Friday, July 4, 2008

This Was No Boat Accident

Thank sweet Baby Jesus, God, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, Mohammed, Confuscius, and William Shatner for AMC today. They are showing all the Jaws movies in honor of the 4th of July. Of course, for a few decades now I've always indulged in the annual viewing of the original Big Shark Movie on the 4th. More than extreme barbecue and fireworks, it seemed the only tradition that made sense on this holiday. A classic tale of big honkin' shark against man, it holds up after more than 30 years for good storytelling and a lesson for filmmakers everywhere on how to save a movie when your mechanical shark does not work more than half the time. Good thing too for Spielberg, mere glimpses of the shark heightened the suspense all through the movie so during the big having-Robert-Shaw-for-dinner scene, it paid off handsomely (A lesson Ridley Scott used to up the icky ante in 1979's Alien). More than shark effects, the movie is filled with classic scenes but none so perfect as Robert Shaw's Quint talking about the sinking of the Indianapolis. The fact that he wasn't nominated for an Academy Award that year seems incomprehensible but there it is, another example of Hollywood ignorance. This is also one of the rare instances where I preferred the film over the book. Benchley's novel had the affair of Brody's wife with Hooper in the background of the story and so later on, Hooper being eaten by the shark was no loss to the reader because brilliant as he was, he still schtooped the protagonist's wife and therefore had to die. In the movie, they eliminated that subplot which proved to be a great choice as Richard Dreyfuss's Hooper is a wonderful combination of brainy bravado and comic relief.

Of course, for a second helping of Sharkapalooza, skip the remaining Jaws sequels and go right to the big popcorn and ultimate cheese experience of Deep Blue Sea. It's absolutely fabulous in its absurdity and isn't that what makes our country great?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Bike Tale

With temperatures in the mid 80's, today demanded a bit of face time out and about. So off I went on my bike, running a few errands and then a last stop to the best bike shop at the beach, Champion Cycles. Great shop with knowledgeable guys. I was on the hunt for a rear rack and a basket and they were good enough to do the honors. Rear racks require a ton of little struts and bolts and screws and it takes a good half hour to get it done. Roger worked with great attention to detail and proved that great customer service is not dead.
There I was feeling awfully proud of myself. Got some exercise, left nary a carbon footprint, contributed to the local economy. How cool am I? Yep, pulled into my driveway, got off the bike the old way, pulling my leg up and over behind me. Oh yes, my leg caught my new basket sitting so snugly on the new racks and WHAM, down I went, ass first. That's a 3 foot drop at 50 mph hitting the concrete.
It hurt so much for the first three minutes all I could do is whimper out a series of OW-OW-OW-OW-OW-OW-OWs in various pitches. I couldn't even curse because all the OWs had not been unearthed from my butt. After I got up and swept the cracked pieces of my ass off the driveway, I limped into the house, grabbed a fistfull of Advil, sat down ever so gingerly and decided to be grateful.
I'll explain.
Imagine, if you will, if I had done this in public. Outside Publix? In front of the Book Mark? Stopping at Al's Pizza? Jeez Louise. Nothing marks middle age like random clumsiness. I was lucky this happened in the privacy of my own driveway. Plus any new habits need a mnemonic noodge and this is mine. Getting off my bike will be done from the front from now on which is why I have a girly bike. My tuckus will be sore for a few weeks, but it's just enough time for this new habit to take up residence in my long term memory.
So as my left cheek swells to twice its normal size and my ass continues to throb (and not in a good way either), it was still a great summer day on (and off) my bike.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thanks LJ

