Friday, March 29, 2013

Time = Change

or, Going Home Again

Imagine getting up in the middle of the night to pee and there’s a closet where your bathroom is supposed to be. Then, when you finally do find the bathroom (in what used to be the kitchen) the toilet is in the wrong place and has been painted bright teal.

No, we’re not talking about nightmares. We’re talking about time, which means change.

Auntie was away for a few days to visit the former homestead, i.e. Sunny™ San Diego, California. There should be an exclamation point there, but irony only goes so far.

Please don’t rat me out to the chamber of commerce, but it really wasn’t sunny. The weather was pleasantly and comfortably gray, just like it should be this time of year.

So, weather, doughnut shops, and the place where we used to get breakfast were all exactly the same. That was reassuring and nice. Happy smiles!

Now shift the background music a little bit. Our old counter-culture coffeehouse was slightly cleaner but otherwise unchanged – until you look at the people. A legion of smug dyed-blonde Botoxed golfers (both genders) in their 60s and 70s camped out where smug young boho’s and rockers (both genders) used to reign supreme.

Little shops we used to like had moved, but never far, usually just down the same block. That was disorienting. All our old indie bookstores except one were gone. Don’t raise your eyebrows at me. Of course it was inevitable. It’s still sad to see smoothies where there should be books.

My favorite scruffy neighborhoods had been tarted up and gentrified. That’s not a complaint. I prefer the way it used to be, but fair’s fair.

Cue montage:

We ran into someone the day before we had arranged to see him.

We were recognized in places we didn’t expect to be remembered.

We ran into someone we’d lost touch with (and couldn’t find) while we still lived there.

For the record, the food court at UTC still smells like Square Pan even though there hasn’t been a Square Pan in years.

Speaking of smells, the bird shit in beautiful, elegant La Jolla Cove is twelve years thicker and sure smells like it. But I think the tourists on the walkway were the same ones from all those years ago. They looked and sounded exactly the same, except now we are tourists too.

Bookstores file time travel under science fiction, but we just spent two days in the 1980s and 90s so I know it’s a fact. The open boxes of dried salted cod at Filippi’s prove it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cool Beans

One of the very first lessons we learn as modern social people is that indifference is cool.

No, wait. Back up.

The first lesson we learn is that cool is good. It’s fed to us with our sippy cups in daycare. There were cliques in kindergarten long before heavy metal t-shirts came in kids’ sizes.

You have traumatic memories of not fitting in at grammar school. Don’t fib. We all do. It’s part of the process. Gets us ready to not fit in during adolescence.

At some point we begin to break down that-which-is-cool into smaller, supposedly attainable, chunks.

We can watch The Daily Show or wear what we think are the right jeans. We might be able to manage some of the vocabulary of cool.

(Ironically, the word “hipster” is no longer cool. Ironically enough, neither is “ironically”.)

But not caring is a big fat monster chunk o’ coolness. Always was, always will be.

I don’t get that.

Oh, I know about Buddha’s attitude of interested indifference. Good for him. That’s great. Buddha was cool. So was Steve McQueen, and he didn’t give a damn either.

Hmm, maybe there’s something in this.

I should explain. Last night I sat through an evening of comedy, some of which was very funny. (Go, Rocketship!*) There were self-proclaimed cool kids in the audience who refused to laugh, even at the funniest bits.

Apparently, laughter is un-cool.

There was a brief psychedelic moment in history when passion was cool. Caring was the shit. Laughter equaled joy, which was the gold ring in life. To be fair, joy is no longer cool either.

I just don’t get it.

I like to laugh. I like being happy. Harvey Rocketship was funny last night. I laughed.

And you know what? I’m cool with that.

*See Danger Room Improv on Facebook. Hit “like”. Be cool.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wearing O'The Green

St. Patrick’s Day means something different to me than it does to you. At least, it used to.

Once upon a time, there was a person who taught me how to be formidable. (Any lapse or failure is totally mine, not his.) You would have liked him, everybody did. Past tense.

He’s dead now, been dead for ages. But trust me, he’s still Irish.

We had a joke between us. Because my birthday is in early March, every year he’d bestow upon me the gift of being honorary Irish for St. Patrick’s Day. He always said it was the best thing he could do for a city girl from Hollywood.

You’d think I’d put on glittery shamrock antennae like the cashier at Von’s was wearing this morning. Or, at the very least, have Lucky Charms for breakfast.

Not even.

Driving home from the store, I saw a young couple in matching neon green T-shirts walking their wiener dog. The dog was wearing a tiny bright green shirt. Wanna bet it said “Kiss me, I’m Irish”?

Even though my eyes are green, it’s not my color. None of my clothes are green. I have green socks, but that begs the question.

You know what question.

It’s amazingly annoying when people ask to see your green, and it happens surprisingly often.

So when I borrowed a green shirt from Robert this morning, I did it to forestall human interaction, not out of solidarity with the holiday.

