Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spam and Eggs

I wouldn't check my spam box every morning except some of the nicest people end up in there. I've even fished you out from time to time, floundering somewhere between Ladies Love Size and Release Your Inner Ellen Degeneres.

They say our social media purveyors, using some algorithm made up of facebook, blogger, friends, and comments, assemble and sell a profile of each of us to various spamitizers. Which I find rather unsettling, considering the contents of my spam.

I'm targeted pretty specifically; my ads come in four basic flavors: Weight loss, wrist watches, self-assertion, and orgies.

The weight loss clinics ("Don't Move and Get Thin") apparently eschew pesky old fashioned techniques such as diet and exercise. In fact, it seems, calorie reduction and exertion of any sort simply packs on the pounds. Should I at any point heave myself out of my Barcalounger and waddle across the floor, that, according to the Salma Hayek program, is a recipe for disaster. Success will come to she who sits and waits. Which in my case is preaching to the choir. It's a regimen I've followed for years, though maybe I fidget too much.

The wrist watch vendors, on the other hand, dazzle me with knockoffs, swiss-ish timepieces, custom designed for those in the market for the cheap and illegal.

And don't get me started on the self-assertion options -- Deepak, drums, screams.

As for the orgies my spam has on offer, we're not talking cozy little threesomes here, but parties, chock full of intriguing characters. And many famous faces (yeah, wouldn't you like to know).

Put it all together, though, and we get a disturbing picture. My profile spells fat nagging bitch clock watcher. The orgy wallflower, invited along because she's the only one who can tell the time. The kind of girl who at the appropriate moment will blow a whistle and shout, "Hey sport, that's four hours, so let's wrap it up and get some immediate medical attention around here."

Somehow I thought the cloud would see me as someone, I don't know, more glamorous or something. Although I am receiving a trickle of sleep deprivation spam lately, so perhaps the cloud thinks all is not hopeless. Thinks it's possible I am, after all, attractive to one of the orgy's more discerning movie stars -- the kind of guy who appreciates a woman who can both read a Rolexalike and rock a muumuu.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Good Lord

This Lady lives two blocks away from my house. She used to have back-up, but from what I can tell, now she looks after the entire town all by herself.

I've been working on a piece about feminism and the Tidy Bowl man. If I can ever bring it together, you'll be the first to know. In the meantime, let me share Kevin McCollister's series featuring East LA Madonnas.

Me -- I like having a Madonna in the general vicinity. I'm a non-believer who wears a St. Christopher's medal and carries a ridiculous amount of homeowner's insurance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Altadena, lost and found

This summer, M and I started a weekly ritual, a walk out and about in Altadena. While we agree on many things (not so many it's boring, not so few it's irritating), she wasn't, initially, so keen about my favorite pastime -- trespassing on deserted properties.

In fact, she was kind of nervous about the whole thing, and her husband, more so. "Call me from prison and I'll make bail," he'd say as we were leaving.

It was on our third walk or so that M and I got sort of outed, lounging on the front porch of an empty house.

"We can't sit on a stranger's porch, can we? What if the owner comes home?" she said.

"Relax. This place is deserted. Note the old flyers stuck in the screen, the newspapers in the driveway. Trust me, I'm an expert at this stuff. Anyhow, worst case scenario, I'll just say I'm a journalist and want an interview; works every time."

Minutes later, a truck pulled up. Two guys jumped out and approached us with a certain amount of aggression.

"Do you live here?" I asked, brightly.

The two looked at each other, and one nodded.

"Oh, how lucky. I write a weekly column for the local news. Do you have time for an interview? Can you tell me about the woodwork -- is it quarter-sown oak?"

They didn't speak English, so after a little more chatter on our part, we smiled and waved and skipped out to the street as the gate slammed and locked behind us.

"That was close," said M.

"Relax. Like I said, the journalist-thing works every time."

After a number of months, M has developed a real thirst for this form of exploration. We find a place, and she's all about, "Check out this window," and "Try the door," and "This basement looks very interesting."

She's right. Some of the old houses are worth a look, a deep and thorough look, before they end their days as bad stucco jobs or tear downs.

Our latest find is an old farmhouse. Maybe from the late 1800's? Doesn't seem long for the world. As we poked around the tool shed, M held up a rusted something and waved it around. "I found a coal scuttle!"

"Oh Jeez, put it down; that's like tetanus waiting to happen."

