Thursday, July 30, 2009

The King of Pop

I cried while watching Michael Jackson’s memorial service. This fact surprised me for a moment, and then I just let the tears fall. I know I’m not the only person who has a sort of Anne Frank philosophy and tries to see the good inside everyone. After all, he was a father who loved his kids. As a mom, I will never, under any circumstances, be able to separate myself from that bond; the pain a child must feel at losing a beloved parent is unimaginable.

My 17-year-old stepson did not get it at all. “He was a freak show,” Sam said. “Too weird for me.” And that’s how most young people today will remember Michael Jackson: the accusations of pedophilia, the plastic surgery, the blanket-covered baby dangled over the balcony.

I was 7 years old when the Jackson Five reached their peak. My brothers and I watched their Saturday morning cartoon show; the Osmond Brothers had one too, but the Jacksons were so much funnier. We loved it. We lived in a white-bread suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, and the Jacksons were our first connection with people of color, and we didn’t really care. Yes, they were different but their music was cool and the show was funny and Michael was a kid, just like us.

He was most of all a brilliant artist and performer. Everything that was said at his memorial about his impact on the world of music was true. He was a generous humanitarian as well. But Al Sharpton, though his intentions were good, shouldn’t have said to his children “there wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy.” Because that’s not true. He was strange. He was very strange.

It’s apparent now that Michael Jackson was a tortured soul and carried around a lot of self-loathing. In my opinion, it all points to some kind of terrible abuse suffered as a child. Violence, perhaps, or molestation. His childlike obsessions, substance abuse, and ongoing voluntary disfigurement are clues. How much do you hate yourself if you want to destroy your own face?

It’s sad that he died, when he on the verge of touring and possibly mesmerizing us as a performer once again. But it’s a small comfort to know that we will not have to watch the man descend into any further acts of weirdness, accusations of impropriety, or self-mutilation. No more chimps or blankets (or kids named Blanket) or drugged-out interviews. For me. at least, I can sing “I’ll Be There” and remember the boy who touched my heart and opened my eyes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hello, again

If you are reading this blog for the first time, here's a brief explanation. It's pretty simple, actually. My previous blog was on Geocities and they closed up shop. So I've moved over to Blogspot, and have re-posted the incredibly fascinating wanderings that were on the other one. Original dates are noted at the top of each entry.

I would love to hear your comments, and even better, please sign up to follow me. This is strictly an entertainment situation; I'm not going to try to sell anything... at least not until I get a book deal. More about that later. >>grin<<

I'm also going to try to keep politics out of it henceforth. As I said, entertainment, not controversy. (Okay, maybe a little controversy sometimes, thrown in for good measure.) When new stuff will be added, I dunno. As the muse strikes, I guess. It's been a while since I've written anything blog-worthy (working on above-referenced book, mostly), but it's time to practice my Mavis Beacon and get back on it. I hope you find my musings pleasantly diverting. I hope they make you smile, ponder, open your heart, wink at babies in the checkout line, and maybe even hug somebody. That's what I'm shooting for.

Incidentally, re: the Puppied Out post: Clementine is now a year old, we have replaced all the flooring, and I love her again. In fact she is curled up next to me right now. Lazy ass dog.

Cheers, and thanks for your support!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Puppied Out, part two

(Originally posted August 11, 2008)

We have a puppy. Her name is Clementine and she is a mutt about 6 months old and she was Dan's idea.

I hate this f**kin' dog.

She barks at everything. EVERYTHING. And we live on a busy street so there's a lot to bark at. And it's not a woof-woof earthy real dog bark either. It's that yappity yap high pitched continuous string of yaps kind of bark. Although, not the toy dog yip-yips, at least. Because those are the worst. And I should add, those are the f**kin' poodles across the street that are outside all the time, and they also bark at EVERYTHING. Those dogs, they bust out of their yard all the time and run out on La Crescenta Avenue, and after about two months of living across the street from them, I started rooting for the cars.

But I digress.

Clem, she barks, and she won't stop pooping on the carpet, and she absolutely destroyed the new doormat I got at Target within 2 hours. (That was about $7.50 an hour for that doormat.) She is irresistible to my daughters, who chase her and torment her no matter how many times I tell them to stop, which makes her run and hide behind me, which makes the girls come after her on the floor at my feet, which makes it impossible for me to fix dinner or even move, which often makes me trip over the lot of them and don't get me started about the screaming mom stuff.

She and Nathan play, of course, which is great and funny, except that she's gnawing on him all the time since he's so much bigger than she is. So she swallows a bunch of Nathan hair and has taken to puking up hairballs like a damn cat.

She gets Dan up at 5 a.m. to go outside. He doesn't seem to mind. (I worry about him.) I sleep through it, usually. And Dan has her trained to respond to "good girl, go potty", which he says in a silly baby talk voice, so now I have to do the same thing when I take her outside. So there I am sing-songing "good girl, go potty, good girl, go potty" in the backyard, and John is next door tending to his heirloom green peppers and laughing at me, and I just want to kill both of them. Dan and the f**kin' dog, I mean.

