I vaguely remember seeing this on telly many, many years ago, only it was in black & white. I thought it was cool because, at the time, I was performing the role of Puck in a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Here it is in color. Nothing like some Scousers doing Shakespeare!



The ice storm wasn't nearly as bad as everyone feared, but the best part is that this is what I woke up to. Click to, well, you know...


Gaining Some Perspective

Dedicated to all those who think they're so damned important, indispensable, and powerful. Like Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Donald Trump, Chris Matthews, Lou Dobbs and countless web trolls)...

Our House

Things are getting a little exciting around here. First, there's the big ice storm that's predicted for tomorrow as well as 6-12 inches of snow that's forecast for Friday. I'm cool with all that as long as the trees in our yard don't decide to come through the roof. The last bad ice storm we had was in 2001, but we didn't have any trees then. The good thing about the storm is that Nettl will probably get to stay home for a four-day weekend and still get paid...


It's Doppelganger Week

Over in Facebook there's a game going on that goes like this:
Post a picture of someone famous who people have said you look like.

This game has been kind of fun, so I thought I'd bring it into Blogsville.

I've had many looks through the years. From the elfin teenager with the Beatle haircut to the sort of nondescript middle-ager I am today, I've tried on a whole lot of images. I've also been mistaken for a couple of people, which stories I'd like to share with you.

The first time I heard that I had a double was when I was a sophomore in high school. Someone came up to me all angry, asking me why I didn't say hi to them that morning in town. I told them I'd been in school all day and they said that they saw someone who looked exactly like me. That weirded me out and the concept of having a doppelganger came home to stay.

My first real experience was in 1977. I had my first credit cards, one which was at Joseph Magnin in Ventura. Magnin's was an upscale place that made me feel successful. They had some great clothes, an extensive petites section, and I was 26 and making good money as a camera operator at a television studio. I had just gotten my first "disco" perm and I looked hot. One afternoon while shopping, the girl at the jewelry counter asked me for my autograph.

"Who do you think I am?" I asked.
"You're Laraine Newman," she whispered.
"I'm not. Sorry."

I didn't really take it as a compliment. Laraine Newman, though funny on SNL, wasn't at all how I imagined myself looking. And I was sooo into my looks during that period.

"Don't worry," she said. "I won't tell anyone that you're here, but if you need anything, just let me know."

I let it pass and later, when I'd found some things I wanted to try on, the same girl took me to the dressing room that they reserved for wedding dress fittings. It was huge--about 30-feet square--and looked more like an 18th-century French salon than it did a dressing room. She asked me if I wanted anything to drink, but I said no thanks and she left. Thinking that being mistaken for someone famous might not be so bad for a little while, I let it go, enjoying trying on clothes in first class.

A couple of years later, Joel and I flew to Kansas to spend Christmas with Micah and my Ex. Well, it was really to spend some time with Micah, but, well, you know, the two went together in those days. Micah was about four at the time. One evening Bill came in carrying a copy of Bette Midler's Divine Madness album as a Christmas gift for me. I was wearing bigger makeup at that time and actively performing in clubs and such with my blues band. Micah looked at the LP cover, then at me, then the cover again, and he pointed at Bette with a huge smile on his face and said, "Mama!"

Fast-forward a number of years. Gone was the perm and the big makeup and flashy clothes. I was living in Colorado and I had a more natural look (i.e. "soft dyke", but you didn't hear me say that, did you?) and I wore wire-rimmed glasses. Stargate had just been released and I sometimes went to The Detour in downtown Denver. The Detour was a lesbian bar that was straight-friendly, and they served the best hamburgers in town. One night while sitting there minding my own business, a woman sat down next to me and said, "You look just like James Spader," which I kind of liked hearing at the time. I could handle that, no problem. It was just before middle-age, Hashimoto's  and menopause hit me and I was enjoying the last bloom of my peak years.

A few years later, after I'd moved back to Ventura and was sitting in an outdoor cafe with my partner at the time, a couple walked by, waved, and the guy said, "Hi Penny!" My partner and I just laughed because she'd told me many times that when I went out with a ball cap and sunglasses on to walk my dog, that's who I looked like.

With the exception of Spader, people always think I look like an enormously talented, brilliant Jewish woman, which doesn't suck. I'm flattered, really.

So, who do people say you resemble?


Up With Me You Cannot Put

Hey, how many of you remember these?

But that's not what this post is about.

It has occurred to me that for the past week, all you've gotten from me here are posts about my book, and videos. That's cool, but some of you might not be all that interested in either my characters or Stevie Riks.  I know some of you aren't happy, because I see it reflected in my hit counts, you see...


