30 December 2006

The things I carry

Leta's purse I don't actually keep a cup of coffee in my purse - or my foot for that matter - but when I did what I call a "core dump" the other day, David took a picture of the stuff that I consider essential for daily life. I could still weed out a bunch of that and get through the day, but the reason I carry as small a purse as I do is because of my tendency to fill it to capacity whatever size it is. Whenever it won't close, it's time for another dump-n-ditch. The one thing missing is a script - I usually have one with me, but Chuck gave me mine in a binder which won't fit in my purse.

Years ago, Leslie, Naomi, and I wandered around San Francisco and by the end of the day my left shoulder was aching. I figured out quickly that the reason was the eight-pound textbook hidden in the much larger purse I carried back then. My current purse - and all its contents - weighs just under four pounds.

When we went to one of the Smithsonian museums recently, the guard was impressed with how orderly and efficient my purse was and asked if I could teach his wife my purse management system.

Squirrel rampant!

Brett is concerned that we are going to be subjugated by the family Sciuridae. His posts about our "mutant squirrel overlords" can be found here. And you know, Brett is a good guy and one of my best friends and if he wants to have paranoid fantasies about cute little woodland animals, I'm totally willing to back him up on that. Of course, considering how many things one can find on the net, or even on Wikipedia, merely by typing in the word "squirrel" perhaps "paranoid" is an ill-chosen word here.

Anyway, David and I were at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge yesterday and we learned about the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel. We saw them scampering about and, because they are both cute and endangered*, we found adorable Delmarva Fox Squirrel objets d'tourist in the gift shop. At David's prompting, I purchased a Delmarva Fox Squirrel stuffed animal/finger puppet.

Brett beware! I found the fiercest, most terrifying, one they had - you'll note his agressive and warlike demeanor in the picture (left) - and named him Rampant. It is impressively easy to make him look as though he is about to, oh, savage an innocent family. In fact, Rampant really looks as though he is about to burst out of the computer and savage anyone reading this post.

Our original intent, and the reason that we leaned more toward the red of tooth and claw look than the wearing a sweater look - and there were sweater-wearing stuffed animal squirrels at the BNWR gift shop, make no mistake - is that we were thinking of presenting Rampant to Brett as a gift. But as we rode along homewards, Rampant and I bonded as I showed him the rest of Dorchester county and allowed him to make bone-meltingly terrifying faces at the truckers we passed. So now I'm not sure that I want Rampant to go live with Brett. Especially as there is the possibility that Rampant would be used to provide some kind of horrible example to the big city squirrels of P.G. County. I can just see some form of gibbet in Brett's backyard with Rampant swinging in the breeze after he'd been given to 'Jira (Brett and Cate's 600-foot-tall-fire-breathing-lizard disguised as an elderly black lab) as a plaything. No kind of fit ending for as noble a warrior as Rampant.

Besides, did you see how cute he is?

*My own first law of zoology is what I call "Survival of the Cutest." Species that are cute have a better chance of having stuffed animal avatars in the gift shop than icky, scary ones. Which means that they get more fundraising dollars, their kids go to better schools, etc, etc, etc.

Anton in Show Business

In response to urgent questioning of the masses:

I'm appearing as Casey in Jane Martin's Anton in Show Business at Port City Playhouse. We have performances January 19 - February 3, with an "actor night" on Tuesday, January 30.

The show satirizes the conflict between art and commerce in theater and is lots of fun.

Y'all come!

25 December 2006

Why David is my man

Because at 8:25 in the morning - before coffee - he says things like "Ahh, that's better. [X] and [Y] constellate more closely."

No. Of course, he doesn't say things like "[X] and [Y]." Don't be silly. He says constellate.

Baby did a bad, bad thing

Some years ago I was in three shows in short succession that all had lots of glitter in them. Not glitter as in the shows just sparkled, they were so good, but actual, little shiny gritty dust, glitter. So I learned a fair about about the theatrical and real life properties of glitter:

1. It won't stay on and it won't come off. So I left a trail of glitter everywhere I went, but when I tried to remove it, nothing worked. I could take a good, long, exfoliating shower and still emerge looking like an amateur Cher.

2. It ends up everywhere. After a cast party at the house, we found a smear of glitter on the wall and the dog sparkled, too. I found it on my phone at work.

3. Put glitter on your face and it's just a countdown until you glitter in your eyes. Glitter suspended in gel probably doesn't do that, but we were using loose glitter. Getting *that* behind a contact lens is an experience I won't forget. Especially as it happened more than once.

4. Unless you use the exact right amount of glitter - an amount, by the way, which is a deep secret to all but stage make up professionals - it will either not read from the audience or will look like sweat.

5. If you are a man and are in a room where glitter has been used, even if days earlier, you will end up with a piece or two on your face, deeply reducing your Gary Cooper/Clive Owen brooding masculinity. Don Knotts in "Three's Company" had more testosterone-driven animal magentism than a guy with a couple of specks of glitter on his face.

With all of this experience I have developed a, well, let's call it a desire to keep a healthy distance from glitter. So this next is all the more tragic.

I needed some wrapping paper and picked up a roll with narrow pretty stipes of blue, green, and red at Target. When I got home and long past the hour when I was willing to go back out into the fray for other paper, I discovered that the paper had glitter embedded in one of the stripes.

I wrapped carefully, but that glitter was leaping off of that paper like Titanic passengers who've just spotted a coast guard cutter in the swimable distance. I've swept up the glitter here, but I'm taking a bag of festive, ** sparkly ** presents over to my Mom's, where they will be opened rather than simply piled up and admired, so a couple of tablespoons worth of shiny will transfer to Mom's carpet. And onto my mother, aunt, nieces, brother-in-law, and nephew.

Good thing that my aunt is visiting. She's German enough that she won't rest until it's all vacuumed up or removed by tweezer or simply willed out of existance. But Travis (my nephew) is in danger. Travis is 23 and lives in Luray, Virginia where straight men don't encounter glitter outside of strip clubs.

I was able to locate some other paper for Travis's present and I even put it in a separate bag from the others, but the danger was still clear and present (not to mention sparkly).

Angela and Travis were helping me carry stuff in and when I mentioned the one of the bags of gifts had glitter, you'd have thought that I had told him that it was radioactive. Angela carried that bag.

I think he left Mom's without any glitter on him, but I won't know for sure until tomorrow when I see him at Dad's because his immediate family has enough interest in teasing the life out of each other that I can't imagine that they'll let that pass.

Viral Blogging

VLOC is in rehearsal for Ruddigore right now and Rand, one of the castmembers is starting to tune into the 24-hour in-head G&S feed that always affects me, but what really caught my eye was how Rand was pulled into the internet version of getting lost in the dictionary. I can look up a word and go on about my business in a just a few seconds on dictionary.com, but I can spend 45 minutes with a paper dictionary. Mousing around on the internet has the same effect on me. I just wander about from site to site and pick up more little bits of information, like trolling the buffet at a wedding.

Yesterday I was dutifully working on memorizing the first act finale of Ruddigore and as is often the case, it had a strange effect on my mind. My wife wanted to get shoes and unable to find what she wanted in her size here in Aspen Hill, wanted to go to Laurel. So my wife, my daughter Amy and I went off to Laurel.

While there we stopped for burgers and fries where Amy proposed we should lie about something to her sister Sarah. Without thinking I responded that if she did so she could bid "adieu to her morals, her morals sententious". Of course, my wife immediately responded by asking me what sententious meant and while I have a sense of its meaning I wasn't sure I could define it so I promised to look it up when I got home. After returning home, I went to the computer to use dictionary.com to look up sententious. Having shared the definition with my wife I noted that the dictionary site's word of the day was flibbertigibbet. I had a sense of what that meant as well but looked at the definition anyway. I'd heard that word somewhere. My daughter Sarah said it was in a song and we tried to think of which one. Sarah proposed "bippity boppity boo" but that wasn't right. I proposed "googling" it and Sarah said "why?". I thought it was something from the "Sound of Music" and my acute senses soon honed in on a "will of the wisp, a flibbertigibbet a clown". So Sarah went happily out of the room gaily chirping "what do you do with a problem like Maria". As many of you know, she chirps very nicely.

Well, I decided to "google" it anyway just to see what turns up. Interestingly, I came upon a blog entitled "The Flibbertigibbet" and the Google listing included of all things "Gilbert and Sullivan" and "Savoynet". My curiosity was aroused. I clicked on a link and was greeted with "I'm in a play!". So, who'd refer to themselves as a flibbertigibbet? She's 29 and from Aspen Hill, Maryland. Oh - this is getting too weird. Check the profile. Favorite movies - ah, Sound of Music, that makes sense. Favorite music: Gilbert and Sullivan, etc. Back to the main page. Look around, ah here are some links. Only one seems to pertain to Gilbert and Sullivan and it is very familiar. Click! There it is - a black screen with Ruddigore with large, rather strange letters in the center.

Ruddigore to Ruddigore via dictionary.com. Almost as mad as singing choruses in public. I know what you're all thinking. He'll tell taradiddles when when he's a bad Bart and you all think I've gone over the edge. But it is all true!

-- Rand
I'll leave it to Ali to rell Rand that while I remember being 29,that actual year has passed me by. Or, better yet, I'll agree that yes I am 29, for sufficiently large values of 29.

