Monday, January 16, 2017

FAKE!

The pitch made by the makers of the movie La La Land: "Picture it - a musical set in modern-day Los Angeles. We'll have a dance number at Griffith Observatory. And little scenes shot on Angels Flight, and Watts Towers, and Grand Central Market. And a spectacular opening number in a traffic jam overlooking the city. And we'll have sunshine and palm trees and John Legend. I think Rachel is going to love it." Why were the creators of this movie talking about me in the pitch for the film, you ask? Because it was obviously made for me. The tag could have been: "For Rachel. Duh." I have been spending the last 2 weeks getting over a cold so I wouldn't be That Person in the movie theater but the expelling of lungs has slowed down and I finally got to see it this weekend and they were right, I loved it. Who wants to go into the city with me for spontaneous dancing?

A note on music in movies: I get really annoyed when the movement of the musicians in a movie don't match the music that is being played. For example, when someone is playing the piano and their arms are clearly moving in the opposite direction of the notes.  It drives me bonkers and it happens in A LOT of movies. I realize all of it depends on editing but it just looks shoddy to me. Of course I don't expect actors to play the instrument but at the very least learn the basics of how it should look. So it's very high praise from me that I thought Ryan Gosling did a passing job as a jazz pianist. It was clear that he wasn't playing but it was also clear that he made a solid effort to look like he was.

Can I make a total change of subject? The other day I was watching the spacewalk on the ISS, as I do. Although they've been available for viewing online for ages NASA has recently been live-streaming them on Facebook. Which, as you would imagine, opens this experience up to a whole bunch of kooks with keyboards. I'll give you a sampling of the comments that flashed by: "Fake! The government has been lying to us about space exploration for decades! They're hiding aliens from us." "Fake! This was obviously filmed in a swimming pool." "Fake! Where's the sun?" (This was asked when the ISS orbited to the night side of the earth. It is what we like to call a shadow.) "This is actually filmed on a secret base on the moon that they don't want us to know about." I would say about 10% of the comments were like this. What can you say? People are dumb.

But also, people are magical because there was a whole group of folks who were saying, "Fake! The Earth is flat and the government doesn't want you to know that so they filmed this on earth and made a computer generated spherical earth to fool you. WAKE UP PEOPLE!"  You guys! There are people who really believe the earth is flat. In 2017. People with brains and computers and eyeballs. There's an entire society with a website. You have got to check this out. It is hilarious. They call me, you (I presume), and every other fool who believes in a round earth Globularists. Isn't that the best? They pride themselves on being radical freethinkers. I'll say! What a grand world we live in.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Penny for your thought

First thing first:



I know I post this video all the time but a.) What, like you're tired of it? and b.) I feel like we can never celebrate his jubilant hand clapping enough, especially now that he has died. We were all lounging around in our jams on Christmas afternoon when we heard the news and we instantly turned on this video to remember him.

Now, on to Christmas. We were all a little apprehensive about Christmas this year, what with my parents being on their mission. We knew it was going to be weird. You really discover how much your mom means to the whole spirit of the season when she's across the country. But we pressed forward. Gina, Chris, Levi, and Camille came down from Utah and Lindsay and Susie joined in with a lot of the festivities. Katie and I made, cut, wrapped and gave out about 1300 caramels. We hosted a couple of parties, including the Knecht Family Party, where we had a legit bell concert. We put up the full array of decorations, even though we told ourselves that we would mainly just do the tree. We sang in choirs and went to church parties and school concerts and the Chino Christmas Parade. We went out to LA to see the temple lights and even dropped in on my ice cream boyfriend Leo to wish him a merry Christmas. (He had carob clove ice cream in stock and I don't even really know what carob is and every time I've had it it has been as a substitute for chocolate so I naturally think it's a tool of the devil. But this ice cream blew my mind. It tasted like Christmas. I don't know how he does it!) We watched A LOT of Hallmark Christmas movies. So many. And I'm not going to justify it to you because you know that they're awesome. All of these things combined, plus the Church's Christmas initiative to Light the World, really made for one of my favorite Christmas seasons in memory.

