1967 – How much is your childhood worth?

I’ve been fooling around on my laptop tonight, and for some reason, thought about the first thing that my mother let me send for through the mail – it was 1967, and I really wanted the Yellow Pages dress, so she let me mail a dollar bill with the order form, and reminded me that it would take “six to eight weeks for delivery.” When I got the dress, I was a little dismayed to realize that it was paper, and I ended up tossing it after a botched styling attempt with scissors. I was unbelievably shy when I was a kid, and there would have been no way that I was going to wear a paper dress out in public, especially one that I had cut to micro-mini status. (And I know that this conflicts with being an introvert, but  I was also a tomboy who loved to play kickball and get into fights with boys, and if I was going to do either of those things in a paper dress, it was certain that my day would end badly.)

In 2007,  “Antiques Roadshow” had someone on the show who decided to bring their version of the paper dress to have it appraised; the appraisal value was from $1800-$2200. Now, if I had been a savvier little girl (or psychic), I would have put away the scissors and kept the dress in a Zip-Lok bag for 40-plus years.     I would have also kept my metal Slinky, except that my brother and I were bored at daycare one morning, and decided that we would stretch the Slinky out completely to see if it would go all the way around the playground (it did), and my Click Clacks:

If I remember correctly, Click Clacks were found to be dangerous, as they tended to crack and sometimes shatter – it’s a wonder I survived my childhood at John A. Sutter Elementary School, although I was more in danger of getting beat up than anything else.  I had no problem squaring off with boys, and girls, too – I did get smacked a few times, and a girl stabbed me in the leg with a stick in the bathroom, but otherwise, I got out of grade school intact.  (Only one boy socked me in the stomach, and as it turned out, had a crush on me, and got into trouble for carving my name and his into a tree. Cute.)

If I were to gaze into my crystal ball, or check my Magic Eight-Ball (which is still sold today, so no reason to have held on to that toy), what little gadgets would we pay large dollars for in 2046? Maybe you have an idea – I’m going to go check my steamer trunk for those Click Clacks.

Out for repairs

Perfect May evening, and I feel about as imperfect as I’ve felt in a while; tired, tense, out of shape, and mentally exhausted; Club Petaluma is upside down with unfinished projects and clutter, and I’m writing cranky poetry, which usually makes me feel better, but that isn’t even doing the trick.   I don’t feel like I’ve completely gotten over being sick from a couple of weeks ago, and I wound up in the ER earlier this week with severe back pain. I never knew that the phrase “pain management” would come to be so familiar to me; I’m well-acquainted with my “regular” pain, but this was new, persistent and scary.  It turned out to be a strained thoracic muscle, but I am glad that I got it checked out, since heart attack symptoms for women can show up as back pain. My mother’s heart attack started out as a bad backache, and resulted in triple-bypass surgery for her, so I’m on the job when it comes assessing back pain.

Being a cranky mess is not the way that I want to spend the summer, so here’s a visual list to get this camper back into happy mode:

When I practice all of these, I feel like this:

Instead of this:

As always, my friends keep me in the game, and this week was no exception.  I was excited to see my friend Tischel receive her Master’s in Education on Saturday at Cal State Long Beach, and it turned into a nice reunion of CSULB work friends:

This week, friends asked about me, called me when I was in the ER, texted me, and made me laugh.  You are gold to me, all of you, and I don’t ever forget how fortunate I am to know you. And now, let’s roll out summer, why don’t we?

Pass the popcorn, it’s Movie Talk!

Wes Anderson‘s new movie is coming out – check out the trailer on YouTube if you like; it made me very happy:

I’m hoping that it will be on the level of “The Royal Tenenbaums,” one of my absolute favorites.  I love this movie for so many reasons, and I know that some of my friends overdose on the quirk, so it’s an entirely subjective love based on personal feelings and experience, not based on any other standard – if you haven’t seen it, and you end up seeing it, you will get to know me a little bit better, if that’s your idea of a good time.

