Monday, June 29, 2015

A World of Pure Imagination

The Music Center is not having any summer sing-alongs this year. Naturally, I am outraged and have already sent a strongly worded letter informing them that they have ruined summer. I live for those sing-alongs! When I took the Art Society on our LA adventure a few weeks ago we went to the Disney Concert Hall and while the kids ran around like hooligans banging sticks on handrails I sat in the outdoor amphitheater where so many summer nights were spent singing and dancing and watching Mock Turtleneck Guy really get into it. Woe to lost summer fun!

But, on the cheerier side, the city is full of fun things to do. Namely: a viewing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the Orpheum Theater in downtown LA, which the sisters and I attended last week. You guys, this theater is a stunner. A real show-stopper. It is so grand inside. It's like the Julie Andrews of theaters. And they have the original Wurlitzer organ from 1926. You know I really love a Wurlitzer. The lobby was amazing, the ceilings and chandeliers were gorgeous. There is a lounge downstairs with dark wood paneling and cushy chairs and a fireplace and you can totally imagine the swanky folks coming down for a smoke at intermission. There was also an elevator that had to be manually run. History, right?

Do you know what's great about watching a movie like that in a beautiful place? Everyone is thrilled to be there. They laugh loudly at all the great lines and clap when Charlie finds the golden ticket. I mean, it's like we didn't even know he was going to get it. "You did it Charlie! What absolute luck." "Did Grandpa Joe just get out of bed? It's a miracle!" "I can't believe Augustus fell into the chocolate! What a doofus." "Why did they drink that fizzy lifting drink?! Why?!" That's how excited we were. All that velvet kind of gets to you.

But there was one person not thrilled to be there. The kid sitting in front of me. That kid was bored out of his mind. He could not sit still. In fact, at one point he leaned over to his sister (okay, like every 3 minutes) and said, "I can't sit still!" And then I leaned over to my sister and said, "These kids are driving me crazy." Violet turning into a blueberry couldn't even distract him from his quest to be the Most Fidgety Boy in All the Land. So a lot of my view was obstructed by his moppy head. I felt bad for the kid. Clearly his mom misjudged the event. Although, what exactly about an old, weird film from the 70s in a regal old theater preceded by a discussion with the director's adult children moderated by an NPR host beginning at 8:30 pm with tickets costing $20 each screams your 8 year old ADD son? Don't subject your kid to such a thing! And don't subject the freakishly short woman sitting behind him to such a thing either! (Parents, don't get cranky with me. Remember that I'm a childless spinster with Opinions. Also, I am not wrong about this.)

But, regardless of the poor monkey in front of me, it was a blast. Can you believe that Charlie got the whole factory? 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Das Boot

For the first time in the 8 years that I've had this blog I accidentally hit "publish" on a barely-begun post. And I didn't realize for days until someone commented with a "What?" So, sorry about that. But here's what I was going to say:

If you're on a luxury ocean liner that has been torpedoed by a U-boat you put your life vest on pronto! I just read Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania and guys, do me a favor and get the heck off that ship. Chances are the life boats will be gummed up somehow and some crazed old man is going to shove you off anyway so you have a better chance of just jumping overboard and swimming for your life. Or waiting for the few manageable life boats to launch and catching a ride with them once you're both in the water. Just get away from that boat, okay. Don't be a dummy. Many people on her were like, "Hmm, was that a torpedo that just struck us? La la la. This boat won't sink. It's unsinkable! We're just going to float to shore. Who needs a life vest? I sure don't." Who in the world thinks that their boat with a gaping hole in the starboard bow is not going to sink? Now, granted, they don't always. Several ships have survived torpedoes. But for the love of all that is good in the world, don't risk it!

Here's something to cheer you up and give you hope should you find yourself in similar straits: three people were actually sucked into the funnels as she went down but the cold water hitting the hot coals created a bit of a steamy explosion and it SHOT THEM BACK OUT INTO THE DRINK. All three survived and told the same story and were covered in oily soot as proof.

So, great book. I find if somewhat difficult reading non-fiction that I know the ending to. Like, I knew that she was going to sink and I just kept waiting for it to happen. But when it did I wanted it to be over because oh, it was horrible. And riveting. You'll learn so much about submarines and maritime customs and German warfare (read: sneaky and conniving and low. Captain von Trapp (the real one, although I clearly pictured Christopher Plummer) is quoted in the book as saying how cowardly he felt captaining a u-boat and asked to be transferred. What a hero.) And for a brief time you'll wish that you were strolling the deck of the Queen Mary II. In peaceful times, of course.

