Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Over Dramatic World of LMN
Do you get The Lifetime Movie Network? We do. I've never watched it. But it shows up in our schedule listing and I always read the titles? Why? Because they're hilarious. Because you can tell by reading them that you don't want to see them. And because they all sound exactly alike. Let's see. Child abduction. Addiction. Double-lives. Cheating. You know, your average Wednesday. When taken en masse the effect is absolutely hilarious. Here's a sample of just the next few days:

Live Once, Die Twice
No Brother of Mine
A Face to Die For
My Nanny's Secret
Shattered Hearts
Doing Time on Maple Drive
Baby for Sale
A Kidnapping in the Family
Little Girl Lost
Gone in a Heartbeat
When He Didn't Come Home
Point Last Seen
The Man Next Door
My Husband's Secret
A Daughter's Conviction
Sins of the Mother
Where Are My Children?
Prison of Secrets
Abducted: A Father's Love

Honestly, can't you predict the plot of every film just by the title? And don't they just make you want to reach for the "off" button? For some reason, I find this so funny. I think my favorite is When He Didn't Come, intense human drama.
Photo of the day: Packing Your Trunk

My ugly elephant lamp. I seriously love ugly elephant.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hello, I'm Rude

Rudeness seems to be an epidemic in modern society. Sometimes I just shrug it off. Other times it annoys me.

I find there are degrees of rudeness. For example, today I stopped for a few seconds to hold the door for a man who was walking out of a store behind me. He saw I held the door, walked right past me, and said nothing. Not a "thank you" nothing. Just walked past as if he expected no less than for people to hold doors for him. Ass.

Then there was the old woman I saw who dropped a few things on the floor of the store. Two able-bodied young men actually walked over her items and continued on. I, well trained by my parents, stopped to help. She thanked me nicely and we moved on.

Is it a matter of training? Of generations? My parents instilled in me manners and courtesy. I still send thank-you notes when people do me favors, give me presents, or invite me to dinner. I say "please" and 'thank you." I notice the people around me and take the time to the right thing. And yet other people are totally oblivious. They talk on their cell phone and completely disregard the poor clerk ringing up their order or the hard-working waitress who brings their food. Not even a nod to acknowledge that another human is providing them with a service.

Today at the shelter a woman was on her cell phone and talking so loudly that I could hear her conversation from the next room. I know all about her relationship with her boyfriend. The shopping expedition she had with her sister-in-law. The fact that her boss has taken up golf and wants her to cover for him when he takes off early in the afternoon. While talking loudly is more inconsiderate than rude, it's still an indication that this woman, for some reason, thinks her life and her desires are more important that anyone else's. She actually asked me a question while still on her cell phone and then interrupted me while I was answering to talk to the person on the other end of the call. How nice? Carrying on two conversations at once. Don't I feel special?

I have no children. Never had a desire. I have the maternal instincts of a preying mantis. But if I were a parent I would definitely insist on teaching my kids manners. Teaching them right from wrong. How to behave in public and how to treat other people. Today child from hell was running around the store and ran right into me. No apologies, nothing. And mom saw this. Mom didn't apologize either. Here's Damian nearly knocking me over and there's no acknowledgement that he inconvenienced me. When I was a kid that would have been totally unacceptable behavior. And I would have known that.

Perhaps I should have said something to mom. But I didn't want to be rude.
Photo of the day: The Shell Game

There was a surprising lack of shells on the beach when I did my photo shoot a few weeks back. This and a broken one were the only ones I saw. Lots of seaweed. Some interesting driftwood. An old beer can (which I picked up) but all the shells were hiding.

I saw parents with a small kid running around. I like to think the kid found them all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Love I Love Lucy

You may disagree, but in my opinion I Love Lucy was the funniest sitcom ever. I've seen every episode probably a dozen times and yet I still laugh out loud at some episodes.

