place in the ancient Latin text that was used, and watching the sun brighten his face as he moved his fingers over the Sacred Elements, reciting the ancient words used by Christ Himself: "This is my Body..." "This is the cup of my Blood..."

Not only that, but I get to dress up in a custom-tailored cassock with surplice. (Okay, my mother hemmed it for me. What of it?)

My days have been unsettling of late. While work has not been particularly demanding this week, I have had a variety of personal affairs that must be settled before the year is out. My social circle has been changing over the year, a rather sad development in many ways. But when God closes a door, he opens a window -- something I've managed to notice.

I went to Parents' Night at my son's high school. He's a senior this year. His teachers couldn't say enough good things about him. I found that encouraging. Paul and I drove to McDonald's afterwards, and engaged in a discussion of philosophy, one of the subjects he's studying. While I was impressed by the teacher of that class, I have to question that a public high school is the ideal place to study philosophy, especially from a Catholic perspective. So my son has agreed to let me tutor him in a separate course of study, including a series of recorded lectures and an accompanying textbook.

There is also my own life to consider. With Paul nearly emancipated, I look around at my little apartment, in the basement of a single-family dwelling. I have been content with the arrangement up until now, but for the last thirteen years, ever since my marriage ended, all I have done is live in basement apartments. I don't care for high-rise apartment buildings, as they bear little resemblance to a home, and the neighbors are adamant to remain strangers. I have thought of moving to Baltimore, a city which is within commuting distance of DC, and is more like a real place, not this supposed center of power where everybody is so damned important.

I was there in the late spring, in the Fells Point neighborhood, when I saw just what I wanted: a little rowhouse, a three-level, two bedroom with den and one bath, on a quiet side street. My friend Bonita remembered the place, having grown up down the street from it, back when it was a Polish neighborhood. (It still is, sort of.) I talked to the owner. For the rent and deposit he was asking, I said I'd just as soon buy it in a year or two. He seemed open to that possibility. So I got his contact information, and promised to call on him same time next year, or the year after. Depending on how high the water rose during Isabel, I believe I could be very happy there. I could provide a room for guests, including my son, should he ever decide to "return to the nest." At least he'll have one where he can return.

And so it goes. I might be making reports over the weekend, as time permits. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• Why didn't I think of this... eh? A woman in British Columbia is suing Coca-Cola, after the cap of a two-liter bottle of Coke hit her in the eye upon opening. She claims the company failed to warn consumers of the dangers of handling soda bottles. Does this include shaking them first?

"Don't like my driving? Dial one-eight-hundred-kiss-my-..." In Escambia County, Florida, convicted drunk drivers have to put a red and yellow bumper sticker on their car, inviting people to call in and report erratic driving.

"It's a bird! It's a plane!! It's... Action Aaah-nold!!!" The actor and Republican candidate for Governor of California is depicted with a new toy by Herobuilders.com. "The Governator" is available in talking or non-talking versions.

• Stay inside the lines for this one, kids! Crayola is retiring four of its 120 colors later this year, replacing them with four others in time for their centennial celebration in October. There were also five colors they considered "redundant or unattractive": Burnt Sienna, Teal Blue, Blizzard Blue, Mulberry, and Magic Mint. Crayon fans got to vote to spare one of them, which will be announced on October 12. (If these kids ever go into art school, they'd better spare burnt sienna, which is a staple of oil color palates. Ever try substituting by mixing cadmium red light with raw sienna? Uh-huh, I trust I've made my point.)

• Female students at Bangkok University in Thailand who wear their school uniforms modestly, will be eligible for prizes of diamonds and gold jewelry, as a reward for being "well-dressed," at the end of the academic term. After all, no one ever sang "bare legs are a girl's best friend."

