A Matter of Proportion

I don’t make posts about the silly titles spam mail is given because, 1) it’s so over-done, and, 2) mine aren’t usually that funny. A little off, perhaps, but not as funny as, say, L’il Red’s famous Man stretching testicles. But today I got a good one:

“If you want your dick to be bigger than you”

Come on, guy. For one thing, there is such a thing as being too big, you know. And for another, can you really promise that kind of result? Besides, what practical use would that be? You couldn't even carry it outside to show it off, and no one would come visit you because you'd be an effin' freak! 

Sheesh. I need some coffee.


To Wax or Not to Wax

In my morning reads I came across Joe Wack’s account of having his back waxed (sweet baby Jesus, try saying that three times: Joe Wack’s back waxed), and it brought up a discussion that Nettl and I have engaged in on numerous occasions, that is, our country’s obsession with youthfulness.

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 a point of attraction rather than a point of ridicule. He should be celebrating his passage from boyhood to manhood, not hating it...


Out Today

I don’t care what the calendar says, it's been in the high 90s all week and Ville’s having a BBQ this afternoon and evening. That means summer is officially here.

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.


My New Toy

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):

  1. A Case of You - Joni Mitchell
  2. A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum
  3. Back For Good - Take That
  4. Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
  5. Can’t Get it Out of My Head -Electric Light Orchestra
  6. Chelsea Morning - Joni Mitchell
  7. Cocaine - Eric Clapton
  8. Come and Get It - Badfinger
  9. Crackerbox Palace - George Harrison
  10. Day After Day - Badfinger
  11. Do Ya, Do Ya Want My Love? - Electric Light Orchestra
  12. Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears For Fears
  13. Free As a Bird - The Beatles
  14. Good Mother - Jan Arden
  15. Heart of the Matter - Don Henley
  16. Hold Me Now - The Thompson Twins
  17. Hold On - Wilson Phillips
  18. In Your Wildest Dreams - The Moody Blues
  19. Insensitive - Jan Arden
  20. Jesse - Joshua Kadison
  21. Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat - Bob Dylan
  22. Let My Love Open the Door - Pete Townsend
  23. Looking For Space - John Denver
  24. New York State of Mind - Billy Joel
  25. No Matter What - Badfinger
  26. No More Lonely Nights - Paul McCartney
  27. No No Song - Ringo Starr
  28. Old and Wise - The Alan Parsons Project
  29. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me - Warren Zevon
  30. Real Love - The Beatles
  31. Sacrifice - Elton John
  32. Somewhere - The Moody Blues
  33. Telephone Line - Electric Light Orchestra
  34. The Last Song Between a Father and His Son - Elton John
  35. The Last Worthless Evening - Don Henley
  36. Too Late For Goodbyes - Julian Lennon
  37. Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
  38. Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
  39. Woman - John Lennon
  40. 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.


Limping Through Venice, & Not in the Happy Way

Last night Nettl and I decided to watch Mozartballs on the digital flat screen of my new Dell. Wow! There were things in the film that we’d never heard or seen before. After that, we opened a bottle of champagne and settled back to watch Casanova, starring Heath Ledger.

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.


5 Beautiful Years

It was five years ago today that Nettl and I were joined in a Holy Union Service by Rev. Rader at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Tulsa. A lot has come and gone since that day, when we had no idea of what the future had in store for us. There have been some very difficult times, not between the two of us, but incoming from a number of sources. People have tried to break us up, come between us, negate us, discriminate against us, dehumanize us, even destroy us, but we have always come back stronger and more dedicated to our marriage and to our family.

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.

Here’s to Five Beautiful Years, Nettl!


Six Degrees of Separation

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called Chains. The concept is based on the idea that the number of acquaintances grows exponentially with the number of links in the chain, and so only a small number of links is required for the set of acquaintances to become the whole human population.

Who are you six (or less) degrees from knowing?


Singing Her Praises

Let’s hear it for my friend, Deni. She’s been working all week on the new blog for me, and I mean indefatigably, brilliantly, selflessly. How do you thank someone you’ve known 90% of your life? She wouldn’t take money if I had it to give and, although she’ll say “You’re welcome,” her attitude will be “Aw, shucks.” While I’m deciding what I’m going to do for her, I decided to write my own words to a song by her favorite music artist. (Sing these words to the tune of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds):

Picture yourself on the Net with a weblog,
with no PHP and no CSS;
Somebody out there tells you that Dreamweaver
and Microsoft FrontPage are just a big mess.

Fields and widgets and themes and plug-ins muddling up your head,
You need some help or you’ll lose your mindhere she comes!

Deni on the Web with WordPress!
Deni on the Web with WordPress!
Deni on the Web with WordPress!


No Effin' Way!

Right after I posted my previous post, my son Joel came downstairs and told me that he wanted me to go to the Dell website, pick out a computer, add the things I need, and order it; this was an early birthday present. After scraping myself off of the ceiling I did as I was told. It will be delivered sometime next week. Wow! I’ve been using this HP for seven years now. When I got it, it was cool, but Windows 98 goes only so far. Now I know how Elvis’s parents must have felt when he bought them a Cadillac. This is actually a good thing for the entire family. Now I can put this computer upstairs on Nettl’s desk and her old war horse can go in the family room for the kids. I’ll have my computer all to myself again! No more interrupting my work when someone has homework to do, or if they want to check their email. No more trojans and viruses from toxic sites. No more deleting image and music files that I didn’t download and that take up my hard drive space.

Thank you so very much Joel. You’re wonderful!

On the Off Beat

My life has always been a little left-of-center. It’s something I’ve grown used to through the years, and something that I actually value. My family history is sketchy, but the first off beat Waller I know of (although there’s probably a few much farther back) was my grandfather. He was literally born in the Vaudevillian theater and went on to become a celebrated child star.

"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.


Mashed Potatoes For Breakfast?

This is no lie. At 8:30 this morning I lay in bed trying to decide if I should get up or go back to sleep. Just as I decided to go ahead and get up, I heard the sound of a synthesizer outside, playing the Close Encounters tune. It sounded exactly like the movie; it even sounded like it was a Moog playing it. It was too loud to be a ringtone—I mean, it was loud. I jumped out of bed and looked out the window, but there was nothing and no one out there. Not a car nor a human in sight. I just asked Joel if he heard it and he said that he hears it all the time, as well as the Westminster chimes. 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.



We went to the annual holiday party of the Stillwater Chamber Singers last night that was held at conductor Mark Lawlor’s house. He and his gracious wife have a beautiful home out by the country club, and Mark has an incredible music room! Imagine. A place to go shut the door and work. Sigh. Someday.

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...


Back In The Day

It seems the new buzz phrase going around is, “Back in the day…” Which day we're talking about is not always clear, but there has been a lot of going back to it lately.

 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”?...


Today's Concert

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!


A Little Night Tamale

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...


Jets, Dogs, More Caffeine

We live near the municipal airport and the skies overhead 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...

Cleaning Up

Madge discovers Bob’s Swiffer is more fun.

Canned Meat Aglow

I never told you about what Ville got me. A couple of weeks ago I went over to her house to hang out and bend elbows with her, and she presented me with a gift: a glow-in-the-dark Spam shirt!

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.