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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Clothes Make The Man.

"I,(your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

That's the Congressional Oath of Office. I think it's time for an amendment to this. Does anyone know how to do that? I don't. However, I suggest that a 28th amendment be proposed. It would alter the Congressional Oath of Office to read "...that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter and, first and foremost, I WILL KEEP IT IN MY PANTS. So help me God."

I suppose that may be why Congressmen only serve two years at a time...makes it easier for them to quit after they're busted for lewd behavior. Hell, takes six YEARS to get rid of a Senator. Not that that happens that often, the Senate seems to be rather stodgy and up tight. Can you imagine Orrin Hatch in a sex scandal? Me neither.

At least make it mandatory for Congressional sex scandals to be entertaining. Wilbur Mills was hella entertaining. One old southern git and a stripper named Fannie in the Tidal Basin. Now THAT was news worth following.

But no, now it's just one stupid Congressman after another, resigning to take care of their families. In other words, they need to run from their wives. And, while we're at it, can just ONE congressional wife actually speak up and say what she actually feels instead of standing by her man, doe eyed, promising to believe in him? Come ON...just once can I hear some disgraced Congressman's wife tell a reporter "I'm sorry, I'm really too busy to talk to you. Would you mind helping me throw the Congressman's golf clubs into that wood chipper over there for me?"

No, it's just a long string of stupid men chasing increasingly younger women around and then saying "uh uh, wasn't me." Really? How stupid to you think we ARE?

And while we're at it, can we put in a rule about what ties you can wear when you KNOW you're going to be on camera? How am I supposed to really pay attention to that lying bag o' crap Bohner when I'm so repulsed by the bilious green tie he's chosen. Did he learn NOTHING from the Kennedy-Nixon debates and Kennedy's "Man Tan"? Although I suppose maybe that was his intention, he knew millions of people would look up at their HD TVs and recoil in horror at that tie, thus taking our minds off of comments like "bi-partisan vote" which, with the exception of 5 Democratic defectors, ran strictly down party lines. Or, even worse, he thinks that FIVE skunks in a den of 435 makes it bi-partisan. I'm not sure which disturbs me more, the tie, or the stupidity.

I also really enjoyed his comments about how, when he got to Washington D.C. he was surprised to find that the government didn't operate like businesses did. John? That's why they call it the "GOVERNMENT" instead of "I.B.M." It seems that Bohner just kind of pulls stuff out of his ass when he talks, from my research it's something he's done for quite a while now. So catching him in a lie is like shooting fish in a barrel. There are rumors of a Bohner sex scandal but I doubt it'll be any more interesting than the rest of his term has been. Although it would be AWESOME if there was one. Imagine...Bohner AND Weiner in the same year! I know, I know, it's pronounced "BAY-ner" and I usually pronounce it that way, because, well, calling him "boner" is just too easy. But it'll make for some really great punch lines.

I also hear rumors that Bohner drinks. To excess. This is always a good excuse for egregious lying and stomping out of the Oval Office while the President is still sitting in it. People will forgive anything if you check into Betty Ford.

It might also explain that tie.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Of socks and sci-fi

I took a couple of days off. I was at the "use 'em or lose 'em" stage and, when faced with the possibility of going to work or NOT going to work, my path seemed clear. Besides, there were a few things I wanted to do. I wanted to cut out and stitch together the tunic I bought the fabric for a week ago. It was promising to be hella hot and a nice, lightweight tunic was something I was looking forward to. I was going to drive to the beach and sit on the sand. Maybe take my older son. Four whole days (counting the week-end).

Well. Yeah, Now I had promised to drive my younger son and his girlfriend into Hollywood very early Tuesday morning. They are big science fiction fans. I like some Sci fi, not a bunch but this particular predilection of theirs is one I share and I have for a long, long time, in fact I introduced the kidlet to it. So...a local record store (yep, we have a few of those, although I agree, they sell mostly CDs and DVDs) was getting in the most currently pressed box set of DVDs from season whatever it was. The stars of the series were going to come to the store and SIGN. Yep. A signing. Now...suffice it to say that these people NEVER do this kind of thing. So it was BIG news.

BUT...the signing is limited to the first 200 people. The first 200 people who BUY the box set the instant it was available for sale. Thus the early hour. We lined up at something like 6:45am. When you bought the box, you got a slip that entitled you to entrance to the signing the week later.

Now, frankly, neither the kid, nor his girlfriend nor myself for that matter were chomping at the bit to buy this box set as it's only a HALF a season. But it was a chance to meet the guy and then put the box on eBay. You didn't have to get the DVD signed, they will sign ONE item, which, I assume includes everything from DVDS to memorabilia to your laundered tighty whities.

