Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
Our Nathan, who is 14, told us that the girls at his school make fun of him because of the hair that has sprouted on his legs. It’s good-looking hair. It’s blond and soft, and looks great against his tanned skin. The fact is, he’s turning into a man, something that should be looked at by girls his age as a point of attraction rather than a point of ridicule. He should be celebrating his passage from boyhood to manhood, not hating it.
And then there’s this thing with bald genitalia. What’s up with that? Not to mention a desired overall hairlessness of the arms, back, and chest. Women have been shaving their legs and underarms for generations here in the States, and I guess I’ve grown accustomed to that, but all of this other stuff, personally, kind of grosses me out. I finally took the time to ask myself why.
At its most benign, I think it represents a rebelling against the Boomers, who, as the largest percentage of the population, are beginning to enter senior status. Okay. I rebelled against my elders too, but this has moved beyond youthful rebellion, because Boomers have adopted it as well. It has moved into full-fledged worship of childhood and unfettered hatred of adulthood. “If I can look younger,” some tell themselves on a subconscious level, “I won’t have to admit to getting old.” And so we pour billions of dollars into cosmetic surgery and spa treatments.
We want to fool ourselves. We want to look into the mirror and see youth. If we see anything older than 30, we freak out. Especially where hair is involved. That’s probably because it’s the cheapest thing we can do. Not everyone can afford recurring trips to the plastic surgeon, but anyone can afford to buy a razor, and most people can afford a wax job.
At its most insidious, I think the worship of youthfulness masks a kind of nationwide sanctioned pedophilia. Sexual crimes against children have never been more rampant. One needs only to watch the news to see that. Children are kidnapped every day, and the Internet is literally crawling with predators seeking sexual encounters with children.
I’ll speak candidly. When I was younger and moving in the heterosexual world, I liked chest hair, leg hair, and those stray hairs that grow around a man’s wrist and under his watch. A slick chest seemed too boyish to me, and the “happy trail” always signified promise.
In California, in the late 70s and early 80s, I used to go to summer concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl. I used to see women there who didn’t shave their legs. They were usually blond and tan, and because they’d never shaved, the hair that lay against their skin shone like the fuzz of a peach. It was pretty. It was at this time that I quit shaving.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a hair fetish. Not by a long shot. I just prefer adults to be adults, and this hairless-consciousness that has pervaded our society is just plain weird to me. It’s sad that men have to feel embarrassed enough to resort to spa treatments twice a month. And what’s wrong with a woman having pubic hair? I always thought that was a sexy thing. When did looking like a 5 year-old girl become the norm!? What’s wrong with a little body hair? What do you want, a girl or a woman, a boy or a man?
And of course, this is categorized under “Waxing Philosophical”.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Today you will find me in my Spam shirt, Levis, and bamboo flip-flops, sitting in the shade, enjoying food and wine, and the laughter of friends.
Bring it on.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
One of the best things about my new Dell is the MP3 playback capability. Over the past week I’ve downloaded a number of music files, songs that I absoluetle love but don’t have on CD. So here’s what I’m listening to lately (be prepared for a lot of moldy oldies):
- A Case of You - Joni Mitchell
- A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum
- Back For Good - Take That
- Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
- Can’t Get it Out of My Head -Electric Light Orchestra
- Chelsea Morning - Joni Mitchell
- Cocaine - Eric Clapton
- Come and Get It - Badfinger
- Crackerbox Palace - George Harrison
- Day After Day - Badfinger
- Do Ya, Do Ya Want My Love? - Electric Light Orchestra
- Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears For Fears
- Free As a Bird - The Beatles
- Good Mother - Jan Arden
- Heart of the Matter - Don Henley
- Hold Me Now - The Thompson Twins
- Hold On - Wilson Phillips
- In Your Wildest Dreams - The Moody Blues
- Insensitive - Jan Arden
- Jesse - Joshua Kadison
- Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat - Bob Dylan
- Let My Love Open the Door - Pete Townsend
- Looking For Space - John Denver
- New York State of Mind - Billy Joel
- No Matter What - Badfinger
- No More Lonely Nights - Paul McCartney
- No No Song - Ringo Starr
- Old and Wise - The Alan Parsons Project
- Poor, Poor Pitiful Me - Warren Zevon
- Real Love - The Beatles
- Sacrifice - Elton John
- Somewhere - The Moody Blues
- Telephone Line - Electric Light Orchestra
- The Last Song Between a Father and His Son - Elton John
- The Last Worthless Evening - Don Henley
- Too Late For Goodbyes - Julian Lennon
- Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
- Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
- Woman - John Lennon
- You Look Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
More will be added to my playlist as I can find them. I used to be the proud owner of a huge collection of vinyl LPs (thousands of records), including every first release album the Beatles made–SOB!–but that’s all history. Someone else owns my precious recordings now. Oh well. I try to be philosophical about it.
