Monday, January 31, 2005
Anyhoo, since I won't soon be called on to appear on Inside the Actor's Studio, I thought it would be fun to rip off his questionnaire for my own use (At least, as I remember it). Play along! It's fun!
What turns you on?
I'm going to assume you mean "What interests you?" The unexpected. And good dance music.
What turns you off:
The stupid. And country music.
What is your favorite word?
I generally like onomatopoeias (which isn't a bad word in itself), but also adore "weasel." Who doesn't?
What word do you hate?
I love words, but if I was forced to pick a word to hate, it would be "can't" without the apostrophe and with a "u" instead of an "a."
What is your favorite curse word?
I don't curse a lot, but when I hear it done well, I sometimes pilfer it for my own use. My two favorites are "g*ddammit"! a la Cartman in South Park and "asshole!" (accent on "hole" and about a fifth higher in pitch) a la Kevin Kline's Otto in A Fish Called Wanda. Which only really works as an epithet to passing motorists, but is delicious when done properly. I still use Cartman's "bad kitty!" a lot, but that's not really a curse word.
What is your favorite sound?
The ocean. A cat purring. Baby Dean saying "yion" instead of "lion" and "yight" instead of "light." Sadly for me and luckily for him, that cute little speech impediment didn't last past his second birthday.
What is your least favorite sound?
Leafblowers. Somebody else's car stereo turned up too loud, thus invading my earspace.
What is an occupation that you would have liked to try?
Travel writer. Veterinarian. Serious Artist. Ballet Dancer. Sheep Farmer. Chihuahua Breeder.
What occupation would you least like to try?
Cop. DMV employee. IRS employee.
And here's my addition to the perfect questionnaire: If you had a rock band, what would you name it?
Great new rock band names occur to me almost weekly, but my current favorite is still Asteroid Pie. Also, The Mighty Chihuahuas could rock.
If heaven exists, what would you want God to say to you when you meet him?
Well played. Want some brownies?
Yesterday, Drew and I went to the Portland Art Museum to view some Art. This was, surprisingly for someone who spends a lot of time creating what could, in some circles, be considered "art" and lives 10 minutes from downtown Portland, the first time I've been to this particular art museum. I'm been to many art galleries, but have avoided the museum until now, for reasons not interesting enough to waste your time on.
Of course, not all of the Art on display provoked enough synaptic activity to produce a memory of it 24 hours later, but here are some comments on a few pieces that did:
- I have read a lot of art books. I understand the processes behind contemporary art. Yet so much contemporary art makes me want to make snide, or maybe rube-like comments to those studying it with pretentiously thoughtful looks on their faces.
- One of my favorite contemporary Art pieces was a really big canvas painted black, with a title that went something like, "The Flag Should Not Be A Religious Symbol." No, it wasn't a flag painted black. That, it seems to me, might have been a political statement worthy of some thought, if not a prominent place in a major city museum. This just seemed to be a lot of black paint.
- How do the Art Poobahs decide that, say, a canvas painted yellow with a vertical orange stripe through it is Art, but the canvas painted avocado green with a blue stripe going diagonally is unworthy dreck?
- Enough about contemporary art. I'm sure I'm just exposing my ignorance.
- The PAM currently has on exhibit a great collection of art from Native Indians who lived along the Columbia River.
- I was surprised that Columbia River native art had so little in common with the much more well-known art of the Native Indian tribes from the Northern Washington and British Columbia areas, who were well known for their stylized and colorful symbols denoting animals such as the thunderbird, killer whale, coyote and bear that show up on totem poles, houses, boats and such. The Columbia River artists used stylized designs, but the abstractions are much different, and I saw many more symbols of people, compared to those of animals.
- If we Euro-centric people think we invented the use of abstraction and symbolism in art, we are so mistaken. The Native Indians were doing it way before we were.
- The Native Indians along the Columbia River had a funky, stylized way of depicting people in stone carvings that included a Y-shaped brow-nose ridge, ribs, and vertebrae in back. They must not have had much of a problem with fat concealing their ribs.