Speaking of the quirk, I’m watching “Fight Club” right now on AMC.  This is why I like Brad Pitt – for someone who has leading man looks and persona, he has made movies like “Fight Club,” “Kalifornia,” and “Twelve Monkeys,” where he does smart character work, which is so much more interesting, and probably more interesting for him to do, as well. One of my favorite movies last year was “Moneyball,” which I saw twice; again, even though it was the lead role, I felt like he infused character actor qualities into the part.

I saw “La Dolce Vita” this week for the first time, on the big screen at the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach. So much has been written about the movie, that it would be impossible for me to say anything new, so I’ll just say this: it was intoxicating, and swept me away. Impossibly beautiful women, dreamlike sequences, and a young and handsome Marcello Mastroianni.  Chaotic, decadent, sexy, and crazy – and I felt different when it was over, like something rich and new had been added to my brain.  This is what I want movies to do for me, what I’ve wanted since I was a kid in the third row at the Towne Theatre in Long Beach, or in the balcony of the Crest Theatre in Long Beach, on a Saturday afternoon, with my torn ticket in my hand, waiting for the magic….Ciao, bella! Save me a seat at the matinee –

Who’s your edamame?

For dinner tonight, I had a veggie burger patty and two microwave pancakes with syrup; made a yum sandwich, I did.  Not sure if I mentioned it here, but I stopped eating meat a few months ago.  I still eat eggs and cheese, and a little milk in the coffee (Milk makes me say,”blech,” except if it’s in coffee), and I’m working on eating more fruits, vegetables, and grains. Here’s the vegetarian food pyramid:

I am a bit lazy when it comes to nutrition, and I know that I need to drill down a bit for more fruits and vegetables, but it’s a process (and by “it’s a process,” pretty sure I mean, “I don’t really like doing it, but I’ll get to it when I can.”)

This is the second time I’ve done this in about five years, and it’s mainly for health reasons; Mom had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and triple bypass surgery, as well as peripheral vascular disease.  None of this sounds like anything that I want to experience, so I’m looking at my diet as a way to avoid all of it if possible.

I know this will be terribly incorrect of me to say, but I always seem to live for disapproval, so here goes: I love animals, and I really miss eating them.  Some days I don’t think about it at all, and then there are days like the one I had this week – while in the office in the middle of the day, I said to no one in particular: ” I  have a craving for horseradish.” This statement received a few funny looks, until I added, “mixed with sour cream and on top of a center cut of prime rib.” Sigh.

I also have driven by KFC and wondered how I could make tofu taste like original recipe, but then I forget about it (at least, until I write about it, that is; my sense of smell seems to have been heightened since giving up meat – weird little side observation).  It is easier to forget about eating meat when I’m having fantastic mushroom and zucchini tacos at Lola’s on 4th street in Long Beach, or a hand-made veggie burger at the Alcove in Los Angeles. I think it’s time for a proper good-bye, although it does tear at my heart a bit:

Dear Meat –

I’m sorry it had to end this way.  We had a long relationship, but it’s time for me to say goodbye.  It’s not you – I just need to concentrate on myself for a while.  You are wonderful, and deserve to be with someone who will treat you with tenderness and warmth, and give you the flavor that you need.  I will miss you every day, and will always remember the good times – mushroom gravy over pot roast, lemon chicken with capers, sirloin burgers with red onion and tomatoes, and pasta with sweet Italian sausage. I love you, and I will never forget you.

Au revoir,


(P.S.  And if I ever have to eat my words, I will start with these: “Bacon-wrapped hot dogs, please.”)

Won’t you rock and roll with me? (Ten times)

A couple of weeks ago, I made a list of all of the concerts that I’ve been to in my life.  Doing that started me thinking about the collection of mental screenshots I have for each one (some I can share, others – some other day); here’s a few for you:

1.  Elton John did five encores at the Forum 1n 1975, and changed his outfit for each one – one of his most memorable costumes was a white sequined jumpsuit and a pink feather boa, with white sequin platform shoes. My first concert, and I was hopelessly hooked on rock and roll – my attraction started about three years before with the Beatles, and seeing Elton John resulted in a full-blown obsession.