Somewhere around April I took a much needed mental health day from school. I found myself just driving around and on a whim, stopped at a bike shop. Twenty minutes later, I had a brand new bike, a Ridgeback Gazelle. I really hadn't planned on it, wasn't even thinking about it, but somehow without understanding it, I knew what I needed.
I've been a fan of biking since I taught myself how to ride one at age 12. Yes, I know that's rather late, but growing up in the South Bronx I didn't have much need for a bike for the subways traveled much faster and more importantly, we had trouble meeting rent from month to month, so money for a bike was like money for a mink stole (back in the 60's they were quite popular). The minute, after that long week of wobbling and falling repeatedly, I was able to shift my body, find my balance and convince it to stay and pedal, pedal, pedal, I knew I had fallen in love. It was the best moment of my young life. That rush of air past my face and the ability to move swiftly through my own power, more graceful than running could ever be; it was freedom, blue shiny freedom with a kicky bell.
Biking in high school kept my head clear of extra angst. Biking in college kept me moving when I ran out of gas money. Biking after college kept me in shape for serious dating. And after a twenty year hiatus, I find all those things still hold true for me. Biking still clears my head, keeps me in shape not so much for serious dating but for serious middle age, and helps stretch my gas tank in these funky changing times.
I love that I can do small errands on my bike like go to the post office, or the library. Cal and I have even gone out to dinner taking our bikes. I don't think I can go over to the Walmart and get a new car battery on my bike but maybe when I get my rear racks and baskets, ya never know. Just this past week, when celebrating the last day with children, we took our bikes to the Ritz and toasted to another year closer to retirement. When we were done, somewhere around 7:30, we got back on our bikes and rode home with the wind. Do I think this is the start of triathalon fever? Not so much and I can say that with a fair amount of certainty. It's enough, though, to have a shiny new bike and for that to still be fun.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Twelve Word Novel

My pal Bobby Rivers mentioned the Twelve Word Novel in his blog. Yes, it is what it sounds like: create a novel in 12 words. This was Bobby's creation: He told her the house was haunted. Now her head is backward. I love the whole anti-Michener vibe of such a task, so I offer this as mine: Finally he found his passionate soul mate. Pity it was his sister.
So anyone who is visiting, how about it? Tell me a story in exactly 12 words, that is if you have the sass, style and the cojones.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sixty-eight: The Weather as Sybil

Temperatures climb
Then plummet, then rain. Stay with
a season oh please!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sixty-seven: Spring Planting

Tomato plants grow
Upside down to outwit bugs
Barbed wire is next.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sixty-five:It's What's For Dinner

Basil, tomatoes,
Brie, bread. With olive oil
it makes it naughty.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sixty-three: Calendar Shock

Damn Einstein explained
time, except how to slow it
down. What a poser.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sixty-two: Lean-To

Words slammed in tiny
corners, unconscious, still. Please
steal me a pencil.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sixty-two: Brush with Greatness

Scouring evil plaque
How have I lived without my
Sonicare Toothbrush?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sixty-one: Haiku Already

Morning gardening
BSG Marathon make
For a perfect day!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sixty: Hot Dog

Last year I accompanied the 5th graders on the Patrol trip to Tallahassee on a coach bus. Talk about comfortable! Leg room galore with a clean, cushy seat that cradled my ass with the kind of care reserved for leggy blondes at the Playboy Mansion. I slept. I knitted. I read. I got to see National Treasure. It was the most enjoyable travel experience of that last decade. On a bus.
So, when I tripped over an article in about a new service from the big dogs at Greyhound called BoltBus I was intrigued. The writer paid three dollars, not Euros, dollars to go one way from New York City to Washington DC. Three dollars!!!! You can't spend three bucks in gas getting out of the city, but that much money to go to DC is a gift from the travel gods. It's a fabulous concept. The guy who reported did have some criticisms. Apparently, the bus stop was not well marked in the city. I'm not sure how he couldn't spot a coach bus even in a sea of city buses, but it was a special challenge for him. He also said that the trip advertised a movie and he did not get a movie. I say, for three bucks, even if you're riding with a lap full of fresh clucking chickens and sitting next to a patchy old man holding a satchel of freshly made gorgonzola cheese, it's still a bargain in this time of economic peril.
BoltBus, oh BoltBus, you're a dream come true! Here's hoping you make your way down to Florida so we can all sit back and leave the driving to you.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fifty-nine:Mmmmm, Good

