(not the teenage kind)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I Will Keep All Future Academy Award Predictions To Myself

Saturday, February 26, 2005

And The Winner Is

Stephanie and I had a meeting at Casa Vega last weekend to discuss our choice for the academy awards. Well, it actually wasn't a meeting and not really our reason for getting together but I did make Stephanie choose her fantasy wins. But she really didn't want to play because she hadn't seen "Million Dollar Baby" yet. I have actually seen only one of the films - "Sideways" - but as you know this does not stop me from having opinions. My notes from the meeting are really hard to read but here goes:

Best Picture:
Stephanie - refused to make a fantasy pick when she did not have all the facts (i.e. had not seen "Million Dollar Baby.")
Me - my fantasy would be that there is no winner for best picture. Leonardo Di Caprio is too baby faced to be a credible Howard Hughes so "Aviator" is out. "Sideways" is good entertainment but best is best. We can do better. "Finding Neverland" sounds boring and pretends that J. M. Barrie was not a pedaphile. "Million Dollar Baby" stars Hilary Swank and she looks like a boy. Plus they say the film is about boxing but it's really about a whole something else. And "Ray" just doesn't do it for me. Even though I haven't seen it.

A little sidenote: I heard on the radio yesterday that for the first time since 1985, none of the best picture nominees have reached $100 million at the box office.

Best Director:
Stephanie - My notes say "spectacle," "major effort on his part," "now he's getting more mainstream so maybe it's time he wins." I believe she was talking about Martin Scorsese.
Me- My fantasy would be Alexander Payne. Because "Election" is one of my favorite movies.

Best Supporting Actor:
I think here is where Stephanie really refused to play. But my notes say Morgan Freeman and then that's crossed out and says Jamie Foxx. And I think that's right because Jamie Foxx won't win best actor and he really should win supporting because he completely stole that movie from Tom Cruise (oh, here is where Stephanie said that Jamie Foxx said that Tom Cruise gave him the movie).

Best Supporting Actress:
Natalie Portman. We just like her.

Best Actor:
Johnny Depp (see notes on Natalie Portman.) Oh, plus we think he's really, really cute. And we know people who thought so back when he was on "21 Jump Street."

Best Actress:
This is when I said that I want the woman from "Maria State of Grace" to win. And even though I'm not exactly sure of her name I did see the film. And she was great. And it's my fantasy win because it seems she has been completely ruled out because she does not speak English in this film. So nah, nah,nah, I really want her to win.

Friday, February 25, 2005


I was listening to the radio on the way to work and I'll admit I didn't catch the beginning of the segment but they started reading off lists of what "the people'" voted for best actors and actresses of ALL TIME. So the best actor of ALL TIME was Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump. Whatever. And the list of the five best actresses of ALL TIME included Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow and the winner was Katherine Hepburn for "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner." Whatever. But my favorite was the dialogue that followed between the DJ's which went something like this:

Male DJ: And Spencer Tracy was great in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." He wasn't nominated for that but for something else and I can't remember the name right now.

Female DJ: Was it that "mockingbird" movie you were talking about earlier?

Male DJ: No it wasn't that. Wait a minute... it was something with "wind."

Female DJ: "Gone with the Wind?"

Male DJ: No, no, wait it was "Inherit the Wind."


Stay tuned for my Academy Award predictions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Mob Turns on Pamie

This blog all started after I read the musings of a woman named Pam. Pam (or Pamie) is the self proclaimed "pop culture princess" and started writing her blog many, many years ago. She is a comedian, a writer, has published a novel, and has won awards for her blog. She is an excellent writer. Some of what she writes about is mundane, some quirky. She writes about her staph infection, about seeing a guy give himself a haircut while driving. Like most blogs, including this one, nothing too exciting. But she has a strong, loyal following who gushed at her wedding plans, who post comments proclaiming encouragement and admiration.

Pam also writes for a website called Television without Pity (TWoP). TWoP posts recaps of television shows which are written with a "snarky" attitude. Pam writes the recap for "The Gilmore Girls" and has been the recapper since the first episode of the show five years ago.

As usual, Pam posted the summary and link to her latest Gilmore Girls recap on her blog. Usually these postings evoke little to no comment. When I looked this morning, there were 55 comments. Why? Because her fans had turned on her. Pam did not like this episode of the Gilmore Girls as much as they did, her recaps have gotten stale and negative, she is overly critical of the characters, and she injects too much of her personal life into the recaps, no one cares about her wedding, they want to know about the show. Apparently you get booted off the TWoP forum if you insult the recapper so they took their complaints straight to the source, publicly instead of through her private e-mail.

