Monday, April 30, 2012

Blog, Blog, Blogging Along

I joined a SwapBot swap to publicize our blogs.  The requirement is that I visit the blogs of five different people and write a review of at least 100 words about each blog.  So this is that review.

The first blog I visited is Frayed Around the Edges, by a woman named Ingrid, which appears to be more of a commercial blog than a personal blog.  Its subtitle is "Buy Handmade, Buy Local" and is apparently written by "two women who are slightly Frayed Around The Edges who decided to open a storefront."  The labels are things like eco-conscious, jewelry, stitching, clothing, classes, charity, etc.  The blog is filled with very nice photos and all of the items they are selling seem unique and attractive (I was tempted to buy a jacket for Brianna!).  

While this is not the sort of blog I would visit regularly, it is very well done and for those who like to shop, it would be a fun place to visit regularly to see what new stuff was available.  I kind of liked the toys available in their "stuffy" section.

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Next, I visited Viviana's La RanitaViviana offers this description of herself:  I enjoy drawing, sketching, reading, Manga, Anime, Comic books, and having fun with my little girl. I am married to a wonderful man who gives me freedom to express my self.  And express herself, she does.  The look is nice and clean, her original drawings make me jealous that I can't draw like that (the blog includes a gallery of her drawings). 

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Her daughter Luz is adorable.  Her entries are shorter than I like, but they are well written and say a lot in a short paragraph.

Beth from the U.K. writes a blog called "Incoherent Ramblings of a Distracted Artist."   The first entry I read was her review of the blogs she has been assigned.   I found it a little frustrating because she didn't make the links to the blogs active.  But that was a minor thing. I could cut and paste to check out those blogs.   Beth's blog is hosted by Blogspot, but it was a different sort of format that I have not encountered before.  A little awkward to navigate and she doesn't update often, but her entries are fun.  The ones I read were about sketches she makes when she is out and about.  Again, like Viviana's entries, these made me jealous of someone who has that ability to capture such good likenesses.  Not my forte.  I really liked her "men on the train"

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The next blog is  In the Mind of LilCountryBelle, by Joni from Georgia, who describes herself as a SAHM and full time college student with the symptoms of a slight swapaholic."  I really enjoyed reading about her Day Zero Project, which helps people make lists of things they want to do and follow through on them.  Joni seems to be a person who is determined to follow through on a lot of ideas, using her blog to help her.  I really admire that!  In the first entry I read, she talks about doing a lot of "crying, praying and asking for guidance," which resulted in her decision to return to college, as the first step in "taking her life back."  She is a full time student taking four classes, two on campus, and two on line.  I look forward to following her steps as she gets more deeply into this new life for her.

The final blog is by Singapore author Shu Yan Hia, a blog called "Avarielle is Love."  The first entry I read was a visit to a maritime museum.  She explained that her "brain was mush" so it was a photo entry...and very nice photos indeed.

The second entry was written on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and is a report of a Titanic Exhibit in Singapore.  This is a very good writer and I loved her description of the exhibit and learned some things I didn't know about the Titanic.

The third entry was one about letter writing.  She offers some good tips for how to establish a pen pal relationship, some of which I agree with, some of which I don't (I used to think compatible ages was important, but I have lots of new friends who are younger than I, and I learn things from them all the time and enjoy corresponding with them).

I have now learned about five new blogs.  Some I will continue to check out, some I won't, but the exchange of reviews was interesting. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Stealing

A better name for me would be:
Barbara. It was the name my parents were going to give me originally, it is the name everyone calls me when they can’t figure out my real name, and I like it better than Beverly

I have a hard time understanding:
how anybody can eat oysters.

If I ever go back to school, I’d:
probably flunk out even more gloriously than I did in 1962, since I can't remember anything any more.

You know I like you if:
I want to spend time with you. 

If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be:
depends on the award.  I did win an award for helping to write a script (my involvement was minimal).  It was just a few months after Paul died.  When he was alive, I always said that I wanted to see him win an award so he could thank me from the stage, so when I got the award, I just held it up and said "this is for Paul."

