Friday, September 29, 2017

Love - A Snippet

Sometimes, a company gets it right.

Allegiant flies between Phoenix-Mesa Gateway and South Bend International airports every Monday and Friday, but only on Mondays and Fridays.  The rest of the time, you have to travel on a major carrier, at three or four times the price.

But this year, there are flights on the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving and Little Cuter wondered if Grampa and Gramma wanted them for the holiday.

I'm still doing my happy dance.

If Allegiant Airlines were a human, I'd be kissing her right now.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Having the Conversation

Rain brought up facts and figures in her comment yesterday.  She's less than enthralled with rich entertainers disrespecting the flag, and I understand her, completely.  We've been connected through blogging (hers at Rainy Day Thoughts) ever since I started in 2009; she's never been anything but thoughtful and polite. 

I often wonder how she has time to craft elegant comments across the interwebs while writing romance novels, keeping up two blogs, and running a working ranch with her husband.  I thank the internet for her whenever our pixilated paths cross.  Her opinions are well-researched; she lives a life much different from mine and I appreciate the window into her world. 

But I'm disagreeing with the basic premise of her argument, the fact that the athletes were disrespecting the flag.  Waving a giant flag horizontally violates the Flag Code, if we are going to be picky about it, but I'm going for a broader perspective.  There were many reasons given over the weekend by many different athletes, but none of them involved the flag or the anthem. 

Racism, targeted policing, civil disrespect, calling out their mothers, Charlottesville, DJT in general (see LeBron), the rot crawling out from the rocks this administration has turned over..... the young men I heard were using their platform to make a statement.  Whether you approve of the politicization of America's blood sport or not, you cannot deny that their statements were heard.

Suddenly, the hair salon is a hub of what do you think about it discussions.  The teacher's lounge and the gym and the French bistro were scenes of the conversation I overheard, conversations on all sides of the issue. And I think that's a good thing. 

I have no problem separating love of country from disappointment with my country.  Sometimes she is wrong.  Sometimes her representatives need a kick in the pants.  Sometimes, things need to be shaken up.  I do think this is one of those times.  Whether you think they are right or wrong, those on the other side are certainly upset.  It behooves us to listen and figure out the whys.

No one side owns the flag; Nixon tried to take it from me during the Viet Nam War, conflating flying the flag with admiration for his war.  It pissed me off then and it pisses me off now.  The best explanation for this came from a source I can no longer find on Facebook.  A parent asked her daughter what it meant to take a knee, and what she thought about the protests.  Her answer went roughly like this:
You take a knee when a player on your team or the other team is hurt.  You are showing that you care and that you hope it's not too bad and that it gets better soon. So, kneeling near the flag means our country is hurting, and we want to help it get better, soon.
Out of the mouths of babes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Facebook, Football, Alabama, and Us - A Rant

This has been a very weird week and it's only Wednesday.

Facebook did or didn't know that the Russians were using the platform to influence our Presidential election.  They did or didn't notice that the paid advertising in question came from Russian banks.  They did or didn't alter the algorithm to send inflammatory fake news stories to groups which would naturally fall on either side of the issue.

Do we believe Mark Zuckerberg?  I saw The Social Network, I know that he stole the idea from those good looking rich twins.

NFL players were protesting Donald Trump attacking their mothers.  They listened to his words, parsed them carefully, and determined that the President thought they were sons of nasty women.  NFL players were protesting police brutality, systemic racism, President Trump's feeble response to Charlottesville. 

Or..... overpaid professional entertainers were making mountains out of molehills, disrespecting the flag and veterans and police officers and our country as they knelt instead of singing the National Anthem.

And that National Anthem turns out to be a racist anthem, referencing slaves who escaped bondage and fought for the British in exchange for their freedom.  Who knew?  I never got past the first stanza, though Daddooooo claimed to know all four. 
And while I'm on the suAlbject, why is our anthem un-sing-able?  Is now the time to rouse the populace to the cause - Make America, the Beautiful our country's song?
Alabama Republicans' choice for the United States Senate is Roy Moore, a man who was removed not once but twice from the judiciary for ethics violations.  He brandished a pistol at his last campaign rally, demonstrating his love of the Second Amendment.

