Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Lonely Shoe Lying on the Road by, Murel Spark

One sad shoe that someone has probably flung out of a car or truck.
Why only one?

This happens on an average one year in four
But always throughout my life, my travels,
I see it like a memorandum.
Something I have forgotten to remember,
that there are always mysteries in life.
That shoes do not always go in pairs, any more than we do.
That one fits;the other, not.
That children can thoughtlessly and in a merry fashion
chuck out someone's shoe, split upsomeone's life.

But usually that shoe that I see is a man's, old, worn, the soleparted from the upper.
Then why did the owner keep the other,keep it to himself?
Was he afraid (as I so often am with inanimate objects) to hurt it's feelings?
That one shoe in the road invokes my awe and my sad pity.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" (rare)

Of course I love old Rolling Stones any time of year!

Wear Your Love Like Heaven - Donovan

Speaking of summer, here is another blast from the way past!

incense and peppermints "strawberry alarm clock / vibravoid" (psychedelic trip)

Blast from the past! Way past! Been goin' through my mind these summer days.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meditation on the Word Need by Linda Rodriguez

The problem with words of emotion
is how easily meaning drains
from their fiddle-sweet sound
sand they become empty instruments.
I can say loveand mean desire to give
—open-handed, open-hearted
—or I am drawn to the light
shining from your soul
—or my life is empty without you
—or I want to run my hands
and mouth down the length of you
—or all of these at once.

Need, now, is a plain word.
I need a nail to hang this picture.
I need money to pay my bills.
I need air and light,water and food,
shelter from storm and sun and cold.
To be healthy,to be sane,to survive,
I need you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Missing Michael Jackson and Farrah

Michael Jackson is dead and I am mourning his death. In that last twenty-four hours I have had time to process why I am mourning his death more keenly than I would have thought...it has to do with the loss of part of me. I was thirteen years old in 1979 when I bought my first Michael Jackson album, "Off the Wall." My brothers and I listened to it non-stop, it was that year for the first time, as young teens, that we sat glued to the television watching the music awards where Michael Jackson made a stunning sweep.

Looking further back , I remember The Jackson 5 as a soundtrack from my childhood, dancing with my older cousins to their music. In 1982 I bought "Thriller" and listened to my cassette tape until I wore it out. I got another one and almost wore that one out as well. I was a teenager and music-lyrics were very important to me. This album, probably more than any other, provided a soundtrack to the year 1982 for me.

As I got older, I watched with dismay as Michael Jackson become more and more strange, almost alien, and unrecognizable to those of us who grew up with his music in our ears. I had always hoped that he would stage some kind of comeback, maybe come back to normalcy, but now that is not meant to be.

I am no longer a teenager and part of becoming middle aged means that those who provided the soundtracks that narrated my youth will pass away and I will continue to grow older. This is what a I mourn... that there are fewer and fewer tangible reminders of my youth with each passing year.

Yes, Farrah Fawcett has also passed on. I mourn her death as well, but not in the same way. Having never been a teenage boy in the late 70's and early 80's with the infamous "red swimsuit" poster tacked to my wall, I don't have the depth of connection that I have with the music world. I used to enjoy watching "Charlies Angels," mostly because I was forbidden to watch it by my parents and had to sneak in episodes with lenient babysitters and at the homes of friends. I remember wanting so much to have feathered hair like Farrah and being envious of friends who could do this, combing all day at their feathers with a rainbow patterned super comb sticking out of their back pockets. My natural curls would not allow me the coveted "feathered look." I will miss Farrah for being the beauty that defined an era and the era that is gone, and only alive in memory for the "old ones" like me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today's News from The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keilllor

It's the birthday of the man who wrote a big best seller about a boy and a tiger in a lifeboat: Yann Martel, (books by this author) born on this day in Salamanca, Spain (1963). His father was a Canadian diplomat, and he grew up in Alaska, British Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Ontario, and Mexico.

He studied philosophy, and then worked odd jobs — as a tree planter, a dishwasher, and a security guard — and he started to write. He wrote some stories, and then a novel, Self (1996), about a man who turns into a woman on his 18th birthday. It won plenty of awards, but it didn't sell very well.

