Have You Seen Me? August 23, 2013
I got this in the mail recently, attached to a pizza coupon. I usually don’t pay these things much mind, especially since the woman in question was abducted at a distance of more than several hundred Rhode Islands from my home. However, this one vexed me. It shows that she was thirteen when she was abducted, and through the magic of science, they have age-progressed her to what she might look like at seventeen. Which was two years ago. Which is not what she’d look like now. So what gives? What’s the point of that? “Have you seen me when you time-traveled back to 2011?” Do we only possess the power to age-progress to a four year maximum? I don’t understand.
Lars & The Unreal Siri August 22, 2013
I don’t have an iPod, an iPad, a Kindle, a smart phone, any of that stuff. I don’t want one. I dislike phones except for emergency use, and I dislike emergencies even more. My decade-old son, however, has strained both his neck and thumbs, becoming acquainted with his iPod, and has been asking Siri questions. Today, he asked her what her favorite color is, and she said, “Well, I don’t know how to say it in your language. It’s sort of greenish, but with more dimensions.” Pardon?
Then he told her that he loved her. She told him, “You are the wind beneath my wings.” Excuse me?
I am reminded of Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl, in which he is enamored with a blow-up doll. Will this generation (devoid of any social interaction skills) skip the deviant inflatable girlfriend phase and go straight into siri-love? Will adolescent boys and young men spend hours alone with their iPods, constructing pretend relationships, using the app “ispeech” to make a woman’s voice say exactly what he types? Isn’t that a new pathetic level of loneliness? That’s worse than bowling alone.
Maybe there is nothing new under the sun: Janis Ian predicted it decades ago.
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
The difference is–now the lover IS the phone. Yeesh.
Don’t Eat The Apple; Don’t Visit The Big One August 11, 2013
In my youth, Pace Picante Sauce commercials were on high rotation, showing incensed cowboys riled up after Cookie attempts to serve them a salsa made in “New York City.” One of them goes so far as to suggest they “get a rope,” presumably to hang Cookie for his offense. From these commercials, I learned that New Yorkers did not know squat about Mexican food. And that meant something was wrong with them. I presume they didn’t show this ad in NYC itself, but from what I’d learned on TV about the city, they were too busy getting beaten up on dirty subways and mugged in littered streets filled with apathetic people dressed only in neutrals.
I watched the Sweathogs on Welcome Back, Kotter, and they always seemed in need of a good scrubbing. They lived in a land called Brooklyn, but I knew it must have been close to New York City, because there were no trees around. Where were the pine trees and the live oaks? Did they all live in ghettos and tall buildings with no yards? Where did they learn to ride bikes and rollerskate? Where was the laundry blowing on the clothesline in the sun? Oh, wait, there it is.
I’d stayed up past eleven by elementary age, so I knew the funny comedians lived on the east coast and yelled, “Live from New York” each Saturday night. But I also knew Johnny Carson was in Burbank, and he was happy and funny. The mean, bitter guy with the gap in his teeth and the bald keyboardist lived in New York. Something just wasn’t right with that town.
Movies depicted a congested mecca of highrises and brash, fast-talking businessmen in Wall Street and The Secret of My Success, as well as a decadent drug-infused nightlife in Bright LIghts, Big City. New York was a city where Ninja turtles lived in the sewer, where dirty, grimey homeless people begged for money in Trading Places, and ghosts infested grand hotels in Ghostbusters. Even the muppets had a hard time taking Manhattan and finding work. And it was in NYC where Kramer battled Kramer, the first time that it had occurred to me that a mother would ever conceive of leaving her child to find herself. What kind of sick place was that?
Nevermind the Civil War, Yankees were odd. They talked funny. Their accent was nearly incomprehensible. They said “youse guys,” an abomination of grammar, when we used “y’all,” a contraction of “you” and “all,” which made perfect sense. And we’d heard tale of the Yankee reputation for callousness and poor manners. Not only did they not smile and shake hands with strangers, they ignored them altogether. What kind of hospitality is that?
Consequently, I never had a desire to go to New York, no matter how cool and funky Monica and Rachel’s apartment was on Friends. I knew the truth; a one bedroom could cost a THOUSAND DOLLARS a month, and they had rats!! Yuck!
Then the Twin Towers fell, and we all watched in horror. Our hearts went out to New York City; people in Texas wore “I (heart) New York” shirts and Yankee baseball caps. The whole country rallied around the fallen and felt the devastation. But it just made it even more clear: I never, ever want to go to New York. No matter how good the bagels or the reuben sandwiches, no matter how pretty the trees in Central Park, I never needed to visit that place.