And here I am, again, back at DJT and the Bill of Rights and Freedom of Speech and protest on your own time and it's against the Flag Code to display the flag horizontally, no matter how many uniformed humans are making it wave, and all the while Houston and the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico are underwater and North Korea thinks war can be declared on Twitter.

It's been a very weird week. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Do You Buy the Insurance? - A Snippet

I always buy the insurance.  

The HVAC guy told me that the surge protectors on our furnaces were out of date.  It went something like this: If lightning strikes the house (and it could happen) they are likely to explode (not expected to, but it could happen) and then your appliances are fried. Fried.

Since no one wants fried appliances, I agreed to replace the surge protector on each furnace with new and improved models.  The technician kept explaining the wiring and the lighting but I was focused on the warranty.

If lightning strikes my house sometime in the next three years, either those surge protectors will do their job or somebody will be replacing my furnaces, free of charge.

I feel very safe and protected.

Monday, September 25, 2017

I Sat

The Twitter-verse is all a flutter.  NFL team owners are falling over one another, re-framing what were obviously well-chosen talking points distributed by someone with sense.  Smart, thoughtful, inspiring, involved young men were inspiring and admired, despite the President's divisive, disappointing, and inappropriate words. 

All of a sudden, Colin Kaepernick is a folk hero.

It's spread to Major League Baseball, too, and that hand on his shoulder makes me smile.
And then I remembered sitting during the national anthem.  A lot.  In many places.  And not because I was busy nursing an otherwise inconsolable infant at the time.  It was 1969 and 1970 and 1971 and '72 and my friends were being shipped off to what is euphemistically referred to as an unpopular war.

There were bloody protests and enormous peaceful gatherings.  There were the Black Panthers and SDS and SNCC and the Weathermen and the yippies and the hippies and everyone had an agenda.  No one liked the war.  No one agreed how to stop it, once Bobby Kennedy shouldered Gene McCarthy aside and then found himself assassinated on an L.A. ballroom floor.  We were left with Hubert Humphrey and were stuck, again, with Richard Nixon.

I was young and female and not very interested in being arrested.  I avoided sit-ins.  I marched, I held signs, I did not chant.  I went to teach-ins and learned facts to amplify my outrage and fuel the somewhat acrimonious conversations with my father on the telephone, every Sunday night, after the rates went down.

I went to Washington, D. C. for the Mobilization Against the War, and came home safely.  I heard fabulous music at free concerts against the war.  I worked for a losing leftist running for the Senate.  It was all part of something larger than the space I was occupying myself, but that personal space felt vaguely empty.  I was good at going along with the crowd.  What could I do to mark my protest as a personal statement?

So, I sat.  I wasn't alone; others who looked like me and dressed like me were sitting, too.  There were stares and glowers and more than one shaking head.  No one ever approached me or asked me why. I always felt conspicuous, and I was more than a little bit proud of myself that I was taking a stand.  I never felt threatened; but perhaps I was just naive.

Okay.  Not perhaps.  I was naive.  

I knew that respect must be earned, that patriotism cannot be commanded.  I loved my country, but I was ashamed of my country.  I couldn't extol her virtues when she was so obviously in the wrong.  I was young and filled with certainty. I knew I was right. So I sat. 

I put nothing at risk, not my job or my reputation or my safety.  I was just one short Jewish girl making a small statement in my own way.  I'm impressed by those who are willing to take my small act of courage out onto a larger stage.  They are shouting from the rooftops, heads bowed, kneeling before us all. They are taking the conversation into America's living rooms, on Sunday Night Football, where I imagine folks debating whether sitting or kneeling or standing with arms linked is best... and maybe, just maybe, the ideas behind the gesture come out from the shadows.

Did I mention that I was naive?

