A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
Knock, knock...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Seriously. Aren't you? Aren't we all?

It seems impossible to me that after a decade of verbal abuse AWESOME is still clogging the word-o-sphere. It's AWESOME this, AWESOME that, AWESOME the other and the next thing. It's the thing your kid told you about, the thing the sports announcer described, the rapper decried, your neighbor relayed, the description of your girlfriend's latest shopping spree, the exclamation regarding your son's report card , your husband's recent threesome dream, the overambitious expectation of your daily doings--Have an AWESOME day. It must be AWESOME and if not, you're sure to have bummed somebody's trip.

You may not know anything else about what's coming your way but you certainly know this: Some part of that thing that you have yet to know about will be AWESOME. Guaranteed. Bonafide. Dyed-in-the-wool, believe it or not, nothing that compares to--TOTALLY AWESOME!

Do you know why it will be AWESOME? Don't give me that look of perplexity because you know. Oh, YOU KNOW. You just won't admit it to yourself. Face it.You don't  have to dig down very deeply to get it. It'll be AWESOME because everything that's  part of the way to pretty good or even most of the way to A-OK these days is AWESOME. And if it's not AWESOME it's TOTALLY AWESOME!


Here's what I propose: There is a strong likelihood it's not going to be AWESOME. It's going to be SOMETHING ELSE that requires a different adjective than AWESOME.

Word, people:
AWESOME has been thoroughly overused, abused, sacked, raped, pillaged, and has incurred a social disease of the worst kind: AWESOME is dying from a severe case of AD NAUSEUM. AWESOME has become trite, hackneyed, disingenuous, weak and flabby. It doesn't mean anything anymore except an over exuberance of false emotion, lack of imagination and sheep-like devotion to popular verbiage.

In an effort to reduce the the edema of misuse/overuse/hyperbole of this once special and now all too common word, I'm going to offer you some alternatives to AWESOME suggested by the main authority I most often consult, Thesaurus.com:

alarming ,amazing, astonishing, awe-inspiring, awful, beautiful, breathtaking, daunting, dreadful, exalted, fearful, fearsome, formidable, frantic, frightening, grand, hairy*, horrible, horrifying, imposing, impressive, intimidating, magnificent, majestic, mean, mind-blowing*, moving, nervous, overwhelming, real gone, shocking, something else, striking, stunning, stupefying, terrible, terrifying, wonderful, wondrous, zero cool    Antonym: unamazing.

Here are a few of my own:
earth-shattering, sphincter-clenching. goose-bump inducing, pit-drenching, panty-dampening, eyebrow-raising, heart-thumping, daze-inducing, fusion-inspiring, Maker-awakening, mountain-trembling, jaw-dropping, irrepressibly bouyant, teeth-grinding, knee-knocking, headlight shining, pants-wetting, chest-beating and so on...

It's time folks. It's WELL BEYOND time to pick a few new adjectives and set our vocabularies free.

I can't tell you how AWESOME it would be if AWESOME moved back to its rightful place, ie., in relation to descriptions of extraterrestrials, miracles, telekinesis, alchemy, reanimation, spontaneous human combustion, plagues, acts of God, etc..

Variety is the spice of life. Care to partake?

Please feel free to comment and/or add to my list of superlatives. I would be be happy (overjoyed, thrilled, satisfied, appreciative) to see the list grow to afford us all a bit more verbal latitude.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Ring--Not-So-Flash Fiction Inspired by a Story by Gary V. Powell

It was date night. They were new to empty-nesting and hadn't yet realized every night was date night.

Meredith took her last bite of lamb vindaloo, drank her last sip of cabernet franc, dabbed at her brow with her napkin and made a controlled dash to the bathroom. In the cool privacy of tile and porcelain, she stripped off her black silk blouse. She let the water run cold and splashed her neck, shoulders, and middling cleavage, not caring if her Natori zebra bra got wet. Dry or wet, she was sure Eric was going to love her new lingerie.

Damn these hot flashes! What purpose do they serve except to humiliate you and remind you you're getting old?

