Tuesday, October 17, 2017


In an afternoon press conference, Trump said that over the weekend, he wrote letters to the families of the four service members, who died in the deadliest U.S. combat operation of Trump’s term thus far. The letters, Trump said, either have been sent already or will be sent Monday night. He also said he intends to call the families.

Trump then took a moment to compare himself favorably to former presidents, saying he likes to call families “when I’m able to do it.”

“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents ― most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it,” Trump said. “They have made the ultimate sacrifice, so generally I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass.”

According to someone from Obama's staff, either Obama himself or Joe Biden greeted every plane arriving in D.C. carrying fallen heroes. 

"The commander in chief told a totally irresponsible and disgusting lie in the Rose Garden today, claiming past presidents did not call the families of fallen service members," said a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, Brian Gabriel. "Trump's jaw-dropping, disrespectful lie is not based anywhere in reality and is another symptom of a deep-seated obsession with tearing down President Obama."

Former White House communications director and Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer slammed Trump as “a deeply disturbed ignoramus who is a pathological liar,” while former Obama deputy chief of staff for operations Alyssa Mastromonaco called Trump a “deranged animal.” 

“I know he wrote to the families and I often was with him when he met with families at military bases to commiserate in person,” Fleischer said.
Pete Souza, White House photographer under Mr. Obama, posted a photograph on Instagram of the former president and first lady Michelle Obama consoling the parents of a slain Medal of Honor winner.

“I also photographed him meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action,” he wrote. 

Ari Fleischer, who served as spokesman for President George W. Bush ― who launched the United States into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars ― said Bush frequently went out of his way to interact with the military community.

Toward the end of Bush’s presidency, The Washington Times reported that Bush “met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans,” often during private sessions. 

Even the sainted Ronald Reagan was there to honor the heroes when they returned home

What was Trump doing when the four soldiers killed in Niger returned home?

Since the ambush that claimed those four servicemen’s lives, Trump has golfed five times. He doesn't even know if the letters that were supposedly written have been sent yet.

Why does this man lie about everything, even something as easily misproven as this.  Has he never heard of photos?  News coverage?

I find that I am physically ill at the thought of the press conferences this man gave this week, including laughing about how Pence wants to hang all gays.  Big funny joke.  He wants to take away health care from children, birth control from women, health care from a huge percentage of the population.

I won't even talk about all the saber rattling...
When is someone in the GOP going to notice?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Magic Flute

I do love Amazon.

We went to the Lamplighters Gala yesterday.  The gala is always preceded by a silent auction of things members of the company have donated, and other larger items they've been able to coerce people to give.  

One the table of thing that had been given by Lamplighters I saw this book.  Patricia Minger is a woman who performed with the Lamplighters for 3 years in the mid-80s.  I knew her name, I kinda sorta remembered what she looked like.  I didn't bid on the book, but looked at it and saw that it was praised by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.  The plot sounded interesting (flautist on her way up is involved in a terrible acccident that ruins her hand and she must find another way to add meaning to her life). 

It was about 45 minutes before the show was going to start and I was not interested in checking the other auction items because we are looking to divest ourselves of things rather than to add things.  I had my Kindle with me, so I went to shop on amazon and in a matter of minutes, I had purchased Magic Flute and was happily sitting in the lobby reading my new book.  And so far, it's good!  

I saw Pat at the party after the show and told her what I'd done and how much I was enjoying it so far.
As for the Gala, this was the 51st anniversary of this fund-raising show, and we have been  to most of them, including the very first one at the Harding Theater.  In those days there was unlimited champagne after the show and for several years, I went home definitely in my cups.  Now the champagne is still there but there is less of it and we do manage to go home sober (in fact, I drink water, not champagne).

Every year there have been Lamplighters manning the bar at the party and this year it looked like they had hired a professional company to do it.  There were snacks.  Last year there were bowls of snacks at several spots throughout the big room, but last night they were all concentrated in one tiny spot right next to the bar.

Most ridiculous set-up ever.  Several hundred people all wanting drinks and food and all trying to get into this teeny, tiny area.  There was a big box of snack bags in the back so bowls were filled as soon as they were emptied (almost immediately), but if they had been spread out throughout the room, things would have worked MUCH better (especially for people like me who don't drink alcohol, who were feeling overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise and who just wanted to sit somewhere and observe, while eating).  I also caused a problem asking for water instead of champagne.  First they couldn't find any and then they found one big bottle and couldn't get it opened.  In previous years I was able to pick up a bottle of water and take it with me. We needed Paul and Henry!!!

