Friday, September 29, 2006

First Line Fridays

The answer to last week's:

Johnny, Are You Queer? music/lyrics by Josie Cotton

From '80 Music Lyrics: "Josie Cotton's 15 minutes of fame came in 1982, via the hit 'Johny Are You Queer?' which made it not only onto the airwaves, but onto the soundtrack of an early 80's film favorite, 'Valley Girl'. Rather than embracing the new wave sound that was taking other Southern California bands up the charts in the ealy 1980s, Josie Cotton opted for the sounds of the 1960s. The synth work that marked the music of the day is kept to a minimum, replaced by deftly written and played 60's-era guitar work."


Sunday, The Boyfriend and I begin my week-long celebration of my 36th birthday with a trip to the San Diego area for Des McAnuff's revival of The Wiz at the La Jolla Playhouse. So in tribute to that wondrous re-telling of The Wizard of Oz, here's the First Line of the Week....

Everybody look around
'Cause there's a reason to rejoice you see
Everybody come out
And let's commence to singing joyfully

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bookwhore Chronicles: Banned Book Week

Somewhere in the United States, one of these books has been pulled from library shelves.

  • Alice on the Outside by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Born Too Short: The Confessions of an Eighth-Grade Basket Case by Dan Elish
  • Brokeback Mountain by Annie Prouix
  • The Buffalo Tree by Adam Rapp
  • Choke: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • Deal With It!: A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a Gurl by Esther Drill
  • Detour for Emmy by Marilyn Reynolds
  • Doing It by Melvin Burgess
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
  • Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  • Forever by Judy Blume
  • Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
  • Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel
  • The Guy Book: An Owner's Manual by Mavis Jukes
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
  • The Homo Handbook: Getting in Touch with Your Inner Homo by Judy Carter
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Mya Angelou
  • It Stops With Me: Memoir of a Canuck Girl by Charleen Touchette
  • It's Perfectly Normal: A Book About Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris
  • It's So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families by Robie H. Harris
  • Leaving Disneyland by Alexander Parsons
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Other Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey
  • Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
  • The Teenage Guy's Survival Guide by Jeremy Daldry
  • This Boy's Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff
  • A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  • Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
  • When Jeff Comes Home by Catherine Atkins
  • Whistle Me Home by Barbara Wersba

Celebrate freedom: read a banned book!!!

Book list found at Marshall University Libraries.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another Day....

After running a few errands last night, I checked on my Dad. Earlier in the year, he suffered through a painful staph infection with sores on his hands and other bodily places. Monday night, a few of the sores apparently returned bringing with them a moderate fever of about 100˚ so my Mom took him to the doctor Tuesday afternoon. I called the house. "He's asleep right now," Mom said. "They opened and drained the two big ones, and he had to have stitches. The antibiotics wore him out, but when he wakes up...." Lots of pain. I remembered how I felt after my colonoscopy. "We go back on Friday to have the stitches taken out." She laughed. "You know us; it's just one thing after another." I told her not to wake him but to definitely call if anything happens because I could be at the house in no time.

On the way to The Block to meet joela, CS and RG, one of those intersection cameras snapped a wonderful picture of me, I think. I was third in line, the light changed to green so I followed the other two cars into the intersection. Green light as I enter, green light crossing the halfway point, green light reaching the opposite crosswalk, quick flash of white not once, but twice. The look of wonder and disbelief on my face should give the traffic police a good laugh. And, surprise, surprise, the cameras refused to flash when the two vehicles ran the red light to make illegal left turns a few moments beforehand.

CS and I discussed a new interior design show that he would love to host. The team would re-work and re-design rooms or events gone wrong, but only after the "guests" had tried their own hands at decorating or event planning. The opening titles would feature CS crashing a wedding at which the bridesmaids wear paisley polyester dresses burried beneath folds of ruffles or opening the front door only to find moose and deer heads staring at him from between neon beer signs at some bachelor pad. He'd wave a finger in the air, snap his neck back and forth, shout the show's title: "Oh No You Didn't!!" then boss around a couple of hunky carpenters and fashionistas.