She checked again to be sure the door was locked then resumed her sink ablutions, this time including her pits and arms. She wished for the umpteenth time that bidets were the norm in the U.S. A little cold water spritz on the undercarriage would be put her right in no time.

Meredith gauged her body temperature by checking to see if she could remove her wedding ring. Only when she could slide it off was she sure she wouldn't suffer another imminent attack. Within ten minutes she was able to slip off the band.  She put herself back together hoping Eric wouldn't make a big deal of her long absence once she got back to the table. He could be so annoying sometimes. To distract him, she left the top four buttons of her blouse undone, slid off her slightly moist matching striped thong and walked back to the table.

She playfully leaned over Eric's shoulder flashing her bra and tucked the scant panties into his shirt pocket. He pulled the small wad out and a grin subsumed his chin.

"Uh-huh. We need to break 'em in. You game?"
"Check's paid. Let's get outta here jungle woman."

In the car she unzipped him to get him fully fluffed for home. That's when she realized she'd left her ring on the sink.

Shit. If Eric finds out... He thinks I'm a scatterbrained twit these days. With one kid starting college and one kid starting a new job fresh out of college, my commute, my job, the garden, the pets, the beef with my sister, Dad's heart condition, Mom's diabetes, a hyper-critical husband prone to yelling and these effing hot flashes, sometimes it's all I can do to remember my name. No worries, though. I know what to do.

Without missing a stroke she kept him at the ready until they arrived at the house. She gently but firmly grasped Eric's joystick and led him to bed where she proceeded to play him like a flute.

She wooed him with her expert embrasure, wow-ed him with her highly-trained tonguing. He thrilled as she trilled. Her vibrato was full throttle. She changed tempo--largo to allegro to presto and back. She varied her style--dolce, animato, appassionato. He crescendoed, then decrescendoed--until his breathing made her worry for his health. After an hour of their sweaty duet, she orchestrated their paroxysme musical.

Eric slept like an overly-sated Satyr while she called the restaurant. Some kind person had turned in her ring. She got in the car, got the ring and was back in bed within 20 minutes.

Whew! Went off without a hitch. Next time--we'll eat outside on the patio. This date night was a bit more exciting than intended.

While Meredith absentmindedly twisted the ring on her finger trying not to think about her growing list of worries and relax into sleep, Eric dreamed of his empty nest being filled with models in animal print lingerie.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Erudite Way to Say, "Nice Ass!"

This past weekend the Huzby and I were out to dinner before a concert. It was early in the evening—5:30—and yet the restaurant­—Boca in Novato—was starting to hustle and bustle. (An aside: Consider the phrase "hustle and bustle” a portent of the subject at hand. The title, of course, may be enough already. I'm merely priming the pump.) While we waited to be served, we did what human animals do—we quietly observed the other fauna in attendance. It’s natural. It’s unavoidable.

When observing, we make ascertainments about we see. While we may not say it aloud, somewhere in a quiet portion of our brains we judge the people within our range of view.  So in my head I silently cataloged and classified what I saw. The stream of consciousness went something like this: “Nice smile—good-looking waiter. If I were his age I’d see what I could do about making arrangements for when he’s off his shift. She’s got a friendly face and wise eyes. I wonder what happened to her teeth. It’d probably be worth the bucks to get them fixed. What’s this? Lord! How is it possible a grown man sits at a table in a restaurant and picks his nose? Did his mother teach him nothing? It’s a shame all those good looks are wasted on bad manners…” And my brain rambled on.

OK, I'm pimping a bit here. Something tells me you don't mind.
Then I saw her. Mid-twenties, long blond hair, short torso but nicely proportioned, slim-waisted, hugged by black pants that fit like skin on skin, the young hostess had the most amazing ass I’ve seen in a long time—possibly ever. It was just so. Perfectly formed and right for her body, her cunning caboose was not only bringing up her rear, it brought along (and did not disappoint) any and all gazes from appreciators of the female form. It was a derriere extraordinaire, phenomenal fanny, glorious gluteus, superior posterior, best bum bar none, eye-feaster kiester, the haunch that launched a thousand ships. It was all that and possibly more in two heart-shaped butt cheeks.