Conveniently the first night of Hanukkah was also Christmas Eve so the Appels invited us over for a party. Val told the story of the Maccabees, Joseph, although a Hebrew school drop-out, said the blessing and Rosemary lit the menorah and then we all ate latkes, matzo ball soup, donuts, tamales, and chips and salsa. It was a true Southern California Hanukkah/Christmas/Mormon/Jewish festival. Later, I read a poem my dad wrote for the occasion and Val read David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men" and we laughed and told stories and generally felt the warm glow of a friendship that has spanned decades.



It's been such a lovely season. Tomorrow Katie and I drive up to Utah for a week with our people in the Frozen North. I'm not mentally prepared for the cold and snow but I am prepared for laughing with the kiddos. 

Speaking of laughing, this video has been on repeating at my house and we cannot stop laughing over it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

"This is a beautiful view."

I would like to point out that all the men of the British Royal Family are wearing knickers and stockings in this picture.















Also, some kind of garter. This is glorious! Although William looks skeptical. I wonder who decides what ceremonial attire the men will wear. Probably the queen. She must have a thing for shapely legs.

Have you been watching the Crown on Netflix? I have notes: namely, Prince Phillip is a bit of a hunchy crank. I've always suspected him to be such, but for crying out loud, he KNEW that she was going to be queen someday. Maybe not so quickly, but King George VI had to have had some kind of ominous cough to give him a hint that the lung cancer was lurking. For crying out loud, everyone back then had to have known that a cough equaled imminent death. I keep finding myself yelling at him to stop whining about how unfair his life is and stand up straight and support his wife.

Speaking of royals, this Prince Christmas tree is possibly the greatest of all themed Christmas trees:




If I did not have a beloved family Christmas tree to honor I would have done this and invited you all over to hold hands around it and sing the opening lines to "Let's Go Crazy."

Whilst celebrating A Very Oregon Thanksgiving with Casey & Fam we went out Christmas tree hunting. It looked like this.



















Hideous, right. This little farm is 15 minutes from their home and it smelled exactly how this picture makes you image it would smell. Only better because there was a fire going nearby so it smelled like rain and moss and pine and camp fire. We took a little tractor ride around the place and saw some miniature horses and had hot cocoa. All of it was magical. And we found the perfect tree and we actually did stand around it and hold hands and sing like we were in a Charlie Brown Christmas. And then we had to play ring around the rosy because Graham thought that's what we were doing.

Speaking of Graham:



Kylea sent this picture a few weeks ago and I spent a good 20 minutes just staring at it and figuring out how I could move up there so I could devote all of my time to squeezing his cheeks. It is the very essence of Graham. Dumb Oregon and your beautiful vistas.















Straight from the airport we went up to Vista House, which is this amazing little Art Nouveau rest stop overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. On the way there Addie asked where we were going and I said, as Charlotte to her Lucy, "To see a view." And she asked what a view was and I explained that it was a lovely thing to look at. And a couple of times over the week when we were out and about in the rain and the cold I overheard her say to herself, "This is a beautiful view." What a gal!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

P as in Peaver

Tales from the Institute. I love my job.

1. While on an hour long phone call trying to get the Institute projector fixed, I had the following exchange with a customer service representative:

Rep: That's "p" as in "peaver"
Me: Excuse me?
Re: P as in Peaver
Me: B as in Beaver?
Rep: No P as in Peaver
Me: P as in Paul?
Rep: No P as in Peaver
Me: B as in Boy
Rep: Yes. P as in Peaver

The projector was still not working by the end of the phone call but we wiggled some cords and it unfroze and when it asked for a password that we did not have we tried 0000 and like magic it started working.