It could happen!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sounds of Silence

....Chilly. Wafts of cool air once I toss the blanket aside. Still dark but early. Stumble to the bathroom, hand out to feel the edge of the bookcase, wall, around the door and to the switch. Flash of light. Blinking into the bathroom, stand with eyes half closed. A soft, constant rumbling from outside the bathroom window. No birds, no crickets, no cars, no semi-drunken neighbors stumbling along the alley. Flush, wash hands. Flick switch to a quick blindness and stumble onto bed. The tank fills, quiets. The soft rumbling continues. The ocean gently crashing into sand. Wave after wave. Comforting. Lulls me back to sleep....

Friday, September 22, 2006

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's:
Paperback Writer by The Beatles; music/lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Congratulations to Sorted Lives for being the first to correctly guess this classic Beatles tune. This song reached number one in the U.S. in 1966 and remained on top for two weeks, only to be displaced by Frank Sinatra's recording of Strangers in the Night.

Now for today's First Line....

Johny what's the deal boy
Is your love for real boy
when the lights are low
You never hold me close

American singer/songwriter Josie Cotton's 1982 recording of this song reached #38 on the U.S. Billboard club charts and was catchy enough to appear in the hit 1983 film Valley Girls. And, given the recent cover shot and article in Out magazine featuring Johnny Knoxville and it's use in the film Jackass: Number Two, this song may yet catch on again!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Esel: Nr. zwei

The Boyfriend and I rushed to The Block after work last night, hoping to make it early enough for the movie. The e-mail said to arrive by 7:30 if we wanted to be assured a seat, and I sped as fast as I could along the 22 East, exiting at Harbor once the traffic stalled, coursing along surface streets the remaining few miles. "I'm glad you know your way around because I would be lost by now." At 6:30, we parked, hurriedly walked to the theater, followed other potential moviegoers to a line of people filing out a door to the left of the entrance.

The line seemed fairly short and offered a wide array of people to watch: an elderly woman by herself in black stretch pants and white blouse peeking from behind a powder blue windbreaker; two rocker types with tattooed arms flowing from drab brown and gray t-shirts one size too small, with girlfriends equally tatto0ed and clothing equally tight; a possible gay couple, both dressed in slacks and dress shirts; teenagers, thirtysomethings, GenXers, goths, nerds, gay, straight, metro. Who knew this movie would draw such an odd mixture? Excitement and nervous energy kept us in good spirits for a while. Then, the line began to move quickly, everyone ambling single file through the door, pulling us along with the flow. But once we entered the doors and saw the long line of people trailing down the corridor to the left, crossing the red-orange carpet in front of a secondary unmanned concession stand, lining the wall opposite, our good mood changed greyed a bit. Unless the theater okayed the use of one of their larger screens, we might not make it. However, the line moved quickly, and we soon passed through the doors into the large auditorium, climbing the steps to four rows from the top of the room. More people flooded into the theater, taking any available seat, trying to avoid those closest to the screen. My neck twinged at the thought.

Someone tried to make a few announcements, but the crowd bood and heckled, demanding the start of the film. The Announcer raffled away some prize packages, made everybody check beneath their seats for a possible goodie box, and scurried back to his seat. The lights dimmed. The click whirr of the projector. Colors on the screen (no previews)....