Well, to make a long story only slightly less long we got in line with about 50 places to spare until three large hoards of people joined the line at the last minute, because their friends were "saving their place" for them. As the four people in front of us got to the front door, the employee who had obviously drawn the short straw stopped them and said "there are no more tickets for the signing but you're welcome to come in and buy the DVD."

Okay, if they had WATCHED the damn line, or issued wristbands or something I wouldn't have wasted a day off down there, my kid wouldn't have been late to work and I wouldn't have spent THREE days in the sweltering heat scrubbing my apt on my hands and knees because my son invited his girlfriend to spend the night at our place because we live WAY closer to the music store than she does and she doesn't drive and, sorry, but the place has to be immaculate for a girlfriend. Not so much one of the guys. Besides, I'll admit...I'm the only one without a "y" chromosome in the place and I've become used to, well, let's call it "guy" housekeeping. A raised toilet seat is nothing to me anymore just to end up with a Jack In the Box breakfast as we headed on our way.

However...this also meant that the guy in line behind me wouldn't be at the signing either and, frankly, the fact that I wouldn't be at said signing with him looking for me sort of took the sting out of the entire debacle. Dave spent two and a half hours in line behind us. He had a book but never read it. He quickly learned all of our names and used them. Frequently. He told me all about how much he loved the show and how much he loved the cast of the show and how many fan boards he was on and what his favorite episode was.

He told me all about the gift he had purchased for the star of the show because he knew the guy's taste and what he collected and he was looking forward to giving him the gift (socks. I swear. Socks) at the signing. He wanted to know what time I would be arriving at the signing and would I take a picture of him giving the guy the socks.

Dave had actually heard the star of the show had been in town several weeks ago to conduct some business about a movie. Dave had reasoned out just what the star (and his girlfriend) would most likely do on a Sunday and he went to the area and walked around for 4 hours, waiting to run into the star and gift him with the socks. Alas, the hoped for rendezvous never came to pass and so there was Dave, in line right behind me.

My son and his girlfriend quickly wandered into a conversation between themselves leaving me to deal with Dave. I would periodically try and catch someone's eye in a pathetic non-verbal plea for rescue but no, it was just me and Dave. Because, in case you haven't guessed, Dave was by himself.

As the line started to move forward, Dave got ever more excited. He told me that he was planning on wearing a costume to the signing. But I shouldn't worry, it wasn't "weird or embarrassing." it was just clever and the stars of the show would understand it as soon at they saw him. Dave? You're older than I am. The very fact that you're planning on wearing a costume to a signing is already "weird or embarrassing." Just saying...

And as we trudged off in the heat and humidity, Dave right behind us headed for the same parking structure, we made small talk until, thankfully, he went to another section. We got in the car, fired up the A/C and unanimously decided that, given two hours with Dave, we were probably just as glad we were not confined in a space the size of a record store with 197 other Daves.

My son's girlfriend patted my arm sympathetically and assured me that, for a sci-fi fan, Dave wasn't all that abnormal and was, most likely, harmless. I'm still not so sure and, frankly, I'm grateful that neither myself, my kids, their friends nor the stars of the show will have to deal with Dave and his socks. I dunno, giving someone you've never met socks you found at a yard sale just seems off to me. Not to mention that Dave seems to know the celebrity collects odd socks. Where do people READ this stuff? I suppose the News of the World might have hacked the star's voice mail and discovered an affinity for socks which means that people like Dave actually READ that rag. I'm not sure which is more disturbing, the thought of Dave going to yard sales looking for queer socks or the thought that he bought and read the "News of the World" sometime within the last 30 years or so after it really went to hell.

It's times like this that I think trying to keep a lively mind and an active interest in what's going on in the world today is overrated.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

If I could have pears in a bottle...

Well, today is July 17th. A date that lives in infamy. No, it does, look it up. Today is the anniversary of the day the fountain of youth was discovered. It's the day Disneyland first opened, Fifty-I dunnoquitehowmany years ago.

I've mentioned before how much I used to like Disneyland and how much I think it sucks now. Ticket prices jacked beyond comprehension in the middle of a recession, all backed by the Disney corporate mantra, which goes something like "if we're here they will come, even if they can't afford a jar of peanut butter." I used to work for the jerks, I know how they think.

The corporate idea is that people COME to Disneyland as if it's the shining Mecca of no interest rates. And it doesn't matter that it's a hundred bucks a head to go in, because you're going to go home to Lincoln, Nebraska and have this memory with you until the day you die. In other words, if you don't lose your house financing a trip to a Disney Theme Park your kids will be reported to child and family welfare because you're not properly caring for them and you, yourself, will wither and die a sad, lonely, miserable death somewhere in the Great Plains.