- The Native Indian art took a sharp turn once they were contacted by white civilization. Yes, it got more colorful with the use of better tools, lots of shiny beads, and more dyes. But it soon lost much of its symbolism and decayed into more realistic depictions of buffaloes (buffaloes? here?), Native Indian chiefs wearing headresses, horses, and other marketable subjects.
- Enough about the Native Indian exhibit. Last word: I liked it, and want to sketch some of the early, pre-contact stuff.
- The Asian exhibits: another group of civilizations that had us beat way before we were aware they existed. And one awesome wood horse with a funny expression. And one even awesomer ceramic dog that, I'll bet you anything, was done by some Chinese dude's 9-year-old son in pottery class, and is now in a museum, mislabeled as a great example of Bling-Dynasty (or whatever) pottery.
- The European exhibits: There was a period in European history in which there was, in essence, one subject: The Bible. My question: if all you have to paint is the Virgin Mary and her baby Jesus, wouldn't you pay a little closer attention to what a baby really looks like? Those are some of the goofiest looking babies. Some of them look like tiny grown-ups. Some look like that slightly warped-looking talking baby from that Quizno's commercial. Some of them, although strolling around naked, thus apparently over eight days old, are obviously not Jewish babies, if you know what I mean. Where did they keep the babies in those days, and why didn't artists have any access to them?
I'll have to stop myself out of mercy for you. Sorry, that probably wasn't much fun to read, but I feel a little better. See you at the Art Museum. Drew won't be coming.
Discussion Topic: What would you say to someone thoughtfully studying a piece of art consisting of a yellow canvas with a red line running vertically and slightly off center, entitled "Polemics of Ennui II"?
Friday, January 28, 2005
I can also do an awesome treadmill dance routine to Fake by Simply Red. Treadmill dancing is new. I just made it up. It just might be the next Pilates.
Those Zany Republicans - Like That College Roommate You Had To Throw Out For Taking Your Text Books and Selling Them.
Watch out, I'm going to slip a little Social Security blah-blah in here, but stay with me - it will be over quickly - and worth it, if you enjoy a laugh at your own expense. I heard the absolute best argument I've heard so far to gut Social Security revenue (which will have to be paid for by the taxpayers in the end anyway - think about it) by allowing workers to open their own little SS accounts. Enjoy:
- Social Security has this great trust fund that would have kept everyone in retirement checks for as long as they can count....
- Except that lately the government has been dipping its hands in the Social Security trust fund cookie jar so many times that the trust fund now has a shaky financial future, especially if they keep it up...
- Oh, by the way, they could have avoided this Social Security "crisis" with Al Gore's much-maligned "lock-box"...
- They could still patch it up pretty well if the government would just keep its grimy hands off of it...
- But here's the fun part - if they just scare everybody into thinking that our little retirement nest egg is headed for an iceberg, they can make a lot of money for some folks they know on Wall Street...
- So, they tell the gullible American public what? That they better get their own little Social Security account because YOU CAN'T TRUST THE GOVERNMENT - THEY'LL JUST SPEND IT! ISN'T THAT PRECIOUS? I'LL YELLING, AREN'T I? Sorry. But can you beat that? The same people who have been stealing from your retirement account are now telling you, "better take it, or I'll just spend it! I just can't be trusted with money! ha-ha!"
Can you beat that? When I heard this on NPR while out walking the dog, I hooted and started talking to myself, which must have been alarming for the neighbors. No wonder they avoid me.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
"They" are the wise beacons of all news that fits their bent at The Oregonian, the oldest and stodgiest daily delivered newspaper in the area, who I am dependent upon for my daily comics fix.
"Sylvia" is, of course, Nicole Hollander's ode to being girly, lazy, fashion-obsessed, food-obsessed, and ruled by cats, while being ruled by doofuses in Washington.
"They" claim that they get more negative mail about Sylvia than any other strip, so when they went about their recent updating binge, they targeted Sylvia for termination. I suppose they might get some negative mail about it. It strikes some of the most precision-guided hits at the Bush administration in the entire paper, outside of Doonesbury.
