The Pot Roast Review

All I can say about Willow's World Famous Pot Roast is this:

I regret that I have but one stomach to give.

Make it.

I Want a Merry Maid (& Other Stuff)

I really love waking up with the cat pretzeled around me for warmth. I used to have a Yorkshire Terrier and two tuxedo cats who pretty much made sleeping a constant maneuvering and shifting in order not to disturb them while ensuring my own comfort. I've always liked sharing my bed with my four-legged friends. Our cat rarely sleeps with us, so when I wake up with her warm little body curled up next to me, I really like it. And for some reason, when I wake up with that coziness, I'm spared my daily upon-waking panic attack.

For the past 24 hours I've been trying to get myself motivated to do a thorough cleaning on this house, including the self-cleaning oven. That may sound like a simple thing: turn on, shut door, wait, then sweep out the charred debris. No, not so easy. The cleaning cycle is so high that it makes the downstairs really, really hot, and it stinks besides. Last time I did it, Nettl and Heather actually got sick from the fumes. I think I'll have to do it early in the morning after they leave for the day. The guys and I can take it...

Out Of The Blue

I don't know why I thought of this—I'd forgotten all about it until just a moment ago. When I was a child, and my mother would take me shopping with her to the old Sears department store in Ventura, we'd always stop by the candy and nut counter to get some roasted cashews. They were put into a pink and white striped paper bag with a silver scoop. The bag always felt good in the hands because it was warm, and the aroma of the cashews was heavenly.

When Joel was very little and I was expecting Micah, we lived in a duplex not far from the Sears, and we'd walk there to window shop. When I could afford to do so, I'd stop at the same counter and get a bag of the cashews to share with Joel, just as my mother had with me. Not long after that, Sears vacated the building to move into a mall, where they had another candy and nut counter. I think the tradition of selling nuts and candy to eat while shopping ended in the 1980s.

Like I said, I don't know why I remembered this, but I'm glad that I did!


Into The Fluff

I finally realized tonight why I like watching Lifetime movies: they're sterling examples of really bad screenwriting. Sure, every now and then a good one will sneak in there, like See You in My Dreams, starring Marcia Gay Hardin and Aiden Quinn, but mostly, they're pieces o' crap with predictable plots and endings (see this entry). The worst part is, they're not even bad enough to become cult films. They're banal, and that's unforgivable.

This weekend, LMN (Lifetime Movie Network) broadcast something they called, "Into The Light", meaning the movies would be of a paranormal nature in honor of Halloween. Instead, they were the same old hack films that show women and children as victims. They call it "television for women", but the screenplays are really written for men, I suspect. I can deal with soft-slasher "porn", but seriously bad writing, plot points that lead nowhere, and subplots that are never resolved are another matter. I think watching these things should become part of every writing course offered to would-be authors, playwrights and screenwriters. They're really just dime store bodice-ripper paperbacks on film.

Watching these has become one of our favorite things to do on Sunday afternoons. Especially after a Saturday night party. They require zero concentration and cogitation, and one can nap through the first half and still pick up on the story in the last 30 minutes. Sometimes I'm tempted to write one, and then I realize that life's too short to write that kind of stuff, and too long to watch it.

Still, I do.


This One's Fun

I just found this meme at Mary's Meme Blog. Pick up on it if you feel so inclined.