2. I cook lunch every Thursday for the kids. It's usually an easy meal, sandwiches or something in the crockpot. But every Thanksgiving, per tradition, I have to cook enough large pieces of meat to feed 40 people (half of them football players) for our lunch and I gag over turkey giblets or warm gelatinous ham fat because I am a delicate flower and can only handle cooking meat in small portions and I end up weeping in a corner questioning all the decisions I've made in life that led me to this point. This year I decided to not be a dummy and we had a BBQ instead. I put our director at the grill and all I had to do was chop vegetables and mix the Kool-aid. The kids don't care what they eat and there was zero gagging! There was a small casualty, though. I took over at the grill for a little bit and as I went to flip a burger there was a terrific bang and a burst of flames and suddenly most of the hair on my right arm was singed off. I still have my eyebrows, thank heavens. The lighter, which had been sitting on the stand next to the grill, had exploded and shot off over the roof. But I think lost arm hair is a small price to pay for not having to put my hand inside a turkey to pull out its neck and guts.

3. Before lunch today a guy walked in asking if he could borrow a cup and our microwave to warm up his tea, which he had in a gallon jug and looked to be just water with lettuce and orange peels in it. I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen and asked his name and he said, "It's Jeremy, but that one doesn't matter. People call me Emmanuel. That's the important one." I didn't want to break it to him that at least once a semester we have some vagabond wander in calling himself Emmanuel and prophesying. He reached out to shake my hand then got very serious and said, "I believe you are going to marry the greatest man." Then he went off to the kitchen to drink his tea out of a flower vase. I get this often. When you're a single Mormon woman of a certain age people like to be encouraging and to be honest, though well intended I can do without it. But if a drifter comes in and makes such a pronouncement like he's Professor Trelawny I suppose I should take it. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Country Western Existential Crisis

Thoughts I had while at a free Brad Paisley concert for Frontier Communications customers:

1. Is it obvious to all of these folks around me that I barely know who Brad Paisley is?

2. Is it obvious to all of these folks that I don't like country music?

3. I suppose this proves my love for free outdoor live music is greater than my disinterest in country music.

4. Why are there more trucker hats than cowboy hats? Are they the new Stetson? And if so, that's a real shame because if you're given a chance to wear a Stetson why wouldn't you? Trucker hats are just as lame as they've always been.

5. Those two guys are literally wearing overalls and tank tops and trucker hats and carrying 2 giant beers each.

6. Remember when overalls were all the rage back in the 90s and how comfy they were?

7. Whatever happened to my overalls?

8. How much is this costing Frontier?

9. How badly did they screw up on their transition for Verizon?

10. How often does Brad Paisley do corporate events? And how much does he hate himself for it? Probably not too much.

11. How many times is he going to mention hanging out on the banks of a river/lake in one of his songs?

12. That must be nice to have a last name that is so conducive to cool guitar designs. All I could put on a guitar would be a silhouette of a feudal serf.

13. I think he's on his 7th guitar change over.

14. Who in the H is smoking around here?! Dumb new pot law!

15. If the opening act grew up in Orange County then where did he get his southern accent?

16. Is Brad Paisley this boring at all of his shows or just the corporate events? I mean, he's talented but would it kill him to crack a joke?

17. Am I partially to blame for this? Can he sense that some of us are neither fans of him nor his genre but are going along with a giant corporation essentially buying art for the amusement of the masses? Are we all just minor nobles in the Medici court?

18. Is country music bringing about an existential crisis in me?

19. Do not take that free Brad Paisley/Frontier Communications red trucker hat, Rachel!

Monday, November 7, 2016

They've All Gone to Look for America

Well, we did it. We made it to the end of this miserable election cycle. It has been a giant bag of vomit from start to finish and I think we all deserve a firm pat on the back and a nice long nap for having endured it.