Friday, September 22, 2017

How Am I Doing?

I'm exhausted, thank you very much.

I was structurally integrated, trigger point manipulated, rolfed and stretched and pressed and pulled today.  This is not a therapy for amateurs; it requires allowing the practitioner to gain access to the deepest muscles, the ones hiding behind other organs, nestling up against the spine.  They are not easy to touch, since normal human beings prefer to keep them safely stashed away.  Getting in there is filled with intense sensations.

"You are going to thank me later," she said, recognizing in my growling a threat to her immediate safety.  She asked me to extend my right leg, flexing my foot at the ankle, reaching my heel toward the window framing her blue doorway.

BREATHE, painted in yellow on that blue lintel, was mocking me as I gasped.

Instructed to drop my pelvic floor as her forearm pressed and rolled inexorably down my IT band, I found the sensation somewhat more bearable.... emphasis on the somewhat.  By her third pass around my outer thigh, my breathing was almost back to normal.... almost.

After a little bit of this and a little bit of that, my shoulder girdle was seated comfortably atop my spine, which was hanging delightfully from my skull, neither tethered to my back nor straining to remain erect.  My hips were even; the left side of my neck was no longer holding up my right hip.

And I felt great.

I felt even better when TBG smiled around "Great walking this afternoon!"  My undamaged ball rolled around in my repaired hip socket with nary a hitch as my knee bent and my arms swung freely and there was no lurch at all. Nothing hurt.  Nothing felt stronger than any other part and nothing asked for help.

She was right.  I am grateful.  As Gabby said in her last fundraising letter, rehab from gun violence is the hardest work I've ever done.  And just like my Mommy told me, hard work is rewarded.  I proved it to myself today.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Happy New Year

A friend was born in 5700; he's celebrating his 78th birthday this year.

With (the apocryphal) 613 pomegranate seeds of good wishes
Happy New Year !

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Good Friends - A Snippet

We met when the Jews came to visit after I was shot.  They brought a Shabbat meal and words of comfort and left me with a new friend for life.

Our husbands embrace their alone time with the same degree of passion.  Writing is a passion and political activism is part and parcel of our beings.  We love our two kids and our one grandchild (each) with reckless abandon.

We don't like to shop, but sometimes we give in to the urge.... and this is what happens when that urge strikes us at different times, in different stores, with different motivations.....
but the same outcome.

Sometimes it's obvious that we were meant to be in one another's lives.

It's Ba-a-a-ack

And yes, there's an ack in the title.

TrumpCare is back, and it's worse than ever.  John McCain's best friend, Lindsay Graham, joined with Louisiana's Bill Cassidy in introducing a revised repeal-and-replace bill that Ohio's John Kasich tweeets eliminates the guardrails that protect some of the most vulnerable among us.

In a sop to my own Senator's NO vote in July, Arizona is poised to receive heaping piles of pork from Graham-Cassidy.  Can he be bought off?  I tried to ask his office that very question this morning, but the phone was busy ... very very busy .... in the car (on speakerphone if I had ever gotten through).. from home ... on my cell on the way to pick up the mail.  I'll comment on his website and his Facebook page, but I wanted to have my voice heard, too.

Indivisible has a lengthy but readable outline of the bill here.  There's a sample script for contacting your Senators here.  If you live in Arizona or Ohio or Tennessee or Alaska, they've created special scripts for you - asking for a return to regular order in the Senate where those Senators can speak their mind in the time honored traditions of their institution.

I'm asking you to take the next two minutes, the ones you'd have devoted to reading a typical post in The Burrow, and make those phone calls right now.  If you can't get through, go to the Senators' webpages and comment as a constituent.  Ask for a response.  You can start here, at our government's cleverly titled Contact Elected Officials site.

If you don't act, you don't get to complain.

Monday, September 18, 2017


It's hard to think of autumn when I'm sweating in shorts and a tank top.  It's too hot to plant, too hot to rejigger the irrigation system, too hot to revamp the containers and replant that which needs more or less sunshine.  The euphorbia along the edge of the roadway are scorched, I hope not beyond repair, but I'm too uncomfortable to help them.

