Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quirky Saturdays

Saturday mornings are good for a trip to the fleamarket. I don’t go very often but I do have a favorite booth. An elderly couple sell used comic books for 25¢ a piece. They’re nice people. The Old Lady gives you a discount if you buy more than 8 comics and makes a little conversation while she bags them. She always looks like she’s trying to avoid making eye contact with the vulgar comic covers, and particularly awful ones she flips upside down. Their booth has row upon row of boxes to sort through and I am a sucker for any sale that includes endless searching for hidden treasures. It’s like being a kid again and being given $2 to ransack the candy aisle. I usually wander the endless aisles of junk stalls, fresh fruit stands and homemade crafts before settling in to a morning of flipping through comics and watching an interesting assortment of people pass by. These are good mornings.

On a recent morning of comic sifting I overheard a conversation between the old couple and a fellow who often wanders over to chat from a nearby booth. First, because they both sell DVD’s, they discussed the movie Match Point and Old Guy #1 (comic booth old guy) lamented not having bought it from his supplier because he had never heard of it but now people have been asking for it. Old Guy #2 crowed that he knew all about it and had sold three copies already. They compared notes. They agreed that there definitely hadn’t been a cartoon movie out about cars and some customers just make things up. It went on like this for a bit.

This led to a conversation about business not being so good lately. Saturdays are okay but Sundays it's a ghost town. Things get especially quiet after 3 so maybe they should start closing early. The Old Lady joined in and they began to discuss how things aren’t as good as they used to be in general. People aren’t the same. Business isn’t the same. All aspects of life are different. They concluded with this exchange:

Old Lady: “I still remember when you went out to the yard to get a chicken for dinner.”

Old Man #1: “Ain’t the same now. Chicken ain’t the same.”

Old Man #2 (shaking his head): “S'true. Can’t get a good yard bird no more.”

That is why I like early mornings at the fleamarket.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Billie Jean King

Click the photo for article

”Be bold. If you're going to make an error, make a doozey, and don't be afraid to hit the ball.”

- Billie Jean King

Wikipedia on Billie Jean King: “During her career, she won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 14 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She is generally considered to be one of the greatest female tennis players and female athletes in history. King has been an outspoken advocate against sexism in sports and society. The tennis match for which the public best remembers her is the "Battle of the Sexes" in 1973, in which she defeated Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon men's champion who had been the World No. 1 tennis player for the years 1946 and 1947.”

She helped found and was the first president of the women’s tennis players union, the Women’s Tennis Association. She also founded a sports magazine for women, started the Women’s Sports Foundation and, with her husband, founded World Team Tennis. King was the first woman athlete to earn $100,000 a year, she was also the first woman to coach a professional team. And, yes, in 1973 she won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 against self-proclaimed “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs on worldwide television in front of an estimated 50 million viewers, inspiring women everywhere and sparking a huge surge in the popularity of tennis. In 1990 Life magazine named her one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century." She was one of only four athletes on the list.

Martina Navratilova has said of King, "She was a crusader fighting a battle for all of us. She was carrying the flag; it was all right to be a jock."

More information can be found at the World Team Tennis website and Wimbledon’s Official Website.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Where is My Instruction Manual?

I was thinking about how - and why - I find food and healthy living to be such a complicated ordeal. Then, staring into my lowfat, artifically-sweetened yogurt, it hit me that I have been given a ridiculous number of rules in the past 30 years about how I am “supposed” to eat, exercize and generally be a healthy person.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I have read, overheard or been instructed to do:

1. Dedicate yourself to diet and exercize because this will make anyone healthy and thin.

2. Exercize 3 times a week.

3. Exercize 5 days a week.

4. I must do weight training or else I may as well not bother.

5. It doesn’t matter what I do as long as I am more active.

6. Fat is the enemy.

7. Carbohydrates are the enemy.

8. Simple carbohydrates are the enemy, but you actually must eat complex carbohydrates or you will muck up your body, cease to digest properly due to complete lack of fiber and probably smell funny because you eat too much meat.

9. Some fats are actually good and you need Omega 3 fatty acids and should eat fish, particularly the occasional fatty fish ...and nuts.

10. Olive oil is good for you.

11. Ok, not a lot of olive oil. But if you HAVE to eat oil, make it olive oil.

12. Yogurt is good for your digestive system... But Dairy is bad (and creates mucus) which may or may not cancel out the positive benefits of yogurt.