Problem is, most of the people who go to Disneyland all live in Los Angeles and/or Orange County. Only 80% of them actually HAVE kids, the rest have cats, and each other. The ones with kids have way more money than they need, enough, in fact, that they cough up something in the neighborhood of 500 bucks for every kid over the age of NINE so they can spend their idle, unfilled hours wandering around an overpriced amusement park.

They'll be out in force today and its one scary force, believe me. They charge their friends about 100 bucks a "team" for the privilege of participating in a semi-annual re-enactment of the Bataan Death March. I've often thought of mentioning this analogy to them, but then I would have to explain just WHAT, WHEN and WHERE said death march took place, as I doubt any of them have ever heard of it. If it doesn't exist to personally enrich them, it's not anything anyone needs to know about. Besides, it was before their time. Contrary to popular belief, the Stone Age was before MY time but I've heard of it. Anyway, the team who gets to the prison camp first is allowed to chose their heart's desire from a card table chock full of unsellable Lladro Mickey Mouse knock offs, courtesy of a local, overpriced "but we're in an architecturally designed Old Town" shoppe. Yes, shoppe. All stores of this nature are "shoppes," which enables them to add 250 bucks to the going rate of absolutely everything they sell, which, as we all know, is what it currently costs to buy a vowel. That extra "e" doesn't come cheap, you know.

I've been on several of these marches. There are hundreds of people, all paying to play a sort of scavenger hunt/Games Magazine tribute. If you know Donald Duck's middle name (and his birthday), you're not eligible. If you CARE what his middle name and his birthday are, well, then you've passed the second test for eligibility and hail fellow, well met. The first test is: Did your check clear?

I stopped going to these several years ago. In the first place, I found out that most of my entry fees were used to take the staff of the "adventure" to dinner at "Club 33", which is one of those "if you have to ask" places. In the second place, well, I got tired of paying people money to abuse my family and me. I sure as hell didn't want the crap they were offering as prizes thus allowing the "Shoppe" owner to write the unsellable crap off of her taxes.

I quit a LONG time before they started throwing my family and me out of public places, btw. After someone had apoplexy at the sight of the hubster, standing in a hotel lobby having used a public restroom, one of those "Oh, you're so smart, kick me again" people all staffs of any organization seem to attract sent me a letter telling me that I was unclean and so was my money and never, EVER attempt to give any of it to them. The fact that I hadn't shoveled a DIME into any of their coffers for the last three years was conveniently overlooked.

I enjoyed the letter immensely, just as I think someone's arrogance has reached its limits you hear about something like this...someone SO good, SO special, SO desirable that your money is deemed not good enough for them. You have NO idea how much I enjoyed that letter, and NO idea how far I spread it around, including posting it on my Facebook page. It's probably the apex of my illustrious very existence in Southern California drove someone to write me and tell me my money isn’t good enough for them.

It doesn't get much better than that. But I digress...

Why did all of this pop into my head now? Well, the hubster watches Food TV non-stop on the weekend and, as I was crunching numbers, I heard a show about theme park food. An HOUR of theme park food. They actually FILLED an hour. Well, there was a Disney chef proudly showing off the Mickey Mouse shaped cucumbers and the Mickey Mouse shaped pumpkins. And isn't this a wonderful way to get kids to eat vegetables?

Okay, first off, he showed how to make cucumbers and pumpkins grow like rats' ears. You put a plastic mold around them and they grow into the shape easy-peasy, kind of like that field somewhere in France where all the pear trees look like they're growing liquor bottles.

Don't ask me about the worm in the tequila bottle, there are some things even I won't drink. Well, anyway, yeah, it's a corporate logo in a salad bar. But I started thinking, always a dangerous occupation. Instead of making cucumbers look like mouse heads, why not make them TASTE GOOD? I mean, maybe if the vegetables taste good your kids will actually EAT them and you don't need to go to all that plastic mold trouble.

For example: I HATE cucumbers. LOATHE them. Braised, raw, plated in gold or infused with gin. Doesn't matter. If they handed me a cucumber shaped like George Clooney, naked, I would pass it up. What makes people think kids are any different? If they don't LIKE the cucumber, they won't EAT it. Game over.

I intend to celebrate this holiest of days in my own way. "Carmageddon" is in full swing and has proved MOST entertaining. The subways and rapid buses that operate from the area of the 405 to Downtown L.A. are free all week-end AND operating on double time schedules. I intend to take the subway downtown, prowl the fabric district and feed my face a lamb dip from Philippe's, the place where the French Dip Sandwich was invented over 100 years ago. I figure the places I'll be marching through have probably seen their fair share of rats and mice and so it seems like a fitting way to celebrate the birthday of what a small group of fanatics have turned into the snottiest place on earth.