The staff of TwoP, her husband included, rushed to defend. Her husband pointed out that some were defending TV characters while attacking an actual person. One TWoP recapper likened the attacks as visiting someone at home and insulting their decorations. The last post I read busted that analogy by pointing out that TWoP is a business and most businesses are interested in hearing what their customers think about the product and service. But since TWoP will not let their customers express their opinions on recappers they had to take it to the streets, or at least Pam's personal website. Pam herself has not weighed in and I imagine she is either devastated or working to perfect her rebuttal or just thinks it's stupid.

Many good things have happened in Pam's life over the past year, including her marriage and performing at the Aspen Comedy Festival. I admit that I vacillate between finding her hilarious and talented, finding her too cutesy, and finding myself completely jealous of her life and her successes. Reading the posts, it felt like the mob had thronged the castle demanding the head of the queen. Or dragged her into the town square to throw stones. I am intrigued as to why they turned on her. And for me at least it seemed so sudden. Mob mentality over the internet...if anyone is writing a thesis, I think it's a topic worth exploring.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Just Like Camping

Guess what? No hot water for me. It's been pretty torrential here in So Cal and yesterday morning I went to wash my face and the water was tepid. Yesterday was a holiday and I was determined not to leave the house or even get out of my pajamas. Which was almost challenging because I really wanted my newspaper. And I e-mailed Eric to see if he would come and get the newspaper from the end of my driveway for me but before he could reply the pup's sitter came to pick him up with my newspaper in hand. So there you have it. Didn't get dressed, didn't leave the house, didn't even deal with the tepid water because I thought maybe it would get hot again.

But things went in the other direction so instead of getting hotter, the water got colder. Freezing cold by the evening when I went to take a shower and wash my hair. So I got all "Little House on the Prairie" and started boiling water. They did that in "Little House on the Prairie" right? And then I almost burnt myself because I didn't let the water cool down enough. But I'm clean and I also realized I could not do this one more day.

So I called the ol' gas company to come light my pilot. But to do it in the same day they can't narrrow down the hours so they could come any time between 8 am and 8 pm. And you just have to stay in your house. Which I loved doing yesterday but now that I have to it's just like get me out of here... And now I'm regretting that I did not get dressed yesterday because I need shampoo and I need to go to the ATM and I need to mail my netflix movies in. And don't even get me started on the lack of food in this place. Something like this probably happened to the person who invented the saying "never put off tomorrow what you can do today."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fear and Loathing

Sandra Dee. John Raitt. Hunter S. Thompson. See, they come in three.

Sandra Dee: The yahoo news had a headline that the star of Gidget had died. I knew they weren't talking about Sally Fields because they would have just said Sally Fields.

John Raitt: I once sat next to his daughter at the bar at the Troubadour but that's another story for another time. I saw her in concert many, many years ago and she brought out her father at the end to sing "Oklahoma." I don't remember anything else about this concert but that moment. First because he had an amazing voice. Second because the audience started singing along and I was with my friend, Rozi, who once took a trip with my family to the Grand Canyon and said that this part of the concert reminding her of traveling with us because we sang show tunes on the drive. Including, I'm sure, "Okalahoma."

Hunter S.Thompson: I do not even know where to start to talk about this amazing, amazing writer who would have loved to hear my story about sitting next to Bonnie Raitt at the Troubadour but now never will. Hunter S. Thompson started a new kind of journalism (which he called "gonzo" journalism) in which the writer inserts himself into the story. And it was hard to tell with him what was fact and what was fiction but it really didn't matter. He had an amazing edge and humor and Uncle Duke in "Doonesbury" was based on him. His first published book was about the "Hell's Angels" and, believe me, it's everything you would ever want to know.

I have read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" many, many times - it was, is one of my favorite books (although when I pulled it off the shelf this morning, it appears that the print is now very, very small - must have shrunk after all these years....) The book starts "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." He is traveling with his 300 pound, Samoan attorney (who he calls Dr. Gonzo.) His books are illustrated by Ralph Steadman and there is a part in "Fear and Loathing" when the attorney is in the closet, I think, throwing up on his shoes and then, oh, forget it, you really need to read the book. But there's a great drawing of the aforementioned scene. And that book, along with "Hell's Angels" and many of his others, is a chronicle of our culture (well, the counterculture) in the late 60's, early 70's. Classics.