A lot of Tucsonans are sharing these thoughts.  Buying a frame for our new 11x14 FlapJilly portrait by JPetersenPhotography, I had this same conversation with the cashier.  It's not that we're complaining, necessarily.  It's that we're bored.  We're ready for light sweaters and narrow wale corduroy slacks.  We're tired of sleeveless blouses and ready to don our cowboy boots.  But boots when it's 98 degrees, humidity or not, lead to very sweaty feet.  We agreed that we'd have to wait.  We agreed that we were pretty peeved about it.

Michael's has everything Fall on sale.  Halloween decor and Thanksgiving serving pieces and stickers and candles and everything in between, all colored orange and brown.  I wandered the aisles, filling my cart with an owl and a pillow and some small ceramic pumpkins, laughing at the heat rising from the parking lot as I schlepped my treasures to The Uv.  The thermometer might be telling me that it's time to swim, but my purchases announced that it was time to drag out the autumn tchotchkes.

We'll be in Indiana for Halloween with the grandbaby, so my decor will be less scary and more generically seasonal this year. It's not that much of a problem;  I discarded my witches several years ago, along with the kindergarten treasures my now-30-somethings created.  I struggled with the turkey candle holders and turkey platters and turkey lawn ornaments; it seems counter-intuitive to venerate that which I am soon to eat.  For now, they remain in the box.

But the new owl sits cozily beside the farmers and the pumpkins and the curcubits in all their many incarnations - paper squash, ceramic cucumbers, plush pumpkins, etc etc etc.  JannyLou is the only one I know who consistently decorates for each season; last night she told me that Marshall's (a store whose threshold I have never crossed) has lots of cute things you don't need but really want to have.  I may stop in this week, on the theory that you can never have too much of a good thing.

If only I could wear my wool socks and a cut-off sweatshirt while I'm carting things from the garage to the mantles.  Then it might actually feel like Fall.  For now, it will just have to look like it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Feeling the Years

I'm trying to buy a wedding present, but I'm getting stuck in the past.

I'm remembering him as a toddler, as the 3 year old birthday boy, as the suburbanite living across the street from his school until his parents finally returned him to his proper place, the city.

I'm remembering his mother's gigantic cell phone and her fiendish attachment to it... and to him... when our sons were quite a bit smaller than they are right now.

I'm having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it has been three decades since the boys hid under the kitchen table together.  I don't feel that much older, but one of those little ones is tying the knot in 6 weeks ... and pre-schoolers don't get married in fancy hotels downtown.

Where have those years gone?  Amster's oldest is in high school.  I'm on Medicare.  The calendar pages keep turning and I don't notice anything changing.

I suppose that's a good thing.  I suppose I should be flattered that the Uber driver thought I was late 40's/early 50's at the most.  But sometimes,  the reality of buying a crystal carafe for a kid whose diapers I changed just stops me dead in my tracks.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Brief and Random Thoughts on Sports

TBG watched about 10 minutes of Monday Night Football this week.  My campaign to minimize the intrusion of football in my life is gaining ground.  On the other hand, while I was visiting FlapJilly, he and Big Cuter spent much of the weekend dissecting the actions of overgrown men running into and away from one another.  They've been betting against the spread since the kid was in elementary school; they have years of records to prove it.  I suppose it's too deep a bond to sever.... at least, for now.
TBG's having another hometown moment, with the Cleveland Indians now proud possessors of the American League's longest winning streak.  The Tribe has won 21 in a row and ESPN is all Cleve-town all the time.

It's nice to see my guy smiling.
Thinking about the Indians reminds me of my Marin friend, a self-described scary black man several decades my junior.  Talking with Dana Carvey (yes, I'm name dropping ... and I'm smiling as I'm doing it!  He was just one of the guys.  Oh, I did love living in Marin.) one afternoon in front of the gym where we all trained.