21 December 2006

I'm in a Play!

Like everyone, I'm good at some things, bad at others, and I have been reminded that one of the things at which I really, really suck is predicting the future. I was having brunch with Laura and Sally on Sunday morning and told them that I was thinking of doing this or that because I was "going to have a lot of free time" in the next few months. That was Sunday. On Tuesday, I got a call from Chuck asking if I could replace an actress who had to drop out in the show that he is directing. I promptly accepted and now my schedule is f-u-l-l until January 19th, opening night.

Yep, that's right - I'm walking into a show that opens in less than a month and my character is off stage for about 5 pages. Now, I'm not the first person that this has happened to: Some years ago, Todd stepped in to play Hamlet on, like, three weeks notice, and the Divine Laura and I got to know each other when she stepped in to play Ouisa in Six Degrees of Separation three weeks before opening night. So I'm in pretty good company.

My company shuts down during the last week of December. We save up all the little holidays and use them at the end of the year, so I'll be celebrating, say, Columbus Day on December 26th and I'll be celebrating it by sitting on the sofa memorizing Casey's dialogue. (Memorizing dialogue is my absolute least favorite thing about theater, so let's see if it's any more fun when done as a 5-day intensive. Maybe.) Normally, I'm pleased to have that time off and fill it with errands and lunches with friends and household projects and such. This year I am deeply grateful to have those days to cram those words into my head.

Being pulled into something this way is a not uncommon actor fantasy. It combines all of the riding in to save the day, the show must go on, and props for being pretty much everything an actor wants props for all in one basket. It is also a little daunting. You see, cast bonding is more than just going out drinking after rehearsal and joining a cast that has already been together for 7 weeks can feel like transferring to a new school during senior. And the actress I am replacing is both very talented and a really nifty person. Big metaphorical shoes.

Luckily for me, the cast and crew of this show welcomed me with open arms and I'll pick up the in jokes and dynamics as we go along. It's a challenge for them, too, because acting is often less about delivering dialogue to the audience and more about the agreements between cast members and between actors and the director. So introducing a new cast member is like finding the supply cabinet at work unexpectly reorganized. Some things are where you left them, others aren't.

My calendar was what I like to call "misleadingly empty" for the next several weeks and now it's full. Rehearsal is on holiday break which gives me time to learn lines and to have tablework time with Chuck, but we start back up with a vengeance right after the new year. The few plans that I have made will have to be scrapped or rearranged. I won't be going to New York to see The Rose of Persia, for instance, because I'll have rehearsal that night. In fact, I'll have rehearsal almost every night between New Year's and opening, for which I am grateful as that is still only a couple dozen and I learn by doing. It also means that I'll be posting less and spending less time at home with Pekoe, who was getting used to having me around and is going to start thinking that he lives alone. The sign language class that I was considering is now on the back burner for another semester.

But this is a great part! In a great show! I loved this script from the moment I read it and Casey has a couple of really great speeches that I am going to enjoy memorizing, dammit.

I'm in a play!

20 December 2006

Hanging out with Ben and Chris

Bill and Em went to Bill's office Christmas party Saturday (at the very yummy Normandie Farms, whose popovers I remember fondly) and so I hung out at the their place with their sons Benjamin (13) and Christopher (7).

Ben*, of course, is pretty self-sufficient and doesn't require lots of babysitting, except for his teenage belief that if his father is not home to stop him, a given activity is no longer forbidden. Like most of the rest of us, as an adult Ben will speed except when he actually sees police cars in the area.

Being seven, Christopher requires more active adult supervision. So Christopher was reminded that as Friday was only the 16th, he could not open the little box on his Advent calendar marked "18" until Monday. I have this theory that the number of times that little boys must be told "no" roughly compares to 18 minus the child's age, so Christopher needs to be told "no" about 11 times before he determines that this answer will not change. Emily had already told Chris "no" on the Advent calendar thing a few times, so I only had to pick up the handful remaining.

All in all, a pretty basic evening watching some kids that I like, except that Ben is into anime. We watched several shows ranging in sophistication from roughly Speed Racer to Spirited Away. Chris likes Pokemon, so we watched that for a while, but Naruto had to wait until after Chris was asleep - or as close to asleep as Chris was willing to get. The two episodes that we saw involved some kind of arena-based fighting.

Interestingly, one of the voices for Naruto is Robbie Rist, who I remember as Cousin Oliver from post-shark episodes of The Brady Bunch, proving that what goes around comes around with a vengence. Anyway, Naruto was really cool and I found myself enjoying the all the anime stuff that I had forgotten in all the years since I used to watch Robotech: large, round Walter Keene eyes; short, sharp gasps punctuating dramatic moments; nutcracker jaw motions ----- ahhh, good times.

So anyway, back in the day, I would watch Robotech with Brett and the rest of our crowd. Minmei was my favorite character because she was a complete - com plete - Barbie doll. And she had this little song that she would sing. I claimed, when asked by Ben, not to be able to remember the song, but actually I do remember some of it. If you think that the lyrics to modern pop songs are inane, you have not experienced the song stylins of Lynn Minmei. Ceirdwyn detested Minmei's song, not just for artistic reasons but because it offended her feminist sensibilities. This meant, of course, that once I learned to imitate it, it had to be sung to her as often as we thought we could work into a conversation. Or more often, really, just to push her buttons.

The tune was this gawdawful light pop tune sung about 20 octaves above middle C (remember those little bitty women in Godzilla vs. Mothra? Like that.) and the lyrics that I can remember are: To be in love, must be the most important thing a girl can ..... At which point things get a little fuzzy. I think the actual next word was "be," but we re-wrote the song just a bit to make it even more annoying to Ceirdwyn, so our next word was "do" so that we could make the next line "except to screw" (you can see why I claimed lyric amnesia with young Mr. Benjamin). Sing this around Ceirdwyn and the fun just never ended.

I didn't see enough Naruto get completely hooked, but now that damned Minmei song is semi-stuck in my head. What goes around, indeed.

*Ben also, by the way, likes to wear black clothes and a black fedora. If he had any idea that his doing so makes middle aged ladies clutch their hands to their (still admirable even if middle aged, thank you very much) bosom and call him adorable, he would probably stop it immediately. So don't tell him.

14 December 2006

Maybe it *is* both a floor polish and a dessert topping

When I went into the kitchen at work this morning someone had spilled a bunch of sugar (or creamer). Instead of cleaning it off of the counter, the miscreant largely swept it onto the floor. Not only did the mess crunch noisily underfoot as I was getting my coffee and making my morning grits, I left a trail of footprints on the carpet going back to my desk.

And all those years ago I thought the SNL folks were just making stuff up.

11 December 2006

I thought as much

When I started listening to NPR, Corey Flintoff used to start the news by saying "This is NPR news and I'm ..... Corey Flintoff." This drove me slightly nuts. Was he assuming that someone was plugging in a drumroll? Was his name on the next page and he had to turn the page to read his name? Did the page say "This is NPR news and I'm [insert your name here]" and he couldn't remember his name? Was he in the Witness Protection Program and was mentally sorting thorugh his various aliases? Was he imitating Paul Harvey just to push my buttons? Aaaaarrrrggghhh.

So one day I asked a certain NPR staffer*, "So, uhm, what's up with the big pause before Corey Flintoff says his name? Can't he remember it?" The question was passed on and Corey - who I admire and who has a lovely voice, by the way - said that it was a dramatic pause. "Well, at least one of your listeners thinks that you can't remember your name." The pause went away and a grateful nation still sends me flowers and chocolates. Or at least thinks about doing that, but never quite gets around to it. After this blog post, of course, I'll be carried through the streets of Montgomery County on the shoulders of NPR geeks, I'm sure.

So anyway, today Michele Norris started the broadcast by saying "This is All Things Considered from NPR and I'm Robert Siegel." Then Robert Siegel, sounding very amused, said "And I'm Robert Siegel." It was sort of like a radio version of To Tell the Truth. (Sadly for those of you who missed, it'll probably be cleaned up before the repeat, so St. Crispin's Day-like, you will just have to call yourselves a-cursed who did not hear it.)

Anyway, now we know that the piece of paper - or more likely the monitor - said "This is NPR news and I'm [the actual name of the host or newsreader]. Glad to have that settled.

*The downside to working at NPR is the sheer amount of off work time that you have to spend explaining and hearing about your workplace from geeky listeners. I have been assured that I am not the only one who does this.

Totally non-manipulative mother-daughter exchanges

Leta: If you really loved me, you'd go put on hot water for tea for me.
Mom: Hmmm. Too bad that I don't love you that much.

* * * * *

Mom: If you really loved me, you'd be home when I call you.
Leta: If you really loved me, you'd call when I'm home.

Fairy Lights

Today in History:

In 1882, Boston's Bijou Theatre, the first American playhouse to be lighted exclusively by electricity, gave its first performance, of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe."

And even then, the fairies were wearing battery packs so that they could have lights in their hair. Really and truly.

Via the Washington Post.

10 December 2006

Break a leg, Casey

Casey is the second of my friends, after Darius, who has recently moved up to New York to begin a professional career in the theater market. It's a big decision and it takes a lot to uproot everything and move somewhere else in order to compete in a very competitive field, so Break a Leg, Casey! We'll miss you down here, but I'm sure you'll do well.

