Wednesday, May 30, 2007

O Woman! Lovely Woman! Nature made thee

To temper man: we had been brutes without you.
Angels are painted fair, to look like you;
There's in you all that we believe of heaven, -
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.

Thomas Otway (1652-1685)

This is almost hypnotic. But how did they just skip right over the Pre-Raphaelites in this 500 year survey of woman's portraiture? Or did I blink?

Saturday, May 26, 2007


My mother and step-father visited recently, bringing me their old stereo with the cd player I gave them, a very old Dual turntable ('85, I wanna say), and an Onkyo receiver. Needless to say that, although this equipment is obsolescent (you should have seen the trouble I went through to get a new needle), I am ecstatic to have it, because I can finally play not only my old vinyl, but my mother's entire collection, which I have been asking for nearly a decade. The only thing I have wanted more, and for which I ask each and every Christmas and birthday, is a pair of perfect flat ovular turquoise earrings, the size of robin's eggs, set in sterling, which are an unusual and extraordinarily vibrant color. They are also absolutely clear of any veins, with a flawless surface. I once wore them into a jewelry store in Park City, and the shopkeeper was positively stunned by their quality and beauty. Like most of the things that my mother has, she claims she will give them to me when she dies, to which I always reply, "Mom, you're too mean to die."

This is, of course, funny to us both, and she probably will outlive me, but it should be noted that my mother often boasts, or reminisces, if you prefer, about the great collectibles and antiques bestowed upon her by her parents and Grandma Bessie. This includes family silver, furniture, and antique jewlery (sadly the garnet filigree necklace, brooch and one earring, once belonging to Eleanor Roosevelt, were stolen when I was in high school). My second favorite thing, which I don't often ask for, is a glass globe lamp, supported in bronze by two Atlas figures and whatever that circular band is called that engirds it from pole to pole, and papered by a lovely jade and manila yellow map, naming countries with antiquated appellations such as, Siam, Persia, and Ceylon. She once asked me if I thought she should replace itt with an updated map, causing my heart to drop out of my chest like a ton of lead. "Mother... if you touch that thing..."
My mom is a great "changer" of things. In astrology, the "cardinal" signs are the great instigaters of movement and transformations, and she is the Cardnial of cardinals. She's the one carrying the bull-whip, and tearing down the pyramids, and building a staircase to the moon, because she had an extra ten minutes just lounging about in her day, and hell, as she likes to say, she can sleep when she's dead.

Excepting, she's too mean to die.

She even cut down the eighty-year-old Cherokee-Red Dogwood tree in our backyard, because it was "diseased," in her estimation, which is completely false, though she does have her Master Gardener's Certificate. What this really translates to is: "The tree is MESSY," a quality she cannot abide. It was possibly one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen, full of seasonal bliss. The leafy stage was pretty, the flowering stage - cranberry extraordinary, the red berry stage - an odd and beady beautiful, the chlorophyll breakdown stage - crimson phenomenal, and the bare stage - swizzle stick elegant. It is the one thing in our lives together that I will never get over. I have forgiven things about her past that would make up an entire season of Lifetime Television for W____(sorry, I can't bear to finish that phrase, as it rankles my sensibilities entirely, as it is a completely unfounded and utterly unjust representation of women, like the cartoon, Cathy.), but the tree? I just hope I don't take that resentment to the grave. I am working on it.

I have inherited some of this trait from her, this need to "improve" things, except that I have a greater sense of preservation. I also possess her clutchiness, or maybe I clutch her possessiveness, but the difference is, she has all these things passed down through the family, while I have almost none, though I never point this out when she gloats about it time and time again. If she ever goes so far as to use the word "trousseau," which is essentially what they built for her as a teen and twenty-something, I will keel over and vomit indignation.