~ My uncle once: told me that he'd met my aunt at the circus. He said he was the Indian Rubber Man and she was the Fat Lady (in truth, they were both reed thin). Because I was only 3 or 4, I believed him.
~ Never in my life: have I set out to hurt someone, including someone who's hurt me.
~ When I was five: I wanted to be Peter Pan.
~ High school was: better than I thought it was at the time.
~ I will never forget: that day in the late 70s when I was mistaken for Laraine Newman and was given the bridal dressing room at J. Magnin. No matter how much I insisted I wasn't her, the salesgirl wouldn't believe me.
~ Once I met: Paul McCartney. Twice, actually.
~ There’s this girl I know: who has convinced me that fans can be very dangerous.
~ Once at a bar: I found a $20 bill on the floor under my table. I kept it, of course. Whoever had dropped it was long gone.
~ By noon, I’m usually: writing, or working for a client.
~ Last night: I couldn't go to sleep because that stupid "Irish Drinking Songs" theme from Who's Line Is It Anyway? was stuck in my head. ("Dy-di dy-di dy-di dy-di, Dy-di dy-di dy!")
~ If I only had: the energy I had 20 years ago, there'd be no stopping me.
~ Next time I go to church: it'll probably be to hear the Stillwater Chamber Singers' Christmas concert.
~ What worries me most: is what will happen to my kids when I'm gone.
~ What I miss most about the 1980s is: nearly every facet of my life then.
~ If I were a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: Puck, from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
~ A better name for me would be: Nettl's nickname for me, "Goof".
~ I have a hard time understanding: String Theory, for one.
~ If I ever go back to school: it won't be for grades, but simply to learn things like architecture, philosophy and astronomy.
~ You know I like you if: I hug first.
~ Take my advice, never: eat Flaming Hot Cheetos while drinking box wine.
~ My ideal breakfast is: coffee, kitchen sink eggs and lots of bacon.
~ If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: visit the wineries.
~ Why won’t people: just pipe down, have a beer, and relax?
~ The world could do without: isms.
~ My favorite blonds are: Nettl, Marilyn Monroe and Barbara Eden.
~ If I do anything well, it’s: letting people be who they are.
~ And by the way: I like memes like this one.

    A Room of One's Own

    As I've learned to take my writing more seriously, and not as either a hobby or a waste of time (i.e. daydreaming on paper), I've tried to define what my ideal writing environment would be.

    I've never been able to afford a stint at a writers colony or retreat, although I've often played with the idea. Being in a country setting with no phones, no internet, no wine, and adhering to a sleep cycle that rivals that of a monk may be good for creating a sense of discipline, but the idea of putting a cast iron girdle on my muse seems counter-productive. I get my ideas from conversations, reading blogs, television, household noise. In short, life.


    You Know You're Getting Old When...

    I was just taking a break from writing by checking the friend requests on MySpace. As I clicked off of a page, my eyes caught an ad on which the question was asked, "Are you hot?" My automatic mental response was, "No, I'm actually pretty comfortable," and then I realized it was a singles ad.

    Yep, that's getting old!


    "Well, If That Don't Beat All"

    First of all, I don't believe in coincidence. Instead, I tend to go along with the idea that life is full of synergies or synchronicities. Whatever you believe, you'll find these jaw-dropping. (Hat-tip to Look At This.)...


    W. is for W.

    Am I the only person who wasn't riveted by Oliver Stone's movie, W.? Am I the only one who didn't find it "fascinating" or "thought-provoking"? It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know and it is, after all, about someone that I detest and really don't care to get to know any better. Not after the last eight years. At this point, I just want Dubya to go the hell away. Like to the distant reaches of the Outer Darkness...


    Suzanne Takes You Down

    One of the most beautiful songs to come out of the Sixties was Suzanne, by Leonard Cohen. It has softened many a warm night among my friends as we sat cross-legged and luxuriating in billows of sandalwood, mellow guitars, grass, and jugs of red wine. In our circle, it was Dee's song: she always performed it and I added the harmony on the chorus. I don't know why, but I never thought to find out who this Suzanne was, so yesterday I started digging around. She wasn't hard to find, and her story is as fascinating as the song...


    Humankind's Greatest Unsung Inventions

    I think a lot of time is wasted in praising ourselves for coming up with inventions like the wheel. Sure, it's important and it certainly makes life easier, but there are many inventions that we take for granted although they're used every day all over the world.

    I don't know what made me think of this, really. I was going to post an entry about yawning and why it's contagious. I found that subject boring, however, and I couldn't stop yawning while looking at this.

    I also considered writing about how self-serving TV chefs come off looking. I mean, they'd like us to believe that all those people around their table are dear friends who have been invited over for an intimate dinner party, but the entire time they're sitting there, the chef is talking about how he or she made each dish and how little money he or she spent; the dinner conversation is dominated by the chef and the "guests" are the unwitting prisoners of his or her pontificating. Well, I'm not going to blog about that. Instead, here is my list of humankind's greatest unsung inventions (in no particular order). Feel free to add your own.
    1. Stairs: As much as I gripe about them, they're certainly better than climbing a slope every morning when I'm bringing my first cup of coffee up from the kitchen.

    2. The handle on the coffee cup: I like the French coffee bowl, but I'd rather have a handle to latch onto first thing in the morning.

    3. Pockets: We humans have a need to accumulate stuff and pockets help us take our stuff with us. Where would we put our stuff if we didn't have pockets?

