December 31, 2012


Looking forward to giving 2013 a big howdy and seeing what we can do together.

New Year's eve was surprisingly cozy. Previewed some newly-found music (Django Django, Catarina Castelli and Equipe 84) with friends on The east coasters went until after 1am their time, and we've now petered out on west coast time.

Tomorrow, a luscious morning of Rose Parade gawking, followed by some cleaning and preparing for the new year of work. Then two work days, a visit with the Forklift King's aunt, and off to Bonn to wrap up the show there.

Farewell 2012. You were mostly good except for more skin cancer and, well, this whole last week.

Let's keep on pushin' in 2013 :)

December 30, 2012

Much Better

All in all it's been a depressing holiday, what with tiny mammoo in the hospital and all. I feel so sad for her and uncertain about her ability to make a comeback from her injuries and many chronic conditions. There's so much going on in her body.

Yesterday we drove down to see her, went to her apt. and gathered some clothes for her release to rehab. Soon she'll be moving from here:

to a facility nearby where they'll work with her to rebuild the muscles that were broken down after the fall. This is common problem in falls by the elderly, and leads to something called rhabdomyolysis. Fascinating. Scary. She hasn't been strong recently, but now she can't lift her head by herself. Recovery will be slow, but we're glad that it's necessary and will require a residential program so that she can't escape and must stick to an exercise routine. And counseling will be a necessary part of the healing process. She's clinically depressed.

While running errands and visiting tiny mammoo, we made sure to take care of ourselves as well. A pit stop at a local taqueria was comforting:

The visit with tiny mammoo was productive. We happened to be there when the orthopedic surgeon came to consult, and learned many things. Does she really have diabetes? That's new information. And she's a candidate for back surgery? That'd be cool.

After the hospital mrguy cleaned the apartment for a while, I gathered laundry and looked at family photos. We hooked up with sweet cousins later for dinner and listened to their wise counsel. They've walked some of this path before.

Thank goodness for family :)

December 26, 2012

Code Red And Green

What is it about the holidays that sends people into a tailspin?

It's people, mostly, and their baggage. If Christmas-celebrating people just stayed away from their families, loved ones, the telephone and all other forms of communication for just the week between Christmas and the New Year, I think the world would be a better place.

Of course if that were the rule, my mother-in-law might have died yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon we headed down to mrguy's mom's place to hang out for Christmas. We'd called to let her know that we were on our way. She hadn't answered the phone, twice, and I was a little worried about that. When we got there, we knocked, heard cries for help and mrguy, the badass, kicked the door in. She'd fallen the day before and couldn't move from the position where she'd landed, face down. So horrible. Distress from a failed romance was a contributing factor to the fall.

The doctor said it's a miracle that she didn't break something. Regardless, the necessity of the hospital visit revealed other conditions that need to be dealt with and she'll be in for the better part of a week.

Now my mother-in-law, the lucky lady, has participated in the holiday tradition of the Christmas emergency room visit. I'm a veteran, and this was my 4th holiday in the hospital. The first three were a result of the obligatory Christmas eve phone call from a mean, drunk aunt to my father. He'd always be shaken after the phone call, and then he'd have some sort of a spell that required treatment. I think that the last of those three visits happened after the aunt died. Did she reach for him from the crypt? And what happened to all of the other people who were there at the ER last night, like the guy who had started drinking at 8am? We'll never know, but I bet it had something to do with family.

So people, for the next week speak with kindness or not at all. Drop your bullshit. Be good to each other, or you might end up in emergency on New Year's.

Ho ho ho

December 23, 2012

O Tannenbaum

It's almost Christmas, and I might be ahead of the curve this year. I'm going down to Mom's early and you know what? It's December 23rd and I think I'm going to fill the stockings tonight. 

Such a radical thought! So humane! I'm not sure why, but I get really hung up on the task after a night of hanging with my peeps, overeating, doing the dishes and then avoiding going to church. By 11:30 when the grand mammoo and big sis go to church I really don't feel like stuffing the stockings. However I'm going to love doing it tonight.

After trimming the tree last week, I really find myself craving a tree. But cats are bad and our house is so small that I don't know where we would put one...

An article in the paper today reminded me of my tree trimming traditions before I met mrguy. My bro would always bring us trees. Here I was living in a $200 a month studio apartment and I had a twelve foot Christmas tree. One year he left it for me in the foyer of my apartment building. I don't think I had a tree stand, but I didn't want the tree to dry out before I got one, so I stood it up in my walk-in closet in a champagne bucket that had ended up in my apartment the night I had to take one of the busboys to the ER (guess I iced his hand in it).