I also thought, speaking of theme park food, of celebrating by driving down to Knott's Berry Farm for their fried chicken dinner and a slice of Boysenberry pie. If you've never had Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken, well, you've never eaten a chicken worth being called a chicken. And their biscuits, I'm sorry to say, are better than mine. All of their food is a hell of a lot better than the food a little farther down the freeway, you can go into the restaurant without even entering the park, thus saving one the price of a ticket and they're always happy to see you. Not to mention that the biscuits look like biscuits, not Walter Knott’s nose. Sounds kind of like what Walt Disney had in mind all along, no?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Worlds of pure imagination

I have this love/hate thing going with the Internet. I LOVE the handful of friends I've made via the web. However, I hate the fact that I also met a TON of asshats along the way. If it hadn't been for the Internet, I would still be able to go to Disneyland with the same sense of fun I used to, instead of turning green at the thought of the hateful, spiteful, arrogant people that consider Disneyland a place that not everyone is entitled to go, especially if you have kids. I was reading an argument recently on line among people who go to Disneyland. It costs a family of four over $400 just to get in the damn gate now. A DINK with an pass actually said that not everyone had the right to go to Disneyland, it wasn't a right, it was a privilege and if you can't afford the outrageous ticket prices and/or resent lining Bob Iger's pockets with your hard earned money well, then, you don't deserve to be there.

And this is why the thought of Disneyland makes me want to vomit, and I have the Internet to either blame or thank for that, depending on how one looks at it.

I LOVE the fact that, when some weird, completely unimportant question pops into my brain at 3am I can go fire up the computer and find the answer. There's not a 24 library in town. I HATE the fact that while I'm looking up whether or not humans can catch ear mites from their cat I will come across at least thirty seven rare and immediately fatal diseases, all of which I have symptoms of. Also, I never go out anymore, I don't have to. I can look it all up online. Hell, I can call up You Tube and go to a concert.

And THIS is what I really hate about the Internet.

It always seemed SO cool, I can see SO many wonderful performances on my monitor. Well, last night we were at the Hollywood Bowl again. Someone had four extra tickets and handed them to me. I came home from work, sweaty, tired and frustrated, and rather annoyed that the person who gave me the tickets would be there so I couldn't just blow it off and stay home, play Bejewelled, watch Wipeout and lie about how much I enjoyed the concert. I trudged out, family in tow.

I bowed to the hubsters desire to drive through Jack In The Box for dinner. I don't DISLIKE Jack's, I just have a desire to eat something that didn't come out of a deep fat fryer every now and then. I suggested several alternatives...grab something at the Bowl, pick up a bag of El Pollo Loco, go the local supermarket for some tri-tip sandwiches but he kept saying "how about Jack's?" At times like this it's best to acquiesce. I will grumble and eventually settle on a teriyaki bowl but it will pass a LOT quicker than his sulk if we don't end up at the drive thru de jour. Can you see my eyes rolling?

We plowed through terrible traffic, the clock ticking. It was getting later and later. The hubster said so what if we were late, we'd miss the National Anthem and the opening number. This annoys me to no end, but my in law's family crest bears the motto: "Che dà un accidenti se siamo tardi?" which translates roughly to "Who gives a crap if I'm late?" Well, I do. The "opening number" was the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing the Polovtsian Dances.

We made it, by the skin of our teeth. Dudamel raised his stick and the lyrical notes of the Borodin began. If you don't know the work but you've even seen "Kismet" or heard the standard "Stranger in Paradise" then you know the music. Halfway through I found myself seeing beautiful exotic Arabian dancers, all in whirling silks the violent colors of a desert sunset, there were tambourines and jingling gold and the smells of exotic spices. Not at the Bowl, and not on the stage or on a screen in the background, it was all in my head which could be worrisome, I'm not sure.

The sound of someone playing for you is intoxicating. I don't care how good your Bose is, it doesn't hold a candle to what you experience sitting under a full moon and hearing the music at the exact moment it leaves the musicians hands.

I HATE that the Internet is killing our imaginations. When last did any of us sit outside? When did we daydream? When did we let our minds and bodies open up and run wild with thoughts and sensory feelings and emotions? When last did any of us not watch the clock and allow ourselves to simply BE?

It could well be the reason we're all on the verge of nervous breakdowns, including myself.

The hubster brought us quickly down to earth after the performance by getting angry at a guy driving a car considerably better than the one I was driving, calling him names out the open window because the guy was trying to edge into the choked exit lanes so he could get to the freeway and then, after I motioned the driver in, sticking his hand out the window and flipping him off. Welcome to L.A.

