Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fangs A Lot

Forget the old ninja/pirate debate. Aside from the obvious supremacy of the ninjas, the new cultural dichotomy is vampire/gladiator, and I have proof.

Yesterday I went with a buddy to a commercial audition. We walked in, and someone in the hallway took one look at him and said, “Vampire? The room on the end.” Yes, that’s why he was there. I was there to go to lunch afterward.

Then it turned out they were looking for both vampires AND gladiators. This provided me no end of amusement, as I wasn’t always able to tell which guys were trying for what. The palsied ancient man from Brooklyn was definitely going for the vampire. Oh, my dears, you should have seen his head shot. I think it was from his first 40th birthday. He had my vote for gladiator, for sheer chutzpah. I liked him.

The wiry manic guy from Las Vegas (he used to teach ballroom and salsa for Arthur Murray) with the bushy wig, fake teeth and cloak, okay, we had another vampire there. He was interesting. The long-haired Keanu wannabe had the best physique, but I’m sure he was on the vampire side. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it was the goth t-shirt.

What got me were the two sweet-faced blondes. Why were they there? One was channeling Dirk Benedict circa ‘A-Team’, and the other was just nondescript. Gladiators? Vampires? Anybody’s guess.

Welcome to Hollywood, folks. Don’t hold your breath waiting to see it when it’s done, this commercial will only air in France.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fashion Statement

Did I ever tell you about the little old man who was wearing shorts that looked exactly like boxer underwear? In the gym, this was about a month ago. I thought it was a style until he squatted down and they gaped open. Nope, it was underwear.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Modern Fairy Tale, Briefly

In the “99 Cent Store”, next to the cashier, the impulse-buy panorama includes the following: Valentine candy, breath mints, condoms, a Pepto-Bismol generic, and a pregnancy test.

Happily ever after, anybody?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mardi Gras Boobs

Ha, made you look!

No, I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but here’s a story anyhow: I know a perfectly--- actually, an extraordinarily--- respectable woman who, when she attended Mardi Gras for the first time in her middle years, ended up bare-breasted after a few days. Now, this is someone who would never ever do such a thing in real life. It was the erosion of what she thought of as “normal” amidst the unfamiliar and insistently pervasive atmosphere, the jazz, the booze, or any number of things some grad student somewhere is working on an experiment for.

Is there a tipping point beyond which the unimaginable becomes obvious?

There is a spectrum, from hopes to expectations, or maybe vice versa. (We’re not talking about nipples anymore, folks. Sorry.) People hope they’ll keep their New Year’s resolutions, but if they expected to, they’d’ve made the change long ago. Or so I cynically think.

We are loath to cross the line that defines our expectations--- but we do cross it, all the time. Do you enjoy food now you never thought you would eat? (Sushi, Jim? Paul?) I’m reading my first William Gibson novel, not ‘Neuromancer’, but still, I never thought I’d enter the oeuvre voluntarily. We constantly redefine what we think of as “normal”. We do it so often, in fact, we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

I just hope the rest of you keep your shirts on in public, as beautiful as you all are.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Do The Hokey Pokey

“We surround ourselves with technology, we suckle at the constant pixel flux available to anyone reading this.”

That was a line I just wrote, in a diatribe which I deleted shortly thereafter. Do we, does society, really need yet another rant? Now that I think about it, I can answer that rhetorical question.

Of course we need a rant. We need to rant. We don’t need to kvetch, whine or bitch about a reality that is as immutable as it is fluid. What we need to do is articulate, take those pixilated images and factoids off the monitor and sculpt them into sentences with meaning and impact and throw them into the ether, to become images and factoids for other people to sculpt or ignore as they choose. We need to think, and we need to act. Me, I blog.

It’s all connected. A nod or a smile to someone you see regularly but don’t know reaches past the infinity that separates us all. Emails exist forever, just because you deleted yours doesn’t mean it isn’t stored—or forwarded—on the other end. The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone. Look up from your screen right now, what are you connected to?

Zen teaches us that everything is meaningless. Turn that around, and everything is equally meaningful. So what if there’s a net value of zero, ideas matter. Actions matter. We matter, whether we want to or not. This blog doesn’t matter, but nothing is perfect.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sushi + Ice Cream

Yes, way. For a time, there was a sushi and ice cream shop in San Diego. It started out as a good, family run, little ice cream shoppe. For some reason, they decided to add sushi to the menu. Surprise! The ice cream started to taste like fish, and they went out of business.

Robert and I were talking about it while we were walking Jonah. I thought I would tell you all the story, such as it is.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thought For The Day

Today’s thought is: Suck it up. (Actually, it was yesterday’s, but never mind. It still works.)

While this is universally good advice, it comes to mind because of something one of my favorite muscle-bound lummoxes at the gym said to me as I was handling some puny – I mean dainty—weights, like 30s or 35s.

“Huh. I remember when you used to walk around with 45s like they were nothing.”