In other news, we did, in fact pass the 8 year mark last week for this slice of heaven. Happy anniversary to me and you and this silly little blog.  I so appreciate that you still read and laugh with me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My new all-fruit (ice cream) diet

1. I'm in an ice cream-making mood. I have strawberry balsamic chilling right now and I have some apricots that I want to use. What would taste good with apricots? Maybe ginger? This seems like a smart way to get more fruits into my diet. You're all welcome to come over and share. 

2. My sprained finger is still wonky. Like, typing this hurts but I can manage because the k, i, and comma aren't too common. I've been wearing a splint for 10 days now and the swelling is still just as bad but I've gotten emails from both the doctor and the radiologist saying there are no breaks or tears so I've determined that it's cancer and I'm dying. Farewell.

3. You should watch "Antarctica: A Year on Ice" on Netflix if only to really make you love where you live. Which is not Antarctica. I am totally fascinated by people who choose to live there. Particularly over the winter. That seems like a hellish nightmare. No sun for four months and below zero temps and no Target and you can't leave. But people do it. And, minus the ability to handle temperatures below 50 degrees, they seem like my kind of people. The social loner type. They like people, they just don't want to be around people too much. There's a scene where the new crop of summer folks start arriving and the winter-overs hide out in their rooms because they're overwhelmed. Like I haven't done that before. 

4. It was an Art Society Weekend. We needed to squeeze some fun in before they headed off for their summer in Utah. I took the older kids and their cousin for an LA adventure on Friday and then took Sammy on a date on Saturday since she was too little for LA and then I had them all over to swim afterwards to give Heather some time to breathe and pack. These kids are just too much.

Samantha is the perfect date. All she wanted was ice cream and a trip to Funky Town (the dollar store).

We did many things in LA but we finished at the splash pad in Grand Park. Highlight of their day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I only mean it for some of you

Things I've told people who have asked how I sprained my middle finger because the actual story is both complicated and boring:

1. Road rage
2. Gravity
3. A rumble
4. Bear fight
5. Nun-chucking accident
6. Running from the law

Not a single person has said, "No really. How?" Which is just terrific.

Things that are difficult to do with a splinted finger other than the obvious ones:

1. Turning my steering wheel without turning on my wipers
2. Not inadvertently flipping people off

Sorry everyone.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dial M for Murder

Well, I've just spent the last 2 hours in an internet wormhole. It started, as things often do, with Sam Maloof - world renown woodworker and native son of Chino. He made his home and workshop in Rancho Cucamonga but it was later moved to Alta Loma, at the very top of Carnelian, when the 210 freeway was extended. I actually think that's when I first heard about him, when an article ran in some newspaper back in the 90s about what they were going to do with his home because it was on the National Register of Historic Places. And then he was on the PBS show "Craft in America" and gosh I love that show. I love things that are beautiful, functional, and handmade and I love people who just say, you know what, I'm going to make artsy metal gates for the rest of my life so there!

Anyway, Sam Maloof. My dad and I went up to his home for a tour. He's been dead for a few years but his apprentices still run the workshop and his home has been turned into a museum. And folks, you should visit. His pieces are amazing and you can touch all of them, which is always my one true wish in a museum. Here, look. (The website doesn't show the prices but we saw the price list at the showroom and his famous rocker is $28,000. Start saving your shekels, kids.) We were on the tour with several other people including some Brits and a couple of women who seemed to be having a religious experience. They capital-L Loved that tour. And at the end, when we got to sit in one of his chairs, they kind of floated above it and closed their eyes and rubbed the arms and sighed. In their defense, it was a really comfortable wooded chair. And I don't say that lightly because most chairs are uncomfortable for me due to my Freakishly Short Leg Syndrome.

So here's where I veered off tonight. The Maloof Home is in the same neighborhood where a murder happened back in 1964. A woman drove her husband's black VW bug, with her husband taking a self-medicated nap in the back, into the wash and lit it on fire (local friends, it's where Banyan and Sapphire meet.) The place is nothing but houses now but back then it was all lemon groves so the car burned for an hour before she eventually went for help and claimed it was an accident. I know about this grizzly bit of local history because Joan Didion wrote about it and the ensuing trial in her essay Some Dreamers of the Golden DreamI came across it several years ago at the same time I was attending church in a building just a few blocks south of it on Sapphire. It was a weird experience reading an essay written in a different time by a famous author and seeing street names that were familiar to me. And now every time I'm up that way I think of that murder and that essay. But I also think of church and the friends who live there and the lovely display of Christmas lights the neighborhood puts on each year. I wonder if they know about the murder.

I reread it tonight (it's long and juicy). And that's where the wormhole began. Because then I read an essay about the essay. And then an essay written by the daughter of the couple. All of it tragic. And now my mind is filled with intrigue and murder and I'm going to have to watch an episode of Parks and Rec before bed to put the Blue Bird of Happiness back in the old heart. You guys, don't murder your husband, okay? No good will come of it.

But do go to the Maloof House.