Our car is modest and a base model but I figure the guy is probably making payments on his Mercedes (with the handicapped placard) and I'm not making car payments at all so I'm probably in the cat bird seat compared to him anyway. I was mellow and happy and perfectly willing to let the guy in, in spite of the fact that he could have made the same freeway by going straight instead of squeezing in. Hell, I had already held my ground against an Escalade which is why I was where I was, I was happy to return the favor. As I realized the hubster was literally employing half a piece sign at the guy I dived for the only luxury a base model car has...power windows. I would cheerfully have closed the window on his wrist at that point.

He beat the window inside and continued to berate the unfortunate owner of the Mercedes. Now...I figure, maybe the guy didn't know his way around the area and panicked at the thought of having to turn right or go straight when his GPS was telling him to TURN LEFT! He might have panicked when he saw the freeway on ramp on his left and not been aware that he could also get on the same freeway by going straight. He might have missed the "right turn only" signs on the side of the lane he was in and been caught by surprise. He might have been from out of town. He might have been terrified at the thought of ending up in the heart of Hollywood after dark(especially on Thursday, it's club night). And he might have just been an asshole. In the long run, I really didn't see that it was a big deal and certainly not worth the aggravation. I hissed "STOP it!" to the hubster and idly wondered if I should point out that he was acting on a par with the group of teenagers we were ranting about earlier in the week. All he needed was a beer cooler on his head. I decided to bite my tongue (literally, damn that hurt) and change the subject.

But anyway, the Bowl was so amazingly lovely that we're getting tickets for Turandot this week-end. I doubt it will sell out. In the first place, it's an opera and in the second place I'm anxiously awaiting Carmageddon, which starts this evening and will last through the week-end and will keep a lot of people from the west side ON the west side. More room for me.

I could actually buy tickets over the Internet, which I LOVE. On the other hand, if I go the box office I'll avoid the Internet service charge AND get out of the office. If it wasn't for the Internet I wouldn't know about this. Oh wait, I probably would. Before the Internet I actually READ my mail. I would have seen this on the schedule the Hollywood Bowl sends me ever year.

The guys from "Avenue Q" were right. The Internet IS for porn. Everything else? I think we need to go back to doing it in person.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

They're Coming To Take Me Away...

You know, there's a point in life where one thinks one is ready for a rubber room. When I reach that point, I picture myself,alone, sitting under a tree on the lawn of some sort of sanitarium, wearing my clean Eileen West cotton lawn robe, the one with the little pink roses and the tiny pearl buttons on it, enjoying the shade and a small breeze, making a lanyard. When this image pleases me, I know my wick is about to sputter.

My sister-in-law occasionally tells me about her girl week-ends. Now, her kids are grown too, we had our kids pretty much at the same time. Here's the thing. She never had any qualms about leaving the kids and going away with some friends for, what is now popularly known as "me time." I was a good mother, stayed home, took the kids with us pretty much everywhere and find myself, now, fat and friendless. Oh, I pushed them out of the nest, don't get me wrong. And they grew up tall and proud...every parent should have a picture of themselves flanking their college graduate. I have mine on my desk. My SIL doesn't have one of those.

On the other hand, her girls aren't out on a work furlough and she has her sanity. Today I think maybe it's a fair trade.

The whole melt down started over the Independence Day week-end. It was hot, unbelievably sticky and my apartment is still decorated with the stuff I managed to salvage from my house. The furniture is all too big and it's all too brown and you can't really tell where the cat crap brown industrial carpet we're allowed stops and the table legs begin, it's all the SAME DAMN COLOR! BROWN!

It LOOKS hot. Oh LORD, what I could give for cream color carpet. The place would look bigger, brighter. It would go so nicely with the cat pee. Because the cat is no longer allowed out. He used to go in and out but, about two months ago, he started going out and not coming back for 36 hours. We discovered that management had finally fixed all the torn and missing screens that covered the cat size entrances to the crawl space under the building and so the cat had no where to hang out. I guess he decided to hang out in another neighborhood, I dunno. I just know that, after the second two day long foray into the wilds of the urban village, the hubster stopped letting him out.

The cat doesn't feel this is the appropriate solution. No stupid cat he, it seems that he has figured out that if he pees over everything he can find someone will kick his sorry ass outside. This hasn't happened. It has only served to enrich the people who make Resolve Carpet Cleaner and contribute to my general sense of "to HELL with this."