Johnny Knoxville and his gang of hellions slowly emerged from a storm of dust, running for dear life down a car-lined neighborhood street. The camera panned and held each face in introduction, moved and widened showing our heroes being chased by a herd of angry bulls. (The audience burst into hoots hollers clapping whistling stomping and kept that at a constant throughout much of the film.) From then on, they offered stupid stunt after stupid stunt, sometimes making me cringe and watch through barely open fingers or stare in wide-eyed wonder with my hand covering my mouth in shock or slapping my knee with delight. They tempted everything from bees, to bulls, horses, anacondas, cobras, leeches, sharks, rockets, beer bongs, boxing gloves, riot pellets, bear traps, horse milking, penis brands, ice blocks, mini-motorcycles. A Wee Man bungee jump. An old women with sagging breats. An old man with dangly oldman balls. One after the other like a rapid-fire machine gun. Guest stars such as Three 6 Mafia, Tony Hawk, John Waters, Luke Wilson delighting in the pain and havoc they helped to create. Complete with a big musical finale.

And we watched, almost couldn't turn away at the inhumanity of it all, enjoyed evey sick twisted disgusting mintue of Jackass: Number Two. We laughed ourselves hoarse and couldn't stop talking about it all through dinner.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Happy Birthday!!!

Happy 90th, Grandma!!!

I set the pink azalea I'd brought on her dresser, claiming the last remaining empty space in her room. Birthday cards and a red-and-yellow tea rose rested on top of the TV while the remainder of the dresser was covered by a calendar, a hand-embroidered cloth from my cousin, family pictures, a box of Oregon Berries jelly candies, and a bowl of peanut M&Ms. I wrote my name in the Sept. 19th box of the calendar so she would know that I'd visited and then we sat and talked about what she did for her birthday. "Your Mother and Father took me to Mimi's for a hamburger. I haven't had one of those in a long time, and boy, was it good!" I asked if they'd brought her a piece of cake afterwards. "No, they didn't," even though later my Mom told me the waiter gave her a piece of chocolate mousse pie with a single candle. "Then, we went to your Folks' and your Uncle did something with the...the camera so's we could see the pictures from their trip Oregon on the TV. But after a while, I was so tired. Then, they brought me home."

She hadn't slept well that night, told my Mom the next day that they brought in a new mattress which she didn't like. "I want a recliner just like this one so I can get some sleep. R_ tells me that some of his, patients sleep in recliners. Does them good." The bed from her former apartment at The W. was king-sized, too large to fit in her new room. I still remember that same bed from all those Summer's visiting her in Ventura, the same dark green and blue 70s leaf pattern draping down to the floor to hide the box springs, 5 or 6 pillows along with a reading cushion, and her tiny bedside table with the tissue box disguised in a pink-haired Barbie-ish head with tissues sprouting from a hole at the crown. Most of that disappeared with her move to The W., and she must make do now with a double bed.

We watched a bit of TV before she told me that she was getting tired. She asked me to change the channel to whatever station Jeopardy! was on. "I like to listen to it even if I can see it too well. The noise helps me sleep." I promised to stop by again soon.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bookwhore Chronicles: WeHo Book Fair

Yes, I admit it freely: I am a bookwhore. Almost 400 books disguise my bookcase, the excess weight bowing the wood ever so much -- the top and upper shelf lined with books yet to be read while the finished lay stacked and piled on the remaining two. I use my Borders Rewards card with pride. I browse the used books at the Friends of the Library and walk away with five books for a dollar. So Sunday morning provided the perfect opportunity to appease, if even for a small fraction of time, my addiction to books: the 5th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair.

Earlier in the year, The Boyfriend and I checked out the Festival of Books at UCLA, and while we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, its lack of gay and lesbian books, presses and authors darkened our fun. But the idea of a book fair deep in the heart of the Gayborhood sent a shiver of excitement through me, and I could hardly wait for Sunday morning.

Which makes it all the more odd that I slept in until 10 AM.

And that we didn't actually leave Long Beach until 11:30 AM.