I was fairly certain the Huzby had already noticed—he rarely misses a physical spectacle especially of female origin—but I had to be sure. So I pointed her out to him. Indeed, he was already keen on the scene and agreed with me. It was a most excellent view.  He had been enjoying it immensely. 

I love it when we agree. It gives me more time to spend in my head pondering life’s inconsequentialities. I immediately thought about the tantalizing toosh that inspired a passage from “9 and 1/2 Weeks”. Mickey Rourke’s character extols the virtues of a heart-shaped ass and how it’s the one thing that gives his life meaning—or some such thing. For the first time, I got it. This was what he was talking about.

Wow, I thought. That is one sensational sit-upon that deserves some serious homage. This is a first class ass. It’s a feature that deserves its own song, a hymn perhaps, a song of praise, with refrains of reverence. Or maybe the well-regarded rear merits a mantra of veneration which includes a cheeky chant of deference to a desirable duff.  All this and more ran rampant through my head when suddenly it occurred to me. There is word specifically invented that denotes a fine heinie.

To wit:

CALLIPYGIAN also CALLIPYGOUS: Having shapely buttocks.

From Ancient Greek καλλίπυγος (kallipugos) < καλλι- (kalli-“beautiful”) + πυγή (pugē, “buttocks”).

Callipygous/callpygian is not to be confused with either “steatopygous”: an excess accumulation of fat on the buttocks, or “natiform”: shaped like a buttocks. (Another aside: If you were searching for an obfuscation of the word “butthead” I suggest the morpheme: “natiform-cranium.” It’s good code when the need arises.)

Anyway, just imagine! The need arose long ago for a one-word adjective meaning “nice ass.” The sumptuous rump (Another morpheme springs to mind: rumptuous—a useful term don’t you agree?) inspired it’s very own verbiage for which we can thank the beauty of the Greek language.

Of course the next step in this line of thinking is what do you call a nice rack? I’ve already done the homework on this and the answer is: callimastos—again, calli- “beautiful” and mastos-“breasts”. It’s not a real a word that you can actually look up, but I’m putting it forward as a worthy option. Say it with me now, “That is one eye-popping callimastos!” Yes, indeed. Isn’t that satisfying?

Vintage Bullet Bra Ad
Indeed! You probably could literally pop your eye on those things.

And in the interest of being all-inclusive, we must consider the remaining protuberance of likely interest: the man package. Again, we begin with calli- “beautiful”. Unfortunately, the Greek for “package” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue: syskefasiasto. And I have yet to find one word that means “male genitalia”. But I did find the word for “junk”: skoupidia and while I admit, calling it junk doesn’t really do justice to the male promontory; calliskoupidia sounds a lot better than callisyskefasiasto.

Package, junk? Who cares?

To review:
·         callipygous/callipygian: beautiful buttocks
·         callimastos: beautiful breasts
·         steatopygous: fat ass
·         natiform: shaped like a buttocks
·         rumptuos: a sumptuous rump
·         natiformcranium: butthead
·         calliskoupidia: beautiful package (junk)

So there you have it. Now, when you’re out with your gal pals or barring with your bro’s, you can talk about the talent you’re scouting and no one will have a clue—unless they’re Greek. And hey, you never know, someone might even mistake you for someone who’s really smart…or just very weird.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Did I Mention I'm Planning to Run for Congress?

I met my future campaign manager at the Salt Lake City airport in June—a lobbyist for the Human Rights campaign representing the GLBT alliance. I'll call him Bob. Bob and I were introduced when I went scouting for the Huzby who’d been MIA much longer than the normal time it takes to have a beer at the bar. Fearing a random bathroom mugging, or possible rufie ambush (I know--overly dramatic but never say never...) and unable to reach him by cell, I decided to posse up. After 60 seconds of not-so-arduous carpet-cantering, I found him knocking back a few with Bob.

Bob was big. Bob was friendly. Bob was loquacious and highly animated. This had everything to do with the fact that Bob was just shy of being blithering-drunk on a combination of beer and cocktails. He introduced himself immediately and gave me a very hearty handshake which I returned with what I hoped was a strong enough grip to convey the fact that I don’t wither under pressure from overzealous greeters.