And you know, I love dogs. I LOVE them. It's just this one, this puppy... I'm just too old and have too small a house and these lousy rotten kids and...

...and she's just curled up next to me on the couch, and her little face is nestled into my leg, and she's asleep, and I love her again.

And oh by the way, the cat just puked up a hairball on the carpet. (Seriously, I'm not making that up for the big close.)

So excuse me, I have cat puke to clean up, and then I have to go watch Top Model. Because those bitches are fierce.

Notes from the puppied out

(Originally posted June 24, 2008)

I'm sitting on my back patio, the one that Dan created in our tiny back yard. It is an oasis on a busy street; the wall fountain splashes merrily as the air conditioner competes for attention.

It's beautiful this evening. About 7:30, the sun is setting, and there's a puppy at my feet. The kids left for an overnight with their dad about an hour ago. Dan's in his scuba gear at the Aquarium, cleaning rocks in the big exhibits. I am eating leftover pasta and enjoying a glass of pinot and waiting for hummingbirds to fly to the new feeder we put up. There was a female out here a few minutes ago, but Clementine scared her off.

We have weathered the recent sweltering heat somehow. On Friday, the kids were home and we had "swaphouse playdates": first, Sabrina (Charlie's classmate) and her sister Daniela (Claire's) came to our house to play. Then they all went to their house. Sabrina and Daniela live 3 blocks down La Crescenta Avenue, and I really like their parents. The dad, Randy, is an old-school rocker who loves Rush and hard rock of that era. The mom, Josie, is a real sweetheart, and we usually end up yakking about our husbands' mutual foibles. The most recent discussion involved how the men bug us about our spending, but suddenly there's room in the budget for these ridiculous expenditures: Randy decided they needed a swimming pool in the back yard. (Which is okay with us, as it'll be done before the summer's over and we're invited as much as we want, yay!) Dan bugs me about my spending, but that Hawaii vacation... well, let's just say we have a different idea about what's essential. "Men... ya can't live with 'em... ya can't shoot 'em".

Saturday we went to see "Kung Fu Panda" at an afternoon show, always an excellent way to beat the heat. Emma is showing early signs of being the movie buff in the family. She sits transfixed, even through the credits. Charlie still waits out the previews in the lobby (they're too loud). I'm sorry to say that "Kung Fu Panda" did not pass the Claire test: she demanded TWO bathroom trips. We must have one or zero to be Claire approved. (Very few movies have passed the Claire test.)

Sunday was New Shoes Day. We have a New Shoes Day about 3 times a year, it seems. This time, it was for Camp Shoes. I was all set to weather the great drama known as Target With Three Children In Tow on my own, as I know full well what that entails. But hark! Dan wants to join us! All my entreaties to Stay Home, Stay Home fall on deaf ears! And thus I know, this drama will be even more drawn out and painful than usual.

See, I don't mind the drawn-out part. The kids like to look at stuff, and so do I. But I have yet to meet the man who sees a Trip to Target as anything other than a utilitarian exercise: buy your stuff and GET THE HELL OUT.

It just doesn't work like that for me or my kids. And that should be okay. And he insists it will be okay! He understands! Let's all do something together, he says! I fall for his convincing argument. I also think, well, there's a Lowe's right next door, maybe he'll just head over there for "one thing" and end up staring at sprinkler parts for 45 minutes like the last time (when, tragically, I was with him).

Well, it didn't turn out as badly as I'd feared. He did only get one thing at Lowe's, the first time that's happened in recorded history. We had a perfectly dreadful lunch at Wendy's. (I am still bloated from the sodium.) We found very suitable shoes for the girls. And Charlie revealed a new development:

He is too cool for Target shoes.

Yes, it has happened: my soon-to-be-sixth-grader has been influenced by his peers. Target Shoes are Not Cool. He had to have Heelys, or shame and humiliation would rain down upon him like, oh I don't know, rain in January in Southern California. (When it actually rains. For the whole year.)

Dan, for some reason, cannot get this. He wants to make Charlie like the hated Target Shoes. "There's nothing wrong with these shoes! Just try them on!"

"Listen dude," I tell my son privately, "I get it. I do. I think it's okay for you to have opinions about what you wear and how you look." (Did I mention the part about Charlie wanting to put silver streaks in his hair?) "I don't know why Dan doesn't get it. But I do. So let's deal with this later."

Anyway, long shoe story short, I take Charlie out and get him his $60 Heelys at Sport Chalet later. He swears he will wear them every day and love them like he himself carved them from clay.

So today was the first day of summer camp, the temperature has lightened up by 15 degrees or so, and Charlie still has no idea how to skate in Heelys. But it's a beautiful evening, and we have a little bit left in the bottle of Hitching Post 2006 Pinot Noir (yes, that's the place from "Sideways", and the wine is every bit as good as Paul Giamatti's character said it was), and I have a puppy curled up at my feet, and I think that's enough.

Wishing you all the same contentment...


Random Observations on a Monday...

(Originally posted March 10, 2008)

Why do people avoid the shopping carts that aren’t pushed all the way into the row of carts? You know, like if somebody leaves a cart out of “line”, like a wheeled leper or something? I mean I’ve seen folks literally walk around these orphaned carts as if they’d get cooties or something, and pull one (usually with difficulty, as they are often stuck together) (especially at Target) from the nice neat line of obedient carts. Let’s call it the Shopping Cart Cooties Evasion Tactic.