He was feeling burnt out and had no idea what to do with his life, so he went to India, where he felt even worse. He was lonely, and he tried to write a novel but it failed. He left Bombay for Matheran, a quiet hill station where all motor vehicles were outlawed. And it was there, sitting on a boulder, that he suddenly thought of a book review he had read many years ago. The book was by a Brazilian writer, and its premise was that a German Jewish family who owned a zoo tried to escape to Brazil, but the ship ended up sinking and one family member was left alone in a lifeboat with a black panther. Martel loved the premise, and so he made it his own.He spent the next six months researching Indian zoos, churches and mosques, and cities. He went back to Canada and wrote a story about an Indian teenager named Pi Patel, who calls himself a Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. Pi is the son of a zookeeper, and his family leaves India for Canada to begin life there. They are shipwrecked, and Pi ends up in a lifeboat with a few animals, and eventually, only a tiger named Richard Parker. Yann Martel said, "The idea of a religious boy in a lifeboat with a wild animal struck me as a perfect metaphor for the human condition. Humans aspire to really high things, right, like religion, justice, democracy. At the same time, we're rooted in our human, animal condition. And so, all of those brought together in a lifeboat struck me as being … as a perfect metaphor."

The novel ends with a surprise twist that asks the reader to rethink the entire plot. In 2001, Martel published the book, Life of Pi, which became a best seller and won the Booker Prize.

It's the birthday of best-selling children's author and illustrator Eric Carle, (books by this author) born on this day in Syracuse, New York (1929), who has written and illustrated more than 70 books, including Do You Want to Be My Friend? (1971), The Grouchy Ladybug (1977), and his most famous, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969), which has sold almost 30 million copies.He said, "We have eyes, and we're looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important."

It's the birthday of the novelist and essayist George Orwell, (books by this author) born Eric Arthur Blair in Bengal, India (1903). He grew up in England in what he described as the "lower-upper-middle class," in a family that acted as if it were from the upper class but didn't really have much money. He was sent off to private boarding schools, which he hated. After graduation, he wanted to get as far away from England as possible, so he joined the British Imperial Police in Burma, which he hated just as much. He saw that the system was unjust, and he was forced to act as one of the oppressors. So he went back to England, and he said, "I felt that I had got to escape not merely from imperialism but from every form of man's dominion over man. I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed, to be one of them and on their side against the tyrants."

He worked for a while as a dishwasher, then a teacher, and then he decided to try writing. He used his experiences of being poor and unemployed, and he wrote Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).He worked as a journalist, and he was sent to cover the Spanish Civil War. In Barcelona, he observed a communist utopia, and he said, "Many of the normal motives of civilized life — snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc. — had simply ceased to exist. … I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for."

But then he watched communism and fascism turn into extremist ideologies, and he decided that idealism was always dangerous in the extreme. He continued as a journalist, but he said, "Only the mentally dead are capable of sitting down and writing novels while this nightmare is on."

But then one day he saw a boy leading a horse down the road, and he wondered what would happen if domesticated animals banded together to stage a revolution, and he wrote one of his most famous novels, Animal Farm (1945), modeled on the Bolshevik Revolution.

Over the next few years, while he was suffering from tuberculosis, he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). He died a few months after it was published, and today it is considered one of the best dystopian novels ever written, and even people who have never read Nineteen Eighty-Four probably use the phrase "Big Brother is watching you."He said, "Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Genius of Small-Town America by, Norman Williams

Here our fathers stopped their westward push,
Not, God knows, for love of scenery or soil,
But because an ox gave out, an axle broke,
Or a child took with cholera or chills.

Now, their sons cross the fields like roofwalkers,
Chucking dirtclods at the crows, while in the shade
The women mutter of lost limbs and hopes.

Like a periodic curse, a drought this month
Has once more settled on the western plains,
Thickening the creeks, working into wayside barns,
And famishing the stock.

On kitchen radios
One hears again the pulpit-pounding talk
And familiar promises of punishment,
That we have ourselves to blame for this,
Who lusted, craved and coveted—
But if sin lingers in these washed-up towns,
It could be only pride or stubbornness:
Each spring another crop of debt is sown,
And, though agencies attach the land,
Outbuildings, crops and unborn young, still
The beak-nosed men walk head-up and proud,
Convinced, against all evidence, that what
They've planted, built or reared is theirs,
And that, come the plague or Democrats,
They will die as they have lived, that is
In their good time, just when and how they choose.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Predatory Speeding and Raves to Neighbors

In our local newspaper there is a section for rants and raves. I have often wanted to send something their way, but never seem to find the time or remember to do it when I might have the time. Today I want to send someone near my neighborhood a huge "Rave."