The first thing Bob asked was my profession. When I told him I am a biologist, he decided I'd be the perfect person to help get a national health care bill passed. It's true that I'm in favor of health care for all, however it's also true that I'm not the least bit politically savvy. And although I can, from time to time, be somewhat charming, I do not possess the charisma needed to win the mass appeal required to hold a seat in office. So before he got carried away, I mentioned to him my lack of statesmanship and dearth widespread appeal—I consider myself an acquired taste— but he shrugged me off.

I averred, "You know, Bob, I really haven't gotten out of the lab much. I'd be horrible at holding a public office. Besides that, I don't really know enough about the broader issues at stake. Plus, I don't have a platform and if I did, in addition to health care, it would be something to do with energy alternatives. I know nothing about how to create jobs or fix the economy." At this point I demonstrated my utter ignorance of all things economic when I tried to explain why having a high national debt is a bad thing. “It’s…well…it’s not good. You shouldn’t owe more than you can possibly pay back. And there’s something about the GDP in there too… I mean…I’d need some very smart advisors…”

He countered, "Listen. You’re a biologist, a scientist, someone who knows why it’s important that everyone is afforded health care.  And here’s the thing— you have the look."

The look?”

"Yeah. That generic, somebody’s-nice-looking-wife-and-mother, believes-in-the-traditional-values, wants-what’s-good-for-America look. You’ve got the look that’ll get votes.”

Bob meant this as a compliment—I assumed. I smiled but shuddered. This is only one of many things that are wrong with the American political system and only goes to show what we’ve always known: We are shallow, often mindless voters and the proof is that we vote based on the look.

“Well, just because I look a certain way doesn’t mean I actually know anything about anything. What would you do, just dress me up, tell me what to say and prop me up on stage?”

Visions of Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric as she waffled and dissembled about which publications she read, jammed my brain. I started to sweat. I’d be journalist meat faster than you could say “Slice me off a hunk of that dewy-eyed, dim-witted political hopeful. I like mine rare and bloody and splattered all over the news.”

I felt reassured that this was all a joke when the Huzby stated that Bob had originally suggested that he run for congress. Bob's hopes were dashed however, when the Huzby informed him he is not a US citizen. I’ve got news for Bob, not only is the Huzby not a US citizen, he suffers from an extremely virulent and resistant strain of influenza which causes him to say exactly what he means with little or no filtering. The end result is not what the masses would appreciate nor tolerate. I’m still getting used to it myself and I’ve known him for nearly a decade.

Bob’s plane was getting ready for take-off and one of the bar workers came to hustle him off in time to catch it. We said our good-byes and he left us his card. “Let me know if you decide you want to run. I’ve got connections. I can get you hooked up. Really, you’d be great.”

I waved goodbye wondering how many drinks he’d be able to suck down between SLC and Sea-Tac and if he’d still be able to ambulate by the time he landed. I also wondered who paid his salary and if they thought they were getting their money’s worth. Which begs the question: Is anyone getting their money’s worth from anyone “working” in D.C. these days?

Anyway, I hadn’t given any more thought to running for congress until this Labor Day weekend when it occurred to me—not for the first time—that we should change the week length to eight days. What I propose is that with eight days a week, we could still work our five days but then we take three days to recover and get stuff done and actually have a day to relax. Think of how much more humane and civilized this would be for everyone. We’d be more efficient at work and less stressed in general. It’s a win-win. I mentioned my idea to the Huzby who immediately dismissed it as more of my ridiculous blathering.

Undeterred, I did a bit of online research and found that the eight day week has been done. The Etruscans had an eight day week and for a significant period of time, the Romans adopted it too. However, eventually the seven day week won out over the long haul.

But these are modern times. Certainly the Romans and Etruscans weren’t dealing with weekend scenarios of home maintenance, gardening, doing laundry, getting the pets vetted and shampooed, attending kid’s sporting events, getting the oil changed, cleaning house, having dinner parties, going to concerts or wine tasting and trying to actually enjoy themselves for a freaking, fleeting moment in their jam-packed week, all in addition to their full-time, long-commute “regular” jobs. Right. I think the Romans and Etruscans were probably polishing their swords and armour on the weekend. Or maybe taking the family donkey out for a joy ride around the Circus Maximus?