Friday, May 26, 2006
We’re great fans of period films and we own a growing collection of VHS tapes and DVDs in this genre. Some are really outstanding (Affair of the Necklace, Amadeus, Barry Lyndon, Moll Flanders) and some are passable (Mesmer), and then there’s Casanova. It’s a real stinker.
I suppose if you like romps that feature actors in roles they’re probably sorry they took, this film wouldn’t be so bad, but as 18th-century historians Nettl and I like films about a person as colorful and compelling as Casanova to at least have some measure of truth to them. Casanova’s life doesn’t need to be fictionalized, it was the stuff romances and swashbucklers have been built upon for two and a half centuries. Giacomo Casanova was an accomplished man of letters, a lawyer, a brilliant musician, an actor, a diplomat, a soldier, a spy, an adventurer, a philosopher, a writer, and lastly, a lover. History tends to forget all but the last aspect of his reputation.
I didn’t expect the movie to be a true depiction of Casanova’s flamboyant life, but I also didn’t expect it to be a shallow, trite piece of mylar confetti. It’s obvious that all of the budget went to costuming and location. Oliver Platt (one of my favorite actors) was good as an obese lard merchant, but it was nothing spectacular and I certainly didn’t need to see him half-naked on the night of my anniversary when we wanted to get romantic… There is a brief bunny-hump at the beginning of the film, but there was nothing that even hinted at a love scene anywhere else in the film. I don’t particularly like sex scenes, but if you’re going to spotlight Casanova’s reputation as the world’s greatest lover, a little flirting and courting might be nice. Compare it if you will to Shakespeare in Love. Only not as entertaining. And I don’t like it, either. All-in-all, Ledger was very good; it’s too bad the screenplay didn’t take advantage of his talent.
Nevertheless, we had fun watching the film, but that might have simply been the champagne. For my money, I still like Richard Chamberlain’s portrayal best (depite it’s obvious stylized historical flaws), and although I haven’t seen Felinni’s Casanova starring Donald Southerland, I’d really like to. At least Southerland was made up to look like Casanova and not a Hollywood stud muffin in 18th-century clothes.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
We have also been blessed with a large and loyal group of friends and family and I firmly believe that a couple is only as strong as their circle of loved ones. Too, you who are regular readers of our weblogs have been a source of support that we value dearly. So, thanks to all of you for accepting us as we are.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Thank you so very much Joel. You’re wonderful!
"Little Jackie Waller” was a diminutive child who possessed the curious Salzburg “bump” in his personality. His family was from St. Wolfgangsee only a few miles from Mozart’s birthplace and they passed down the same kind of sense of humor that one finds there. He toured what was called the Circuit back in those days, singing and dancing and making the newspapers who extolled his prodigious musical talents. He could play any instrument given to him, played a trap set while dancing around it, and he even played the piano with his toes. During his teen years, however, his father died and he had to go to work to support the family. Then came WWI and he was off with the other Doughboys. When he returned, he went to Chicago in hope of returning to a musical life and he met an imperious, svelte coloratura and fell in love. So this is from whence I spring. Vaudeville meets Grand Opera. Talk about seria-buffa…
My grandparents were always an odd couple, or at least I thought so growing up. He was short, not much over 5′ 4″ and she was nearly 6′ tall. He stayed at home puttering around his lush garden and in his garage while my grandmother worked as County Clerk at City Hall. He was a Hobbit and she was a socialite. Although this may not sound off beat to some of you who were born before 1970, this was in the 50s when the term “house husband” wasn’t even a concept.