13. Red meat is bad for you.

14. Lean red meat is good for you.

15. Meat in general is a bad idea.

16. Eat lots of leafy greens (mother called it "roughage").

17. Not spinach. Spinach is dangerous right now. But next week it will be lovely and there will be all sorts of safeguards and something ELSE will be dangerous.

18. Eat fresh fruit.

19. Scrub your fruit because it is covered in pesticides and will damage you in some yet-unforeseen way. But it will be bad.

20. Eat only organic foods because it’s the only safe option. And nothing packaged or processed.

21. No white sugar. In fact, stop eating sweets.

22. Eat sweets now and then because if you don’t you will suddenly HAVE to have sugar and will eat the entire contents of a Little Debbie snack cake display.

22. Drink Diet Cola instead of regular to stop all that sugar intake.

23. Diet Cola is bad because of the imitation sweetener which causes cancer and will also probably make your nose drop off (Ok, I made up the nose part).

24. Diet Cola is bad because it fools your body into thinking it is getting sugar and therefore makes you binge because it is craving that rush of sugar-energy (this really was in an article I read recently).

25. Regular Cola is better because you can regulate how much sugar you are taking in and it’s more natural.

26. Colas aren’t ok AT ALL because of the CARBONATION, which is secretly the REAL problem so nevermind, forget the previous revelations and just don’t drink it at all.

27. 100% real fruit juice is a healthy option.

28. Fruit juice is full of calories, drink water.

29. Drink 8 glasses of water a day... “8 glasses” means “8 glasses consisting of 8 ounces of water each”, NOT 8 of those 20 oz. sports bottles that I tried to drink every day when I first heard this revelation.

30. Moderation in all things, everyone’s body is different. Even with diet and exercize some people are a size 2 and some are a size 16.

That’s not all of them (as you know) but I figured 30 was a good place to stop. So... Is it any wonder that we have a complicated relationship with our bodies? Maybe that’s why I find books in which people learn to live off the land and grow their own food so appealing (for example, Jean Hegland’s “Into the Forest”) - the idea of food and physical exertion being simplified to doing what needs to be done in order to survive is the only way I can imagine this process being simplified.

After a long day of tilling soil and planting seeds so that I have food to eat, I think I’d happily tell anyone who instructed me that I wasn’t getting “the right kind” of exercize to take long walk off a short pier. Until then, I still find myself on a walk thinking, “Am I doing this right? Should I be tensing my muscles as I walk? Maybe I should walk faster? What about my shoes....”


Friday, September 22, 2006

The Art of Fumi Nakamura

© 2006 Fumi Nakamura

The work of Fumi Nakamura can be viewed at Her drawings vary from frenetic and overflowing with macabe details to muted line drawings with restrained use of color. The men and women in her work have distinct, interesting faces usually with ruddy rosy noses and cheeks. Often paired with animals, there is a rawness to them that appeals to me. She shows all over the States, as indicated on her exhibitions page.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Phyllis Diller

"Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?”

- Phyllis Diller

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Rhinos and Chickens and Sheep, Oh my!

I was never a videogame person. I was always the classic “I only play Tetris.” person. EVERYONE loves Tetris. Scientists are right now working to prove that eighty percent of “non-videogame” people do in fact like Tetris. In addition, findings indicate that most of these people describe themselves as being “pretty good” at Tetris in spite of the fact that it is statistically unlikely that they are all actually accomplished Tetris players.

Other than that, I had no use for videogames. I didn’t see the appeal in a game where the main goal was to shoot everyone else, I found the fighting games ridiculous and monotonous and pac-man has just never done it for me. I had a brief interest in Super Mario Brothers when my kid brother was like 10 years old and would stand behind me and tell me where the hidden bonus stuff was, but then I’d get to a “big boss” challenge and hand him the controller.

So when someone gave my significant other and I a game system as a present, I immediately went in search of a copy of Tetris. Unfortunately, this system doesn’t have Tetris readily available on the shelves and there’s some new different version of Tetris you can only get online and blah blah blah... the bottom line being, here I was faced with letting HIM have this gift ALL TO HIMSELF.

That was NOT an acceptable solution. I went out to my local electronics supermegastore determined to find something I could play. I found “Tak and the Power of Juju”. Now, I know tech-savvy women everywhere will cringe, but the truth is - I bought it because the pictures on the back were pretty. There. I said it. I am at this very moment covering my head in shame, but it was the pretty pictures and the fact that it had no guns. It’s probably aimed at 10 year olds (as Nickelodeon has put out the subsequent two titles) but I don’t care. It’s fun and it’s excellent stress-relief... Unlike the games with big monsters to fight which I actually find quite stressful and inevitably end up hollering at my significant other that I am through with the game because something awful is trying to kill me. I don’t need MORE stress in my life. There are sufficient monsters in the real world, thankyouverymuch.