    4. Toilet paper: (goes without saying why).

    5. Paper clips: What did people do before?

    6. Disposable lighters: No more buying flints and fuel like my dad had to for his Zippo.

    7. Push buttons: How many do you press in the course of a day and never give them a thought? And how upset do you get when one doesn't work?

    8. Pillows: I've often wondered how people in Japan deal with those uncomfortable-looking wooden "head benches". How do they get their small children to use them and never turn over at night? Is everyone forced to sleep on their backs?

    9. Pants: Life was a lot breezier before pants were invented.

    10. Spectacles: Without them, life would be considerably less pleasant and productive for many of us.


    Sex Role Test


    You scored high on both masculinity and femininity.
    You have a strong personality exhibiting
    characteristics of both traditional sex roles.

    Take The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test

    Hat-tip to Bob at Neither Clever Nor Witty.


    Baroque & the Art of Zen

    It's been a good day.

    Just a little after one o'clock I was hit with the urge to say, "Screw it all!" and turn my screenplay into a novel. I know how to write a novel and I can write the pants off of my screenplay.

    Writing in the screenplay format these past months has taught me how to say what I want to say with an economy of words. If I can compare it to anything musical it would be this: Are you familiar with the overture to Mozart's Die Zauberflöte? If not, go here and listen to about 15 seconds of the music. Go on, I'll wait...

    Glory in the Rain

    Here are a couple of pictures I just took of the Morning Glories I mentioned in my last post. They're just past their prime, but they brighten the cold, gray, rainy day. Click to embigify.
    Faded glory.
    Spreading glory.
    I didn't even plant these; the wind must have blown seed to the corner of the yard. I love it! Next year (if we're still in this house) I'll train them to climb the fence.

    Sweet Potato Mish-Mash

    Well, you get another one. A bullet list...


    What We Need is a Good Old-Fashioned Christmas

    I remember when my dad told his stories of how his family and friends pulled together during the Great Depression. I remember how his eyes softened and glistened with happy Christmas memories of modest, homemade gifts, games, and family togetherness. Without an excess of money, his family focused on what they did have to give: themselves. Well, I've decided that this Christmas will be an old-fashioned one that will focus on what really matters: family and friends.

    My proposal to my family and friends is this: no gift will cost more than $5. In fact, I want it to be a theme Christmas: A Dollar-General Christmas. Gifts are not to be the kind that pretend to be more expensive or from more expensive stores. Let's pick out gifts that are highly personalized (I'm thinking right now about gifts like the "Dad shirt" beer cozy that Ville gave me last summer). Let's spend time together in the livingroom, playing music at the piano and on our guitars, working jigsaw puzzles and playing board games on the kitchen table, and enjoying a nice but affordable Christmas dinner (right now, Willow's post roast sounds really good!).

    Maybe this financial crisis is just what our country needs to get back to the real meaning of Christmas: family, friends, love and laughter. Why should gifts each year compete with those we gave last year as better, bigger, flashier, more expensive? They shouldn't.

    To Clarify

    The one thing I've always been dedicated to on this blog is candor. Because I consider my blog to be an extension of the 50 or so volumes of my earlier handwritten journals (kept from 1977 to 2002), I keep very little in reserve where my thoughts and emotions are concerned. Sure, some things never get written about, but I don't think that's a particularly bad thing; I have entries in my journals, rash ejaculations written in the heat of the moment, that make me cringe. My blog holds in the reins, so to speak, on my impulsiveness...


    In Their Off Hours

    Growing up in Solvang, was a unique, if not downright weird, experience. One of the fun things, howeverand there were manywas seeing film stars in their every day lives.

    The Valley was home to a number of famous people, not the least of whom was Ronald Reagan, but I never saw him. Who I did see was Jimmy Stewart. Always dressed in denim bib overalls and a western-style shirt and cowboy hat, Stewart looked every bit the rancher as he walked down the cobbled sidewalks. No one bothered him. The tourists didn't even recognize him, but we knew who he was and we just said hi. Another was comedian Louis Nye, who you might remember from the old Steve Allen Show . "Steverino" being one of my all-time favorite people, I knew who Nye was, but I was too shy even to say hi to him. I made eye contact once though. My mom's personal favorite famous neighbor was Irish tenor Kenny Baker, who was at the time the featured singer on the Jack Benny Program. Most people today don't know who he was, but my mom absolutely loved him...