• One of my favorite singer-songwriters, John Gorka, was in Baltimore last week during Hurricane Isabel. At the height of the storm, his acoustic concert went totally unplugged: "Since the power was out, lighting was provided by candles and flashlights and the sound was provided by me. There were no injuries." If only I'd known ahead of time, I would have braved the elements to be there. His new CD on the Red House label, Old Futures Gone, was released yesterday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

From The MWBH Mailbag

Those clowns in the mail room interrupted their Foosball Tornament long enough to send me this little tidbit:

This is an interesting bit of information that you don't hear much about in the media ---

a.. Enron's chairman did meet with the president and the vice president in the Oval Office.

b.. Enron gave $420,000 to the president's party over three years.

c.. It donated $100,000 to the president's inauguration festivities.

d.. The Enron chairman stayed at the White House 11 times.

e.. The corporation had access to the administration at its highest levels and even enlisted the Commerce and State Departments to grease deals for it.

f.. The taxpayer-supported Export-Import Bank subsidized Enron for more than $600 million in just one transaction. Scandalous!!

g.. BUT...the president under whom all this happened WASN'T George W. Bush.

h.. SURPRISE ......... It was Bill Clinton!

Please pass this on so the whole Country will Know. The Media Won't! No DUH!!!!

Actually, I was too caught up in all the lip-locking to remember whether whatanybody said at the Emmy Awards. (Just kidding. I don't watch the Emmy Awards. It's all I can do to handle the Country Music Awards. My favorite part this year was when they booed The Dixie Chicks...)
You can take the Chicks out of Dixie, but...

It seems that The Dixie Chicks no longer consider themselves country music artists. To hear them tell it, they're straight rock-and-roll now.

So, does this mean they lose the banjo?

Eric Johnson of Catholic Light laments the sordid tale of "Goodbye Earl," one of their better-known tunes. "The theme: pre-meditated killing is fine, as long as your husband is a brutal jerk."

Actually, Eric, it's the gal who usually gets capped. The Anglo-American folk ballad tradition, which is part of the origin of what we know today as country-western music, is a common genre for tales of murder and mayhem, usually over matters of the heart. A case in point is "Omie Wise" -- all umpteen versions of it, on both sides of the Atlantic.

It sounds as though the Chicks are still getting henpecked (sorry, I couldn't help that one) over the remark one of them made in the UK, about being ashamed that President Bush is from Texas. So other country artists -- Toby Keith, among others -- are coming out with patriotic tunes: "You'll be sorry you messed with the U S of A / 'cuz we'll put a boot in your @$$, it's the American way..."

Actually, that one's a lot easier to sing than "The Star Spangled Banner." Will we eventually sing Keith's song at the ball park? Stay tuned...

Monday, September 22, 2003

St Blog's Has Two Mommies
Random Thoughts at Four in the Morning

It's after four in the morning. I never went to bed after coming home from the zydeco dance at the Relay Town Hall. I arrived at the apartment, made a few phone calls, and there was all that needed to be done on Monday, just sitting there. I started into the task at hand, and just didn't stop.

Okay, so a re-run of The X-Files came on. But I hadn't seen it yet. And even if I had, my son Paul and I love to compare notes on them, being the avid devotees we are for the series.

Anyhow, Isabel was kind to my neighborhood, relatively speaking. Arlington County (Virginia) didn't have problems with its water, unlike other areas. And the power outages were minor compared with the District and suburban Maryland. Going up Massachusetts Avenue on Friday night was quite the adventure, especially with parts of Embassy Row in total darkness, except (of course) for the Naval Observatory where the Vice President lives. Wisconson Avenue was an improvement -- well, sort o. The main drag was okay, but the residential areas were completely out of power.

On the bright side, when I was at the swing dance that same night, I met this gal who's part of a band -- oh, excuse me, a collective -- called Takoma Zone. Sounds like just the kind of arrangement I've been looking for. As luck would have it, I was invited. I never was much of a joiner, and even though I play at least six or seven musical instruments (well, okay, I'm proficient with two of them, but I can fake my way with the others), the phone ain't ringin' off the hook. This is good news.

My son turns eighteen in a few weeks. That's when things change for him, for us, for the whole arrangement of taking care of him. But he still has most of senior year to complete. It was always my intention to support him through the end of high school. But the arrangement will have to change, and that weights heavily on my mind of late.

Also on my mind, is my life. A child leaves the nest (well, not my nest, but the one I've been subsidizing), and like every parent faced with this moment, I begin to look inward. Oh, he still has college to consider. But he'll be on his own for awhile. His mother is contemplating a move back to our native Ohio. That leaves me with the task of finding a bigger place, one where he can "return to the nest" if he must.