As for the show, it was, of course, very funny.  This year it was based on Saturday Night Live, so the format was more a throwback to the earliest days, when there was no plot line, but individual funny numbers, some funnier than others.  I think people who are fans of Saturday Night Live and Game of Thrones got more out of it than others.

At intermission was my least favorite part of recent shows;  the auction.  After the silent auction has closed in in the lobby, a live auction starts in the theater....the big ticket items.  There is a professional auctioneer who drives in from Davis to run the auction.  He's good, but very irritating.  And he raised over $50,000 for the company in half an hour, so an asset, but I truly hate it.  One of the big ticket items was this fancy framed tribute to the Golden State Warriors (here held by Jonathan Spencer, one of the writers for the Gala):

I'll give the auctioneer credit.  He did his darndest, but finally had to admit that this was a theater audience, not a sports audience and the thing went unsold.  The week trip in a villa in Italy, however, was so popular, he managed to get three different people to spend $5600 (each) for it.

I had to smile at the original lyrics for this show.  Back in 1983 when office manager David Witmer and I convinced Gilbert to do the first of the plot galas, his argument against it was the the chorus would never be able to learn new lyrics to songs that were not from shows they had done during the previous season.  We wrote a plot for Major General Hospital and a few of the songs had new lyrics and the chorus did a beautiful job.

That ushered in the era of plot galas and each year they have become more and more elaborate.  The first was written by Gilbert, David and myself, but then we started adding new people to the committee and by the time Gilbert died, in 1986, there was a viable committee to take over for Gilbert.  That committee has exceeded any expectations Gilbert ever had and the resulting show is worth the $100 ticket price.

When it ended, our friends Diana and Jill agreed with us that it had been too long...but then it always is, but somehow it doesn't matter.

The best part of the evening was the surprise for outgoing managing director, Sarah Vardigans, who is leaving to join the Peace Corps in Senegal.  The tribute to her was a complete surprise.

There was also another complete surprise of a Legacy Award for Chris Focht, who has been with the company for 50 year (we predate him by about 3 years, but we never performed).  I looked at all those people on stage and remembered all of the back stories -- who used to be married to whom, who had had live-in relations with whom, whose children have problems, whose children now perform with the company, who is no longer with us, etc., etc., etc.

It's an expensive evening, but it is always a full mix of emotions thinking back over all the galas I remember from previous years, and makes me so proud of having been a part of this San Francisco tradition for nearly 60 years.

Even if all my cheese doodles fell on the floor.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Stealing

This set of questions is called "Questions to ask Your Crush" but it seems like a regular old set of questions to me!
This set ended up being harder than it looked when I chose it!  sorry 'bout that!

1. What do you find hilarious, but most people don’t find funny?
Well, I can't say MOST PEOPLE don't find it funny, since it's so popular, but it is amazing to me how many people don't like Big Bang Theory, which I think is the funniest show on TV now.

2. What was the best year of your life so far?
Wow.  That's a hard question.  Best year.  Maybe 1985-86, the year I was so intimately involved with the Lamplighters, before Gilbert died.  I was very happy that year.  This is not to say I haven't had lots of happy years, but that one stands out.

3. What’s your favorite thing to do on the Internet?
Spend time on Facebook, though lately it's more depressing than not.

4. What fad have you held on to even tho it isn’t popular any more?
I don't even think of "fads."  If I liked it in the 60s chances are I'm still liking it/wearing it/doing it in the 21st century.

5. What do you spend most of your time doing?
This.  Working on the computer, reading, or watching TV.

6. What do you spend way too much money on?

7. What event, large or small, has changed the course of your life most?
The death of my friend Gilbert in 1986.  I have had a lot of traumatic deaths in my life, but Gilbert's was the first and taught me so much about death, dying, and grief.  It changed my outlook on life.

8. Who do you have a hard time taking seriously?
I'd like to say #45, but he's entirely too scary not to take him seriously.

9. What do you judge people for most often?
The scarier #45 becomes, the more he destroys, the more I am inclined to judge people who still think he is going to make America great again.

10. What was the most beautiful view you have ever experienced?
Wow.  So many choices.  My most favorite view in the world, though, is the Golden Gate bridge on a clear sunny day.  And how lucky I am to be able to see it so often.  Runners up:  The Pinnacles in Australia, the interior of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Mt. Zion State Park, Sunset over the minarets in Istanbul, Yosemite.

11. What is something you read or heard that has stuck with you for a long time?
"Never go to the foot when the head can be had."  My godfather's advice which has served me well throughout my life.

12. What’s your favorite thing to shop for.  Why?
Books.  Because...well...books!  Least favorite thing to shop for:  shoes.