If I could bring back a TV show for a reunion it would be:
Northern Exposure (most of the other shows I liked have already had reunion shows)

Take my advice, never:
...bite into something that looks like a green bean on your plate of Indian food.   It isn't a green bean.  Trust me.

My ideal breakfast is:
Crab Benedict and fresh squeezed orange juice

A song I love, but do not own is:
Actually, I think I own all the songs I love.  The nice thing about iTunes is that you can buy ONE song without having to pay for an entire album that you don't care about.

If you visit my hometown (San Francisco), I'd suggest:
Take me along as your guide.  You can see the cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf and all the usual tourist spots on your own, but I'll give you a one day driving tour of the spots people don't usually see...and throw in lunch at Greens, which I suspect most people don't know about.
If I could meet a couple of my blog buddies, I'd include:
I'm always tempted to want to meet Rob (Schuyler's Monster), but I don't think he likes me very much (despite the fact that I'm such a likeable person!) so I won't put him on this list.  I've wanted to meet Marn forever, even though she doesn't blog as much as she used to.  I want to visit her cabin in the woods and walk among her hostia and meet the spousal unit and their cats.   I'd also love to get together with Kwizgiver, since we are both crazy.

Why won’t people:
see that we are all just people, black and white and yellow and brown, male and female, gay and straight, weak and strong, American and other nationalities.  Why do we have to have so many people hating so many other people?

If you spend the night at my house:
You'd better like dogs and clutter

I’d stop everything for:
a call from my mother saying she needed help.

The world could do without:
Prejudice, hatred, wars, and beets.

The last time I got drunk I:
I can't remember the last time I got drunk...which either means I was blotto or that it was so long ago I have forgotten it.  Since I don't drink any more, I suspect it's the latter.

My favorite blonde is:

Paper clips are more useful than:
straight pins (and less painful too)

If I do anything well, it’s:
I used to say "type" but since my typing has turned abominable and embarrassing now, I'll say that am a wiz with a ComCast TV remote.

And by the way:
If everyone I love would please stop dying, I would very much appreciate it.   Thankyouverymuch.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

I really felt that I had stepped through the looking glass yesterday, and was meeting all of the weird characters that Alice met.

First there were Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.  I sent a message to someone about something my mother would not be able to do because of her back pain and immediately there was a note circulated from Tweedle Dum that my mother WOULD do it!!!   because Tweedle Dee would MAKE IT HAPPEN!  And how the reasons I stated were nothing.  They would SEE TO IT THAT SHE COULD DO IT, no matter the danger to her health.

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Then there was the Cheshire cat, who responded to my sad comment about this being a shitty week just because we lost two very good friends within three days by being bright and cheery and telling me it was a GREAT week because it was Jeri's birthday!  I didn't want to rain on Jeri's birthday parade, but dammit, I'm sad about the death of Will and Jim and I'm sorry, birthday or not, I still think of this as a shitty week.

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Then I was shocked, I tell you, shocked! to learn that the Catholic church had done something of which I approved.  I wanted to ask, like the caterpillar, "Who are YOU?"  The church has come out as opposed to the Ryan Budget, saying they criticized his “continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”  Maybe I was mistaken.  Could I really be agreeing with the Catholic stand on something?  Maybe it was something I was smoking in that hooka pipe.

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But then along came the Mad Hatter in the form of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.  This is a women's prayer group, praying for their fellow women fighting for a secular military to get incurable breast cancer.  Yes you read that right.  They are praying that women will get incurable breast cancer.

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As for the new Romney comments, now that he's battling the pres and not his fellow candidates, which contradict all the things he campaigned on, well of course he is painting the roses red.

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There was the news that Gingrich is (probably) going to (finally) concede defeat (maybe), tomorrow (or sometime). 

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And, as in uffish thought he stood, 
   The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, 
   And burbled as it came!
By the time I got to Rachel Maddow's report about the possible repeal of Michigan's Emergency Manager law being rejected because of the wrong font size? I just wanted to be the doormouse, curl inside a tea pot and go to sleep until it's over
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Or else run about commanding that all their heads be lopped off.

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Is it November yet?

