One-day Olympics clearance sale – everything must go!

Pick up one of these little goodies for yourself, but hurry, they’re going fast!

I loved the Olympic opening ceremonies.  I thought they were dark and strange  – and really cool:

The nurses and the poppies reminded me of the movie “Tommy,” and some of it reminded me of a Pink Floyd show, before the fans started crawling around on the floor and up the stairs during the concert (a story for another time).  And a segment on health care in an Olympics ceremony? Danny Boyle must be daft! God save the Queen! And speaking of the Sex Pistols, I noticed that during the music medley, NBC chose to cut away when “Pretty Vacant” started playing (excerpt below is from the  website

Punk goes pop

The Sex Pistols have long passed away from being subversive and instead become quintessentially British. But perhaps not as far as NBCwas concerned. Their song Pretty Vacant only made snatches of the broadcast either side of a break and was largely cut.

NBC did have to cut away for commercials; I just find their timing to be very interesting. I wonder if John Lydon had to give permission for the song to be used, or if he even owns the song any more, or if he even cares about it at all:

John Lydon – the man always has an opinion, even if it’s that he doesn’t give a rip.  Good thing he’s calmed down and become more dignified:


I decided to stop worrying 24/7 a couple of days ago, and it’s going pretty well. I am a gold-medal worrier; I will worry about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, stuff that is going to happen, and if you ask me, I will worry for stuff that is happening or is going to happen to you, for no charge!  A couple of days ago, I surprised myself with a couple of non-worrisome hours (not in a row; baby steps!), and I felt great in a way that I hadn’t felt for years; being able to admit that I worry ALL the time actually makes me cry; it’s exhausting, and I finally figured out that I don’t want to do it anymore.  One of the side effects of not worrying is that my concentration has returned, so I’m not all over the place, and I am able to focus on what I’m doing, without wondering if I should be doing something else. For me, practicing not worrying involves a little self-talk and relaxation, as well as my understanding what needs to be worried about, and what doesn’t; it’s going to take some conscious effort, but I’m already feeling better, and I’m encouraged that in a few weeks, I will feel even better.


This is kind of a neat little list, and I’m lucky in that I have all three:

Happiness is not a word that I throw around lightly – I like that this list makes happiness into something real and recognizable, for me, anyway.  Happiness doesn’t always wear a name tag, does it?  But this song might help you pick it out of the crowd of emotions in your day (sang it in sixth grade Glee Club, and never forgot it):

Have a happy holiday season, and do it now!

I’ve had to go out to a few stores this weekend to return some things, and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t window shop while I was doing it – what is the date? November 13th? You would never know it by what’s going on in the shops; seems to have been an agreement made among the retailers that waiting until after Thanksgiving to drag out the holiday gear is waaay tooo late, so the paraphenalia is now on display, and the madness has begun. And when I say “madness,” I mean parents yelling at their kids, wives and husbands arguing, and the jostling for parking spaces amped up to a ridiculous degree. (Seriously, unless a person has trouble walking, why would you bother waiting for a spot, when there are five spots two rows away?)

Not only have the retailers gotten off the blocks early, television programmers have shot out of the gate with holiday programming this weekend – the most prominent example has been the Hallmark Channel, which had a marathon of movies yesterday with the words, “Mistletoe,” “Christmas,” “Noel,” “Jolly,” and other festive phrases in the titles. I have been known to get warm and cuddly during this time of year, except that “this time of year” isn’t really here yet, is it? No, I don’t think so. With the avalanche of media and retail holiday images, the very phrases that we use will soon be obsolete – “holiday season,” “this time of year,” and even carols like “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” will lose meaning, since the most wonderful time of the year will be all-year round, according to Macy’s and Dish TV.

I will say that I am giving it a shot this year; I will put up my pink tree with mermaids and seashells, and have a Christmas party, and bake – this year, I’m going to talk Jamal into dim sum in L.A. on Christmas Day, in place of the traditional Chinese from Sam Woo’s.  (I said I was giving it a shot, didn’t say how – when all of the badness happened, I had to do something to make the holidays good again.  Since I never see snow, I made Christmas into a beach holiday – with chow mein in place of mashed potatoes.)