13. What’s the best compliment someone can receive?
Any compliment about my writing warms the cockles of my heart.

14. What’s something people go on and on about and you just can’t stand sitting through?
I once went to lunch with someone I hadn't seen in a few years.  She started talking about her family when she sat down (I don't know anybody in her family) and she talked nonstop for two hours about what everyone was doing and then looked at her watch and said she had to leave.  (She had made the lunch date because she was selling a product she wanted to tell me about) She never even asked what I was I doing in my life now but said next time we'd talk about me  She has never contacted me again.  That was about 8 years ago.  That's the most extreme example, but anyone who forgets that you are part of the conversation too drives me nuts.

15. What’s something you can do that most people can’t?
Decorate a cake like a professional (my daughter-in-law is better than I am, but I was no slouch in my day)

(This cake took about 8 hours to make)

16. When was the last time you tried to look cool and ended in embarrassment?
I never try to look cool!  It's pointless.

17. What is the most ridiculous rule you have to follow?
A lot of rules in a corporate setting, which is why I only work for myself now.

18. What country do you not know the location of, even though you should?
After all these years, you'd think I could tell where each of the countries in the Middle East is, but I can't.  Bad me.

19. What do you have a hard time with but most people find quite easy?

20. What’s the most impressive skill you have?
I'm by no means an expert, but I have some pretty impressive PhotoShop skills.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Chattanooga Choo-Choo (1941)
  Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1)  Chattanooga is Tennessee's fourth largest city. Have you ever visited Tennessee? If so, where did you go and what did you see? I have visited 30 states in this country, but Tennessee is not one of them.

Since Glenn Miller's recording of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" was awarded the first-ever gold record, we're going to devote the next questions to your firsts.

2) What was the first award or accolade you ever won? The very first I ever won was to be May Queen in my second grade class.  The second was winning 5th place in an essay contest sponsored by the Merchant Marine, when I was a sophomore in high school.  My prize was a one-way trip to Los Angeles on the ship, the President Cleveland.

3) We know about your blog. But which was the first social media site that you posted to? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, MySpace ...) Funny the World started on GeoCities, which no longer exists.
4) Where did you go on your first plane ride? We flew home from the aforementioned cruise to Los Angeles.  This was about 1958, shortly after Disneyland opened and that is what we did on our one day in LA.
5) Tell us about your first cell phone. Neither Walt nor I can remember but it was a big clunky thing that we kept in the car.  Maybe something like the phone at the left

6) Tell us about your first tattoo: Where is it on your body? Where did you have it done? What does it depict? I love that this question assumes we all have tattoos.  I do not have a tattoo.  I do not plan to have a tattoo in the future.  I do not like tattoos.  My son, a drummer, has a tattoo of "Animal" (from the Muppets) on his forearm.

7) How old were you when you had your first piercing
My first and only piercing was my ears, in about 1968.  I left my two (then) kids with my father and went down to a jewelry store on Market Street in San Francisco.  They took me to the back to the store and up to a dark room upstairs.  I was already feeling guilty because my Catholic school teaching told me that only "bad" girls got their ears pierced.  But I did it, and have not regretted it since.

8) What had you been drinking the first time you suffered a hangover? I can't remember, but probably champagne.

9) Was your first ticket for parking or was it a moving violation? I've had several parking tickets, but at age 74, I've never had a moving violation.  I talked my way out of a couple of them, though (tears work pretty well)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Project Runway

Thursday is Project Runway night, when the show dominates the USA channel, with repeats and snippets and previews of coming shows, in addition to the current new show.  It was on from  7 p.m. until after 11 last night...might have been longer, but I finally turned it off, not wanting to see previews of what is going to come next week.

I have been watching this show since nearly the very beginning.  Why in the world do I like it?
- I don't know the first thing about fashion and even after all these years could not tell you what  "fashion forward" means.

- I can't even sew a button on something and the hemming I did on my mother's slacks a year or so ago was downright embarrassing.

- I used to own a sewing machine and don't have a clue if I still do or not.

- I don't really like Heidi Klum and hate her schtick.

- I hate to watch the contestants wave at each judge each time, as if they had never seen them before.

- I dislike many of the contestants

- When they have the fashion show at the end, my favorite piece almost always is the one which is voted off because it looks so "old fashioned."

- I don't usually follow what they are doing when they buy fabric (but I do love the Mood dog, Swatch--a great name for a dog in a fabric store) or when they are draping mannequins to create something.

Maybe the only thing I like about the show is Tim Gunn.  But I don't like Tim Gunn that much to explain why I sit and watch this damn show for four hours once a week.  

Of course, once in awhile, like this week, there is a controversy that adds a bit of novelty to it (one contestant walked off the stage in disgust.  Good for him!) and one contestant was essentially "fired" and her winnings revoked.