07 December 2006


When I created my Technorati profile, I was asked for some ways to describe myself. So I listed a few, but I'm allowed up to 20 tags and I've used 8 and maybe those 8 create an inaccurate picture. So, readers, if you were to chose some tags for me, what would they be?

The hard parts are going to be: 1.) figuring out how to add more tags; and 2.) explaining how I failed to include "Flibbertigibbet," "Gilbert and Sullivan," or "Savoynet" in my tags. Any good advice on how to crack that tag list back open? By which I mean advice in simple language that a humanities major can understand. Because I'm still all excited about learning repeating until memorized the html code for striking through, so we know that I am no internet genius.

I think that what we are seeing here is the downside to blogging, template updating, and profile creating during lunch. Post in haste, repost at leisure? Sigh.

Releasing the spiders

Just claiming my blog.

Technorati Profile

05 December 2006

29 - why?

I have a birthday coming up at the end of the month. (The 31st, actually, for all you fans of the IRS.) The Washington Post apparently is aware of this and ran a graphic showing that, as Bette Davis used to say, getting old ain't for sissies.

Leta and I share more than just a name

From Heather's Month Thirty-Four letter to her daughter:

I have noticed this month that you are not at all fond of wearing coats, and either you are learning this from watching me or my DNA is finally kicking in. This worries me because I think I’m going to have to start wearing winter clothing to set a good example for you, and sometimes the thought of wearing a coat is enough to make me stay inside. For a whole week. Coats and mittens and scarves make me claustrophobic, and usually I don’t wear them because modern cars? They come with heaters.

03 December 2006

Doing my de-uty as a Humanities major

I started my college career as an English major and eventually became a Humanities major. I like to describe "Humanities" as the study of the things that we assume separate human beings from other animals - literature, politics, art, religion, math, languages, etc. In its best sense, it's the true liberal arts education. More prosaically, "Humanities" is probably the upgraded name for "General Studies." Or possibly even "Undeclared."

One result of my background is that I hold organizations like the Modern Language Association in particular regard. I cannot prove this, but I believe that members of the MLA do not say "myself" when "me" would be more appropriate, nor do they use "impact" as a verb, nor do they use "unique" as anything but an absolute. I'm also sure that many MLA members would be happy to get into a lively debate about the dynamic nature of living languages (Did you know, for instance, that "gossip" used not to be a verb? Gossip was a noun, specifically a person who .... well, gossiped. Things change.), but they understand and know how to apply the rules that they consider obsolete.

David, via 11d, found a meme from Scott, who is, in David's words, hoping to crash his own computer. Scott, on the other hand, insists that he is collecting data for a paper for an MLA conference. Please help Scott.

02 December 2006

Why Scott Simon is in my top 5

Very important announcement first:

I am copying this directly from the program for Blair's current production of A Christmas Carol, which I saw (and greatly enjoyed) last night. As Brett can tell you, Blair is my own beloved high school, but as he may not know, I was also in a Blair production of Guys and Dolls way back then. So without further ado:

The Montgomery Blair Players on Channel 26!

In 2001 The Montgomery Blair Players produced Guys and Dolls, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. We are happy to announce that video clips from that Blair production have been included in the new documentary on Mr. Loesser that will air Sunday, Dec. 3rd (this Sunday) on WETA Channel 26. We have not seen the show, but the producers tell us that Blair is featured and named in the broadcast. Please consider tuning in, and feel free to forward this note to anyone you feel may be interested in watching, especially alumni.


And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

NPR geek that I am, I happily spend my Saturday mornings listening to Car Talk, Weekend Edition Saturday, and Wait, Wait. And like most NPR geeks, I have favorites. I love listening to John Burnett, Wade Goodwin, and Julie Rovner's stories; I adore Robert Siegel's warm, engaging laugh; Beej is just a lovely person to know; etc. I'm fickle enough that people drift in and out of my favorites list - which I will never be foolish enough to laminate - but a couple of positions are pretty solid. My pal Stacey is my all-time, no holds barred, favorite NPR staffer.

But Scott Simon is never out of the top 5. Warm laugh, goofball sense of humor, and he runs stories that apparently were chosen just to reward me for listening. This morning we got stories on famous poisonings in the Classical era; an interview with the author of a book about diagramming sentences, a school activity that I used to enjoy; an interview with Frank Loesser's daughter about the documentary which will feature the above-cited Montgomery Blair Players; and (oh my beating heart) an update of Ko-Ko's list song from The Mikado making fun of the new airplane security watch lists.

He likes Gilbert & Sullivan!! (Note to Scott - I was in the chorus of the Victorian Lyric Opera Company's production of Iolanthe from which the late Chief Justice Rehnquist got his robe stripes. I'm just sayin'.)

I wrote to Scott and asked for permission to post the lyrics. When he wrote back (!!) he pointed out that "since I did not sing, I did not exactly follow the rhyme scheme, but merely used it as a suggestion" and gave me the lyrics. Yes, yes, they can also now be found on NPR's website, but I got them directly from Scott.

All in all, a fine day for radio.

--The Transportation and Safety Administration, which is often assailed for wasting resources by checking infants in strollers and grandmothers with walkers, faced criticism this week for trying to focus its efforts by keeping a list that apparently assigns some kind of Threat Assessment Level to each passenger.

By now, probably every flier has a favorite story of what looked like an absurdity: a toddler who was made to take off his tiny rubber shoes and get wanded; an elderly war veteran who had to remove his plastic leg.

The wife of Senate Commerce Committe Ted Stevens, Catherine, was questioned at an airport because her name is the same as singer Yusef Islam, who used to be known as Cat Stevens.

But you ought to hear Mrs. Stevens sing, "Moonshadow."

There are also complaints that many lists do not contain the names of more plausible terrorists--because investigative agencies don't want to tip off people that they're being scrutinized.

The alarm over each flier being assigned some Threat Assessment level is that inaccurate or misleading information could lay around for years in some data base. Could an employer refuse to hire someone because they had a high Threat Assessment number? Could a bank turn them down for a loan? Will young couples in coffee bars ask, "What's your Threat Assessment Level," instead of "What's your sign?"

A lot of us who fly may have our own lists of people we'd like to leave at the departure gate:

As someday it may happen that a Watch List must be made
I've got a little list! I've got a little list!
of irritating passengers I'd choose to barricade
And who never would be missed! Who never would be missed!

There's the fellow with a backpack
that's the size of Zanzibar
He slings it o'er his shoulder and
leaves your nose all scarred

All people who just want to chat
when you just need to sleep
who tell smutty jokes about acrobats
rabbis, nuns, and sheep

And those who eat burritos
just before they board
they think they are discreet-o
but burp like harpsichords

There's the man with travel luggage
he dragged through yellow snow
who puts his grimy wheels on your coat
and crushes your hat like a bus rolling over a banjo

All people who shout into Airphones
"I'm calling from the plane!"
What was so damn important?
They never do explain.

And pilots who must point out--
"Uh, folks. Flying over Toledo now,"
as if beholding the Taj Mahal
Each access road and shopping mall
holds them in a thrall.

There's the man who has six martinis
and crawls on the drink trolley
Then sings drinking songs from Rawalpindi
all the way to Bali.

But it really doesn't matter whom
you put upon the list.
They'd none of them be missed.
I'm sure they'd not be missed.

I thought that instead of Toledo he said "Silver Spring," and a reference to my hometown would probably have pretty much cemented him in the #2 slot, but perhaps I misheard...

30 November 2006

Do I love you because you're beautiful

Along with A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Wizard of Oz, I grew up on annual reruns of Rogers & Hammerstein's version of Cinderella.

The Prince - (His royal highness Christopher Rupert Vwindemier Vlandamier Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James)

Do I love you because you're beautiful,
or are you beautiful because I love you?
Am I making believe I see in you
a girl too lovely to be really true?

Do I want you because you're wonderful,
or are you wonderful because I want you?
Are you the sweet invention of a lover's dream
or are you really as beautiful as you seem?

Cinderella -

Am I making believe I see in you
a man too perfect to be really true?
Do I want you because you're wonderful,
or are you wonderful because I want you?

Both -

Are you the sweet invention of a lover's dream
or are you really as wonderful as you seem?

29 November 2006

X-Men's Dave Cockrum Dies at 63

This caught my eye because MSN went for the "let's make this sound dumber than it is" link title, "'X-Men' artist dies in Superman pajamas," which sounds as though the sub-title was going to be "lived in parents' basement."

Instead, it's a very nice short piece about a man who got to earn his living working on what he loved. We should all be so lucky.

I started reading X-Men in the 80s. Kevin had lent North two or three dozen of them and North asked me to return them for him, which I did, but not before I read them. I came in at a good time, too, because the narrative was focusing on the (not necessarily sexual) relationships between Kitty & Piotr, Nightcrawler & Wolverine, and the "grown ups," Storm (pre-punk) & Cyclops. Jean Grey had died and resurrected a time or two already and would continue to do so, so I slogged throught the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix issues. The Brood series and the Sentinel were from that era as well.