But when I think of what I’ve been hearing recently, of people who I know who have been harassed by strangers, of others being yelled at and called “an abomination” by people brandishing Bibles like they are weapons, it gets more difficult to understand what the holiday season means. I love what Margaret Cho said in her stand-up (paraphrasing, but the meaning stands):  “I  can’t wait for Jesus to come back and say, “That’s not what I meant!”

How about this – how about we stop yelling at each other?  Here’s a radical idea – let’s be nice, and take care of each other. Give someone else the parking space, open the door for someone, or if you get through the door first, stand there and hold it for them, doesn’t matter who they are – and hug your kids in public, instead of yelling at them for being kids.  Let’s tidy up our behavior, why don’t we?  I think that has to be one of the reasons for the season that should occur all year. Cheers-

Five completely unrelated thoughts

I love lists, so I’m making one tonight:

1.  “Moneyball” was a fine movie (saw it twice, and glad about it) – if you doubt that Brad Pitt and Robert Redford are somehow related (are they or aren’t they?), please go see it, and then watch “Legal Eagles,” an ’80s movie with Redford and Debra Winger (one of my favorites, and a great movie to compare with “Moneyball”). Better yet, some empirical evidence for you now until you complete this assignment:


Seriously, it’s even eerier watching Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” than seeing him here.  I think the whole father/son idea is too easy – Pitt channels Redford in a way that I believe is a result of a phenomenon that I call “non-familal DNA transferrence.” (Totally made up, but you knew that, didn’t you, you smarties?) See Redford’s hand on his shoulder?  That’s how it’s done; they’ve been transferring DNA since “A River Runs Through It,” and I think Brad Pitt has been concentrating on character roles in movies like “Fight Club” and “Snatch” so that the blatantly obvious would be less so – science should look into these two; if my theory is correct , it could be a breakthrough of epic proportions (or a massive waste of taxpayer money, but at least it would be interesting, wouldn’t it?  Think of the possibilities!)

2.  Steampunk – Just found out about it recently; it seems to be a wide-ranging aesthetic that includes Victoriana, science fiction, fantasy, and various other interests; goggles, torn apart watch parts, corsets, and zepplins seem to be focal points; this necklace sorta feels a little steampunk to me (and I did buy another one that is a torn-apart watch, and I do love it, but I’m not going to be dressing in corsets and wearing goggles anytime soon – well, maybe a corset, who knows?):

3.  “The Dick Van Dyke Show” is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, and is now on TVLand! 

I’m baffled as to why this show hasn’t just been on all the time, the way that “I Love Lucy” has been.  Great writing, physical comedy, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, and Carl Reiner as Alan Brady?  What has been the delay, people? The episode with the walnuts ranks right up there with “Vitametavegamin” for me. If you have never seen the show, get yourself over to TVLand now – zany ’60s home life with the Petries is black and white bliss.

4.  I’ve gone meatless again, yes, it’s true.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to stop eating meat, and pretty much just kept going.  It’s for a couple of reasons, the primary one being health – not eating meat is kinda forcing me to focus on eating more vegetables, fruits, and grains. I will eat eggs and cheese; just trying to stay away from meat, chicken, and pork (you will catch me writing love poems to bacon, but for now it will be unrequited love). Fortunately, I love tofu and veggie burgers, and Morningstar makes veggie bacon that is crispy (and I was already eating it before giving up meat), so it’s not an enormous sacrifice.