Still, I have the vinyl, and it is a quirky collection to be sure. I am thrilled to have it. There are clasical records from the 50s and 60s, a sixteen-disc, leather-bound, "treasury" from back in the day when records were unbendable and weighed a pound, covering Bach, Berlioz, Medndelssohn, Wagner, all with bios, portraits and album covers with glossy nature, landscape or landmark photos, colorized absurdly if romantically. There are some hippy-dippy works from the 70s, which will get the most play. There are original Beatles' albums, lots of them, musicals (Glynis Johns singing "Send in the Clowns,"
anyone?), Dylan Thomas reading aloud, and a 1963 collection of ten Shakespeare plays, performed by Richard Burton and John Gielgud, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, O'Toole, Redgrave, and Anna Massey. What else? Firestone Tires' Christmas music series from the 60s, more Folk music than you'd ever know what to do with, bluegrass, and a History of the British Blues, with several early Yardbirds tunes, and old old Rod Stewart, before he turned into a wheel of 80s cheese. Finally, there are scads of, OH GOD!, Andy Williams, 60s Streisand, Mantovanni, Andre Previn, Vikki Carr, Percy Faith... all those sounds of the well-heeled 60s bridge-playing, cocktail circuit Republicans, a part of which my parents most certainly were, for a time.

I think I'll be posting about the ones most important to me, like this one I remember most clearly from my pre-K years. I loved it even back then:

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sparrows, Now onThe No-Fly List!

Evidently, this happened at the moment Bush finished averring, "I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doin' the job!" Celestial commentary?

Then again, fishermen consider that good luck.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Talk Like Bob Dylan Day

Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham was born today in '41. I only mention it, because I like both kinds of music, Bob & Dylan. Many happy returns of the day, Mr. Zimmerman.

"...The kingdoms of Experience
In the precious wind they rot
While paupers change possessions
Each one wishing for what the other has got
And the princess and the prince
Discuss what's real and what is not
It doesn't matter inside the Gates of Eden

The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine
As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly, totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die
And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden

At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what's true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden

The Gates of Eden, 1965

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Able was I, ere I saw Elba

Just back from computer exile - a new hard drive and ram, all for $207, and the guy might have put earthworms in there for all I know, but she's working. All I had to do was endure him asking me to ask him out. Tech nerds are so socially well-adjusted, it's a cautionary tale in pitching woo.

I have things to write, and no time right now. But since UNREMITTING MIKE was so taken with my star sighting, and invoked Allen Ginsburg, I direct you more recent readers to an old (pre-UM and Peteski, and maybe even you, Steve), "celebrity encounter" from my tender freshman days at old Brunonia. I think you'll enjoy it.

The rest of you, sorry for the redundancy, and please be patient.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Best Picture Show

I went to see The Last Picture Show last night at The Egyptian Theater/American Cinematheque with Texas, as it's a favorite for both of us. It just gets better and better each time I see it. Truly a masterpiece, maybe even a top 10 all time movie, in my humble opinion. It's a perfect film, and a lesson in nuance, the unspoken, showing not making explicit in the dialogue, three dimensional characters, and fine acting all the way around. And the cinematography. Exquisite. The camera should tell the story to some degree in film. Remember the scene where Sonny's been exiled from the main street businesses and he's driving slowly past in that beat-up truck, watching the people in the pool hall, and the diner, as if they are moving on a conveyor belt? Camera work can connote emotion. It's amazing.

Anyway, I'm standing at the popcorn buttering device before the flick, and the two guys next to me are debating whether or not to salt the popcorn, and I say without looking, "It's not salted." Ya know, trying to be helpful. I look up and it's old Peter Bogdanovich, who just stares at me as if, well, I'm not sure what. Did I step on his toes? Was he thinking "Who is this creature? Oh the impropriety? " I have no idea, but that was a star sighting worthy of mention for me. When I got back to our seats and told Tex how I'd put my foot in my mouth with the directing legend, Texas 'bout came out of his skin with excitement when told him. And then the old fellow came in the auditorium. Texas could not stop grinning every time he looked over at Mr. B. He was so happy it was utterly charming. After, he thanked the man. I threw popcorn at him. Not really.