I don't know why I drifted away from reading X-Men, but if I had to answer that, I'd say the eventual fracturing of the narrative, the overloading of the "cast," and the near constant re-appearances of Jean Grey. The telling and retelling of her story was as inevitable as weddings and babies during TV sweeps. Jean Grey was the Luke & Laura of X-Men and I grew to really dislike her because of it. Oh, yeah, and spin-offs like Alpha Flight didn't help either. Awful Flight.
I saw the first movie, which I, personally, found disappointing. They were trying to fit 8 pounds of story into a 5-pound sack, so everything got short shrift, except for maybe views of Rebecca Romijn in her Pictish costume? make-up?

I grew up on Wonder Woman and the Justice League, but in the 80s X-Men was a much richer story. I don't think it would ever occur to WW to wonder where her assumed identity of "Diana Prince" left off and where "Wonder Woman" began, but identity and alienation were central to the X-Men - "sworn to protect a world that fears and rejects them..."

For someone who lived on the edge of a lot of groups, but was never really a part of any of them, that really resonated.

For Liza and Casey

Shelly is a librarian who likes comics as well as a lot of other interesting things. Need I say more?

28 November 2006

Cats on Broadway

Cats is the longest-running show on Broadway to date. The show romanticizes and shrouds in mystery the lives and habits of America's most popular pet. Yet, even with the lively dancing and popular songs, Cats doesn't seem to capture the true-to-life behavior of our feline companions. Below is a list of what Cats would have to do to more accurately portray the true essence of cats.

Audience members would enter the auditorium only to find their seats had been clawed and covered with fur.

The antagonist in the show would be a giant vacuum cleaner.

Sometimes the cast would perform, but sometimes not -- depending on their mood.

Performers would leap off the stage and run up the aisles at the recorded sound of a can opener in the lobby.

When certain audience members opened their playbills, a cast member would attempt to lay down on it.

In the middle of a performance various cast members would curl up and go to sleep, even in the middle of a song.

For no apparent reason, cast members would randomly run to the lobby, and then back to the stage at top speed. They would then continue as if nothing had happened.

A special audience member would find a headless bird in his/her seat after the intermission.

Snack bar employees would constantly be reprimanding cast members for walking on the counter.

Open the stall door and guess who is drinking from the toilet.

Part of the performance would include the cast climbing and shredding the theater curtains.

The stage would be stained from someone coughing up a hairball and then eating it.

Performers would find sand in the lobby ashtrays and -- well, we don't have to draw a picture here, do we?

The show would need to be stopped several times to allow cast members to "bathe" themselves. Most of the final act would consist of the cast just staring at the audience.

The big finale would feature a giant ball of yarn, feathers on a pole, and stray strands of dental floss.

Theater patrons waiting outside the stage door after performances would get their legs rubbed, if they were lucky.

Cast members would never cash their paychecks, just play with them.

From Flippy's Cat Page via Debbie.

27 November 2006


The Washington Shakespeare Company, which is really the Washington Anything We Damn Well Please Company, has been presenting readings by British playwrights that they like. Last week David and I saw heard Stoppard's Night and Day, which felt to me as though Stoppard thought that it would be fun to write one of those 1930s Colonial Africa with Brits Dresssing for Dinner movies, only some Stoppard kept creeping in.

Anyway, tonight we heard some Pinter. They did two short pieces, Ashes to Ashes and The New World Order. Of the two, I liked Ashes to Ashes better, largely because The New World Order lacked any of the gasp of surprise that really good Pinter gives me. After I saw Betrayal, I confessed to the actor playing Jerry that the literal gasp that he heard at one point - Fountainhead plays in a very intimate theater - was me. And because if Tom Stoppard's paintbox is ideas, then Pinter's is enigma. He speaks in riddles and The New World Order was more of a knock-knock joke than a koan. Unless I was totally missing something, always possible, and in fact, probable.

I went to the ladies' room afterwards and both stalls were being used by other patrons (patronesses?) who were discussing the evening's offerings and deciding that they couldn't hear the actors very well and that what they could hear, they didn't understand. I got involved when they were trying to figure out if Mr. Pinter is alive or dead (they didn't try to determine his Canadianess). I said that he was alive and had won a Nobel Prize last year for literature. "Not for these plays!" "No, for the whole body of his work." This put me in the position of being the closest thing we were going to have in that moment to a Pinter expert. (Mr. Pinter, I am sorry. You really should be represented by far better dramaturgs than me.)

They asked me if Ashes, with its references to babies torn from their mothers was about the holocaust. "I don't know." If Order was about Abu Ghraib. "I don't know." They could have been; the parallels are certainly there. I find that - outside of Betrayal - I need to let Pinter percolate for a while before I know what it means to me. Oh, sure, there's always menace and nameless dread, but besides that. The closest I have come so far is that to me the play speaks to the difference between knowing something and understanding it.

I said that it seemed to me that the two plays and two poems chosen did comment on our current foreign policies, and I knew as I was saying that that Order probably predated our current overseas adventures. (It does. It was written in 1991. We weren't in Iraq then. We were in Kuwait. But I digress.)

To really grok Ashes, I'll need to see it a few more times. (And I'd like to.) Robert Altman said that his movies needed to be seen at least twice if they were to be understood. Once to let it wash over one and once to make the connections. Ashes has some good connections waiting for me.

26 November 2006

Pennyworth ideas for a simpler, eco-friendly holiday

From a flier at my church put together by the ladies who run the thrift store:

"Pennyworth ideas for a simpler, eco-friendly holiday:

Are you looking for ways to help your children understand the true meaning of Christmas? Trying to avoid the malls, yet give meaningful gifts?

The Pennyworth Shop is full of items that can be "recycled" into wonderful homemade gifts:
  • Put a favorite photo in one of our frames (even better, decorate a frame with shells from that summer beach trip, buttons, or beads)
  • give homemade goodies on one of our decorative plates
  • turn buttons into decorative napkin rings or push pins
  • fill one of our suitcases with dresses, hats, shoes, gloves, and jewelry for the ultimate "dress up" case
  • choose a selection of our cards and give them stamped and ready to write!
  • Great books are 50 cents each!
Instead of paper wrap, use vintage linens or a lovely scarf.

The Shop is also a great source for little-worn dressy clothing for the holidays.

Avoid the malls. Pennyworth can be part of your plan for a more peaceful, environmentally conscious holiday. Visit us at 955 Bonifant Street in downtown Silver Spring. Open Tuesday - Saturday from 10 a to 4 p, and some Sundays until Christmas from 1 to 4 p. 301-587-6242."

If nothing else the phrase "Avoid the malls" would encourage me to do all my Christmas shopping there. Stacey and I have a date one day soon to stop by and do at least a quick "recon."

Of course, as I give all my donatable items to the Pennyworth, my concern is that I'll end up buying stuff back that I donated to them.

25 November 2006


Most bumperstickers are minimally clever or - at least in the DC area - annoyingly partisan. I saw one the other day, though, that actually made me laugh. And is pretty true.

The first cup of coffee in the morning recapitulates phylogeny.

Haeckel would be so proud.

24 November 2006

A Family Thanksgiving

David and I spent Thanksgiving with my parents in Martinsburg along with my cousins, Fred and Reid, and Reid's girlfriend, Jocelyn. It was a lovely holiday and we had a good time catching up. Fred is in the Coast Guard, stationed in the Tidewater area and Reid & Jocelyn work in professional theater and live up in New York, so we all headed out about the same time this afternoon. This is the second Thanksgiving that has had that particular guest list and it's the second time I've seen Reid & Jocelyn.

Because Fred and Reid grew up in Alabama and I grew up in Maryland, I've not spent a lot of time with my southern relatives. On Dad's side, my cousins are (sort of in order), Robbie, Kathy, and Betsy (Aunt Ann's kids) and Edith, Ashley, Elaine, Fred, Reid, Chance, Christopher, and Katie (Uncle Bill's kids). Dad's group was me, Ann, Sara, Bill, Karen, and Johnny. Of the cousins, I've met Robbie (and wife Belinda and their kids) four or five times; Kathy & Betsy once or twice, their spouses and kids never; all of Uncle Bill's crowd two or three times and Elaine and Ashley's spouses (and kids? Yes, I think kids.) never. Robbie is several years older than me and Christopher & Katie are about 15 years younger. I have no cousins on Mom's side because neither her sister nor her brother ever married.

So it is really good to get to meet people who are related to me. I wish that I had spent more time with them when we were younger, but they are damn fine adults and a pleasure to know now. Reid reminds me a lot of Uncle Bill and looks like him as Sara looked liked Dad. (In our family siblings look like a parent and very rarely like each other.) We all tell stories kind of the same way - it must be something in the bloodline that gets passed through the family. Of course, Fred is Bill's step-son and he has the same story telling technique, so maybe it's more an Alabama thing than a family thing. I dunno.

Daddy's parents lived in Mobile and Bill's family grew up in Mobile, Birmingham, and New Orleans, so they spent of lot of time with my grandparents over the years. Everyone but me and Sara called my grandparents "Charles Reade" and "Oleta." (Mom preferred that Sara and I say "Grandpa" and "Grandma" and eventually I shorted "Grandma" down to "Gram." Mom and Dad grew up with grandmothers called things liked Meemaw and Dadum and Bunka, so I can see Mom's point. When Sara was expecting Cheryl, Mom's friend, Faith, asked if Mom wanted to be called "Nanny" or "Grammy" or any of several other names and Mom just said, "Oh, God, can't the baby just call me Ann?" And so to Cheryl and Angela, Mom is "Grandma Ann," which worked out just fine.) I got to hear a lot of stories about my grandparents which I enjoyed knowing and I'm looking forward to hearing more.