The news was filled with outrage over the Redskins' ownership's refusal to consider a name change.  Someone in the group asked me if I'd like a team named The Hebes, then asked my friend how he'd feel about cheering for The Aunt Jemimas.  Without skipping a beat, his reply was (and still is) perfect:
I don't know.  Are they winning?
FlapJilly is playing soccer at pre-school.  The program comes to them, one morning a week.  She has an orange jersey, of which she is quite proud.

Monday was the first session.  They learned to kick and to shuffle side to side and they ran very very fast.  In the email the coach will send to the parents each week there was also The Word of The Week.  This week's word was Respect.  Respect for each other, for the coach, and for the game.

I'm going to like hearing about this..... I'm going to like it a lot.
My favorite sport these days is American Ninja Warrior, the timed obstacle course that favors the quick and the brave, the strong and the flexible, small people and tall people and men and women, all of whom compete on the same course, with no accommodations.  It's fast and fun and weirdly inclusive; we find ourselves moving in sync with the athletes as they fly and run and leap and fling themselves from pillar to post.  It's exhilarating to watch.

You need agility, grip strength, focus and tenacity.  It's only dangerous if you miss the objective and fall 18' into a pool of water, or swing on a rope into a heavily padded landing area.   The fans are up close and personal in bleachers paralleling the course, and they wave signs and wear matching t-shirts and cheer.

There is lots of cheering in Ninja Warrior, from the stands and the competitors, too.  They all want to win, and they all want to watch someone win.  They admire and gasp and applaud, marveling and despairing as we do, taking real pleasure in everyone's accomplishments.

It's everything wonderful about sports.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No

When we moved to Arizona, I made a promise to myself:  You don't have to go to any more meetings.
Today, I agreed to steward two meetings a month.  I couldn't help myself.  OFA asked, and I said yes.

Our Southern Arizona leader, a woman with the wonderfully appropriate name of Mary Darling, met me this afternoon at Crave, a coffee bar cum gathering place which deserves its own post.  Her husband, the oldest 16 year old you'll ever meet, and another organizer were introduced, and then we retired to our own little table, where she pitched her idea.

Filling every paragraph with and you're so good at that, she outlined a series of information sessions and postcard writing opportunities, visits to Rep. McSally's office, and personal commitments by the participants to further amplify the message.  

Amplifying the message means tweets and Facebook posts and Instagram pictures and, more to my skill set and comfort level, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces.  My role is to help the attendees find meaningful connections to the bullet points on the one page fact sheets OFA will prov, ide, which we'll start the meeting by reading to ourselves.  Facts may be indisputable, but they are less potent than personal stories, especially when it comes to connecting with staff, interns, Communications Directors, and, perhaps, one can hope, the Congresswoman herself.

It's a way to amplify my own voice while helping others.  It's making my little corner of the world just a little bit better.  It's two afternoons a month, on my schedule.

I really couldn't say no, although I feel like I should apologize to myself for breaking that promise... and doing it with a smile on my face and a hug around my heart.

(If you're local and want to be kept informed, let me know.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 11, 2001

Sixteen years ago, Christina-Taylor's parents were unaware of the planes flying into the Towers. They were busy with her birthing.

On another plane this afternoon, I did a little mourning and a little smiling.  I imagined her Sweet Sixteen party, an event that will never happen, which made me sad and mad and resigned.  But I could see her, dressed and accessorized to the nines, her hair as shiny as her eyes, greeting her guests, making sure everyone was having a great time, delighting in being the center of all the love and attention.

Her father reminded us over and over again that Christina-Taylor would not want sadness to be her legacy.  I try, each and every day, to remember that, to focus on her laugh and her attitude and the fun we had together.  Some days it's easier than others.

Flying home from my granddaughter, another tall, inquisitive, thoughtful, delightful girl, I felt the loss of the 9 year old holding my hand and jumping for joy over the prospect of an autographed picture of herself and her Congresswoman. I wallowed in the memory.

I didn't move the story forward; her birthday will not be desecrated by talk of guns.