Why wasn't Doonesbury targeted as well? I don't know, but here are my theories: 1) complainers assume they are already beaten by Doonesbury. It's an institution and probably beyond their ability to influence. 2) Everybody knows that Doonesbury is an editorial cartoon, and reacts to it differently for that reason. Sylvia, however, is not necessarily an editorial cartoon, and so people are irritated by getting a political message when all they wanted was a funny. 3) It's editorial content coming from a woman. That wouldn't mean anything for the vast majority of us, but for those misogynists out there it is offensive and threatening, and so they add their voices to the dump-Sylvia-ists. I don't know. Maybe they just don't like her drawing style. But I doubt it.
I will miss Sylvia. Sure, I can read her and a lot of other great strips online, but not on the kitchen table with my morning coffee, fighting over the paper with my cat (yes, very Sylvia-esque, and future blog-fodder). It won't be the same. And "they" are removing Sylvia's cutting jabs from the eyes of many other readers who might need to read them. As we know, an alarming number of Americans now get their news from sources like MTV and Comedy Central, and I'm sure the funny papers figure into that somewhere too. So, here's a middle finger to you, Oregonian comics editors, and another middle finger to The Man, because Dean would insist upon it.
P.S., if you don't know Sylvia, go to http://www.comicspage.com/sylvia/index.html
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Today I spent 7 hours volunteering for something you couldn't pay me enough to do. That is the riddle that is volunteering, I suppose. How else could you get a comfortable 42-year-old to go out to the indoor acreage that is the Expo Center to spend all day on a Saturday picking up dog poo and wiping up doggy pee while thousands of spectators look on (or more often look through or around)?
It is a yearly cross that I bear for the Southwest Washington Humane Society, as we are able to make a good amount of cash by being the clowns with the shovels for the annual Rose City Classic Dog Show.
Last year was my first year, and I spent the first hour or so looking around at the crowd, hoping not to see any acquaintances so I wouldn't have to explain that no, I haven't fallen on hard times and taken a part-time job scooping poop to pay the rent. Then I noticed that with the little pooper-scooper uniform on, no one was actually looking at my face. I was suddenly an expo appliance. Although a little harrumph-inducing at first, the realization that I was no longer a real person to these people, it was eventually quite freeing, and I could go about my job in peace, as if my fellow scoop troopers and I were the only people in the room - sort of like being in a parallel universe with the rest of the show-goers, yet invisible to the naked eye. I am reminded of a Star Trek episode where they met a race of beings that were invisible to the crew - all they could hear was a faint buzzing in their ear, like an insect - when in actuality, these beings were just operating at such a high speed that they could not be detected by the Enterprise crewmembers' slow eyes and brains. But I digress.
Actually, in a classic case of typo imitating life, my parking pass was for the Rose City Cluster. The coordination of the pooper-scoopering troops turned out to be a bit of a cluster this year, as the regular director-of-operations was unavoidably unavailable. That left a hapless substitute director who had no previous experience at making sure all areas of the cavernous, yet labyrinthine space were covered, with personnel that she did not know, as far as experience and expertise went (and yes, there is a little expertise involved, at least in performing for fussy dog trainers, uptight judges and stressed-out owners).
All worked out for the best, I suppose, although I was paired with Miss Eeyore. Mental picture: thick ankles and flat feet holding up a tall, soft, baby-fatty and slouchy body topped off with mousy hair, thick glasses, and a terminally pained expression. She was complaining about her feet before the first hour was up. I succeeded in being too busy to stick around her for most of the evening. I often wanted to slap her, but just smiled harder instead, and gave her suggestions on where she could go to be of more use (away from me, mostly).
The odd thing of it is, we are there because some show dog trainers don't feel it is particularly necessary to do the most basic training step of explaining to their dog that there is a right place and a wrong place to go doo-doo and pee-pee; something that is alien to real dog owners who live with their pets because they like them. Okay, maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but I mean really. It's incredible to see these perfectly formed dogs just lifting their legs willy-nilly because they don't know any better. It seems to me that this should be an automatic disqualifier, like biting the judge. If I wouldn't allow a dog in my house because of poor manners, why would I crown it king of all poodles?
