Und, a bit more, jah?

Hello! It’s me again! When was the last time we got together like this, and just took the time to hunker down and really get to know ME? I know! It’s been too long! I’ve missed you, too! Looks like 2012 has been great to you so far; have you done something with your hair? No? I guess that was ME then! I Love Lucy Orange, remember? Well, I know, right? Who knew I’d be this cute as a ginger? I took a risk, right! Thanks! 

So, I wanted to get back to my New Year’s Lists, which may turn out to be just the one list, on account of I’m losing interest. I do have a few for more things in my “Things I liked in 2011” list, and I know you are probably eager to get back to it, so….tally ho, hos! (Oh no I di’n’t!)

OK! So here’s another thing I’m into: TV! This is nothing new; I’ve always been cool with the tube. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I used to be ashamed of this inclination. Smart people read (which is true), but dum-dums watch the boob tube (as if there was any scientific evidence that breasts are unintelligent! Sexist and ridiculous, I tell you!). Anyhoo,  my Nice-A-Ronies (the San Francisco treat!) and I are now confident in our superior intellects (AVR, Professor Nipples and Dr. Tah-Tah  think way deep, y’all!), and want to talk about what we like to watch when we are chillaxin’. 

Subsection A: Crap. Oh, who doesn’t love a  little of the absolute worst that popular media has to offer! Admit it! You wallow like a beached whale on the disgusting Jersey Shore, or save up eps of Hoarders to watch all at once (and then you feel guilty but don’t delete them), or strap on your gold, jewel-encrusted high heels (I’m talkin’ to you Big John!*) to watch Toddlers in Tiaras, or you tune in to every one of the Republican Debates because you think Mitt Romney is kinda hot. We all have our dirty little secrets. I, (unlike Mitt Romney), am one of you. I love me some doo-doo vision. Of course I have better taste in the shows that  I watch than most; I’m discriminating about what shit I stuff into my brainholes. I spent at least two years crying a little at every episode of The Biggest Loser. I watch Project Runway with friends, and sometimes I dress up in an innovative frock made out of Ramen noodles , fishing lures and taffetta. I record Teen Mom 2. This comes after I recorded Teen Mom 1, which of course was simply called Teen Mom. I consider it research related to teaching in high school, so it’s not really trash; it’s educational. Lately I’ve been sucked into Celebrity Wife Swap. Really there’s no excuse for that. All I know is that when I’m sitting alone in a Snuggie on my couch with a box of wine I bought at Target, I thank my lucky stars I’m not married to Flava Flav or Gary Busey.

TV, Subsection B: Hello, Joe Viewer: I watch some things everybody watches. That’s because these shows are the Peter Framptons of television: they make you feel like I do. In other words, they are things to which we can all relate. They have little lessons and make us cry, or maybe chuckle while softly shaking our heads – we know how that goes! I love my shows that make me feel like I have something in common with the people I work with and we can all speak of in loving terms at lunch in the teachers’ lounge! Here’s to you, Modern Family! Hats off to you Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, The Office, even, kinda, Community! Glee, you’re not really so great, but I will watch you, I will, especially when I’m busy grading and so I don’t notice so much how crappy you make songs from my childhood sound! And you, Parenthood – you are in a class all your own! Ya make me misty roundabouts the eyeholes every single time! I love the family Braverman! I love you all and I can’t quit you!

Cathode Ray Image Delivery System, Subsection trois- Documentaries and Classy Stuff. I adore documentaries. Not all of them, of course; some of them are downright BO-RING. But I have seen some really fantastic, inspiring, enlightening slice o’ life telestories. lately I’ve been all in to docs about photographers. I saw one on this paparazzo, Ron Gallela, who was obsessed with Jackie Onassis. Google Images him. Some of his photos are amazing.  He is kind of obnoxious, but his eye is so sharp and the photos, both posed and candid, speak for themselves.

I also saw a documentary on the great Annie Leibovitz, who is the opposite of Langella, in that she is all about the big set up. Her pictures are so crisp, so iconic; I am still completely captivated when I see that picture of a white, naked John Lennon curled like an egg in the armpit of Yoko Ono, her hair shooting up out of the frame like smoke from a smoldering volcano. Again, you just have to Google her. Some of her shots are just incredible. I chose this one to post,   because it is such a good example of how a highly stylized picture can still be so evocative, thought provoking and full of personality and voice. 