5.  The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana has a phenomenal collection right now: “Warriors – Tombs and Temples: China’s Enduring Legacy.”  It includes terra cotta warriors, miniature armies, and relics, and is an amazing display. Museums are my treat to myself – whenever I go, I feel like a kid discovering new worlds.  I have a group of friends that I normally try to go with, whenever we can coordinate schedules. I think the Getty will be next on the list, and soon – there is a modern art exhibit going on right now,  “Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture 1950-1970,” that looks like something I really would like to see:

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled life…)


Before this phenomenal August summer day gets away – some old and new business (and some cross-talk between my left and right brain; it’s OK, just go with it, I do):

The transformation of Club Petaluma has begun:

Vinyl siding – next comes paint and posts and shutters, oh my! And landscaping, fencing…it’s a huge undertaking, but I’m so glad to get it started.  It’s gratifying to see the idea that I’ve had in my mind (albeit an ever-changing idea) finally begin to be realized.

One of my favorite episodes of “Sex and the City” is on right now; it’s the one where they go to the Hamptons for a wedding, and the phrase “za za zew” is introduced (if you haven’t seen the episode, “za za zew” is, as I perceive it, the undeniable chemistry that two people have.  I think I like this one because it combines two things that I enjoy when watching TV, or movies: characters going on the road, and weddings.  And this great bit of dialogue: Samantha: “What do you call za za zew gone bad?” Miranda: “Za za ew.”

This summer started slowly, but has definitely picked up steam – I have such a large number of projects right now, between the house (inside and out), knitting, books (I’m in the middle of four, I’m embarrassed to say), and writing, not to mention working out, cooking, making sure my husband and my crazy dog remember who I am, maybe sleeping once in a while, and taking in the summer before it’s gone.

I’m off; here’s a little za za zew for you!

Father’s Day – within and without

I miss you, Dad.  Today is Father’s Day, and if you were here, we would probably be having a barbeque at the house; you would cook burgers, and Mom would make her “salad,” which consisted of peas, green peppers, chunks of cheese, and chopped cucumbers in Miracle Whip (I may have to make it today, just because).  You would be drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, or Milwaukee’s Best (because “beer is beer,” which I believe is one of your armchair quotes, along with “the slam dunk should be outlawed; it’s not basketball!”), and bugging me about eating too many potato chips, even though you never gained a bit of weight in your entire life, except for a little beer belly. Your line (and it used to bug Mom, too, since we were both career dieters) was “Hell, all you have to do is eat less!”  Fabulously uninformed advice, since you never had to go on one diet; still, I loved you for it, even if I just maybe didn’t know it at the time.

Later today, we would hang out in the back yard, or watch baseball on TV. If there wasn’t a game on, we would watch an old movie, and you and Mom would debate who was in the movie:  “Is that Danny Kaye?”  “Nooo, Red Skeleton.”  “Remember his show that used to be on Tuesday nights? It was so funny!” “Who’s the actress? Virginia Mayo?” “I think it is!”  (I remember when I was a kid, waking up on the weekends to the sounds of the radio coming from the kitchen, and you and Mom doing the same thing there: “Who is that? Perry Como?” “I think it’s Frank Sinatra in his younger days.” “Remember when we went dancing that night and they played this song?” )

I know now that part of the reason that I was able to get through the last ten years was because of you, Dad.  You taught me so many things – how to spell and read and ride a bike, how to play basketball, baseball, blackjack and poker; and one of the things that I know that you and Mom both taught me how to do, just by the way that you both lived, was to keep going. I’ve kept going, through all of the pain and the loss of everyone who would have been here at the barbeque today, and I just want to say thank you for everything.  You were so much better at the dad thing than you ever knew, and if I made wishes, I would wish for the chance to tell you in person. Since I’m not able to do that, this will have to do – I wouldn’t have wanted any other dad but you, Dad.