All of us agreed that meeting at Dad and & Audrey's at least once a year, eatting a lot of good food, and catching up is good idea, so I'm already looking forward to next year.

23 November 2006

Les Pelerins et moi

Art Buchwald wrote one of my favorite seasonal essays. I first read it in the Washington Post, probably when I was in high school, and the Post reprints it every year, to my great delight.

Le grande Thanksgiving

This confidential column was leaked to me by a high government official in the Plymouth colony on the condition that I not reveal his name.

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims ( Pelerins ) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World ( le Nouveau Monde ) where they could shoot Indians ( les Peaux-Rouges ) and eat turkey ( dinde ) to their hearts' content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine ) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai ) in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn ( mais ). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pelerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilometres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant :

"Go to the damsel Priscilla ( allez tres vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth ( la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action ( un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe ), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

"I am a maker of war ( je suis un fabricant de la guerre ) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar ( vous, qui tes pain comme un tudiant ), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean was fit to be tied ( convenable tre emballe ), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow ( rendue muette par l'tonnement et las tristesse ).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" ( Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance ?)

Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" ( Chacun a son gout. )

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fete and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

copyright - Tribune Media Services (Art Buchwald)

22 November 2006

Returning Books

On the Return of a Book Lent to a Friend by Christopher Morley

I give hearty and humble thanks for the safe return of this book, which having endured the perils of my friend's bookcase and the bookcases of my friend's friends, now returns to me in reasonably good condition. I give hearty and humble thanks that my friend did not see fit to give this book to his infant for a plaything, nor use it as an ashtray for his burning cigar, nor as a teething-ring for his mastiff. When I loaned this book, I deemed it as lost; I was resigned to the business of long parting; I never thought to look up its pages again. But now that my book has come back to me, I rejoice and am exceedingly glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the volume and set it on the shelf of honor, for this my book was lent and is returned again. Presently, therefore, I may return some of the books I myself have borrowed.

I got out a brown paper grocery store bag a couple of weeks ago and after I labelled it "Other People's Books," I started to fill it with the books in question. Some of them I had had only a few days, some several months. Some I have read, others not.

A few things prompted me to do this, among them the fact that I was cleaning out the basket that I keep in the car to hold odds and ends and found a book that I thought that I had returned. Months ago. So I have been planning head and greeting people with little stacks of their books. Ali got her Copenhagen back, which was the book that I though that I had returned. Debbie and I have an on-going lending relationship with her Terry Pratchett library. She gives me several and when I finish them, I return them and she gives me more, so I'm pretty current with Debbie, but she got a stack of Discworld books the other day. Several books went back to David that I shall have to re-borrow in order to actually read and he happily delisted them from the "library card" that he keeps for me on his PDA.

I actually found the phone number for someone who lent me several books about Australia in (oh dear) 1996 before my trip there. We used to work together and she left the company before I returned the books. I've actually moved a few times since then, each time carefully packing up Emily's books and fretting that I had never returned them. So I called her and left a message saying who I was and what I had. She hasn't called me back yet but that doesn't mean that she won't. And then I can return her books.

So if I have a book of yours, take heart! You may be re-united with it shortly.

We really should

Eatmor cranberries

21 November 2006

Blanche was right

Sunday night David and I watched the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde - you know, the one with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Before we started it, I did a little mousing around on IMDB and Wikipedia so that I would know what to look for. The trouble with biographicals movies (and plays) is that the information is too superficial for people who already know about the subject and too allusive for those who don't. You'll see people do things or say things and have no idea why they are relevant. So I hit the "trivia" on the IMDB listing and skimmed the first few paragraphs of the Wikipedia entry.

David and I enjoyed the movie, especially the bits with Blanche. Blanche Barrow was the wife of Buck Barrow, Clyde's brother. She became a part of the gang (according to the movie) mostly as an afterthought. Clyde and Buck liked hanging out together and where they went, their women went. Estelle Parsons, who played Blanche, spent most of the movie shrieking about one thing or another and there was no love lost between Blanche and Bonnie. She was a complete pill.

After one of the big shoot outs, the police had Blanche in custody, and one of them was questioning her. She had been hit by a lot of flying glass, so her eyes were bandaged and she couldn't see. One of the police asked her a few questions, got the answer he needed, and left while she as still talking. I suggested that he didn't remain to get more information because what she knew was of less value than not being in the room with such a pain in the ass.

So imagine my amusement when I finished the Wikipedia article the next day and found this:

While she agreed to the original script, she objected to the final re-write that was used in production, stating that Estelle Parsons portrayed her as (in Blanche's own words) "a screaming horse's ass".

She may have been member of family of criminals, but Blanche was no dummy.

20 November 2006

"20 Things you forgot to be thankful for"

I like Gilbert and Sullivan and so I have a "Google alert" that sweeps the internet for references to G&S. (I also have one for Silver Spring Stage and one for me. These last two have a lot less traffic than the one that looks for references to a couple of guys who've been dead for nearly 100 years, but who wrote some pretty faboo operettas.) And so even though I don't live in New England, I found this essay by Pat Cahill in my net in today's "catch."

The essay ran in the Springfield, Massachusetts Republican. My thanks to Pat for her permission to post it here.

Count your blessings

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Here are 20 things you forgot to be thankful for:

1. Taxes. They're the dues you pay for living in a democracy. Thanks to them, you don't have to worry about falling into the drink every time you drive across a bridge.

2. Stadium seating at the movies.

3. Red lights. Imagine the chaos without them.

4. Music. In Biblical times, you had to be a king like Saul to summon David and his harp. Today everyone has music at their command, whether AM, FM, CD, Ipod, elevator...

5. Winter. It makes summer feel so good.

6. Your body. You complain about it, puncture it, burn it, starve it, stuff it, scratch it, poison it with smokes and drinks, and it still keeps plugging away, doing the best it can right up to the end.

7. Swiffer.

8. Thanksgiving. It's one of the few things that make November worth living through, along with maybe the NFL and the annual Gilbert and Sullivan production in Amherst.

9. Taking your medicine. In the old days, you lived with your headaches - or turned to opium. And don't even try to imagine dentistry back then.

10. The Socialist Party. They advocated for the 40-hour work week, restrictions on child labor and the female vote back when those were crazy ideas. They remind us that even extreme views have value.

11. Long lines at the airport. You'd prefer maybe wrestling a gun from somebody at 40,000 feet?

12. Polyester. Check with any grandmother who used to iron her husband's shirts.

13. Capitalism. Without money as an incentive, who would have come up with airbags or scoopable cat litter?

14. Some of the things we should be thankful for have a flip side. Be thankful you can go to a pizzeria or ride a bus without worrying about being blown to smithereens by a bomb. That's what some people live with every day.

15. Do-it-yourself books.

16. Two parties and three branches of government. Sure, it makes change slow and frustrating. But despotism has its down side.

17. Advantage. People with animal companions shudder at memories of flea baths and flea bombs.

18. Meaningful work. Lucky are those who have it.

19. The dark-chocolate fad.

20. Aging. You probably don't want the other choice.

19 November 2006


David and I went to see "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in Reston on Friday night. We were told that there was a slight delay in opening the house because there was a large group in attedance that evening that would be seated first. So there we are all, grouped loosely around the lobby waiting for the doors to open when what to our wondering eyes should appear, but the Cotillion!

I never attended Cotillion when I was that age and it was then largely regarded as being in its last throes, but it does still exist and, in fact, seems to be making a comeback.

Approximately 40 young ladies and gentlemen (and parental escorts) would be attending the theater that evening. They had had a reception earlier and were dressed for a dance. When it was time for them to be seated, the entered the lobby with each young lady on the arm of a young gentlemen. They looked like a scene from an A.R. Gurney play on parade. It was so utterly charming (and completely adorable) that I nearly passed out and died right there. I, myself, was 5'7" when I was twelve and most twelve-year-old boys are about 5'4" and this played a pretty big role in the cuteness of it all on Friday.

The expression on each of their faces ranged from delighted to be there to wishing they were under a bleachers somewhere smoking. The boys' haircuts also ranged in length and all the boys wth hair hanging in their faces with a prom-ready young lady on his arm transported me immediately back to my youth, such as it was. Which meant that I stood there as all those young people processed in, beaming at them with one part nostalgia and two parts "Oh, my goodness, isn't that *cute*!"

And I am pleased to report that they all behaved like perfect ladies and gentlemen thoughout the evening.

17 November 2006

Coming soon from Fisher-Price

My First Mammogram!

Cancer runs through my mother's family like a river. (Dad's side has dibs on heart disease, fyi.) Every woman in my mother's family has had cancer except my mother, my sister, my two nieces, and me. Most of them had breast cancer, although one particularly unlucky great-aunt had brain cancer, and they pretty much all died of it. (Let me point out right now that the last cancer death among Mom's blood relatives was in the 1960s. Cancer treatment is much, much better now.) My aunt Dotty had lymphoma in the 90s is and doing fine now.

So with that we were concerned but not surprised when Gram was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988. Well, that's not entirely true, as Gram's diagnosis was how I happenend to find out about all the previous cancer in the family. I was surprised, but we all were concerned. (Have I ever mentioned that family-wide communications have never been a strong point among any of my relatives?)