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Truly Good Man

27 April 2012
JimH.jpg (11284 bytes)This is not going to go down as one of the happiest weeks in our lives.

Our friend Jim Hutchinson lost his battle with bladder cancer this morning.  Our hearts are very heavy today.  Like Will, Jim was one of the good guys and everybody loved him.  He was also a quiet man and so I didn't know him as well as I knew his wife Pat, but Walt worked with him on projects for the Davis Comic Opera Company and, for the past couple of years on the board of, "Citizens Who Care" (CWC). a group which provides social support services to Yolo County adults and their family caregivers.
Jim's CWC profile gives a hint of the kind of person he was:

Jim Hutchinson is a long time member of Citizens Who Care. He served on the board from 1995 'till 2004, and returned to the board in the Fall of 2006. He serves on the Finance Committee, the Winter Concert Committee, and is an In-Home Respite Volunteer. He formats the Newsletter and is the web manager of the CWC web site. Jim is an Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He retired 1993 and enjoys Golf, Bridge and singing. He was active for many years in the Davis Comic Opera Company and now sings with the University Chorus. He is still professionally active in organizing the biennial International Symposium on the Vibration of Continuous Systems, and runs the web site for that organization (

We met Jim and Pat through the Davis Comic Opera Company (DCOC), so he has been in our lives for almost our entire time in Davis.  Their son Bill was a member of the Sunshine Children's Theater with our kids and their daughter Kate owns Ciocolat, where we just were on Tuesday.
Jim was a performer (among lots of other things) with DCOC and Pat, for years and years, was the house manager.  
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Man with a Load of Mischief
, 1984
(Photo by Tom Estes)

One of his roles was as one of the ghosts in Ruddygore.  For those who don't know the show, the set for Act 2 includes life-size portraits which hang in a gallary and at a point, the portraits came to life.  This means that the actors who play the figures in the portraits must resemble those figures and when the show finished, Jim took his portrait home.  It hung on the end wall of their hall...and completely covered the wall.  It was quite an experience the first time you headed off to the rest room and saw this humongous painting of a guy in a suit of armor staring at you.

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There were so many parties and dinners at Pat and Jim's, Jim always the gracious host ready to share a glass of wine with his friends, Pat cooking wonderful gourmet suppers.  Their living room had stained glass windows on either side of the fireplace, which Jim had made when taking a class in stained glass.
He was a man of many talents.  In later years, I mostly saw him when he and Walt got together to transport ficus trees to the theater for the annual Citizens Who Care fund raising concert.  DCOC owned six ficus trees which lived most of the year in a garage, but Jim and Walt would cart them out each year and take them to the theater and then back into storage.  They just did that this last February, in fact.  Jim had been undergoing chemotherapy, but was looking well and was not going to pass up the chance to work on that 20th anniversary CWC show.
If you needed an MC, Jim was the guy who could do it for.   After the last performance of the CWC show, it was Jim who handed out the gifts to all of the performers.

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The thing about guys like Will and Jim is that they had such huge hearts and they touched so many lives.  I'm sure I don't know a fraction of all the ways that Jim helped everybody that he met.  But he was one of the original good guys and there are many sad people in the world today, hearing of his loss.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


First things first:  Happy Birthday, Jeri!!!  (that would be daughter Jeri, not the other Jeri)
Because of Will's death yesterday, I didn't write about my day on Tuesday.  I got up early and staggered around making blueberry muffins for breakfast.   Nice surprise for Walt.  But rather than being pleased, he reminded me that were meeting Jeri and Phil (the other Jeri  and Phil) at Ciocolat at 9 a.m.   I had only made the arrangements a couple of days before, but had not written it down on my calendar so of course I forgot immediately.  Thank goodness Walt still remembers things!

I put the muffins in a plastic container to put away for later and we went off to meet Jeri and Phil.

I must say here that we have paid a price for having dogs.  For one thing there is no seating available for anybody but the two of us in the family room, because of the big treadmill and huge dog crate as well as a dog bed.  As for the living room, not only is not not back to normal after the installation of the Pergo, but it has become one gigantic dog bed, with furniture covered with dog hair and the dogs having taken over the couch to check out the window.  (They graciously let me share their bed at fact, they insist on it.)