As I have blogged about before, there is often a speed trap on my route home from work. I usually get off early in the afternoon and the speed trap is usually not there until later in the day, the volume of traffic increases at that time and they can potentially catch more speeders.

Now I seriously do not harbor any disrespect for law enforcement officers. I do, however, have a serious complaint about predatory speed traps. This one is a great example. It is set right near a juncture where the residential street turns into a non-residential street and is literally a block away from the speed sign that changes the speed from 30 mph to 35 mph. The speed trap is also placed at the bottom of a very steep hill.

Today I send a big Rave to the person who used a sharpie marker to write "Warning, speed trap ahead" on a piece of cardboard and post it at the four-way stop a block from where the speed trap usually begins. Now here is a person who lives in the neighborhood that the speed trap is supposedly designed to protect and they go home, grab a piece of cardboard out of recycling, find a sharpie marker, and post the sign all in the name of public service.

Let's compare this to my neighborhood, one where a speed trap would greatly increase the safety of the residents. The street that runs parallel to the one we live on is often used as a cut through for motorists trying to find a short cut to the highway during rush hour. And do they ever speed. This is a 25 mph neighborhood, all residential, and never-ever a cop in sight. I believe that most of the speed traps in our area are not set up for the safety of the citizens, they are set up solely to make money and I really just can't respect that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My "Running with Scissors" Moment

Yeah! summer is here, theoretically this should mean less time in the car and more time spent enjoying lazy summer days without paying attention to the dreaded clock. I don't want my kids overbooked in the summer, I don't want to be overbooked in the summer, I just want some downtime please!

One of my children meets with a therapist on a weekly basis. Nothing serious in my mind, just some behavioral issues that we are trying to get a handle on before those dreaded teen years hit. This particular therapist likes to meet with me on a regular basis. Actually she would like to meet with my husband and me together on a regular basis, but scheduling this given my work hours, those of my husband, and her irritatingly limited office hours, has made meeting together pretty damn near impossible with any regularity. So sometimes she meets with me, sometimes with my husband, and sometimes with the two of us together.

I have been thinking that we have been making progress. My daughter has come a long way over the last few months, behaviorally speaking. I am thinking these thoughts as I go in to meet with said therapist today and thinking that maybe we are approaching the end of this therapy journey. I feel confident.

Sadly, the therapist doesn't seem to feel as confident as I do. She seems to think that my daughter is just "on the verge" of doing some critical things, like communicating her feelings appropriately, and suggests that we consider bringing her twice a week. Actually, that was her first suggestion. About mid-way through our meeting she suggested that I bring my daughter in maybe several times a week.

At this moment I had a flashback to the movie "Running with Scissors," the part where Annette Bening drags husband, Alec Baldwin, in to see her crackpot, guru therapist and this therapist tells the couple that they should see him everyday for something like four hours. The therapist then becomes angry at the husband (who laments that he can't commit to that because of work), telling him that he has cleared his schedule for them, why can't they be considerate and clear theirs for him!

Now I don't think that my child's therapist is a crackpot or a guru and amazingly enough our health care insurance would actually cover more sessions. But we are not going to do it. I am going to "parent with my gut" here and quite frankly I think that my child will make more progress in her emotional well-being enjoying a fun and play filled summer than she will be by being driven hither and yon all summer to appointments!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

More from the Solstice Parade

This duo calls themselves "The Stimulus Package"

Born and Sold in the U.S. of A

I don't normally consider myself to be a political blogger, but I have recently gotten more information about sex trafficking and prostitution of children in the United States. For many years this has been a headline issue, mostly abroad, places like Bangkok come to mind, but how common is this same crime here in this country? Here are some facts from Shared Hope International, an organization working to save these girls from lives of prostitution and destitution:

  • The U.S. Department of Justice states that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old.
  • Exploited children are often labeled "child prostitutes" and punished for the crime that is committed against them. While exploited children are often arrested for prostitution, their buyers and traffickers go largely unpunished.
  • Shared Hope International's field research confirmed that underage girls are the bulk of victims in commercial sex markets, including pornography, stripping, escort services, and prostitution.
  • The prostitution of American children is a nationwide problem. SHI's assessment of the city of Las Vegas reports that 1,496 children from 40 states were trafficked into and arrested for prostitution in Clark County Nevada between January 1994 to July 2007.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice states that at least 75% of minors exploited through prostitution are controlled by a pimp, using violence and psychological torture to hold the victims in bondage.
  • There is a severe lack of protective shelter for child victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. In the 10 U.S. locations assessed by Shared Hope, just one protection facility was identified, the Letot Center in Dallas. Texas.