Well, that’s an exaggeration. I may have swaggered a bit, but I never thought 45s were nothing. They’re more than I lift now, and I just have to suck that up, even though we’re only talking about last year. The inexorable passage of time, the vagaries of the Human Condition, the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la. No, strike that last one. Flowers are good. I’m not so sure about the inexorable passage of time.

Annoying, but what can you do? Complaining is fun and frolicsome, but it won’t rescue newspapers, or bring back your favorite food at Trader Joe’s. Entropy is as much a fact of life as progress. But for every step forward (twitter, twitter!) we lose something. There is hope. We got over “Calvin and Hobbes”, after all, and that was a bitter loss.

However, if you’ve got some 45 pound dumbbells lying around, and if you just want them moved from one side of the room to the other, I’m game.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Technology, for all its excitement and convenience, can bite me in the ass in ways so unexpected that it’s like being ambushed by (rather than hoisted on) my very own petard.

I twittered, “What shall I blog about next?” and was bitten in the ass by the following reply:

cool! :D how about the wonder that is costco. Since I'm there now

“So what?” you ask, and most reasonably at that. So I hate-loathe-despise Costco. I dislike the crowds, the smell, the electronic buzz that permeates my brain whenever I can’t avoid going in there. I have no use for ten pounds of sliced meat or dormitory-sized boxes of paper clips.

And, worse, I am absolutely convinced that Costco is a metaphor, and I don’t want to think about why. Excellent customer service provides enormous quantities of random things--- except for some way of comfortably carrying it all out to the car. (Those cut up boxes are useless, don’t get me started.) People buy more than they can use of things they probably don’t need thinking that they’re saving money, which they may not be, depending on what they got. Yep, it’s definitely a metaphor.

Sigh. Of course I could avoid the subject, as you are thinking right now, but that would betray my standing as a member of the Twitterati. And I love Twitter every bit as much as I dislike Costco. Hopefully, the next time I tweet for a topic--- and you just know there will be a next time--- I’ll get something more to my taste and yours.

Although with my luck, it’ll be something like the political implications of ear wax.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good Friends Help You Hide The Bodies

Friends are good, obviously. People are pack animals at heart. Aristotle pointed that out and has been misquoted throughout history for doing so.

Most of us want to share good things, whether it’s an event or a joke. We share bad things, and generally feel better for having done so—either because sympathy helps or because we brought someone else down to our level of misery, depending on both the individual and the situation. (Don’t worry, all you darlings fall into the first category.)

Sometimes we go so long without seeing a particular friend that we forget how much we enjoy their company. Not literally, otherwise we wouldn’t still think of them as a friend. But as time passes, we do forget. We send cards on the holidays, but that’s a warm thought, a memory, not a conversation.

This week I joined both Facebook and Twitter. Twitter suits me, because I adore triviality and have opinions on everything. But I was startled by the social tsunami that is Facebook. Daunting at first, just to realize that all those people even remembered me enough to click a button, then flattering, now… I may even start clicking that button myself, though I haven’t yet. So far I still see the word “friend” as a noun, not a verb.

Today one of the friends I’ve known the longest (avoiding the incorrect “oldest friend”) drove over 100 miles just to visit us. It was a lovely day, pleasant, heartening and rejuvenating. Thank you, Cliff! But one of the first things I did was urge him to sign up on Facebook. Irony or karma?

I write a lot about how technology has changed human interaction, or how it hasn’t. It’ll be interesting to see how this whole networking thing plays out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Poetic License

Did you ever read or see the Dorothy Sayers story, “Have His Carcase”?
Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey fling poetry at each other. They don’t just throw the quotes; they recognize, finish and top them.

The first time I read it, I found this behaviour unbelievable to the point of absurdity. Obviously there must have been people who memorized some works of Donne, Tennyson, et al., but not to this extreme. Then I read further among the writings of that era, not just the mysteries, and this happened all the time--- in books.

Pish tosh. Bullshit. However you want to phrase it, it’s ridiculous to think people could do that in real life.

At about the same time, I knew all the lyrics to all the music I liked. Not just the hits, also the rest of the albums and any differences between the live and the studio versions. Hell, I had inadvertently memorized songs I hated, just from exposure. Nor did I feel intellectually smug for doing so, because everyone did. Not so different from flinging poetry, when you think about it. (Young people, you should wiki “records”)

So when I marvel at how different the modern world is, with all our speed and immediacy, maybe it’s not as strange as I thought. Maybe I’m just not caught up yet. Maybe I should start reading John Donne. Or maybe I’m just lucky if I can recognize new works by bands I like. “Go Away White” comes to mind, but never mind.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Defeat is mine. Technology won. I’m on Twitter now. If you’re also a Twit, I’m scarycookies there too. Would you believe someone had already taken it for an AOL screen name? You’ll all have to keep using my regular email for responses.

Because it just wasn’t enough trying to amuse you all in paragraph (and occasional haiku) form, now I’m doing it 128 words at a time. (So far no haiku.)

Now I have to come up with some other snarky shorthand to represent the cool kid cutting edge technophile archetype. If I’m on Twitter, your beloved grandma might very well be.


