Monday, January 31, 2011

God is everywhere

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wake me when it's over

I visited a cemetery the other day. In the service of an odd job (a job which didn’t involve a shovel, but thank you for asking).

Tombstones rarely speak of pain and pleasure, they just sing the praises of the eternal snooze. No details, of course; no promises that a given individual would feel this way or that the next morning. Maybe it’s a legal thing. If they did get more specific, maybe they'd have to go the Cialis route and give us the downside, something equivalent to the image of an erection lasting more than four hours.

Death holds little romance for me. We’re not friends. He stakes a claim WAY over there, I stake mine way over here. I don’t let him look in my windows.

Death and I only have four significant humans and six dogs in common. And I avoid any party or reunion where he’ll be present.

I don’t respect death, I don’t like his manners, I don’t like his breath. I don’t want to dance with him or see his door.

I most particularly mistrust his advertising campaign.

Rest in peace sounds okay on the surface, but everything in moderation.

Sure, sleep; take 10, 30 or even 50 years. As much as you need. In the case of extreme illness or old age, take a century, if necessary.

But the point is, don't go overboard. Don't sign off on the perpetual rest contact. Regardless of what the brochure may say, that ain't rest, that’s nothing.

When my time comes, I've done some homework and plan to negotiate.

The idea of ghosts has never frightened me. I find in them a ray of hope.

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you.” Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights

All right, so in year 2220, Heathcliff's neediness might prove a little wearing. I still say it's better than nothing.

Or, with a little bit of luck, I just might get this instead.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Sacred Pact

Call me a task-master, but around here, everyone has a job. My dogs and I reached an understanding.

They are not merely throw rugs, food-vacuums, or bench warmers. They are contributing members to this household.

When I'm away, Albert patrols the grounds.

And Phoebe guards the house.

Tiger Mom? I wear my stripes proudly.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Big dog

In the middle of one summer, John and I drove the corvette up the California coast, just south of the Oregon border, to a place called Usal Trail. We’d seen an article in National Geographic: “Here is Where?” or maybe: “Where is there?” Or… Anyway, I’m sure about the question mark. Backpackers call it The Lost Coast.

John’s friend Dave came with us and drove a jeep. John loved Dave, maybe as much as John loved me. Dave had many things I didn’t – oh, I don’t mean balls. Dave had a doctorate from Stanford, a famous father, powerful friends. Most of all Dave never questioned Dave; his Dave-words, his Dave-thoughts, his Daveness.

Beautiful as John was, he had trouble slipping into his own skin. He’d do this thing where he’d twist his head from the right shoulder to the left, as though everything pulled too hard. John was older than Dave, but that didn’t lessen the hero worship. When they sparred, verbally, Dave always won. It wasn’t much of a fight; John bruised easily. And yet, they never seemed to tire of the sport. It was more of an exhibition match, anyway; and Dave was spending a lot of time in our company.

The first third of Usal Trail was overgrown, but drivable. Eventually we had to ditch the vette, and then ditch the jeep and finish up on foot.

We came to a deserted monastery, and found old farming equipment, fermenting in the sun and fog. When we reached the grassy cliffs we stood about 50 feet above the ocean. Sheep were grazing near the edge and my dog Bru, big bad Bru, took off at a dead run. I called him back.

“Don’t bother,” said Dave. “He doesn't hear you.”

We watched as way, way off, Bru cornered a sheep to the edge of a cliff. We couldn’t see much, just enough to know that fur does fly. After a bit – 1 minute? 5 minutes? Half an hour? The sheep collapsed and fell off the cliff. Bru stood at the very edge and barked and barked and barked. At the sky, not the ocean.

When he loped back to us, his mouth full of blood and wool.

John said, “We’d better get out of here, someone might own those sheep.”

Dave took off his shirt and helped me wipe the blood off Bru’s fur. That’s when I could feel Bru tremble a little, tremble and then sigh.

“Really, let’s go.” said John, turning to leave. “Unless you two relish the sight of some farmer running up the hill with a shotgun. Because if you do, Looocie, you got some splainin to do.”

After awhile, Dave took my hand and helped me up.

"Where is John?" I said. Or maybe, "Is John there?" Anyway, I remember the question mark.

And we left the Lost Coast to go find him.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sports: Analysis

Do you derive your identity from a school, city, state, or country? Do you somehow think you belong to a club, even though you’ve never been through the clubhouse door?

Do you sometimes imagine yourself excessively tall, a sea creature, or on the winning side of the civil war?

Do you, on a seasonal basis, shout and spew Cheetos and Miller High Life at an inanimate object because you think you see little men running around inside?

You, my friend, have a bad case of herd mentality. Take two hours of the Aussie Open and call me in the morning.

Tennis, yes, tennis – the symphony that celebrates the individual. A sport, but so much more – it’s the body, spirit, mind in perfect harmony. It’s a battle, yet a ballet. It's strategy with muscles; chess with biceps. It's a walk on the wildside and a dance with destiny. It’s -- it’s


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Liar, liar, pants on fire

Overheard in the parking lot at Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens; a woman to her child:

"Get out of the car. Did you hear me? I said get out of the car. Out of the car. Get your feet off the seat and step out of the car. Out. What did I say? I'm back here with baby, so you have to get out of the car on your own. Get out of the car. Why don't you want to get out of the car? I know it's hot in there. Oh, we're so cool outside. Come outside and you'll see. OK, then we're leaving now. Bye. Bye-by. See you in an hour or two. Hope you're not hungry, because we're taking the sandwiches. Get out of the car. Did I make myself clear? Move it. Where do I want you? Out of the car. Out; here; now. When Mommy says something, she only says it once. Get out of the car."