I remember not having any ornaments the first year I had a tree, so I took all the jewelry out of my jewelry box and draped the tree with it. The earrings worked especially well. And I had a thing for realistic looking plastic vegetables and children's play food, so that went on it as well. The first necklace tree was decorated by miss wartz and I, I recall, while drinking some perfectly awful cola flavored wine coolers from the Canned Food Warehouse. So nasty!

One year in that time frame, my old boss bought her next-door-neighbor's house. This was in an old part of town near the shipyards, where the Great Migration ended during the war. People were encouraged to rent out rooms to men and women working in the war effort. The woman who had owned the house had built a two room structure in her back yard and rented out the rooms during the war. Afterward she just used the structure as storage for many things including a lifetime of Christmas decorations. My boss invited me over to look at them, and I went home with a back seat full of 1950s lights, glass ornaments and glass bead garlands. That year I had an amazing tree. The decorations I didn't want I put in the dumpster. Two hours later, my discards were making my venerable neighbor, Lydia, very happy.

I still have many of the ornaments from the back yard shack. It's a shame not to have them out.

I'm listening to one of my traditional tree-trimming records, though. 

This year that's gonna be good enough :)

December 18, 2012


I had a strange revelation last night while listening to Fresh Air on the way home from the factory: I no longer despise Barbra Streisand. I find myself somehow able to separate an appreciation for her tremendous instrument and a strong dislike for a lot of her material. Blew me away, gosh darn it.

In an era in which auto-tune is used routinely as a pitch adjuster *and* a sound effect on its own, it was astonishing to listen to Streisand's great pitch and control over her voice. There was a time when you had to actually be able to sing in order to have credibility as a singer. In my lifetime this has changed.

The whole Babs revelation made me think of a few stories...

When we lived in the city, our upstairs neighbors were a handful. First there was the AIDS caregiver who fell in love with a patient, took him in, and didn't give him as much supervision as he needed. The patient would get locked outside the building on the street naked and start buzzing all the buzzers. Or he'd sell all the stuff in the apartment he could get his hands on during the day while his roommate was at work. The resulting fights were amazing, always at 4 in the morning, usually with large items smashing on the floor above us. We thought things were going to get better when they broke up, but the neighbor took a roommate who listened to the cable guide channel at full-volume all day. He would occasionally switch off the tv and listen to Barbra at full blast instead. Even worse, in my estimation.

We moved to the refinery town soon after. City life was too expensive for us to save any money, so we moved to the far suburbs where, and I may have spoken of this earlier, there was a St. Vincent De Paul thrift store that occasionally served up small miracles. One such miracle was a picture disc of Barbra Streisand, from the film Yentl. I saw the potential of this object speculated fifty cents upon it. "I'm going to sell this and make some money," I told mrguy. "I don't think so," he'd say.

The over the next year or so he'd sell records the Rock-N-Swap and I would beg him to take my picture disc of Barbra Streisand in Yentl and sell it for me. His manly pride would not allow him to, so he refused. However I knew that there were rabid Barbra lovers out there and the fact that it was in its original vinyl sleeve with a gold sticker extolling the virtues of the song still on it would count for something. Eventually it did.

In the early days of ebay, I asked mrguy to list it for me, and he did. Rarely had fifty cents delivered so much pleasure than when, on the last day of the auction, there was a bidding war for the disc. It sold for fifty BUCKS to Total satisfaction.

Thank you barbralover! Almost 15 years later, I think of Barbra and her fans with gratitude because I could do a lot with fifty clams back then. Still can.

And now I have rid myself of another piece of dislike in my life. I can like Barbra Streisand on certain levels and appreciate her true gifts. I find myself even considering buying her latest cd so I can learn from it.

This is truly a Christmas miracle.

December 15, 2012

Voice Of The Voiceless

Why blog so much today?

This is my voice.

One month ago I came down with laryngitis. 31 days later, I still have no voice. I have about four extremely bad sounding notes in my head voice. My chest voice is there, but very wobbly. My speaking voice still cracks like Lindsay Lohan's.

It's distressing and I want my singing teacher, who the grand mammoo dearly refers to as my "other mommy". I think of her every day anyway, but especially so when I'm worried about my voice. I am consciously trying to channel her.

Because of my voice had to cancel a "gig", as well, but that was a blessing.

I should draw a veil of charity over this whole gig thing, but let's say that we were invited to a party and over a series of almost 20 emails that party invitation turned incrementally into a gig with a set list and call time. With underhanded and hilarious insults along the way. Meanwhile the "band" dwindled to mrguy and I, or as he is calling me "my frog wife". mrguy eventually said that he was going to cancel, and it made him so happy to do so. 