It's a shame he doesn't make movies of this caliber anymore. I'm a huge fan of Paper Moon (1973) and am crazy forWhat's Up, Doc? (1972), which is simply one of the funniest films ever, and a retelling of one of my all-time favorites, Bringing Up Baby.

I had this thought last night, one I've had before - the film industry is having a fair amount of trouble these days, and generally not giving us a lot worth the ten dollars plus. So why don't they take existing masterpieces, especially those as relevant today as they were decades ago, promote the hell out of them and get the American public well fed again? I think people tend to eat what you put before them, particularly if you tell them it's good. In the meantime, support your local art house theaters, if you've got them. There are worlds of old cinema just waiting to be sampled by you.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sometimes It Doesn't Go Ok

I'm sure you've all seen the video that made Ok Go famous.

But have you seen this?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More Intelligent Design from My Street

My neighbor made the documentary Flock of Dodos, which airs on Showtime tonight. Go to the site and watch the trailer.

here is some response from the I.D. camp, and Randy's rebuttal, from the DVD extras:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

They Are Gaining on Us

A pair of roosters in Shenyang, China have been playing ball regularly ever since their owner found it three weeks ago, according to China Daily.

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

What will that be?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Obsessive Collection

2.5 million plastic bottles are used in the US every hour. In case you don't know, they are bad for you in several ways, including simply drinking out of them.

Check out this website.

So much of this waste is completely avoidable. We have only to try a little harder.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Man on Fire

Here's a little video by my band boss, who got evacuated, about the Griffith Park fire this week:

I'm funny to me sometimes

because I forget to do things sometimes, like actually including an excerpt from the book I fawned over yesterday. That would be sensible, no?

But what to choose? Start at the beginning, if you like.

Tobias Wolff, a friend of the author, wrote Marry Karr this advice while she was writing her personal history, which she taped to her computer:

"Take no care for your dignity. Don't be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Don't approach your history as something to be shaken for its cautionary fruits. Tell your stories, and your story will be revealed." Karr's mother, on the other hand, put it more bluntly. "Hell, get it off your chest," she counselled. (source)

The release of The Liar's Club, some twelve years ago, is credited with spurring on the memoir explosion of the last decade. When asked about it, Karr replied:

"Well, I think memoir started with St. Augustine -- not with me, and not with Oprah. Memoir has an august, and inaugust, history. St. Augustine got drop-kicked for just using the first person pronoun at all. It was considered morally reprehensible. Memoir has long been what Geoffrey Wolff has called an "outsider's art." People want some sort of moral compass, and the subjective suddenly has power it hasn't had before because all of the measures of how we are doing -- the church, community life, religious or government leaders, certain kinds of values, family -- no longer mean what they once did. There are other people who have written memoirs -- Frank Conroy, Maya Angelou. Maxine Hong Kingston wrote a great memoir, "Woman Warrior." I think I'm the current ... (trails off). But I don't know why they don't call Richard Ford and bust his chops about all the Harlequin romances that are being published. Most of the memoirs are going to be bad, the way most novels are going to be bad, the way most articles are going to be bad, the way most poems are going to be bad. It's hard to make something of quality." (Salon interview, 5/97)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

We have our secrets

...and our needs to confess. We may remember how, in childhood, adults were able at first to look right through us, and into us, and what an accomplishment it was when we, in fear and trembling, could tell our first lie, and make, for ourselves, the discovery that we are irredeemably alone in certain respects, and know that within the territory of ourselves, there can only be our own footprints.

- R.D. Laing

That is the quotation which opens Mary Karr's memoir, The Liar's Club, one of my very favorite books. If you are unfamiliar, I strongly urge you to pick up this work - it is a thing which causes me to write, with a short glance down any page. Her words are so resonant for me that re-reading the first page this afternoon sent such a frisson down my spinal column I wondered if there was some preternatural connection between this woman's life and my own.

