Monday, February 23, 2015

The Julie Andrews Effect

While in the midst of a rousing game of Skip-bo the power went out at my parents' house last night. So we played the rest of the game by candle-, lantern-, and electronic device light, just like the pioneers. Later, we attempted shadow puppets, where I succeeded in making a Sleestak. Which prompted Dad to say, "Why don't you check on the website again to see how much longer this is going to last." He has no taste for comedic shadow puppets.

Our biggest concern for the evening was that the stove lighter was powered by electricity (weird) thus making popcorn impossible. We were going to give it a half hour before resorting to the burner on the grill.

The power came on just in time for us to turn on the Oscars and watch Lady Gaga sing the Sound of Music medley. Here was my thought process:  "Philistines! I can't BELIEVE that they would put LADY GAGA up on the STAGE to sing the SOUND OF MUSIC! But she does look very elegant. And her voice is surprisingly great for this kind of music. And she seems to really love it. Could Lady Gaga and I be friends? So...that was really well done. Sweet Land of Liberty, it's Julie Andrews! Don't cry. Don't cry. She is so beautiful and gracious and I want to be her next door neighbor so that I can pop over and borrow sugar from her anytime. Oh man, she really loves the Gaga. I would not be able to recover if Julie Andrews hugged me that way. Well, it looks like I'm a Lady Gaga fan now. Whither goeth Julie Andrews, so goeth I."

Funniest joke of the night:  When the camera stopped on John Stamos (really?) Lindsay said, "Are they serving yogurt tonight?" I can't stop laughing over that.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Down with Lettuce!

1. I've given up trying to like lettuce. Which is a totally ridiculous thing to say, I know, but there it is. Lettuce is no friend to us. It is not very flavorful and it's difficult to eat. Who among us has never had the experience of being caught in polite company attempting to shove a giant piece of lettuce into our mouths? You absolutely cannot eat a salad with any kind of grace. Also, I can't tell you how let down I feel when I remember that I brought a salad for lunch. It took me a while to figure out that it's the lettuce that bums me out. Everything else about a salad is great. So my brilliant plan is to just have everything in a salad but the lettuce. Like smaller, crunchier, (superior) chopped up veggies, which, thanks to modern day miracles, come in pre-packaged bags, and chicken, and an avocado, if available. Two days in and I think I'm on to something. But I feel a little dumb that it took me so long to diagnose my lettuce ennui.

2.  I did, as promised, put that picture of Prince on my desk and it has changed my life. I have many conversations with him throughout the day. I think he's going to come in real handy when I have to start towing cars at work (we have a major illegal parking problem over there that bring a lot of hoodlums and their litter.) and I'm going to go to him and say, "Prince, I feel really bad that these dummies are going to come back from class and see their cars have gone missing." And he's going to be like:

You're right, Prince. The signs are clearly posted.

Genius alert! I'm going to put Prince's picture on the notices I leave on the cars that are illegally parked! And all it's going to say is, "You know what you did."

3. We just got the Hollywood Bowl line up for the summer and it's a doozy. Harry Connick Jr.; Pink Martini; and a screening of Back to the Future with the orchestra playing the score along with the movie. For crying out loud! I think that they must have gotten wind that it's my 40th birthday this summer and they wanted to make sure I had enough opportunities to celebrate. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Rachels do LA

Locals, I want to apologize for this unseasonably warm weather we've been having. You see, Rachel came into town and I was wanting to show off this fine city but we've been having a bit of the old marine layer which makes everything hazy. So I prayed really hard for it to clear up and for us to have gorgeous sunshiny views. And in order for that to happen we needed warm winds to blow. So that's on me. But we're cooling down today and I have started to pray really hard for rain. Like, a month of it.