I love the ladies in the halau, but he was worried about having to carry the whole gig himself, and was annoyed by the way in which a casual "you might want to bring your ukes" turned into "you should arrive by 2 so you can set up your equipment".

In the meantime, I'm happy to have the day at home.

Along The Same Lines

Back in the old place, we had a tight-knit little community. One of our friends from the old place is Count Peckula, who lived over my sister's painting studio across the street from our little house. From the second storey of her place she had a water view and could see the tankers and ferries pass by. Occasionally, when visiting, you'd hear a "crack!" -- people shooting pool at the saloon across the street. By the way, we lived in that town for 7 1/2 years and I never set foot in that saloon.

But I digress. We traded cat-sitting duties with Count Peckula from time to time, and this is how I came to know one of my desert island discs -- Ashwan Batish's Sitar Power. I was over at her place visiting the cat babies and saw it in her cassette deck. I hit play and fell in love. Or laughed. I can't remember, and either is possible.

This record uses sitar as if Germans were playing it. Super structured, with tinny electronic instruments to back it up. I find it completely goofy and hilarious and catchy. I borrowed the cassette, and brought it home to mrguy. He told me that he knew Ashwan Batish from his college days.

Here's a sample to enjoy:

Ravi Shankar

Yes, it's true that I first listened to him because of the Beatles, but once I did, I really loved it. I found an old box set of his recordings at the record store, and would listen to the whole thing, laying on the floor of my dorm room. 

It doesn't say a lot about the music of Ravi Shankar that in my room his music was in regular rotation with Gregorian chant and Sparks and Donovan and Al Stewart (yup) and Ahmad Jamal. Ravi Shankar was definitely doors-closed music, because outside my door was the land of my sweet roommate's Michael Jackson's Off The Wall and Christian comedy albums.

Ravi Shankar primed me to love other Indian music and culture that came my way later -- whether it was the Indian video program that I'd actually wake up early for on Sunday mornings, or the priceless "Indian 78s" tape that mrguy and I bought at the Indian grocery and nearly wore out, or Ravi Shankar's gorgeous soundtrack to Pather Pachali.

We finally saw him a few years ago with tiny but mighty and her tall man. I was going through stuff at work and was in the depths. That concert had healing properties.

He had a good run, that man. 

I look forward to enjoying his music for as long as I have ears.

Not Ravi related, but a little tidbit from the Indian 78s tape:

December 1, 2012

Robert Wildhack

While thumbing through all of the Bs in Kabletown's on-demand menu to see if they have the movie Butter, I found a cluster of Broadway Melody movies. Ahhhh.

Today's feature was Broadway Melody of 1936. Somehow in my mind I have the Broadway Melody movies, the Golddiggers movies and Footlight Parade all jumbled up into one sweet sticky mess. After a little research I can now tell them apart.

One fun element of BM36 is that it includes several long segments featuring Robert Wildhack, who appears as an expert on snores. He goes on to numb a wary Jack Benny with all of the various types of snores he's cataloged, and performs examples of each. I fell in love with this guy because he was obviously a former vaudevillian like my Uncle Joe. Great Uncle Joe was reputed to have a vaudeville act. It consisted of emitting a seemingly endless stream of water from his mouth onto the stage.

According to Pop, Uncle Joe would go on the stage with a partner, and he would slowly drink an ungodly amount of water. Wordlessly. When he was finished, his partner would pump Joe's arm like an old-fashioned water pump handle. Water would slowly stream out of Joe's mouth. People would laugh. Then they'd stop laughing. As the partner continued to pump, and this steady stream of water would dribble out of Joe, the audience would start laughing again. As it slowly continued for what seemed like *ever*, they'd lose it. 

There you have it. The sum total of Uncle Joe's alleged vaudeville act. Lately I've been trying to find mention of him in old digitized issues of the Dramatic Mirror. I think I might have found someone who sounds like him. Anyhoo...

Because of Uncle Joe, I immediately had a soft spot for this old vaudevillian who appears in the waiting room of the producer in Broadway Melody of 1936. After the credits rolled and I found his name, I did a little searching.

It turns out that Robert Wildhack's bit in the movie about the snores was verbatim from his vaudeville act. You can hear it in its entirety, as well as some other wacky stuff, on the Library of Congress Jukebox site.

In addition, he was an illustrator for various magazines in the 1920s and 30s. For more on Robert Wildhack, visit this lovely biography.

Bucket List

Now that I'm vastly old, it seems only appropriate to have a bucket list.