Not only that, but I'm tired of living in little apartments. I'm pushing fifty, and something's gotta give.

Well, enough of this self-indulgence. I have an appointment with IHOP. Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Can you say "quinceanera"???

Dear Novus Ordo Watchers:

This is in reference to your apparent outrage over a scene in a Catholic Church, to be found here:


It is accompanied by the following comment:

"What the heck is THIS? YOU figure it out."

Well, I did, and it wasn't hard.

It is the custom among Latinos, that when a young lady reaches the age of fifteen years, her entry into womanhood is accompanied by an elaborate ceremony, known as the "quinceanera." The preparations can be quite lavish, often reaching the cost equivalent to a wedding. A blessing at the parish church is neither uncommon, nor is it to be considered, by any means, a mere post-conciliar innovation.

But don't take my word for it; read the following...


...and now, having disgraced someone's innocent daughter on the Internet, FOR NO DAMN GOOD REASON (!!!), the standards of gentlemanly conduct (as is to be found among all good Catholic men, at least those of my acquaintance) would appear to require you to issue a retraction, and apologize.


Friday, September 19, 2003

Life After Isabel

They closed the Federal government in metro DC yesterday. The main factor was the safety risk in maintaining public transportation, especially Metrorail, with high winds blowing. And today I was on sick leave for medical appointments, all of which have been cancelled. So it's day two of a four-day weekend. I've been quite busy, going through closets and getting rid of clothing that's too big for me, having lost 35 pounds (that's four inches off the waist) in two years.

Last night was a real trip, I gotta tell ya. I park my car on the street, but followed a hunch and parked it elsewhere. The landlord's tree fell right where... you guessed it. Talk about a charmed life. The gal down the street wasn't so lucky; two trees fell on her house, and she had to spend the night with a neighbor.

Today is cloudy, with people cleaning up tree limbs up and down the street. Thankfully, the power in our neighborhood never went out (although it did blink at us a few times), so life can soon return to normal for most of us. I have more work to do. I was going to go to Philly tonight to dance to C J Chenier, but with the weather moving up the Eastern seaboard, I'm not sure how things will be up there. I may call the club first.

On the other hand, maybe a night of swing at the nearby Chevy Chase Ballroom wouldn't hurt. Then it's zydeco for the rest of the weekend, including another night at the Cat's Eye.

You know, I hear tell it that folks in Louisiana actually have "hurricane parties" while the wind kicks up its own heels. Can you believe that? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

"Back where I come from, where I'll be when its said and done..."

Yesterday's edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer highlighted my hometown of Milford, and the surrounding Miami Township, in its series on "Great Neighborhoods."

"Well in the town where I was raised, the clock ticked and the cattle grazed.
Time passed with amazing grace, back where I come from.
You can lie on a river bank, paint your name on a water tank,
Miscount all the beers you drank, back where I come from."

There is a lot of space devoted to the town's past. I remember doing a great deal of research into Milford's history as a boy -- enough to know that 2006, not 2003, is the bicentennial of the original Hageman's Mill, which established the town. And of course I knew about the raids conducted by Confederate General Morgan, who crossed the Ohio, and terrorized local residents in May of 1863. Then there were the ghost stories, like the guy who haunts the railroad track near Miamiville since the Civil War days, and the governor and his wife from the turn of the last century, who still "occupy" the Promont mansion near my house. But on the hill in the center of town was where a farmhouse was said to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. That farm land is a subdivision now.

Then there are the fields along the East Fork of the Little Miami River, where I played as a boy, and which now home to the River's Edge development. It seems that its status as a flood plain didn't prevent the town leaders from incorporating it in the 1980s, and zoning it for business. Even with a flood control dam upstream, the falling rain has to settle somewhere. Guess where it's been settling this year? Nice goin', fellas.

For all the talk about future growth, the town never was much for planning. This is mostly due, in my opinion, to a lack of cooperation between city and township. But there is talk of creating a "town center" along old Route 28, just up the hill from the northeastern outskirts. Wonder if they'll ever pull it off.