The more I think about it, the more I like it. And because I’m a scientist,  I've decided it would be a good idea to run the experiment of the eight day week (5 days on/3 days off) in North Korea. I mean, you know those poor North Koreans are stressed to the max. We get a baseline sample the population by checking for behavioral signs of stress (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, disruptive behavior etc..) and measure stress-related hormones present in the blood. Then we institute the 8 day week for three months and compare the measurements.

No doubt, they'll still be stressed but significantly less stressed than with seven day week. They'll have time for more Korean BBQ, kimchi and soju. Yahoo! 야호 Let's get this party started!
파티를 시작합시다

So there you have it, I'm proposing the eight day week. It can only help. Along with a national health care system and alternative energy ramp-up, I'm thinking I can win. Oh, and don't forget that very smart team of advisers I'm going to need. VERY, VERY smart.

Oh and one more thing--I'm looking for an expert speech writer/ventriloquist. I need to find someone to tell me exactly what to say because now that I've come up with my three-pronged running platform, all I really need to do is keep working on the look. The rest is up to everyone else on the team and of course, the visually-overinvested voters.

Can't wait to talk to Bob about all this. After all, he was the one who had the idea in the first place. And you know, something tells me he's definitely a 8 day week kind of guy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

South Pole Explorations continued...

This is a review I wrote for Yelp about the Endoscopy Center of Marin re. the colonoscopy I had last Friday. Oh yes, I did. To anyone who's wondering, "Do you have to share EVERYTHING?" apparently the answer so far seems to be yes. But not to worry, it's non-graphic (See? No pictures.) and only meant to inform the reader. It also ends with a PSA about getting the job done. It's part of turning fifty. Putting it off is a big mistake because there's really nothing to fear.
Without further ado I give you:
Fifty knocked on my door in January and with no other choice--I opened it and let her in. One of the many unpleasant things she dictated along with increasing eye wrinkles, diminishing close vision and a finicky memory, was a colonoscopy.

"Listen," I told her, "I gotta be honest, I'm not super into the whole spelunking thing."

"Bitch. I don't give a rat's pa-toot  what you're into. Go get your plumbing excavated and don't bother me with proclamations about your sex life ."

As I've said before, Ms. Fifty is one bitch of a laugh riot. NOT.
I don't really like her very much--but I do what she tells me.

Thus, I hooked up with Dr. Mazzotta and his team at the Endoscopy Center of Marin. I worked of with Elena (intake and IV installation specialist), Laura (gurney wheeler and scope room savant),  Michelle (who offered me a warm blanket post facto)--and of course, the congenial, deft and intrepid leader of the exploration, Dr. M.

Let's face it, hardly anyone really WANTS to have their South Pole scoped but with Dr.M. standing in the stead of the infamous, E. Shackleton, you have every reason to believe the destination will be reached (You hear that Ernest?) and everyone makes it back alive. (If you want to know more about the story of  Ernest Shackleton and his South Pole expedition please read my blog:

The one tip I give you is that the toilet--which I hastily accessed twice beforehand--is located in the alcove just OUTSIDE the office. This tidbit may save you some tense, clenching moments shifting from foot to foot while waiting to ask the front desk person who is busily helping the next victim...I mean, patient.

The demographic of the clientele was readily identified by the easy listening playlist attempting to sooth a room full of roiling guts. Cat Stevens and James Taylor are the only artists I remember, but I can imagine CSN and the Beatles get some heavy play as well. In case you needed any reminders that you're getting older, these very pleasant, middle-age melodies should do it.

Elena did a great job getting the IV catheter placed with minimal discomfort. In fact, the lidocaine injection was really the only remotely painful part of the day. Laura wheeled me into the room without clipping a single corner--not an easy feat as some of the angles are quite tight.