Friday, January 14, 2011


Astronomer Parke Kunkle says that due to changes in the Earth's alignment the dates of many zodiac signs have changed ... In addition, there may be a 13th Zodiac sign: Ophiuchus. -- Huffington Post

It’s a bitter pill to swallow. All my life I’ve considered myself:

Determined and forceful
Emotional and intuitive
Powerful and passionate
Exciting and magnetic

And now I know I’m nothing but:

Diplomaitic and urbane
Romantic and charming
Easygoing and sociable
Idealistic and peaceable

To say nothing of

Indecisive and changeable
Gullible and easily infuenced
Flirtatious and self-indulgent

Sure, if you escaped Cancer to land in Leo, Mazal tov. But what about those who face the walk of shame from Scorpio to Libra ... to take a most personal example.

Imagine what it means to find your affairs weren’t passionate, just sociable. And that you weren't powerful and emotional, just gullible and easily influenced.

Intuitive? No, changeable.

And all the sex appeal and magnetism – gone, gone, gone.

Which explains so many things.

Including all those indecisions. Cobb Salad, Caesar Salad; Cobb, Caesar, Cobb, Caesar...

And then, in 1999, when my LA Times horoscope said “This is your day,” and I bought Enron -- well, someone or something must be liable.

And now that I want to hurl invectives, even lawsuits, at a higher authority, I can’t. Because I’m a fucking diplomatic.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It has been a rough week

(Including with blogger. Sorry if comments haven't recorded)

But things could be worse. Our friend Shell in Brisbane, she's alive and well. The city needs some serious help, but as Shell always tells us, she's a deft hand with the mop.

Well, that's a relief. Let us know where we send checks for the Comet and Ajax. I'm writing one now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


In a bout of insomnia last night, I turned on the radio and listened to an interview with a Japanese violin virtuoso who was also getting his doctorate at MIT. In Physics. He said something to the effect that he felt driven and sometimes, inadequate.

I sort of know how he feels. I remember juggling both the clarinet and fifth grade. Sometimes it was overwhelming. Things could have worked out if I had been allowed to limit some of my scholarly obligations, but societal pressures weighed in against the idea.

This guy, his name is Goto, and I, well, we’re obviously of a different species. If we ever met, he’d throw peanuts in my general direction. And I’d catch them. Because, as an athlete, I have a certain amount of eye-hand coordination that will never desert me.

It’s so fucking unfair that I’m not brilliant. Brilliance is something I’ve wanted all my life. That, and a pony.

When one matures, one can do what seems to be the next best thing – sleep with a genius. However, in my vast vast vast experience, genius is seldom pretty and often wears socks in bed.

I just don’t know. And that’s the trouble, isn’t it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Excuse me while I go hug a tree

It seems awfully late in the day for this, but I’d feel guilty if I didn’t join the effort.

Today, they'll start chopping away at century-old oaks in Arcadia Oak Woodlands. A committee apparently found this the perfect place for a storm debris and sediment dump. These grand old trees made it through World War I, the Great Depression, the invention of television, and the Bush administration, but LA County swings a mean axe.

Here’s the petition where we can ask the County decision-makers to leave the Woodlands alone and go back to doing what they do best: Nothing.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you – nothing. Is that any good to you? Nothing? Mind you, I can’t do it straight away; something is always cropping up. But if I can find the time to do nothing for you, I’ll try to squeeze it in.” – Alice in Wonderland

(The photo is from Hahamongna, but you get the general idea.)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stieg it

Popular fiction and I are not bedfellows, strange or otherwise. We’ve never slept together, even platonically, not ever, not once, no matter how much Scotch was involved. And if you’ve got photos, let me mention Photoshop. That was not me. Or maybe it was, but I was so very young at the time and I swear I remember nothing, just that my socks were on the living room floor in the morning.

So yes, I finally read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I blame it on NPR. Some interview said Larsson based his Girl on Pippi Longstocking. So yes, I also blame Pippi Longstocking. And Bob, who recommended this book. And my parents, who gave me my first library card.

I won’t go into how much I dislike this book; literary criticism is not my strong suit. When I like something I turn cartwheels. When I dislike something, I point an index finger to the uvula. Either way, that leaves no more than one hand on the keyboard.

But let me say just this: Don’t ever tell me a character looked quizzical. The next thing you know, he or she will be arching the left eyebrow. And then what's left but something sardonic, twisty-like, making mischief around the corner of the lips.

I don't mind so much all the cliches, and that Larsson felt he could pass along short-hand character descriptions, such as this woman looked like Ingrid Bergman and another like Lauren Bacall.

I do mind that he only broke out the Thesaurus to describe some atrocities in the realm of sexual abuse. Particularly, when, if I’m right about this, he was supposed to be positing something about women and the power of women. Even though his female character was the size of a Wheatland terrier. And this terrier was erotically attractive to the detective we, as the reader, were supposed to trust.

Oh hell, this is another reason I hate to write literary criticism. My lips are going all twisty-like and I think I sprained my left eyebrow.