As Americans we are often horrified to discover that families in poor countries, desperate for food or protection will sell their daughters into prostitution. Some families believe that they are paving the way for a better life for their daughters, once they have done their stint "working," they will be able to move on and build better lives for themselves away from the grinding poverty of their countries of origin. When I read about this same thing happening here, I have to wonder"why?" The United States supposedly has more money and resources than any other country on earth and yet we have what is often considered to be a "Third World Problem" festering on our own soil. Is it because the lives of girls are not valued? Is it because the men who pay for these services have enough money and power to keep them going? When I read through the literature, I got the distinct impression that we as a society still tend to "blame the victim" for this one. It is a true example of repressed American provincial sexual attitude if there ever was one. Obviously these young girls need our help. While helping to stop sex trafficking abroad is a very important issue, I think more Americans need to open their eyes and hearts to what is going on right here on our red, white, and blue doorstep.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What do you get when you combine?

Zombies wandering the streets by day

The famous "huggers"

Lots and lots of folks on stilts and unicycles

Colors waving in the sun

Naked cyclists

Beautiful handmade floats
And a whole lot of forest nymphs, tree guys, fairies, pirates, and political movers
You have the annual Fremont Summer Solstice Parade
Happy Summer Solstice Everyone!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Movies and Books

Lately I have been doing more reading and watching of movies. I think that it has something to do with it being the end of the school year and thus the end of activities for my kids. We are actually home more! Summertime is great. I read "Loving Frank." This was a "required" read for book club, which meets next week, I think that this "true" story will provide the fodder for quite a lively discussion. The book is about Frank Lloyd Wright and his longtime mistress, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I believe their affair lasted from 1907-1914. I can tell you that the affair ended with her death, it won't be giving the ending away because anyone can find that out via a cursory search of the internet. The details of her death were what ruined the book for me. I guess that there is no way to alter such events. The book is a novel, but based on true events. She died the way that she died and it really can't be re-written. I think of all of the time that I spent living in Frank Lloyd Wright land in the midwest and I have to wonder how I missed this part of his life. It certainly captivated my interest enough to want to read the book. I think there has been a "hush, hush" factor going on for about the last century, distancing America's most famous architect from the scandal that he helped to create.

Onto movies, I finally saw "Gran Torino." What an oversight, I should have seen this one earlier. I loved the story and I liked the way that it ended. In fact I thought that the ending was just perfect. Of course, the elderly pistol carting Clint Eastwood mounting a single man campaign of justice against neighborhood gangs was a bit unbelievable, other than that it is a story true to city neighborhoods all over America. Dirty Harry is bound to live forever.

Last night I saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." This movie made use of a number of Hollywood stock story lines including; the getting hit by a car tragedy, the loss of virginity to a prostitute routine, the aged, sick, and dying mother finally telling her story bit-which narrates the entire movie, resentful, grown daughter included. I haven't read F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, but now I am curious and will probably have to check it out. Despite its many cliches, this movie worked. Of course there is always Brad Pitt looking devastatingly handsome as always. The movie was well cast so the story matched the visual. Pretty interesting concept, I hate to admit it, but I would love the thought of getting younger everyday. Of course this may mean dying, like Benjamin Button, as a demented infant. Hey, at least I would be "cute" in my "old age."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Gail Godwin

One of my favorite authors, Gail Godwin, celebrates her birthday today. She is 72. I think that I have managed to read most of her books. "Father Melancholy's Daughter" being my favorite. Her writing is strong and artful, her character development is superb. I hope that she has at least several more years of good writing ahead...I will be reading and waiting!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Famous Noteworthy Quotes

Everything, everything in war is barbaric... But the worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being.