With that said, yes, I did wipe up more than a few puddles of pee, but for the most part, I would say that the dogs were much more well behaved than the humans. What a bunch of clods. Let's put the fact that I nearly got trampled and/or run over by dog crates on wheels several times and focus on the floor. For every pee-pee, I must have picked up ten of the following: water bottles, Starbucks cups, french fries, programs, napkins, ice cream puddles, and/or dog hair clumps torn out of brushes and deposited on the floor. This in an exhibit hall where there were garbage cans strategically placed about every 20 feet.
So in the end, if I had to take one of them home, I would pick the poodle with the gaping hole in his training curriculum. Him I could fix. The human is probably, like most humans, untrainable after a certain age.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
"Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there...How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there?...I think to have American military forces engaged in a civil war inside Iraq would fit the definition of quagmire, and we have absolutely no desire to get bogged down in that fashion."
Sunday, January 16, 2005
We've never been a "big birthday" family - never did the big birthday bash with party favors and clowns when he was little. There are many reasons why, I guess...poverty at first... then later because we are definitely not 24-hour party people...never really enjoyed being surrounded by lots of little boys hopped up on sugar...Dean always seemed to be a little too brainy and snarky (even as a tot) to really take such a thing seriously...and maybe also the time of year, three weeks after Christmas. Kids are always up for a party, but it's kind of hard to get parents back into the giving mood so soon after the big toy orgy, and practically the day that the Christmas credit card bill comes in the mail.
Dean's birthdays were usually a small family affair with his choice of dinner and cake and a couple of cool presents that he hadn't been able to cross off his "must have" list at Christmas.
I'm sure that like most mothers, I relive the actual birth day on his birthday, but although people will listen politely to these stories of bodies doing things that bodies, so obviously from the looks of them, are not designed to do, they don't really want to hear them, so suffice it to say that as a result of the birth experience, we determined that Dean would be an only child.
Instead, I chose to think of how having a baby has changed me.
Babies change everything. Yes, I know it's a cliche, but some things become cliches because there's just no better way of saying something true.
The big change that occurs is the realization that this little life depends on you for everything, and that all of a sudden, it doesn't matter if your jeans are so last week, or that you have spit-up in your hair, or even whether you remembered to brush your hair. You are all of a sudden lifted out of the frame, and in your place your baby has been plopped, and it takes up all the space once occupied by what you realize now are silly conceits.
From the time you are born, there is no one who is more important than yourself. This is a simple fact and a survival instinct, and becomes most maddeningly intense (for everyone else) in your teenage years, and only gradually subsides as the years go by. Thus, for me, a 22-year-old new mother, the change was like a St. Paul-size thunderclap. The world shifted beneath me, and so many things that I thought were givens at Christmas were now, three weeks later, completely meaningless. Now the world was made up of either things that were good for my son, or things that weren't. And things that threatened my son brought out a side of me I never knew existed before - the side that may look like a wounded hamster, but feels like a wounded puma. A foaming puma.
I remember choking back tears when a well-meaning preschool teacher mentioned something negative about Dean - not, mind you, that he was struggling with the concept of walking upright, or that he was showing signs of cat-torturing, but something as mild as bopping a kid for stealing his blocks. At first, I couldn't bear to hear a negative word about him. Believe me, that tendency has definitely faded since then, or I would never have made it through his middle school years.
But I am still, if no longer so protective of him, then very worried about him. But my worry is now tempered by the knowledge that he's a smart, witty, strong, good-looking kid that usually ends up on the sunny side of any situation. I don't have to fight for him anymore - he can stand up for himself now. And it's a good thing, because I'm pooped.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
What I was saying before my slate was so rudely wiped clean, was that you might notice an unusual pattern in my blogging schedule: I normally post a new something-or-other every third day, or for you fire fighters out there, every B shift. This is because my husband is a fire captain on B shift (he is at the fire station from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. the next morning every third day), which leaves me completely unsupervised for 24 hours at a time.