The purpose? To always have goals to move toward, odd though they might be. It's in the forward motion that comes the satisfaction, I think. Some of the list items will be easy. Some will not. Half of the fun is in thinking them up and memorializing them here.

In no particular order:

1. Take an exercise class with Richard Simmons
2. Ride a camel (not a location-specific goal)
3. Sit in the booth with Doreen Simmons while she comments on a sumo basho for NHK
4. Write a book
5. Meet distant family in Ireland
6. Play Carnegie Hall or Royal Albert Hall
7. Be a balloon wrangler in the Thanksgiving Day Parade
8. Volunteer in the Bishop Museum archives
9. Have our Hawaiian band sponsor a match in a sumo tournament in Japan
10. Play music at a retirement home (as added and commented here
11. Learn to tie knots (as added in 2015)

I wanted to accomplish #1 last week, but ran out of time. Imminently doable. #2 is inspired by miss wartz, who went on camelback in Morocco and slept in the desert in a tent with camels and complained about how loud their tummies were. Now that's an amazing adventure. Unlikely for me. I just want to ride the camel.

#7 goes way back to the time when I was a volunteer at a museum of advertising characters. One afternoon I took a nap and dreamed that I was a giant Mr. Salty:

and I was on my way to the Empire State Building for a date with Dolly Madison:

I was walking up 5th Avenue on my way for this date. I began to levitate and became a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I've written this down before, right?

Best dream ever, if you ask me. Except for the dream where Maya Angelou taught me how to drive an 18-wheeler.

They're all dreams, really.

November 28, 2012

'Tis The Season

The mrsguy birthday season, that is. Ordinarily we have a quiet dinner somewhere and go home to open pressies. But this being the "kick, stretch and kick" birthday, it seemed foolish to let it pass without doing something more. I took two weeks off and people called it my staycation, but I did anything but stay. And now I'm recovering in my sick bed (more accurately sick couch) and waiting to go back to work. Whew.

Phase One: Operation Meeting of the Moms
Seems odd that we've been together for over 20 years, married for 17 and our moms have never met until now. We finally made it happen. Picked up the grand mamoo and took her for a ride down the coast to meet the tiny mamoo. Of course they liked each other. We ate lunch and took a tour of tiny mamoo's home town, which was super fun.

Phase Two: Pretend You're Huell Howser
Earlier in the year, big sis, the mamoo and I talked about meeting in the middle of the state to visit the sights seen by the estimable Huell Howser on one of his shows. We finally did it, and it was very fun. We went to the oldest A&W Rootbeer and had carhop service. What are you supposed to do with your milkshake once you have it?

We went to Micke Grove and saw the Japanese Garden. Not as tranquil as we had hoped! A photographer, his buddy, a child and two ladies made up as I-don't-know-what (flappers? it involved a lot of tulle, sequins and cloches) were doing a photo shoot there. The ladies would sit on a rock and stare at each other theatrically for the camera, notice that the child was not in viewing range and shout "Buddah! BUDDAH! Get back here where I can see you". Buddah, the child, had been happily assaulting the koi with small rocks.

Anyway, Micke Grove also has a zoo with little deer called pudu. I really want to see my cats play with a pudu. After the zoo, we looked for the crane habitat but were unsuccessful, so we went back to our hotel. Perfection. Three beds in one room, and a plastic and very dusty olive tree. But I loved it. Successful trip.

Phase Three: Sumo Saturday
Birthday was celebrated with friends on Sumo Saturday. This consisted of my ordering tamales from a neighbor and decorating the house with sumo-themed bunting (yukata fabric created for sumitori or their sumo stables, that I bought on ebay). People seemed to like sumo more than I thought. They asked great questions.

Phase Four: Disneyland
Yeah. Had to do it. Spent all day and part of a night at California Adventure. Ate at Napa Rose. Saw an adorable little kid named Daniel using the guardrail in line at Soarin' as a personal jungle gym. Then he liberally tongued the handrail. Yep. We're doomed. Stayed with mrguy south one evening, which was delicious, and I spent as many hours as my battery would allow cropping photographs in our moving vehicle as we sped back home for Thanksgiving.

Phase Five: Guygiving
But it wasn't Thanksgiving this year. It was guygiving. A one-time-only event celebrating my birthday and my brother-in-law's. The family gathered, the brother-in-law and I put together an overly-long slide show which people seemed to like, and then we went out to dinner. I'd fallen victim to the handrail-lickers earlier, and by guygiving I had almost no voice. It felt like I had cystitis of the throat (imagine gargling with broken glass and tabasco), but I had such a good time. Private room, much good cheer, no birthday singing. It was awesome.