Mount Effin' Olympus

I found this video a few days ago and was just blown away. Here are Eric Clapton (Cream), John Lennon (the Beatles), Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones) and Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), also known as The Dirty Mac, performing--live, no less--Yer Blues, Lennon's song that appeared on The Beatles (otherwise known as The White Album). Here is Lennon doing what he did and loved best: rockin' with other rockers and not being a Mop-Top. Go Johnny, go!


The Many Faces of Dylan

The other day when depression felt like a big hairy hand clutching my throat, I got away from myself by watching I'm Not There on YouTube. The film's premise had intrigued me since I first saw the picture of Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan, but I hadn't seen it in the cinema because, 1) I can't afford to go to the movies, 2) I'm not a go-to-the-movies type, and 3) films of that sort never come to Dogspot.

I admit it. I love films like this. Films that don't give you everything with the expectation that you actually know how to, and love to, think. I was amused by some of the comments left by other viewers (YouTube comments are so damned angsty, vicious, and grasping), especially those like, "This is where I stopped watching. I don't get it." Of course you don't get it. You have to think. Instead of turning it off to go watch Jackass, sit through it and let your brain cells knock together a little. It reminded me of when, back in the Sixties, the bubble gumming  teenyboppers whined, "I don't get Dylan. He can't even sing. Put on the Monkees!"...



"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Desktop wallpaper,
"Martin Luther King, Jr. in Type"
Denci Manayak


L'il Sprout

As if to spit in the proverbial face of everything I had dreamed, projected, worked for, and envisioned, 2010 started out badly. Very badly. Since I first opened my eyes on  the morning of January 1st we have been bombarded with cares and heartbreaks that have our heads fairly reeling. I keep claiming, however, that this is merely a cleaning out of the old crap so that there will be room for new and better trends in the year to come. I have to believe or else I might be tempted to dig a hole, climb in and pull it down over me. Right now, it feels like life is a bunch of shitmen made out of  rolled shitballs like so many brown snowmen in the front yard. From having feet wiped on us to losing old friends, from the ever-present predators to the eternally empty pantry, and from losing a bid on a new website to catching a terrible cold, the new year started out even worse than the old year ended...


Visual Composition

This is one of the most fantastic things I've encountered on the web. Wow. That's quite a statement.

Turn up your sound and enjoy your natural, inborn creativity!


Go, Stay, Stay, Go

You know those stories about people who fake their deaths, people like Elvis, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, and, now, Michael Jackson? I have my own ideas about some of these figures and I believe that at least two of them are still alive somewhere...

The Huxley-Orwell Debate - in Cartoons

Okay, so Brave New World and 1984 just happen to be two of my favorite books. They were required reading in my circles of friends, anyway, back in the Sixties.

I Stumbled Upon this page last night and although there's a lot going on right now, I'm not comfortable blogging about it. This will have to suffice until I get myself back in shape.


All I Have for Monday

After you click this link (and you know you want to), be sure to click on each of the horses in the image. Lauren found this last night and we laughed and laughed. Oh, and be sure to have your sound turned on.



I Could Write About...

I could write about the cold temperatures, but that's all anyone's blogging/Facebooking/Tweeting about and I'm bored with the subject. It's weather. Get a grip. It's not like we don't all have thermostats, insulated homes, microfibers, hot water, and indoor toilets. It's not Dickensian London for crying out loud...


Someplace Else

Have you ever had the feeling that you're supposed to someplace else? I've had this feeling for the past couple of days. I'm usually very good at living in the here-and-now, but I look out my window and hear someplace calling me through the distance--I don't know where. I try imagining where I'd like to be, but I can't settle on one place.

Vienna? Sure, but...
Mexico? Okay, but...
Ventura? Great, but...
England? Lovely, but...

There are things happening all over the world, people experiencing things, and here I sit in Stillwater on a cold, snow-patched afternoon. It's an odd feeling, one that is new to me.


It's the Small Things

It's funny the things we overlook. When we moved into this cottage last August we were aware of the little wall furnace in the master bath, but we didn't give it any real thought. Thinking, I guess, that it was just an old feature in an old house, we considered it a kind of eyesore—we didn't even check to see if it worked—and wished we could remove it. Instead, we put a pretty metal folding table in front of it to disguise it a little and to also hold our spa and bath products. My other thought was safety. It's a gas furnace after all that was intended to function via open flames. Like I said, it's an old house, wood frame no less...