We made good time, taking only about 40 minutes to zip North on the 710 to the I-5 to the 101. We drove along Melrose, checking out the "trendy" clothing boutiques, overpriced furniture stores, hip eateries and the interesting folk parading about in the sun. The reflective blue and green buildings of the Pacific Design Center slowly rose behind the shops, guiding us toward our final destination and free parking. Within minutes, we turned up San Vicente Blvd., parked in the inky dark of the Center's parking structure and bounded across the street with a few dozen other bookworms to the fair. The first booth masked the entrance to the fair, and we spent roughly half an hour baking in the sun, browsing the hardcovers and the Liza Minelli records and the bake sale in support of the West Hollywood Public Library. I managed to find and buy two books before entering the main part of the fair! $6 well spent, I say.

The Boyfriend grabbed a map before climbing he steps into the fair, and we slowly made our way through the many sections: mysteries, comics, life, children's, entertainment, politics, religion, and the food court. By the comics section, I snapped the picture (left) of three comic book artists creating characters before an appreciative crowd. Over in the same section, Mike Mignola -- the creator of Hellboy -- signed copies of his comics for the long line of fans. Well, actually he did more than sign them; I watched as he drew a caricature of himself in each book before handing it back to its salivating owner. (Later, at that same booth, The Boyfriend purchased a 12-inch Buffy the Vampire Slayer figurine. Very cool with its batle axe and halberd and wooden stake and Buffy with fangs.) In the kids area, the Readers Library Theater was putting on a show for the children, acting and singing the stories as they were being read. A little farther on, a booth sold original prints of Mary Grandpré's illustrations for the Harry Potter series. Each section even had its own panel discussion, with authors such as Noel Alumit discussing how to write about life, Lee and Tod Goldberg giving their views on sibling writers, a cooking demonstration by the Too Hot Tamales, and many more. With all the interesting books and authors, I only made one other pruchase at the fair: a chap book called The Chocolate Man which the author, Waide Aaron Riddle, was kind enough to sign.

After a few hours roasting in the hot end-of-Summer sun and with growling stomachs because we neglected to eat anything before leaving Long Beach, we decided to call the fair a success and to find a restaurant before one of us passed out from hunger. On the way back, however, we took a small detour and snapped a few pictures on the grounds of the Pacific Design Center before a security guard politely asked me to put the camera away. (You can see the pictures here.) I shoved the camera into my pocket as we stood before a light brown building with the word MOCA high above the door. MOCA stood for the Museum of Contemporary Art, and we were both a bit surprised to discover an offshoot in West Hollywood -- a mini-MOCA, if you will. The door opened when The Boyfriend pulled so we went inside where a young woman greeted us from behind a white counter, telling us that the exhibit on the second floor is free and to enjoy our visit. We climbed the cement stairs and entered an enormous room with high white walls and a floor similar to a basketball court without the paint. At eye level across the walls were a series of photographs from photographer Bill Owens from his 1972 book Suburbia. Great stills of Amercian life in the 1970s with the funky wallpaper, the crocheted vests, the high hairdos. We would have browsed a bit longer if my stomach hadn't grumbled loud enough for the security guard to stifle a laugh.

Friday, September 15, 2006

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's:

Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man from the musical Show Boat; music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Congratulations to Cincy Diva for being the first to correctly name this tune. And a thanks to Cincy Diva for the following tidbit of information about one version of the movie:

Lena Horne played Julie on Broadway. But they didn't think she was dark enough for the screen version. So they had Max Factor (Mr.) create a make-up to make her look "more colored". They called it Light Egyptian. Then instead of giving the part to Lena, they rubbed Light Egyptian all over Ava Gardner and gave her the part instead!

As for my own movie trivia regarding Show Boat, Paul Robeson's singing of Ole Man River appears in the 1936 movie directed by James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein).

This Sunday, Spunky Brewster (a.k.a., The Boyfriend) and I will head to West Hollywood for the West Hollywood Book Fair, a chance to mix and mingle with such authors as Katherine Forrest, Jackie Collins, and Christopher Rice, to buy books (like I need more), to snap a few pics. In honor of the fair, this next song has to do with books and writing:

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?