Instead, I remembered touring behind the scenes at the Tucson Zoo and creating flyers for her business and playing pick-up sticks.  I remembered laughing with her parents over her antics.  I tried not to cry.

It's 110 very fast miles from the airport to my house; I made a quick detour at the very end.  Just outside our neighborhood,  Christina-Taylor's park has been upgraded to include an obelisk and a monarch butterfly way station and an educational garden and a statue of CTG and her brother.
I left her a birthday card and finished my drive home, fantasizing about her by my side.  It put a big smile back on my face.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.  

Monday, September 11, 2017


There were lions and zebras and chimps. There was sunshine and there was a cousin and there were lots of snacks.
But mostly, my heart was filled with love. Some things are too beautiful not to share, things like this.
I'll write more for tomorrow. Today, I'm reveling in the love.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Setting Off on an Adventure

TBG doesn't want to get on a plane.  As I told him, I'm not leaving him behind.  He's not coming with me.  It's an active choice on his part, I can't feel sorry that he'll miss the fun.

Chicago will be sunny and warm this weekend, perfect for a party and for visiting with friends.  There will be breakfast with Niece-the-Youngest and a rental car to take me hither and yon, visiting old friends, dropping in on the bookstores on Broadway, sitting on a bench by the lake at the Far Far Park.  There will be visiting of the grandchild and the concomitant giggles and hugs and stories and dress up.

If only I didn't have to get up at 4am to catch my plane in Mesa.  Still, saving nearly $300 by flying Allegiant rather than a major carrier makes driving in the dark somewhat more acceptable.  Even with the weekend car rental, I'm more than $100 to the good for this trip.

All this fun, all by myself.

I can hardly wait.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

It's Just Cruel

DJT's 6 month ultimatum to Congress - fix DACA or I'll intervene - might be a political ploy, might be making good on a campaign promise, might be a sop to his base, might be the kick in the ass that Congress needs to get something, anything, going.  It might be all those things.  But one thing it is, for sure - it's cruel.

How do you expatriate someone who's never lived a sentient moment outside the USofA?

It's been heartening to hear Martha Pollack, Cornell's new President, say that the University will continue to aid its DACA students.  I loved hearing John Kasich inviting DACA recipients to come to Ohio, where they will be welcomed with open arms.  I've been tempted to join rallies and street side demonstrations; the invitations pour into my mailbox in a steady stream.

In turn, I've tried and tried to write something more eloquent than It's Just Cruel.  I want to add my voice to the outrage.  I want to make a difference.  I want to change someone's mind.

As I often sing to the kids at Prince, though, You can't always get what you want.

I'm coming up empty.  So, I'm sharing the words of twins, Notre Dame undergraduates, DACA recipients, children of undocumented parents, future world changers.  They are living it.  They say it better than I ever could.

Here's the link.  Enjoy.  Then, if you want to let your Senators and Representatives know how you think, click through here to make your voices heard.  If I can't find the words, maybe you can.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Random Thoughts

James Bond on endless repeat was a perfect choice for a holiday weekend; I salute the tv programmer who thought it up.  It's quotable, it's easy to pick up the story, and it's easy to leave when something or someone better comes along.   It's inter-generational, whether you're all laughing at the early and cheesy special effects or tossing your derby like Odd Job.

It's nice to know that some things really don't get old.
I activated the annual incarnation of my Costco card last week.  I called the number on the peel-off tag, and an absolutely delightful young voice welcomed me, confirmed my identity, and then heartily congratulated me.

She seemed genuinely happy.  Her Have a great day! as she hung up left me smiling.   It was a typical Costco experience.
That's what I thought about over the long weekend.  I exercised and I went to the movies and I browsed Macy's housewares department with Scarlett.  I read the next five or six volumes in Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series on my Kindle.  I checked YouTube and Facebook for FlapJilly updates.