It's hard to pick a favorite, although I do like the series when she and Rickey are in Hollywood and she does all sorts of crazy things to meet the movie stars. Breaks into Richard Widmark's house. Hits William Holden in the face with a pie. And, of course, steals John Wayne's footprints. Stars were insanely gracious to long-suffering Ricky and his crazy wife and nobody had her arrested or committed. Nice of them.

Some of those episodes were wonderful, especially the one where she mirrors Harpo Marx. Classic!

The two biggest laughs of the series for me comes in two different episodes. The first is when they're living in the country and it's the famous "tango" episode. For a variety of reasons too complex to relate, Lucy has her shirt loaded with two dozen raw eggs. She and Ricky rehearse a tango and at the dramatic end of the dance, the eggs smash. It's genius. The look on RIcky's face when his wife "explodes." The reaction from Lucy at being a drippy, messy wreck. Every time I see that episode, even though I know it's going to happen, I laugh.

The other favorite moment is from a more obscure episode where Ricky takes Lucy hunting. She enlists Ethel to help her fool Ricky into thinking that Lucy is an experienced outdoorswoman. Ethel buys a bunch of fish and gives them to Lucy who pretend to catch them. But the big laugh comes the next day when they go duck hunting. Ethel hide up a tree. Lucky "spots the duck" and fires. And down comes the bird. Ricky picks it up -- and it's already plucked, fresh from the butcher. It's a huge laugh and one that had but Husband and i in stitches the last time we saw it.

So many of the classic series hold up well. Barney Miller is still brilliant. Some of the old Dick Van Dyke shows still deliver laughs. The Newhart Show, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show can still be funny. But the only one that never fails to make me laugh is Lucy.

Maybe I'm turning into one of those cranky old women (even though I'm still under 50) but the newer comedies just don't make me laugh. Of the past few years, only Friends had scripts that were literate and funny and didn't seem to revolve entirely around who was sleeping with whom.

I know there are some good ones out there, but if left up to me to choose between something where the plot is described as "a case of mistaken identity leads Heather to suspect her new boyfriend may be her long-lost brother" or I Love Lucy, there's really no choice.
Photo of the day: Ten Pennies. Ten Years

Ten years ago today Husband and I had our first date. We celebrate this anniversary rather than the date on which we married (in 2003) because March 25, 2000 was the day we fell in love with each other. Yeah, it happened that quickly.

The story is we had our first date two weeks before our first date. After a couple of conflicting schedules, we'd finally arranged our first official date: to go see Femi Kuti in San Francisco with some friends. But Husband decided (bless him) that he didn't want to wait two weeks to see me, so he came down to the radio station.

I was doing an early Saturday morning show and rarely had visitors. And then in walks Husband. "Hey, what are you doing here?" I asked. He mentioned something about music work. We chatted. My show finished. He asked me if I wanted to go get some coffee. That was at about 9 am. And at about 2 am we said goodnight after some serious necking in my car.

That morning I woke up alone and not really looking and that night I went to sleep in love with this amazing man who was funny and smart, creative and interesting, caring, compassionate, generous and, icing on the cake, a great kisser. And to this day I still get butterflies in my stomach when he kisses me.

So each of these pennies represents a year together. Bright, lucky, simple little objects -- like my life with my beloved Husband.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Photo of the day: Cat Mat

I have this lovely bulky yarn which I crochet into cat mats. These are placemat-sized creations that are put into shoe boxes and then given to the cats at the shelter so they have a cozy place to sleep. These are the only things I know how to crochet because the cats don't care that the edges are uneven and the whole thing, rather than rectangular, ends up looking like an outline of Rhode Island.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's In a Name?

I am fascinated by names. Personally I've never liked my first name. Too common. When I was in Catholic School there were only 25 or 30 kids in the class and four of us girls had the same name. I guess it was popular the year I was born. On the other hand, I'm glad I didn't get some weird, way-out name like Sapphire or LaTonda.