And then there’s the Toilet Stall Flinch. You go to a stall in a public place, and someone before you has forgotten to flush, and you do the Flinch and “ugh” and go to the next stall? Like it’s somebody else’s job to go around flushing after people? Why not just flush it yourself, seriously? Do you think their pee is somehow toxic, and if you should flush, some of it could get on you and disfigure you for life? And that washing your hands afterwards would somehow not be enough to cleanse you from the act you have just carried out? Seriously, how different is it from flushing your own poo? (My only thought is that the Flinchers have never had kids. Boy, after you have kids, man, there is no bodily excretion in the world you haven’t already dealt with.)

And don’t get me started about the Bluetooth Cyborgs. I can’t tell you how many times someone has been looking directly at me and speaking, and I say, “Excuse me?”, only to realize they have that obnoxious little bug in their ear and are carrying on some terribly important conversation into the air. Like some crazy homeless person in Santa Monica, except better dressed.

I said don’t get me started!


(Originally posted April 1, 2008)

When I’m feeling down and blue about the Democratic primaries, or sometimes when I’m feeling sassy or pissed off or even very confident that the country will wake up and smell the coffee, I will tune in to Air America on the internet. There I can feel the great comfort offered by “my smart talking people” (that’s what I call it with the kids) as I whip up the latest culinary treat for the kiddies.

Now, I realize that most of my readers – that is, my immediate family – have never tuned in to Air America's “progressive talk”. Linda, if you read this, I feel pretty confident you’re the only one who has. I won’t go into lots of detail about why I love the smart talking people. It is nice listening to pundits who share my views, as so much of the talk radio around leans to the right a tad.

But that’s not why I’m writing this today.

I’m writing this to tell you about the ADVERTISERS on Air America. From the first time I listened, I was amazed by the ads I heard, and could not help but wonder what sort of comment it made about the “progressive” listener. Here is a sampling:

“DO YOU OWE THE IRS MORE THAN $10,000?” Call Associated Tax Relief now at 800-697-3052!

“Do the ups and downs of the stock market upset you? Grow and invest in YOU and YOUR BUSINESS… contact General Steel and learn how you can build a warehouse pre-engineered steel building by calling 800-965-1295!”

“Thank you for calling for your risk-free trial of Proactiv Solution!" Call toll-free now, 800-515-9684!

“DROWNING IN CREDIT CARD DEBT?” Call U.S. Financial Management My Debt Negotiation at 800-651-5279, call now 800-651-5279! Hurry before the new law doubles your monthly payment! 800-651-5279!!!

“Do you know why you get more forgetful as you get older?” All natural Memoprove actually stimulates the growth of new brain cells! Call now to order, 800-477-1706!

“Are you self-employed?” Call the National Association of the Self-Employed for affordable health insurance, offered through Mega Life and Health! 800-370-4133, call today! 800-370-4133!!

“Hi, this is Willie Nelson for NORML.” To find out more on the legalization of marijuana, visit, or call 888-67-NORML.

Wow, huh?

So, the lefties out there are apparently self-employed tax-evading zit-faced potheads with very poor money skills, and 800 numbers are their only salvation. (Seriously, "MEGA Life and Health?")

Although it was interesting that NORML was the only one to offer up a website in addition to the ubiquitous toll-free number. Guess the potheads at least know how to use computers.

Max Headroom

(Originally posted April 10, 2008)

Yeah, Wednesday night. The kids just went to spend the night with their dad, and Dan is off in Ventura County somewhere having dinner with his son Dave, so I have a couple of precious hours of freedom, alone in the house. There's so much to do: I have a logo due Friday, I have writing due Friday, laundry, cleaning, all kinds of stuff.

Let me tell you what I am doing instead.

I am sitting on my fat white ass, eating rice pudding straight out of the big bowl I mixed it in, watching "I Love the 80's in 3-D" (1987!) and laughing myself silly. Max Headroom! Baby Jessica! Bolo ties! (Yeah, I wore those!) I just opened a nice bottle of red, too. Goes with rice pudding, right?

I could not be happier right now if I were sitting on George Clooney's lap.

Emma Drives Me Crazy...

(Originally posted May 3, 2008)

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!"

I am sitting on the toilet. This is Emma's favorite time to approach me with some urgent matter. "Yes, honey."

"Mom, do we have Charter on Demand?"

"Ummm... yes..."

"Can we order Alvin and the Chipmunks? We can watch it whenever we want!"

Once again I am faced with a true Emma moment. I know that what I say next is absolutely, positively not going to be heard. With a sigh, through the bathroom door, I remind her, "Emma, we have Alvin and the Chipmunks on DVD. We can already watch it anytime we want."

"But mom! We can just press 1 on the remote and we can watch it on demand!"

"We have the DVD honey... we've already seen it twice..."

And with that she is off - "Claire! Claire!" - with who knows what urgent matter has just popped into her tousled little head.

I love her like crazy.