I tried to regroup for the week to come.  Three days was hardly enough.
Does it feel like there are a lot of natural disasters piling up on one another right now?  Montana's been on fire for a month. .  Puerto Rico has 50 emergency shelters stocked and ready for the Category 5 hurricane they are calling Irma, who seems to be on a collision course with Florida, too.  Houston is moldy and mosquito ridden and, in some places, still under water.

What's a person to do?

Anna Eby, never one to leave something to chance, and lawyering and rescuing small equines and being the Mayor Pro Tem of Georgetown Texas was not enough, has, with her family, created Texas Families Disaster Relief.  One road trip in and they are looking for a bigger trailer

Person to person, making a difference in their little corner of the world.  It's really all any of us can do.  They accept donations, if you're so inclined.
That's as close to reality as I'm willing to get.  I'm saving the petty and the mean and the small for tomorrow.  For today, I'll leave you with a snapshot of FlapJilly's holiday weekend.... guaranteed to put a smile on your face.... because I'm trying to make a difference in my own little corner of the world

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Go See This Film

TBG and I each heard reviews of Baby Driver.  Neither of us remembers where.  We were struck, individually, by the reviewers' accolades.
I'll see anything with Kevin Spacey, even the latest season of House of Cards.  Jon Hamm's Everyman-with-Attitude is always one-note, spot on perfection; he's really not as deep as he seems. Lady Jane, my companion this afternoon, tells me, with more than a little twinkle in her eye, that Lily James married a black jazz man in Downton Abbey.  Jamie Foxx's over the top crazy is reliably on the edge of terrrifying.

And Eliza Gonzalez, over there on the left if you're reading on your desktop, defines sultry.  She also wields a mean machine gun, because what's a heist movie without guns and cars and babes with weaponry?

And this is, most definitely, a heist movie.

It's also a buddy movie, a romance, a coming of age film.  It's about family and debt and commitment.  There's not a wasted word.  It's predictable in the way that genre movies must be predictable, but it's quirky and surprising and startling, too.

The cinematography is a character in itself.  You are in the booth in the diner, with no space on either side.  Each of the car's windows and mirrors advances the story, often in 4 different directions at the same time.  It's all orchestrated to Baby's iPod playlists and cassette tapes; when an ear bud comes out, the volume goes down in the theater, too.  It makes for an interesting conceit, involving the viewer in the action and the character and the film itself in a way that I'd not felt before.

Ansel Elgort was new to me, but he's apparently a teen heart throb.  He's on screen in every scene, his reaction is the film's reaction, his point of view the focus around everything else (literally) revolves.  It's a quiet, desperate, loving performance, filled with strength that's subtle, brave, and fatalistic.  He's a walking sigh.

There's a love story and a Mom and Dad story and a How Did I Get Into This story rolling around in a bang-bang-shoot-'em-up, blow things up, destroy lots of cars movie that left Lady Jane and me with huge smiles, singing along to Paul Simon.

Go.  You won't regret it.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Last Day of Summer Vacation

Today should be the last day of summer vacation.  School should start the day after Labor Day.  I know this as a proven fact; my inner clock reminds me each and every September.  I'm sorry if you disagree, but you are wrong.  Seriously wrong.  

Families should gather for one last day at the beach/the park/the ball field/the river/the backyard and eat hamburgers and toast marshmallows and catch fireflies as the moon rises over the neighbor's chimney.  Fourth of July seems like ages ago, the air is a little bit cooler, the days a little bit shorter, and it's time to get back to work.

Here in Tucson, kids have been in school for a month.  It's just not right.  

In honor of Labor Day, I am taking the day off.  Instead, I'm reviving an oldie but a goodie, from August 24, 2009.  Read and enjoy and say thank you to someone who works for a living. 

The First Day of School

Daddooooo always gave us a new pencil the night before the first day of school. It had the logo of his business, fancy green calligraphy and a point that was sharpened to the teeniest tiniest most perfect tip. It made you want to get to school the next morning just so you could write with it.