I am particularly interested in last names and I love how nearly every day I hear of a last name that I've never come across before. I was watching a documentary about Chinese history and they spoke to an archeologist whose last name was Marshover. Not too esoteric perhaps, but a name I've never heard.

New (to me) last names always make me wonder about their origin. Did this man's ancestors live over a marsh or something? I mean some names are obvious. The "profession" ones, for instance. Baker. Cook. Wheelwright. But then you get one that seem like just a melodious collection of syllables. Hartsmede. Callio. Ashlyn. Many, I'm sure, are place names. Some are derived from a non-English language. But each in its own way is interesting.

Another thing that I find interesting is how names go in and out of fashion and how, in some cases, you can guess the age of the person merely by knowing their first name. I don't believe any female under the age of 70 is named Bertha or Gertrude. Nor any man younger than 50 named Adolph (unless his parents are white supremacists, in which case I don't want to know him). And yet names always seem to come around again. Flower names are again popular with girls. Rose, Lily, Daisy. And yet for a while I knew of no babies named after anything botanical, unless it was of the hippie generation and it was something wild like Orchid or Poplar. For a while it seemed every girl had to have a "creative" name like Madison or Dakota. Then the classic names came around again: Jane, Anne, Hannah. In my grandmother's generation there were several branches on the family tree with names like Lucy. Then nothing for about 40 years, and now Lucy is back.

Some names never seem to leave the map. There are a respectable number of Elizabeths or James in every generation. And then every generation grows its own. Were there any Ashtons in the 19th century? Or anyone in World War I whose name was Heath? And I'm sorry to any Cody reading this, but your name sounds like it should belong to a big dog with a bandana around its neck.

Many parents draw their inspiration from fiction. I read an article today that said Atticus was becoming quite a popular name for boys and I know someone with a daughter named Scout. Jane Austen heroines are also quite common now; lots of Emmas and Charlottes. I suppose there are worse sources for names (anybody who names their child after a retail establishment should be sterilized. Tiffany? Macys?) but if your inspiration is a romance novel, your child will definitely need therapy. (Over the years I've met a Caressa, a Jakeman and two birds: Raven and Falcon.) Honestly, how do you face the world with a name like Caressa? Are you predestined to become a pole dancer?

There are some names that I find downright ugly. With apologies to anyone named Dorcas, I think it's a horrible name. Yes, I know it's biblical, but it's just so unappealing -- a growl and a hiss. And in some cases I find names unappealing because they are tainted by someone unpleasant. I once knew a horrible girl named Christine, a perfectly respectable name and yet I dislike it because I disliked her so intensely.

But then again, I'm shallow and judgemental.
Photo of the day: Any Guesses?

It's not self-evident at first glance. But these are a stack of pipe cleaners. I buy them in bulk to use as cat toys at the shelter, but I thought they also made an interesting shot when I sucked out the color and amped up the textures.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: Flash Gordon

Everyone who filed through Silver Creek High eventually sat in a class taught by William Gordon. Called “Flash” by everyone who knew him, though not to his face, Flash was your stereotypical math teacher with an abstracted look on his face and a head of hair always in need of cutting.

He was a tall, gangly man whose shorts always seeded too short and whose ties always seemed too wide. He also had a good right arm, which he’d use to lob chalkboard erasers onto the head of any student caught talking in class. I suppose today it would be assault or child abuse, but back then it was jut part of life. Walking down the science hallway with a headful of chalk dust was almost a badge on honor because everyone knew Flash had caught you.

Flash and his wife, Helen, were parishioners at Our Lady of Angels, so we often saw them on Sunday mornings. He had a very special wide tie that he reserved for services and holydays, it had crucifixions all over it. I thought it was the most morbid article of clothing I had ever seen. I used to wonder, if Christ came back, what he would make of all these people with symbols of his execution lying around. People wearing crosses around their necks, stuck onto the back of their cars. Seems kind of cruel, you know. ‘Welcome back, remember what happened last time?”