You can't lock the dogs outside because they bark and annoy the crabby neighbor, and Lizzie leaps at the door continually.  If you let them in the house Polly won't stop barking at the (to her) strangers.  It could be said that I should change things around here to make it more people-centric rather than dog-centric, but almost no one ever comes to visit and it's just not worth the effort for one or two days a year.  Yes, life would be easier if I were a better dog trainer, but 99% of the time, it's not really an issue.  But when someone like Jeri (not my daughter) calls to say they want to come and see us, then I feel guilty suggesting we meet at a restaurant instead of inviting them to the house.

But Ciocolat is a great place to meet.  We sat on the porch and looked out over Central Park and the new bike museum (formerly the Teen Center)

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In the afternoon, I worked at Logos.  Walt had a meeting to go to at 1:30, so he had to drop me off early.  I thought I would just go to the store early, but I decided to follow a sign to a tea shop behind the book store.  What a delight!  The shop itself was small, cramped and hot with a choice of about 50 different types of teas (knowing nothing about tea, I chose an Earl Gray).  I sat out on the patio and enjoyed the sun, the cool breeze, the tea and the book I was reading on my Kindle.

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I tried two different books from the store shelves to read on my day at Logos.  But somehow, with thoughts of Will on my mind, I couldn't settle in to read either of them, so I gave in and took one of the bargain books off the table, a David Baldacci I hadn't read yet.  At >600 pages, I knew I couldn't finish it at the store, but I just bought it ($1) and hope to finish it this week, since it's very good.

It was a pretty quiet day at the store.  I don't think I sold even $50 worth of stuff, but I did take in four boxes of donated books, so maybe it was a wash.

Walt picked me up at the appointed time, we had leftovers (and HUGE artichokes) for dinner...

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(artichokes are God's way of telling you it's OK to eat mayonnaise)

...and spent the evening watching the results show of Dancing with the Stars.
And that is how I spent yesterday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Will Connolly, 1943-2012

WillFB.jpg (33837 bytes) "I am just glum," Walt said, wandering around the house aimlessly.  We had just read our e-mail and learned that our friend Will Connolly had died.  Walt expressed what I was feeling too.  Another huge "presence" in the world had left it, and though his death was not unexpected, it still was a shock.
Will was our friend for decades.  I don't know how long.  Walt and I began ushering for The Lamplighters in the 1960s.  Will joined the company in 1970 and we watched him move up the ranks to the principal baritone roles.  Here he is as Samuel in Pirates of Penzance...I'm not sure if that is his hair or not!

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Will became a more personal friend during my years working for The Lamplighters.  He, Gilbert and Henry Anderson were great friends, who liked to go on great adventures but be "home in time for dinner."  As my friendship with Gilbert grew, so, too, did my friendship with Will.

We were both born the same year, but he was a bit younger than I.   His father, also Will Connolly, had been a nationally famous sports writer for The San Francisco Chronicle.  At the time of his death, Will had been trying to figure out how to republish some of his father's better known columns on the Internet.   This one was one of three that I found on a site called "Western Neighborhood Projects," stories about a specific section of San Francisco. (Will, a native San Franciscan, was an expert on the city and had once worked as a tour guide.)

Will's mother was no slouch either, having received many, many honors and awards for her work as an advocate for the mentally disabled.  Her 2003 obituary is well worth taking the time to read.

When Gilbert died in 1986, Will and I, along with Henry and his wife Willa, took on the care of Gilbert's family during the week following the death.   While others in the Lamplighters took on the task of planning the memorial service, we were meeting with the people who would be handling his remains, meeting with the doctors who tended him at the end, and doing the practical thing.

When we had Gilbert put to rest, Will stepped in to be "Uncle Will" to Gilbert's niece Susie and her daughter Rachel.  Rachel, sadly never got to know her Uncle Buddy (Gilbert) but Will was a big presence in her life and visited her and Susie around the country several times over the past 20+ years.  (He, Walt and I flew to Oklahoma for Susie's bat mitzvah, in fact, and we went to St. Louis to be there for the production of the first play she ever directed.)  He was as proud of Rachel's theatrical successes as if he were her real uncle.