This Beatles classic reached #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. in 1966 and signaled a change in their musical style: from the earlier poppy love songs to a wider variety of topics. In fact, this was the first #1 for The Beatles that was not a love song.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"What a pair of spectacles is here!"

I know, I know....

I promised a while ago to post a pic of my new glasses, but after the last visit with my ophthalmologist, he determined that the left lens wasn't ground to the correct strength. I returned to my optometrist with prescription in hand to have the lens re-ground and just picked up the newly refurbished pair yesterday.

My eyes still need to adjust to the rectangular frames. Whereas the more oval frames of my older pair circled down to my cheeks, the new pair's edges end just before reaching the bottom of my nose. I see the cut of the lenses, the shift from clear sight to blur when looking down. I'm adjusting to the ability to read distant signs without squinting. I like the sleeker, chromish look. And the fact that the frames came with clip-on sunglasses. I haven't worn sunglasses in years!!!

You know, next time I won't wait 10 years for a new prescription.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Pandarus, in Troilus and Cressida, act 4, sc. 4, l. 14.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bookwhore Chronicles: Exile in Guyville

How a Punk Rock Redneck Faggot Texan Moved to West Hollywood and ReFUsed To Be Shiny and Happy

>Reading through these weekly regurgitations of life in the Gayborhood known as West Hollywood from a Texan who reluctantly threw his life into a tailspin to be with his partner (a.k.a. Morocco Mole), you might think Dave White, the author, to be an angry man. Hell, the book is divided into sections named for Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief, with chapter titles such as "Motherfucker," "Vile," "Chokehold," and "Psychotic" to name just a few. And the way the dialogue among him, his partner and his friends comes across, you almost feel the cutting glares and scratching catclaws.

And you'd be totally wrong as we found out when he paid a visit to our little reading group last month.

One of the first questions asked concerned the title of the book. As he talked about how the title came about, how excited he was when the book cover came back looking just the way he wanted and with the added bonus of the letters "FU" in red, we all found ourselves leaning in to listen, laughing, letting him do most of the talking while we threw bits of thoughts or questions to him. The words flowed easily, conversationally from him, and that's when I realized that he spoke exactly as he wrote. The way he spoke with his friends and partner, the way he interacted with the movie stars and WeHo types (and non-WeHo types) he met throughout the course of the book -- all those words went immediately to paper without first being filtered. He even mentioned this, how one writer said that his writing voice and his speaking voice were one in the same. No-nonsense. Incredibly real, engaging and funny. He used that style to his advantage when relating his weekly adventures, whether it was almost getting hit while crossing the street (three times) or discussing glass dinner plates while out shopping or his and Morocco's differing tastes in music -- as a reader, I sympathized and laughed along with his trials and tribulations and the everydayness about his world.

I secretly envy him because try as I might, I never write matter-of-factly what is going on in my head. My mind must filter re-hash re-write re-word everything to death until eraser flakes litter the top of my desk. Or my ring finger cramps from constantly hitting the delete key over and over.

Ow!! Just like now....

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In the Big House, There's No Such Thing as a Nice Girl!

Orange County isn't known as a hot bed of theater. Granted, we do have the Orange County Performing Arts Center and South Coast Repertory, but for most people, really good theater means traveling to Los Angeles for a night at The Pantages or The Ahmanson. (They tend to get the big, Broadway shows, national tours, shows bound for the Great White Way, etc.) If you look hard enough, even a place like Orange County has its little theatrical surprises.