Hunter S.Thompson wrote many of his pieces on assignment for Rolling Stone magazine. Much of his writing was political. It was an article he wrote early in 1992 for Rolling Stone about a rib dinner in Arkansas that made me fall in love with Bill Clinton. I'll leave you with a quote from his friend, the journalist Paul Krassner: "He may have died relatively young but he made up for it in quality if not quantity of years." RIP

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Dear Good Christian Man:

You might have guessed that I was opposed to hiring you to be the head of our non-profit organization. It's just I was worried because you were coming from a faith-based agency that I once went to a breakfast for and I did not like having to give my thanks to Jesus before I was allowed to eat. You were our only candidate.

And I wanted to like you. You were a likeable guy. But you were never there when I called. And you always painted a rosy picture which some might call good Christian optimism, God will provide, but was really what I would call lying. And then there was the time that you noticed I gave you a bad performance review and you asked me out to lunch and told me that if you had given the same review to one of your employees, you would have fired that employee so what could you do to do a better job. And I told you. And you didn't do any of it.

So when you said that you had found a job in Kentucky convincing teenage girls that going to the prom all knocked up is so much better than an abortion and that Kentucky would be a much better place to raise your kids than Los Angeles, I was happy for you and even happier for the agency although there were some who were sad to see you go. Because for some reason you fooled everyone but me.

Except that you know how you kept blaming the State of California for not paying the bills for one of our programs? We called and found out you never even submitted any bills. And remember that event last year that you said went well? Turns out you did not even go. And what's this about your writing a check to yourself on a day when the bookkeeper was right there in the office? Was she in the bathroom and you couldn't wait? And where is all that software you reimbursed yourself for anyway?

Hey Good Christian Man, didn't they tell you that Good Christian Men aren't supposed to lie to and steal from struggling non-profit agencies?

Good luck with those girls in Kentucky,

Heathen Woman

Thursday, February 17, 2005

No One Wins

My favorite postsecret card.
Posted by Hello

No one guessed my favorite postcard.

And the prize was like a million bucks. Oh well....

And A Close Second...

First Runner Up
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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Plame Game

The appeals court has upheld the contempt ruling against Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine for refusing to reveal sources in the "outing" of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. Valerie Plame is married to Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador, who a week before the leak wrote an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times in which he debunked some of the weapons of mass destruction claims used by our government as an excuse to go to war.

Valerie Plame was outed by Robert Novak who said he got the information from two senior Bush administration sources. It is illegal and dangerous to reveal the identity of a CIA operative. Ms. Plame's career was ended, her life and lives of others put in danger. Ms. Miller is quoted in the New York Times as saying that this is "a warning to people not to talk because the government will come after you, and that's what we're fighting." So, Ms. Miller, I ask you - what about the right of Joseph Wilson to speak his mind without his wife effectively being killed by the Bush administration? In the same article, Mr. Cooper tries to put things in perspective by saying at least his hand hasn't been blown off in Iraq which is what happened to one of his colleagues. Oh, you mean from that war that Joseph Wilson had the nerve to challenge? We are supposed to get all teary-eyed because Mr. Cooper might have to leave his six year old son to go to jail. And he's doing this for us...yeah, makes me all misty.

Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper did not actually write any stories revealing that Ms. Plame was a CIA operative. Remember, that was Robert Novak. But everyone is being awfully squirrelly about what he has and hasn't told investigators. Ms. Miller says "this is really about the right to know" but I guess that doesn't include our right to know anything about the guy that knowingly published illegally revealed and dangerous information.

On another note, rumor has it that Deep Throat, the informant who reported to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about the illegal Watergate activities (as opposed to illegally informing on people just doing their job) is very ill. Ben Bradlee has even written his obituary (hey, I just thought of something....maybe the gender has been a red herring. Maybe Deep Throat is a woman???? Nah.) Not that I want Henry Kissinger or whoever dead but this news has caused me to spring out of bed every morning and grab the obituary page because I just gotta know.

Anyway, Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper, since I know you read this blog, please think about your values. This is not about the right to free speech, First Amendment, blah, blah, blah. You are encouraging maliciousness. You are protecting an administration that lies, that gets rid of people who don't think the way they do. Gee, next time I'm checking for Deep Throat's obituary, I'm checking to see what country I'm living in too.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


You can go here and read secrets that people have sent in for this art project. Then you can send one yourself (rules at the bottom.) Then you can guess which is my favorite.

Monday, February 14, 2005

We Skip The Boardroom And Fire The Mutt

Handsome But Ineffective
Posted by Hello

Last night was dinner with the family and, while I enjoyed myself thoroughly, the restaurant seemed to be having trouble with their service. In fact, our theory is that the waiters were doubling as chefs. When we asked what was going on our waiter said "Trouble in the kitchen. You know, once they become citizens they want all sorts of things." Not that he wasn't once a "fer-eigner" himself with that thick accent of his. The meal took two hours including drinks, salads, main course, dessert, coffee which seemed long but not unreasonable although for my family? About an hour too long.....antsy always.