My father, too, was off beat. Born into this musical family, he later went on the road as a drummer during the Big Band era (until Uncle Sam nabbed him in 1942). He kept a diary during one of these tours and in it he wrote about the cities they were in, the monkey business that went on in the band’s bus, the audiences and the parties in the hotel rooms along the way. Imagine my surprise when I read many years later about how the trumpet player smoked some “reefer” and couldn’t play for shit when he thought he was really wailing. No wonder my father told me back in the 60s, “If you’re ever going to smoke pot, just tell me and I’ll make sure you get the good stuff.”
During the great radio-to-television migration of the late 1940s and early 50s, my family (all of them) moved together from the Midwest to southern California in hope that my father would be the next Red Skelton. If you want to know who my dad was, put Red’s personality behind the face of William Bendix, a film star my father was often mistaken for. Things didn’t work out, however, but my dad still spent his life as a musician, playing in a Dixieland band right up until he died thirteen years ago this Friday. He was an amazing man. Unsung, humble, gentle, patient, and a mechanical genius. His drumming style was what I always called “meat & potatoes”—solid, dependable and right on the money.
I too had my days as a vagabond musician. In high school I performed at coffeehouses and in small, local concerts. At 18 I left home for Haight-Ashbury, where I literally sang for my supper. Later, I toured the western states, performing in coffeehouses, schools, rallies and prisons, as well as on television and in large concert venues in Hollywood and L.A.
Life has never been normal in the Waller family. We’re clowns, really. One of my grandfather’s acts was as a clown. My father was a clown in parades and in sketches and I’ve invented Boxxo the Fuckin' Clown, not something I’m particularly proud of, I must add. Still, the spirit runs strong. When you look at it, life is just a carnival anyway. You put on the funny hat, get on the ride and scream your head off while the less adventurous people are pitching dimes into goldfish bowls, hoping to snag a prize. The secret is, Life is the prize, not the big fuzzy toy. The big fuzzy toy just bogs you down. You can’t take it on the ride and you can’t just leave it for fear that someone will steal it. What a bother. Just get on the damned ride, scream, hurl if you have to, then go get a friggin’ sno-cone and rest in the shade for a bit. Even when the carnival leaves town, remember that it’ll be back soon enough with better rides for you to get on instead of pitching dimes.
I’m always happy to take people on the ride with me, and I have enough barf bags for everyone.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I just asked Joel if he heard it and he said that he hears it all the time, as well as the Big Ben chime. We think it either comes out through the tornado siren, or that the bell tower structure on the building across the lane may be being fit with a clockwork. Who knows? At least I know I’m not going nuts. Or maybe we’re both being summoned.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
I had a great time sitting on the patio that houses a huge fountain (and a huge dog), sharing conversation with this person and that. I spent most of the evening talking with the head of the geology department at OSU, an old hippie who had a lot stories to tell about when he and his wife lived in Dublin. In fact, the large group of guests was made up almost entirely of professors; people with interesting things to say, and colorful ways of saying them. It reminded me of some of the parties Frank Salazar held at his house in Ventura in the 1980s.
Unfortunately, I must have eaten something that disagreed with me because I was up all night in terrible pain that seared not only through my digestive system, but also radiated out through my chest, shoulders, arms and upper legs. It was frightening as well, because it affected my breathing and my heart was racing as my blood pressure “whooshed” in my ears. I thought I was having a heart attack at one point.
I spent most of the night in the bathroom. I think that either I ate too many grape tomato, basil and mozzarella picks (something that I made and brought to the party), or maybe I was allergic to something I ate. I finally got to sleep after four o’clock, my abdomen distended and griping. I’m still feeling pretty weak and uneasy in the nether regions, so I think I’m going to take the day off from blogging, as well as from working on my current project.
Monday, May 8, 2006
It’s fascinating to me how these phrases get started and are perpetuated. I first started wondering about buzz phrases when “the bottom line” started going around back in the 1980s. Then along came “been there, done that”, “it’s not about you”, and a number of others that caught on and were run into the ground.
But what of this “back in the day” thing? What happened to “back in my day” or “back in the old days”?
I want clarity. If someone’s attempting to usurp my decrepitude without actually admitting age with their “back in the day”, I want to know what damned day they're going on about. I’m older than most people think I am, and I’ve lived enough life for three people. Besides, I’ve noticed that most of the people who use this phrase are a good 20 to 30 years younger than I am. If I can say “back in the ’50s”, surely you can confess “back in the ’70s (’80s, ’90s, etc)”.
