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."

03 November 2006

A pox on all their houses

As time goes on I am less and less inclined to vote. I suspect that the politicians like it that way, although I can't be sure. What is driving me away from my polling place is all the negative ads that run pretty much 24/7 during the final weeks of the campaign. Maybe I'm different from other voters, but I don't want to vote against someone, I want to vote for someone and these folks don't seem to give me a reason to vote for them, and every time I hear one of them say that he (or she) approves the preceeding annoying, manipulative, dishonest crap, I have less interest in voting for her (or him). I'm rarely home, so I just don't see that much TV, but whenever it's on, there's another ad that makes me feel like showering with Lysol.

There's a story in Maryland politics that the first time that Louis Goldstein ran for office (shortly before the Big Bang), he went door-to-door in his hometown, introduced himself to anyone who would answer and said that he was hoping he could count on their vote or something similar. Well, he started this early enough in the campaign season that the question he got most often was who was he running against? "I don't know," he say, "but I'm sure he's a real nice fella and would do a good job, but I think I'd do a better one." And he held office in Maryland for nearly 60 years.

I value my right to vote. I just more and more detest the people I'm required to squander that right on. In the community organizations I'm active in, elections are never this awful. People offer up their own qualifications and never say a word against the folks against whom they are running. It is a pleasure to vote for them.

The person who has annoyed me the most this campaign season has been Peter Franchot and he's running for Louis's old office - Comptroller. I think I'll write Louis's name in because there's no freaking way that I am voting the man who signed off on those ugly ads.

And then I get about a two-hour respite before the horrible ads begin for 2008. Ick.

02 November 2006

One Mom missed

My mother seemed to like to go to schools that aren't where you'd think they are. She started at Miami University of Ohio and when her family moved she transferred to Washington University in St. Louis. Unfortunately, she broke her streak when she got her master's at the University of Rhode Island when she and Dad were living in East Greenwich. (For those of you who are keeping track, was after Pennsylvania; Dallas; San Francisco; Grand Prairie, TX; Cleveland; St. Louis; Pensacola; and Mobile and before Monterey; Annapolis; Kingston, RI; and Silver Spring.)

I heard a reference this morning on NPR to "California University of Pennsylvania." Except that it's closer to Pittsburgh than it is to the ocean (oceans being two of the three locations in the Navy's version of the real estate mantra "location, location, location"), Mom and Dad could have lived there and she could have attended that school. Had she decided to go on for a Ph.D., she could have matriculated somewhere like SUNY at Stonybrook, so that she would have had both an "of" and "at," though she'd lose that "not where you think it is" part.

Is there a university or college that isn't where you think it is, but has two or more prepositions in it's name? Something like University of the Pacific at Omaha in South Carolina. Because that would be the place to go. Just picture what the sweatshirts would look like with all of their footnotes and such.

01 November 2006

It's not just a headache

I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, I admit. I've had a nagging pain in my left arm and shoulder for a couple of months now and one of the explanations I've come up with for it is that I - clearly - have bone cancer. Well, probably not. Of course, a pain that hangs around for this long probably should be checked out, so I'll make an appointment with my GP because maybe it's something he can fix right there in the office. Or maybe he'll refer me to a therapeutic masseuse, which would be even better.

(For the vast number of shoulder and left arm pain experts among the devoted readership, it feels like it's in the muscle (sort of) and it hurts when I try to touch my left arm to my right shoulder, reach behind my back to unhook my bra, or stand with my arm around someone's waist as we do before every performance of Boy Gets Girl.* I can't sleep on my left side because that hurts. Some nights I need to prop my arm with a pillow or it will hurt. And it randomly hurts with a sharp pain. Sometimes the pain hangs around for a while and sometimes it disappears quickly. Sometimes it feels like is a muscle sometimes not. See? Probably bone cancer. Or a pinched nerve. Or osteoporosis. Or the vapors.)

But for the real hypochondriac, the sort of person who never thinks "Oh, I'm sure it's nothing," there's always the internet. Via AOL WebMD provides the sort of health news that Brett dislikes in local tv news, what he calls "Scare You News," like "Tonight on Scare You News: Can using the ATM harm your family?" And today in WebMD Scare You Health News, we have 7 Pains You Shouldn't Ignore, but which should really be called "You're Gonna Diiiieeeeee." Because the classic example of hypochondria is, of course, that it's not a headache, it's an aneurysm and that's the first thing they discribe. These guys should write for House.

I read through all seven pains and, of course, have had pretty much all of them in the last couple of weeks. Hell, I seem to major in vague, undefined pain. So I'm just a goner. Good thing I updated my will recently. Especially as each of these is the sort of thing that GPs aren't going to get all that excited about unless they are faithful readers of WebMD. Well, except for maybe the chest pain stuff.

That's not to say that one should not follow up on something that seems to be amiss (says the woman who wandered around for a week on a sprained ankle), but I think WebMD might be shooting with a larger caliber than is actually required here. But in terms of ramping up the hysteria, I'd have to give them a 10.

*We gather into a circle before we go to places and do a little chant, which I needn't repeat here because it's only meaningful to us. I hope. Well, the other day in order find a way to stay in the circle but not wince all the time because my arm hurt, I kept shifting how I was holding my arm. This pretty much resulted in my accidentally groping Tommy. Which is no bad thing, but if I'm going to grope Tommy, it should be on purpose, you know?