I get home, turn on Desperate Housewives and my phone rings around 9:30 or maybe a little after. It is my neighbor, The Cat Lady, asking if I had seen strange lights in my backyard. I thought this might be leading to an alien landing conversation because she is The Cat Lady but she was truly shaken up and, though she saw no person, she did see these weird orange lights behind her garage and it seemed to her that someone was looking for something but since she has nothing (but lots and lots of cats) she did not know what they hoped to find. I assured her that my pup is the self-appointed protector of the whole neighborhood and if there was a person in her backyard he would be barking so loudly they would be hearing him in Montana. So not to worry.

The mutt (this is not derogatory, he is a mutt, I have the papers to prove it) and I finish watching Desperate Housewives and then go to bed. He is lying across my stomach when the helicopter comes and starts shining a blue light in our backyard. A racket. Helicopter circling and circling. Blue light shining and shining. I thought it would at least get a growl out of my hyper-vigilant man's best friend. No, he's just happy, happy using my stomach as a pillow. Finally I could take no more and looked out the front window. There are police officers hiding behind trees and stuff. And that mutt still isn't barking. I call The Cat Lady and it turns out she did what I should have told her to do and called the police. They did not find anything but who knows what that helicopter blue light scared away. Oh, and a shout out to the LAPD. They came fast and they brought heavy machinery. Now if they would just stop killing teenage boys driving stolen cars.

As the police got in their cars to drive away, the pup finally starts barking!!! What is up with him? If a leaf drops down the street, he barks. If a door slams two blocks away, he barks. We're not even going to the boardroom on this one. Mutt, you're fired....

Congrats To Howard Dean

New Head Of The DNC
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(poster by Stephanie for the Van Nuys Airshow in 2003.)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Every Which Way But

Sideways? You know, the movie that was nominated for an Academy Award. That I thought was good entertainment and all that but some of the plot did not seem plausible. And then all these people told me they thought it was very realistic. Depends who you hang out with I guess. Much of the action takes place in Santa Barbara and there is lots of wine talking and wine drinking and wine tasting.

Yesterday my friend Jean Marie, Eric, and I went to an event at a local wine shop where they had all the Sideways wine vendors and they gave you a copy of the book from which the movie is based and the author of the book was there giving autographs. Jean Marie really wanted an autograph and so did I after tasting a bunch of the wines.

While waiting in line, I noticed that the author was spending much time chatting with the ladies and it occurred to me that he must be totally scoring since this movie started getting all the kudos (whoops, I mean kadoos.) So here was the banter I had with the author:

Me: Is this the best year of your life ever?
Author: No, actually, the best year was when I was twelve years old and got a 75 at a golf tournament and won the tournament.
Me (my eyes glazing over and my mind wandering at the mention of golf): Huh?
Author: Well, okay, this would be a great year. But twelve years old? Winning a golf tournament?

Jean Marie asked him which character was him and he said "Miles," Miles being the lovable loser who we root for and hope will get the girl at the end. Which is not surprising because twelve year old all excited about winning a golf tournament? Well, I won't go there.

My personal favorite wine pourer was the blonde hottie who asked everyone if they had ever been to Santa Barbara like it was a gazillion miles away. We all agreed that our favorite wine was the Hitching Post's Highliner.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Gay Penguins Are In

Just like to keep my readers up on the latest haps. And gay penguins are it. Seems there is a zoo in Germany that, well, here is the word from Reuters:
BERLIN (Reuters) - A plan by a German zoo to test the sexual appetites of a group of suspected homosexual penguins has sparked outrage among gay and lesbian groups, who fear zookeepers might force them to turn straight.

"All sorts of gay and lesbian associations have been e-mailing and calling in to protest," said a spokesman for the zoo in the northwestern city of Bremerhaven on Friday.

He said the zoo concluded the penguins might be gay after seeing male penguins trying to mate with other males and trying to hatch offspring out of stones.

German media reported that female Swedish penguins would be brought to the zoo to test the theory, but when word got out about the plan, the phones started ringing.