    There is Nothing Like a Dream to Create the Future

    Really? Is it getting harder to make our dreams come true, or has it always been this way? I'm not talking about the financial crisis, I'm talking about the loss of hope, the death of dreaming due to the corporate feudal system in which we are merely the field workers who make the suits' dreams come true.

    Or maybe I'm talking about something less tangible, a closing down of the parts of both the brain and the spirit that dare to dream...


    Mish-Mash of This-That

    "And she said, 'Your debutant knows what you need, but I know what you want.'" - Bob Dylan (Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again)

    Okay, so maybe my doctor knows something. Well, of course she does and I love her so much that I sometimes think I'll never leave this one-cow town just because I don't want to lose her. My new dosage of Levoxyl was hell for two days, semi-hell for one day, bearable for about two hours, and completely unnoticable yesterday. And now I feel better than I have in months. Hell, I feel downright normal. The depression, fatigue and crankiness are gone and I no longer feel like I did when I wrote this. Hormones are mean little bastards, aren't they? So thank you all for bearing with me; we will now return to my usual banter and all that crap.
    • I have a great link for you. I found it via Look At This, which is where I get a lot of ideas for posts that I usually never make. All the same, check out Porn For Women. It's safe to open at work. I promise.

    • I'm about three-quarters through a glass of merlot and I'm sneezing like all gee-dunk (damned tanins), but I'm not about to give up red wine; I can take Benadryl.

    • I just want to say that the smartest thing I ever did in this life was hitch my club car to Nettl's Peace Train. I literally don't know what I'd be without her.
    • I realized today that I regard my cell phone minutes exactly the same way I do my bank balance. I use Net-10, a pay-as-you-go plan, and today, after spending 45 minutes on the phone with a client, I noticed that I have only 71 minutes left. They have to last until the 14th. God, I'd hate to bounce a rubber text...

    • Have you ever thought that someone is angry with you and you don't know why? They don't comment, or respond to your comments, and then you feel all stupid because you know that their life is really complicated and that it might not be about you at all, and then you feel all stupid because you think it is about you? Did I do something? I'd rather you just punch me in the nose than freeze me out. But as I said, it might not be about me, but I'm a stu and can't help wondering.

    • I think I'm entering my senior years. I have all the signs: body functions are growing increasingly interesting, the skin on my arms is turning "crepey" (although I don't have that loose stuff that flaps around), every now and then my skin grows something undefinable, and I get pissed off at the 15 year-old boy down the lane who drives around our cul-de-sac in the new red Jeep his cop dad bought him (but for which he has no license) with the hardtop off and the BOOM-BA-BOOM-BOOM playing. Yeah, old hippie me is getting old. I'm trying to do it gracefully, but let's face it: when you're a 33 year-old spirit trapped inside an old fart body, you just gotta get pissed off sometimes. Especially when I've wanted a new Jeep for nearly 20 years.
    And that's the end of tonight's spiel.


    No Reason to Smile?

    It's a fact that truth is stranger than fiction. Take this guy. We all know him. That's Smilin' Bob, the guy in the Enzyte commercials. As much as I hate the way Madison Avenue preys on men's insecurities about size the same way it preys on women's insecurities about weight, I like these commercials. I liked the first one best though, the one with the conga line. Not long after though, someone removed a shot of a woman holding a tiny, limp cocktail weenie. The ads were really popular, then they suddenly disappeared. I found out why...


    Half-Full View

    "Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power."
    Shirley MacLaine

    I don't know about you, but in my life I've noticed that things have to reach a fevered pitch--or perhaps a nadir--before I finally see what's going on. Perhaps it was the doubling of my meds over the weekend that brought me to that place where negativity is concerned. In the vortex of chaos and illness with which the drug hammers my brain, I'm unable to cope with negative input of any kind. I feel like a panicked cat in a rainstorm, hanging upside-down by its claws from a weak and cracking tree branch that's giving way from the tension. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

    The Recession, our own financial crisis, the presidential campaign and its imagined outcome, the kids' dad, conspiracy theories, lack of clients, the news, worrying about the ability too buy groceries, even the cat bringing dead things into the house all contribute to the negative energy that has pervaded my daily life. I have to say no to all of it. Negativity cripples the human spirit and never creates anything positive.