2.  We waited in line for twelve hours to see Frank Zappa at the Long Beach Arena on New Year’s Eve, and even though we were among the first dozen or so to get in, we still ended up in the balcony.  Zappa seemed a little bored, or irritated, or both; at midnight, he said, “Happy New Year” in a monotone, while everyone else was going crazy. Oh, and our ride took off sometime in the afternoon, and never came back; we were lucky enough to find someone that we knew with a car who gave us a ride home at about 3 a.m.

3.  During the Blues Brothers concert at the Universal Ampitheatre, John Belushi was introducing the  band, and when people didn’t clap enough, he said “C’mon, lame-ohs,” resulting in uneasy laughter from the audience. Later, after he had overdosed, and I read more about what led up to his death, I realized that he was probably whacked out of his mind on drugs. (I don’t know for sure,  just speculation on my part….you make the call.) And Steve Martin, at the peak of his “Wild and Crazy Guy” white suit and banjo period? Have you ever laughed so hard that you couldn’t breathe?

4.  During the Peter Frampton concert at the Anaheim Stadium (what’s it called now? Angel Stadium?), fans were so crazy , that during his act, they jumped up and down so hard on the upper level that we could see it moving. I was really more interested in watching the upper level shimmy than in PF (no judgment; I think sitting so far away from the stage put me out of the mood for the talk box experience, although I will listen to Frampton today with no hard feelings). There were a couple of acts before Peter Frampton – Gentle Giant? Gary Wright? And Yes was the headliner; by the time they came on, I was ready to call it a night.

5.  A fight broke out between a concertgoer and a bouncer in between acts at the Doobie Brothers concert at the Long Beach Arena; the bouncer, who was twice the size of the fan, told him, “Oh, I’ll be seeing you after the show,” then sat down in his seat near the stage, and glared up at the guy all night. Don’t know what happened to the guy, but I’m guessing it couldn’t have been the ending to the night that he was hoping for.

6.  I am positive that I spotted Senator John Tunney during the intermission at the Wall show; my friend thought that I had lost it, which considering we were seeing Pink Floyd, wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.  The set also caught on fire during the show, and the band had to have a do-over on one song (can’t recall which one).  “The Wall” was one of the most overwhelming shows I think I’ve ever seen – I had no idea that it would be so significant at the time, just that it was Pink Floyd, and that I was going to see something amazing…thirty-one years later, amazing doesn’t begin to cover it.

7.   X was an outdoor show on the field at Cal State Long Beach, right about where the parking office and the parking structure are today.  It was a free-seating show, and a bunch of us were standing around and dancing, when I was knocked to the ground – some girl who was on some guy’s shoulders fell off and fell on my head.  No harm, no foul, and the band played on…

8.  When Bob Dylan sang his first song of the night, I realized that not only did I not recognize the song, but that I couldn’t understand any of the words that were coming out of his mouth.  Then I thought, “Is he purposely doing this so that the people who really like him will stay, and the ones who don’t get it will leave?” Doesn’t that sound like something Dylan might do?

9.  I won free tickets to see the Rolling Stones at the Staples Center in 2003.  The Stones played for two and a half hours, and were fantastic.  This band, at the average age of 60, had the ability to reach out and grab my heart and soul and make me dance in my seat at the other end of the arena. The Stones are the masters – and that’s a fact.

10.  Social Distortion opened for Neil Young – I had seen them once before, in front of the Student Union at Cal State Long Beach when I was a student (1989? It was a free concert, and I had instant love for the band), and had no idea that they were going to be playing on this night.  When they were announced, I went berserk – the best part was these guys sitting behind us who were only there to see Neil Young, and who kept yelling rude things, “Get off the stage! You suck!” This only served to make me yell louder to drown them out, “Whoooooo!!!!” “All right!” “Yeah, baby!”

Yeah, baby, yeah!