What books do something like that for you?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Five-legged frogs

I have decided, after being informed by a friend (you know who you are, Pop Killah! Shout out, yo!), that I cannot, in fact, be made sick by the fires (which is completely wrong wrong wrong), that I am some sort of Indicator Species. Slight change in the toxicity off the air? She gets a rash. Water too hard, too chlorinated? Splotchy blotches. Someone in the environment angry, disgruntled, or generally making her nervous? Hives. Smoke in the air? Headache, swollen glands and a sore throat. And. A. Rash.

I've always been this way. My skin isn't really skin, it's like some sort of agar in a petri dish. Ooh, that is sexy.

Requiem for a Blogger, v. ii

I'm not really over the vestiges of this cold, now made infernal (now there's an oxymoron for you) by the Griffith Park fires raging up behind my home. Though we're in no danger of evacuation, et. al. here in the canyon, the smoke has given me a headache and general body weariness that is hardly amenable to the work schedule I'm meant to be honoring. It's nothing like the illness I experienced three years ago during those major fires north and south of LA that covered this city for about four days. I left work at noon each one of them - winded from walking up a single flight of stairs, complete muscle fatigue, respiratory problems, the list goes on. Even my normally eager to hike dog was flattened out and listless on the floor for that entire period. I wonder how the animals over at the zoo are faring?

I couldn't help thinking this morning, as I was asked to sign an online petition for the restoration of habeas corpus, that the damage done there last October wasn't so unlike the 600 acre swath burned down last night. Something hungry and vengeful can tear through another thing old and established quite readily if there is no protective vigil.

Does it sound like I am in a funk? I am not. Despite aches and pains, I am quite a happy girl these days. Things are progressing in a way that can be described as flowing, synchronistic, serendipitous, integrated, and flowing. Everything seems very in alignment there, and I'm more grateful than I can say. I really hope the work I'm doing for them ultimately pans out. I am hopeful. Just yesterday, through the gracious offer of a friend, I booked them an interview on a branch of the second most trafficked website on the internet. I won't tell you where yet, so as not to jinx it, but stay tuned... I wish I could take some credit for all the things that are going on, and while I realize that I am doing a good job of connecting the dots, and that much of these oppourtunities come from the connections I've made and affinities I've built over the last five years, it really feels just as though it's falling from the heavens and into my lap. This is a lovely feeling, and I wouldn't trade it for any other.

So maybe the lesson, if there is one to be gleaned from the disparate parts of this disjuncted psuedo-essay, is that that one doesn't have to violate in order to build or to take for oneself. Better to do your work, attempt to create, and have the patience to know that when the day comes, something bigger propels you forward, like a gentle but powerful wind at your back. Or maybe it's the warm current in a river. Whatever metaphor you fancy, and I'm sure there are plenty more to make, the world will carry you if you don't try to force things.

Much love to you all.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Requiem for a Blogger

or, "Why I no longer write."

For the last week, I have been fighting a pernicious head cold/flu bug. Today, I received a gracious email from a friend asking me if I was feeling better. Better? Yes, but not "well."

What is it like, you ask?

Remember that scene in "Sleeper," when Woody Allen, posing as a robotic butler, tries to make a meal and ends up battling an ever-expanding pudding with a broom? That is what is going on in the sinus cavities in my head, rendering me practically incapable of stringing two related words together. Just ask anyone who has tried to communicate with me in the last several days. I'm just grateful not to have slept over at my man's place the night I sneezed in my sleep and dislodged and jettisoned my frontal lobe.

Talk about soft in the head.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Happy Beltane!

Today is May Day, or Beltane - the time of ritualized sexual license and union, under the full Taurus moon. I am tired, so I will refer you to last year's pedantic posting, in case you need a refresher course, or don't know what the hell I'm jibber-jabbering about.

Go make hay! Oh wait, that's in September... Well, go roll in some, then.

(Henry Fuseli, Titania and Bottom, c. 1790.)