Sooper. Dooper. Flooper.

You Are Big Bird

Talented, smart, and friendly...
you're also one of the sanest people around.

You are usually feeling:
From riding a unicycle to writing poetry, you
have plenty of hobbies to keep you busy.

You are famous for:
Being a friend to everyone.
Even the grumpiest person gets along with you.

How you live your life:
"Super. Duper. Flooper."
(Super pooper scooper)

Take the Sesame Street Personality Quiz

Who are you?

What a Great Surprise!

The first thing I found after logging onto my computer this morning is that my post, Pleasant Valley Sunday, won Post of the Day at Authorblog. I read David's blog every morning of my life; it's one of those places that's just plain nice and his photography is brilliant. Go check him out.

Thank you David!


The Point of Family

While we're on the subject of dads...

I was raised in a close and loving family. Dysfunctional, yes, but I never had any doubt that I was loved. My dad came from a family that was loving and supportive without all the crazy-making things that I experienced after the extended family grew away from each other geographically. But then, I lived through 9 years of the 1950s, a decade that was dysfunctional at its core.

There were two factions in our immediate family tree. My mother's family was cold, unsupportive and distant, with no displays of emotion, just cold disregard. I think I met them all of three times throughout my life, so when I think of them, I see in my mind one of those Victorian family photographs in which the subjects sit straight and rigid, like they have a pole up their backsides, wearing stern, unhappy faces. When I think of my dad's family on the other hand, I see a raucous bunch of musicians sitting in the back yard at a picnic table. Everyone's laughing, drinking beer, smoking, sharing jokes and stories, and singing, with kids and dogs running around. No wonder my mom, who was affectionate by nature, spent more time at the Waller house when she was a kid, than she did at her own. No wonder she did everything in her power to "snag" my dad when she was only 15. Her own mother died from suicide brought on by suffering with TB the year before and Mom listened while her family argued about who was going get stuck with taking care of her. No one wanted her, so the Wallers took her in. They were a family that I would have wanted to get in with too, had I been in her place.

The Wallers were the kind of family that saw nothing wrong with the kids living at home even after marriage. In fact, Mom lived with my grand-dad and grandmother while dad served as a drill sergeant at Ft. Leonardwood during WWII. My brother was born in their house. After the war the entire family packed up the '48 Plymouth and moved to California, where my dad hoped to work in radio as an entertainer along the lines of Red Skelton. The family moved together in order to help him with that dream. Within a year the family was living on two acres of land in three houses they'd built for each other in an area outside of Oxnard, known as Nyeland Acres, which was a safe, semi-rural area in those days. Sadly, today it is considered little better than a suburban slum.

Our house was next door to my grandparents' house. The two houses were separated by a white picket fence with a gate. My Aunt Pat and Uncle Don were newlyweds living in a bungalow at the top of the driveway. Other family members were my Uncle Bob and Aunt Rena, also newlyweds, my Uncle Wes, who was an unofficially adopted member of the family and lived with my grandparents, and Aunt Rena's family, who were from Finland. These included my godparents Mr. and Mrs. Tillman. Soon, the next generation started being born. I came first, followed by a multitude of cousins.

And all this time we lived on the same piece of land together, spending Sundays in the yard at potluck picnics and always helping each other with the struggles of day-to-day life. There was no sense of anyone being pushed out of the nest, no hint of the modern philosophy of "You're on your own now" or, "You're 18, now get the hell out!" No one would ever be on their own because each family member was backed up by a clan of people who loved them and wanted to help them make their way in life. There was no pressure to move out, but when you did, you were encouraged and supported--you never even had to buy furniture or houseware items because everyone was all too happy to give your their old stuff. When my parents had a little trouble with money, someone always came in with a bag of groceries, "Just a few things I picked up while I was at the grocery store." When Grand-dad's Willys jeep broke down, the men spent their Saturday afternoon fixing it. When a babysitter was needed, someone volunteered. When a newlywed aunt and uncle needed help with a utility bill, the family paid it for them. There were never loans, or demands for payment in our family; it all came back around eventually because everyone worked and pulled together.

