Black and White Movies

Shirley Temple Black died a couple weeks ago and it reminded me what I need to shout to my kids before they run away to college in a year and a half.
ShirleyT

“Waaaiiiittt! You can’t leave until you’ve witnessed three decades of phenomenal movies!”

Hubby and I are movie watchers, goers, (I’m a born-again screenwriter) and overall fanatics of movies. We’re the type to purchase a great movie because we will watch it over and over. We taught our kids to do the same.

One might think I plotted my pregnancy to the future filming of all the greatest little-kid movies that Hollywood released during our twins early years: “Toy Story,” “Mulan,” “Prince of Egypt,” “The Incredibles,” etc. (As teens, they STILL watch these movies and, of course, we own the DVDs.)

By middle school they loved the “Harry Potters,” any young girl and horse fable, and, coming of age boy stories. They watched many of our recommendations from the ‘80s such as, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Back to the Future” and “My Favorite Year.”

By high school, they were still watching/going to movies, but they no longer wanted to know our opinion on a movie. The conversation would go like this:

CitizenKaneMe: You should see, “Citizen Kane.”

Kids: Eh.

Me: It’s really good.

Kids: What’s it about?

 

Me: It’s based on the real life story of William Randolph Hearst…

Kids: Who?

Me: Orson Wells directed and stars in it and he was the first director to show a ceiling in a scene.

Kids: So?

Me: Nobody ever filmed a ceiling. It was voted Best Movie ever made in 1961.

Kids: Yeah, that was like fifty years ago.

Me: Exactly! And it was filmed during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Why do you think they call it Golden?

Kids: (Shrug.)

Me: Just trust me. When have I ever steered you wrong—with movies?

Kids: Is it in black and white?

Me: Yeah… (I should have lied.)

Kids: Not interested.

Black and white—that was the clincher, the death of my testimonial.

When Shirley Temple died, I remembered that as a little girl I adored her movies. Then I thought about the oodles of amazing movies from the thirties, forties and fifties that my kids have never seen!

“The Little Colonel,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “It Happened One Night,” any Mr.SmithBogie and Bacall movie, “My Man Godfry,” “The Front Page,” any Katherine Hepburn movie, “All About Eve,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and what girl can go through her teen years without having a crush on James Dean, and for that matter, a boy without a crush on Marilyn Monroe? Even though Dean and Monroe are—well, just images.

JamesDeanMy daughter has still not seen “Rebel Without A Cause!” Where did I go wrong in my parenting?!

Fortunately, when they were elementary school age, there were plenty of classic movies we forced on them. “Wizard of Oz,” “National Velvet,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th St.,” and at eight years of age they loved, “Casablanca.” I know. The latter might not have been age appropriate but at least the fake gun violence and gambling went over their heads.

I have a plan. One weekend soon, I will lock all the doors, make a vat of popcorn, sit them down, and bribe them to watch a marathon of movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, or else, college can wait.

Do have a similar parenting faux pas?

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Dear Maria

Dear Maria;

Fresh off the airplane from Philadelphia, you didn’t know a soul, and I had never met anyone like you. We were two tall, skinny fifteen year olds who were funny… or so we thought. I stretched my face and voice like Carol Burnett and you had pure wit and clever puns like Woody Allen. We became fast friends and had sleepovers almost every night of the week.

You arrived when my parents left. You were there when they weren’t. You were a temporary and much needed angel in my life.

We wrote and read our poetry to each other. You had the stronger pen, also writing a detective novel with your cousin from back home, exchanging chapters by mail. You hadn’t discovered fashion yet. You were proud of the note from Steven Spielberg, who had taken the time to cut out words from magazines to form his response letter, mirroring yours to him. I loved your room and tried to decorate mine in its image. You had sunglasses hung on the wall and I thought that was interior decorating at it’s finest, and hung my dark pink Annie Hall sunglasses, attempting to distract from the 70s patchwork wallpaper. At sixteen you sometimes drove your mom’s Cadillac and you were cooler than anyone, calling your mom from the very first cellular phone. You once threw an apple core into the Oleander bushes at my house and my sister said condemningly, “Maria!” To which you replied simply, “Apples are biodegradable.” (How did you know what that meant back then?) Chinese cookies were called “Toenail” cookies since the sliver of almond looked just like a toenail. Because of you, that’s what I still call them. I also remember and taught my kids a goofy ditty you first taught me. You were patient as I memorized, and now it is passed down to the next generation. The most poignant memory I have now feels ironic because it was your response when someone asked you what you believed happens after life. You said you thought that everything is true. Whatever one believes is what happens.