This is apparently difficult for some couples to adapt to, as evidenced by the high divorce rate among fire fighters. Personally, I loooove it. That doesn't mean that I spend Drew's days off grinding my teeth, waiting for him to toddle off back to work again. Heck, I schedule my armpit shaving around his days off, and if that doesn't say love, then I guess I don't understand the concept.
However, these 24 hours gives me all the time I need to take long baths, write, paint, listen to NPR, and watch art-house movies (not all on the same day! I'm not that much of a pseudo-intellectual bohemian slacker) without any guilt about spending us-time shut up in my studio or making Drew read too many subtitles. Bonus: I get to eat stuff that Drew doesn't like. When my son Dean is around, we can order Domino's pizza. Drew thinks Domino's is the McDonald's of pizza and thus beneath him (actually, Pizza Hut is the McDonald's of pizza), while it makes me feel all sentimental about college days, ordering pizza when we should have spent our money on, oh, maybe rent, or soap.
Every once in a while, Drew will talk about his future in the fire department, which will eventually lead to a "white shirt" (slightly derogatory term for chiefs and under-chiefs) and an eight-hour day. I am not sure I will cope well with this change. In addition to my current level of unsupervised free time in which I can play BT or Fat Boy Slim and dance around like a fool if I so choose, we are both spoiled with a lot of week-day time to do things that other people have to squeeze into crowded weekends.
In addition, Drew's week-day time off allows him to make a lot of calls that normal people could make all by themselves, but which sends me into cold sweats (hence the name of the blog). It will be much more awkward for me, for instance, to have to call him at work to make a doctor's appointment for me, and then call me back to tell me when to show up...
This all in explanation for my blogging schedule. And to give women one more reason to lust after fire fighters besides those beefcake calendars. And yes, my husband is the calendar variety and not the walrus variety (an explanation for which I will leave for a future posting). See you in three days.
Monday, January 10, 2005
- Don't hit [enter] after typing in the title of your blog entry. If you do, it thinks you have completed your post and are ready to publish it. Thus, it merrily and expeditiously publishes your post, which at this point consists entirely of a title.
- Don't use apostrophes when referring to the plural of something. If you are selling hamsters (an honorable trade), your sign should read "Hamsters". Not "Hamster's". Then people might think it's Hamster's shop, not yours. And I'm sure you worked hard for your shop, and don't want a hamster to take all the credit.
- Don't rent Hidalgo. Unless you really enjoy overacting, which, I admit, has its charms, especially after a few drinks. The Hidalgo casting director seems to have hired many actors straight out of The School of Eybrow Acting, which I assumed had folded after the silent film era ended. Eyebrows were flying; read the eyebrows to interpret the evil intentions, suspicions, suffering, innocent yearnings, you name it. Besides, I kept thinking how much better it would have been with Owen Wilson in the lead. Oops. Now you'll be doing the same thing. Another reason not to rent it.
- Do rent Super Size Me, especially if you've made a New Year's resolution to lose weight. This is a great bit of motivation to stay away from the fast food.
- Do read my son's blog. He's having much more fun than I am, which makes for more entertaining reading. http://www.voodoomadness.blogspot.com/
Friday, January 07, 2005
- Don't you hate when your word/number processing software tries to finish a thought for you, based on your previous entries? Excel is always trying to help me out this way, and now net fill-ins are behaving this way too (such as the title blank of this blog), and although it's handy once out of every ten or so times, it's like having some really overly anxiously helpful geek trying to finish your sentence all the time, or maybe it reminds of when my big sister used to repeat everything I said until I did something that I got in trouble for.
- Speaking of big sisters, I got a new pair of glasses recently, which always reminds me of the terrible, awful story my mean big sister told me the night after I came home with snazzy new cat-eye glasses. Tortoiseshell. Hot. Second-grade haut eyewear. She waited until we were tucked in for the night, then in her scariest, whisperiest, ghost-story voice, she told me that she knew a girl who got a pair of cat-eye glasses just like mine, and one night, she fell asleep with them on, and she was turned into a cat! And her mother saw her and screamed and she had to jump out the window and was never seen again! I told her she was full of crap, but just to be on the safe side, I never read in bed with my glasses on again. Just in case. Nor have I bought another pair of cat-eye glasses since. Not that it has been a big fashion hardship...