Armchair Circumnavigator: Tristan da Cunha

Coordinates: 37°4′0″S, 12°19′0″W
Capital: Edinburgh of the Seven Seas (known as The Settlement)
Language: English
Population: Barely 300 people.
Religions: Anglican, Roman Catholic
Monetary Unit: British Pound Sterling

When Napoleon was sent to St. Helena by the British, they annexed the nearest islands to prevent the French from attempting an ocean crossing of more than 1500 miles to rescue him. The islands in this chain were Nightingale Island, Inaccessible Island, and Tristan da Cunha Island.

Tristan da Cunha is so small that cartographers have trouble putting it on their maps. Located in the South Atlantic between Africa and South America, this volcanic outcropping has the honor of being named the remotest inhabited island on the planet. It is home to a population of 270 or so people, with an economy based in the fishing, lobstering, and stamp-making industries. The climate is sub-tropical, with very little variation in temperature from season to season. Outside of a level area located at the northwestern edge of the island, the rest is mountainous and rocky. The Tristanians quite literally live under the volcano. In 1961 a cone near The Settlement began to erupt and the entire community was evacuated to England. After two years an investigation was conducted and it was found that damage had been minimal and the residents were allowed to return.

The current population is thought to have descended from 15 ancestors: eight males and seven females who arrived on the island at various times between 1816 and 1908. The male founders originated from Scotland, England, The Netherlands, the USA, and Italy, and the women were brought in from a neighboring island as mail-order brides. Consequently, the families on Tristan share just eight surnames: Glass, Green, Hagan, Lavarello, Repetto, Rogers, Swain, and Patterson. The addition of the eighth surname, Patterson, occurred recently when a Tristanian married an Englishman and returned to settle on Tristan. Due to the island's history of endogamy, there are instances of health problems, including asthma and glaucoma. There is an excellent 30-minute BBC documentary about this that you can watch here. Health care is free, but with just one resident doctor from South Africa and five nurses, services are limited and emergency care often necessitates making radio calls to passing vessels so that the injured can be transferred to Cape Town.

All Tristan families are farmers, owning their own stock. All land is communally owned and livestock numbers are strictly controlled to conserve pasture and to prevent better-off families from accumulating wealth. For instance, a single person will be given one cow and two sheep. A man with a wife and family is given two cows and two sheep per family member. Additionally, each family is given their own potato patch. No outsiders are allowed to buy land or settle on the island.

The islanders frequently face the full wrath of Atlantic storms, battered by gusts of wind that can reach nearly 200 miles per hour. Once the wind was so strong that it swept some grazing cows and sheep from the fields and into the ocean.

The island follows a pretty set Monday through Friday routine, the work divided between that which benefits the family and that which aides the community. Sunday is for relaxing, church, and spending time with family. The island also has a social hall, a cafe, a supermarket, and a pub.

Television did not arrive on the island until 2001 and the only channel available is the British Forces Broadcasting Service from the Falkland Islands. Education is rudimentary, the children graduating at the age of fifteen.

Every year on Old Year's Night (December 31st), the men of the island disguise themselves in costumes and masks and spend the evening visiting the houses in The Settlement, scaring the women and children. They take care never to utter a word, despite the noise, so as not to give away their identities. They even wear gloves so that their families will not recognize them by their hands. The custom has a long history, although it has evolved over the generations. It is traditional for the Government Administrator to host an evening reception for the men, which is held in the Residency Garden. Called Okalalies, the men bring bunches of flowers which they present to the hostess.

Tristan da Cunha warmly welcomes visitors, but strict guidelines must be followed, and permission from the island council can take up to two years to attain.

Visit Tristan da Cunha's official website.

Dark Roasted Blend
Photo Credits:
Rob Crossan & Simon Dunston
Sue Scott
Jean-Pierre Langer
Manuel Bauer
Peter Baldwin
Roland Swensson


Why I Love Ventura #11: Fiddlin' Phil

Enjoy the fun of downtown Ventura, featuring Phil Salazar (Frank's son) on fiddle, as well as a bunch of other talented Venturans...

In Reality, What is Reality?

What if the Matrix were real? And, really, how can we know that it isn't? Hell, how can we know anything with any kind of certainty anyway? There are those who say that to live in an imposed dream state is impossible both mathematically and scientifically, but what if that thinking is in itself part of the illusion created to keep us from finding out the true nature of our reality?...


2009's Personal Best & Worst

Best Party: Tiki Bar New Year's Eve party
Worst Party: As usual, the one that never happened.

Best Casual Get-Together: Summer on the porch with Ville
Worst Casual Get-Together: No get-together is bad!...