The sleepovers faded, but we remained friends throughout high school. You realized you liked having twenty best friends, while I was more intimate with just a few. Even so, we always felt a connection.

We lost touch after graduation. Then, almost thirty years later we found each other on Facebook and it was as though time had never passed. We caught up through email and messages and I loved following your travels, “liking” your pictures of you in exotic locations and always commenting, (still) “gorgeous.” My favorite was an Instagram post. You recorded the sounds of the Brooklyn Bridge from the back seat of a taxi and I felt like I was there with you. We promised to call if ever in your city of New York, or mine, Boston. I went to New York several times and was ready and eager to pick up the phone, but somehow the timing was always off kilter. (And why did we need to be in the same city to call?)

Then, last September I learned a feeling I had never experienced– regret. I was never one to lament. I always knew that mistakes were lessons, until I saw a posting on your Facebook page that you had died. I was in shock, devastated. How could this be? With the sobbing came this odd, heavy tug on my heart, and I knew it was regret. Why didn’t I call? Just one time? One last time?

I flew to New York to attend your service. I needed to say goodbye in person, or at least to your spirit. I thought you might be there especially since I had felt my grandmother’s spirit at her funeral, my sister and I both pointing to the same spot where we knew she stood. I thought I sensed you for a moment, sitting next to me, then jaunting off to the next guest, like a good hostess. You always adored a great gathering. It was heartwarming to witness your recent world, your husband and lovely friends. I knew you would have fantastic, supportive people around you. And I saw your mom again. Mani. And through her thick tears she gave me her email and phone number so we could keep in touch. And I wondered again, why didn’t I do this sooner?

Once home the regret continued but the lesson was strong. Don’t wait to call or see someone. Don’t make excuses because you think you have more time. I still wish more than all the toenail cookies in the world, I could have said, “Thank you for being a temporary angel in my life,” and, “Farewell, Maria.”

And because you, my old friend, always ended on a lighter note, here is the funny ditty you taught me so many years ago.

(I attempted to write this in the alliteration of a New Jersey accent, a requirement for its performance. Oh, and read quickly.)

“Foyty doyty boyds, sitting on da coyb, boypin and choypin and eatin doyty woyms,
Along came a black boyd named Boyt, wearin a plaid red skoyt,
Saw da foyty doyty boyds sitting on da coyb, boypin and choypin and eatin doyty woyms,
And boy was he patoybed.

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2013– The Year In Review & Where SNL Missed the Boat on Some Sketch Ideas!

(Disclaimer: I haven’t been able to watch SNL lately because I’m not awake during their programming slot and we were switching from TiVo to DVR– what a mess. Needless to say, I need to catch up on a few episodes. So maybe SNL did indeed touch on similar topics as listed below and I missed it. I accept your forgiveness in advance.)

This is my list that I threw together. If you can ad to the list funny parodies, short film ideas, whatever, that SNL should have done, tweet it to me or add it in a comment below my blog. This could be really fun and funny.

Let’s have at it:

1. Beyoncé lip-syncs (badly—like an old English-dubbed Chinese movie) a conversation with a friend about her trip to Cuba.  (Here she is with buddy Gweneth.)beyonce

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Prince William and Princess Kate politely deal with changing their baby’s diaper.

williamkate

“Oh goodness, but I don’t even wipe my own arse.”

 

 

3. Support group of famous women who wear too much mascara and did or said stupid things: pauladean
Paula Dean and Tammy Faye Baker sobbing together, Kathy Lee cries in sympathy—it’s a mascara malfunction frenzy. Other cry mongers appear—Clare Danes and John Boehner. Kim Kardashian poses.