Did you go? A musical history by-the-numbers

Friday night – and  just because I feel like it, here’s a list of concerts I’ve seen in my life, as best as I can recall- check them out and see if we were together in different rows at any of these shows (due to a faulty memory, I don’t have all of the dates, but I tried to list them in chronological order):

1. Elton John and Kiki Dee – 1974 – Forum, Los Angeles

2. Frank Zappa, Flash Cadillac – 1974 (New Year’s Eve) – Long Beach Arena

3. The Doobie Brothers – Long Beach Arena

4.  Yes – LB Arena

5. Jefferson Starship – LB Arena

6. Emerson, Lake and Palmer – LB Arena

7. Yes, Peter Frampton and Gary Wright – Anaheim Stadium

8. Pink Floyd (Animals tour)- Anaheim Stadium

9. Kansas, Blue Oyster Cult and Ted Nugent – LB Arena

10.  Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Los Angeles Convention Center?

11.  Yes (with a rotating stage) – Forum?

12.  Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps tour

13.  Steve Martin and the Blues Brothers at Universal Ampitheatre – 1978

14.  The Kinks – 1980 – at Universal Ampitheatre

15.  Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson – Roxy, 1980

16.  Pink Floyd – The Wall at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1980

17.  The Who – 1980 – two nights at the L.A. Convention Center

18.  David Bowie – Los Angeles Forum

19.  The Who, the Clash, and T-Bone Burnett – Los Angeles Coliseum, 1982

20.  David Bowie – Anaheim Stadium, Let’s Dance tour

21.  US Festival 1983 – David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, INXS, U2, Pretenders, Berlin, Missing Persons, Joe Walsh (so I’m told), etc.

22. X – California State University Long Beach

23.  Fishbone and the Dead Kennedys – Olympic Auditorium – 1985

24.  Sugar Cubes and Public Image – Irvine Meadows (now Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre)

25.  Tina Turner – Pacific Ampitheatre

26.  Jane’s Addiction – some outdoor venue in L.A., can’t remember, sorry

27.  Iggy Pop (with Slash on guitar), Alice in Chains, Mary’s Danish – Palladium, early ’90s

28.  Bob Dylan – 1992

29.  Tina Turner  and Cyndi Lauper – Greek Theatre

30.  Neil Young – Greek Theatre, acoustic set

31.  Neil Young with Crazy Horse and Social Distortion – L.A. Forum

32.  Rolling Stones – Staples Center – 2003

33.  Tom Petty and Jackson Browne – the Forum? (If Cyndi reads this, she’ll remember, because I don’t) 2002?

34.  Social Distortion – House of Blues

35.  The Blasters – Coach House

36.  The Who – Hollywood Bowl – October 2006

37.  The Who – Long Beach Arena – February 2007 (seats on the floor, Lemmy was walking around before the show, cool)

38.  Weezer and the Foo Fighters – Long Beach Arena

39. B-52’s – Orange County Fairgrounds

40.  Jack’s 4th Show – Foreigner, Eddie Money, B-52’s, and I can’t remember who else we saw at Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre …anyone?

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a few, but these are almost all of the concerts that I’ve seen, plus these, all at the Orange County Fairgrounds:

Three Dog Night – one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen


Guess Who and Bachman, Turner, Overdrive

The Gap Band

Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, and Herman Noone (of Herman’s Hermits) – all in one night? Way cool…

And I forgot about two more, let’s just say #41 and #42, although they were back up among #14 and #15:

41.  David Crosby and Graham Nash – Universal Ampitheatre

42.  Stephen Stills – Forum (it was supposed to be Stills and Neil Young, but NY didn’t show up, and Stephen Stills couldn’t hide his annoyance; good show, though)


Peruse, and let me know if you were there and what you remember. Rock on, babies!

Couch surfing with Tony and the boys

(So if I confess that I’m infatuated with the new look of my blog, would that be self-absorption? Narcissisism? Probably. But what is this blog thing, if it’s not either of those things?  I wouldn’t be a writer if I wasn’t self-absorbed. So there’s that.)

Saturday night, and I’m folding laundry; I think the earth just tilted. So while I’m on my sideways orbit, here’s a collection of thoughts from the week:

I missed my chance to try out for the Long Beach Roller Derby – I will talk a little more about that later, but I will tell you that I put on the stretchy pants, ignored the evil voices in my head, and drove down to the Dome in Long Beach.  Since I was alone, and I didn’t see any giant sign that said, “Julie, get out of your truck and run in here for your shot at the banked track!,” I didn’t get out.  However, I am planning to go to a game as a spectator, to see if I want to make another run at it (and take a friend for support).