Phase Six: In Which I Retire To My Sofa With Cold Preparations For Days On End
I'm still here. Been here four days. Wicked cough. Voice still very wiggly. Except for the illness, all-in-all a success. Plus, a friend sent orchids yesterday, extending the occasion.

I will never do this again, but man was that enjoyable. OK, parts of it I'll do again. Ordering tamales from my neighbor and having people over for sumo I'll definitely do.

November 13, 2012

Palm Springia 2012

Oh, the desert. Why do people go there?

In our case, we went for a professional development thingie, which was quite wonderful.

But we weren't alone. No! Our conference coincided with an event called American Heat, drawing motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the state to sunny PS. Loud. Interesting. Scary.

Three of our meals came from a place called Sherman's Deli. Visiting there reminded me of my days as a diner waitress. Unlike my diner, the food at Sherman's was outstanding. This was our first view, as we picked up breakfast:

I ruined the first photo by getting a reflection of the palm trees and mountain behind me in the shot, then decided that it was kinda awesome.

Breakfast was on the go in order to get me to a workshop on time. It turns out that the location for the workshop was not the location of the museum (my bad). But I got to hang out here for a while and watch roadrunners chase each other across the dusty road for a while. A desert experience, yes.

The workshop was great, if sweat-inducing. I wielded a HEPA vacuum and brushed dirt off of hand-woven rugs all day. I truly felt I'd earned my dinner later.

In the morning we went back to Sherman's. This is my giant pile of matzobrei.

Turns out that motorcycle gangs like breakfast, too. Groups of men and women, dressed in their regalia, politely waited their turns to be seated at Sherman's, along with groups of cops. Truly a varied crowd. I very badly wanted to know more about the flair on the vests of the motorcycle dudes. The motorcycle club that we saw in the largest numbers was the Mongols.

After breakfast we spent the rest of the day looking at every thrift shop we could find. During the drive I gleaned what I could about Mongol flair, its meaning, and how those patches are earned. Purple wings. Wow. Look it up.

We got back into town and most of the Mongols had left town. I was sad, because I really wanted to put my newfound knowledge to use. The only Mongol we saw that day had very little patch action (a novitiate?), and was sweetly romantic with his girlfriend. Not playing to stereotype.

Later that night we went to a private event at the Sunnylands event center. A modernist paradise, with fun company and yummy dishes. We found what we thought was the quietest table and it turned to be in the direct path between the kitchen and the appetizer tables. Unintended bonus: we got everything as fresh as it could be.

Then we went to the children's museum and pulled the same move inadvertently -- we looked for what we thought was going to be the farthest and quietest table, which then turned out to be front and center for a darling performance of traditional Mexican music and folklorico dance, performed by kids from an after school program. Their pure joy could not have made me happier.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that we were treated to an amazing dinner at Workshop Kitchen and Bar. Amazing, both in the fact that we were dining with super interesting colleagues and that the food was so incredibly tasty. This is one of my best meals ever. Because we were a large party we had some of everything: octopus, octopus salad, an oxtail shepherd's pie that was *insanely* flavorful, olive oil cake, panna cotta, rib-eye, redfish...

We all walked home past a large vintage automobile dealership and told stories about the ones that got away.

October 2, 2012

Voter ID

Voter ID laws are in the news recently.

I have to say I'm conflicted. I think there should be some sort of physical identification for voters.

When I lived in a college town, poll workers always asked for ID. Here in the City of Pride and Purpose they do not. It bothers me. What if someone pretended to be me?

Is there some happy medium about the type of identification, it'd be great. I now understand that there's more at stake, including the disenfranchisement of rural and poor people.

In the old days there was that happy medium. Before the widespread use of photography, people appeared at the polls ahead of time, registered and had a physical description taken. Couldn't they at least do this? As a side note, via the Great Register of Voters of 1890, I learned that two of mrguy's ancestors were missing the same part of the same finger on the same hand. Both worked in the roundhouse on the railroad.

Surely a simple system like this could be used for people who are unable to get a photo ID.

Just a thought.

And now an update. It seems like the incidence of actual voter fraud is pretty small and the consequences of disenfranchising people who want to vote are worse. 

I give.

September 27, 2012


There are very few headlines that demand that I read them, but anything related to Bigfoot, Amelia Earhart, and the location of Jimmy Hoffa's body always draws me in.

We have another alleged Hoffa burial location. How many times have we done the dig?

It just doesn't get old for me.

September 3, 2012

The Old Place. Whale Edition

Every Labor Day I think of the heroin story, but I've already told you that.

Instead I'll tell you this tale from the Old Place.