I decided to take Rachel to downtown, because I feel that when people come to LA they rarely make it there. I totally get the lure of the beach but downtown has so many gems. At the very least it's where you get the best taquitos. So we started with that at Olvera Street. Rachel eschewed the guacamolito sauce due to her aversion to avocados, but then tried some of mine and saw the light. Fortunately, they always leave your taquitos swimming in it so there was plenty to share. But let this be a lesson to you all, always get the sauce. (Also, I think it's more tomatillo than avocado. Don't be afraid is all I'm saying.) From there we made our way on foot to various points across the city, most of which I had never seen. Don't you just love discovering new things in familiar places? Like the observation deck of City Hall. Did you know that during business hours you can go up to the 27th floor for some spectacular views of the city? We went to the LA Times Building, another place I've never been, and saw a really cool Linotype machine. In trying to figure out exactly how a Linotype machine works I discovered that there is a documentary called, "Linotype, the Film" which I somehow need to get my hands on. It looks totally fascinating. That machine is a work of art.

Next we sampled cheese at Grand Central Market, discovered that Angels Flight is closed AGAIN which stymied our plans to go up to the Music Center because I'm telling you, those stairs up Bunker Hill would have killed us. So we instead walked over to the Biltmore and lounged in their elegant lobby, and then over to the Central Library, home of my new Favorite Room in Los Angeles.

This picture is doing a sad job of conveying the magic but you should have a visual.
You guys, this room, THIS ROOM, is the children's room and it is glorious. Oh, it is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. At one point I sat down in a very comfy chair that was short enough for my feet to fully reach the floor, and I turned to my right and there was a rack filled with beloved children's fiction, like Anne of Green Gables and The Phantom Tollbooth and A Wrinkle in Time and I decided right then and there that I want to be buried there. Why am I just discovering this now? Nearly 40 years of living here and just now I see it. I have a lot of time to make up. I'm going to be back in downtown on Saturday and I'm seriously considering a pop-in.

We did a bunch of other things, most notably we ate both Burt and Rocky's ice cream and Neveux's ice cream. For science, guys. For science!

And the whole time we talked and talked and talked. Rachel and I have always had an incredibly easy friendship. Plus, she's up for anything. It was an absolute joy having you, Rac. Come back soon! That goes for all of you. I know a nice room we can sit quietly in.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Rachel and Rachel Reunion Tour

Rac is in town!!!! My beloved little college roommate, Rachel, has come out to California for a visit. For the whole weekend. Without her husband and kids. It's a novelty for Rac. I told her to sleep as late as she wants.

Since she flew into Long Beach I decided it would be best to stay out there and explore rather than sit in traffic for 20 years. So we did. We shopped and ate brownies and Thai. We got pedicures at this funky little place that had massage chairs with soaking tubs but no water hook up so they brought out giant bins of water to soak in. It seemed a little suspect but the ladies were so funny and efficient. And they seemed to know everyone who was in there and who walked by. I feel like I would go all the time if I lived out there and just hang out. We also sat on the beach and looked at about 40 giant cargo ships just sit there (There's a strike at the port. It's slow going so if you're expecting a shipment of cheap toys from China, hold tight.) And we talked and talked and talked. We have 2 and a half more days of talking and strolling and laughing and reminiscing. And ice cream eating. You know there's going to be ice cream.

Speaking of pedicures, you know that Rac pays $35 for one up in Utah. I've heard this is pretty standard around the US. This is outrageous! If I pay more than $20 I feel like I'm being ripped off, and that's with tip. The cost of living is sky high here but at least we can get a cheap pedicure.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?

I think I'm going to frame this picture of Prince and set him up on my desk and anytime I read something on the internet that annoys me I'm going to look at it and say, "What do you think, Prince." And he'll be all:

And I'll be all, "Yeah. Me too."

I'm imagining all the conversations I could have with him. That look says it all:  "Get a grip, Rachel."

Prince, what do you think of this outfit?

Prince, should I get a pixie cut?

Hey Prince, I'm going to stay up late to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls that I've already seen a dozen times.

I don't think I would ever make another bad decision in my life.

While we're on the subject, I think we should all agree to send angry letters to any radio station that cuts into the end of Let's Go Crazy. That song is solid gold from start to finish. And We, the People, deserve to hear it all.