Will.jpg (38664 bytes)A year after Gilbert's death, Willa, Henry, Will and I, along with Diana Dorman, contractor for the orchestra, got together for a memorial dinner.  Out of that grew the GRUB, the name of which I never COULD remember.  The "something reinternment of Uncle Buddy."  It was a name Will dreamed up.  It was our yearly Gilbert memorial dinner, a group which, at its height had 17 attendees.  Will made all the arrangements and when I gently suggested calling a halt to it six years ago,on the 20th anniversary of Gilbert's death (more years than most of us knew him in life), it was Will who insisted we keep going.  (With Will now gone, and Walt and I going to be in Europe on the anniversary this year, this may finally be the year we stop meeting every July.)

Will was one of the funniest people I ever knew.  He always had a joke, a pun, a quip, a snide aside.  He found humor in all things and did one of the best W. C. Fields imitations.  He was born to play W.C. Fields  and, in fact, did play him in a Lamplighter Gala one year, and he even drove to Davis for Walt's 50th birthday party to sing "The Fatal Glass of Beer" from Fields' movie of the same name, accompanying himself on the zither.

But his finest hour may have been as a nerdy chiropterologist (one who studies bats).  Will embraced nerdhood and was so successful, the character was reprised in a later Gala.
Shelley Johnson recalls her favorite moment with Will on stage during that Gala:
It’s the closest I’ve come to Totally Losing It onstage. We were in a Gala where I was in the role of a Winery owner (a la the old TV series “Falcon Crest”) I was wearing an ‘80’s power suit and Will was playing a total nerd Chiropterologist; leading his flock of followers into the barns to research bats. He was dressed in an outlandishly goofy outfit – complete with a bat hat. His demeanor –hilarious.

Of course, the surprise was that when suddenly no one was around - Will & I did an “Oh Rapture” and ran onto each other’s arms center stage.

At that point he surreptitiously pulled the string under his chin on the bat hat so that the wings of the bat on his head rose: oh so slowly..... Well, you can imagine. The audience was howling. If I had not been able to bury my face in his chest and shake for a bit I would not have been able to stand up – much less continue.
We last saw Will a couple of months ago at a Lamplighter party.   He arrived quite late and Walt and I met him on the stairs as we were leaving.   He did not look well and confessed he felt "terrible."  I had this ominous premonition that I would never see him again.  I am sorry that feeling turned out to be accurate.

Stories of Will are legion and will be circulating throughout his very large circle of friends for weeks, I'm sure.  The one I shared was this:

Will and Gilbert were great friends. Will was also not particularly known for promptness. Gilbert one time made arrangements for Will to meet at his house, and was very specific about the time. He HAD to get there on time. Amazingly, Will showed up, right on time. Gilbert opened the door, looked at him and said "Good. I just wanted to see if you could really do it." and then closed the door again.

When I heard of Will's death I had the image of Will showing up at the pearly gates and Gilbert there to meet him with a "good--I just wanted to see if you could really do it" before shutting the door and sending him back to life again.

But I guess that probably isn't the way it works now.  

Ironically, Will died on the anniversary of Gilbert's sister's death.

Peggy Overshiner, Jeanne Ziaja, Gilbert, Mary Brown, June Wilkins, Arthur Contrad, Adrian McNamara, Ashton Bisbee ... there are so many Lamplighter principals in Heaven now, I'm almost looking forward to joining them myself, to see them all perform one more time!

WILL'S OBITUARY:  William (Will) Philip Connolly William (Will) Connolly, a lifelong resident of San Francisco, died April 24th at St. Mary's Hospital after a short illness. Will, born April 14, 1943, was the son of the late Will Connolly, a sportswriter for the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner; and Margarete Connolly, an activist for the developmentally disabled. He attended St. Brendan's Elementary School, St. Ignatius High School and Lincoln High School. Will was a history buff and proudly received a Bachelor of Science Degree in U.S. History from the University of San Francisco at the age of 57. Will's greatest passion was music. He was a member of the Bohemian Club Aviary Men's Chorus, Lamplighters Musical Theatre Group, St. Francis Yacht Club Sons of the Sea, served as a cantor at St. Brendan's Catholic Church, and was a former member of the San Francisco Boys Chorus. He was also a member of the South End Rowing Club, San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, former board member of Creativity Explored, an art program for developmentally disabled adults, Irish Literary and Historical Society, Musical Days in Forest Hill (board member), Welsh American Society of Northern California. Will is survived by his brother Paul (Gail) Connolly and sister Anne Connolly; nieces Christina Stark, Paula Suiso, Elizabeth Thomas and eight great-nieces and nephews; as well as Malone and Mahoney cousins and many, many friends with whom he sang and laughed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Feelin' Crappy (again)