Ellen Key

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Hunger is Very Real

I have read the advertisements over the years, posted mostly on buses by Northwest Harvest, urging us all to "end summer hunger." It is true, food banks and donation bins are inundated around the holidays, food drives taper off during the summer, it just doesn't seem to be on the minds of most people. This summer I have made donating food my number one method for giving back to my community, "Why?'' Well, think about it, summer means the end of free lunches for many children in our country. In some cases the end of school means the end of two meals, breakfast and lunch, that are served for free during the school year. The children that qualify for reduced fee or free meals at school are often the same children who have families that "grocery shop" at the local food bank. Thinking about an easy way to give to your community, think about helping to stock food banks with "kid friendly" breakfast and lunch food this summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monsters vs Aliens Movie

So I finally took the kids to see the "Monsters vs Aliens" movie. One of my daughters has been pestering me to see this movie for sometime. We were able to catch it at a local discount theater, one of the last places that it seems to be available to us here on the big screen. The plot was typical and formulaic, the kids loved it. A twist is added to this movie, it is the girl monster who is the strongest one and ultimately able to save everyone almost all by herself. The guys seem to be otherwise occupied. I found that to be humorous from an adult perspective.
The very best part of the movie though was in the beginning, the wedding is about to take place, the pre-monster bride is exclaiming about how excited she is to be honeymooning in Paris. The groom comes out to talk to her and informs her that there has been a change in plans, no honeymoon in Paris. Instead they will be relocating to Fresno, they live in Modesto, because he has some awesome job interview to pursue. Less then thrilled, the bride reluctantly agrees to continue with the ceremony. That is until she gets hit by a meteor and grows into a huge woman. So I digress, the best part was during this scene when I leaned over to my almost ten-year-old daughter and told her that if a guy ever did that to her on her wedding day that she should cancel the wedding immediately. I told her that there would never be any trip to Paris and the bride wouldn't have any of her dreams come true with that groom. Guess what? That's right, the groom turned out to be an arse, only out for his own gain, and she dumps him in the end and my daughter got to think that I was really smart for the day. A win-win situation all the way around.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Frasier - Niles in the elevator

They are all funny. I know that I can watch the re-runs and I do, I just wish that there were new ones. This show is hilarious. The other night I watched four re-runs in a row and laughed and laughed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Book Thief

Finally, I finished "The Book Thief," it felt like it took forever to read and not because it was a bad book, in fact it was quite a good book to be sure. Neither was it an oustandingly long book, I just haven't had much time to read lately, plus the weather is nice and it is always more fun to be outside so I get distracted.

A book narrated by "death" doesn't sound like it would be a winner, Nor does it sound like it would be very hopeful. People die in this book to be sure. In some cases the reader knows early on that the character will be dead by the end of the book. This is unusual in that most authors don't allow the reader this kind of insider information. There are other mysteries though regarding who will live and who will die and who will test the bound of wartime dictates and who will succomb to them. The grains of hope are tiny and scattered throughout the narrative in such a way that the reader is able to take these gestures in full measure and forget, for a moment, the despair.

Unique also to this book is that it is told from the German perspective during WWII. Maybe that isn't completely true, because many of the characters in this story do not uphold the prevailing "German perspective" during WWII. That is where the hope comes in and kindness, there is plenty of that as well.

In this book I love the definitions. The definitions of words, motives, points of view, and people really bring the reader into the story. This is one of the best novels about WWII that I have read because it is so panoramic and at the end of the war, there truly are no winners.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Drivers, Take a Clue

I spent an enormous amount of time in my car today. Tonight I am so thankful for my friend Deb and her hospitality, great drinks and food and a wonderful backyard to enjoy it all in. This helped to ease the driving stress.

These pictures are taken from the DMV website. I am posting them to remind people that when the light is green, one must yield to oncoming traffic. When there is a green arrow, however, one may turn immediately upon viewing the stopping of oncoming cars. One does not need to sit for minutes on end, holding the rest of us up, in order to view the stopped position of oncoming cars. No, the green arrow really is an indicator that you can turn and right away. Today with all of the driving that I did, I lost count of how many times I had to wait for someone at an intersection stupidly stopped for minutes at a time and wondering what to do with a green arrow. I would love to say that I didn't use my horn, but that would be a lie.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Plea For Mercy by Anne Porter

When I am brought before the Lord
What can I say to him
How plead for mercy?
I'll say I loved
My husband and the five
Children we had together
Though I was most unworthy

I'll say I loved
The summer mornings
I loved the way the sun comes up
And sets the dew on fire
I loved the way
The cobwebs shine
On the tall grass
When they are strung with dew

I'll say I loved
The way that little bird
The titmouse flies
I'll say I loved
Its lightness
And beauty.