Friday night, The Boyfriend, our friend CS and I spent a few hours at one such theater: the Rude Guerrilla in Santa Ana. This little theater -- and I do mean little as it has only three rows of seats, and the actors may trip over you if you're not careful -- specializes in alternative, riskier, off-beat plays and musicals including Peter Shaffer's Equus, Terrance McNally's Corpus Christi, and Friday night's fare -- Women Behind Bars, from Tom Eyen. Mr. Eyen wrote scripts for the TV show Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, some early musicals for a then-unknown Bette Midler and earned a Tony for his book of the musical Dreamgirls. To quote directly from the theater's Website: "In this hilarious send-up of women in prison B movies of the 50s, innocent Mary Eleanor -- framed for a crime she didn't commit -- lands in the Greenwich Village Women's House of Detention. Presided over by a sadistic prison matron with a taste for female flesh, Mary Eleanor enters this multicultural den of vice and ends up abused, hardened and cynical before her time...just like in the movies."

Did I mention that this was from the writer of Dreamgirls?

We laughed our asses off! From the wonderfully campy acting to the over-the-top haristyles to the B-movie dialogue, the Rude Guerrilla delivered one of the funniest, most un-PC shows in Orange County. (I wish I could describe the prison shower scene with two of the inmates pulling switchbaldes from their vaginas or the quaalude fantasy of Mary-Eleanor's where she believes she's having sex with her husband, Paul. I laughed hard enough to start a coughing fit.) Jennifer Bridge as Mary Eleanor -- who first appears onstage dressed in Dorothy's blue and white gingham dress complete with ruby slippers -- and Sharyn Case as The Matron with the big Elvis hair, the big maniacal laugh, and the hots for fresh young Mary Eleanor really steal the show, having fun with their roles and seeming to relish their characters. David Beatty played The Man -- the sole male in the entire show -- jumping from nerdy to '50s street punk to whatever man they required with much finesse and only the briefest flash of "skin." The entire cast enjoyed the script and that translated to the audience, keeping us in stitches and/or tears from laughing so hard for most of the show.

Bawdy, audacious, campy, and so much fun! A night of theater unlike any I've experienced before.

Friday, September 08, 2006

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's:

Suerte, also known as Whenever, Wherever, by Shakira

Both the English and Spanish versions of the video are the same, shot for shot. Just a little piece of useless information. In case it should come up during a round of Trivial Pursuit.

Moving on....

Roughly 100 pages stand before my eyes and the end of Edna Ferber's Show Boat so what better reason to select a song from that venerable stage musical?

Fish got to swim, birds got to fly,
I got to love one man till I die.

Probably one of the more recognizable songs from the films and the stage musical, it has been recorded by such artists as Barbra Streisand, Billie Holiday and even Charlotte Church. Have at it!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Movie Magic...and Zombies

Saturday afternoon, neither of us could sit still for long. Nothing new on TV. Books not holding interest for too long. So we finally drove to the Bake N' Broil in Bixby Knolls for breakfast at 1 PM. Even after finishing all that wonderful food, neither of us felt like returning to the apartment. The Boyfriend checked movie times on his cell and we lazily drove to a United Artists theater to catch the last matinee showing of The Illusionist starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and Rufus Sewell. (Though the matinee part didn't matter much because we used his "Employee of the Month" movie passes.)

The Illusionist, based upon a short story by Steven Millhauser, tells the tale of Eisenheim, a popular illusionist in Vienna during the late 19th century. During one performance before the Crown Prince Leopold, Eisenheim asks for a volunteer and is surprised when the Crown Prince sends his betrothed, Sophie von Teschen, to the stage. Eisenheim immediately recognizes her as the young girl with whom he had been very much in love. They were to run away together when they were younger, even though he was poor and she very rich. But her family intervened and forced the two from each other. On the stage, she, too, senses who he is, and they rekindle their relationship, planning to run away together. On the night of their flight, Sophie's riderless and bloodstained horse wanders the streets of Vienna. Eisenheim, struck with grief, determines to expose the murder to the public through his new act while Inspector Uhl -- a lackey for the Crown Prince -- tries to link Eisenheim to Sophie's death.