Today is Sunday. I’m walking down the corridor toward my mother’s apartment. This is in the Burbank Senior Artists’ Colony, a surprisingly interesting place for an old folks’ home.

A woman with a walker painstakingly approaches. Seeing me, she ducks into a doorway to let me by. I smile and say, “No, after you, please!”

As she passes, she says to me, “Oh well, you live here. I’m just visiting this floor.”

I feel so old.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peter Pan

Gather around, folks, today we are going to complain about adults who infantilize themselves. At least, I am. Your options are: agree, or be an innocent bystander. Or be offended, I suppose, but the only people I know who behave that way don’t read this blog, so I should be safe.

My very favorite writer in the whole world, E.F. Benson (sorry Mr. Brust, you’re a close second), coined the phrase “grizzly kittens”. The best example, a quote I found years later verbatim in an otherwise nondescript fantasy novel, is “they skipped and gamboled to show how girlish an age is 34 and 35.”

I don’t “play”. I may amuse myself, in fact I often do. My name is Carole and I play games too much. Notice the specificity, I play games. Like a steering wheel on a pirate’s belt, it drives me nuts when an otherwise intelligent and functional adult says, “Let’s go out and play!” They always speak in exclamation points, have you noticed that?

When someone over 40 (or 50, or 60) wants to appear youthful, it’s generally embarrassing—mostly because they’re doing what they think people did when they were young. They’re usually wrong, which is rather sad.

Stipulation: With all respect to Generation X, there are huge swaths of the over-40 demographic who spend their time playing computer games, staying current with modern music and eschewing attire that previously typified responsible adulthood. More power to us, I mean them. I’m talking about the bombastically annoying “I may be old but I’m not a grown-up!” mentality.

Repeat after me: Dignity is a good thing. Besides, it’s cheap at the price.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Canter's Deli Haiku

Pastrami on rye?
No, I'm vegetarian.
Cheese blintzes for me!

Morgue, why am I supposed to shout "HAIKU" at the end?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sally Field Day

My problem--- and as my mother would say, this is like saying that the bride is too beautiful--- is that there are so damned many of you reading this.

Some of you read it on the off chance I’ll be funny, or just to kill time at work. An old friend (now in Canada, hi honey!) told me today she reads it to stay connected. Flatteringly, I’ve been Googled and I’ve been linked, but now I’m stuck.

Given that most blogs are complaints about not having anything to write about, I have an embarrassment of topical riches. That is, I would if I thought the rest of you want to read about my lumbago or how many reps I can do with 35 pound dumbbells. Hell, most of you already know about both. I’m having dinner tomorrow night with a couple of estranged relatives. Do you care? Of course not, nor should you, unless I eat something I can describe with hyperbolic wit. Not likely, we’re going to a deli.

So, tonight, Robert and I were talking about the day John Lennon was shot. Where were you when you heard? I was driving down Sunset Blvd, listening to KLOS. I’m not even a Beatles fan, but my world got darker. Then I went home to San Diego, and on to my then-boyfriend’s apartment. He was (and so far as I know, still is) a devout Beatles fan. I knew he’d be shaken, what I didn’t realize was that he didn’t know. How could he? He had no TV, nor radio (just records) nor did he read newspapers. I wish I’d broken the news better.

The connection? Contrast, my dear. Contrast between the unknown number of you wondering why you haven’t clicked to something else yet, and that guy in San Diego all those years ago, not knowing that his hero had become a martyr. I’m trying to decide if informational ubiquity is a good thing. I'm just glad that you like my blog, you really like my blog. Knock wood.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Social Uteri

Game theory tenet: People enjoy playing games they’re good at. They are less likely to spend time playing other games, ergo their old skills get better and they don’t develop new skills. (Metaphor foreshadowed.)

I’ve noticed a trend, not just in my life but in yours as well. Used to be, before cell phones and email, we got out more; out of our homes, out of our jobs, out of our ways of thinking. We spoke politely to strangers about the weather, or traffic. We had a name for it: “small talk”. Doing it well was even considered a useful skill.

With technology, it’s easy to stay in an ideological bubble. We don’t really socialize anymore, instead we ICQ, email or just chat online. Even our news comes from a personally acceptable source from the online smorgasbord. It’s a self-contained system, a psycho-social uterus. There’s no impetus to leave it. What, and be outside? You know who is out there? Aside from being unsafe, strangers are potentially unpleasant.

To turn game theory into metaphor, we stick with people we know well enough that there is no danger of surprise. Our ability to compromise, or even communicate, has diminished proportionately. Jokes are all inside jokes, like the guy in the prison cafeteria who shouts out “47!” and is glared at for telling it wrong.

Last night on Pogo (playing a game I’m good at) the chat was so politically repulsive that I went to a different game (also one I’m good at, why develop new skills?) rather than try to ignore it. Today I’m complaining to you, people I enjoy, who think like I do, whose ranks form the walls of my own social cocoon. And you know what? It’s comfortable here. I think I’ll stay.