The backgrounds in Tak are detailed and lush and gorgeous. The main character is a little indigenous person (Tak) who fights by whacking things on the head with his club or waving his wand and casting a spell. He’s mastering the art of magic “juju” and he has to use the behavior of animals in his world in order to accomplish tasks. The “monsters” are short little critters that are easy to vanquish and relatively non-threatening (especially compared to the gargantuan horrors in some games). Tak travels back and forth between a variety of nifty worlds. He can pick sheep up and carry them around. He can ride a rhinoceros. He can lure gorillas around with fruit. He can kick chickens (I know. I’m 6.). He can put on a suit and actually become a huge chicken. It’s absolutely BRILLIANT.

Monday, September 18, 2006


click photo for link

”It is the friends you can call at 4 am that matter.”

- Marlene Dietrich

This well-known and oft-repeated quote has long been a personal favorite. Because my friends can (and some do) call me at 4am. And instead of making me grumpy, it makes me feel loved and trusted. It’s my litmus test for who I feel closest to - I am closest to the people I would not hesitate to call at 4am if I needed them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dar Williams

In my efforts to seek out more female songwriters, I have noticed a lot of angry women out there. I’m not saying they are wrong to be angry. I’m just saying it’s territory that’s been covered a good bit. There are also a lot of women whose music careers seem to be a running commentary on their love life. Then again, that’s what a lot of music deals with - Elvis Costello put it this way: “There are five things to write songs about: I'm leaving you. You're leaving me. I want you. You don't want me. I believe in something. Five subjects, and 12 notes. For all that, we musicians do pretty well.”

Dar Williams is remarkable in three ways. Her songs are beautiful and uniformly well-written, whether they are upbeat and lively or soulful and slow. She incorporates irony and humor in a lot of her work but often tackles serious subjects. And most importantly, she explores the point of view of women and issues that effect women without in any way being limited to talking about anger or romance.

She does sing about love. But the love in it’s myriad forms. The love of a child, love for family, love for a friend (which is explored in more than one song and in ways that I feel have long been neglected) as well as interesting thought provoking songs about romantic love. She has a love song of sorts in which she sings, “I won’t be your Yoko Ono.” and a surprising, beautiful, haunting love song in which Mary Magdalene laments letting go of Jesus.

She has a song from the perspective of a child who adores her babysitter and a great song about Southern California longing for the character and quirkiness of upstate New York. She sings about places loved, people remembered, cultural icons and obstacles overcome.

Many of the topics are so rarely explored and her perspective is so wholly and unwaveringly female. She even has a song called “When I was a boy” about the limitations society presses upon a woman as she grows up and the things she is forced to leave behind, as well as showing insight into similar sacrifices made by boys. Click here and here and here and here to listen to some of her music and you can find her website at Every woman should listen to Dar.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fast Little Women

This weekend I chaperoned a birthday party for a 16 year old. Yes, I probably SHOULD have my temperature taken or something like that. But I am pleased to report that I survived relatively intact, suffering only from a slight lack of sleep after staying up till all hours and a mild stomach ache from eating the traditional teenage birthday party feast which consists of pizza, Coke, Doritos, and chocolate chip cookies. And the kids were great, especially considering that I don’t typically like teenagers (except the one I am related to, who is wonderful - it was her birthday). At 16 I thought I was an adult and the people around me were just taking a while to realize it. In light of that, it was disorienting to spend time with 16-year-olds who look a bit like coltish overgrown children from my current perspective.

I had nearly forgotten just how confused 16 year old girls can get about their self-worth and how it relates to their sexuality. I mean, sex can be confusing even if you AREN’T 16. It is certainly a complicated issue if you ARE 16. But for some teenagers it goes even a step further.

At 16 I tried to impress a 19 year old boy by behaving in a more sexual manner than was natural or appropriate for me. I was fortunate. Wise beyond his years, he sat me down and said, “This isn’t you. You aren’t like this and you don’t want people to think you are like this. Stop it. Act like yourself.” I was horrified and avoided him for weeks but I got the message and appreciated his advice once I recovered from my acute embarassment.

While I learned the lesson early, I knew a lot of girls in high school who went further than just flirting to ensure that boys liked them. A lot of teenage girls, lacking a sense of self-worth, feel that sex is the only way they can secure a boy’s affections. (Sadly, now that I think about it, I also know adult women who never mature past that approach to getting a man's attention...)