Were I the Queen of All Election Stuff I would make it so that candidates could only campaign for six month. And they'll have to do it the old fashioned way, by train. They will zigzag across this beautiful nation of ours, and stand on the back of the caboose which is decked out with buntings, of course, and tell us what they think. There will be small boys in overalls ready to throw tomatoes at them if they tell a lie but we will listen to them respectfully and kindly and enthusiastically because freedom of speech is beautiful and democracy is thrilling. A band will play some kind of John Philip Sousa march because those are always stirring. And after they ride off to the next town the good people will gather together and talk like civilized human beings about what they heard and what they think. There won't be ugly words or groundless accusations. Anyone who says anything mean will be put in time-out for a few minutes and then given a hug. Root beer floats will be served. Basically, we'll act as if our mothers are with us. Wait, no, I don't know your mother. We'll act as if MY mother were with us. 

Until that time, let's be nice to each other and stop thinking that someone who disagrees with you is evil and deserves your ire. They are not and they do not. In fact they probably want the same things you do. Stuff like safety and security for their families, a solid job, a home in a happy neighborhood, and a good taco place nearby. Just because they have a different vision than you do for how to get those things does not make them bad. It just makes them human.

Let's hug people tomorrow! And watch this video of one of my favorite songs about America. There is truly nothing more American than Art Garfunkel's hair.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Baby you can drive my car off a cliff

Oh geez, guys. I bought a car last night. Which I had no intention of doing that morning. I didn't really want a car payment but do you know what else I didn't want? To sit in a tow truck again having 12 miles of awkward conversation with the driver.

How about a rundown of my car in the last two months. In the beginning of August two of the cylinders needed to be replaced along with a bunch of other small things. Four weeks later the alternator needed to be replaced. And then on Wednesday the transmission went out. Miraculously it started giving up about a mile from work and I was able to make it to my parking lot, where I did not break down and weep, as I fully expected. Because weeping is my body's natural response to cars being jerks. No, I wept later in the day at home. Plenty. Because even I know that a transmission costs the price of a kidney.

I had it towed to my mechanic Maha and he called back yesterday morning at 10 with an estimate. $2400 was the cheapest option. Even if I had it I didn't want to spend it on a car that was only going to have something else quit in another 3 weeks. I am positive that the next thing would be the engine growing a mouth, insulting my hair, and then exploding, which I don't think Maha could fix! So I gave myself a few minutes of deep breathing and then decided I needed to buy a car. 

At this exact moment Camille messaged me about the car, seeing how things were going. And I told her Maha's estimate and she was aghast as any good sister would be. And then she said she was sure that a way would open up. And I believed her because one always does. I just did not expect it to open so soon. Because as soon as I started looking I found a car I liked from a reputable place at a price I could handle so I called and got the financing all worked out and the car put on hold and in 20 minutes it was all done. Twenty minutes! I should tell you that I NEVER have been so quick and single minded in making a big decision. It generally takes me days of worrying and dithering to act on something and even then I never feel great about it. But as soon as I hung up with my new best friend and car guy Carlos, the panic disappeared, the urge to cry subsided, and clarity and the Blue Bird of Happiness set in. 

I picked her up last night. A Nissan Versa, which means I'm happily back to a small car. I've been driving the Love Boat for the last 2 years. Ok, it was a Camry. But considering all of my previous cars had been little nuggets it felt like I needed a special license and a wide load sign on the back just to take her out on the road. I'm happy. Relieved, really. I sold my old car to Maha and he can shove it off a cliff if he so chooses. Which was what I was planning on doing, if only I could have gotten it to a cliff. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mystery Nuptials

A few weeks ago I noticed this entry in my calendar that I did not put in:



Am I getting married? 

I googled Sherilynn Takushi - Marriage License Agent, obviously, and guess where she at? Maui. Which means I better get to Maui if I'm getting my marriage license on Friday. Don't you think I should go out, JUST TO MAKE SURE! I mean, what if this is legit and my wealthy benefactor is waiting for me? With a Slurpee machine as a wedding present. I've never been to Hawaii and I imagine that my hair isn't going to do so great there, but does that even matter? No. Let's all go to Maui and meet the WB! 