A fine cast of actors: Edward Norton as the lovestruck illusionist Eisenheim; Jessica Biel as Sophie; Paul Giamatti as the police inspector; Rufus Sewell as the privileged Crown Prince. Each played his/her part to perfection, enhancing the romance and tension of Neil Burger's screenplay. With darkened scene edges, dim lighting as if from gas lamps, a sepia tint to everything from the clothes to the people to the buildings, the slight jerkiness of the film as if from an old, old camera, the film felt like something from the early age of films, fitting perfectly with the time period. A great film -- plus, the twist at the end, well, we audibly gasped along with the rest of the audience, thoroughly enjoying what we had just seen.

We headed back to his apartment, watched a little TV then popped the Shaun of the Dead DVD into the player and laughed until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. I tried to stay awake a bit longer, watching the movie again with the Zomb-O-Meter feature which displayed tidbits and facts about the movie, the scenes, character names, music cues, etc. But sleep overpowered me, and I fell back into the pillow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


She sat in a pink plastic garden chair, watching goldenrod clouds slowly move across the small canyon behind the home. Within her left hand, she gently gripped a white folded napkin, lifted it to her face just underneath her glasses, wiped softly against her eye and nose. She turned as I placed my hand on her shoulder.

"Oh! Why, it's you! Hello!" Her eyes smiled and she motioned me to sit. I grabbed a chair and scooted it close to her. "I'm so glad you came to see me. You haven't been down here yet."

From the patio, we had an unobstructed view of the homes across the canyon: lining the ridge, all at least two stories, varying from baby blues to beiges and whites, each with a large fenced backyard trickling partway down the slope. A golf course filled the canyon floor, and she pointed to the occasional golfcart that puttered along the paved path. We talked of the birds, and the lizard who performed tiny pushups on the hot concrete just outside her screen door, and the rabbits that lunched on flowerpotted plants.

I pointed to a plant in a crumbly terracotta pot. A few withered leaves hung over the lip, shielding the tall slender greenish ones that had been topped with almost-whole egg shells.

"You know what that is?" she winked. I knew but kept quiet and smiled. "It's an egg plant." We both giggled. "One of the men likes to keep it decorated as a joke. But he's very serious about that plant."

"These folks are so old," she confided. "After they eat, they all go to their rooms and go to bed, or sit in their chairs around the TV sleeping. One of the women -- she's 92 -- she doesn't say anything at all, and I always find her sitting or sleeping in my chair. But I don't mind. I don't sit out there, anyway. It's too quiet. That Jay fellow who works here, he keeps asking me after I eat if I want to go to sleep like everyone else. I tell him no, that I'm gong to stay up until 10 PM." She turned at the waist so that her head and neck barely twisted around to look at me. "I can't sleep that early."

I followed her to the screen door, opening it so she could fit her walker through. "Have you seen my room?" I stepped inside, shutting the screen behind me. I stopped to re-examine her glass shelves that I remembered from her mobile home in Ventura, still filled with the same knick-knacks: the Russian laquered goblet from my trip to Moscow; pictures of my cousin, Mom and Dad, me; the figurines of the old Chinese couple still smiling as they did when she and Grandpa bought them on one of their many trips; two driftwood seagulls held fast by thick copper wire that made them shiver and fly in the slight breeze; many other reminders of the history we'd all shared. "I have a nice bathroom with a big shower and closet, and my dresser fits nicely behind the door. I have my TV, and most of my pictures are on the walls." I asked about the open space above the bed. "Oh, I don't want anything to fall on my head while I'm sleeping." I smiled, commiserating with the blank wall above my own bed. On the dresser, my Mother had placed a large calendar and told me to write my name in big letters so she would remember that I had visited. My Mother's and my Aunt's names figured in most of the boxes; I added my name to Tuesday.