I talked to Gram the night before she went in for surgery. She was scheduled for exploratories on both breasts with the agreement that, should the doctors think it necessary, they would go ahead and do a mastectomy. Or two. I told her that I was thinking of her and praying for her and I guessed she was pretty scared. "Oh, well, you know," she said, "I'm 78 and I'm a widow. It's not like I need them anymore." Which is a better attitude than I would have gone in with, let me tell you.

In any event, Gram had a double mastectomy and I scheduled an appointment with my doctor who recommeded that I have a mammogram done so that we'd have a baseline in case I ever found anything suspicious in the future.

In general mammograms are described by a lot of e-mail and internet humor as being similar to lying naked on the garage floor while someone backs the car over one's breasts. One at a time. Mine was a lot better than that. Not because I followed any special instructions or anything, but just by pure luck, I guess. I was probably there at a good time of the month and a slow time for the imaging center. And I had a good technician.

So here's what happens: You take off your nice, warm, comfy top and put on the top half of a paper gown. You wait a while in a room that isn't very warm and then the technician comes in and has you stand in front of the mammo-machine which looks as though it was designed by George Lucas. The tech estimates your height and lines up the (cold) glass plate with the bottom of the breast as you stand with your back sharply arched like a little girl who is pretending that she has "boobies."

The first breast is placed on the glass and the top glass is lowered onto it and the breast is compressed between the two plates.

This just looks weird.

Women will wear all sorts of clothes that mash their bodies into all kinds of shapes and arrangements, but nothing we do in the name of fashion (and I work with someone who has a small ring through her upper gum between her front teeth) looks anything as weird as having one's breasts mashed horizontally between two glass plates. So - naturally - being me, I asked her if she was sure that they would "fluff back up."

She laughed, which amazed me because I assumed that she got that sort of question as often as tall people are asked about basketball. And she did what people always do when they are genuinely amused: she repeated the phrase that amused her and giggled some more. As she was taking the film, actually.

So after we took the horizontal pictures, I think we took some vertical pictures. And my girly bits fluffed back up just fine.

Most of the pictures came out just fine, but one had a blur which they figured was probably just a smudge on the film, but I was asked to come in to repeat that shot anyway. And, you know, there is simply no way to ask a woman whose grandmother just had a double mast to come back in without scaring her, even though they said "probably nothing" several times. So I promptly went back in for my retake. Which was completely fine. It was nothing. Smudgey film probably.

I've had several more mammograms since then and they've all been pretty stress-free.

And, you know, because they have all been so nice and healthy, and even though I don't have my camera smile in them, I guess we can count them among the few pictures of me that I don't hate.

16 November 2006

You pay it, they'll play it

Local classic rock station WARW (94.7) is having the kind of requests for charity gig that I enjoy. You know, you give them $25 and they'll play any song you name (that they can get hold of and the proceeds go to the Capital Area Food Bank. Which means that this afternoon I may have to request "The Rainbow Connection" or "I Think I Love You" or something similar. Or maybe some nice Journey song which I can dedicate to David.....

My favorite request so far has been by a guy who said that he would pay $250 if they play something by Barbra Streisand unless someone will pay more for them not to. How cool is that? To the phones, people! No Barbra!!*

*Anyone who has not heard my "why I dislike Barbra Streisand's singing" tape can start it just by saying her name near me. David calls it a "B-17" because you push the button and the song comes out of the jukebox.

15 November 2006


Had she lived, today would have been my sister's birthday. Sara died from what I consider to be an overreaction to some medication.

It seems that the downside to a lot of doctor-prescribed-this-should-help medicine is that while the meds are consistent, our bodies are unique, and we don't know exactly how we will react to them except through direct experimentation. Sara was (as most people do) trying to find a med that would do its job with the fewest number of unwelcome side effects.

My sister was smart and funny and interesting. Unlike me she had always had a strong and active social life and was never a geeky weirdo. She was a Blue Bird in elementary school, which was sort of the entry level for Camp Fire Girls. I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout, so even in our after school, uniform-oriented, youth organization choices we didn't have much in common.

We never understood each other, although I think we were starting to figure one another out in the last few years. I'm still angry that my sister was stolen from me and that I'll never get to be friends with her. Conveniently, I believe in an afterlife, so all is not lost, just delayed.

Dad told my favorite story about her at the funeral. I don't tell it as well as he does, but here it is as a birthday tribute. Happy Birthday, Sara.

When Sara was in second grade, Mom and Dad went in to meet with her teacher for parents' meetings. Her grades weren't as good as her quick mind and outgoing personality would indicate (well, all right, we had that in common), which puzzled my parents. Her teacher explained that Sara had a lot to do. She had to organize who was going to sit with whom before lunch; who was going to sit with whom after lunch; what games they would play at recess; what the social pecking order was for the day; what would be traded for what at lunch; etc. "Sara's a pretty busy girl," her teacher summarized, "she doesn't really have time for academics."

14 November 2006

Parsnip Chips! 2

I was at Whole Foods last night on my way home to the Festival of Sitting on the Sofa and I was looking for some chips to have with dinner. Now as we all know, Whole Foods is as likely to carry Fritos or Lays or whatever as they are to carry real Pop-Tarts, i.e., not at all. I think that Whole Foods believes that junk food can be good for you, which - in my own opinion - completely defeats the purpose of it being junk food.

Anyway, I was going to get some kind of healthy Terra Chips kind of thing when what to my wondering eyes should appear but Parsnips Chips! For real! They have taken the sort of vegetable that only about three dozen people in the world (including me) willingly eat and have tried to turn it into a snack food. I'd post a link to them except that as far as I can tell, Whole Foods is ashamed of them, so I couldn't find any links.

Naturally, I bought them. Things that make me laugh at the store should be puchased and taken home (and blogged about while I'm in my pajamas). Parsnip chips are more like banana chips than they are like potato chips. They *might* have been fried, but they seem more dried. (In fact, they remind me of the horrors that my mother performed on innocent fruits and vegetables with her food dehydrator, except that they are parsnip chips and therefore hilarious instead of being desiccated tomatoes and therefore tragic.) They tasted just fine, far better in fact than the punishment cookies that Whole Foods sells that I mistakenly purchased a couple of years ago.

Being thicker than potato chips, they hold their shapes better which makes them better cat toys. For some reason, Pekoe is completely, passionatetly, insanely bonkers for Cheetos and will go to any measures to get them if I have them in the house. Which means, of course, that I very rarely have them in the house because I don't actually wished to be mugged by a 12-pound cat. When he saw the bag of Parsnip Chips I could seem the wheels start to turn as he made the connection that if these came in the same sort of bag as Cheetos, they might be Cheetos or nearly enough like Cheetos, but at any rate, he wanted one. I eventually gave him a small one and he batted it around for a while and smelled it a lot and was very disappointed in its lack of Cheetosity, which means that I can eat Parsnips Chips in relative peace.

After you get used to the fact that they are to chips what carob is to chocolate (i.e., nothing at all like), they aren't bad. They're more crunchy than crispy and I'll admit that a large part of the fun is just being amused that they are made from parsnips, but as healthy snacks go, they aren't bad.

I'll probably have to give Brett a nice, large bag of them some time real soon. I'm sure his comments will be very educational.

13 November 2006

Couch Potato

As we've already established, I don't have rehearsal tonight or any night soon, so once I get home from work, around 6:30-ish because I have to stop at the store, I plan to (and you may quote me on this), plunk my butt down in front of the TV and remain there pretty much until I have to return to work tomorrow.

Tomorrow evening David and I are going to see the Lovely Laura in All My Sons but tonight it's the TV and me. When I'm rehearsing a lot, I just don't watch that much and I generally don't tape stuff to watch later because when would later be? Not that I don't long for TiVo, but the thought of hours of required TV catch up is too dismaying to pursue.

So anyway, I intend to flip on the box the minute I walk through the door and follow pretty much this schedule:

6:30 The Simpsons (Fox)
7:00 The Simpsons (Fox)
7:30 Jeopardy! (ABC)
8:00 How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
8:30 The Class (CBS)
9:00 House (Fox)
10:00 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

As you can see, I'm pretty much an equal opportunity sofa sloth. Thank goodness for remotes, otherwise, I'd have to get up to change the channel, like I did back in the old days when I walked several miles up hill both ways to get to school, etc, etc.

Our family TV died when I was in elementary school and Mom was unwilling to replace it because she thought that .... well, who knows what she thought. She's never been a big TV watcher and she didn't think that we needed a TV. So I saved up my allowance, charged Mom for household chores, checked phones for change, and (with a subsidy from Dad), bought my own TV. It's a little 12" black and white portable and I still have it. And it still works.

Along with her other weird ideas about TV, Mom thought that just because it has a screen smaller than a Time magazine cover was no reason not to sit all the way across the room from my new set. I preferred to sit on a bar stool with my feet propped on the shelves that the set was on, so that I was about oh, a foot and a half away from it. This solved the small screen and no remote problems all at one go. Of course, I wear glasses now, so she may have been right, but that's not the point.

