Saturday, April 21, 2012

Going to a Boss!

SpringsteenI’m going to have plenty of time to calm down about this, but at the moment, I am super excited about getting to see Bruce Springsteen in early September...and at WRIGLEY FIELD, of all places!

I talked to my sister Diana earlier this week, and she had read that he was going to be playing at the Friendly Confines and wanted to know if we’d like to go. She also asked two other couples (the ones we do Woody Allen nights with), and they were up for it, too. The only question was whether we’d be able to get tickets. Wrigley Field isn’t a huge venue, and obviously, tickets would go fast. But with computer whizzes Rey and Jen in town for a few days, she enlisted them for the task. Tickets went on sale at 11 am today, and at 11:16, I got a call from Di: “We got ‘em!” AAAAHHHHH! Unbelievable...ten seats, and all of them together! Rey and Jen are even going to fly out from San Diego for the weekend to go to the show. Sadly, there was a limit on the number of tickets you could get, so we were unable to get tickets for Shane and Matt. I tried, but by the time I got through, there were only single seats available, and although I know they wouldn’t have minded not sitting with us, I don’t think they would have liked to sit by themselves. I think they’ll be okay with it, though...they said that if we could get extra tickets, they’d be in, but I don’t think they were counting on it or anything.

I’ve never been a rabid Springsteen fan. I like him plenty and have had several albums over the years, but I’m not the diehard fan that some people are. But everyone knows that he puts on an incredible show (usually about three hours long), and that they are amazing communal events, where the music transcends everything. That might sound like an exaggeration, but I recently read Penn Jillette’s book, and he mentioned going to a Springsteen show. I seem to recall that he was in kind of a surly or tired mood, and wasn’t all into going to it, but by the end of the show, he was sweating and screaming and singing along with several thousand other people. The Boss is apparently THAT GOOD.’s at WRIGLEY FIELD!!

Springsteen2We’re all excited about it. We’ll have to figure out where we’ll stay Friday night, and there is already discussion of renting a limo to go up to Chicago. Ken and I might not get to participate in that, because if we manage to get Notre Dame football tickets for all the home games, we’ll have to drive back early Saturday to get to the game. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I’m already starting to think about what to wear. I figure that if I get a flannel shirt now, cut off the sleeves, and wash it all summer, it will be appropriately faded by September 7th. Or I could go with the white ribbed tank top and leather or jean jacket. Or a vest, like in this picture of him. That’s a cool look, isn’t it? How about a vest over a white ribbed tank top? It will probably still be pretty hot in Chicago at that time, so it will depend on the weather. (I’m just being silly...I’ve only thought about what to wear a couple of times today!)

I’m also excited about another concert in September, this one at a much smaller venue. I’ve been a long-time fan of the Smithereens, and when I saw that they were playing at an intimate theater in Valparaiso (about an hour away), I immediately bought four tickets, for us and Shane and Matt (who also love the Smithereens). That will be as special a concert for me as the Springsteen one, because I’ve loved the band since the ‘80s, and since it’s a small venue, I’m hoping I’ll get to meet Pat DiNizio (lead singer) after the show. He’s on Facebook and seems like a super nice guy. Sadly, I’ll be missing one of my favorites, The Dandy Warhols, because their date in Chicago is when we’ll be on our Route 66 trip. Drat! Keep making music and keep touring, Dandys! I’ll see you one of these days!

Now I just have to wait all summer for these shows! Ha! I think I’ll manage to find other things to occupy my time.

We’re heading out soon to take Ken’s Mom out to dinner at a Mexican place. She just got back from visiting family and friends in Missouri, so she can tell us all about her trip. I’m hungry for Mexican food and a margarita (or two). If I have two margaritas, it’s a good thing I’m writing this entry now! [wink]

Friday, April 20, 2012

Callie Grace

Maxi's 4-20We met up tonight with several family members at one of our favorite places, Maxi’s. Me and Ken, my sister Diana and her husband Tom, Shane and Matt, and Tom’s daughters Heather and Jennifer, and Heather’s husband Rey and their son Liam. Still with me? It was ten of us for food and drinks and conversation and laughter. Liam turned five years old this week, and he is such a super cute and smart kid who lifts everyone’s spirits. He totally conked out early on, but came to life later and we had a lot of fun rawring like dinosaurs and just being silly!