Since I didn’t become a roller derby queen, I ended up driving home to watch the Oscars.  A lot has been written about the broadcast, and here’s a little more: I don’t necessarily think it was more boring than many of the other Oscar shows I’ve seen; even with Billy Crystal as the host, the show is just too long, period.  I also think whoever decides on the hosts took a risk that didn’t pay off – it’s a tricky gig, and stars that may appear to be perfect for the job (David Letterman) have often taken a tumble, unfortunately.  I thought James Franco botched it – Anne Hathaway tried to make up for it, and didn’t come off well; I felt bad for her, trying so hard to keep the fizz in a cocktail that her co-host had already let go flat.

This is what I liked about Oscars 2011: Sandra Bullock and Jeff Bridges directly addressing the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress, Colin Firth’s acceptance speech, the set design, Cate Blanchett‘s dress, and the win for “The King’s Speech.”

Here’s Cate Blanchett’s dress, along with two others from previous years (I would wear the gunmetal gown to the market, it is just that delicious):

What I love almost more than the awards themselves is that the movie channels like AMC, TCM, and FMC line up classic movies for the month of February; happily, this year, the classics have continued on into March.  “Scarface” is on tonight –  I have a long relationship with Al Pacino that stretches back to “Panic In Needle Park.” After seeing that movie, I had to see everything else Pacino ever made – I think the first time I ever saw “Scarface” was with my friend Kathleen and another friend in the bonus room of their house (Remember, Kathleen?).  We laughed at the line “Say hello to my little friend,”  and when Tony Montana shoves his face into the mountain of cocaine on his desk. I feel the need here to indulge in a tiny tribute to my favorite actor (self-indulgence in a blog? Can’t be!):

Time to end with the Lena Horne quote from this year’s Oscars:  “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”  Tony M. would have the quote on a mirror above his desk in his office (of course, on a mirror, what else?). Cheers, campers.

(Oh, and I just added Vodpod to my page – I have no idea if it’s interesting to anyone else but me.  With only seven videos so far – five Pacino movie clips and two from the movie “The Royal Tenenbaums,” I would say it appeals to a limited audience; more variety to come as I figure out what I’m doing…)

Rolling around

Saturday mornings are so very sweet. It’s quiet on my street, the little black dog who runs the house is asleep (oops, not now – he’s barking like the little warrior he is), and since it’s Oscar weekend, as well as Independent Spirit weekend, there are some great movies on right now. I have no predictions for either; I will say that I liked both”The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” very much, and think they’re both worthy of receiving all of the awards that they have so far. Other than that, dunno – the Academy is very fond of giving Oscars to those actors who play someone with a physical or mental challenge that they either  overcome or rise above, so considering the history of the Academy, I would go with Colin Firth for best actor, but who knows?


Normally, I will watch both the Indie and the Oscar shows from top to bottom – with the introduction of TiVo into my life, I may be recording one or both of them. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I won’t be in front of the set (oops, not a set, a flat screen).  I will be here, with my skates on, trying not to fall down.

Mid-life crisis? Stay with me – when I was a kid, I was lucky enough to see the Los Angeles Thunderbirds at the Olympic Auditorium every weekend with my friend Lorri, and her mother and grandmother.  I remember at one point during our roller derby excursions that Lorri’s family had second row season seats, so every Saturday night (and quite a few Sundays), we would be in the second row, cheering on Ralphie Valladares, Ronnie Rains (after he became a Thunderbird, we had to boo him when he was a New York Bomber, of course),  “Big John” Johnson, Sally Vega, and Shirley Hardman.

I was smitten with the idea of becoming a skater, and decided that once I was old enough, I would try out for the Thunderbirds.  I never did, and roller derby fell out of the public eye for some time. It came back in the ’80s, and I was happy to see it, until I watched it – roller derby in the ’80s seemed to be more about flashiness, and it just didn’t grab me. The latest incarnation of roller derby intrigues me; when Kim told me yesterday about the meet-and-greet, I was hesitant, and then I came home and decided I would go. It could be really funny, or really awkward, or as is usually the case with my life, both at the same time.  I have no expectations, except that I will be sore the next day. Stay tuned for a report; crossing this one off my list after 40 years…!