"Nobody here is trying to break-up same sex pairs by force," the zoo's director Heike Kueck told public broadcaster NDR. "We don't know if the three male pairs are really gay or just got together because of a lack of females."
I'm glad to see all that support coming in for the gay penguins. They are all the rage on NPR and all over the blogosphere (that couldn't be the right spelling. If anyone knows the right spelling, please let me know.) They even have their own merchandise. And that zoo just better not even try to amend the constitution and stop them from being allowed to get married. They should be left alone to raise their stones in peace. It's about time we all got together and started focusing on the important stuff.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

AOL: You Can Check Out But You Can Never Leave

I need help. The evil AOL has me in their clutches and won't let go. I got DSL over a month ago and have been trying to cancel my AOL since. Hasn't happened yet. First off, I go to the website to look for how to cancel. It ain't easy. After about a half an hour of clicking here and there and yonder, I find out that you can't even cancel on-line. You have to call a toll-free number.

I call the toll-free number. This woman starts asking me a gazillion bizillion questions that have nothing to do with the cancellation that I am trying to make happen. I keep putting her on hold because I'm at work. Then I tell her she needs to cut to the chase. Well, did you know that many DSL users are choosing to maintain AOL as protection against viruses because AOL updates their firewall security every tenth of a nanosecond and the nearest provider after that only updates every nanosecond. At least that's what I think she said.

So before I made the decision to cancel my AOL and say goodbye to my very first screen name that I had forever, I actually contacted AOL to see what the best deal they could offer to me to just keep the screen name would be. They said $14.99. Way too much on top of the DSL. Well, when I told the alarmist you must protect your computer lady this, all of sudden the price was $9.99. Plus she is going to send me some materials on this whole virus protection thing and pay for my service for a month while I mull things over. Which only means I'm going to have to remember to call again when the month is up so I can answer another gazillion gabillion questions and hear about all the threats to my security again.

They are never going to let me go.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Cash In Twenty Four Hours

If anyone was wondering how easy it is to get $250,000 in cash in less than 24 hours I can now report. Not easy. You see, my ab fab real estate business partner, Helen, has gone a little wacky on me and on Friday found some website about foreclosures and decided we had to buy one. Now. She found an auction for a house three blocks away from her and she and her husband drove by to look at it over the weekend. She was supposed to call me about it on Sunday but lost track of time.

So on Monday she calls me in the morning and tells me that, though the opening bid on the house (which was being auctioned on Tuesday at 11:00 am in a courthouse not even near where we work) was $125,000, she decided that we should be ready to go up to $250,000 and for these auctions you need to present them with cash.

And then we both actually set out calling banks trying to get someone to give us the cash. Now. We did not succeed. Which I think is a good thing because, instead of going to the auction yesterday, we went to Barnes and Noble and found a book on foreclosures and I've only read the first two chapters but they say about ten times in the first two chapters that buying a foreclosure at an auction is a bad move.

Now one reason I wasn't so put off by the whole idea was because I actually had experience at the age of four of buying a house at an auction. My dad and I left the house one morning, telling my mother that we were going to get the car washed (well, that's what HE told her. I was four years old. Don't remember much of the details.) The next thing I know we're in front of this house and I'm on my dad's shoulders and my dad and this guy are raising their hands back and forth. And then my dad won. And then we took a tour of the house. And then we went home and I'm sure my dad had some sort of plan as to how to break it to my mom but he must not have shared it with me because there she was ironing and I ran into the house shouting "We won. We won."

But I digress...the thing about the thing with Helen is that the whole time we were acting so serious. Like we were really going to get this money and we were really going to just take off in the middle of the day and go far, far away to this auction. So last night we were having margaritas and started telling some other people this story and we just started laughing and laughing. You know I'm really not sure whether this is a story about desperation or about entreprenuerial spiritedness but, boy, it's fun to dream.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

If You're Happy And You Know It Don't Read This

HOLLYWOOD (Reuters) - They really said it -- notable quotes from the news:

"What is the name of the memory book you just got me? It's a book about memorizing. It's a memory book. And it's awesome."

-- Actress CARMEN ELECTRA to a male companion when asked by the New York Daily News what book she was reading.

I needed something to laugh about because all the talk about the budget this morning got me really sad especially because I'm still upset about the abstinence-only education funding that I posted about yesterday. California is screwed. Our children will never be educated, our hospitals are all going to close, and we will never be properly prepared to fight terrorism or even our own local crime.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Abstinence-Only Education (plus some advise for the single gal)

How did this escape my notice? In December 2004, the Committee on Government Reform published a report commissioned by Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat from Los Angeles – whoo hoo!) called “The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs.” They found an unbelievable amount of “false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health” in the curriculum for these programs. And that’s how the kids of America are getting their sex education these days.

And George W. LOVES the abstinence-only education. He wanted to spend $270 million on it this year. I guess he doesn't always get what he wants, though, because only $167 million of our tax money is going to this bunch o’ malarkey. Yep, you and I are paying for it.