These are the ethics I grew up with, ethics that I just naturally like to live by even when we can't afford it. What's hard for me now is that, outside of my sons (and my cousins who have scattered to the four winds), there's no longer a blood clan. When our finances are as bad as they presently are, there's no one to help, to buy a bag of groceries, or even give encouragement. I feel abandoned and alone much of the time, and as I head into my "golden years" I find myself wishing it were different. But I'm blessed with having our immediate family close at hand and we pull together as best we can when times are hard. We're a family and if my dad were here to see it, he'd recognize that his own family's values are still thriving. Perhaps some things are different (Nettl and I are a same sex couple after all), but he wouldn't care. All he'd care about is that we're loving, supportive and happy as a family unit.

The values I was taught by observance are the reason I willingly put my life on hold for 13 years to take care of Dad and Mom at the end of their lives. They are the reason my sons live with us while getting on their feet, and they are the reason we took Nettl's kids from their father when he wasn't acting in their best interests. We couldn't afford any of it, but we had faith that "what goes around comes around" and that it will come back to us, eventuall.

If my dad were here, and I said to him, "Dad, I'm so sorry for the heartache and expense I caused for you and Mom", I know what his reply would be: "Oh Hon, don't worry about it. That's the point of family."


Pleasant Valley Sunday

I suppose I can blame it on my musical stroll down Memory Lane last night. Today feels like a typical Sunday in Camarillo, California, where my parents lived from 1968 to 1990. It was where Joel grew up for the most part, and was considered the "family seat".

In the Sixties, we who lived in Camarillo believed (I still do, by the way) that the Monkees' song, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was written about our little suburb just north of the L.A. Basin. After all, the valley that leads the eight miles from town to the beach is called Pleasant Valley, and the 10-mile thoroughfare from Camarillo to Port Hueneme is Pleasant Valley Road. What would you think if you lived there?...

The Musical Wallpaper of my Life, Part I

Despite some of the crap that went on in my early life, I was raised with some great and diverse music. Because my dad was a jazz drummer, I was exposed to some of the best music of the era, and our home was always full of interesting, talented people. When Dad died, he left me all of his and Mom's record albums of the 30s, 40s, 50s and early 60s. There were thousands of them! Unfortunately, they all were lost in "The Big Dump of 2001", a collection that also counted my own records of the 60s, 70s and 80s. It's not a story I wish to go into, because it always makes me physically ill. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the album covers that are the "musical wallpaper of my life". (Click to embigiate the images.)

This is one of the albums that I loved especially as an adult. I may have to put it on my Wishlist. I have to say here that I am and have always been madly in love with Sammy Davis, Jr., and I miss him terribly. You want inspiration? Read Sammy's autobiography, Yes I Can. Entertainers today are wussies.

Smoky and sexy, a little polished, but hot, hot, hot.

This was my mom's album. I didn't really like it, but I heard a lot of it when she played it on our hi-fi while cleaning house.

Dad was madly in love with Doris Day. Judging from this cover, I can't say I blame him. She had a great voice, too.

Ah, Ella. Even as a child I loved when my dad put on this one. And Gershwin: too lowbrow for the highbrows and too highbrow for the lowbrows. Ella sang him perfectly. Pure class.

When I was a kid I thought the title song was fun, but it wasn't something I liked listening to. I think my grandmother gave this to Dad as a Christmas gift. He never liked it either.

Louis Armstrong was so present in my family that he might as well have been an uncle. We all loved him and my parents owned tons of his records, both 78s and 33s. His teaming up with the Duke was almost too good to be true.

I discovered Leadbelly on my own one afternoon when I opened a heavy, metal, 78 rpm record storage can. Also inside were 78 rpm picture records that I suspect would be worth a lot of money today. Aw man... why did I have to go there...