What I find interesting is that I am currently in a struggle with a human being who is doing the same thing. Crapping all over me in an attempt to make me to freaking mad I will kick her to the curb. Problem is, I can't. I would SO like to, but it's not my decision to make. There is something she has to do for me, one stinking hour, twice a month. This annoys her to no end. It annoyed her when she said "You know, I'm busy, I'm not going to do that anymore, I don't have time" and the guy in charge said, in essence "not my problem." Like the cat, she can't figure out that a campaign to antagonize the person on the bottom of the food chain accomplishes nothing except to antagonize the person on the bottom of the food chain. I'd LOVE to kick her sorry butt to the curb. I KNOW this is what she wants and, if it happens, her whiny ass wins and I don't care. I do NOT want her around.

Like that changes anything. But I digress...

Well, on the 4th of July we made a long awaited trip to the Hollywood Bowl for picnic, fireworks and Hall and Oates. It was hot and muggy. The hubster kept saying he was going to get parking and then kept forgetting so that was out. I had two trays of chicken I could ill afford and a HUGE round loaf of bread, all set for my "stuff the chicken in the bread bowl" feast. I made hummus and Chicago dip and potato salad with red, white and blue potatoes. At about 1:30pm I turned the oven on to pre-heat and got the chicken ready. I smelled gas.

The pilot light was out. Now, the landlord furnishes stoves. They are a model that isn't made anymore by a company that's out of business and they get them at a flea market and have them refurbished. Mine has been down to three burners for over two years now, I'm still waiting for that to be fixed. The pilot light for the oven requires a long match, a metal telescoping wand and a mirror. I kid you not. In short, it has to be done by the gas company. So the chicken is a wash. So's the bread bowl. The hubster has filled out the form on the unemployment wrong for the second time so, suffice it to say, we're sucking air.

I put my last two packs of brats in a pan with a bottle of .99 cent beer and an onion and simmered them. THREE freaking stores and I finally found something that would pass for hot dog buns, there wasn't one left in town on the 4th. I grilled the brats on top of the stove, because I no longer have an outdoor grill, and packed up what we had the we headed to the subway for the one stop trip to Hollywood and the free shuttle to the Bowl.

Sold out, packed to the last bench seat. Not unexpected and we had our tickets for two months now. We had our tickets right next to a large group of the most obnoxious, loud, ill mannered, rude teenagers I have ever encountered in my LIFE and I'm pushing SIXTY. They claimed to be part of a theater camp but what the hell kind of theater people think that talking loudly thought the entire first half of a 4th of July concert because it's all orchestra and you can't expect youngsters to tolerate an orchestra playing crap like "The Stars and Stripes Forever." Really? I've behaved better when I was STONED than these kids did.

We were told, upon complaining the next day, that their behavior was all OUR fault as my husband put a cooler on his head and scared the youngsters. Really? My grey haired, balding, almost 60 year old husband put a cooler on his head? Let's not even get into the 40 ill mannered louts who are, apparently, really nice kids unless they see a beer cooler. Which, btw, we weren't carrying. Although I understand the kids a little better, someone is making the big bucks to run a camp for the over privileged to get them out of mom and dads hair for a week during the summer and is telling them that they don't have to bother with that boring old orchestra stuff and it's all OUR fault for complaining. And putting a beer cooler on our head. Frankly, I'm too damn old to balance a cooler on my head anymore and the hubster is so damn stuffy and getting stuffier as the days go by I'm surprised he even carries a cooler anymore. Oh wait, he doesn't, he hands it off to the boys. We were also told that the charmers were instructed to treat the performers on stage in the same manner they would wish to be treated when they are on stage. I SO want to attend one of their performances, I'd sell one of my kids to get the price of that ticket.

A long, hot sticky walk down into Hollywood to the subway, which we had just missed. Exhausted and miserable, we all sat on the tile floor of the subway station and waited the 20 minutes for the next train. Finally home, to a hot, brown apartment with a hungry cat and about 5 feet of laundry awaiting me. And piles of newspapers all over the floor. And I think the hubster is taking in other people's mail and leaving it all over the dining room table. I crawled over the piles of laundry and magazines and DVDs and CDs on the bedroom floor, went to bed and cried.

It hasn't gotten any better. Although I went back to the Bowl on Saturday, they ran the re-mastered "West Side Story," digitally dropped out all the music and the Los Angeles Philharmonic PLAYED IT. DAMN! It brought me to tears. We were enthralled, from start to finish, as the Jets and Sharks picked up Richard Beymer's cold, dead corpse you could have heard a pin drop. As the last credit came up the audience, about 15 thousand of us, rose as one and exploded in cheers and applause. I was charmed by the little girl, sitting behind us with her family, who I overheard asking "Did they kill him?" Not irritated, enchanted. Made me feel better, I was beginning to think I was turning crotchety after the experience on the 4th.