For more details, you can go here. My personal favorite is the curriculum that calls a 43-day-old fetus a “thinking person.” Oh, and “one curriculum teaches that women need ‘financial support’, while men need ‘admiration.’”

And for all you single gals who are wondering how to attract a man, I leave you with this little fairy tale from a book in the “Choosing the Best” series (part of the abstinence-only educational tools):
Deep inside every man is a knight in shining armor, read to rescue a maiden and slay a dragon. When a man feels trusted, he is free to be the strong, protecting man he longs to be.

Imagine a knight traveling through the countryside. He hears a princess in distress and rushes gallantly to slay the dragon. The princess calls out, “I think this noose will work better!” and throws him a rope. As she tells him how to use the noose, the knight obliges her and kills the dragon. Everyone is happy, except the knight, who doesn’t feel like a hero. He is depressed and feels unsure of himself. He would have preferred to use his own sword.

The knight goes on another trip. The princess reminds him to take the noose. The knight hears another maiden in distress. He remembers how he used to feel before he met the princess; with a surge of confidence, he slays the dragon with the sword. All the townspeople rejoice, and the knight is a hero. He never returned to the princess. Instead, he lived happily after in the village, and eventually married the maiden – but only after making sure she knows nothing about nooses.

Moral of the story: Occasional assistance may be all right, but too much will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

On The Campaign Trail

Though I'm a little scared to jinx it, it's looking as though Howard Dean might be named head of the DNC after all. In honor of Dr. Dean, here is a little something that I wrote while in blissful innocence about the political process in June 2003:
It is time to get involved in the 2004 Presidential election. After reading an interview with the former Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, I decide he is the one. Dean’s campaign is being conducted largely through the internet. I find out about meetup.com, a website that connects people with similar interests who live in the same area. Meetups are held once a month and they have one for almost everything. You name it – there’s a Buffy meetup, a knitting meetup, a vegetarian meetup. Dean’s meetups are by far the most popular.

I learn about blogs. These are “weblogs,” diaries that people keep on the internet. My favorite is carlwithak. Karl is a 26 year old political veteran. He came out in The Advocate, telling the story of being a gay man working on Republican campaigns and his transformation into a Democrat. He has recently sold his life story to Hollywood. His blog is a combination of personal musings and Dean advocacy.

I rope in my friend Stephanie who is my political partner in crime from way back. People are still talking about our 1996 house party for Clinton where we served frozen potato skins from Costco that weren’t quite thawed.

We attend meet-ups, we join a San Fernando Valley group for Dean. I become Chair of the Voter Outreach Committee and Stephanie does much of the work. We hand out flyers at Farmers’ Markets.

“Would you like some information on Howard Dean for President?” I ask a benign looking young couple as they head towards a vegetable booth.

“No, sorry, we’re from Oregon,” they say.

We attend a meeting describing the delegate process in California. The leader explains that there has to be an equal amount of male and female delegates. There is a woman sitting two rows in front of us except when she talks she has the voice of a man. She expresses concern about where transgenders fall in on the delegate diversity plan and what sex they would consider transgenders to be.

“We let people self identify,” the moderator explains.

At a party, I find the man who is responsible for coordinating the delegate process for Dean.

“I want to be a delegate,” I tell him.

“Oh, don’t we all, honey,” he answers. He takes my business card. He gives Stephanie a big hug even though they have never met before.

We get an e-mail. Howard Dean is going to be at LAX on a Sunday speaking to the California Teacher’s Association. There’s going to be a rally afterwards and he’ll speak to his supporters. I tell Stephanie I’ll pick her up at 1:00. She keeps me waiting in the car for half an hour as she paints on her eyebrows. On the drive, she obsessively opens the passenger side mirror to make sure they have been painted on right.

“When my mother sees me on the news, they have to look good,” she says.

“You better shut that mirror,” I say. “If you leave the mirror open, the light stays on and it will ruin my battery.”

This dialogue is repeated several times. The traffic is awful. “No one’s going to see your eyebrows,” I say. “It will all be over by the time we even get there.”

But, it’s not. He is just finishing his speech. Stephanie has made her own sign that says “Green for Dean.” He comes outside, walks around, shakes hands. As he’s shaking mine, I notice he is so short that I can clearly see his dental work. He sees Stephanie’s sign and playfully taps at it. He gives a short speech, encouraging our grassroots effort, saying it is all up to us.

After he leaves, Stephanie is interviewed by The Washington Post. A reporter from The Daily Bruin talks to me. Stephanie is photographed holding up her sign by some Orange County rag. We meet Carl with a K! His arm is in a cast because he had a hiking accident in Griffith Park. He is excited because the Howard Dean campaign people have told him they love his blog. They tell him that he is the second celebrity they’ve met that day – the Body for Jake guy was on their plane.