We returned to the patio, hoping to cool off a bit. I helped her into the plastic chair and together, we watched the sky slowly darken. I asked if she had seen the engagment ring from my Brother. "No, I have not," she insisted. I smiled, knowing that he'd made a point of taking his Fiancée to show her the ring. Twice. She remembered her wedding to my Grandfather, how they rushed to the Justice of the Peace in Seattle with only a few minutes to spare before the office closed for the day. She described their tiny apartment, with its tiny bedroom and even smaller bathroom, how they saved and saved until they had all but $85 of the $3500 needed for the new house in Walla Walla, how they took a loan for the money because neither wanted to ask their families for help.

The porch light flashed on, stopping her talk. "Well, I guess it is getting late." She slowly raised herself with the walker and lead me toward the front door. "Promise to come see me again?" I promised as we kissed and hugged. She stood back a bit, beaming, as I opened the door, waved and stepped down the path to my car.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Dresser Saga

Wednesday morning, I pulled a sweatshirt and my exercise shorts from the bottom drawer of my dresser, folded them nicely into my bag, then slid the drawer back into place. Or, rather, I tried to. I pushed shoved cursed the damned thing to no avail. The bottom finally gave out, and with time ticking, I left the drawer leaning against the wall and headed for work, deciding to fight with it after the gym. But no hammering punching or fuming would coax the drawer bottom back into its slots so I decided to stop at IKEA after work the next day.

I browsed through the IKEA dressers on-line during my lunchbreak and found a few that I liked within my budget. With printouts in hand, I powerwalked through the showroom to the bedroom furnishings and found both the dressers resembling their on-line images perfectly. And yet, seeing them set against completed bedroom sets, I felt the upper left side of my lip lift, nostril flare, and a less-than-thrilled "Oh" escape from the opening. So I wandered back and forth amongst the dressers, pulling open drawers, running a hand across the top, knocking the sides and drawer bottoms, acting as if I had suddenly become a dresser expert. I kept returning to one dresser in particular -- not as tall as the others, four drawers instead of six, medium brown in color. I jotted the aisle and bin numbers on some paper, hurried to the self-serve warehouse and found my dresser. The damned thing weighed at least 120 lbs. in its boxed state, and as fate would have it, I couldn't find a customer service person to help. It took some time, but I managed to loudly drop the box onto a cart, wait for 20 minutes in a check-out line (5 were open, each about 10 customers deep), wheel the cart to my car, and hoist the box into my trunk in a daring feat of leverage and stupidity. When I finally made it home, I sliced open the box while still in the trunk and removed the dresser piece by piece.

I waited until Sunday evening to assemble my new dresser, preferring to spend quality time with The Boyfriend, so the pieces sat on my living room floor for 3 days. But first, I emptied the old dresser and carried the pieces to the backyard, agreeing with my brother to use it as kindling once the screws and such had been removed. I spent the next three hours pounding tiny nails, screwing bits of metal into tiny pre-drilled holes, attaching drawer sliders into place. The new dresser fit snuggly into its new home, and I fit comfortably into the shower to cool down. Clean and rested, I started laundry and sorted through the old clothes, creating a large Goodwill pile and filling a trashcan with holey socks and t-shirts. Something I should have done months ago.

Friday, September 01, 2006

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's:

MacArthur Park by Donna Summer, music/lyrics by Jimmy Webb

This week's will have a bit of a twist to it. A theme presented itself wih my last two posts so I decided to continue it with the First Line for this week....

Suerte que en el sur hayas nacido
y que burlemos las distancias,
Suerte que es haberte conocido
y por ti amar tierras extrañas,

Shakira produced and released this song -- in English -- in 2001, peaking at the number 6 spot on the U.S. charts and hitting the #1 position in Germany, Ireland, Colombia, Poland, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, and many other countries. The Spanish language version, which is sampled above, was released at the same time and reached the #1 spot on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks. The song did create a bit of controversy with intriguing lyrics such as: Lucky that my breasts are small and humble/So you don't confuse them with mountains.*

I leave any jokes puns observations comments to you....

* = information from Wikipedia.