The journey officially began upon my entry into the scope room. Dr. M. seems to like his job and his patients. He and Laura are two medicos with whom it's easy to shoot the shit. (Couldn't pass up that piece of low-hanging fruit.) So I brought up the purging protocol (a very humane regimen of fasting, Dulcolax, Miralax and Gatorade) and remarked upon the rampant folklore you find on the internet about what comes out. People are so silly and believe what they want to believe--the more horrific, the more likely the masses are to buy it. NEWSFLASH: The general population is NOT walking around with 7 foot parasites ravaging their innards. and there is NO SUCH THING as colon plaques. (Laura apprised me of this phoney phenomenon.)  Why do we prefer to think otherwise? Dr. M.  agreed, and remarked that he battles this kind of mumbo jumbo often and even with his credentials, people do not believe him. Sheesh.  Ain't no cure for gullible, I guess.

As the conversation meandered (and I was fitted with a nasal nitrous line and rolled onto my side) I brought up the concert I blogged last week  (
http://evelynnave.blog...) where the guy in front of me unfurled fetid wind for a solid two hours, clearing the population three rows behind him. Dr. M. suggested that he might be suffering from one of three specific GI ailments. I know he listed the possibilities but right at that time I was drifting into La-la Land.

Dazed but fine, I woke in the same gurney slot from which I'd been wheeled earlier.  I received the good news and pictures that confirmed  there was nothing insidious lurking in my innards --parasitic, or oncologic--waiting to launch an attack. YAY! An hour and a half well spent.

The Huzby drove me home and still foggy, I teetered up to bed. Three hours later I awoke, the fog still in, but hungry. Leftover Thai food never tasted SO good!

If all goes well my next scopic adventure shouldn't be for another ten years. Oh, yeah. I can wait. Take your time, Sixty--no rush at all.

One last point and PSA: If you've been putting this off, DON'T. If there's bad news it's better to get it early. And if not,--and it's most likely not--you can spend the next ten years without worrying about it. You know the old adage: All's well that end's well.


And thank you to John Igel who found Dave Barry's gem about his colonscopy. Great, funny stuff:  http://www.miamiherald.com/2009/02/11/v-fullstory/427603/dave-barry-a-journey-into-my-colon.html 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

That Smell

Ooh, ooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell?
Ooh, ooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you.
—Lynyrd Skynyrd

I lived and breathed that smell at the concert I attended at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga on Saturday. No, we didn't see Lynyrd Skynyrd and I’m happy to report, no one died—at least not to my knowledge. But the smell was bad enough to make you think that someone or something HAD died.  Not so, however. We knew from whence the smell emanated.  The Source appeared to be very much alive although, perhaps not well.

Meet Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Grace's legs.

The music—Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (GPN)—was terrific. Grace is a generous performer who puts on an energetic show. She jumps and abounds—amazes and astounds, leaving the middle-agers in the crowd wondering how the hell she does it. While I resentfully (and likely erroneously) propose that she was diagnosed as ADHD as a child, there is no doubt in my mind that Grace is a woman who LOVES her job. With a killer, rock and roll voice that puts her in the brawny vocal category of Ann Wilson (Heart), and Joan Jett (and the Blackhearts), Grace gives legs to the raucous sound of the Nocturnals. She’s a tower of long limbs in high heels and short skirts. Add to that a long, sandy, blonde waterfall of hair which she flings with wild-woman abandon and you’ve got a sexy, siren with lungs that stun. 

At one point during the show the woman sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “My husband wishes I were her. I wish I were her too.” Yeah. I feel ya, sister.

OK. So back to the smell. I sensed trouble when I first sat down. A dude about a chair and a half wide was squeezed into the seat front of me and I could distinctly detect his odor. The aroma of barely contained sweat and hair overdue for a shampoo reached my olfactory bulb as soon as my fanny hit the fold-down. Before I had any idea what was in store, I leaned over to the Huzby to report, “I can smell him.” 

Talk about your foreshadowing moments.

Within the first few songs, GPN had the crowd on their feet and moving to the beat. That was all it took. I don’t know what that guy had for dinner, but whatever it was definitely ignited his internal, intestinal, combustion engine. The assault began. 