I may have a conflict, however, in that I've just been asked to teach seminary again. Which makes sense. Of course I'm teaching seminary. It was a very restful 9 months (oh, the sleep I got) but it's good to be back. I'm team teaching though so I teach every other week, with is total luxury. I taught last week and was quickly reminded that I am not meant for 6 am. But it's a fun class. I think I'll like it. Who am I kidding, of course I'll like it. What's not to like? Teenagers and the scriptures are two of my favorite things. 

Here's a video to help you through the reality that it's not Friday yet. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lots to discuss

1. As promised, here is my walking tour of downtown LA. I was going to make it its own post but it was turning into the Atlas Shrugged of tourism so I made it a link instead. It's detailed, folks. I want you to see the high points and eat good food and not get lost in the process. If you do it I would love to hear how it goes and any suggestions you have (maybe too long? the directions are crazy? I don't know). And as always, I am happy to take anyone around as a guide. My only stipulation is that you don't complain about the traffic. Move to Iowa if you don't want traffic and marvel at their magnificent soy fields. (Okay, I actually do love their soy fields.)

2. Dear School Behind My Home. Is it not enough? I mean, is it really not enough that your parents clog the streets in my neighborhood with their massive SUVs and your kids drop their candy wrappers and chip bags on my lawn and on the occasion of a day off I can't hear my TV or enjoy a book in silence because you're blasting party anthems all day long? It must not be enough because marching band practice has started up again and the other morning I endured some kid banging out the same cadence on a quad drum over and over and over again for a full hour. Oh, summer was sweet. And now the Autumn/Winter/Spring of my discontent has returned. Do not make me resort to lobbing eggs over the fence. Best Wishes for a Quick Resolve, Your Justifiably Cranky Neighbor.

3. Do you know what I pray for every day? That my friends and loved ones make a million dollars selling Lularoe leggings (and such) but that they do so without adding me to any of their Facebook groups. How do I tell them nicely that I love them and that I want them to be ridiculously successful and be able to support their family while wearing stretchy pants and over-sized shirts from the comfort of their home but that I don't want any part of it? I simply do not want to go to their parties or buy their clothes. I hope all of their multi-level marketing dreams come true, just without me having to continuously go through the process of removing myself from their groups.

4. At 11 am on Saturday Katie got word that she had won a lottery to get $20 tickets to see the 2 pm show of Newsies out in Hollywood. Of course we dropped everything and went. We were orchestra level, dead center and 19 rows back. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. This is the 3rd time we've seen it which I originally thought qualified us as super fans. But the guy sitting next to us had seen it 4 times...THAT WEEK. He said it was his 10th or 11th time seeing it total. He also bought his kids every Newsies related tchotchke they sold out in the lobby including newsboy caps and newsie teddybears. His boy even ran up during intermission to grab one of the newspapers they threw off the stage during one of the songs. I should have asked him if has was a crazed fanatic for all musicals or just this one. Either way, I get it. It's a fun show.

5. In the spirit of conservation I saved the syrup I boiled my peaches in for the peach cobbler I made for yesterday's BBQ at the Appels (Thanks, guys. Let's be friends for literally forever.) and I poured it on my french toast I made for dinner tonight and topped it with the leftover whipped cream from said cobbler and holy cats was it the greatest thing I've ever eaten. Don't you love how often breakfast foods can be turned into desert?

Monday, August 29, 2016

All the way to Boston, all the way to Lynn

My cousin Sarah and I spent a week out in Massachusetts with my parents who are out there serving as missionaries for the Church. Sarah was the best traveling partner and my parents are the greatest. It was the tops. To recap:

1.

I'm going to live in Orchard House. Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women here, from a desk that you can cry over but cannot sit at, which is a dirty trick if you ask me. They're probably (rightly, in my case) worried that someone will snatch her extremely charming inkwell. (You cannot take pictures inside the house, which is another dirty trick.) It's the tiniest of desks, next to a larger desk that she purchased after she got good and rich from her book. Treat yo self, Lou! I bet people called her Lou. I certainly would have. The home was saved from ruin and turned into a museum all the way back in 1912 which means that just about everything in it is original and belonged to the family. Like the Alcott sisters' dress-up clothes they used for their theatrics. I wanted to clutch everything to my bosom and lay down in her bed but they don't allow that sort of behavior. I settled on visiting her grave. She's buried up at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, very near Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau. Do you like cemeteries? I think they're kind of nice.