    "(In 1978) There wasn't an internet to tell you how screwed up everything
    was every ten minutes and there was no such thing as 24-hour news."

    I never experienced this kind of negativity in myself until I got involved with my last relationship. I met a wounded young woman who'd had a terrible upbringing and I mistakenly thought that love was enough to heal that. Look what I've come through, I told myself. Unfortunately, her negativity crept into my own heart and I've not been able to completely excise it, no matter what I do. I find myself wordlessly criticizing others, picking things and people apart in my mind. I never did that before. Every day of my life is filled with me telling myself to stop; I'm constantly checking myself, which is exhausting. But maybe that's a kind of negativity as well. Maybe what I need to do is simply love, replace each negative thought with a positive one. Maybe scolding myself is taking the wrong tack.

    “Stop judging and you will not be judged.
    Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
    Forgive and you will be forgiven.
    Give and gifts will be given to you;
    a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
    will be poured into your lap.
    For the measure with which you measure
    will in return be measured out to you.”
    Luke 6:37

    Negativity sucks energy, plain and simple. I've decided that I'm going to commit myself at the beginning of each day to finding something positive in myself and in others throughout the day. I'm going to have to steer clear of the news. I'm a Libra--a September Libra at that--and watching the news has always depressed me. Even in the Sixties I was more the Flower Child than the Hippie. While everyone else was out marching with their fist in the air, I was inside wrapped in an incense cloud writing songs about love and sunny days. Nettl enjoys keeping up with current events and isn't dragged down into depression from it, so when she watches the news in the evening, I'm going to read, or write, or pop in a PC game. If I feel the need to know what's going on, I'll watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Those are more my speed because they present the news with a sense of humor that softens the blow for me.

    "Sensitive souls draw in the negativity of others because they are so open."
    John Gray

    So beginning today I'm saying NO to negativity. I'm picking up again the "No NAR" philosophy that I had before 1996 when I allowed negativity to take root in me. This is not to say that I'll be bottling things up and stuffing them down, I'm simply not going to dwell on negativity. It's all about balance.

    "The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous."
    David Icke

    How do you combat negativity? Do you have any tips or advice?


    The Thyroid is Like a Butterfly...

    Yeah, if the butterfly is a predatory, soul-sucking vampire beast.

    Over the past three years or so, I've been all over the web seeking info and help about the gland also-known-as my thyroid, and I keep finding these pink and lavender, feel-good, fluffy-teddy-bear pages that compare it to a fucking butterfly, with the accompanying tripe about metamorphosis and personal growth. It's even innocuously called, "The Butterfly Effect". Yeah, it's kind of shaped like a butterfly, but let's cut the crap, okay? It's a gland that has been eating itself , destroying my hormone levels and making hell of my life for about 15 years. Do we say cancer is like a velvet night that takes over the sky, revealing a billion glimmering stars? FTS...


    What a Cool Dream!

    I dreamed that my friend Deni was married to Kris Kristofferson and I was at their house. I asked if I could use their phone book and Kris asked why. I told them that I wanted to find a liquor store that sold absinthe and he said, "Why do you wanna go an' mess with that shit for? That shit messes with yer head."

    He even sounded like him—that raspy voice of his. I replied that all three of us had done worse things to our heads in the 1960s and 70s and that I just wanted to try it for a writing session. He told me to wait a bit and he'd go find me a phone book. So Deni and I sat and talked and 20 minutes or so passed. Just as I was standing up to leave, Kris came in through the door carrying a bottle of absinthe, which he handed to me.

    "I had a feeling you were out getting some,"
    I said, laughing.
    "I wanna to read what you write,"
    he teased. "And it better be good."

    We all hugged goodbye and I left.

    I took a sleeping pill last night and slept 10 hours without interruption, which was great, but when I woke up I realized I didn't have the absinthe after all. Or that Deni wasn't married to Kris Kristofferson.



    Today, I Choose Love

    When you think about it, it's pretty obvious that there are only two emotions the human being feels. Of course, those two emotions manifest themselves through numerous other reactions that we mistakenly refer to as emotions.

    There is love and the opposite of love, which is not hate, but fear. Love and fear. That's it. Every other emotion is merely a symptom of one of these. And really, boil these down and you have a very simple human conflict: "I matter" versus "I don't matter." Keep boiling and you finally come to "I exist" versus "I don't exist." How many times to we hear people say they feel invisible? It all goes back to "I am"...