As John Donne might have said had he been there:  Ask not from whom the smell rolls, it rolls from thee, big guy with the small date seated directly in front of me.

With two more songs gone, in absolute disgust, my nose in a revolted twist, I looked over to the Huzby who had one hand up to his nose while using the other to wave wildly and uselessly. A dense, infected air had descended upon us. The odor wafted heavy and thick—far and wide—and continued for the next two hours.

During this time, the Huzby waged a campaign of reputation damage control. Aware that the row in back of us was also experiencing the noisome noxiousness, he made it clear we were suffering too and were not the perpetrators. As I looked at the two rows directly behind us I saw more hands fly up to protect unsuspecting airways from the odiferous onslaught. With grand, unmistakable hand gestures, The Huzby indicated to the affronted parties: It’s not us, it’s that big guy, the next row down.

I did my best to ignore the foul stench and my maniacally gesticulating spouse. I tried to concentrate on the music. The songs were great. The smell, however, was not only great but constant and breath-stopping. The Huzby, not feeling particularly stoic, vacated to the stairs and leaned against the wall to enjoy a reek-free rest of the show.  At some point I looked behind me to see that most of the folks in the two rows up had taken the Huzby’s lead and fled the scene. I’m telling you. This was bad, bad air.

I truly believed as the evening wore on our beleaguered, butt-burping buddy would run out of—gas. I was wrong. Lord have mercy, was I wrong. Sir Fartsalot managed to keep the pipeline open and flowing for the entire length of the show.  

I had a moment, when I considered lighting a lighter but there were three problems with this plan.
1  1) If I lit a lighter, there might have actually been an explosion.
2   2) If I lit a lighter and there was no explosion, there might be a blue flame that ignited me like a fire cracker since I was in the direct line of fire.
  3) I didn't have a lighter.
And while I was thinking about all the possible incendiary outcomes of lighting a lighter I didn't have, the show ended.

We drove back to our hotel discussing mostly the gaseous bitch-slapping we'd just endured and a bit about the music. 30 minutes later I reported to the Huzby the stink was still embedded in my nasopharynx. Christ, Almighty. Staying power, too. One wonders: Does the military know about this stuff?

As I was falling asleep with stench molecules still unwilling to vacate the receptors in my nostrils, I had a moment when I actually felt sorry for Mr. Methane. But then I thought about it some more and decided that along with feeling sorry for myself, the person I really felt sorry for was his date.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Enduring the Endurance--Stop me if you've heard this one before...

The Huzby loves tales of frozen wastelands—the more frost-bitten, teeth-chattering, and blue-lipped—the better. You would think Mongolian, Siberian and Arctic stories,  appropriately frigid and bone-chilling, might hold top position on his glacial-o-meter. But, no. These locations are not nearly remote or isolated or desolate enough to satisfy. Only tales of the Antarctic suffice to scale to the top of the iceberg and scratch my sweetie’s incessant icicle itch.

Like the Huzby, penguins also finds tales of Antarctica irresistible.
Remember “The March of the Penguins”? Emperor penguins huddling en mass for months in slow rotation, one precious egg under each belly pouch, defying the brutality of the sunless winter. Oh, yeah. That was a good one. A documentary I gave him called “Antarctica” must have been merely OK, because we’ve only watched it once. But the story the Huzby holds in the frostiest, most shivery esteem is the story of Ernest Shackleton and his 28 man crew of adventurers. The team’s quest was to attain the geographical South Pole.

Meet the explorer, Ernest Shackleton.

These men with their pack of 69 sled dogs and one feline participant, a grey tabby named Mrs. Chippy, sailed the Endurance, a wooden ship built with polar bear hunting in mind, into the pack ice of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea. After becoming stranded and watching the Endurance go down, Shackleton and his men survived the ravages of relentless cold, months of near starvation, and a long, icy trek and open boat journey back to Elephant Island at which point Shackleton and five of his party rowed to South Georgia Island to get help and rescue the remaining crew nearly two years after setting sail. Sadly, the dogs and Mrs. Chippy were not so lucky. I’ll let you use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Or if you’re like me, you already know the story quite well.

