Monday, April 27, 2009

starry feets and lorakeets

"The time has come," my friend had said
"to talk of many things.
Of men and love and bikini wax:
Why some are just for flings.
Why some are charming, and some are not
And whether fish have wings".

So off we went to the Beach that's Long
In the land of sun so fair
Where stars have feets and lorakeets
Fly straight into your hair
Where the seal pups play as the dragons sway
And sharks cruise deep within their lair

When the sun went down, the thought profound;
"It's time to quench our thirst!"
So off we went to the Mai Tai Lounge
"We'll start with Mai Tais first.
Then a place with a view and a martini or two!"
And if I must say so as weekends go it really could have been worst.

Monday, April 20, 2009

happy shiny people singing songs

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

For the life of me, I do not understand why people seem to be so genuinely amazed that a plain woman can sing beautifully. Susan Boyle seems a lovely person; charming, cheeky and cherub-faced, her willingness to face the likes of Simon Cowell and whatever dim duo of dyspepsia he has keeping him company this week strikes me as nothing short of courageous. Because you know that they were setting her up, in the best tradition of current reality programming, for public humiliation. And she wasn't having it.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted

There was no ransom to be paid

No song unsung, no wine untasted

So what was so shocking to the judges and the sniggering audience about her performance? A woman dares to be plain and still believe herself capable of beauty. Oh, dear.

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

Of course, the people who write the songs that make grown men cry are not, as a rule, the fair of face or physically blessed by birth. But performance has increasingly become the sole province of pretty people, and never more so than now. It's all about marketing and always has been, they tell me, although they didn't seem quite so slickly savvy back in the days of Ella or Janis, back when the music was the message and the messenger an artist. But it's not called Britain's Next Top Model after all, it's called Britain's Got Talent. The delightful MS Boyle will get her hair done and her eyebrows waxed; a fleet of stylists will be summoned and before you can say guest appearance on Oprah she'll be happily on her way to fulfill her dream of singing for the queen.

And we can all wipe away our tears of incredulous joy that beauty really can come from within and go back to watching glossy, witless young things plumbing their meager depths to find the meaning in songs of haunted love and devastating loss, of shattered illusions and dreams made and used and wasted. I'll pass. Give me a homely artist with soul over a pretty one with a mirror any day.

I'll see you down at the karaoke bar. Drinks are on the pretty girls.

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I love tv ~ sad edition

Oh, network executives, why dost thous torment me so?

Rumor has it that yet another one of my favorite shows, in this case NBC's quirky, clever and much under appreciated Life, is poised to get the ax after tonight's season finale. This makes me very, very sad. And frankly, I blame you.

I don't know what you're watching or doing or reading while you should be watching my...wait, you haven't turned off the TV to read, have you? What the...that is what commercials are for! I swear, I don't know what is wrong with you people.

Anyway, whatever you're up to, you're
not watching this endearing little gem of a cop show, and that is truly a shame. For me.

Damian Lewis plays Charlie Crews, a cop back on the job after having been framed for a heinous crime, and possibly the only redhead I've ever had a crush on. Charlie did some seriously hard time before his release from prison, from which he emerged a changed man, richer in both spirit (the result of Buddhist study) and bank account (the result of millions in settlement money). The mystery of who framed Charlie and why forms the overarching back
to each week's crime du jour, but it is Lewis' performance as a man torn between a reawakened joie de vivre and an equally compelling lust for vengeance that is a pure pleasure to behold as, week by week, we see the struggle play with controlled ferocity in Charlie's dreamy blue eyes. Add Sarah Shahi as Charlie's hot but troubled partner Dani Reese, and Adam Arkin as Charlie's fallen ex-CEO of a roommate in performances nuanced, sympathetic and eminently believable, and you've got one pretty entertaining hour of television. Not to mention writing that contains one of my favorite conversational exchanges on TV in recent memory:

"You can't always get what you want," Charlie tells his captain, played with schlumpy earnestness by Donal Logue.

"What do you want?"

"I want a peaceful soul. I need a bigger gun."

My sentiments exactly. I feel ya, Charlie. That's Life.