Weekend leftovers

It's Mashed Potato Time

Image via Wikipedia

On Friday night I had a chocolate sundae with sliced banana for dinner, and kugel for dessert. (This particular kugel was made with noodles, eggs, mayonnaise, onions, and garlic; it was my first try with this kugel recipe, and next time, I need to make it with schmaltz, instead of oil.) I would like to blame my friend Kim, who confessed on Facebook that she had eaten chili dogs with jelly; I think that thinking of the combination of sweet and salty was too much for me to resist, and I just went for it.  Can’t blame Kim – I have a history…what? You’d like to hear about it? Ok,then…

Growing up, I remember that my mother would eat cold mashed potato and baked bean sandwiches made with leftovers (and now you know a little more about why I’m a four-time Weight Watcher, and three-time Jenny Craig-er).  Also, regarding food, I can tell my own “I was so poor” story, although this story had to do less with how much money I made at the time, and more with how I used to give it away to this guy that somehow talked me into believing that he deserved it, when I was the one who was waiting tables to earn it. (Not his fault he was a supercilious hypocrite, mine for not being strong enough to realize that I deserved better – but that’s a story for a different campfire.)

It goes like this: I was so poor when I was in college, at one point in my life, I would have an apple fritter from Granny’s Donuts for breakfast, and nothing for lunch except coffee and whatever condiments I could scrounge from the food court. Relish, mustard, and sugar packets kept me going at school all day, until it was time to go to work.

Working at Polly’s Pies at the time was helpful, because if you had no money, you could have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the house when you were on the clock; sometimes I would score a free pie at the end of the night, and would end up eating pie (not just one piece, that was for amateurs; I’m talking about chowing down the entire pie) on my way home at 11:30. The Dysfunctional Relationship diet – worked like a charm.  I was nice and thin, and a nervous wreck until I finally lost 160 pounds by dumping my knight in tarnished armor.

I think men with food issues somehow were attracted to me – the issues ranged from not wanting to share: “Why don’t you get your own?” (actual quote) to not being able to eat a second item (mashed potatoes) until the first item (broccoli) was finished.  I know I have many issues in my life, but I would never be able to think of a long-term relationship with someone who couldn’t share their food with me, or couldn’t have any of the food on their plate touching any of the other food on their plate (not making it up, honest).


My big life lesson from this? Got me; want a bite of my banberry pie?

Berzerk times

Early Sunday morning – time for a free-for-all!

Cirque Berzerk was a phenomenal show – sexy, funny, strange:

I kept thinking to myself, “You have to stop saying ‘Wow!’ out loud,” and then something incredible would happen onstage, and I would say “Wow!”  During intermission, Laura and I checked out the vendors, and found a studio in Hollywood that teaches  fire dancing (lots of fire used in the show).  We are planning on trying it – more to follow; could be a new hobby of mine if I don’t set my hair on fire.


Jack Lalanne passed away this week. Take a look at  jacklalanne.com – the man was an innovator in fitness and nutrition, and kind of a daredevil; you can watch his programs here, as well as read about his accomplishments. I was going to say that most people that were his age wouldn’t think of towing boats while swimming handcuffed through the San Francisco Bay and the Long Beach Harbor, but really, most people of any age would pass on doing it.  I think that watching his show when I was a kid made me understand the importance of fitness and nutrition (even though it took me a while to really get it, and it’s still a day-to-day process) – and how could you not love the jumpsuit, ballet slippers, and his dog Happy?


One of my two busiest work weeks of the year is over – the first week of the spring semester at CSULB.  Now is the time to rest (and get back into my regular exercise) and relax (and get things done at home that I’ve been putting off). (!?!!?) Here is how I’m going to pull this off – when I get back into regular work-outs, I’m able to rest easier, and when I’m taking care of things at home, I feel more organized, and my brain can relax. Let’s call it….inner feng shui.

Starting with fire, ending with water — in and out of my element, as usual.