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to use the title, given the title of yesterday's entry!  The cold and wind of San Francisco yesterday didn't kill me, but I sure felt awful today.  I didn't even care about writing.  I decided to take the day and just relax.  I slept most of the day, save for being awakened by two phone calls (both solicitors).  I finally was up at nearly 4 p.m., feeling somewhat human again, thank goodness.
But since I've done nothing but sleep, and since I missed Sunday Stealing, here is this week's.

1. My uncle once: was a prisoner of war in World War II.  I told his story back in 2002

2. Never in my life: Have I been neat or tidy.

Me5.jpg (27810 bytes) 3. When I was five: I was a cute little kid with Shirley Temple curls...and apparently of normal weight.  I wonder how I went from this to "you're too fat to dance ballet" two years later.

4. High School was:  Some of my favorite years.  I loved my small school, made good friends, have nothing but very good memories.

5. I will never forget:  Oh so many things, but leaving aside anything having to do with the kids (so as to avoid charges of favoritism), the first thing that comes to mind was a tribute the Lamplighters held for contralto June Wilkins.  I was the one who insisted they have the party and I decorated three really wonderful cakes.  She never had a clue and might not even have known who I was.  It is so much more satisfying to do something like that anonymously.

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6. I once met: Judy Garland

7. There’s this girl I know who:  was in a Japanese internment camp at Tanforan race track.  Her name was Marie Davilla.  I knew her in grammar school.   She loved horses and could play "Flight of the Bumblebee" on the piano.

8. Once, at a bar: I discovered that people had gathered for a surprise 30th birthday party for me.

9. By noon, I’m usually:  Ready for lunch

10. Last night:  I had the best crab dinner ever.

11. If only I had:  established good health habits when I was younger.

12. Next time I go to church:  It will undoubtedly be for someone's funeral.

13. Jonathan Frid:  Made vampires sexy...and wasn't his death a nice bit of PR for the upcoming Dark Shadows movie?

14. What worries me most:  That Obama won't be re-elected.

15. When I turn my head left, I see:  The new fan I bought.  The weather is warming up and my old fan died the death.  Now I face a cool summer in my office!

16. When I turn my head right, I see:  The very large collection of postcards I have amassed.  I am going to have to be involved with Postcrossing for 100 years to use them all up!

17. You know I’m lying when:  Heck, I'm not going to reveal that secret!

18. What I miss most about the 80s:  All the people who were still alive and still a part of my life.

19. If I was a character in Shakespeare, I’d be:  I don't identify with any character in Shakespeare.

20. By this time next year:  I will have visited five more countries than I have visited up to this year.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Feelin' Crabby (again)

It was back to San Francisco again today for round 2 of Says You.   We heard yesterday that the Jewish Community Center was having a Gershwin exhibit on the upper floor and we decided to get there before the crowd and check it out.   The weather driving down was glorious, but when we got into the city, into the full sun downtown, we could see the thick fog on Twin Peaks.

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The Jewish Community Center is about at the level of the middle of San Francisco, perhaps a bit closer to the ocean, so by the time we got that far out, we had completely lost the sun and were deep in fog and cold wind, which I figured was just great for my cold.  (If this is my last entry, know that I died in the night!)

We got to the JCC 2 hours before the show and had plenty of time to look at all the memorabilia, most of which were original covers of sheet music, but also delightful things like this list of things George liked and didn't like (perhaps his version of a meme!)

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There were lots of awards -- Emmys, Congressional Medal, Grammys, etc.  But naturally the one that caught my eyes was this Academy Award nomination.