Not to beat a dead horse, but I also saw a great documentary on Francesca Woodman on PBS. Her stuff is so fresh, innovative, current and electrical, like a rogue spark that can incite a firework or a holocaust, and it’s all thirty years old. The documentary itself was masterful; there was something her father said that I thought was brilliant, but I forgot what it was. Gotta go to Google, or check her out here: http://photoarts.com/journal/romano/woodman/.   

If you want any information about these documentaries, all of which I really enjoyed, email me.

This is what a guy named Cedric Canard said: “Photography is not about the sense of sight, it’s beyond sight, it’s about what we are, it’s about being, it’s about awareness… It’s about being awareness itself.”  http://www.seeingbeyondsight.org/home

I get that.

Anyway, now I’ve gone on for so long that I don’t have time to talk about all the other classy programs that I watch. Trust me though; I’m super classy.

The NYT Magazine – Death Issue: Every year, right before the new year, the New York Times does a special issue of the Sunday magazine devoted to memorials of people who died during that year, called “The Lives They Lived.” It tells the “untold tales” of the famous and the not-so-famous, and it is written by people who see that fame is not what makes a life extraordinary. I think that what I look for in a story is the slice-of-life factor; there doesn’t have to be a big point or lesson, or a roller coaster plot line full of surprises and adventure. I like stories that are like little windows in the doors of a house at night; in a dark night, you can see through the backlit window just a sliver of the life within. That’s what these stories are; slivers of enlightenment. I look forward to the issue all year. If you missed it, you can read the whole thing online. I have thought about this story again and again since I read it: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/12/22/magazine/the-lives-they-lived.html#view=uneasy_rider

Finally, after much debate, I have come to a verdict, and I am pleased to announce to you all that in 2011, I learned to love my dog. For awhile I didn’t think I would ever be able to say this, but Atticus is a delight. Sometimes when we are in the car, I put my hand through the seats to where he is in the back, and he puts his paw in my palm and licks me. We go for long walks, and when I let him off the leash to run free, he is sooooooo happy I have to laugh. When he is tired, he gets puffy bags under his eyes and puts himself to bed. When there is a fight at the dog park, he cocks his head and assesses the situation, then backs away slowly, even though when he plays, he’s all teeth, like a shark. He runs like a gazelle, and I like to watch his muscles under his fur. I love him!

So, like all of my years, all in all, 2011 has been great. I am planning some adventures in 2012, and I will take you with me wherever I go. I know this blog can be difficult to follow; I write so sporadically, and sometimes the posts are all long and rambly, and also, it is conceivable that may range of interests, vast as it is, may not coincide with yours, especially on epic posts about a specific book or painting or, oh, I don’t know, let’s say a lecture on my television viewing preferences. Still, despite my egocentric nature, some of you tune in loyally, and have for years. It makes me feel that you care and want to know what’s up with me. To paraphrase the great Billy Joel, “[you] don’t want clever conversation” – and, by golly, I guarantee that in 2012 I will continue to not give it to you.

Peace out, homies.

* But not really. Unless you’re into that. Which, of course, is fine. I don’t judge.


I have no life these days, because I have a dog. Said dog is very fluffy and often quite adorable. However, fluff and adorability are often thin facades thrown up to hide an uncanny knack for a dark kind of sneakiness. I know this for a fact, because the cuter and fluffier I am, the more likely I am secretly scheming and plotting. I can’t help it. It’s my nature, and apparently it is a trait that has seeped out of me and been absorbed, osmosis-style, by my innocent little puppy. Or maybe he was just born a dickhead. It’s hard to tell.

I like him best when he looks like this: He doesn’t look like this often.

He is very energetic. Too energetic, really. When I tell people this, they always say, “Aww! He just a puppy! That’s the puppy in him! That’s just how puppies are!”

I think he snorts cocaine. I don’t know where he gets it or how he pays for it, but several times his wet, black nose has had some unidentified substance off, and he won’t sit still for me to wipe it off with a Kleenex. I told you he was sneaky.