A blustery day like this begs for a comfort meal. There's none better than grilled cheese and tomato soup. Sure, we had to the Campbell's for the soup but from the herb garden came some fresh basil to give it a bit of well grown charm and sophistication. Now the sandwiches were another matter----American cheese? That's been debated on these pages before as I recall. Some people think only American cheese as that IS grilled cheese like no other. The way, I suppose, some people think about the right to bear arms, the designated hitter and the first Darren on Bewitched. All well and good to do what you want. I found some lush sourdough bread. Yes, white bread, come and get me Oprah, Dr. Oz, Bob Green and Dean Ornish, but don't even think about asking me for a bite. Next comes the olive oil slathered on the bread. Sizzle it fondly in the pan. Slice up some Brie, assemble it gently on the bread. Top with another slice of olive oil moistened sourdough. Flip, admire the browning and the smell that all Italians know as part of their breakfasts. Flip again to see the other side. Remove, plate up, cut down the middle and relish every bite because if you're not using the best things to enjoy something as simple and good as a meal, then what is the point?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fifty-eight: Six Word Autobiography

Married splendidly, grateful for the rest.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fifty-seven: Going Postage

While at the post office on Saturday, I bought a new batch of stamps. I had my pick of all sorts of impressive faces like Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The woman in front of me did not know who that was as she was discussing stamp faces on line and I wanted to jump in and quiz her about a gaggle of women writers and quite possibly embarrass her enough to compel her to go back to school, nothing fancy maybe FCCJ, and enroll into an Introduction of Fiction class, but then it was my turn at the window and I was fine about letting her live her life without ever reading The Yearling.
Besides I was busy trying to decide what kind of stamps to buy myself. I've given to breast cancer research, I've walked 13 miles for breast cancer support and I've licked off the pearly pink lids of French yogurt and mailed them in for breast cancer funding, I didn't think I needed to buy the stamps. There were the American scientists stamps, portraits of very smart men and women but without a hint of whimsy. I'm not sure it showed their human side and that's important on a stamp. Flower stamps, I mean really, why not just the flag stamps and get it over with? There was the Black History figure stamp, but I am ashamed to say that I didn't recognize the person, so I felt relieved Bill Cosby was not behind me ready to quiz my sorry ass. As guilty as I felt, in good conscience I couldn't buy stamps of someone I didn't know or would, in all honesty, not even Google. Which left only one set of stamps to buy, a figure in popular literature that embodies the philosophy of the East with a smidge of semantic dyslexic terseness and the warrior moxie of Miss Piggy. That's right, I bought Yoda stamps.
Which got me to thinking about how that decision came about. How exactly do you get on a stamp? Is there a committee? Voting? How long does it take? Can money exchange hands to make that final decision come out a certain way? A more intelligent and far more ambitious person would research these questions and report back on them, well, you know that's not me. I'd rather think about them until my next random thought. But it did get me thinking about who else I'd like to see on a stamp because Yoda was frackin' genius. I should've bought a hundred of them. So here are my Top Five nominations for getting their mugs on a stamp:
5. Andre the Giant. Sure he was foreign, but he was the best giant in one of the most perfect movies ever, The Princess Bride.
4. Mr. Rogers. He always used his power for good.
3. Carol Burnett. Watching her show every Saturday night saved me and made me funny.
2. Christopher Latham Sholes, inventor of the modern typewriter.
1. Charlotte the Spider, because she was a good friend and a good writer.