Then in 2005, the Discovery Channel gave me a reason to want to visit The Big Apple. Cash cab. Now that looked fun! Getting inside a taxicab is far from desirable, whatwith the Hep C and polio virus inevitably covering all of the upholstery (is there any regulation as far as when to wipe those with Clorox wipes?), but that would pale in comparison to having Ben Bailey crane his giant bald head around to invite me to get paid (PAID!) to show off my incredible talent for trivia. Oh, glorious day (or night, when winnings were doubled) to ride and play, answering questions about general knowledge.
I still get mad when I watch the episode in which two men risked all their earnings on a video bonus round, which required them to identify the rodent-like animal roaming about. The question even referred to the Captain & Tenille song, but they still got it wrong. How does one not know about a MUSKRAT? “Muskrat Love!!” I wanted to yell through the TV set. I wanted to shake those Guidos, who weren’t even born when the song came out. Well, that’s what you get for not knowing your pop music! Out of the cab. Kick ’em to the curb, Ben. I couldn’t live in a city where people cannot properly identify muskrats. I won’t even visit.
Desert Oasis August 6, 2013
We visited The Oasis this past weekend in central Texas and enjoyed a nice meal of redfish, grilled veggies, and rice. The Oasis has never (in decades) been known for decent or reasonably-priced food, so this was quite a surprise. And though it was a steamy 104 degrees in the sun, the shaded deck (and surrounding fans) allowed for a comfortable meal.
The lake level has been so low for so long, that it’s hard to recall a time when Lake Travis was full, and we weren’t under mandatory watering restrictions. This island shouldn’t really exist. It should all be under water.
Despite the heat, humidity, and low water levels, the lake can still be an enjoyable spot for breathtaking views. The dozens of sailboats and waterboats, skiers and fishermen can testify to that.
We’re just happy the trees are still green in August, instead of pointy brown branches, singed from oppressive sunlight. Dog days indeed.
Spittin’ Image August 2, 2013
I just saw this on Pinterest and had to share. Doesn’t he look just like Carl on Disney Pixar’s Up? It’s not my favorite movie ever, but it contains the sweetest four-minute love story of all time, perfectly wordlessly conveying the joy of new love, the sadness of miscarriage, the excitement of adventure, and the loss of a spouse. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and spend four minutes with Carl and Ellie (the graphics alone are so stylish and indicative of the era):
Kilamanjaro Rises Like Olympus Above The Serengeti August 1, 2013
So maybe it’s not the Serengeti per se, but it’s hot here in Texas. We just spent an hour and a half at soccer practice, watching a dozen pre-adolescent boys in windshorts, long socks, and flushed faces as they scrimmaged on the treeless field. No trees on the perimeter. No wind blowing. And P.S. it’s 103. Right now. As I’m typing. Now, the thermometer on my dashboard reads 113, but technically, the official reading is 103–with 103 predicted every day for the next week.
There stands one sky-high pole near the field, a light that comes on at dusk if a seasonal game is to be played. The one long eighteen inch-wide shadow that it cast was exactly where I set up my folding chair. To keep my lap shaded meant that my left ear was left vulnerable to the sun’s rays, and it quickly felt singed. Then another parent arrived, and he set his chair a couple feet to the left, closest to the pole (and the adjacent trashcan, around which menacing wasps flew). The others set their chairs to my right, so that we were all aligned perfectly like little planets, lifting our chairs and scooching back an inch at select intervals as the relentless sun traveled across the sky.
Just sitting in the shade, beads of sweat ran down my neck, down my spine, into the spot where a tramp stamp would be, had I been reckless and drunk over a decade ago. Even younger, thinner parents were pouring sweat and pounding bottled water. No wonder the kids, ever in motion, ever in the sun, kept hunching over to catch their breaths. Youth was not wasted on them. They kept up the pace–running, passing, kicking, yelling–stopping to take swigs from Igloos three times total. Those little buggers were tough!
We took my son out for ice cream afterward, where he got a scoop of cookies ‘n’ cream, loaded with toppings that included gummi bears (which he called “nummi bears”–“that’s what all the kids at school say”), as well as “whoopers,” which were really Whoppers, and some caviar-looking seawood fruit pellets with a name like soba. Odd. There we sat, consuming ice cream (not frozen yogurt) in the lovely air-conditionedness of the parlor, while my drenched bra began to cool down. Nothing like a wet underwire digging into your flesh to make you enjoy being a woman. Nonetheless, I felt a wave of gratitude: Thank you, Lord, that I was born in a First-World country, into an era with conditioned cold air, with enough disposable income to buy each family member ice cream with all the toppings you can shove in the cup. It may be hot, but we know how time flies. It’ll be Christmas in no time.