"A Plea For Mercy" by Anne Porter, from Living Things Collected Poems. © Zoland Books, 2006.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Welcome to Seattle, May we Take your Car?

The headlines in The Seattle Times this morning read, "Hey, Seattle: Where's my car?" A few years ago the city put in automated parking meters. These are pretty great as you can pay with a debit or credit card. However, around the Pike Place Market area the city has installed signs that read obscurely indicating that there is to be no parking at said meters from 6:00-9:00 am and again from 3:00-6:00pm. But there is a catch, the meter will gladly accept your money through 6:00pm. So, not only are the signs written in such a way that they are difficult to understand, the meter doesn't cut off at 3:00pm even though one is not really supposed to be parked there after that time.

According to several merchants in the area, interviewed by The Times for this article, the city parking patrol is on their scooters and the tow trucks line up by 2:50pm, ready to swoop in on the dot of 3:00pm. First, the scooters whizz around issuing $35.00 tickets, then the tow trucks come in and start hauling away cars. They want to start right at 3:00pm so that they have time to come around and do a second sweep before traffic gets too heavy. It has gotten so bad, that some merchants actually leave their stores to go out and warn people verbally, but it is too time consuming to warn everyone. The estimate is towing of approximately 10 cars per block (I don't know how many blocks this includes). The city is making approximately $400.00 per block per day if they are only towing once, more if the trucks can get back in time for round number two. I wonder what they will do with all of the extra money? Fix the Alaskan Way Viaduct...No, that would be too practical.

What a great welcome to Seattle. According to those interviewed for the article this "towing round-up" is quite predatory and it is bad for business. Quite possibly the parking violators would have the basis for a lawsuit (the meter after all let's you park until 6:00pm), but these signs aren't posted in areas where locals tend to park. These signs are placed strategically in the Pike Place Market area, a haven for tourists. It is hard to get together a lawsuit, let alone a class action lawsuit, amongst tourists. In the end, they probably don't really care, angry to be sure, but angry enough to pursue legal action outside of their home towns, probably not.

I see this as a downside to governing by initiative. Our state has been riddled in recent years with initiatives to "cut taxes" and it is a real problem, cut somewhere and the government will find a way to fill in the gaps. Never mind that we are in a recession and everyone else has to cut back, trimming the fat (and there is plenty of fat to be trimmed in the city of Seattle's governing body) is not a government specialty. Meanwhile, it makes me feel like I have to apologize for being from here, a city that supposedly welcomes tourists, but makes it challenging for them to enjoy their visit. It is also expensive. In addition to the $35.00 ticket, there is a $15.00 cab ride to the impound lot, the towing feel is $101.00, after tax the grand total is estimated to be around $176.00. Welcome to Seattle!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Surprise Blessing on an Unexpected Day

Today turned out to be crazy. I didn't expect this, I did have a fair warning last night when my husband reminded me that he had plans this morning that would last until early afternoon. I had forgotten to put this on my calendar and was thus taken off guard as I had also made plans for early this afternoon. "What to do with the kids?" Let's see, they had a choir performance this morning. They were required to be there for the entire church service rather than just at the beginning as I had anticipated. If they had only had to be there at the beginning I would have actually had time to run them across town to my husband (fortunately it was a somewhat kid-friendly event, although probably not really, but he is a trooper). As it was I had to yank the kids off stage immediately following there last number and race across town (I really couldn't afford to speed, cutbacks in city revenue have really beefed up the number of traffic cops on duty), then hit the highway and head into downtown Seattle to see PNB's "Director's Choice" with my friend Monica. Did I mention that I didn't have pre-purchased tickets? I was not really thinking ahead. On the way to downtown Seattle I was thankful to avoid Mariner's game traffic, I could see it, but didn't have to be in it, any traffic around Seattle center, and any parking fiascoes. After parking my car, I ran from the garage (it was a good thing that I wore flats) and jaywalked to get to the box office a mere ten minutes before start time. Fortunately, Moncia was already there (had been for probably about an hour). The countdown is on, we are next in line and...a woman approaches us and asks if we are going to buy tickets to which I reply "yes." I am thinking that she might want to know which line is the line to purchase tickets or maybe she is going to tell us that we have been waiting in the wrong line and that we need to start over in a new one. "Here, you can take these." She produces two season tickets, orchestra level, dead center about twelve rows back from the stage. Seriously, this is one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for me and this woman is a complete stranger. She declines payment (not like I had any cash on me, at least not that much anyway) and says that it is her treat and walks away. What an awesome surprise. Does this make me want to go out and do nice things for others, why yes it does.