 

4. Obama tries to set up his own email; he’s totally NOT computer savvy. Sasha and Malia have to help him. His new email is: LeninLover1@gmail.com  obama

 

 

 

 

 

 

dmv5. It’s 2020 and America has implemented Government run healthcare. The set is a hospital E.R. that looks identical to the Post Office, or DMV—long lines, slow, indifferent employees, taking their time, while people croak on line.

6. Ted Cruz during his filibuster. Ted’s getting tired, is about to collapse, but then, Jimmy Stewart (a la Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) comes in with a bag full of letters to Ted. tedcruzjimmystewOne letter is from Mitt Romney and food to keep Ted steady. It’s a Romney favorite– lime Jell-O with rice speckles and canned pineapple. Another letter is from the ghost of Ronald Regan. He tells Ted to do this for the Gipper.

7. True Ghost Stories: Real people retell their dramatic paranormal experiences with ghosts, which are really folks dressed in long sheets.

8. The Long Island Medium parody. Theresa and her husband visit a library. Theresa asks a studying student if his great grandfather died as she is a medium and he’s stepping

theresaforward. The student is in awe. How did Theresa know? Theresa says he’s showing her a can of beans, which is the way he’s telling her he died in World War I. Library people keep “Shushing” Theresa.

larrycaputoTheresa’s husband gets in a fight with them.

 

 

9. Weekend Update: Mily Cyrus undergoes a surgical procedure: a tongue reduction; mileyExperts have finally agreed that the problems of the world are NOT the fault of Israel; After all these years, Hilary Clinton has decided to divorce Bill, citing that she wants to be a role model for all women, and that they too should leave a man who lies and cheats… on his diet.

 

10. NSA workers listen to mundane conversations of citizens, their bored, so they prank call those people back, freaking them out by repeating prankcalltheir conversations out of context, teasing them because they can’t star-69 and find out who’s prank-calling.

Your turn!

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A Biting Story

Fodors warned us: Bring mosquito spray. I disregarded the warning because mosquitos never liked me. They avoided me as though I had sour blood. Even as a kid, friends at camp would bite-compete, counting them on their shins, itchy kneecaps, the winner being queen bee for a day. I was always the lone Charlie Brown looking into her pillow case after a trick or treat– not even a rock. I’d fake it, finding the beginnings of a beauty mark, “Here! I found one! And it’s really scratchy!” As usual the one bully-girl of the bunk would say, “That’s a fat-ass zit!”

As an adult, it’s been an advantage. I am proud of my naturally-mosquito-resistant blood, thankful in fact that I’ve never had pink welts followed by excessive itching on my heels, thumbs or ankles.

Until my husband and I took the lovely, winding ride to Hana, in Maui. We stopped at the Garden of Eden, a bird sanctuary and arboretum. We didn’t bring bug spray. Hubby was immediately attacked by those buzzing blood suckers. (He would have been camp King ten years in a row in the Fishcat Bunk.) Being solution-oriented, I said, “Maybe the dude at the cash-collecting hut has some deet you can borrow.” And hubby was off.

I stayed and chatted with a Oaklahoma transplant now a professional duck feeder. I helped feed, as she told me about these colorful creatures considered a nuisance in South America but welcomed in this habitat. They had whispering quacks and wagged their tails as I fed them. I was enamored and ignored the brown mucky pond a few feet away.

Hubby returned with a green aerosol can of poison, an oxymoron in this oasis, and sprayed earlobes to toe nails. I figured, “Well, it is pretty moist here. I’ll just squirt my exposed areas.”

Too late.

When we returned to our hotel, and stripped to shower, it was then I noticed something on my body I had never seen before. Not just one, two or five mosquito bites, but a scattered army of bright pink welts, the Battle of the bulge on my calf, the Normandy invasion on my un-toned triceps! These bites were marching up and down my arms and legs.

I shrieked, “What the (expletive)!” Or, if you’d prefer, “Gadzooks!”  photo-164

Hubby jumped to my side, “What?”