It was not exactly happy circumstances that brought us all together this time. Tom’s father, Heather and Jennifer’s grandfather, left us this week. Heather and Jen and family were able to come out from California to be with their Indiana family for a sad occasion which turned into a family get-together...and I know Ben would approve! Tonight was a lot of fun, a chance for some of us to meet up and celebrate our connections with each other. I hate to get too smarmy or sentimental, but damn...I love each and every person who was there tonight, and I can honestly say that I would take a bullet for any one of them. No lie.

To top it all off, we were discussing various political things and science things...and Heather pushed my buttons about vaccinations. She knows that is my hot-button issue, and she knows that just the mention of it gets me going! (Her and Rey are smart parents who follow the science, and Liam has all of his immunizations. Yay!) I mentioned that I recently got my booster shot for Tdap, and that no one there was going to be getting diphtheria or pertussis from me! Heather is at risk for infections, Liam is at risk as a young person, and we all, even as adults, can pass infectious diseases like pertussis on to those who are at risk.

Callie GraceWell, our server (who was awesome, by the way) came up to us and said, “Did I hear you all talking about pertussis?” We said yes, we were talking about vaccinations. It is making me cry to think about this, but she said that her daughter died from whooping cough (pertussis), and she is now an advocate for immunization and awareness of the dangers of not vaccinating. I went over to her and gave her a hug and said that I support her 100%, and she brought us all bracelets that have her daughter’s name on them: Callie Grace.

This is the very real face of non-vaccination. This woman lost her baby daughter because her daughter was too young to be immunized and she caught it from someone else.

I’ve written here about the importance of vaccinations, but it’s one thing to just write about it. It’s a whole other thing to encounter a person who lost a child to an infectious disease that is very preventable. It was astounding to me, and a very moving moment, to be discussing this with family and to have someone overhear us and say, “Yes...I know. And I lost my daughter to this infection.”  

Here’s to my family, here’s to those who we are missing, and here’s to Callie Grace.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

1000 pages of wonder

The Alexandria QuartetI have mentioned here that I was reading The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. It is #70 on my book club list. I finished it last night, and now I’m going to gush about it for a while.

It took me a while to finish the entire thing. All four books combined are over a thousand pages, but since it was divided into four books, I decided to break it up a little bit and read other books in between. So a month and a half later, I’m finally done!

It was undoubtedly worth the time, though. On Shelfari, I was giving the individual books 4 out of 5 stars, but the entire Quartet gets 5 stars, and I named it a “favorite.” This book just blew me away.

First of all, the writing is awe-inspiring, and I’m not tossing that term around willy-nilly, half-cocked, or even helter-skelter. There were times when I’d pause in my reading and think, “Wow.” There were times that Durrell’s description of WWII-era Alexandria were so vivid that I could see and hear it in my mind. The way he would describe a sunset, the atmosphere, the quality of candlelight...I honestly don’t recall any book I’ve read that had such beautiful writing and imagery. That is probably what stood out for me the most.

I also enjoyed the device of telling the same story through different perspectives; the first three books are written in this manner, and the last one moves forward in time from one character’s point of view. It makes for an interesting read to see that there is more to the story than we initially realized, and it also gives great insight into the characters. Why did they do this? Why did they react this way when another character reacted differently? What secrets are being kept?

As for the characters, I was amazed to find that I came to care about them so much. It’s always a joy to be so absorbed by the story and by the writing that you feel drawn into these people’s lives; you begin to feel that they are friends. A scene toward the end had me sitting with my hand over my mouth, almost in tears. “Noooo!” Of course, when you spend a thousand pages and a month and a half with someone, you’re bound to get a little attached! As with all my favorite books, I was a little sad to see it end. There was a hopeful sense at the end, so I’m going to think that there were happy times ahead for them all.

I don’t know if this book is for everyone. It does get “wordy” (Not that that’s always a bad thing...this book wasn’t gratuitously long. Durrell chose his words wisely and well.), there is a lot of French thrown in there (thank you, Google Translate!), and it’s more character-driven than action-packed. But if you love wonderful writing, you can’t go wrong with this book. I was charmed. I’m even smiling as I write this, thinking about how beautiful it was.