This was a comedy album that was wildly popular during the "Camelot" years in Washington D.C. My uncle, especially, loved this album and played it all the time. Come to think of it, my uncle kind of looked like JFK.

Nellie Lutcher is not a name that many people know or remember, but I do. Another album that I played for well over 30 years. What a soulful, profound voice and musical expression.

I remember this album mostly because I thought the cover was funny. My dad liked Louis Prima and my mom liked Keely Smith. I guess this was one of those pairings that made it easy for them to agree on music. I still can't look at this cover without laughing.

I have to admit that I preferred Keely. So much so that I now have this one on CD, as well as another of her LPs.

I never really liked Tommy Dorsey (I preferred Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman), but I did like this cover.

And of course, Nat King Cole. He was a staple in our home. Nettl and I own a number of his albums on CD.

Oh my God, this album was my absolute favorite from the age of five. I used to use the cover as a solid base beneath my coloring books and I thought the McGuire Sisters were the most beautiful women in the world. I can't tell you how many times I tried to draw this cover. Those faces, those necks, those blue satin gowns trimmed with mink... bigoldsigh! But best of all was their tight three-part harmonies. I remember my favorite song on this album was "Delilah Jones". I had no idea what it was about, but I loved it. Yeah, this has definitely made it to my Wishlist. Christmas is coming... Well, crap. Now I have to choose between Sammy Davis Jr. and a manage-a-quatre. Life can be so cruel...


'Pon Waking

happens when you sleep at night, and I rely on my friends in Blogsville to tell me what that was as I make my morning rounds. Here's today's bits of news:

Blog Queen informs me that Paul Newman died last night. He was born the same year as my mom, but I just never thought of him as being that old. He was always young, you know?
RW won an award and I didn't. Sure, he said that anyone can have the award if they want it, but it's not as satisfying that way. I want to know that someone loves my blog, damn it. But seriously, congrats, RW!
B.E. Earl will be making a "big pot of red" for his entire family this weekend. Wish I was there. I'll bet there will be a "big bunch of beer" as well.
David is pondering Beavers and Buttheads.
Also in from Blog Queen: Results from last night's debate: Obama 51% / McCain 38%.

And now, I must have coffee.


The Past That Wasn't

Not that that has anything to do with anything...

The brain is a a puzzling, fascinating thing. Basically, it's a filing system, or so they tell us. I woke up just before eight this morning having not gotten to bed until 4:30, went downstairs and made the coffee and then came back upstairs. I chased the cat out of the chair, then sat down and opened my laptop. I left a mini-blog and then realized that there was no way I was going to be able to stay awake. So I did something I never do. I went back to bed...


Das Ist Eine Kindergartenkarte!

Commercials. There's a relatively new one by American Express that really chaps my hide. Here's the scenario:

An American man and woman, apparently partners in a small business, are treating three Germans to a business lunch. A deal is struck and the American man offers to pay for lunch, pulling out his credit card, a card with a superhero of some sort on it. The Germans immediately switch from English to their own language and begin making fun of the man's card, calling it a "Kindergarten card".

"Does anyone else find this awkward?" the German woman asks and one of her team says what amounts to, "Let's get out of here." After they leave, the American woman, who apparently understands German, pulls out her more adult American Express Gold card and says, "Let me get this."

This commercial offended me the first time I saw it. It's insulting to both Americans and Germans, and here's why. First, it implies that American individuality and small business is immature, naive and unprofessional, and second, that Germans are rude, snobby and of "group mind". The small business owner probably couldn't afford to treat these people to a power lunch, but he does and for that they should be a little more understanding. Who cares what picture is on a credit card? It's the credit that matters. His card isn't up to your standards? It was when you were ordering that steak and lobster, Arschleck!