About "Director's Choice," three pieces were featured, "Dances at a Gathering," Jerome Robbins, "After the Rain Pas De Deux," Christopher Wheeldon, and "Symphony in C," George Balanchine. I liked all of these for very different reasons. "After the Rain" was definitely the most modern, intriguing when the music is going crazy and the dancers are hardly moving at all. "After the Rain Pas De Deux" was quite passionate, stunning really in it's simplicity. "Symphony in C" was pure Balanchine. The blue and white costumes against a blue and white stage made this piece a standout. Plus there was quite a bit the entire corpse de ballet moving in synchrony which I love to see because I think that it would be really hard to do. I am glad that I hurried through my morning to get to this production at the 11th hour on the last performance. And bless you most gracious and generous ticket lady wherever you may be.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Better reviews than I have said it, but it bears repeating, Disney-Pixar has done it again. Masterful story-telling, something for all ages, and absolutely beautiful in 3-D. What a spectacular film, one of the best this year by far.

Revolutionary Road-The Movie

I saw the "Revolutionary Road" movie last night. The acting was quite good. That much intense emotionality between two people who were on screen in almost every scene would be challenging to pull off and I thought that DiCaprio and Winslett did an excellent job. What bothered me about the cinematic version was that April Wheeler came off as looking a bit emotionally unstable. This was not due to the acting of Winslett, she was playing the book, it could be attributed more to the scenes that were omitted from the movie. In the book the reader knows what April Wheeler is grappling with, she is having difficulty embracing her role a as a stay-at-home mom in a time period which dictates that this is pretty much the only option for a married woman with children. In the movie she goes from angry to sweet housewife quickly, leaving too much I think to viewer interpretation.

The lighting and period staging (it was, as it should have been, so 1950's) was quite good. Some people find this story depressing. I find it interesting from a historical perspective. How much of this "history" are we still debating? Some scenes of the movie were also filmed quite differently from how they were written in the book (this is always the case) and in this movie it would be obvious "why." So much is hard to watch. The whole relationship between these two people is hard to watch (it was hard to read about). I never say this, but I think that this movie might have been better if it were a bit longer. Of course, they probably would lose more viewers because longer would mean adding more emotionally thoughtful content that probably had to be cut in order to make people want to see the movie. My recommendation, read the book first, then you can fill in the blanks that the movie brings.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The International Fountain

I found myself down at Seattle center this afternoon. It was warm, but not too warm, the fountain wasn't very crowded and it was the sleeping, erupting, sleeping, erupting giant that it always is, send water rainbows into the blue sky.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Death and the Media Spin

It has just been released, breaking news, David Carradine was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok. The cause of death is hanging, an apparent suicide. This is faintly reminiscent of the death of Michael Hutchence, also by hanging. The situations are similar in the following ways; both were found in hotel rooms (in Michael's case it was the Ritz-Carlton in Sydney), both were hung by belts, and both were partially nude at the time of death. Now I don't want to judge anyone's sexual habits here, but it seems as though both Hutchence and Carradine might have benefited from better safe words or safety precautions in general. I can't pretend to know what makes someone take this particular path in their sexuality. Those involved in these practices are often vehemently supportive of their sexual lifestyles...that is O.K....to a point. For me it just represents loss.

While I am not a huge fan of martial arts films, David Carradine was a name that I grew up know. The popularity that he enjoyed in the 1970's was immense. He and his martial arts movies were always "there" and now that is gone and so is a part of the nostalgia of my childhood. In the case of Michael Hutchence, I felt genuine grief. Although INXS has tried, they will never completely replace the voice and stage presence of their main man. The loss of the artist I felt keenly in this case. So is there any way to make these persons of fame wake up and realize that we might need them? I don't know. In the meantime, I just wish that I didn't have to read any more headlines like these.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The God of Small Things

Yes, I finally finished "The God of Small Things." This is not a "long" book, yet the language is densely packed, it took me longer than I thought that it would to read. The author made outstanding use of repetitions (something that I am forever trying to work on in my own writing) i.e., "Elvis the pelvis with a puff and a fountain in a love-in-Tokyo" or "Lay-ter." Single word and two word sentences within one thought were also a specialty. This had the effect of making this book read like poetry. There is violence, sadness, poverty, and shame hinted at and described outright throughout the book. The author leaves the walloping violence towards the last pages. Even if she hadn't started out describing the emotional damage of the "two-egg" twins in the first chapters, the reader would be hard pressed to miss how their emotionally damaged lives would play out after finishing the book. At it's heart is the anger and bitterness of unrequited love acted out in fierce lashings against those who fulfill love a generation later.