(11:00 pm update - I mostly did as I intended, but I kept getting up - during commercials to do little chores like clean out the cat box, take out the trash, stuff like that. Fortunately, Pekoe, the fluffy, orange weight pinned me down for a good chunk of the evening, preventing me from completely tanking on my well laid plans.)

So anyway, I watched pretty much 4 1/2 hours of TV and enjoyed all of it. Because "Studio 60" runs opposite "CSI: Miami," I have stopped watching the latter which put me in the unfortunate position of not being there for David when he needed me. Of course, I used to only watch it until it made me laugh out loud, usually by about 4 minutes in. The easy, cheap laugh (and the most consistent one) is when David Caruso makes some Dramatic pronouncement and emphasizes the Drama of the moment by --- putting on his sunglasses. The best example of this was from an episode where a club burned down and he told some skeeve that if he (Caruso) found that the he (the Skeeve) had anything to do with the fire, he (Caruso) would hunt him (yeah, yeah, yeah) down. Beat. Sunglasses. Enter burned out darkened club. Comedy just don't get much better than that.

After hearing some of my comments about CSI: M, he decided to watch an episode. Last Tuesday morning, I got this e-mail from him:

From: David
Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 9:32 AM
To: Leta
Subject: Plot points

So I'm eating breakfast, and something keeps bugging me: what, exactly,
was the connection between the guys stealing cars and the girl making
the crash videos? Somebody said something before a commercial break
about X being a coverup for Y, but that was never really resolved for
me. I feel unsatisfied. On the other hand, it was abundantly clear
that the card salvaged from the phone was used to the activate the
hydraulics. Didn't the dialogue go something like

HUNKY CSI 1: I've got it. They used a cellphone to trigger the

HUNKY CSI 2: You say they used a cellphone to trigger the hydraulics?

HUNKY CSI 1: Yes. A cellphone. To set off the hydraulics. In this car

I promise: I will never make fun of Dick Wolf's dialogue again.

And I have learned from David Caruso that when I want to intimidate
someone, I will squint my eyes, cock my head, and look away from him.
Very clever. Reverse psychology. Maybe your friend Sam Waterston
should take some notes.

He, of course, should be more careful about the off hand slaps at Mr. Waterston because Sam plays a lawyer on TV and could put a real hurting on him, but that's not the point either.

So I wrote back:

From: Leta
Sent: Tuesday, 07 November 2006 10:10
To: David
Subject: RE: Plot points

Oh, actually I missed "CSI" last night because I was watching the show
where everyone kind of mumbles really fast, "Studio 60." Matthew Perry
has not yet gotten with the Way of Sorkin and so still speaks reasonably
loudly and clearly, but Amanda Peete has been completed co-opted.

And did you think, as I often do, that Emily Procter is probably the
most beautiful robot we are ever likely to see?

David was not on board about Ms. Procter, but that's probably because he hasn't seen enough CSI: M. Also enjoyable about that show: Staffers much more attractive and glamourous than any County employees I've met (or, in fact, most humans); wardrobes that can only be purchased on County employee salaries if said employees are supplementing said salaries with a serious amount of graft; and offices and labs so fabulously appointed that seems rather a shame to use them for something as trivial as police work. I don't thik that NASA has equipment this expensive or high tech. I've worked in a County office and you could have outfitted that entire place for the cost of one of Khandi Alexander's outfits that she wears to kneel over (obligatory cleavage shot!) and examine disgusting dead bodies.

Of course, on "House" tonight, Hugh Laurie wore a perfectly white and very elegantly tailored tuxedo shirt throughout the episode, even when he was performing some kind of cardiac biopsy, so the humor isn't limited to Mr. Caruso. But Hugh Laurie could totally take David Caruso. Hugh would break Caruso's sunglasses.

And now to bed.

12 November 2006


This is Veteran's Day weekend and my father is a Veteran. When Sara and I were little, Dad - a Navy helicopter pilot and systems analyst - was ordered to Viet Nam. We were used to him having to go places because he had been going on several-month cruises since before we were born. At one point Sara asked Dad where he was going and was aghast when he told her and wth the clarity of vision that six-year-olds have in abundance, she told him "you can't go there. There's a war there! You could get killed!" (Or, more likely, "kilt". Smetimes Sara's enunciation was unique to her.)

The day that we drove Dad to the airport (Mom or Dad drove, of course, Sara and I were passengers.), Sara gave Dad a bracelet that she had made and told him that he should wear it every day because then if he were captured, the Viet Namese would know that he had a little girl who loved him and needed him to come home.

Sara's bracelet must have worked because Dad was never captured and came home safe and sound. The only time in my life that I cried because I was happy was when Dad came home. Mom kept saying that he would be home when I got home from school, but I refused to believe her because I didn't want the horrible disappointment if she was wrong. She wasn't wrong and when I saw Dad standing in the kitchen, I burst into tears.

Dad flew Hueys in the war and was part of a Helicopter Squadron (HS). He brought us back cameras, pearl neckslaces, and Ao Dais. The Ao Dai is the traditional Viet Namese women's clothing: loose silk trousers worn with a long tunic. (Yes, I still have them.)

When I was a callow teenager (very callow, if memory serves), I asked him "What did you do in the war, Daddy?" and his answer was something along the lines of how he flirted with B-girls and flew helicopters. He wouldn't say much else about it. Dad has never been the kind of emotional packrat that Mom and I are, so I figured that this was part of that. He doesn't live in the past, doesn't dwell on the past much at all, and has always been a bit leery of folks who do. Whenever I hear Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days, I think of Dad. So it was many years later before it occured to me that possibly he didn't tell me about Viet Nam not because it's all lumped under "the old days," but because it would have involved explaining things to me that at that age I could never really have understood. War looks a lot different from the inside.

Anyway, before they shut down for several months for renovations and such, the National Museum of American History had a exhibition called The Price of Freedom: Americans at War that included a Huey. David and I went down to see the exhibition and while we walked through the whole thing, I stood a long time in front of that Huey. As far as I know, it was the first time that I'd ever seen one.

"What did you just call it?"
"Nam. That's what you call it."
"Don't try to be cool. You can't say Nam. You weren't there. It's Vit Nam to you."

--- James McLure, "Lone Star"

11 November 2006

No rehearsals

I auditioned for a show and the director, well, let's say that he went another way. Even though, as my friend Linda and I like to say, there is no other way. There is our way and wrong ways.

The nice thing about not being cast is that now I have a lots of free nights that would have been filled with rehearsal. Yes, there will be a certain amount of sitting on the couch watching the sort of bad TV that I find stress-relieving (for instance, y'all are aware that CSI: Miami is probably one of the best comedies on the air, right? Well, more on that another time.). And while I'm sitting on the couch, I can read books. Real books, instead of a script. And I can spend unlimited hours providing a lap for Pekoe, which he believes should be my priority.

But the best part of all this free time is that I can spend a whole lot of it with my friends who don't do theater. The people who've had "Oh, I can't - I have rehearsal" as my answer to invitations. I can go to movies and out to dinner and to all sorts of other things.

When professionals aren't currently working on something, they say that they are between projects. When amateurs like me are at liberty, we say that we are taking a break. So I'm taking a break and I'm looking forward to filling my schedule with dates with my friends.

10 November 2006

True. Sad, but probably true.

"It's already hot in here."

"Yeah. If I'm not wearing my sweater, it's pretty hot. That's why I'm not too worried about my lax morals - I'll be pretty comfy in hell."

09 November 2006

Snow Caps

Long years ago, back when I was in college, my pal Graymael (whose given name is David, just as it is for so many, many, many men I know) was an occasional joker. One day, he was sitting with one of his very best friends and decided that there was no better way to spend the next few minutes than messing with said friend. So Gray looked sad, which for someone who is even more upbeat, extroverted, and social than I am is really saying something.

The friend, I'm not sure which one right now, so let's just call him by one the other Names of All Men, John, inquired as to what was the matter. After being prodded a bit, Gray said that he was worried about things at home.


"Well, my Mom was in my sister's room the other day, putting laundry away, and she found ---"

"Non-pareils. You know," and here the voice dropped in pitch, " 'Snow Caps.' "

I think that Gray was able to keep "John" convinced that his sister had a drug problem for the next day or two. Probably until the next time he went to a movie, I guess. Or a drugstore.

I love this story and tell it anytime there are non-pareils around. Jill brought some really, really good ones into the office today, so I got to tell her the story as I was enjoying several.

Of course, considering how good these ones are, perhaps I do have a substance abuse problem with them.

08 November 2006

I voted

And you know the very best thing about it? When I got there the line was short. I had to wait about three minutes to get my Democracy Debit Card and go to a machine. But by the time I left, the line was out the door. Possibly a 30-minute wait time, possibly more.

You're probably thinking that I'm just bragging about having good line karma, but that's not it. I'm delighted that this many people turned out to vote on a rainy night in safely blue state.

My Mom and I used to go vote together. We'd walk over to the YMCA and wait in line and participate in representative government and then walk home. And we liked it when the lines were long.

Before I was old enough to vote, Mom's polling place was my elementary school (now county offices and a rec center) and I remember the voting machines - the kind with the curtain and the levers. One big lever closed the curtain and sort of unlocked the machine. Then one would flip the little lever next to the name of the candidates one wished to support. Pulling the big lever again finalized the ballot and opened the curtain. It was pretty neat and felt very important.