Saturday morning cranial cartoons

Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

Image via Wikipedia

I’m watching “The Jane Austen Book Club” on the Lifetime network – since this is Saturday, and I have absolutely nothing planned, outside of a pedicure and a trip to the pet store for some Advantix for my pup, I am halfway considering a Lifetime movie marathon. I tried that once before, and made it through two and a half hours before switching channels. The movies are all very nice, but without much teeth, which is the only way I can explain it, and after a few hours, I feel the need for more…grit? Guess so. One effect of watching this particular movie is that I now want to read Jane Austen; since I’m already in the middle of two books, she’ll have to take a number, unfortunately. (And since this movie about Jane Austen is based on the book “The Jane Austen Book Club,” there’s another one in the queue!) Since my ADD is not being cured anytime soon, let’s blow through some items of interest, why don’t we?

Tom? Is that you? “Rock Of Ages” sounds like a hoot – ’80s rock, with a singing (yep, you read that correctly) Tom Cruise, also with Russell Brand, and….wait for it…Alec Baldwin.  I love this in a way that I can’t put into words; if you don’t, too bad, so sad – there will be more popcorn and a quieter theatre for me.  And if you do have instant love for this, save the date and we’ll go –

My trip to Iowa is all set.  I will be staying at the Motel Wilton, which is an adorable-looking twelve-room motel run by Don and Lois Kiser.  I’m flying to Phoenix, then to Colorado, then to Moline, then driving from Moline to Wilton, which has a population of about 3,000.  Aside from my husband, I have no immediate family, and I’m feeling it more right now, which is why this trip feels important and necessary to me.  I’ve only been to Iowa once before, about forty years ago (Gah! Can that be right?), and I’m excited about spending the Fourth of July with my niece and great-niece, and meeting her husband and her baby, J.J. This is a photo of the motel at night (and the comparisons to “Psycho”and the movie “Identity” have already been made; kinda hope it’s not raining when I go):

Mid Night at Wilton Motel

Plans for exterior renovation of Club Petaluma (also known as our house) have begun, albeit slowly.  So far, I have collected names and numbers, and gotten two estimates, one for removing the gruesome brickwork on the front, and one for the painting. No work has actually begun, but it is sooooooo close to starting that I can almost smell the paint and taste the plaster (or whatever it is that they will use for the stacked stone that will replace the brick).  My vision should become real before the summer ends, and front row seats are available here for those of you who like that curb appeal thing – I’m anticipating the house finally looking more like it belongs in a nice neighborhood, and less like all it needs is a couch in the front yard, and a muscle car up on blocks in the driveway.

Finally, a little wave to the wireless gods, who decided to show mercy and bestow a decent connection upon Club Petaluma. Jane and Tom and I all thank you, and let’s keep it going, hallelujah!

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…!

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 – 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.

Taking stock and making deals at fifty (more or less)

Seven days into 2011, and I thought I would take stock of my intentions –

1. Working out (does kicking off my shoes count?):

2. Saving money (well, I did do that, but it looked like this):

3.  And instead of eating like a twelve-year old at a slumber party, I’m now eating like a twelve-year old who’s been caught by her mom (more guilt, less food) :

Seriously, I was able to squeeze in two workouts this week so far, and I’m shooting for four – if you’re keeping score, that’s two and a half good habits worked on out of three; not bad.


Turning 50 this month; it is weird to say it, but it’s almost here.  If I made wishes, what would I wish for? Time. There’s never enough time, to do what I want to do, to spend time with people, to do nothing (a very important thing to do).  There’s a Twilight Zone episode where a man makes a deal with the Devil to live forever, and winds up serving a life sentence in prison.  A very smart friend said to me once, “What if we had the chance to make different choices than the one we made, and those turn out to be worse?”  I think that works forward as well.  If given the chance to live forever, would you take it?  Tempting, I know; I think I would rather have the ability to travel through time – I would love to be able to witness great moments in history, or meet some of the people who made history.  I’m not interested in making any changes, just being an observer in the world.  There’s my birthday wish –  a time machine, and a gift card for Sephora, and I’ll be set…

I haven’t done a poll for a while, so here’s one to start off the new year –

Also, here’s a cool (I think) Twilight Zone website, with graphics that take you back to the original show, an episode finder, a store, and other TZ miscellanea; I’m guessing Rod Serling would be pleased.