I also like that this season they are using "real" models, not just skinny twigs.  There are plus size models in addition to "normal" models, and last season a plus size designer actually won.

But next week I'll be back in my recliner watching the show again, wondering what kind of crisis is going to happen this week.

And I'm embarrassed at how many designers I see today whom I remember from when they were on Project Runway originally (same as I can identify a lot of chefs from their time on "Next Food Network Star")

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Always on the Edge of a Scream

The title describes how I've felt pretty much every day since #45 was inaugurated in January.  There are bright spots (mostly when visiting Tom and the kids) when I can forget for a few hours...or even a day.  But then turn on the TV and it all comes flooding back in.  The Talking heads used to talk about a variety of things and now 99% of all discussion--even on the 3 hour daily Morning Joe centers around #45 and the horrible thing he has done today, the horrible things he did in the past (how many times have you seen the Access Hollywood tape?) or the horrible things he might do in the future.
Check Twitter and it's all either #45's tweets or people's response to them (Carl Reiner is great!)

I don't remember ever thinking this much about a president in my life...and heck, I lived through two Bushes!  I heard that #45 is only happy when the spotlight is on him and he has certainly learned how to do that.

But in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the situation on Puerto Rico is more upsetting than most. People especially in the remote areas have not had water or food in 3 weeks, except dirty water which is causing the beginning of a plague of leptospirosis, which is easily cured...if you get medicine, which it doesn't look like they will.  They are already seeing the first deaths from the disease.

#45 minimizes the results because it wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Katrina.  At the time there were only 16 official deaths.  He may get his wish, though, as NPR reported yesterday that there are 317 bodies in a morgue somewhere, and both PBS and CNN reported 39 and 45 bodies elsewhere.  If we wait long enough, we may actually have a "real catastrophe" here.

While #45 laughs and brags about how happy the people were when he tossed paper towels at them, Pence was feeing their pain and hugging victims (yes, it could have been a photo op, I realize, but at least it shows some degree of empathy).  Pence promised the people that the government would be with them as long as it took to get them back on their feet.

Trump’s response to Harvey in Texas: "TEXAS: We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD!"

Trump's response to Irma in Florida: "With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!"

Trump’s response to Maria in Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico survived the hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making...Electric and all infrastructure was a disaster before hurricanes,  Congress to decide how much to spend.  We cannot keep FEMA, the military & the first responders, who have been amazing, in P.R. forever."  

I have never seen a hint of a note of concern for the suffering people who have now been without electricity, water, or food for 3 weeks.

Comments on this tweet include "Puerto Rico is without food, water and electricity and somehow the president thinks a shame-tweet is appropriate.  It's almost as if he thinks Puerto Rico deserves this.
Newsweek ran this headline:  TRUMP DONATED HIS OWN MONEY TO TEXAS, BUT HE’S THREATENING TO CUT OFF AID TO PUERTO RICO.  The article reads "Trump’s statement that he is losing patience with the relief effort in Puerto Rico came as millions of island residents, who are U.S. citizens, remain without power, clean drinking water or other critical resources, while the death toll rose to 45....Meanwhile, Trump seemed to be working hard for the title of "comforter in chief" following Harvey, the first major natural disaster to affect his presidency. He pledged to donate $1 million of his own money, which went to the American Red Cross, nonprofit Christian organizations and eight other humanitarian groups."  

(Given his history of making such sweeping promises which he forgets to follow up on, one wonders if the Red Cross actually got this money.)

The Navy has this wonderful ship called the USN Comfort.  With more than 700 medical personnel, 5,000 units of blood and 12 operating rooms, it is one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States. What sets it apart from most others is that it just happens to float.

It was not deployed to Puerto Rico until Hillary Clinton tweeted that it should be sent to help.  Four days later it was sent and arrived five days after that.  Somewhere in the middle of the second week of the tragedy.

Rachel Maddow did a report on the ship, which has been docked in the port of San Juan.  Want to know how many patients it is now treating, this ship which is equipped to handle as many as 500 patients? Seven.  SEVEN.  Why?

She says it's not the response, it's not the availability, it's the organization.  A dock loaded with water and supplies, a hospital ship standing in wait, some roads finally clear and NOBODY to help the people.  I saw a video on Twitter made by five ex-soldiers who came to P.R. to help and are pleading for more assistance because it's more than five people can handle.