There is an announcement about a new campaign called “Adopt a Heartland Voter.” We are supposed to find someone in an influential state in the Midwest and correspond with them about Howard Dean. I send information to my 95 year old Aunt Mary in Des Moines, Iowa. She writes back:

“I am honestly not paying too much attention to the men running for office. I’ll tell you what I told Louis. I don’t think I’ll be here in 2004. He asked where are you going? I said six feet under.”

I log on to Karl’s blog. He has posted a streaming video of our rally at the airport. There is a clear shot of Howard Dean tapping Stephanie’s sign. Her eyebrows look fantastic.

Sidebar: Aunt Mary is still going strong in 2005.


Not King. I am talking about the indestructible Kong toy with a hole in the center in which you place treats seen in the picture above. That red thing. The pup hasn't had a new one in a long time and there they were at Target. With the treats and everything. So I got home last Monday night and gave him the new Kong and he was trying to get that treat out for hours. He does this by bouncing it on the floor until the treat comes out. It can take days and days. So eventually we went to bed.

In the middle of the night that puppy wannabe gets up, gets the Kong, and lies down at the edge of the bed. Then he lets go of the Kong so it falls on the floor. Then he jumps down and gets it, jumps back on, waits awhile and repeats. He loves his Kong.

So having a puppy is similar to having a newborn baby in that neither sleeps through the night. And the last few nights at my house have been ones of sleep deprivation. Some have asked why I don't put the Kong away at night. The simple answer is I forget. But also in dog years that pup and I are almost the same age; in fact, he is fast gaining on me and might be past. So it's nice to see him acting like he did when I first got him over six years ago. That Kong makes us both feel young again.

(No comments on the quality of the picture, please. I'm learning, okay?)

Hiatus Worth It (I hope)

My brand new Gladding McBean Franciscan Woodlore Dishes
Posted by Hello

Well, new to me, because actually these dishes are from the '50s. And quite a table cloth I scored too, huh? I apologize to all who e-mailed that they missed the daily blog. But wasn't it worth it? Because I have learned to post pictures!!!!! This is an experiment and I'm still playing so check back shortly...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Adoption Day

Yesterday I had the great, great pleasure of going to my fifth adoption day since becoming a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). The child just turned seven and has been with his new parents since he was just shy of three. That's a long time and the story of why these things take so long and the story about this particular child is for another day. Because today is about celebrating his adoption....

I get to the Court (hey, this is a great link which talks all about L.A. County's Dependency Court and about CASA; it even has pictures) and there's the family looking all spiffy. The little boy is dressed up in a suit and tie and some shiny, shiny shoes. We are left sitting outside the courtroom for two hours. I'll tell you that little boy was the only calm one amongst us. He was coloring and reading, just so well behaved. Someday I'll talk about how this same little boy had a kindergarten teacher that could not control him and wanted him on ritalin and told all these stories about his disruptive behavior that was all very hard to picture when confronted with this quiet and polite little boy. But today is to celebrate adoption...

Okay, so first let me say that I think the Judge subscribes to the DDB school of alcohol as a perk in the workplace. Not that I want to start any rumors but he was quite the chatty guy. I was having a little trouble operating the digital camera and the judge stopped the proceedings:

Judge (to me): Do you need help with the camera?
Me: I'm having trouble figuring out the zoom.
Judge: Why don't you talk to my bailiff? He's had a lot of practice with cameras.
The bailiff quickly shows me how to use the zoom.
Me: You're right. He's good.
Judge: He's a hairdresser too.
(We all laugh)
Judge: Why do they always laugh when I say that?
Bailiff: Maybe they've seen my work.

Yep, it was the Adoption Day Comedy Hour. The Judge starts looking through the file:

Judge (to the Dad): Wow, you look great (looks at Mom). You must be taking good care of him.
Mom: Thank you.
Judge (to Dad): What do you eat?
Dad: Spinach. Lots of vegetables. Chicken, fish, no red meat.
Judge: So it looks like you've been married just a short amount of time.
Dad: Forty-three years.
Judge: Forty three years. What's your secret?
Dad: Just listen.

The Judge then commented on the Dad's previous military experience in Korea and launched into this long story about some guy who deserted and they've found him all these years later and he was married to a Japanese woman and blah, blah, blah, not sure of the point of the story. I was standing behind the Court Reporter taking pictures and I just had to look and see if this was all part of the official record. It was.