We’d often end up sitting near Flash and his wife and it was always something of an ordeal because of the hymns. Flash had an enthusiastic, though unreliable voice. He’d boom his way through the songs he knew by heart and la-la his way through the rest. This resulted in sudden bursts of noise so the hymns wound sound “la-la-la-la GLORY ON HIGH la-la-la LIKE AN EAGLE la-la FOREVER…” This had the unfortunate effect of giving most people around him a bad case of giggles.

Every month Sliver Creek High School had an afternoon assembly. The whole school would gather grudgingly into the gym, sneakers squeaking across the basketball floor, and file into the bleachers to wait for that month’s useless information.

The sophomore cheerleaders bake sale raised $210 for Polynesia. The Drama department production of South Pacific was in dire need of sailors as the entire navy consisted of two awkward Freshmen and Vikram, our Indian exchange student who was to shy to sing the word “dame.” The only good thing about these assemblies (aside from getting me out of gym class) was the feature known as “Meet Your Teacher.” This was the brainchild of our Vice Principal, Lewis Hall who decided it would make student-teacher relations better if students learned something unexpected about the faculty. And it was, in practice.

We’d learned, for example, that Mrs. Favero. from the Home Ec department was 247th in line for the British throne. She was more than a bit coy about the mechanics of it, but I gathered it was the result of some ancestress having an affair with the illegitimate son of the illegitimate daughter of Henry VII. Our principal, Edward Christienssen told of his adventures onboard the Andrea Doria the night it had its great accident, complete with sound-effects and an overwrought poem about "the great lady dipping her brow unto the gray water." And hippie English teacher Mr. Carpenter told us about traveling from Seattle to Death Valley in a van with Ken Kesey and Alan Ginsburg. Unfortunately he couldn’t relate to us any of the details because I gather it was all sex- and drug-related and while the administration wanted us to meet our teachers, they didn’t want us to get quite that personal.

When it was Flash’s turn to take the podium he started by setting up clipboards covered in blueprints. Then he cleared his throat, fiddled with his fat tie, and began talking about how he’d always had an interest in architecture and also had a fascination for all things Classical.

The result was one of the oddest hobbies I’d ever heard of: designing ancient temples. It was the “designing” part that was fascinating. Because he wouldn’t just recreate existing ones, like making detailed drawings of the Parthenon. No, he would take what the ancients had done and then get all weird and make something new. Not just new buildings, but a whole new Olympian pantheon. For example, the Temple of Athena at McDonald’s. This featured Corinthian columns flanking ample parking, complete with a drive-through portico with acanthus leaves and a frieze featuring Mayor McCheese in a toga. The Banktheon was a Bank of America in a round Classical design with a sunken vault and a colossal statue of “Altus Caponus.” (Because, of course, every bank wants a statue of Al Capone in the lobby.) And then there was the Driveoseum, a classic Greek amphitheatre that was a drive-in and included a refreshment stand known as the “Popcornia.”

All of this was delivered with not a hint of how freakishly weird it was. There was no sense of whimsy behind it, no indication that he was aware this hobby was strange and his creations were frivolous and rather wonderful. I was both surprised at this hidden streak of creativity and amused that he was so un-amused. Nobody had the nerve to laugh, we all just sat there as if he were showing us designs for something serious and we had to be suitably respectful.

I have to admit that out of all the Meet Your Teacher assemblies, Flash’s presentation was the one that surprised me the most. The following month Miss Haber from the science department told us how her family kept pet skunks when she was a kid. Yawn.
Photo of the day: Last Year's Residents

In anticipation of the upcoming kitten nursery I pulled out this cutie from last year's residents. We'll be opening next month and I cannot wait! Kitten duty is the highlight of the week -- I'm alway surprised there aren't hoards of people rushing the shelter saying "Yes, we want to feed baby kittens!" Of course that enthusiasm fades away when they realize they'll have to teach the aforementioned kittens how to poop. But trust me, it's all worth it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photo of the day: The Water Goes This Way

I love the little current running down the stream towards the ocean.