This book is a perfect example of why I’m glad that I’m sticking with the book club list (the Modern Library 100 Best Novels). It’s not a book I ever would have picked up on my own, and I’m very happy to have read it. There have been a few others on the list that I feel that way about, and I’m sure there will be more to come. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it is books like this one that make my life richer, and make me so grateful to be a reader. What a remarkable gift for a writer, to be able to foster such feelings in a reader!

On deck: Summer for the Gods, about the Scopes monkey trial, and the next on the book club list is The House of Mirth
by Edith Wharton. Good reading!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ted Nugent: Gone-zo

Catman2I didn’t want to write about this because I don’t like giving this idiot bandwidth, but the more I read, the more I want to say a few things. I’m not posting a picture of him, though. Here’s a picture of a cat wearing a Batman mask instead.

So Ted Nugent was speaking at an NRA convention. Nothing surprising there, because he’s been all up in our grills about guns and ammo and hunting and all that shit for a long time now. But he caught some flak this week for saying that if President Obama is re-elected, he’ll either be dead or in jail this time next year. Some considered that a not-so-veiled threat against the President, ‘cause see, why would Nugent be in jail or dead if President Obama is re-elected? Maybe because he’d do something violent, something that would cause him to be thrown in jail, or be shot because of his actions? Maybe something like, oh…trying to HARM the President? The Secret Service, which takes all threats seriously, will be interviewing him tomorrow. Nugent says he’s going to have a barbecue for them. I’m guessing that they will be all business, and politely least I hope so. The Secret Service has their own damage control to do, don’t they?

Anyway, Nugent swears that he didn’t threaten the President by making that statement. Says that he was just exercising his right to free speech, and he has the right to bear arms and blahbitty blah blah and YEEEEOWWWW your face is a Maserati! Oh, and he says that he never threatens people. Really? Roll the tape, please, Cal. (If I had a media guy, his name would be Cal.)

“Ride my machine gun.” Right. That’s not a threat. He calls President Obama a “piece of shit,” Hillary Clinton a “worthless bitch,” and Dianne Feinstein a “worthless whore.” Maybe name-calling isn’t a threat, but telling these people to ride his machine gun certainly seems a little threatening to me. If someone came up to you on the street and yelled, “Hey, you worthless bitch...ride my machine gun!” would you feel threatened? I sure would!

Okay, listen. This guy is pretty much washed up, and hasn’t been relevant for a long time. I liked some of his stuff when I was in the mood for ‘70s arena rock, which has been about once in the past 15 years or so. I said goodbye to him permanently when he wrote about Sarah Palin for Time and praised her “herculean work ethic.” Anyone saying that about Sarah Palin is obviously a delusional moron, and I had had enough. It’s one thing to be outrageous and on the edge, but when you cross the line into just plain stupid, I’m done with you.

There IS a line, and Nugent has crossed it, which I think he is beginning to comprehend. We all value free speech, and want to protect the right of everyone (even addlepated has-beens) to speak their mind and criticize opinions with which they don’t agree. But when you are so caught up in your bizarre little gun-totin’ world that you start using violent gun imagery to discuss people rather than policy, you’ve gone too far, and the Secret Service pays you a visit.

Darth VaderSo get a grip here, Ted. What you have been saying is not cool, and the vast majority of people are not speaking of you in glowing terms tonight. They’re talking about how you’re an asshole, and how most of your music sucked, anyway. The only people who approve of a wingnut threatening the President of the United States of America are other wingnuts. So how about you just head on back to your little Michigan farm, shoot your little guns, and dream your little dreams about when you were out on the road and getting blow jobs from underage girls, okay? 

Oh, and Mittens? Do you think it might be time, finally, to show a little decency and backbone and prove that you actually have a pair of testes—or even ONE! Surely you have ONE teste!—and renounce this flaming asshole and decline his support? Or are you just going to continue to say that everyone needs to be civil? Jeez, what a pussy.

Speaking of pussy, here’s a picture of a cat dressed as Darth Vader. You’re welcome.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A short story

Reaching for shelfIt’s not fictional, though. It’s my life. 