There is much about the Methodists who founded the town, but no mention of them still more or less running the show today.

Best of all, my hometown parish, St Andrew's, gets a good write-up for the work of their St Vincent de Paul Society. I still remember when I worked at Kroger's in high school, and the store gave me four shopping carts full of leftover Christmas candy. It was this group in the parish that took the goods off my hands, to distribute to the elderly. The sesquicentennial of the parish is has been titled Celebratio Fidei, or A Celebration of Faith. It's the only nod to tradition that place has seen in years. They renovated the place so the altar and the ambo are side by side, with the priest's chair behind and in the center. It looks perfectly ridiculous. Apparently they bought the same old line: "Vatican II made us do it." Uh-huh.

Still, I have tentative plans to be buried in the parish cemetary, with the words from the old prayers at the foot of the altar engraved: Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam -- "I will go to the altar of God, to God, the joy of my youth."

And occasionally, I get back there, and try to visit my old haunts, to remember how they once looked.

And with any luck, I avoid getting arrested for trespassing.

"Well I'm proud as anyone
That's where I come from."

Monday, September 15, 2003

"A Gentleman And A Scholar"

Stay tuned...
From the MWBH Mailbag

The network's been down for much of today, or I would have shared this sooner. This was found in the MWBH Mailbox today, from one of my many admirers:

"I am passing this on to you because it has definitely worked for me. By following the simple advice I read in an article, I have finally found inner peace. It reads:

"'The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you've started.'

"I looked around to see all the things I started and hadn't finished. So, today I have finished one bottle of white wine, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Baileys, my Prozac, a large box of chocolates and a quart of beer. You have no idea how good I feel."

Actually, if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have been able to... uh, never mind.

My weekend consisted mostly of cleaning out my walk-in closet. Now, attempting this with a studio apartment can leave you with essentially no living space. So I'm spending the next few nights at a buddy's house until things clear up. The one bright spot was Saturday night, and the most wonderful night of latin dancing I have ever experienced. My dance partner for the evening was sufficiently pleased with the proceedings, that upon leaving the club, burst into song with Con Te Partiro (Time To Say Goodbye). That she has the most lovely mezzo-soprano voice, and bears a slight resemblance to Sarah Brightman, certainly doesn't hurt.

All I could do to compete with that was to sit with her by the shore of the Potomac later that night, playing my guitar and singing cowboy ballads.

Oh well, you work with what ya got, eh?

In other news, I have some more writing to do, to be posted later. Plus, they say we've got to stock up on white bread and toilet paper in time for the hurricane. Sure hope I can beat the rush. Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 11, 2003

"She lived life to the fullest, and now she's gone."

"Sarah" was a classmate in high school. I didn't know her all that well, but I knew her face from the yearbook pictures. It was the face looking at me from across the room at my thirty-year high school reunion last month. Don't ask me why.

But we connected somehow, and stayed in touch after that evening. When I called last night, I learned that her daughter, her only child, died in a rock-climbing accident in Tennessee a few weeks ago. She was only 21. Sarah was devestated, to be sure. And yet, surrounded by family and friends and neighbors calling on her with regularity, the full weight of the news has yet to hit her. Sarah returns to work today, of all days.

I was reminded of where I was two years ago today, in an office two blocks west of the White House, one block south of the World Bank, and several blocks northeast of the State Department. Had certain evildoers had their way, I would not be here now.

And yet -- Deo volente (God willing) -- I am here. My son, my only child, is here as well, having passed through the dark night of the soul that is severe depression and suicide attempts. The devil came for his due, and did not find it. But the Scriptures tell us of how he lurks, like a lion prowling through the night. So we watch, and place ourselves, and our loved ones, in our Savior's loving care.

From Washington to The Great White Way, are thousands of stories like Sarah's, that are remembered on this day. But they are not remembered best in the thousands, however much a precedent in American history that may be. They are remembered one at a time. Today, I won't remember the thousands of stories. Today I will remember Sarah's.

"Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the Dead March as they lowered you down?
And did the the band play
The Last Post and chorus?
Did the pipes play
The Flowers of the Forest?"