We got new shoes for the first day of school. Gym shoes were just that - shoes you wore in gym class. They weren't worn in the classroom and if you hadn't grown, last year's model would work just fine. But you definitely got new school shoes, along with a new purse or lunch box depending on your age and gender and a haircut and 3 new outfits. I suppose we out-grew or ripped or otherwise mutilated clothes which had to be replaced, but I don't remember much beyond the 3 new outfits and the shoes.

If you had a smart mom, which we did, you'd already bought the basic school supplies a week or so earlier. The notebooks had to be the right thickness, and the lines on the paper the exact shade of blue, but that was personal preference rather than dictated by a list. 

Our 3-ring binders with light blue cloth covers and a printed label inside the front cover where you wrote your name and new grade started out pristine and ended up raveling at the edges and covered in doodles and notes and memories of the year, transcribed as they happened. Sometimes I got a new one for the second semester.

Personally, I preferred the 48-count box of Crayolas to the 64-count. In third grade we were allowed to bring ink pens to school. Real ink pens, since ball-points were a rarity (Bich and the Biro brothers created the clear plastic stick pen in 1952, the year I was born). You could bring a fountain pen and an ink jar or you could use a cartridge pen with disposable plastic ink cartridges. Lavender or turquoise or black or royal blue inks were all acceptable; red was only for the teacher.

Beyond providing my pencil and a good luck hug and kiss, Daddooooo's role was to leave in the morning before we got up, just like he did every morning. Getting to school was a G'ma and kids operation and he only got in our way. 

Summer was over; the new year was beginning.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day

I'm taking the weekend off, aligning myself with Labor and celebrating all of us with deadlines and assignments and duties. 
Here's my Labor Day post, recycled and improved every year since 2012

My Zaydeh was a paperhanger. So was his son, my uncle. They belonged to the Paperhanger's Union. When he retired, my Zaydeh got a lapel pin and a photograph of himself and the also-retiring Union Rep. The Union Rep got a pension and health insurance. No one knows if he got a copy of the photograph, too.

It was that kind of complicated relationship to Labor, with a capital L, that dominated my growing up years. Daddooooo's father owned a business. G'ma's father was a worker. In the same way that her parents' accented speech and his parents' religious devotion were there, so was management/labor, bruising the edges of their relationship.

On the one hand, I sat on my Zaydeh's shoulders as he bounced me around the living room, singing Zum Gali Gali, a Zionist/Socialist work song.  When I needed a biography for a book report in second grade, his daughter, my mother, suggested Eugene Debs. I was the only one in the class who wrote about the Wobblies, who knew that, before Bernie Sanders, a Socialist, a man who understood the plight of the working man, ran for President, albeit from prison.

On the other hand, Daddooooo inherited his father's bridal shop, working alongside his brother and the cutters and pressers and seamstresses he'd known his entire life. He took care of the girls, the worker bees, the ones who created what he tried to sell. He struggled to make a success, and failed, and among those he held accountable were the Union Guys.

He was unable to make a go of a business he'd rather not have owned.  He was living a life unlike that which he'd imagined in college.  It was not making him happy, nor was it paying the oil bill.  The generalized angst was unassailable; the Union Guys were real.

Yet I knew that we needed unions - the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire proved that protections were necessary and that management had no interest in protecting the welfare of the worker. Without collective action, nothing could be achieved.  I was still the 8 year old in love with Eugene V. Debs.

Those feelings didn't seem incompatible with the boss's daughter piece of me, the one who loved seeing her Daddy's name on the showroom door.  The ladies did piece-work, but always had time to smile and chatter at me, in Italian.  The cutter, an imposing fellow with a gigantic pair of scissors, shared a small corner of his even more gigantic table with me, as I worked beside them, trimming lace, doing idiot work in my father's parlance, completely content, with a foot on each side of the divide. 

G'ma told me stories of her parents marching in Solidarity Parades, though never when Daddooooo was around to hear.  Daddooooo railed about union bullies, but rarely in G'ma's presence. 

The battle between labor and management, waged, silently, over my kitchen table.