"Come here and help me with the cellar door," she said.

I glanced up. It seemed a curtain moved.

I whispered, "M, the window -- I think I saw someone."

"You think?"

"Maybe we'd better..."

"Maybe we'd better go to the front door? You're right! Come on. You knock."


"Me, knock?"

"What are you afraid of?" M shoved me up the porch. "Just say you're a journalist and want an interview. Works every time."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Altadena, on Sam Merrill Trail

Virginia, a professional photographer who knows her way around a stranger, seduces her subjects with, "Do y'all mahnd if Ah tayke your picture?" She can get away with that, she's from Alabama.

I just raise the camera and say,

"Hey, give us a smile."

It works, most of the time.

But it pays to be careful; we're a litigious society. This guy, for instance, was not amused and threatened to sue.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Heavenly Calling

I've been job-hunting lately, or more accurately, I've been waiting for a job to hunt me -- preferably something that's short on hours, long on the do-re-mi. And what do you know -- a position opened up just this week. From what I can tell, it's a match made in heaven. Thank god for Linked-in.

Yes, it's Pope. And don't even think about it; I got there first.

It's a part time job with benefits -- Medical, meals, housing, company car (I'm praying for a Subaru). No dental, but perhaps that's just as well. As they say, if you want to see a fresco, go to Rome; if you want to see a dentist, go to La Canada.

The position has a strict dress code, caftans and bathrobes, mainly. But as someone who has spent the better part of two years working from home, you'll hear no complaints from this quarter.

As for character, I think I have what they're looking for. I'm perky, chatty, and can forgive almost anything at the drop of a mitre. My choral work can bring tears to your eyes. I welcome, even indulge in, philosophical debates, like, How many angels dancing on the head of a pin does it take to screw in a light bulb. Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

But now we come to the elefante in the stanza. The potential deal breaker that will take some pretty fancy footwork on the cover letter that accompanies my job application. No, it's not the Latin thing. The way I see it, a well-placed Etcetera can cover a multitude of sins. And it's not the Bible thing, I've seen the movie.

But, I fear, as with any job, it's all in who you know. I checked Facebook and in four years, I've friended not a single bishop. I haven't even liked them. So I'm spending the entire evening rushing to their pages, pasting "Oh man, are you wise or what?" "From your lips to god's ear," and "Move over Deepak Chopra" on their timelines.

I expect I'll be put through the wringer -- three interviews, at least. If you want to see how I'm doing, no need to follow me on Twitter. Just keep an eye on my chimney.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A three hour tour, a three hour tour

Today, on a whale watching expedition off Dana Point. And while the tour was heavy on sea lions and pelicans,

it was surprisingly light on whales. According to our guide, they're out there somewhere, and we'll just have to trust him on that.

As I've never watched a whale before, I really wasn't disappointed in not watching a whale again.

When it comes to the great Pacific, I'm all about the sea dogs.

Monday, February 4, 2013


The tractor and I spent the weekend together. Working on our relationship. I can see where this is going -- I talk, he shuts down.

We tried sharing some activities, walking, mainly. I can push all his buttons, yet still can't see the big picture.

Because why? Because, on top of all his other demands, this spoiled baby has a lens cap. Ooooh, I can't get an image until you take my cap off. Ooooh, brrr, we're finished, you need to put my cap on again. Off, on; off, on. Holy mother of god, what fresh hell is this?

So let's take a seat and listen to some music, shall we? I cued this up once, in a different relationship, during a romantic moment.

He said, "That's beautiful."

And I said, "Really?"

And he said, "I recognize this; it's one of my favorites."

And I said, "Lakme?"

And he said, "Like you? I love you. And I love this music. It's from one of the best Lexus commercials ever. Play it again."

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe it's all about the journey, and those who believe it's all about the destination. I say, any road is the perfect road if it takes you where you want to go.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Making Do

This week I lost my Canon Powershot in the drink. Not my drink, I hasten to add. The camera slipped from my pocket as I was crossing a stream. Although we located the body and dragged it to shore, the little fella looked all done in.

So that leaves me with the Nikon. The giant Nikon I bought two years ago and couldn't park in the closet fast enough.

I expect I'll get used to all the buttons and dials eventually, but I'll never get used to the size and heft and that bulbous lens. The little Powershot could hide inside my breast pocket and was always ready for a surreptitious photo op or two. The Nikon, on the other hand, is just about as subtle as a tractor.