Prince, are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


On my drive into work I pass by one of those time signs that shows how long it will take to get to a certain location. It shows the 605 and Downtown. It is almost always 35 minutes to the 605 and 65 minutes to Downtown. So this morning when I passed by and it said 14 minutes to the 605 and 35 minutes to Downtown I instantly thought that LA had closed for the day. Or that all the haters' prayers had been answered and it fell into the ocean. Well, jokes on you haters. The sign was way off.  LA is still there because it took me 14 minutes just to get over Kellogg Hill (3 miles away from the sign).

Once I finally made it off the freeway I ended up behind a car with the license plate that read "(heart)DGROHL" I'm going to make a wild assumption and say this is for Dave Grohl. Look, the Foo Fighters occasionally come out with a catchy song, there's no denying that. But this is just a little ridiculous. Those vanity plates cost money. I've never understood the need to proclaim love like that for people YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW! And who don't even know you. And your only real connection to them is that they create something that you love. There are many, many people out there whom I love for creating wonderful things. But none that I would make a vanity plate for. The nature of love is that you respect it enough to not put it on a car bumper. Besides, "(heart)LEOATNEXEUXCREAMERY" is too many letters.

Speaking of things that I love but not enough to put on a license plate but would be in the running if I didn't think such things were strictly for dummies: you've heard, no doubt, that Harper Lee is publishing another novel. And you, like I, are probably a mixed bag of emotions over this. On the one hand, To Kill a Mockingbird is about as close to a perfect book as you can get and that is going to be hard to follow, especially after 50 years of growing public admiration. But on the other hand, Scout, Jem, and Atticus will be back in our lives in new ways and I can barely contain my excitement over that. Truthfully, I'm having a hard time comprehending what it will be like. It's like someone has said, "And tomorrow night a second moon will rise." Our moon is already so lovely and perfect. And we didn't even know that another moon was out there. But it's hard to argue that a second one wouldn't be a spectacular addition to our sky. Metaphorically, of course, because in actuality a second moon would probably destroy our planet as we know it. Tidal waves and stuff.

Anyway, you're all invited over to my place in mid-July to discuss it. Please come. I'm sure I'm going to need to talk it out.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bing, Again!

I feel like I post about Groundhog Day every year but on looking back at previous early February postings I see that I don't. Maybe I always intent to. Truth be told, I often forget that it's Groundhog Day until my cousin Sarah sends me a text with a quote from the movie. And then I spend a lot of the day thinking about the movie and how I truly believe it is one of the greatest movies of all time. It's philosophical, existential, funny, romantic, there's death and redemption and affirmation and Bill Murray. It's the Citizen Kane of the 90s.  

Also, Ned Ryerson:

Have I ever told you that my first grade teacher, Ms. Boyd, was from Pennsylvania? I'm my mind she was actually from Puxsutawny but I was 6 at the time. I also was convinced that I could somehow join the A-Team. Basically, I had a very vivid imagination and made up a lot of things in my head. Anyway, Ms. Boyd told us all about the groundhog and that she was from the place where he saw his shadow. Naturally, I thought this was some kind of magical land because I idolized Ms. Boyd and if she was from there then it was a place that should be revered. As she was telling us about the groundhog I imagined the scene as follows: the groundhog burrows out of a snow bank in a secluded wood and climbs up onto a log and shakes the snow from his head and then looks down and either sees his shadow or doesn't and then he goes back to his little den. And there is one lone scientist hiding behind a tree whose job it is to record the shadow sighting. And this is the scene I always imagine to this day. There is always a snow bank and a log and a hidden scientist. When the news does its fluff piece on it every year this is the first thing that pops into my head. So whenever I watch the scenes in the movie at Gobbler's Knob a part of me is a little resistant to there being such a spectacle. I mean, there isn't a single hidden scientist.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tacos or Pizza

1. Tacos or pizza? I asked my seminary kids this morning and we were split evenly. But for the record: it's tacos. Tacos 4-Ever!