Monday, April 06, 2009

sideways mom

I spent the first couple of years of my life in foster care with a number of families, the last of whom left me alone in their house while they went on vacation to Florida. Over time I'd had enough of these 'moms' that in order to keep them straight I gave them different designations, with all the extreme literalism of childhood. The woman who finally adopted me and took me into her heart was Mommy-in-the-Kitchen, because that's where she always was; cooking, cleaning, caring.

Carol Bayer Sager has written a beautiful, heart wrenching piece entitled Anita's Girl for
LA Magazine. In it she tells of the loving but complicated relationship she shared with her own mother until her recent death. With the wisdom of pain she describes how it altered, with the fluidity and changing circumstances of time, sometimes stressing and straining but never breaking the ties that bound them. At the very end:

I now see that my mother didn’t know how to leave me. On the day before she died, she seemed cheerful. She was hungry, and although I was always policing what she ate, I decided to let her eat whatever she wanted—like giving that party we’d never gotten around to having. Toward the very end, I was lying on her bed while she ate frozen yogurt, and out of the blue she asked, “Do you want to come with me?” I knew exactly what she meant, and I said, quietly, “No, Mom, I can’t. Not now.” “I know you have Bob and Christopher to care for,” she replied, then waited a few beats and said, more to herself than to me, “But how will we ever separate?”

It broke my heart to read that last line, for I could easily have written it, so close was it to the moments that I shared with my mother at the end of her life. She passed in October of 2006, and I know that I still haven't managed to fully separate myself from her. I probably never will. When Carol writes to her mother, "You occupied so much space inside of me. To me, you were always bigger than life. I still hear your voice—I know what you would say to me and how you would say it. You are still here..." she writes for me. And I am grateful.

I started Mom's portrait immediately upon returning from her funeral. I was distraught; determined to keep her with me, I painted her as I so often saw her ~ shifting her shoulders to look up from her chair, eyes alight with pleasure at the sight of me. I know in my heart that no one will ever be that happy to see me again. The colors were to be bright and cheerful, devoid of shadow, for I needed to make her happy and safe and somehow not alone. When my brother saw the picture he called it 'Sideways Mom', and that feels appropriate to me ~ a little fey, a little mischievous, a little off. Just like Mom and I. If I had to do it over again I probably would have made different choices, but this particular picture will have to stand as it is.

When I first proposed doing a portrait to Mom the last time that she was home with me, we decided together that it would hang over a bookcase in the living room, but I may have changed my mind. I've gotten so used to having her greet me from her perch on the easel as I come into the kitchen for coffee each morning that I may have to find a place for her there instead. She can be Mommy-in-the-Kitchen again. I don't think she'll mind at all.

Friday, April 03, 2009

there but for fortune go I

Cynthia posted this little nugget of a meme and because I am lazy and in need of a giggle I tried it. The challenge was to google "unfortunately, (your name)" and post the first ten non-repetitive results. Like Cynthia, I chose instead to post only my favorite unfortunate fates:

Unfortunately GiGi was used as a brood bitch and...

Unfortunately, Gigi has become victim of recent changes.

Unfortunately, Gigi’s artist name is a bit too common, so searching for her music can be a tad more difficult than other artists.

Unfortunately, Gigi threw that menu, with most of the dishes, out the window.

Unfortunately, Gigi's magical attacks also will target your partner, so this limits her usefulness in a multiplayer setting.

Unfortunately Gigi speaks today.

Unfortunately, Gigi is in love with Gaston, and though she does not wish to become his mistress, she decides that a) she loves him too much to reject him.

Unfortunately Gigi has a point when he said there'd be alot of swearing.

Unfortunately, Gigi was brought in as an accomplice in dragging that storyline out and I've had a problem with her ever since.

Unfortunately, Gigi has a problem getting her teeth in the way, and deflating old Sammy.

Unfortunately, Gigi makes every scene awkward to watch as she continuously flirts with and teases Mouth, regardless of who's around.

Unfortunately, GiGi won the battle despite that she needed instructions to play the game.

I know. That's 12. But unfortunately, Gigi, well, see above.