“Look!”

“Oh my g-d!” Yes, even hubby, passed recipient King of the Bunk, was speechless.

After the next fifteen minutes of shock, awe and me saying, “But mosquitos never like me… I don’t get it… Why didn’t I spray more?” And hubby-detective saying, “Maybe it happened when you were feeding the ducks by that muddy pond…” I refused to believe this anomaly on my body.

Hubby surfed, not in the great blue ocean fifty yards from our hotel, but on the internet.

Guess what? Turns out the bites weren’t from mosquitos after all.

GNATS!!!– Or more specific, Biting Midges aka No-See-Ums. (The latter being the name a scientist’s five year old probably made up unless it was me– Gno-See-Um-Gno-Fling-Ums… Gno-gnat-gnonsense… or a new Broadway musical about insecta-bitulus, Gno-Gno-Nagnat…)

“The midges are nearly invisible to the unaided eye and can pass through normal window screens and even some mosquito netting. When under attack by these flies outdoors people often say something like “I’m getting bit but I can’t see what’s biting me!”While there are many non-biting midges, or gnats, these are the only midges that bite.” http://www.livingwithbugs.com/swe_itch.html

I had no idea.

Having now been bit, I am wary of all areas outdoors. To the beach, bring deet, to the picnic—deet, Haleakala Crater (as barren as the moon)—deet.

Hubby reassured me, “Maybe you’re immune now, like when you got the chicken pox as a kid… you did have the chicken pox, right?”

“Hmmm.”  I went back to playing detective, “Maybe the midges liked my gluten free diet.”

Hubby laughed, “Yeah, they took one bite of me, spit out that processed bread and hopped over to you.”

“Ya never know,” I said.

Do you have a biting story?

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Don’t Forget The Peanut Butter

My teenage kids get so annoyed when I don’t remember something they just told me five minutes before. Guess what? It’s pretty frustrating for me too. And as I age, it only gets worse. What’s awful is back when I was twenty five, I had this same dilemma. One friend diagnosed me as having “Teenage Alzheimers.” Funny back then, but as my memory gets choosier, it’s quite catastrophic, as I fear I might be a candidate for the Big A disease.

There’s hope.

I just read a news article that helps one self-diagnose this debilitating, cureless phenomenon. The NY Daily News states, “While using their left nostril, the patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease couldn’t detect the peanut butter (aroma) until it was a couple centimeters from their face. However, when they used their right nostril, they caught a whiff when it was an average of 17.4 centimeters away.” http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/peanut-butter-detect-alzheimer-disease-article-1.1481823   photo-157

Genius.

So, I tried the test at home. Luckily, I smelled the delightful scent of crushed peanuts in each nostril equally. Dodged that legume. Then why am I so forgetful?

The online Harvard Health magazine lists 7 reasons for this. Some are pretty obvious, but I’ll list them here anyway.

1. Lack of Sleep. (Yup.)
2. Medications. (Hmmm.)
3. Alcohol (Makes sense.)
4. & 5. Stess and Anxiety. (DUH!)
6. Depression. (I hear ya.)
7. Underactive Thyroid. (Hello beautiful!)

That’s it! That’s me! Underactive thyroid mom who can’t remember the name of her daughter’s best friend!  (I exaggerate.  Her fourth best friend.)

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/7-common-causes-of-forgetfulness-201302225923

Of course there are ways of keeping the brain healthy, attempts to avoid dementia: learn a language, play complicated games like Bridge, read, write (hello!) engage in intellectual conversation, pretend you’re William F. Buckley…

I’ll do whatever I can but in the meantime, I might have to take written notes whenever my kids talk to me.

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Working at the Starbucks

Have you ever been to Starbucks and wondered “What the heck are all these people doing, hunched over their open laptops?” They look so serious, don’t they? Like they’re figuring out a plan to reduce the U.S. deficit? Some are noisy, talking on their cell phones or Bluetooths. (And why isn’t the plural of Bluetooth, Blueteeth?) I once went to a Starbucks where a woman was having a conference call—her phone on speaker, with the volume turned to eleven. (For you Spinal Tap fans, you know that eleven is damn powerful.)