The Old Place was extremely hot in the summer. We lived in an old brick building next to the Petroleum and Nuclear Worker's Union Hall. On summer days the house would be cool until evening, when the bricks would expel the heat they'd been collecting all day. Some nights it would be 90 degrees at midnight, and rising. Kinda awful. However I don't think we ever paid more than $500 bucks a month for this place and I was on disability so this was the perfect spot for us during those years.

About a dozen years ago, on a hot Thursday in late August, we were watching ER. The teaser for the 11 o'clock news came on saying that a whale had washed up on the coast of our town. Our little beach was maybe 200 feet across, so we assumed that they meant the oceanside beach of the same name.

We waited for the news, and, sure enough! We recognized our little beach and the burned-out pier. Crazy! We grabbed our flashlight and walked down to the beach. There we found another couple who had obviously watched the news also. Our lights made out the shape of the whale. Not much to see, but I would come down the next day and see him in daylight.

The morning paper said that we were about to have a heat wave on the weekend. It was pretty warm by the time I left the house. I stepped out and it smelled...a little "whale-y". Poor whale. According to the Fish and Game guy I met, the whale was a juvenile female, had been deceased for quite a while and wasn't in his jurisdiction. The joy of living in an unincorporated area. "So what's going to happen with the whale?" I asked him, "I don't know," he said. Uh-oh.

I ran into a neighbor on the way back home and we talked a bit about the whale, the smell, and the upcoming heat wave.

Two days later I saw the same neighbor and commented that it was smelling a lot less whale-y. He said "You know why, right?" "Me and Bob..." (anything that started with those three words could not be good. Bob kept a pit bull chained to his porch behind our house, he didn't have a lick of sense and he owned guns) "went out in my boat, tied a rope to its tail, and towed it into the bay. Then we shot it full of holes." He seemed surprised that it didn't sink. All he knew was that he didn't want the smelly whale on our beach during a heat wave. I could tell that in some weird way he thought it was his civic responsibility to do something with the whale. He lived next door to me and also owned guns, so I wasn't going to disagree.

One week later, on Thursday, we saw the teaser for the news: "Another whale has washed up in the area." It was clearly the same whale, and I could see the bullet holes this time. It had floated into another county, on the beach fronting a fancy neighborhood, just in time for the heat wave.

I almost had an image to illustrate this post.

That first smelly day on the beach I used the last shot on my camera to take a picture of the whale. When I got my film back, the whale shot wasn't there.

So ends the story of the whale.

September 2, 2012


A few weeks ago we had a second anniversary gathering of the Hawaiian band. 

First up, pizza (one pepperoni and one broccoli, feta and pesto). 

Then the Keynote presentations began. I don't recall who decided that we should each create a Keynote presentation, but it was nerdy and hilarious. We drew numbers out of a hat to determine the order of the presentations (someone suggested that it be the beer can hat) and then whoever was presenting was required to wear the beer hat.

Many of the goals we presented were similar: new recordings, more gigs, some were different: outfits, introduction of a bass player.

All in all it's been a satisfying year. We played five gigs at two festivals, two forklift parties and a school fair. We played for a halau, which was a first. Can't wait to do more. 

And get those outfits!

August 12, 2012

The Ring

Another part of the H5 saga.

H5, as you may recall, was an old friend from the very old days when I was young and lived over an Irish bar. He and his buddies, all programmers or atom smashers of some sort, frequented the bar as did I, since doing so meant I could both be social and not have to clean up my own livingroom. The bar was my *other* livingroom.

The boys were the center of much of my social world. They were much older, had read all of the books that Classicists are supposed to read, and were fairly fluent in Old Norse. I'd just finished studying the Sagas myself, so we had a fair amount in common. Except they retained the stuff and I didn't.

They also had real jobs and I didn't. I was beginning my spectacular waitressing career that kept me just ahead of the rent, then $210. So they'd often buy me dinner in order for me to continue the evening's revel. We'd discovered a terrific French restaurant, Andre's, whose namesake chef loved to make our tummies happy.

One night after going to Andre's, H5 dropped me off and I noticed a certain tension, as if I were on a date I didn't know about. I ignored it, because I didn't want to know that he was sweet on me. It helped that I had a boyfriend (who also provided his grandfather's WWI French army uniform for me to wear to Andre's on Bastille day). They boyfriend was around only a little, and then not around at all. At that point I had no cover.

One day, I got a call from H5. A typical phone call from him would start like this: "This is.............[H]. Happy Einstein's birthday" (or Autumnal Equinox or whatever). We'd be talking for a while and then he'd say something absurd like "The boys and I were talking and we've decided that we'd like to create a religion with you as its figurehead." Awkward, right? Conversations like this happened with greater frequency until the day.