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We left the exhibit and went to the cafeteria to get a gnosh before the show.  Tony Kahn saw us when he was walking in with the rest of the cast and stopped to talk.  Then we went into the show and during the mic check, Tony shared with the audience the e-mail I had sent to him last night (saying that when the 7 cast members walked through the lobby it was like the 7 dwarfs walking through Disneyland).

When the show was over, we chatted a bit more with Tony in the lobby and then came the highlight of the day.  We watch a TV show on the San Francisco public TV station.  It's called "Check Please, Bay Area."   I have heard there are similar "Check Please" shows in other parts of the country.  We occasionally think how nice it would be to try such and such a restaurant.  It's what led me to Betty's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley, in fact.   Generally if the "average price per person without drinks" is expensive, we dismiss it.
But my ears perked up the night they reviewed Thanh Long in San Francisco.  I think you can run the video off the web site.   This is a crab restaurant.  Crab is their specialty.  Crab.   Dungeness crab.  Big Dungeness crabs!  I immediately put it into my cell phone in case we ever had the occasion to need a restaurant in San Francisco.

The place is waaaaay out in "the avenues."   In fact, if you go another block, you'll be swimming in the ocean.  The look of it is certainly nothing that is going to make you stop, if you are driving by, and decide to check it out.  In fact, you might wonder what exactly the building is.

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But inside, it was an absolutely charming setting.

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What is even better, it seemed like almost every table had a huge whole crab sitting on it, or bibbed people up to their elbows in crab meat.   I had come home.

We were seated at a table for two very close to two women at a table for two.  I couldn't help looking at what they had and asked them.  They had the whole roast crab, an seafood eggplant dish and garlic rice.  They were sucking meat out of a huge claw and making orgasmic sounds.  I naturally turned to the waiter and said "We'll have what they're having."

They tied big plastic bibs around our necks and brought the food and soon we, too, were sucking sweet warm crab meat out of huge claws and making orgasmic sounds ourselves.

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The women had been right--it was fabulous.  And considering that we split the 3 dishes, though it was more than we usually spend for dinner, it wasn't THAT expensive.  I will go back again in a heartbeat!

Our "Says You Weekend" has been delightful from start to finish.  Any weekend that ends with a huge crab on my plate can't possibly be bad!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ima Hogg Rides Again

Picnic Day is a big UCD party, held in April every year.  It's kind of like one giganic university open house, but with things like the "fistulated cow" (a real live cow with a window in its side so you can watch the digestive process in action) and daschund races.  And lots, lots, lots more.  The day starts with a parade that involves most of the town.
In truth, we have never done much with Picnic Day since the police made shaving cream fights illegal downtown and the kids lost interest.  When the kids were riding on floats (for the diving team or the children's theater) in the parade we would go down and watch them, but we never really did much other stuff--comes from not have a kid enrolled in school there.

But there is no ignoring that Picnic Day is happening.  We had big clumps of people passing by our house most of the morning.  But we were going to be leaving, so we were heading off in the other direction.  However, we were not spared the hijinx.  As we drove down Anderson Rd., I looked off to my right and there was this muscular kid running out into the street, arms waving in the air, and wearing not a stitch of clothing, his dangly bits waving in the air as readily as his arms.

It's nice to see young people enjoying themselves.

But that was the only part of Picnic Day that crossed our path.   We were headed to San Francisco for our yearly trip to attend a taping of the radio show, "Says You," held again this year, for the second time, at the Jewish Community Center.

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They have recently added parking meters around the area, so we were not able to use on-street parking and so went into the JCC parking garage...interesting that before they let you in, they search your car and trunk.

Walt had two observations before the show started.  We were sitting in the cafeteria when the cast arrived, parting the crowd of people like Moses parted the red sea, walking one behind the other.  Walt decided it reminded him of the 7 dwarfs parading through Disneyland.

The second observation was that as he looked around Kanbar Hall (a 475 seat theater), he realized there was not one black person there.  The only black person in the house was Tammy Hall, the pianist with the day's musical group, "Wild Women of Song" (which oddly enough features Hall, singer Pamela Rose, and two men on drum and bass!)
I took a picture of the stage set up. 