When I got my check-up last week, I topped out at a towering 4’11½”. That may have been what triggered my recent dream about some really tall woman bumping into me at a buffet line, and my rather vicious response to her. (Something like “You gotta try the ground CHUCK, YOU.”)

I mentioned it on Facebook, because it struck me kind of funny. Our friend Stephen left a comment about my having a bit of a Napoleon Complex, but he must have realized that would unleash my inner pit bull, so he deleted it. Haha! It actually made me laugh, but I was quite prepared to get all up in his grill about it. It’s all part of being short. I learned a long time ago to not get upset or pissed about short jokes. They are inevitable. Another thing you learn is to sometimes make the joke first, before anyone else can get to it. It honestly doesn’t upset me to be teased about my lack of height, unless someone just gets stupid about and won’t shut up. Yes, yes, we all get it. I’m really short. (That wasn’t the case with Stephen. He teases, I laugh, I poke back, it’s all fun.)

It did get me to thinking, though, about how it has caused me to respond in certain ways to things. The physical portion is one part of it. I keep a step stool in the kitchen, and I use it often. I’m the grocery store’s worst nightmare, because I step up on the bottom shelf to get things on the top shelf. I’m a walking lawsuit. (Although I would never sue a store because of an injury due to my own behavior. I don’t think that’s right.) The psychological part is something entirely different. My Dad was not a big man. He was maybe 5’6” or 5’7”, and in his younger days, he was a skinny thing at around 125 pounds. I remember him telling me once that his Dad (also not a large man, but among many other things, he worked as a blacksmith...don’t screw with a blacksmith) told him that if he had to get in a fight, he’d better learn to hit hard enough on that first punch to make sure the other guy didn’t get up anytime soon, so he had time to run away. Haha!

Obviously, I’m not a fighter. If push came to shove, I think I could do some serious damage, but I avoid physical confrontation if at all possible. But I’ve learned over the years that normal-sized people will sometimes try to use their size to intimidate people of my size. They also seem to think that because we are small, we’re easy to push around and easy to manipulate. I’m also a fairly smiley sort of person, and it’s hard to get me riled.

One of the things I won’t tolerate, though, is people trying to manipulate me or take advantage of me, either because of my shortness or because of my mild manner. In my clubbing days, it wasn’t uncommon for me to throw a wild elbow once in a while, to get some idiot out of my space. I also will not hesitate to throw a wild mental elbow, just to make it clear that you are attempting to step on the wrong munchkin, and I will push back. I don’t go around all half-cocked and belligerent. But I can tell when someone is trying to intimidate me, either physically or psychologically, and I won’t have it. If you start sticking a finger in my face, you’re liable to pull back a bloody stump. The same goes for a figurative finger in my face (ooo, alliteration!).

Some people tend to underestimate me, because I’m undersized. That is their super-sized mistake.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The dignity of work

Condescending Wonka[Disclaimer: Dignity is directly proportional to type of job, level of public assistance, and wages and benefits involved in said work. Exemptions may be applicable for living situation, type of housing, and social class of individual. Wives of multi-millionaires are permanently exempt from any and all criticism of lifestyle decisions. Women in situations other than that of said women are subject to the full wrath and scorn that can and should be rightfully heaped upon them for whatever decisions they make.]

It was just two days ago that I wrote about the silly “war on moms” that the righties were saying the Democrats are waging against stay-at-home mothers, because of the words of one Democratic analyst not affiliated with the Obama administration or campaign.

Well, Mittens and his wife were just outraged...OUTRAGED, I tell you! How DARE that woman question Ann Romney’s decision to stay at home? How DARE the Democrats suggest that staying at home with your kids isn’t work? How can they act like Ann Romney isn’t just like every other stay-at-home mom, at least if they have two Cadillacs, the best health care money can buy, and the ability to pay for nannies, maids, gardeners, chauffeurs, visiting nurses, and chefs? What a bunch of commie lesbos to suggest that they’re better than someone like Ann Romney, just because THEY go to work and she doesn’t! I bet they don’t even shave their legs...OR their armpits! O the humanity!