I’ve Googled the phrase and have found some interesting ideas about it. Some people believe that it originated in the ’80s with M.C. Hammer’s song, “Back in the Day” (sounds reasonable, and if this is the case, we white folks have only just recently caught onto it, which is even more believable). Some believe that it’s used more in the sense of pleasant nostalgia rather than pulling rank (sounds possible). One person wrote that it’s a kind of rite of passage for twentysomethings who want to claim being old enough to already have an interesting past (sounds probable). Still, it just feels noncommittal to me. Age unspecific.
What catch phrase comes to your mind, and what’s your take on it? Why do we latch onto phrases like this?
Sunday, May 7, 2006
The Stillwater Chamber Singers, accompanied by the Stillwater Baroque Players, performed an excellent concert this afternoon called “Back to Baroque”. I was starving when we left the house a little past one o’clock, so I dropped Nettl off at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (the concert venue), and beat a track to Perkins, where I ordered some brecky. It was nearly a twenty-minute wait for my food. That’s a long time when you’re all by yourself with no one to talk to. Nevertheless, I had no place to be until 2:30, so I didn’t mind, and I sipped at my large tomato juice on the rocks, hoping to soothe my stomach from the mild hangover I had.
Before 2:30 I went back to the church and took a seat. The music was beautiful, of course, the spotlight piece being Bach’s cantata no. 78, Jesu, du der meine Seele, and the ensemble’s performance was outstanding. This group has really gelled since director Mark Lawlor took the baton. They’ve never sounded better than they did today. Although the music was challenging, there was no sense of difficulty; they were confident and up to the task. For me, the best were the two Lotti pieces. I love a capella, and the choir performed them from the choir loft above the sanctuary. The effect of that is well known, and the music, full of dissonances and resolutions, soared and floated like a feather caught in a current of air. I just shut my eyes and breathed it in. The rest of the concert was performed as usual, with the musicians at the front of the church.
Tomorrow night we’re invited to a party at the Lawlors’ home. I’m really looking forward to that!
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Nathan is spending the night at a friend’s house, and Lauren had to work from 5 to 9, so Nettl and I decided to take the remaining family (the two of us, Joel and Heather) to El Vaquero for a Mexican dinner to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We forgot that it’s also the night before the university graduation exercises at which President Bush will speak. The streets were crazy, the eateries all teeming, and news vans and trucks were everywhere. Between the parents, looky-loos, and the news media, I think our city’s population has tripled. Thank god school’s out and everyone will be leaving soon. Summer here is always quiet, something I admit gets old by the time August rolls around. The students bring youth and vitality; I just wish they didn’t bring it next door.
When we pulled into the parking lot of “El Vaq” we were greeted by more cars than I’ve seen in one place at one time in a very long while. Finally landing a spot as an SUV pulled out, we parked and then walked to the front of the restaurant. There must have been well over thirty people waiting outside and just as many inside. I wrote my name on the front desk list and we happened to find a place to sit indoors. We didn’t mind waiting, really. We were all in the mood for a little social buzz. I love people-watching, and with a lobby full of college students on their first free night of summer break, there was plenty going on. Overheard gems:
Girl: “Did you call my name? Amy for seven?”
Hostess, looking over her three-page list: “No. Did you leave your name?”
Different Girl: “If they don’t have a table for six, we could split up at tables for two and four.”
Dude: (slack-jawed pause) “Uh... two plus four equals… six.”
Four years and $40,000 and this is what we get.
We waited about 45 minutes I think, and were finally taken to our table. We had such a good time. It’s seldom that we get to take the family out. Besides the fact that our car is too small to carry three adults and three teens, we simply can’t afford it. Tonight was different though, and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Our family is a really just a troop of stand-up comics. It’s frightening.
After dinner, we stopped at Brown’s for some wine, and then stopped to fill up the gas tank. I can’t believe it cost nearly $30 to fill up a Ford Contour. I remember the days when I put 50¢ in my VW bug and drove all week on it
Tomorrow, I’m staying home and avoiding the Bush Crush. He’ll be flying into the airport that’s just across a meadow from our house, then he’ll be motored to the university. I wonder how many photos National Security has of me sitting here at my blog this week? They have those cameras that see right through your roof, don’t they?