Funny, that. Personally, I think "West Side Story" is flawed, the film even more than the show. From what I gather, Leonard Bernstein was an ass and Jerome Robbins even worse. The older I get, the more I like Sondheim though. Put a live orchestra on stage with it though, it was nirvana. I don't know if it was because we were in the really, really cheap seats or what, but it was simply beautiful and restored my faith in audiences in general. I'd say there was a better class of people there, but then I would sound like my mother and that will never do. I think though, that when you're with a bunch of people who are there because they WANT to be, instead of because they're stuck sitting through the first half of a program only to get to the second half, well, the good experience spreads like a virus, and all for the better.

Tonight, we go to hear Lang Lang play Prokofiev. May the Lord protect me from field trips and tour buses.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I know. I haven't been here much lately. This may be a good thing, hard to tell. But it's the 4th of July, my favorite holiday and I'm right now boiling red, white and blue potatoes (okay, the blue potatoes are actually those little purple ones) for the potato salad I will put in the picnic I'm fixing today, the picnic I will put together and haul to the Hollywood Bowl so I can sit outside and listen to Hall and Oates and watch fireworks and swear I'm never going to do this again because I will have done the entire thing myself while the hubster sits on the love seat in front of the television all day and finds the movie with the most murders to watch and the kids sit in their own room because I have boys and even THEY can't take this recent marathon of agony and evisceration the hubster calls "good films".

I'm going to the store in a minute to try and find affordable chicken for said picnic. BTW...brown your chicken then stuff it in a hollowed out round loaf of bread coated with herb butter, wrap it in foil and shove in a 325 oven for oh, two hours or so then wrap it in newspaper and put it in a tote bag. Best picnic chicken you'll ever eat. Not to mention the freaking BREAD bowl. YUM.

I'm going to spend my last 5 bucks on chicken and be home in time for "1776," which starts in an hour and I will end up watching alone, as always. Eh. The hubster has never quite seen the pleasure that the gift of sharing something that gives another person pleasure brings. Although, I'm guessing that suffering through a movie he doesn't pick gives him NO pleasure, and never will, as he has a mindset going into it and will now be swayed. I suppose that a bunch of guys dressed in plus fours and powdered wigs singing their way through the declaration of war against England seems, in the telling, like a major waste of time but trust me, it's one HELL of a show and at least make sure you see "The Egg."

Because I'm off, I'm leaving the both of you with the following. It's probably the best thing I've ever done, she said modestly. Anyway, Happy 4th. Stay safe, be well and never, never forget what went down in that war over 200 years ago to bring us here.

My father built a cannon.

I must have been about 10. We had just moved to the city I live in today. My father, a precision machinist by trade and a Confederate General wannabe the rest of the time, got it into his gun loving head that he could build a cannon and damned if he didn't. Oh, it was a scale model, it's brass barrel finely spun on one of "The Shop's" machines. It sat on a handmade wooden caisson, beautifully constructed with large wooden spoke wheels. The entire thing was probably about 15 inches in length and for 364 days of the year (365 if it was a leap year) it sat on the side of the hearth in the living room. It made a nice tableau in there, the large, carved wood screaming war eagle clutching a brace of arrows in it's claw proudly gracing the wall over the mantel, my mother's kerosene lamps flanking my grandfather's clock and a red lava light ON the mantel and the little cannon sitting proudly on the red brick hearth.

On the morning of July 4th, however, my dad would wheel the little cannon out to the porch. He would put out the flag and then go to work. First, into the muzzle of the cannon went a small measure of black powder. Then something else I don't remember now. And finally, the "wad", a small disc of pliable yet firm material, about a half an inch thick and the exact diameter of the inside of the barrel. This was then tamped down with a wooden stick he had fashioned to look like something he had seen in a Revolutionary War movie, "Johnny Tremaine" if I remember right. And finally, a pinch of gunpowder was put into the little hole that had been drilled into the barrel from the top, towards the back.

A long, fireplace match was struck and touched to the little pile of gunpowder and everyone retreated a safe distance from the little cannon, about 12 inches would do it. The powder flared and went out. And about 5 seconds later, "BOOM!" came the shot, smoke puffed from the mouth of the cannon and, largely due to the echo set off by the set up of the gun on the roofed front porch a MOST satisfying noise was generated.

This shot usually occurred at about 7:15am. On a national holiday. When everyone was home. Sleeping in on a day off was highly overrated in my father's mind. My father actually felt national holidays in general were overrated and only let his employees have the day off because the government forced him to, an attitude he hasn't changed, btw. Earlier this year, on President's Day, my phone rang and the caller I.D. indicated it was my father. I cheerfully answered and was treated to a good five minutes on why the hell was I home, what the hell was President's Day and when did we start celebrating THAT? He doesn't believe in taking vacation time either, I am continually lectured on why I should NOT be taking vacation days. I took a day off to attend my uncle's FUNERAL and he's still bitching about how I shouldn't have done that. I told him not to worry, when it's time for his funeral I'll go to work instead if that would make him feel better about it, but I digress...