2. We loved Cape Cod so much that we went there twice. It should be noted that the weather was perfection. Whenever I would tell people that I'd be in Massachusetts in August they'd gasp and say, "The humidity!"  and I don't doubt it but we did not have much. And I am a delicate flower who wilts in just a hint of moisture in the air so you can trust me that it wasn't bad. It was glorious for beach sitting and ice cream eating, of which we did a lot. Particularly at this place called Ice Cream Sandwich in the charming little town of Sandwich when you first cross into the cape. (Look at me, I just called it the cape, like I'm a local who has been eating lobster rolls her whole life. Fact, I ate my first lobster roll on this trip. Can I be honest with you and say that I don't get it. Lobster tastes like all other shell fish. And I think I may prefer shrimp. But this is not about lobster it's about ice cream on the cape.) This ice cream was so good that it was a driving factor of returning a few days later. When you go get the Sandy Neck flavor. It's graham cracker with little chocolate covered honey comb. Holy moly! But avoid Sandy Neck beach a few miles down like it is the plague. Because it may actually be that plague. It costs a fortune to park and it is nothing but a bunch of rocks and flies that bite. And it's on the bay side so the water is colder. Other than that bad decision everything about the Cape was perfect. 

3. Overheard at the Nobska Lighthouse from an 80 year old gentleman: "I used to come to Christmas parties here. The Commandant and I became good friends when we both belonged to the same platform tennis club." I mean, come on! Platform tennis withe Commandant?! What luxury. But when asked when this was he said 10 years ago, which was a disappointment. He talked about it like he had to trudge through the Mists of Time to retrieve the memory. 


We ate the best fish tacos of our lives sitting on the beach near the light house and watching the sun set. Luxury indeed.

4. Ah, the Gilded Age! Newport RI is the birthplace of American Elegant Leisure. The Tennis Hall of Fame is there, for crying out loud. We took a harbor cruise and looked at Jacqueline Kennedy's summer home of her youth and the church she was married in and then we toured Rosecliff, one of the many mansions on display, and I dreamed of descending the elegant staircase that was designed specifically for gliding in tulle. Only my imaginings always ended in me tumbling down, as that is what I usually do on stairs. But a girl can dream.





This is the Lady of the House. Doesn't it make you think of Rebecca? 

What a dump.

The Great Gatsby (Redford addition) was filmed at Rosecliff and from the lawn you can look across the harbor to a stretch of land that is not East Egg , but I still wanted to wait until dark to see if a light was shining from the dock at Daisy Buchanan's house.
5. I found myself getting a little claustrophobic there. There are so many trees! You know how when you drive down the highway here you can see things. Not so in Massachusetts. You see trees. Nothing but tall, tall trees. I remember the first time I was back east I was mesmerized by this and now I think it's just weird. How am I supposed to spot a gas station? Is this my exit? I'll never know because the trees all look the same! I have a very strong sense of direction and it was thrown all akimbo because of those trees. Although the lack of billboards was refreshing. And, let's get real, they're gorgeous. 

6. Other things:

There's a statue of Thoreau at Walden Pond. I promised him that if he let me hang out in his cabin in the woods I wouldn't say a word to him. We could be loners together.


Along with a red coat the British soldiers were issued a fanny pack. I'm not kidding, if they had sold this in the gift shop I would have bought it.

I did not buy the tri-cornered hat but I absolutley should have.

And I should have bought this hat of Elegant Leisure in the gift shop at Rosecliff.

We had planned to canoe down the Concord River but this was our hottest day and we were kind of spent. Which means I'm just going to have to go back.