So, Eastside Scribes, what are your nominations for stamp immortality?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fifty-six: La Vie En Rose

Over the weekend, I had a sublime salon experience.
But it started last month when I took a chance and changed my stylist and salon to one right over the intercoastal bridge, Salon La Vie. French sounding. I had noticed the French with the exception of Gerard Depardeau always look well coiffed and rather chic and so figured, well, why not? Change is often good, sometimes surprising and even interesting if served with a bit of whimsy, so why the hell not?
My first visit, just a hair cut was lovely. People were pleasant and offered me beverages many times during that hour. My stylist Carl was the perfect mode of chatty, neither talking too much or too little. Plus the man is a genius with scissors. I've gotten nothing but compliments on the cut. I did like that he didn't screech or wince when looking at the streak of gray coming from my roots and didn't press to color that day. Before I left, though, I did make the appointment for the color.
Which brings me to Saturday. First of all, there was no waiting. I hate when you get to a salon on time and there's a wait. If I wanted that, I could go to my primary physician thank you very much. Of course, after an offer of a beverage, it was on to the color room, a circular room inside the salon for, yes, you guessed it, the discussion, debate, and application of color, or as I like to call it where middle aged women go to dye. Carl brought me the color swatches, mounted in hair, and we agreed on a shade, both sassy and rich, yet age appropriate. A lovely chocolate brown with some auburn asides. He gave me an extra cranking of color right at my forehead where my gray loves to break free and call me a liar to my face. After about 25 minutes of soaking in it, a stylist in training and receptionist Cash, handsome dog despite the gravity defying hairstatement, rinsed me out. Then came the shampoo with the five minute scalp massage. After the scalp massage, came the conditioner under the warm towel. While that was going on, Cash massaged my hands with a rosemary and lavendar cream that turned back the clock on my hands at least 15 years.
By the time I got back to Carl, I was relaxed, soothed and damn, did my hair and my hands smell good. The man just gave me a freshen up cut and style, again, he is a genius with those shears and just as I thought we were done, he hands me over to Polish born Natalia for a complimentary make-up makeover. Fifteen minutes later, I looked like a rock star and I mean that in a Beyonce kind of way, not a Marilyn Manson way. I felt like a million bucks walking out of that salon and I have to say, it's been a long time, really long time, since I felt that way. Just because I looked good? Sure, I'll embrace that for what it is---as ego, vanity, humanity, PMS and a fair amount of school related stress. Billy Crystal's alter ego on SNL, Fernando used to say, "Dahlink, it is bettah to look good than to feel good." And I'm all over that, but part of it was that I did feel good. People offered me many beverages, massaged me, listened to me tell stories, paid attention to me. It was a great antidote for weeks and weeks of being either ignored, slighted, vexed, insulted and aggravated, sometimes all of them in one day. So sure, I could have meditated and contemplated my energy pathways and my channels of bliss, but now, this way, I have garnett streaks in my hair whenever the sun warms my head.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fifty-five: Oh Happy Day

The happiest day of the year is not the last day of school for me. The happiest day is today, Cal's birthday. I'm a fan of birthdays, there's all that cake, folks wishing you well and yeah, I'm going to say it, yeah, the presents are always a plus. People making a fuss cements the concept that it's true, it is all about you. But with Cal, I'm more exhilarated, really, because he's the best person I know and the occasion of his birth is something to be celebrated grandly and passionately. Being a fan of lists, I'm going to list as objectively as a woman still in love with her husband can be why he's worthy of such the fuss.
1. He's 55 and the man still looks great. I started with looks first because I'm basically shallow and vain, but that doesn't mean it's not important. Now he does have some great DNA to work with with those dreamy blue eyes and that sturdy jaw line most superheroes would love to own. But he's worked hard to stay fit and I appreciate that. Not every man puts forth that effort.
2. He's kind and patient. Living with me is no walk in the park. I can be flaky and have been known to change my mind 4 different times within a span of 3 minutes. Your basic Buddhist monk would have slapped me with his sandal a few hundred times already. The man takes it in stride. He's also kind to strangers, cashiers at the grocery store, servers in restaurants (he always tips 20%), DMV clerks and airline ticket agents.
3. He's funny, funnier than most people I know. Funny is important and life saving in a marriage, and he's smart funny and goofy funny. It makes the days light and soothing when work has pulled up your heart through your nose.
4. He's much smarter than me but never flaunts it or rubs it in my face especially when I'm dead wrong about an issue. He's been able to remake his skill set in less than 4 years for a totally different career. It almost took me that long to choose a name for my blog. He's able to problem solve while playing the guitar and checking his e-mail. He's amazing.
5. He protects me. Each and everytime we walk, he positions himself as the one closest to traffic. That's a little thing but it's how he operates on a larger scale.
There's lots more I could list but it wouldn't be much of a celebration if I stayed here all night to write.
Happy Birthday, honey! I love you always and twice on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fifty-four: Once