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I really don't know why I bring my camera each year because you can't take pictures during the show and the best I can do is a hastily taken blurry photo as the show ends.  It looks the same each year, but I keep bringing the camera.

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And I'll bring the camera tomorrow when we catch the last day of their tapings in San Francisco.

As always it was great fun.  The fun thing about being at a taping is hearing all the things that won't make it to the air.  (And incidentally, the title of this entry refers to the first category where people were supposed to explain who various famous names were, like Ima Hogg and Diamond Jim Brady (the man who pioneered all these food eating challenges!), whom a lot of people have heard of, but don't really know anything about.
When the show was over, we cashed in a Groupon at Mel's Drive in and did our own eating challenge!

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I decided to splurge and add a vanilla malt to my patty melt (well, NEXT to my patty melt!).  I never get milk shakes, for obvious reasons, but this one was so good.  Best of all, you could actually taste the malt.

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We finished our audio book, "True Blue" and started "War Horse," which we should finish by the time we get home tomorrow, since it's a short book.

All in all, a very good day...and even the horrible cold I've been fighting for two days didn't present much of a problem.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Davis, CA

If you enter Davis from Hwy 113 on Russell Blvd., one of the first things you encounter is the symbol of Davis, the pennyfarthing bicycle.

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(The statue was built in a Davis High School shop class)

With its wide bike lanes, green belts, and flat terrain, it's no wonder Davis is called the "city of bicycles."  All you need to do is stand on the corner of Russell Blvd. and Sycamore Dr. to get a feel for it.

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There are a lot of nice things about this town.  Every time I look at the high school, for instance, I am reminded about how the community came together in one day and planted hundreds of donated little twigs in the bare ground around the school...which have now grown into this lovely forest.

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I love the diversity of the houses of worship around here.

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We also have lots of quirky pieces of public art.

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The top left is called "New Again" and was made by local artists  along with children in the FamiliesFirst program.  The top right is something called "Solar Intersections" at the train station.  The statue is covered in holographic material that shimmers with rainbows when you look at it, particularly under the bright summer sun.  I always thought it was dumb, but I'm no art critic.  The pigs are by sculptor Donna Billick who does delightfully whimsical stuff.

 And then, of course, there is the famous "Joggers" statue.

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The statue was always controversial because people were convinced that if someone happened to trip and run into the upraised finger of one of the statue, they could put an eye out.  Seriously!  After a lengthy and heated debate (because this town has lengthy, heated debates about everything), they moved the statue back a couple of feet and the discussion finally ended.

Davis is a town that purports to be friendly, and we are always encouraged to "buy locally," but they sure make it difficult!

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You can't have lunch with a friend, go to a movie, and do a bit of shopping together because of having to move the damn car.  Which is too bad because there are nice places to do business in this town.

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(The Food Coop has that great tomato statue out in front of it, another piece of public art.)  The Davis Enterprise, which publishes the paper I write for (but never from the office) used to be the post office.

In fact, if you've lived here long enough, this becomes the town of "...that used to be..."

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That used to be City Hall, for example, but it's now a restaurant.

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That used the be the Teen Center, otherwise known as "3rd and B" (guess where it's located!).  Lawsuit played in the basement in its very early, early days.

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That mattress store with the big "$399" in the window used to be Carousel Stationery, where I bought lots of gifts, cards, paper products, puzzles, scrapbook supplies.  I was sad when it closed.

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This is 2nd St., smack in the middle of "downtown."   (Logos Books, where I volunteer one day a week, is over on the left behind those two big palm trees and ust ahead of that white car).  When we first came to look at Davis, knowing we would be moving here, I remember getting to about here and looking around and wondering where "downtown" was, since I came from San Francisco and Oakland and expected tall buildings.

We have cutesy things like Toad Town, a real town, made by the postmaster's father, next to the post office.  It's even solar powered.  Of course nobody has ever seen a toad near the place.

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The university has those wonderful Robert Arneson Eggheads.

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and the Dome houses, which are part of a complex called Baggins End.

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We've been here 30 years and I resisted coming here at first, but it was a great place to raise kids and  now that we've been here so long, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.