I came home from work, rehearsal and shopping to find that there was a sewage leak in my apartment. Funky brown water stood in my sink and my bathtub. I'd brought home mussels to cook, so I was filling a pan while trying not to look into the sink. The phone rang. It was H5.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hello, this is.............[H]. Happy [insert esoteric holiday]." This was followed by smalltalk on his end. I didn't have time to tell him that I was surrounded by vats of my own waste. It got worse. "I was wondering if you would consider...........marrying me?" There was no prelude to this, no holding hands or kissing or sharing of reading material. I said "Can you hold on for a sec?" I ran to another part of the apartment and screamed into a pile of dirty laundry. When I could put off returning to the phone no longer, I grabbed the phone but didn't know what to say. "Think of the advantages," he said. Unfortunately I couldn't think of the advantages, and my selfish self could only think of how awful it was to be caught off-guard in this sort of circumstance.

He'd done the right thing. In the chivalrous world he'd constructed for himself in his mind he'd found a damsel in distress (me), fallen for her, tried to protect her from her bad boyfriends and poverty and pay for her laundry (I never took him up on the laundry part). The only problem was that he never fully filled me in on his fantasy and I didn't want to know about it.

Today I ran across a ring he'd given me. A friend of his had made it out of coin silver. He hoped that if I ever needed money I would sell it. I don't need the money now, but I think I'll sell it and give the money to the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). He never quite got on with them, but they believe in a romanticism that's as deep as his.

A Visit To The Shto

mrguy and I just came back from the grocery store. 

It's summertime, so produce is on my mind. Can I just say that I think that the pluot is a pointless fruit? Not to be confused with "that insufferable fruit," which how James Ellroy repeatedly referred to Kevin Spacey at a book signing I went to once, but I digress.

The pluot's main flaw is that it isn't better-tasting than a plum. It has some snazzy-looking skin, but that's about it. It is only slightly more flavorful than a star fruit, and that's just sad.

News for starch lovers -- Cheezits have completely succumbed to what mrguy calls "brand cancer". They have every kind of Cheezit now, whether we need it or not. Why would you make a "Colby" Cheezit? It's kinda like advertising an American cheese flavor.

And over in the lady products aisle...wait! Where are the lady products? I asked mrguy and he directed me to what he calls "The corner of shame," a spot near the employee-only door and the fire extinguisher. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere, but I just can't find it :)

Back at the shack, I'm gathering some of our pears and some nectarines from the shto and will make a pie.

Joe Poodles Sr.

What Is More Sultry?

August 6, 2012

Refinery All Blow Up


Just like the old days.

mrguy and I were just sitting down to Hawaiian language class when I started getting multiple texts. One from my Wubbie, another from one of my teammates at work. The refinery was on fire. Was everything o.k.?

15 miles or so away, everything was grand. And now at home, things are pretty mellow, except that the cats are patrolling the house after having been subjected to the shelter-in-place sirens this evening.

Back in the day, when we lived in the old place, we were like the creamy filling in a refinery sandwich. The refinery up the street was pretty mellow. It would spew surreptitiously at night or during rainstorms. The older one to the south had less control over its waste product and was always spewing, or on the blink.

During the 7 1/2 years I lived in the old place, I was on a first name basis with the people who answered the phone at the air quality control board in the middle of the night. At first they wondered why I would call them so late, but these were the hours in which the refineries would have accidental releases. I worked late hours and so did my honey and if I didn't stay up I couldn't see him...why are you asking me this, air quality control dude?

Eventually we were all cool. The bummer was that although they had money to pay people to answer the phone in the middle of the night, they didn't seem to have money to pay inspectors to work in the middle of the night. The nice inspector would come in the morning and we'd chat about her kids. She knew that I knew what I was smelling, but unless she could smell it herself or detect it in a sample, there was no recourse.

Now we don't live near the refinery but we can see it twinkling at night from our house. Every once in a while it reaches out to remind us it's there.

Friendly little fella.

Aloha Festival 2012

After debuting at the Ukulele Festival in April, we were approached by a halau that needed musicians to back them up at this year's Aloha Festival. The last few months have been an introduction to the world of this halau, in specific, and to playing for dancers, in general.

Our first reaction was surprise, and excitement. What good luck to have this experience! And how great to debut at the Aloha Festival as a support act and not as as a featured group with its own time slot. Kinda perfect.