Sitting on the wall facing me as I put these words down is a small framed photograph of an old typewriter with this quote by Anais Nin: We write to taste life twice. It's my favorite quote about writing because I believe it to be true. So I will not write about my day since going through it once was enough to make me perpetually wretch into my next two lifetimes. Instead I shall list antidotes to my day:
1. A long hug from Cal. Sounds corny but nothing takes the bile-like stench off a dreadful day as a long embrace from someone who loves you and doesn't let go.
2. Pasta. Lots of it with olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese. Oprah, Dr. Phil, Bob Greene, the dead Atkins guy, Jenny Craig and everyone from Weight Watchers say you shouldn't eat for comfort. They can all put it in park, close the garage door, wrap their lips around the pipe and suck on it. They call it comfort food because it makes you feel better. Baby carrots can't get the job done.
3. Music. Not just any music. Lots of the songs from the Rent Soundtrack and Just Fine from Mary J. Blige. Many times until I believe it to be true.
4. Aliens. Before this night is done, I'm going to watch it because it's a comfort movie like no other. Soldiers are ordered to go into an impossible situation, lots of things get blown up and shot, the bad guys eventually get eaten and not in a XXX kind of way, and there's a big slap down, kick-ass fight in the end where our heroine wins. Like a Jane Austen tale only a tad more slime.
5. Tequila. Not a lot because that's not the purpose of tequila. Tequila is there to soothe and soften. To offer a sunny place to sit and breathe deeply. Tequila is the Child's Pose of liquid refreshments.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fifty-three: Dessert Storm

Watching the NH primaries, I am struck with a craving, something sweet right now, but I'm not sure what it is. PMS is not an issue, so chocolate is out. A cookie is not required. Pie? Perhaps, but still not quite right, the crust warm and flakey appeals, but nothing else not even pieces of apple (my favorite pie)toasty juicy in all that pastry. The same goes with a turnover or tart. Cake is almost there, but something chewier like brownies, but not brownies as chocolate is not needed. Something with custard like an eclair or napoleon, or the canoli, crunchy creamy goodness in a naughty phallic carrying case. Not ice cream. It's soft but cold and therefore not comforting tonight.
But here's the thing. If any of those items showed up at my door, I would not turn them away in disgust and disappointment. I would open my arms in full embrace and scoop them up and take a big greedy bite while still wishing for something else but being agreeable to distraction.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fifty-two: Happy New Year

On the news today, it was all about resolutions. The New Year offers a symbolic clean slate, not that we couldn't start brand new habits in the middle of March, it's true we could. But there's something about the New Year, it's a common bond for all of us whether or not we go out like lemmings and drink till we puke the night before. We still reflect and then think ahead, maybe some of us make resolutions. I know there are those of you rolling your eyes at the thought of it, resolutions. Deep in my cynical self, I find the whole notion endearing, that we make it a habit to try to improve ourselves or part of our lives with a promise and sometimes with a plan of action. Statistics say that for the most part we, as a species, fail miserably year after year---there was no losing of those unwanted pounds, no bonding with our immediate family, the gym membership abandoned after January 13th, we remained shackled to our hateful jobs, our relationships stagnated, our fears dominated, there was no weekly Yoga, no increased bran, no lasting changes.
And yet we try every single year. That's the endearing part. That other part, relentless failure to focus on singular goals, well that's just a little pathetic. But the fact that most of us try every year, I suppose that's the dopeyness of our humanity, that in our heart of hearts we want to be more, we want to be better, it just takes us more tries.