So, about 7:15, the first shot was fired on Burbank. At approximately 7:20 my best friend's father would appear at our front door, having been rudely awakened on a day off. He would have been there earlier but he usually paused to put on a pair of pants, light a cigarette and open a beer before he headed across the street and volunteered to tamp the next load, cannon and all, up my father's ass.

The cannon then was relegated to every hour on the hour. My mother refused to go near the thing but my father and I could load and light in our sleep.

This was interspersed with periodic firings of the cat food cans. But only if someone had been "back home" (which meant someone in my father's family had been back to Mississippi even though they all actually grew up in Oklahoma, which they all claimed wasn't any part of the Midwest at all but really belonged to the Confederacy) and brought firecrackers back with them. Firecrackers were absolutely illegal in the Los Angeles area, even way back then and were always a treat. My best friend Marilyn, my dad, her dad (now on his second six pack of the day and having forgotten the early morning wake up war cry from the Dean's house) and I would place empty cat food or tuna cans upside down on a firecracker in the middle of the street, with the wick sticking out the side. Someone would light the fuse and then we ran like hell for the curb, where we waited breathlessly for the eventual explosion and oohed and ahhed over the height achieved by said can.

One afternoon we had just lit the fuse and straightened up to observe a black and white, quietly making his way down the block, searching for 4th of July miscreants with sparklers (which were also illegal in my town, in fact, EVERY kind of firework was illegal here, we're at the base of some notoriously dry foothills and the fire hazard does make it understandable, not to mention the idiots that set their garages on fire and blow off the occasional finger. If you can't light your barbecue without ending up in the E.R. you really shouldn't be allowed to play with gunpowder). Well, the fuse had been lit, the can was over the firecracker, the cop car was about 10 feet away and the four of us were pretty much shit out of luck.

The fuse smoldered forever. The car slowly passed directly over the can. We stood at the curb, the four of us looking as if we had just turned around to view at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and were now giant salt licks. The firecracker had the longest fuse known to man. The car slowly, silently rolled over the can and continued on it's agonizing way. His rear bumper cleared the focus of our attention and then, about five yards later, the thing went off like a roman candle. The cop car jerked to a stop. We stood, frozen. It was a shame now that I think of it, that can must have gone up a good 25 feet. We waited and waited and finely, mercifully, it landed, with a thud, on the asphalt and rolled to the gutter. We stood. The cop car idled. After what seemed like a week later the Mexican stand-off ended, the car shifted back into drive and continued his slow, silent tour of the neighborhood.

We retreated to the safety of the local city park, where watermelon was free, there was continuous (bad) entertainment under the band shell, one of the adjoining streets had been closed off and was being used for hayrides and tandem bicycle rentals and I came home with an empty coin purse and a plastic bag full of goldfish. My mother reported that the cop circled the neighborhood every five minutes for the next two hours but she was prone to hyperbole at times.

My mother died 10 years ago today, btw. She would. She's sitting somewhere now thinking "Ha!" My father and I used to drive her to drink, or at least that's what SHE said caused it. She also revered Thomas Jefferson and dying on the same date he did would have pleased her to no end. The date, not the death.

The cannon, btw, was retired many years later. My father overloaded it and blew the barrel right off the little wood caisson, breaking one of the exquisitely crafted wheels in the process. He fixed it and it sits on his hearth now, under the screaming eagle. But it's all for show, it never worked quite right again. The city eventually stopped putting on the 4th of July picnic and carnival in the early 80s, the expense was killing them. My father left my mother, remarried and now lives about 90 minutes away. But for some reason it doesn't matter. Because every 4th of July I dress in red, white and blue and I make the flag cake and, even though my yard and barbecue were taken by the bank two years ago I will get out my grill pan and make burgers and hot dogs and potato salad and lemonade and I'll watch "1776" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and after dark I'll run out into the middle of the street to see what fireworks there are to be seen.

And I'll wax rhapsodic about the 4th of days gone by and I'll stop and think about what a truly remarkable thing celebrating Independence Day is.

So...HAPPY 4th, my friends! May your parades be long, your brass bands in tune, your barbecues easy to light, your baseball game successful and your beer cold. May you and your friends and neighbors have spectacular fireworks tonight. Because 234 years ago a bunch of sweaty men in bad wigs crossed the Rubicon and, in doing so, gave us this wonderful summer day.