By the time I was voting, we were using punch ballots. Easier to use, no need for the big curtains, and they were set up at little plastic hutches which wobbled a bit every time the punch was used. No romance whatsoever.

Now in Maryland we use touchscreen balloting. Simple. Easy. Controversial. Also completely unromantic. If the punch ballot felt like I was using office supplies to vote, the touchscreen is like getting my government from an ATM.

So now the romance has to come from what should be important anyway - that we are participating in our own governance. I go out and vote every time, no matter how unimpressive the candidates are, because I have never taken my right to vote for granted. If one looks at the history of the world, the number of people who get to chose their "leaders" is still a tiny, tiny minority. In Colonial Virginia, for instance, in order to vote one had to have 5 qualifications: one had to be a white, male, Protestant, landholder, who was over the age of 21. Today only one of those still applies. (I believe it is the age restriction, but I could be wrong. Virginia can be a pretty weird place. Not to mention a commonwealth instead of a state.)

Look at how many of the amendments to our Constitution deal specifically with enfranchisement. Clearly, this is something we take seriously around here.

So I vote. And I glad that I do. And I glad that I wrote in Louis Goldstein for Comptroller, even if he didn't get as many votes as the (also dead) lady in South Dakota.

07 November 2006

Not a selling point for David

I keep hearing ads on the radio (this station desperately needs more sponsors) about the "Journey Diamond Necklace." The ad campaign has some sappy sounding people saying lame-o stuff about how the increasing size of the diamonds symbolizes their relationship - their journey.
Which means two things:

1. David won't be buying me one of these things. If it had been the "Boston Diamond Necklace," maybe. Although a "Rush Diamond Necklace" could have lots of symbolism.... "It symbolizes how we're rushing into this and are headed for an ugly breakup." Then again, David doesn't like Rush any better than he does Journey. I could go for a "Shriekback Diamond Necklace," although I'm not clear on what the symbolism would be. Naturally, the "Talking Heads Diamond Necklace" would be the perfect choice for us. Not that David is likely to buy me an any kind of diamond necklace, but at least now we know which one to look for.

2. Just as well because the ads run so often that now about every 40 minutes during the day, I cough up a hairball. A necklace shouldn't make me do that.

And, uhm, the necklaces themselves aren't all that impressive. At least one of them looks remarkably like a tie. And at 1/4 carat total weight - a very, very small tie. I guess that one symbolizes how we used to love to play office when we were little children.

06 November 2006

I promise to vote

I really will. I have never missed voting, so I will do it. I just don't want to. No one has given me anyone to vote for.

NPR had a short "fun" piece today interviewing two of the voiceover guys who do negative political ads. I couldn't stand to listen to it.

And I'm writing in Louis Goldstein.

05 November 2006

Other than that, I'm very well indeed

I have a slight cold. It's mostly congestion so that I can't breath and (so far) I've been lucky enough to avoid the tearing cough and post nasal drip that mark most of my colds. So far.

But! I've been out of Nyquil and so have made a new friend: Dimetapp. When I was in college, Tim's sister, Jyl, called it Dime-a-trip because it left her completely stoned, so naturally my takeaways from that were:

1. Dime-a-trip is a much cooler sounding - and snarkier - name.
2. Don't take this before oprating complicated machinery, such as my life.

So I've been using Dayquil as my diurnal cold medication and Dime-a-trip at night. First of all, let me say that unlike its usual high record of success, the Dayquil is completely letting me down this time. But the Dime-a-trip has been coming through like nothing else. I take it right before bed and I'm breathing easy and complete asleep within minutes. I stay asleep all night, I wake up feeling ready to face the day, and I'm still breathing. It's the 12-hour extended tab and at pretty much 12 hours and 5 minutes, I can no longer breath easily, so they aren't just making up that dosing recommendation.

The first time that I was given codeine for a cough (many years ago), the directions said not to operate heavy machinery after taking it, so I waited until I got to work. I took a half teaspoon-ful, instead of the teaspoon that the label recommended, but it didn't matter - I was very, very stoned for the next several hours.

It was fascinating. I could only think one thought at a time, so breathing shifted from an involuntary to a voluntary act and I couldn't seem to remember to do it. My train of thought went something like this:

I should breathe in .... Yeah, I should .... Have I done it yet? ... No, I don't think so ... How about now? ... Yeah...

Lather, rinse, and repeat for the exale.

In those days, I did most of my typing on an IBM Selectric (still the finest typewriter ever made) and I spent most of the morning staring at the keyboard trying to remember what it was for. Who knew that a typewriter was heavy machinery?

Fortunately, the codeine wore off in time for me to drive home. I took a quarter teaspoon the next day and was fine. But you can see why I don't take Dime-a-trip during the day.

04 November 2006

One's job

Certain things are linked in my mind. When I'm considering having something I shouldn't, the temptation trio from Yeomen runs through my head; when I get home after a funeral, I want to watch The Big Chill. But whenever I think about doing things extremely well, and about doing the things we were meant to do, this passage from Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night runs though my head.

"I quite agree with you," said Miss de Vine, "about the difficulty of combining intellectual and emotional interests. I don't think it affects women only; it affects men as well. But when men put their public lives before their private lives, it causes less outcry than when a woman does the same thing, because women put up with neglect better than men, having been brought up to expect it."

"But suppose one doesn't quite know which one wants to put first. Suppose," said Harriet, falling back on words which were not her own, "suppose one is cursed with a both a heart and a brain?"

"You can usually tell," said Miss de Vine, "by seeing what kind of mistakes you make. I'm quite sure that one never makes fundamental mistakes about the thing one really wants to do. Fundamental mistakes arise out of lack of genuine interest. In my opinion, that is."

"I made a very big mistake once," said Harriet, "as I expect you know. I don't think that arose out of lack of interest. It seemed at the time the most important thing in the world."

"And yet you made the mistake. Were you really giving all your mind to it, do you think? Your mind? Were you really being as cautious and exacting about it as you would be about writing a passage of fine prose?"

"That's a rather difficult sort of comparison. One can't, surely, deal with emotional excitements in that detached spirit."

"Isn't the the writing of good prose an emotional excitement?"

"Yes, of course, it is. At least, when you get the thing dead right and know it's dead right, there's no excitement like it. It's marvellous. It makes you fel like God on the Seventh Day -- for a bit, anyhow."

"Well, that's what I mean. You expend the trouble and you don't make any mistake -- and then you experience the ectasy. But if there any subject in which you're content with the second-rate, then it isn't really your subject."

"You're dead right," said Harriet, after a pause. "If one's genuinely interested one knows how to be patient and let time pass, as Queen Elizabeth said. Perhaps that's the meaning of the phrase about genius being eternal patience, which I always thought rather absurd. If you truly want a thing, you don't snatch; if you snatch, you don't really want it. Do you suppose that, if you find yourself taking pains about a thing, it's a proof of its importance to you?"

"I think it is, to a large extent. But the big proof is that the thing comes right, without those fundamental errors. One always makes surface errors, of course. But a fundamental error is a sure sign of not caring. I wish one could teach people nowadays that the doctrine of snatching what one thinks one wants is unsound."

"I saw six plays this winter in London," said Harriet, "all preaching the doctrine of snatch. I agree that they left me with the feeling that none of the characters knew what they wanted."

"No," said Miss de Vine. "If you are once sure what you do want, you find that everything else goes down before it like grass under a roller -- all other interests, your own and other people's. Miss Lydgate wouldn't like my saying that, but it's as true of her as of anybody else. She's the kindest soul in the world, in things she indifferent about, like the peculations of Jukes. But she hasn't the slightest mercy on the prosodical theories of Mr. Elkbottom. She wouldn't countenance those to save Mr. Elkbottom from hanging. She'd say she couldn't. And she couldn't, of course. If she actually saw Mr. Elkbottom writhing in humiliation, she'd be sorry, but she wouldn't alter a paragraph. That would be treason. One can't be pitiful where one's own job is concerned. You'd lie cheerfully, I expect, about anything except -- what?"

"Oh, anything!" said Harriet, laughing. "Except saying that somebody's beastly book is good when it isn't. I can't do that. It makes me a lot of enemies, but I can't do it."

"No, one can't," said Miss de Vine. "However painful it is, there's always one thing one has to deal with sincerely, if there's any rot to one's mind at all. I ought to know, from my own experience. Of course, the one thing may be an emtional thing; I don't say it mayn't. One may commit all the sins the calendar, and still be faithful and honest towards one person. If so, then that one person is probably's one's appointed job. I'm not despising that kind of loyalty; it doesn't happen to be mine, that is all."

"Did you discover that by making a fundamental mistake?" asked Harriet, a little nervously.

"Yes," said Miss de Vine. "I once got engaged to somebody. But I found I was always blundering -- hurting his feelings, doing stupid things, making quite elementary mistakes about him. In the end I realized that I simply wasn't taking as much trouble with him as I should have done over a disputed reading. So I decided he wasn't my job." She smiled. "For all that, I was fonder of him than he was of me. He married an excellent woman who is devoted to him and does make him her job. I should think he was a full-time job. He is a painter and usually on the verge of bankruptcy; but he paints very well."

"I suppose one oughtn't to marry anybody, unless one's prepared to make him a full-time job."

"Probably not; though there are a few rare people, I believe, who don't look on themselves as jobs, but as fellow creatures."