FEMA managed to make it to a remote village three times...to have them fill out paper work asking for assistance.  You'd think they could have loaded up their car with water and food as long as they were going that way anyway, but...no.  It's not their job.  They are there to get the paper work done.  They say that they delivered supplies to a central location and it's up to the mayor to get it to the town.  Without a car, and without fuel if he had one.  But that's not FEMA's problem.  They are doing "their job" and the hell with the suffering people.

It's time for people to stop worrying about their job description and look around at the suffering and go the extra mile to help.

I won't even talk about #45's response to the California fires.....

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Bunch of Nothing

Today was one of those days where I feel like I did nothing, but actually did a fair amount.  I got a sort of full night of sleep, falling asleep at 10:30 and gettng up at 6.  I did have about an hour and a half in the middle of the night, but essentially had a good night of sleep.  (I have to laugh.  Gilbert suffered from insomnia and it seemed that every time I saw him, he gave me a report on his sleeping of the night before.  I've turned into Gilbert.)

I was thinking that we had some overly ripe bananas and that I should make banana bread, so at 6 a.m., I got up to make some.  As I was mixing it, I kept hearing this tinkling sound and wondered if something was leaking, then realized Walt had set the coffee pot to start at 6 a.m., so as soon as I got the bread finished, I was able to get a fresh cup of coffee.

I got back into the recliner, thinking about the about-to-be-finished banana bread and then realized, with horror, that I had forgotten to add the 3 eggs.  Gleep!  The end result wasn't as it should be -- a lot more crumbling, for example.  You couldn't cut a slice that held together, but it was tasty.  I have two more ripe bananas so maybe I'll make another bread tomorrow.  With eggs this time.

Ironically, on Kelly and Ryan this morning they were doing part 1 of a banana bread bake-off, where Ryan's girlfriend was making her gluten free, sugar free banana bread.  The recipe which included almond butter, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and unsweetened chocolate chips (no flour) did not appeal to me at all.  I'll stick with my Bisquick bad-for-you ingredients bread (only WITH eggs!)

I decided to read for awhile.  I'm reading Dan Brown's new book, "Origin" which is driving me nuts...or did for the first 10 or so chapters.  He spends so much time setting things up before they start to get gripping.  I read about 30% of the book before I realized I was finally hooked.

I would have continued to read but I realized I had not yet written my "Diary of Anne Frank" review so switched to the computer and worked on that.  I found a fascinating article about how the diary came to be published and the editing done by her father.  Turns out there are at least three different versions of the diary.  I never knew that.

When the review was written, I decided to write to my Compassion kids -- 28 of them.  Some of them had written to me and so their letters started with answers to their letters, some had not written so I just wrote generic letters to them (all of the letters having a bunch of photos from Santa Barbara) and two kids are too little for a generic letters, so I mainly wrote a couple of sentences and then sent the photos.  That all takes time, but I'm glad that it's done.  Of course when the mail arrived there were four new letters from kids I had just written to, but I can't answer them until it's been 24 hours since the last letter.

I remembered I had not yet filled out a Swap Bot questionnaire on musical theater.  It involved checking a lot of YouTube videos.  I found a video, for example, of Zero Mostel singing "If I Were a Rich Man" and I had to include this video of "The Kite" from You're Good Man, Charlie Brown.  It's not the greatest version, but I love it because it's Paul doing Charlie Brown.  This was a 3-night run and the first two nights he screwed up this song and left the theater furious with himself.  But he nailed it this night and at the point where he screwed up before and he realized he got it this time, you can see a slight smile coming across his face.

I was going to go back to reading again, but Walt decided we should go to Kaiser and get our flu shots, which we did.  I expected to find a long line, but there were very few people.  The lab was also empty and I was supposed to get a follow up blood test this week, so I decided to do it today, and now that's done.

I came home and worked for an hour or so on the "Unusual Journal" that I'm putting together.  When I got my flu shot, I asked if I could have a sticker that they give to kids after their shots.  I lied and said it was for my granddaughter, but I had this page design in mind.  Artistic I'm not, but this one turned out OK. 

I knew I wanted to use "the Scream" and a hypodermic needle but I didn't realize how many variations of the Munch painting there were.  I nearly used one using Beaker from the Muppets, or Garfield or one of a host of other variations, but I was kind of drawn to Lisa Simpson's scream. (There is also a Homer Simpson scream).

By the time I had finished that page and another page with an "October" theme, Polly was telling me it was time for me to get her dinner ready.  And then there was Chris Hayes on MSNBC, then Rachel Maddow, then Jeopardy and the evening TV line-up.  At some point I made Chicken Schnitzel with Buttermilk Ricotta (a Home Chef menu).  I will be going to sleep again after my Haagen Daz mini ice cream bar.

So I guess I have a few things to show for my "nothing" day, but it still feels like I didn't really do anything.