Wednesday, August 26, 2015

St. Paul's Prep School Rape Case

You may have heard about this case, maybe not. But a graduating senior is charged with raping a graduating freshman. He was 18 at the time, she was 15. And I'm definitely for letting justice take its course. I'm in the camp where I don't think those accused of rape should have their names published unless convicted. Also, I understand that no one looks at their best in a mug shot (if that is Labrie's mugshot; it might be a student ID, I don't know). Still, I can't help but wonder, what machinations were required to transform someone even vaguely resembling the individual above ...

into this. I hope by trial's end we won't see an example of the best justice money can buy -- that the defense doesn't score a touchdown with a Hail Mary pass based on nothing more substantial than a Harry Potter makeover.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bad Hair Years

When I was about seven, eight, or whatever age qualifies for third grade, I saw an ad for synthetic hair on the back cover of my comic book.

"Feels and looks JUST LIKE REAL HAIR!" and "They'll think your hair grew OVERNIGHT!" and "NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW it's not yours."

Not a full wig, but per the illustration, a braid as long as my arm and twice as thick; priced at something extremely reasonable -- maybe $2 or $3.50? -- doable, if you hoarded your allowance, which I did.

(I didn't hoard like Scrooge, of course. Or DeeAnne Hartshorne. Her father owned a plumbing business and every night poured his spare change into her giant pickle jar, sometimes dollar bills, too. This money she never spent; the pickle jar was an art installation, one her friends were called upon to admire and total at least once a month. This we did, not because we liked DeeAnne, but because she had a pony. "Hey DeeAnne, let's count it later, after we ride Thunderball.")

At this tender age, my observational, anecdotal research indicated that little girls fell into two categories: Those with long silken locks which a mother would wash, condition, brush, ponytail, pigtail, braid; and those like me who got a quarterly shearing by interns -- or convicts for all I know -- at a local beauty college, freshman class.

I begged my mother to let me grow my hair long, but she claimed, given its texture, cowlicks, and kink, I'd look like a sheepdog. In retrospect, I see her point. But in retrospect, I also see mine.

Eight-year old kids don't have bad hair days, eight-year old kids just have hair and days.

But it wasn't really about the hair, not entirely, anyway. This was one in a series of losing battles for a square-inch of self-determination, and long-hair territory seemed worth a fight.

In elementary school, I always chose a seat in the back of the classroom. Shy? Hardly. I was the annoying child waving her arm, exploding with all the answers. "Meeeeee, call on meeee!" I sat in the last row because if I couldn't be the teacher and see all the faces, then at least I could see all the backs. Which led, contributed to my long-hair obsession.

My friend Kim, for instance, had golden tresses that fell to her waist. Every time she sat down, her back and chair held her hair hostage so she'd have to fling her wrist behind her neck to free it from captivity.

My other friend Lynne had a ponytail situated high on her crown and it would whip around in a dramatic, poetic fashion every time she turned her head. "Whoosh, whoosh," it whispered, when on the journey from left shoulder to right. Oh, how I ached with envy.

So while I did listen and learn multiplication, long division, e.e. cummings, Pippi Longstocking, Native American history, my attention switched regularly between the lessons and admiration for breathtakingly beautiful hair. Hair that could have been, should have been, mine.

Back to the braids. They came in three colors -- black, brown, and blonde. I selected Blonde, and, throwing caution to the wind, sent for two, then anxiously awaited for the box (heavy box, maybe two pounds, I reckoned, to contain them both). According to the advertisement, important beauty tips along with attachment apparatus would be included at no extra charge.

I told no one of my plan, let them all be surprised when I transformed from short to long hair OVERNIGHT. I stalked the mailbox all week.

Turns out, my braids didn't need a box at all. The two wizened offerings fit neatly into one slim envelope. And they didn't feel and look so much like REAL HAIR as real kitchen twine, and the most important beauty tip was not to wear my braids near an open flame.

Did I wear them? Just a couple of times, in the privacy of my bedroom. I swung my head from side to side, hoping for a Whoosh, or at least a whoos, or a whoo.

After a week, I lost interest in my braids, and my attention shifted from glamour to scientific observation, experimentation, and validation. I took my braids to the stove, and switched on the burner.

I'd like to say the braids taught me something -- that personal power, control over one's own destiny, isn't a matter of hair or anything external in general, or that one shouldn't envy friends when they have something you lack. Or that a high octane imagination will never make something out of nothing.

But what I really learned was that the manufacturer wasn't kidding about the open flame. And a dish rag won't remove soot from walls, and it's hard to explain your innermost thoughts and philosophical ideas to a mother when her kitchen is smoking.

I learned that life's lessons may cost more than one's original estimate. There might be hell to pay.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Midweek Matinee -- Greta Gerwig: A short appreciation

Not that my appreciation for Greta Gerwig is short; it runs long. I've liked her in everything, but most especially Frances Ha, which she co-wrote.

She has a new movie, and I was going to just put up the trailer on Facebook and toss out a few words, maybe -- "Can't wait to see." But I didn't like the trailer, though pretty sure the movie is worth the ticket.

So instead, I've decided to put up a clip from Frances Ha.

You know how in the old Francois Truffaut movie, Jules et Jim, you got under the skin of the male characters, but never grasped the female? I mean, you understood why two boys would be fascinated by Jeanne Moreau, but she seemed too mysterious to be lovable, inscrutable to the point of incidental? Finally, just a plot device, someone or even less -- a something. There only to mess with and ultimately mess up the guys.

In Frances Ha, you meet the girl. It's all about the girl.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Andrew Wyeth SmackDown

Monday, August 10, 2015

Take and give

Oh, hi. It's me.

Look, I'm really sorry I ate some of your plants this past spring. Don't know what got into me; was just feeling a bit peckish, I guess. But that Magnolia Coco did my family a world of good. Also, thanks for not putting pesticides on your milkweed and butterfly bushes, even though that aphid problem must have been, shall we say, embarrassing. (I heard the neighbors talking.)

Anyway, to show our appreciation, I and my extended family have been hanging out in your yard all summer.

It's the way we give back to the community.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hot hikes and cool jams

I've been hiking a lot, and could never make it up the mountain, or even out the door, were it not for my tunes.

This summer, I hit the trail with

Then, the thing about hiking, is to get your mind off your legs and your butt. The first mile is the hardest. You need a booster.

When you're cooking, and slap your hand against the two-mile post, you're ready for I like this three times over. Sometimes four.

When I hit the badlands, and have a long stretch of unrelenting sun and heat, then I relax my pace, look at some scenery, get all up in my head with

And now, feeling kind of rested and sweet, because the legs say they can take it from here, then I go to

Sounds like Madonna? I'm ok with that.

I don't have goals or an ultimate destination in life. Except when hiking. And when I reach the summit, I give myself this gift

This is Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon, by Ren Guang.