Well, check out what Mittens said about welfare rules just four months ago:

“I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”

Ahhh, so now we know what he really thinks. It’s okay for wealthy women like his wife to stay at home with the kids, and their work as stay-at-home moms is super serious work, guys, and they are so awesome and work so hard and should be praised, nay, worshipped as the fine examples of American womanitude that they are!

But those welfare moms? The ones that stay home with their kids rather than working a minimum wage job, even though daycare costs more than they can make at a minimum wage job? Lazy bitches, all of ‘em, leeches on the legs of rich white Americans like ol’ Mittens. There’s no dignity in staying home with those squawking little welfare brats, anyway, so better to put them into daycare where they can get some proper instruction, rather than being subjected to your lameness as a mother, and better you get your lazy ass into work so you can learn how to have a little DIGNITY, you bitch.

If I sound pissed, I am. The condescension is mind-boggling, and although I realize that every politician is an opportunist, ready to jump on any opening, this is just foul, and indicative of a profound lack of empathy and understanding from Mittens about the plight of working women, working mothers, and just women in general. It is also glaringly obvious, and has been so for a long time now, that he will say anything, do anything, pander to anyone, and kiss any ass that he thinks might get him elected. If you can’t see the soul-numbing cynicism of his tactics, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t agree with Santorum or Ron Paul about much of anything, but I’ll give them credit for having convictions and standing by them. Mittens is like a twitching fish in the noonday sun, his bland white flesh flopping this way and that in order to avoid the heat and light. And it stinks.

The saying goes that a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. I don’t know who said that originally, but my fellow Hoosier John Mellencamp wrote a song about it. Mittens needs to listen to the Little Bastard and try to find a kernel of conviction within himself. Although I really don’t think he’s capable of doing that. If he hasn’t found it yet, why does anyone think he’ll have a sudden epiphany and manage to grow a pair?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

3000 words

We’ll be heading down to visit my Mom in a little bit, so just a quick entry, with three photos.

But before that, I was sad to hear last night of the passing of a kind and wonderful man. He was such a good friend of the family that he was essentially a part of the family, even though our connection was by marriage. He was my sister Diana’s father-in-law, but since I consider her husband Tom my brother, he was kind of my father-in-law, too. Just a sweet, super cool guy, who loved to tell stories about his time in the Navy during WWII and about being a drummer for a Navy band and then later a local band. You will be missed, Ben, and my thoughts are with his entire family. It will be my honor to attend his service.

Now to the pictures.

Indignant starfish
This one is just for fun. A friend on Facebook posted it, and it made me giggle so much I had to share it there, too, and now on here. I captioned it with “Well, I never!” I laughed about it for pretty much an entire day, and I hope it makes you grin, too!

Josh Agle The Angry Ex
A while back, Cousin Matt posted a really cool pic as his Facebook timeline photo. I loved the retro look of it, and went looking for similar photos. I found that it was done by an artist named Josh Agle, AKA Shag (JoSH AGle). It seems like Matt might have told me about this artist before, because his name did sound vaguely familiar, but I didn’t recall ever looking him up before. I LOVE this stuff! I think this would be considered sort of Tiki Retro, and he does seem to do several Tiki themes. I would love to have one of his original paintings, but they’re a little too rich for my blood, at least for now. Even the prints aren’t cheap, but that would be more realistic. I might explore him a little bit further, and he might get a Retro Reflections entry. One of these would look pretty nifty hanging in the Retro Lounge!

This particular one is called “The Angry Ex.” heh

Finally, here is a painting that we DO own, and it just arrived yesterday! When we took our Philadelphia/New York City trip last fall, one of the highlights was meeting our long-time blogger friend, Dana. Dana is a retired actor, a writer, and an artist. He showed us his paintings, and we loved them so much we wanted one. He was kind enough to send photos of all of them, and we chose this one, called “Landscape.” I love the colors of it, and it reminds me of the pilings of a dock. (I’m also intrigued by that one little red slash in the lower right quadrant. What could that be? Must ponder.) I tend to gravitate towards the abstract, and this pleases me very much. I believe I have the right spot for it in our living room, although it will displace the “Creole Cat - Cat O’Brien’s” print that we got in New Orleans. I’ll find a spot for him, too, but Dana’s painting and the colors in it will fit perfectly where Cat is currently hanging.
Hope you enjoyed the photos!