We definitely had one of those girls as a guest at this party. She has a new boyfriend - they had been “dating” for three whole days prior to the party. She clung to the him, nuzzled him, tried to have him stay in the bathroom while she changed clothes (he came running out immediately - looking very embarrassed - I was not, thankfully, forced to go in and get him) and generally acted in an overtly sexual manner. He’s a nice kid. He clearly likes her, but seemed uncomfortable with her aggressive advances. She is very pretty, pleasant to talk to, energetic and seems well-liked. She does not need to go so fast in order to get and keep a boyfriend. All it will get her is a bad reputation (and possibly a pregnancy or an STD).

I don’t know if this happens as often in other cultures (I would be curious to know) and I don’t know exactly what teaches girls this behavior. Somewhere they learn that sex can give them power, make someone want them, effect how people behave toward them. Girls (and women) who are desperate for approval, for affection or who have feelings of powerlessness sometimes start to exploit their sexuality to fill those gaps. It can also be a sign of something more serious - like a history of sexual abuse. And I am not saying that teenage hormones don’t come into play in this equation, but there’s big difference between a teen who’s hormonal and discovering sex and a teen who is consistently inappropriately sexual.

In spite of my vigilance, she managed to give the boy an enormous hickey while they were watching a movie. Now the two are in trouble with their parents. A hickey, while distasteful (even as a teenager, I thought it was tacky to have someone mark your neck - they may as well pee on your shoes to mark their territory), is temporary and relatively harmless. And I have no illusions that a parent’s opinion will slow this girl down. Maybe, however, the two will get in enough trouble that her boyfriend will be upset with her and THAT may slow her down a bit. One can hope.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sunny Little Lesions of Death

Is this you?

One of my favorite bloggers, dooce, has been addressing the issue of skin cancer recently. She had a nasty one on her arm that has been removed (twice) now AND has shared both the emotional upheaval this involves (you try dealing with the news that cancerous cells that could spread thoughout your entire body are residing on your arm!) as well as the super gross photos. It’s very don’t-let-this-happen-to-you stuff.

It's bizarre to me that a lot of people of my generation still don’t seem to take the threat seriously. Especially if they tan “well” - I think they figure that’s a get-out-of-jail-free card. Considering that the atmosphere is just getting progressively more screwed up and that sun exposure will probably become more and more serious as this progresses, EVERYONE should worry. Members of my family worry more than most - we are fair skinned and cancer prone. But I know someone with skin that browns to a "healthy" glowing tan - and she just had a large skin cancer removed. The ability to tan does NOT exempt you from risk.

If the threat of little lesions of death growing on your body doesn’t sway you, think about this: Women who wear sunblock and avoid harmful sun exposure LOOK YOUNGER. Putting sunscreen on every day ensures that you will have fewer wrinkles and be ten times more likely to have some guy make the “Oh! That’s your DAUGHTER? I thought she was your SISTER.” compliments to you later in life - without everyone around you bursting into peals of derisive laughter.

Have you seen the leatherface women? Come ON, we have ALL seen the leatherface women. The character Magda in “Something About Mary” was funny because we have all seen that woman at some point. Maybe you aren’t THAT exessive in your sun eposure, but do you really want to have even a teeny tiny bit of that effect going on?

So if you won’t wear sunscreen to avoid icky death spots, then do it for your vanity. Make the world a more beautiful place - preserve your skin. As Mary Schmich said - amdist a great deal of other noteworthy advice - in her famous column,

“ Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.”

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


click here to visit

”The trouble with some women is they get all excited about nothing...and then they marry him.”

- Cher

Love the hair. Love the attitude. Love that she’s had like 20 “final” tours but can’t actually seem to quit. Love that she was reinventing herself before anyone had even heard of Madonna (not that I don't appreciate Madonna). Love that she stills looks AMAZING even though she’s 60 and chock full o’ plastic - which makes most people look like they're wearing a death-mask but instead makes her eerily timeless. Cher is one helluva dame.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

I’ve been on vacation. Sorry for the neglect this blog has received for the past week, but I was busy packing, selecting reading material, arranging for bunny-sitters and being revived by smelling salts after the horror of looking for a new swimsuit. I was gone for four days; read three books, rode a bicycle for the first time in years (and finally understood the whole “It’s just like riding a bike...” saying), walked on the beach, partook in the universal ritual of collecting many shells I will never have any use for, ate some great seafood, had dessert every night (which is certain to help with the whole bathing suit situation) and generally had a good time and didn’t do too much of anything.

As of tomorrow, we will return to your regularly scheduled bloggy goodness.