He does other bad things. He ate his bed. He ate a bag of charcoal. He ate two computer cords. He ate something’s poop in the alley one day. That’s bad and disgusting. And it doesn’t matter what it is that he ate, he still thinks he can come breathe in your face whenever he wants, even if you are sleeping. He’s like that. Insensitive.

I guess I could deal with that sort of self-centered compulsion toward self-gratification (he does that, too, but hey, who doesn’t?), but now I think the drugs are influencing him to try all kinds of dangerous things, illegal things.

He broke into a backyard pool. There were fences up and everything,  but he just felt like taking a dip.

I could see his tail wagging while he swam. I told him to GET OUT RIGHT THIS SECOND BEFORE SOMEONE COMES HOME AND CATCHES YOU IN THE POOL, but he didn’t. He just looked at me and laughed so hard he almost drowned. Would have served him right.

He’s started tagging. I explained to him that while many consider grafitti to be a valid form of self-expression, if he got caught, he could do time, real time, the kind that would make his days at the pound seem like doggie daycare. The next day, he posted this on his blog:He thinks if he shuts his eyes, nobody will be able to figure out his true identity.

He has no shame. I swear, that dog has balls! Well, phantom balls, anyway.

I worry about him.

Here is a piece of a story I am writing about our adventures. The names (and in some cases, the genders) of the guilty have been changed.

You can read it, but don’t steal it. Seriously, don’t.

Claire says: People just love Harmony. Everywhere we go, they stop to pet her, or to tell me how sweet and pretty she is. I don’t know why exactly. I think people are attracted to her because she seems so carefree and eager. It’s funny, because the first time I saw her, I thought she looked kind of scary.

One day walking home, cranky and draggy, we had to wait on an old lady backing out of her driveway. She had a big old Lincoln, and she inched her way down the drive, all careful stops and starts like old ladies do. I was sweaty and sleepy and ready to get home and take a shower and a nap. When she finally got on the street, I nodded at her, but I didn’t smile. Instead of driving past, she pulls up right next to us and rolls down the window. She’s all made up, crimped, coiffed and curled, wearing a three piece polyester pant suit with the jacket on, even though it’s already a thousand degrees out. She has a vest and wears a jaunty little scarf knotted loosely at her throat, for Chrissakes! Her lipstick matches her fingernails, which match her purse. Her hair is a lilac helmet that flips up on either edge, a  J of hair on one side of her little, puckered peach face, reverse J on the other. She was pure-D styling, circa 1972.

“Wonderful, wonderful!”  Her head shakes a little, and her voice is creaky, a gate longing for oil. She reminds me of a cross between Katherine Hepburn and Liza Minelli, and she’s smiling so wide with her orange lipstick mouth that it looks like her face is going to crack in a million pieces, like a puzzle. “Wonderful dog, there!” she cackles. It sounds like “wan-dah- fuh dawg, they-uh!”  She throws her bobble head back on her wrinkled skinny neck and laughs, HAHA!  Then she rolls up her window and drives off, just like that! It was completely weird, as if she was a southern belle Technicolor movie star, shrunken and shriveled and wrapped in a polka-dotted polyester shroud, come to the future to tell me the dog was wonderful. She looked happy crazy to tell me. Sheer joy. You don’t see that too often, really.

Her little outburst seemed so strange, almost surreal, because nobody in my world could be that happy about a dog. Maybe her grip had slipped, and she was remembering some dog she once knew, a long-dead Lucky or Princess. Who knows who Harmony was in her world? Sort of sad. But even sadder still: whose world would I rather live in; mine where I look forward to sleeping through the day, or hers, where seeing a dog in the street is a moment worth celebrating with a stranger?

BONUS:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsr8oXxzFEI

I really like the official video of this song (2010). It’s weird and cool, but I really hate the VEVO, so I’m posting this one instead. Still good!

Hey, Big John! What did you do? http://www.livescience.com/15346-texas-lake-blood-red.html Cut that shit out!

Introducing Atticus!

So, the little dog’s name is Atticus, after a true hero, Atticus Finch. If he was one-dimensional, he’d be flatticus. After he returns from his walk, he has shatticus. If he was feline, he’d be kitty catticus. (I recently tried this terrific comic patter out on a good friend, as kind of a hilarity preview. When I get to this point- the “golden arch”, as I call it- she said, and I’m quoting here, “I don’t have to listen to this shit.”  This proves to me that she doesn’t get the sophistication of my humor, and that I just might be – dare I say it?-the Lenny Bruce or Mitch Hedberg of my generation. The great ones are always misunderstood.)