And now for the serious portion of the program. In L.A. County there are two agencies that utlize pro bono attornies to process and complete adoptions. This was the very first adoption for our attorney. The Judge said to her, "You've rated yourself a zero but your good work here today is off the scale." The Attorney asked the parents questions to go on record that they understand what they're getting into. Oh and then the Judge asked me if I thought he should make this official. "Absolutely," I said. So he signed the paperwork. And made me take a picture of him doing so. Then we all went up and had our picture taken with the Judge. My supervisor from the CASA office came down to watch the proceedings and at this point she started getting emotional and looked at the mom and said "I'm just so happy for you," and gave her a big hug even though they had never met before. Then all these people started congratulating us as we walked out of the courtroom and the mom said, "I feel like a Queen today." I really think that they were thinking of it as the whole serious court thing and then they realized all these strangers were rooting for them and they became really overwhelmed. In a good way.

I managed to keep myself from choking up as I was very concerned about my picture taking and what would come out of the Judge's mouth next. And even when I got back to work and told my boss about the morning and she started getting all teary eyed, I was okay. But then the weirdness started.

I was driving home around 10:00 after going to a Laker's game. I started thinking about the adoption and how sweet the little boy looked. Then, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" comes on the radio. Well that song makes me want to cry anyway but then I started thinking about how one of my former CASA kids (and the last one adopted before this) had called me the other day because she was doing a project for school about The Beatles (don't ask!) and wanted to know what my favorite Beatles song is. And I said "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." And for some reason remembering this while I was thinking about the adoption today and actually listening to the song, got me all teary eyed.

There's more. So bear with me because we're kind of on the home stretch here. More than ten or so years ago, I used to volunteer at an Infant-Toddler shelter. One night I went over there with my boom box and some tapes thinking I would have a dance party with the kids. As I was walking in, one of the staff members was walking out, on her way to the hospital. She told me that two new kids had arrived that morning and one of them had bitten her. Hard. And she wasn't the first staff member to have to visit the hospital because of this kid.

Well, the new kids were two brothers - 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 years old - and I have never before or since seen two kids in worse shape. The older one, the biter, was emaciated and unable to speak. That is why he bit and banged his head and screamed. He had no other way of expressing himself. The youngest was a lump. There was no joy in that kid. He just sort of sat there. It still surprises me to say this but I was terrified of the older child. He was wild and uncontrollable. And how weird is it to say you're scared of a 2 year old? But there was a staff member, Marla, who fell in love with this boy and turned everything around. Meanwhile, I just adored the little one. In fact, Marla and I really got in trouble with the agency for favoring these two boys. But they needed it.

The full story of these boys is for another time but let's just fast forward and say that they were adopted by two men who by coincidence live just blocks away from me. Between Marla, the foster family they were placed with initially, and these two men who adopted them, they have more than thrived. They are doing great. And they have been very important to me as a symbol of hope and the resilience of children. Because I really, really thought there was no hope for these boys.

Anyway, over the years I have not talked to them often. Maybe there's a Christmas card here and there. Marla moved to Maryland and she came back about two years ago with her little girl and we all met at Jerry's Deli. The boys said they remembered the Infant-Toddler shelter and us. I asked them if they had any questions about when they were little. The youngest one asked what his favorite color was and one of the dads said to say "purple." That's the last time I saw, talked to, heard from them.

I get home last night and check my e-mails. After the adoption day and the ride home and thinking about all this stuff there, out of the blue, is an e-mail from the oldest boy. I open it. It just says "hello."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Back In the Day

Remember when the two martini lunch was part of our culture? And remember the boss who kept a bottle of scotch in her credenza? And the beer and wine they sold in the cafeteria? Well, that's what I recall from the 80's anyway. Then there were the 90's and the dot comes came and the martini lunches were out and dogs at work were in. Well, as they say, everything old becomes new again (is that what they say or did I just make that up?) and here's a report I read in the Hewitt consulting firms daily summary (and they had a source listed and if I were a better "journalist" that would be here too):

At global advertising agency DDB Worldwide Communications Group, meanwhile,employees can get happy the old-fashioned way: with alcohol. Like yoga classes in its conference rooms and on-site bicycles, DDB Worldwide considers alcoholic beverages a part of work. The firm's Paris office has a cafe serving wine and beer from the afternoon on, while the London office has a pub. In the U.S., Budweisers are whipped out from kitchen refrigerators both to celebrate or to ease tensions during a hard project. These socializing opportunities are "a great way to get to know your fellow employee," says Ken Kaess, DDB chief executive officer and president. "Our whole business is based on people being able to work together." Budweiser also happens to be one of DDB's clients.

Wow, it's so "The Apartment."

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