What's really under attack here is individuality. This commercial perfectly demonstrates how far down the yuppie mentality of the 80s has taken us in the past two decades. God forbid we exhibit any signs of not promoting the group mind, because, by not conforming, we say that we are free-thinkers. It has been proven throughout history that when a fascist regime is threatening to take over, the first people to be discredited (and often eliminated) are the free-thinkers. Anything that doesn't support the group mind must be done away with: writers, artists, musicians, and anyone who dares to express individuality or live according to their own truth.

Besides, all it says anyway is that people are spending money they don't have, which is one of the reasons this country is in so much trouble in the first place. Our family might be broke right now, but at least we don't have credit card bills -- we cut ours up six years ago, one of the best decisions we ever made. I can't tell you how many people have actually attacked us verbally for our stance on credit cards. People are threatened by this and I have a hard time understanding why. But this post has gone off-topic.

Wasn't there a commercial not too long ago in which Jerry Seinfeld was promoting an American Express Superman card? American Express needs to seriously rethink the unspoken message of their latest commercial and American small business owners, as well as Germans, should think about how they are being profiled. In a nut shell American Express is saying to American small business owners:

"If you don't have one of our Gold Cards, they're going to laugh at you. The big kids won't want to play with you."
How insulting.

On September 24, 1951

I was born in 1951. I know. Most of you weren't even a twinkle at that point so I thought I'd give you a glimpse into life in America on the day I was born...


Honey Vs. Vinegar

I am happy. A little over a week ago I wrote a friendly, neighborly letter to the small business across the way with the new AC turbine, explaining about the noise (see this entry). In the letter I said that if they would be kind enough to adjust the thermostat for weekends and nights, not only would we be able to enjoy our patio and front porch, and our electric bill would go down, theirs would go down too and they would conserve energy. This afternoon there was a crew of workmen out working on the unit and tonight it's QUIET.


I dreamed last night that there was a hit man after me. I knew that he was going to get me, it was just a matter time and there was no escape. Of course, I spent most of the dream devising ways to give him the slip, but at last I realized that I was cornered. I found myself in inside a cottage-style house and I realized that there were all kinds of people involved in the plot to take my life, people I didn't suspect and people I didn't even know...


La Boheme @ Ville's

No, not the Puccini opera. Notice there's no "è" in there. Years ago, our circle of friends acquired the name La Boheme because we were a bunch of musicians, writers, painters, and dreamers. I say acquired because there are two differing stories of how we got the name. Some say one of us came up with it whilst others say it was bestowed upon us. However it happened, we met in the mid-1980s and are still together. Some of us, anyway. Many have come in and out of the group, and some have passed, but a certain core group always remains. Namely, Ville and myself...


A Must-Read

If you read nothing else over the weekend, please read this article by Tim Wise.

Hat tip to good people Kay.

Artificial Intelligence Usually Beats Natural Stupidity

Well, there's good news and then there's bad news. And then there's really good news.

Although Wednesday's laptop crash wiped out my entire C drive, everything—Windows and and the programs I use—have been reinstalled and the machine is working better than ever. I mean better than ever. My wireless connection is always excellent; no more of that tiresome fluctuating between low and good, and everything loads and runs faster. I won't list everything because you all know the routine from your own experiences. Unfortunately, I lost a lot. The worst is that I lost all of my Outlook Express email, so I'm just not going to use it anymore. I created a Gmail account for my business correspondence and any mail that Alla Breve gets on my domain is forwarded to the new one. I also lost all of the business invoicing and other important docs for the past four or five months, as well as all my graphics, codes, scripts and templates.

But the really good news is that at some point I'd backed up all my files onto both the desktop and to disk. I don't remember doing that, but I'm glad I did. So considering that I'd just transferred my screenplay to a private blog (there IS a God!), I made out alright.

My birthday is on Wednesday, and instead of asking for something frivolous, I've asked for a thumb drive. Crash me once, meh, it happens. Crash me twice, I'm a dumbass.