Friday, May 5, 2006
Due to my mother being on testosterone therapy (in the late 40s and early 50s) as fertility treatments, when I was finally conceived (on New Year’s Eve no less), and my brain was later flooded with hormones, there was an over-abundance of the male sort. And although I was born in every sense a biological girl, many years later the doctor found an undeveloped teste inside of me. Well, that explains the tomboyishness and the fact that my first loves were all girls, and why I never wanted to marry a Beatle, I wanted to be one. Later, I married (twice—I was widowed once and divorced once) and had two sons. The first birth nearly killed me and the second was as easy as cake, although I was never healthy afterward, plagued with multitudes of female problems which eventually brought about the removal of all my internal female parts. That’s when they found the little boy part in me and removed it along with my appendix. Go figure.
In 1977 I began questioning the straight vs. gay life. It was a struggle because I never identified—inwardly—as gay, and all I wanted was to find a nice straight girl to marry and settle down with. I always felt like I was a lot of both male and female, but mostly I felt like a straight male. My female friends treated me like a “safe” guy, and lesbians never really liked me. Guess I gave off a predominantly male vibe. As a kid I never questioned my gender identity or sexual orientation because I was raised in a tolerant home that was built around music and the arts, and I was used to my parents’ gay and lesbian friends. Heck, “Uncle Wes” half raised me and, as a dancer in Hollywood films, he was a swishy as they get.
In 2001 Nettl and I began learning about the recent studies in gender “disorders” and I at last found a word for myself: transgendered. I began transition (the long process of gender reassignment), but had to quit after only a few months of hormone therapy due to blood pressure issues. Outside of the two earlier surgeries I underwent in the 80s, I’ve not had anything else taken off or added on, and I don’t intend to. I like who I am just fine, thank you.
So here arrives the personal pronoun deal. During those few months of transition my family and friends, sensitive to my emotional comfort, began referring to me as “he”. But here in blogsville, people don’t know me as they do, and because I still appear to be a female, albeit a very androgynous one, they rightfully refer to me as “she”.
What do I prefer? It doesn’t make one bit of difference to me. I used to be ultra sensitive about it, but I’ve gotten over it (although I still cringe when a restaurant hostess or server calls Nettl and me “Ladies”, or our pharmacist greets us with “Hello girls!”. Still, WTF. Who cares. Life’s too short.
Here’s a recent photo of Nettl and me, taken on location in Salzburg. You decide what pronoun you want to use and I’ll be fine with it.
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
We live near the municipal airport and the skies over
Stoolwater Stillwater are teeming with military aircraft (jets and helicopters). Why? G. Dubya is coming to town on Saturday. I wonder if that has anything to do with four houses on our street emptying out. In our cul-de-sac, there are only two houses that are still being lived in.
Not that I mind. The noisy college students who trashed the beautiful house next door are history, but I’ll kind of miss the two little girls whose parents threw them the carnival-like birthday parties and the people across the street who had two dogs who ran across the street to say hi to me every time I went outside. We still have the quiet couple at the end of the court, and the partying hoochie mamas who live behind us (and their boyfriends who play their ba-boom-booms late at night). I wish they’d moved out and the people with the dogs had stayed.
It still makes no sense to me why our landlord will allow groups of college students to live in these beautiful homes, but won’t allow us to have a damned cat. We, who are his longest, best, cleanest and favorite tenants (he’s told us this). I’ve never lived anywhere that I didn’t leave in better shape that when I moved in. How can one cat possibly cause more damage than a houseful of rowdy, partying, vandalizing college students (one of the guys next door threw something at one of the beautiful lamps that are affixed to either side of the garage door and broke it). Has anyone fixed it? No. The students that live in this neighborhood are those with parents who co-sign the lease. Why can’t they just let their spoiled rotten little darlings live in student housing like all the other kids? We pay too much money to live on fraternity row.
(By the way, the people across the street had dogs because they had a different landlord.)
Ramble, ramble, ramble…
A long time ago, I started buying what I call a “Dad shirt” every summer. The kids call them my “Robin Williams shirts”. They’re usually made of Hawaiian, or otherwise loud prints. Well, this year, Ville set me up with one of a different ilk. And yes, the chartreuse “SPAM” logos actually glow in the dark. Thanks again Ville. What a pal! I’m wearing it today.