Sometimes, it’s obvious what the “customer” is doing. If she looks to be twenty years old, then she’s probably a student. I know I know, there are many middle agers who return for another degree and may write her one hundred forty page thesis from the less-than-comfortable wooden chair, sticky table, near a milk splattered condiment counter.

But who are all the others?photo-140 What are they doing, setting up office, from 8am till noon, occasionally glancing up at the line of people, women with cumbersome strollers, and nannies with toddlers drooling and screaming over the glazed donuts? How do these space-stealers even concentrate?

Well, I decided to be one of those people.

As a writer, I usually work from home. But since I had a few days left of summer and the kids were home, asking for rides, sleepovers and complaining about emptying the dishwasher and summer reading, I decided to be a Starbucks space-stealer for a day, well, a morning. Besides, I have my own issues with home-distractions. Teenagers, and every five minutes or so I’ll think, “Maybe I should check my email” or “Oh, it’s eleven fifty-nine, time for lunch,” or if the phone rings, “I better answer since it could be important, the dentist confirming my root canal appointment.”

I kissed my dog goodbye and went off to work at my own little non-cubicle at one of five Starbucks within a ten-block radius. I purchased a large drink and found a table next to another person with an open laptop. photo-152Before long I wondered what all these people did with their laptops when they had to go to the bathroom. Did they bring them into the W.C.? And once there, where did they put them? There is rarely a purse hanger on the door, let alone a laptop table in the bathroom. I leaned mine up against the door, sure to wipe the bottom clean before exiting.

I did get some work done. But after two hours I was ready to go home. It was getting too cold for me; they blast the a/c as though we were in Palm Springs. (See prior blogs about other a/c gripes.) Besides, my meter expired and I didn’t want to get a parking ticket for being a Starbucks space-stealer.

It was time to let the next person usurp a seat till closing.

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Sometimes I’ll stand in my closet for ten minutes, thinking, trying to keep the number of the day’s outfits to a minimum.

Today I’ll need three.  Why, you ask.

It’s ninety degrees outside so first I’ll need something light and cool to walk my dog.
photo-143I’ll usually put on work-out clothes but I don’t have time this morning for a sweaty run with the pooch, so I’ll wear something summery and subtle.

(Poses are not subtle.)   photo-142

My next outfit will be for my doctor’s appointment.  Why do you need to change your clothes for your doctor, you ask.

Because every doctor’s office is so freaking cold, I’ll freeze my upper cheeks off in the waiting room, never mind, once called in, the teeth clacking whilst changing into the flimsy gown.  Then of course doctors are never on time, so I’ll be in the treatment room, shivering, attempting to cover my lower cheeks with whatever extra fabric I can grasp from the Johnny.  photo-148

But I’ll be prepared.  I will have a sweater with me just in case.  The sweater can be a blanket on my legs or thrown over my shoulders.

photo-146

 

 

 

 

 

 

This evening I’ll be dining with a girlfriend.  We’ll be going to a vegetarian restaurant so I must look the part.  A gauzy maxi skirt with flip flops, maybe an embroidered Mexican shirt. I should study up on the delights of raw rutabagas.  Or not.  Again, because offices, restaurants and grocery stores blast air conditioning as though we humans have seal blubber under our skin, I’ll have to wear layers.  Am I the only one who is uncomfortable in 50 degrees and shorts? Tonight’s dress code will include long pants and long sleeves, maybe even a light jacket.  (I opted out of the scarf.)  photo-144

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny with a thunderstorm later.  Don’t get me started on the rain gear.

How many outfits do you have to pick out each day?

photo-147

(Photos provided by Dylan.)