A Not So Big-Huge Post

I wonder about words in our English language. Actually, I love words, how they evolve and where they come from. For instance, earlier in the week I was wondering where the word "gig" comes from, and how did it start being used as another name for a musical engagement...

My Daily Landscape

If you live in Stillwater, which you probably don't, you get used to seeing Joe cups. They're everywhere. Whenever you go to Eskimo Joe's, or one of Stan Clark's other local restaurants, you invariably come home with one of these.

That's one of the cool things about living here. Free refills on your soft drinks. Before you leave one of these eateries you're always asked if you want a refill for the road. Consequently, I think one would be hard pressed to find a kitchen cupboard in this town that doesn't have at least one Joe cup in it...


Avast, Me Maties!

Sure'n today's National Talk Like A Pirate Day, so I kindly invite ye scallawags ta take part in the revelry in any manner ye see fit.

If the famous Captain Morgan hadn't whittled me gut so early in me life I'd tip a few with ye. Instead, I request that ye pass me that flagon of ale.


The Worst That Can Happen

You know, I think I'm finally entering that phase of life where we seem to quit allowing the slings and arrows to knock us off-balance. Let's face it, after you've spent more than a century on this planet you kind of learn that life is hard enough and there's not much out there that's worth rocking the boat over once you've found a lagoon of calm.

The computer thing has me concerned and frustrated, but I'm relatively calm about it. It will either be restored or it won't. Either way, it's just a computer. They're only files. It's not the death of a loved one, or something that will put me or someone I care about in the ICU...


Enter Pithy Blog Title Here

When you wake up exhausted in mind, body, and spirit, it's time to proclaim Official Pajama Day and steal some down time.

I refuse to get dressed, work on my screenplay, or even make the bed. In fact, it's looking really inviting about now.

I think I'll put in a movie and take a series of naps.


Have a Shpadoinkle Day!

I dedicate this to Geor3ge, with whom I miss watching weird movies while drinking brandy.


And They Wonder Why People Go Postal

I really don't know how it can get any noisier around here. Remember two weeks ago when I told you about the AC monster they installed across the way? Well, it hasn't turned off once, even when the temp at night has gone down to 65°. On and on it roars, right outside the section of our house where all the windows are located, namely, the bedrooms and the veranda. Forget my carefree hammock-blogging afternoons amid the plants and flowers and birds. It's too damned noisy out there...


This House is Getting Crowded!

An interesting thing happens when I'm working on a new piece of fiction. I say interesting because I'm afraid that if I complain, it will stop happening. I'm that terrified of my muse, you see.

Anyway, at a certain point my characters turn into real people. I know them, and although they have a knack for surprising me from time-to-time, they're fairly predictable. This is especially true for the characters in my screenplay; they surprise me all the time...


7 People I Wish Would Just Shut the Hell Up

Mike Birbiglia
The SuddenLink guy

Joyce Meyer
Sourpuss TV Evangelist

Billy Mays
An android that needs the nodules on his vocal chords removed

Rachel Ray
Another poster child for vocal nodule removal

Nancy Grace

Dr. Phil

George Grey
HGTV host who wants to be Jim Carey

Calling It a Night

I said I wouldn't stay up so late tonight, but I got working on my screenplay and, as it always happens, I lost track of the time. So off I go to bed.


Choose Your Caffeine

No! I'm not doing that ever again.

Remember when you could drink soft drinks all day and evening and still go to sleep at a decent hour? I rarely buy sodas, but every once in a while I crave Pepsi, so on Monday night I got a 12-pack and put them in the fridge. I had one on Tuesday afternoon and one later that evening after dinner. The result? I didn't fall asleep until 9:30 Wednesday morning! This is really weird because I can drink coffee all day and it doesn't have this effect on me.

Of course, we can never catch up on a sleep debt, and yesterday I was worth absolutely nothing and felt like crap. And although I went to bed at 11:30 last night, I kept waking up until, at 2:00 am, I took a Tylenol PM. I woke up this morning at 8:30 feeling pretty good. And here it is 10:30 and I'm already showered and dressed, the bed is made and I'm ready to write.