- I weighed myself the other day, which was shocking - much scarier than a ghost story. This means that I will be enjoying fewer refreshing beverages and less chocolate. I hope it won't make me cranky and less entertaining, but there's always the chance. Of course, there's a good chance that a little crankiness might be quite entertaining...to others...especially to you skinny people.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
- Asteroid pies would make a good name for a rock band.
- Remember when nobody would admit to voting for Nixon? I'm hoping the same thing will befall the Bushies. We just have to find some sort of Bushy-gate. It's quite a challenge, though, since the Iraq disaster has not seemed to faze his popularity yet, nor the fact that Dicky Cheney has made Halliburton a federal budget line-item, or that Halliburton has in the past played footsie with all sorts of Bush-pronounced evil-doers in order to make more dough, or that Bush's last Attorney General seemed to be a Saturday Night Live character reject (Church Lady, meet Church Fella), or the fact that he can't talk good.
- I was telling Drew yesterday that I think the whole Bush phenomenon has something to do with the cognitive dissonance they must be feeling about backing these folks for reasons they can't seem to put into words (usually something about the courage of his convictions, or the coyotes out back whisper his name at night), and yet hearing about all the trouble the Bush administration seems to spread behind them like snail goo. Instead of changing their minds, they are plugging their ears and sticking with their convictions, too, wrong or right. And the more wrong it seems to have been to back him in the first place, the louder they are having to holler that they are right to make themselves feel better. I don't know, really. Do you have a better idea?
- We got a rock chip in our brand new windshield in our brand new car yesterday. It was bound to happen sooner or later. But it happened sooner. It serves us right for playing hooky and going to the beach. Yes, it was sunny and calm, but c-c-c-cold. Beautiful sunset, as expected.
- Speaking of sunsets, apparently "Peter + Shannon = true love." We shared the beach and the sunset with Peter and Shannon, two teens who seemed to be trying to eat each other's face.
- Yes, we shared the beach with two other people. Eat that, Southern California. Of course, it was thirty-five degrees, but still, ha-ha.
- Of course, that was the second sunny day in January since, well, ever, but still, we win today. Leave us this.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
- I will keep blogging. Thanks to shout-outs (strike that - that cliche is so 2004) -- thanks to votes of confidence and motivation from folks like Charlie Quimby and Dean and Drew. This has turned out to be fun and good exercise for the writing muscles.
- I will lose weight (a perennial favorite). I trained for a marathon last year and ended up with a stress fracture and a stress-induced ten extra pounds. They shall come off. Stay tuned - I'm sure it will weigh heavily in my posts for the next 14 weeks while I join a weight-loss challenge at my gym. Good-bye, chocolate chip cookies.
- I will paint more. Even though I spent a lot of time not painting last year, I did paint enough to show some progress. People are even starting to question my choice of subjects and ask me what I am trying to say, which is a big improvement over people just impressed that they can tell what the subject is supposed to be. I intend to continue to look for subjects that inspire me and confound others in 2005.
- I will watch TV less. Man, is it a motivation-sucking time-waster. So little good comes from TV watching. I shall resist the temptation to veg.
- And finally, I will finish that damn sweater I've been putting off knitting since last summer. If I can't figure out the neckline by myself I will ask (gulp) for help at the knitting shop.
I can choose to think of my inability to keep away from the couch in two ways: either it is a failure and a waste of precious hours in a life ticking down to an uncertain end (tomorrow? 40 years from now? and what's that mole on my stomach - was it there yesterday?), or it is just the most comfortable, enriching and relaxing way to spend a day off. My inner guilt monger usually chooses the former, which spoils any hope of enjoying myself and choosing the latter.
So where does that leave me? With a short couch nap brought on by a sugar-induced insulin low, then a couple loads of clean laundry, followed by a little time in the studio instead of a lot of time. Not a bad compromise, even if I have to nag at myself for a while to attain it.
I could be using my time so much more wisely, but wouldn't that require me to be wiser?