I like Atticus now, but for awhile, I was  NOT into him. See, he can be a real asshole. Sometimes, just for fun, he’ll gnaw on my skull when I bend down to tie my shoe, which I have to do all the time, because he demands about 40 walks a day. he wants me to get up with the sun to go for a wee promenade, and he whines if he doesn’t get his way. Perhaps you will recall that I do NOT like to be told what to do. He doesn’t care. He’s seven months old, but he acts like he’s only five months, like a stupid dog baby. He shits wherever he wants and acts like he can’t clean it up, and when I stick my hand into a sweaty little plastic bag to scoop it, you know, to be cool, I notice, as I clutch a squishy, steaming, repulsive mound of doo that he has chewed holes into the plastic. What a dick! I swear I can hear him laughing. Also when we walk, he tries to rip my arm out of its socket and drag me down the street like a queen ( I had a little trouble of thinking of an appropriate comparison of something you drag.) Especially if we see a squirrel or a cat. Or a bird. Or sometimes a flower. When I don’t let him pull me, he bites the leash, head butts me, or works a tooth into the bottom of one of his plastic poop bags. As I alluded to before (see ‘sweaty, steaming, squishy mound of filthy poop in a plastic wrapper that works like a shit strainer’ reference above.) Uncool! Why would anyone do that?

Because of him, I am way behind on my TV. I’m way behind on everything. I can’t read, can’t write, can’t grade any papers…the dog is going to get me fired. Worse still, Atticus has exhibited signs of cruelty to my other pets, Junior, Duckless MacArthur and the twins.See if you can guess who is who. This is an odd turn of events, because these poor stuffed angels have been victimized before. I had an ex-boyfriend who would also torture them, sometimes in a rather obscene psycho-sexual, sociopathic manner. These sweet stuffed pals ask for nothing, and are the absolute least deserving of such abuse. Still, just because Duckless is hot, he is treated like a plaything. Junior is just the sweetest little corporate bear you have ever laid eyes on (he was born in a Starbucks factory; is that his fault?) but he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, bless his heart, and everyone becomes wicked Uncle Ernie as soon as they see him. I don’t know why. Starbucks skimped on his little pillow brain, and he has had to pay for it over and over again. The twins are special. Just because they look a little unusual, people hate. (Unless you are a direct descendant of the original Siamese twins, Cheng and Eng; then they look pretty common, right? It’s all in the perspective, baby!)  Different is beautiful and conjoined is sublime! Attticus tried to separate them at the carotid artery, and he attempted to bury Junior alive under the prickly holly bushes outside. He wanted to mount the duck, repeatedly, which is the same reaction the ex-boyfriend had to the this fowl tempter. I am disappointed to report that this behavior was NOT the reason the relationship with said ex-paramour was terminated, but I kid you not, from now on, fellating  a stuffed animal is going to be a deal breaker, and I simply will not tolerate it.

So yeah, Atticus has his faults. He isn’t the hero I thought he’d be, though he does hold his urine all night long, which requires a heroic effort of which I personally am no longer capable. He has a ways to go before he saves Tommy from falling down the well. But he’s cute. He trots like a little lamb, if sheep trot. People stop me on the street to ask about him. Note the looks of enchantment on their faces. He’s especially cute when he sleeps: I had to give him a quaalude to get this shot. Kids, do you remember ‘ludes?

Anyhoo, now I love him. He makes me sit quietly and watch the night while he digs up the radishes in my garden. He’s so happy in the morning when I finally wake up. We walk for miles and meet new people and new dogs. I know he’ll be there when I get home. He follows me all around the house and eats the crotches out of my panties. He loves my niece, and she loves him, and he is allowed to go to Friday night dinner with my family, a very high honor indeed. Atticus, not so baddicus!

BONUS: For Milo

Epitaph May 2011

We are mourning the passing of Milo

Sweet prince of a cat with a dreamer’s face

and miss the unique trombone voice he used to express himself

We shall not forget you

Liliane Richman May 23, 2011

Rest in peace, Milo Butters. We loved you.