(No Man's Land, or The Green Fields of France, by Eric Bogle)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• In Bloomington, Illinois, a man tried to rob a local McDonald's. There he met his match in Donald Sacry, 71: "I used a lot of vulgarity. I cussed him out pretty good." Sacry then smacked the robber with a load of plastic trays. The robber fled.

• Why are so many people buying four-wheel and all-wheel drive cars, most of whom will never be used for severe- or off-road conditions? In a story from the Associated Press, the newer models are reported to benefit from "technology that's more compact and lighter weight than in the past." What's more, the 2004 model year will bring consumers more than 80 such models, up from 30 for the 1994 model year. (Note to son Paul: that Honda Element is looking better.)

• Opus is making a comeback! Berkeley Breathed is planning to resurrect the precocious penguin and former resident of "Bloom County" and "Outland," in a new Sunday-only series beginning in November. Breathed has also sold the rights to an Opus movie. And we don't mean Mr Holland's.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Iraq: Behind the Lines

They say that every soldier, no matter how battle-weary, finds comfort in the little things that remind him of home. No other nation or group of nations in history, have devoted so much to rebuild a conquered nation, as did the Allies in Europe at the end of World War II. The coalition forces struggle to bring order to a troubled land, despite their being unprepared for the long haul that would follow. In the face of death, are these signs of life and humanity, provided courtesy of RC of Catholic Light.

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 Image 4 Image 5

The fourth image is my personal favorite.
"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• The House of Representatives voted themselves a pay raise for next year. Unlike the Senate, these guys held off for a few years. And the increase was only 2.2 percent (That's $3200. Pin money, right?). And, ignoring the White House (which is easier for them than it is for me), they voted most federal workers a 4.1 percent raise in 2004. For the first time in years, it keeps up with inflation.

• In Raleigh County, West Virginia (south of the state capital, where the real West "By God" Virginians live), a man is giving steroids to his roosters. That's because they're used as gamecocks, which is a higher form of culture in that part of the state. The county commissioner is less than impressed, however, especially since the neighbors are complaining that the roosters are clucking all day. Currently, the county ordinance dealing with pet noises deals primarily with barking dogs.

• Pete Vere, you've been warned! A smaller brewery in Plankstadt, Germany, near Heidelberg, are expanding their product line beyond the limits of the country's beer purity laws (which limit ingredients to malt, hops, yeast, and water), to include lemonade, cola, complete with the option of custom-designed labels. (Note to St Pauli girl: Better tighten up your corset and run!)

• There will be memorial services on September 11, to commemorate the terrorist attacks of two years ago. President Bush will attend in DC, Vice President Cheney in Manhattan, and Interior Secretary Norton in Shanksville, PA.
Yo! Victor!!

I'm number 3273!!!

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Stupid Cajun Joke of the Day

Tuseau called the airlines information desk and inquired, "How long does it take to fly from New Orleans to Lafayette?" "Just a minute," said the busy clerk. "Oh my God," said Tuseau, "if it has to go dat fast, I tink I'll just take da bus."
"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• In Starke, Florida, former minister Paul Hill was executed for the 1994 murder of an abortion doctor, the first in the USA to be put to death for "anti-abortion" violence. He was unrepentent to the end, his last words urging others to use necessary force to protect the unborn. Blaming the pro-life movement for such fringe activities, is like blaming Gandhi or Martin Luther King for the race riots in the late 1960s.

• In Iraq, the role of keeping the peace is being transferred from USA forces to those of eight other countries, among them Great Britain, Poland, and Spain. Now they can blame somebody else for not being able to get the Iraqi people to stop picking on each other and grow the @#$% up!

• To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the discovery of penicillin, the British Royal Society of Chemistry is having a contest, whereby entrants send in pictures of mold growing in a coffee mug. (Did I mention I'm allergic to penicillin?)

• Festivities in the Nation's capital to open the professional football season begin today, with a big-@$$ shindig on the Mall, featuring Aerosmith and Britney Spears. Roads will be blocked, some Federal employees will go home early (but not yours truly), and the subway will run later than usual. As for me, I'll celebrate in the usual fashion. Yeah, you right!