But now I feel solidarity with that hapless little wiener dog.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Air Pressure

It’s gorgeous outside, just over 80 degrees. That’s Southern California normal for mid-March.


Oh, I can stand all the pleasantness, what gets me is the pressure.

Not the sinus-constricting air pressure. That was yesterday, when it was over 90 degrees. I mean the social/psychological/cultural, whatever you want to call it, the pressure to Make the Most of Such A Beeyootiful Day.

See previous, re: ugh.

It’s also the Ides of March. So along with the chirpy golden sunshine, there is an ideological residue of death, betrayal and really long Shakespearean soliloquies.

Cool. I mean warm. I mean, oh never mind.

For some reason, I’m craving Caesar salad.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Critical Situations

Reviews irritate me. Not the kind in the newspaper. Those are easily avoided and besides, as some of you have pointed out, nobody (but me) reads newspapers anymore anyhow.

Opinion masquerading as information bothers me.

Yes, I understand the irony of a blogger blogging that.

And yes, I know, that’s like saying I don’t like the Internet. I only use a teensy bit of the Internet, in much the same way that I only use a tiny part of the block where I live, but it works for me.

Nice Internet. Good Internet. Have a cookie, Internet.


Back in Ye Olden Days of Yore, you knew the critics in the paper. Well, you didn’t really, but you knew what kinds of things they liked. So if Reviewer X liked a movie, or Reviewer Y didn’t, you had a pretty good idea whether you should plop down your $4.50 to see it.

Ah, the Goode Olde Days.

That was before you could watch ten minutes of the movie online or hear the director interviewed on a podcast. Casting decisions are publicized immediately, and buzz begins in cinematic vitro. By the time the thing hits A Theater Near You, it’s old news.

And not necessarily Goode Olde news, either.

Of course the phenomenon spans media. Television is given the same premature scrutiny. Books too, but nobody seems to care about them as much.

It also happens to ideas.

A meme is a meme is a meme, but by the time it filters down to your slow old Auntie, it’s been diluted, spoofed and decried. I missed the Harlem Shake entirely, not that I feel like I missed much.

See? That’s the problem. I have an opinion about it, though I never saw it.

I would blame the Internet, but I don’t want to make it angry. Internet, have another cookie.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Hello, all you darlings. Let’s catch up.

Your grouchy old Auntie has had a birthday since my last post.

Yes, that makes me your grouchy slightly-older Auntie. I’ve addressed this smart-mouth tendency of yours before. Don’t make me go over there.

Where was I? Right, gotcha.

Birthdays are strange things. They’re universal, like toilet paper. Unlike toilet paper, however, there’s a cultural inclination to make them seem important.

That works for the first dozen. Thirteen, if you’re going to be Bar or Bat Mitzvah’ed. Sixteen if you plan on having a life. Twenty-one if you want to be legal about it. Thirty if you aggrandize your neurosis. Forty, ditto.

By fifty, birthdays lose their significance as (please insert appropriate sound effect, then tell your therapist what you chose) a Special Event.

Past that, birthdays become much, much more valuable than an Event.

They become an Excuse.

Like the trope commercial says, that’s priceless.

I mostly spent mine not doing things I don’t like to do. Bliss! Oh, and I ate many sugary baked goods. Also fun. And then it was over.

No harm, no foul, no hangover and no lingering effects. Birthdays are like New Year’s Day.

If you think about it, January 2nd doesn’t feel any different than December 30th.

Spoiler alert for my young friends: 52 doesn’t feel any different than 51 ½.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday, Monday

Ah, omens. Harbingers of whatever follows them. And we’re talking about this on a Monday, which is the harbinger of the whole gosh-darn-dang week.

When something unusual happens first thing Monday morning, my inclination is to hunker down and assume the whole week will go like that. If it’s a good thing, fine. If it’s a bad thing, then I’m setting myself up for five days of misery. Not fine.

Two things happened this morning. One was kinda good, one was kinda not.

What to do, what to do?

Do I decide I’ve used up all my good karma and hunker down, or do I hope I got the bad stuff out of the way and rejoice? Do I over-think things when I should be out trying to make the world a Better Place, or at least finish the laundry?

I take omens seriously, but I don’t believe in them. (See previous re: self-fulfilling prophecy.)

Pay attention, Auntie is about to be wise for a sec: Absolutely everything can be edited. And by “edited,” I mean “spun.”

To be fair, a grievous tragedy will always be sad. No one can flip sorrow. Unfortunately enough, you can flip joy.

We’ve all seen people snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as it were. Or maybe they were unhappy about things that would make us very happy indeed.

That’s okay too, right up to the moment when they start to complain about a good thing.

As I face the rest of the week, I’m trying to set the attitude knob on my outlook. What does the Magic 8-Ball™ think?

“Outlook not so good”

Seriously, it just said that. For real, folks.

But did it say that just to be funny? Let’s ask. 8-Ball, were you messing with me?

“Without a doubt”

And that, my children, is how you handle an omen. Go forth and kick ass this week.