The author is a political writer. The politics of caste are the essence of the story. That and love, love gone seriously awry. How much has to happen before a childhood is completely destroyed before ones eyes? The emotional dysfunction of this family is palatable and, as many of my reads seem to be (I wonder what this says about me?), not for the emotionally faint of heart. I would compare this book to "A Fine Balance." It can be compared, as a book about India, but the themes in "The God of Small Things" are much more forceful to the reader (because of the children) and seem to be more truthful across cultures. "A Fine Balance" is artistically woven, a cruel and beautiful work of fiction that comes together tightly in the end or is it from the beginning??? At any rate, the books are just plain different. While we don't have the caste system in our country, I could easily imagine (and it has happened) a very similar story right here in America, maybe now, but most certainly a generation ago. Childhood and innocence lost by a stoic and twisted view that people of different classes and/or races must never mix.

What is here, at the heart of the darkness, is a love story. A love story of a mother and children, fathers and sons, yearnings that defy caste/class, religion, and wealth/poverty. Contrasting themes. It all ends in the dilapidated house in the rain forest, covered in moss and rotting. No amount of hope will bring back what was lost and the "two-egg" twins are left in the midst of tragic young adulthoods to piece their lives together within this loss.

Even in the midst of this, this was not a hard book to read, the poetry of the writing coddled the reader in some ways. It made the reader feel compelled to keep reading. The author also went back and forth in time and sequence, so the beauty of the story was forever juxtaposed against it's harshness and in the end it just made the reader think about love, life, loss, and how was any of this my childhood? if it wasn't, how lucky am I ? The God in this book is indeed the God of small things, the God of big things seems to have removed himself entirely from the story of this family.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fuel Efficient Small Sized Cars, Here We Go Again!

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I had half an ear tuned to the local public radio station. Normally I enjoy listening to this station, I feel like it has the least biased presentation of the news. As I was half listening, I heard something about the development of a new fuel efficient car, the presenter emphasized that the car was small and added that it is important to add more fuel efficient small sized cars to the market. That may be so, especially if you are single or part of a childless couple and only need to think about transporting yourselves to and from work. What about those of us with three children and extra kids to carpool too and from and hither and yon? Now I do realize that there are at least a couple of fuel efficient cars in the "larger" car category. I have looked at them. They are perfect for a family with one child or two children who have no friends and don't participate in activities that require carpooling. Another problem with these "larger" cars is that they don't have enough space for travel, or at least some types of travel like, for instance, camping. I can't imagine a family and five and all of their gear crammed into one of these things. One of the ways that I can contribute to saving natural resources is by carpooling. After adding my own three children to the car, if there isn't room for an extra kid or two I can't do this. Great, another small sized fuel efficient car on the market, I won't be getting excited about it or paying any attention to the criticism levelled at SUV's or mini vans until they make a fuel efficient car that comes in a size that fits my family.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Trying to Diet, Maybe?

I have so many friends that are actively dieting or trying to diet right now that I almost think that I might have to join in. The best diet for me would be one in which I did not eat because it is once I start eating that the problems begin. I have one friend that is doing Weight Watchers, another that is going to try Nutrisystems, and several others who are just using portion control. I had to laugh when someone referred to potion control as eating like you used to eat. I used to eat a lot more than I eat now and I didn't pay much attention to portion control or what I ate either. Then I would go for a five mile run and I never gained weight. There were times, when I was in my twenties, that I could have been called underweight and as a teenager I definitely was underweight. Now I exercise, I am very consistent about this, and it doesn't really seem to make much of a difference. I do eat much less and watch what I eat more closely than I ever have before in my life and doing this and exercise doesn't seem to make a huge difference. I could cut out carbohydrates altogether, that might be the best thing. I am not sure what to replace them with though. So I am still in flux. Maybe I should just get on a diet plan, maybe I should just have more self control, maybe I should work out five times a week instead of three, maybe, maybe, maybe