Rehearsals were interesting. Due to our summer schedules, our band wasn't able to be in the same place to rehearse for around 8 weeks. Whoever was available came to our weekly rehearsals and whoever was available came to rehearsals with the halau. The kumu was pretty flexible about the changing sound we were able to offer. At one point, when a rehearsal with the halau conflicted with my rehearsal with our girl band, mrguy played mrsguy for the night and sang my parts for the halau while I sang my parts with the girl band. Whew.

The Hawaiian band was *so* not in the same place that one of us had to fly in from out of town for the day to rehearse and play and then out the next, after our performance.

The dress rehearsal was fantastic, in its own way. It was in a large instructional space at a small Japanese preschool in a church. The corner we occupied was shared with various fish, turtle and tarantula tanks. The turtle was very curious as we played, and his water supply was very loud and splashy. At the end of the rehearsal my bag was splattered with turtle water :)

Yesterday was the big day. The grand mammoo came to see us, which was really touching, and friends from work also came (so cool!). The sound crew was very professional, but had been given the completely wrong info about our band's needs. The sound ended up being great. Imagine! My own sound coming out of the monitors! The halau did a great job and we did a great job, although I was nervous during the first number and wasn't able to sing as forcefully as I wanted on my solos.  Every once in a while, while performing, I'd see something that made me happy, like the next band, quietly waiting their turn on the second stage, cheering us on, or the sound guy wandering past us, eating malasadas. After we were done, one of the elder members of the halau told me that my falsetto is beautiful and sounds very Hawaiian. This is the highest compliment that I could be given, since I sometimes feel self-conscious about being a haole girl playing Hawaiian music in this community. So far people have been very kind.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur of eating, shopping, hugging and traveling. The band is all busting to get together again. The 18th is the band's 2nd anniversary, and we have a million goals we want to work toward together this year.

July 26, 2012

Russodad 2012: Glorious Balderdash Answers

6)    A tool used for making rope
May 7, 1980
8)  Breznev becomes leader of the USSR
4)    Latin American Paper Money Society

I now have a bone to pick with Balderdash HQ. In typical Balderdash fashion, there are some errors in the answers. Regardless, Balderdash rules say that their answers are to be considered accurate, even if they are not.

With this in mind, Leonid Breznev became leader of the USSR on May 7, 1960. In other news, the Latin American Paper Money Society has never been known by the initials LAPMS. For a lively history of LANSA, check out their webpage.

July 24, 2012

Russodad 2012: Glorious Vacation Novel Edition, answers Balderdashia pt. 1

 Here are the actual first lines of yesterday's novels. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have discovered that sometimes my siblings chose the second or third line of the book.

Anything For You:
5)    Regan sat in the plush waiting room of the city’s larest and most prestigious law firm, trying to conceal her nervous jitters.
Capital Crimes (My Sister’s Keeper, Berkeley)
5)    The Women’s Association of Northern California, Conquistadores Chapter Number 16, was housed in a sumptuous turn-of-the-century, Beaux-Arts-touched-by-Gothis castle topped by crenellations and turrets and constructed of massive blocks of mauve-grey Deer Isle granite from a long-dead quarry in Maine.
Ahab’s Wife, or The Stargazer
2)    Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.
6)    Peter Jameson hadn’t heard a sound since 7pm.

And now for last night's game of Balderdash! In happy family news we were joined in Balderdashia this year by our ten-year-old grand-niece and sometimes her little sister who, oddly, has remained mostly mute this vacation.

1)    A corn-based food supplement for cattle
2)    Perfectly-spaced, as in a properly mortared row of bricks
3)    To use dirty tweezers
4)    The regional language of the farthest western borough in Belfast, Northern Ireland
5)    The residual in the still after making moonshine
6)    A tool used for making rope
7)    A monogram in which initials are embedded in each other
8)    The space between a South African antelope’s cloven hoof

May 7, 1980
1)    Bright pink and orange were voted the most popular colors in America
2)    MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) was formed by Mrs. Phyllis Gray
3)    Ethanol is introduced as a fuel in the US
4)    China’s population tops one billion
5)    On this date the National Geographic Spelling Bee was first held
6)    The much-anticipated wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
7)    Home Box Office (HBO) becomes the first cable channel to air recent movie  releases without commercial interruptions
8)  Breznev becomes the leader of the USSR

1)    Lace and Piecework Maker’s Society
2)    Louisiana Photo-Mapping Society
3)    Lower Ashtabula Pothole Mending Society
4)    Latin American Paper Money Society
5)    Los Angeles Plant Mowing Society
6)    Louisiana Apple Pie Making Society
7)    Light Afflicted Post Meridian Society
8)    Lit Amber Paper Monkey Smores
9)    Louisiana Association of Philanthropic Mothers and Sons
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