No more Pepsi after 3:00 for me, and definitely no more than one in the space of a day. Middle age sucks sometimes.



Willow tagged me with a meme that I think I did several years ago, but since I'm a changeable sort, I'm sure that my answers will be different than they were back then. Besides, I think that one was one of the Lost Posts.

After you read this -- and even if you don't -- go pay a visit to her very enjoyable blog, Life at Willow Manner. Now I'm going to have to find something to tag her with...

The premise of this one is fairly simple: I have to list "Six Unspectacular Quirks" about myself, then tag six people. But, as I know some of you hate to be tagged, I'll only pick on people I'm fairly sure would like to play. :^P
  1. I'm rude, I guess (or just Austrian), but I just love burps and farts. I love when I do them and I love it even better when other people do them. I always howl with laughter, regardless of how many times they happen. I must confess, however, that I'm better at burping, especially when I'm drinking beer or after a big German meal -- enjoying beer with a German meal is the best!

  2. It's a carry-over from my childhood, I know, but one of my favorite late-night comfort foods is graham crackers and milk. I like to dunk the crackers in the milk until they're soft, but still have a little snap! to them.

  3. I don't think it's dyslexia because that's a reading disorder, but it must be related to it. I inadvertently transpose letters and words. Like one time I told my dad that he needed to get his "hookers speaked up" in his car, and then there was the cat's "Dood Fish". Half the time I don't even realize that I've done it until people start laughing.

  4. I love, love, love weird sleep pants or loungers. I used to have some green ones with penguins on them (man, I miss my penguin pants!), and I currently have a pair with the Three Stooges on them and another pair with rubber duckies on them. The next ones I want to get are covered with Corona logos.

  5. Careers I could have really enjoyed are architecture or physics. The latter doesn't really surprise me because my aunt was the first woman physics professor at UCLA back in the 40s and 50s. Actually, neither surprises me because they're really made of the same laws and concepts as music composition.

  6. I'm somewhat obsessive-compulsive, and when I get out of the shower I can't dry myself off until I close the shower curtain. I try, but I can't.
I'm tagging:

For All You Worriers Out There

Well, the LHC Mads in Geneva's Deep 13 have shot two beams around the circle and aparently the earth has not been destroyed—yet. There are two possibilities here, though. Either it has not, or else it has and we just don't know it, in which case this is the afterlife and it isn't all that different. Go check this website to find out if the world has ended.

Haven't Seen This Guy in a While

Somewhere in the Lost Entries, there was my initial "WTF?" post. It was a good one, too. There's another, newer post, in which I explain who this little guy is, and why he's kind of a mascot on this blog...

Aw, Man!

I can't believe I missed my 1000th post. I kept telling myself that it was coming up, but I guess I'm not a good judge of things like that. Why, oh why did this post have to be #1000!? Actually, I hit this milestone sometime last year because in my move from Wordpress I lost hundreds of posts. Anyway, this is post #1014.

Woot, as it were.


An Oops! Day

Yesterday was one of those days. I caused damage to myself at least four times. First, I tripped going down the stairs, carrying some dishes to the kitchen. Fortunately, I didn't actually fall, but it still scared me. Next, I pinched my left hand ring fingertip in the closet door, causing a huge bruise that still hurts. Later, while Joel was letting me out in front of the store (it was pouring rain and I didn't want to walk from the parking lot), my foot slipped in my Croc and I slammed the car door into my leg, breaking the skin and creating a huge bump and bruise, a "goose egg" as people say. Then, in the store, I scraped a knuckle in the shopping cart, making it bleed.

Why do we have days like that? I like to say that I'm not entirely "in my body". I know I can be absent-minded and I sometimes run into walls, literally, but yesterday was ridiculous and I have all the bumps and bruises to prove it!

Here's to a better day today.