 

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A Good Flush

I love a good flush. Not the kind found in a poker game; I don’t even know how to play poker. I’m talking toilets. This country prides itself on her environmentally conscious strides, including a law passed about twenty years ago. In the early 90s, wasting water became a number one concern, so flushing was put at the top of the government’s to-do list. At 3.5 gallons per purge, we were using too much water. The current, ubiquitous low flow toilet allows us no more than 1.6 gallons per rinse. Consequently, my family is using more water per dump because of the triple-flush factor. Too much toilet paper and a second or third flush is in order. One big poop and it’s plunger time.  photo-136

(That’s me looking none too happy about taking the plunge.)

photo-137

 

 

 

 

America has it all wrong.

I just got back from Europe where ne’er a toilet be clogged. They use common sense across the pond. It’s called the Duel Flush Technology. There are two obvious buttons to choose from when business is closing and it’s time to liquidate. One button is noticeably larger than the other, to be used for—you guessed it– the loftier elimination.

They’re serious about their crap.

images-2The smaller selection is for the lighter load.  And guess what?  The larger button uses just 1.6 gallons of water! That’s the same as in the U.S.! Then why does it work there and not here? European, Australian and Asian toilets are designed with a larger diameter trapway. In other words, the hole exiting the porcelain is bigger. Duh.

Since our own low-down, low-flow law was passed, American toilets have greatly improved, but I must say, with every bathroom trip I took across Europe, I was ready to expunge my life in Boston in the pursuit of a good flush.

(This is my son and I on our way home from the airport. No flushing frustrations means fewer fights with the formidable fellow.) photo-138

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Ok, I Need An Audience

You know you’re a mom of teenagers when…

you know you’re a mom who works from home when…

you know you’re writing a comedy when…

You wish your dog would laugh at your jokes.photo-131

Life would be complete.

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Mom The Peacekeeper

I get newsletters from an Israeli journal. I was thrilled when I saw this job opportunity.

http://honestreporting.com/job-opportunity-peacekeepers-wanted/

photo-129At first I saw the word, “Peacekeeper” and thought, “That’s me, that’s me! Boy do I want peace. I love when everyone gets along.”

Then I read some more. By the last line I was sure the ad was a dark joke, a bad SNL sketch. (I will quote from ad later.) So I clicked on Apply Here to find out if it was for real.

No joke.

I was connected to the United Nations site!   https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx

(Pictured: My “peaceful” dog.  But would the peace-sign work at every border?)

There were pages and pages of job opportunities and all were in very exciting places: Santiago, Brussels, Geneva, even Beirut. The jobs included: Interpreters, Human Rights Advisors, even Drug Control Officers. I searched for a description that might accept a minimalist resume such as mine, so I clicked on Office for Outer Space Affairs– after all, I know some Astronomy. Heck, I’ve watched the movie, “Apollo 13” at least eighty-two times. Plus, I’m from California, we know all about being Spacey. I skimmed through a very detailed page-long paragraph of the job explanation and couldn’t decipher what Outer Space activities were. I did hold up my index finger and say, “Aha,” when I read, “Oversee the recruitment of staff… taking due account of geographical and gender balance and other institutional values.” I am all about balance and I know that in the working world there are always an equal number of undergraduate men to Ph.d. women, Persians to Eritreans and curly-tops to red heads. Although I wonder if a Keratin-head would count as a curly? After all, their roots scream fro.

Back to the initial ad– the Austrians are leaving the Golan, so Israel needs a few good UN peacekeepers. No Russians need apply since it is one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council. I don’t know what that has to do with the price of tea in Tel Aviv, so if you know, please explain below. I just had an idea what the U.S. can do with all her illegal immigrants. Hehehe.

Back up to the Peacekeeper description. “Responsibilities include patrolling buffer zone, assisting Red Cross, identifying minefields, occasionally greeting Syrian and Druze brides, avoiding being abducted, and looking good in blue headgear for TV crews.” I want to meet the person whose resume claims, “Wore blue headgear for 3 years in the West Bank, Katherine Bigelow complemented me,” “Avoided abduction on 13 occasions, I look exactly like a cocker spaniel,” and “Recommendations upon request– from 18 Syrian and Druze brides.”

My favorite, “A history of shooting off your mouth about Israel, needing to take risks for peace a big plus…” This person should be our next President.

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to work a dangerous job? (Beyond motherhood.)

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