2. My mom got me tickets to a ukulele concert for Christmas. Specifically, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.  Did you even know there was a thing? I didn't and I actually go to ukulele play-alongs. Although, admittedly I know very little about the ukulele world. And it is a world, believe me. You go to just one of these play-alongs and you learn really fast just how much people can talk about ukuleles (A LOT!). But anyway, this concert. Mom was sick so she couldn't come with me (major bummer) but Lindsay was a good substitute. And you guys, it was super fun. I mean, who knew. They were insanely talented and very funny and played all sorts of genres. Notably, Psycho Killer, the theme from Shaft, and maybe one of the best covers of Heard It Through the Grapevine. Slam dunk, Mom!

3.  Camille moved away to Utah. UTAH! (shaking fist! ) Land of People I Love Who Have Abandoned Their Senses and Their Family. Why?! WHY!!!!!??? Well, she got a great job, that's why. And I'm happy for her and my other turncoat family members who get to enjoy her. But I'm trying to figure out how I can send the whole state of Utah one of those glitter bombs.

4. Can you imagine anything worse than getting one of those glitter bombs? It seems like if you were in a prank war with someone a glitter bomb would escalate things pretty quickly. You're putting rubber spiders on pillows and Jell-o powder in the shower head and it's all fun and games. And then someone sends a glitter bomb and the next thing you know there's an anvil over the doorway.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dory Mae

It was already a great night. I had spent the evening sitting around a bonfire at the beach with some of my favorite people. We watched the moon set, we ate tacos, we laughed, we were entertained by this 20 year old Australian kid who invited himself to join in on our fun and then told us the most fantastic tales of his run-ins with the law on his drive across the country, including 3 days in a jail in Denver (Us: "Why'd you come here?" Him: "California. It's the dream.") I could not have asked for more of the night.

And then I got home and there was a package sitting on the table...
You'll recall she recently ran off to a horse ranch in Montana.  Inside was this:
Meet Dory Mae Clemson, former rodeo queen of 1999. Oh, she had been a star. But time wore on and she got a job working the morning shift at the truck stop. One night she sat across the table from her long time boyfriend Cal, watching him eat yet another plate of pot roast, and she just knew in her heart that he would never marry her. Sure, he had proposed 5 years ago at the oil refinery's company picnic (she has a ring that I think she's going to pawn soon) but he never wanted to talk about setting the date. He always had some excuse, the house wasn't ready, they didn't have enough money, he had to bail his good for nothing brother out of prison again. She loved him, but not enough to stay. So she put on her best dress and dolled herself up and left.
Tomorrow Dory Mae will join me in my car and we'll see what kind of adventures she can have.
(I have no idea who sent this but I love you with all of my heart!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Acts of Patriotism and Other Things

1. Instead of watching the State of the Union address I watched an episode of The West Wing. That, my fellow Americans, if Patriotism.  (Sure, I have since read the text* but watching it gives me angina. All that clapping, you know.) Other acts of patriotism I have performed this week:  eating a corndog, my annual reading of the I Have a Dream speech, unfollowing several people on Facebook for putting up ugly political rants. America!!

2.  I woke up in a crabby mood this morning. Don't you just hate it when that happens? What exactly did my subconscious do in the middle of the night to put me in such a funk? Run out of hot chocolate? Too many articles about war? These are things that put me in funks in my waking hours, but who knows what my subconscious is up to. Anyway, I was crabby, and there's nothing worse than trying to teach seminary when you're crabby. So imagine my relief when the kid in charge of picking a hymn for us to sing chose The Day Dawn is Breaking. You just can't feel bad when you're singing that song. The verses plow along at a sharp pace and then you get to that chorus, "Beau-ti-ful DAAAAAAAY of peace and rest." Most of the kids had never heard the song before but we never let that stop us. I just sing loud and they do a good job of following along and by the third or fourth verse they have it. It was a total turn around for me.

3.  You know this actor. He's been in everything but you probably don't know his name. I didn't. But he died last week and he wrote his own obituary and I thought it was lovely enough to share with you. I think writing your own obituary would be a very interesting exercise.

4. Just look at this drawing of David Bowie's hair through the years.

Isn't it magnificent? You can buy it here and hang it in your bathroom, as I would do.

*My favorite part:  " A better politics is one where we appeal to each other's basic decency instead of our basest fears. A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than 'gotcha' moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people's daily lives." Preach it!