Lucky for these dogs they didn't know how the story ended for them.

It’s a tale of supreme, unflinching commandership, of surviving against the vagaries and savagery of nature, of hanging in there when there seems to be no reason to. It’s a chronicle of teamwork.  It’s a history of overcoming what seemed to be, but were ultimately not, insurmountable obstacles. It is—as if the ship’s name had sealed their fate—a saga of tremendous and awe-inspiring ENDURANCE.
Alas, the Endurance; she was unable to endure. Not so for the crew, however.

Did they achieve their goal of making it to the South Pole? No.
Did they make it back to civilization without losing a single human life? Yes.

Apparently the Huzby had long been aware of this truly amazing story. It was news to me when I sat down to watch the Nova special, “Shackleton’s Voyage of Endurance,” with him some years back. Wow. Pretty unbelievable and miraculous, I had to concur.

We discussed it and agreed that I would never have survived such on ordeal. Having zero ability to deal with frigid temperatures (below 72o F, I need at least a light jacket), I’d have been shark bait or penguin fodder before I could sputter, "I should have packed a puffier parka." We also agreed that it’s possible the Huzby might have survived if he’d responded to the 1912 ad that read—

As mentioned, we’ve watched the Nova special. We’ve also watched a TV dramatization with Kenneth Branagh playing the role of Shackleton called “Shackleton”. The movie “South” also detailed the trials, tribulations and perturbations of the crew of the Endurance as documented by Frank Hurley, the crew’s photographer. The still and moving pictures are well preserved and depict the epic journey with eye-witness vividness. Yes indeed, we’ve watched that one too.

No doubt I should have been expecting that “The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition” narrated by Liam Neeson, would appear in our mailbox in a tidy Netflix envelope. But then you ask yourself how many times you need to endure the telling and retelling of the Endurance. If you’re me, the answer is three times is pretty much overkill. If you’re the Huzby, it’s not nearly enough.

About seven minutes into this fourth version I had to ask—“Haven’t we seen this before?”
“No.” my South Pole-obsessed spouse espoused. “We haven’t seen this one.”

I hate to break it to y’all out there but the story never changes. Damned if Mrs. Chippy and all those 73 dogs (including the four pups that were born on the trip) don’t die all over again in this version of the story. And once again, Shackleton’s party of 28 men are first stuck, then stranded, then lost, then hungry and of course throughout—they are consistently COLD because they’re in the freakin’ badlands of Antarctica. And yes indeed, those same 28 men, lost, freezing, starving and desperate, with Shackleton leading the way, make their way back to civilization. Hurray!!! And once again, they don’t make it to the South Pole but, son of a gun, if those poor suckers don’t all keep their ess together and and survive without losing one human life. Yes, indeed. You have heard this one before.

Most of the exploration party on Elephant Island. They were not exactly in a partying mood.

Here is the one thing I heard on this telling of the story that was news to me:
Apparently, when Winston Churchill was apprised of the fact that Shackleton was setting out to make it to the South Pole he was unimpressed. Why? Well, that would be because Norwegian, Roald Amundsen and his team, had successfully skied to the location two years earlier. Not only that, Shackleton’s prior colleague, Robert Falcon Scott, and his party also made it to the South Pole 35 days after Amundsen. Sadly, Scott and his cohorts all died on the return route. Churchill’s take on Shackleton’s late-to-the-party expedition was—Hey. Been there done that. Did you not get the memo?

Having nothing to do with the fact that the cigar-loving Winnie is a not too distant relative of mine, I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree.

I’m not planning to tell the Huzby but the way things are going I’m sure he’ll find out anyway: There’s still an IMAX version—“Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure” —we have yet to see. I’m not exactly sure how it has escaped his notice.

Do you think the enlarged account of the drama will turn out any differently? Nope. Neither do I. But it’ll probably have the added enhancement of making me motion sick while watching. I’ll wear my parka, gloves, ear muffs and bring a waterproof bag—just in case.

Ah. The things we endure for love.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


When I first met my husband the possibilities of us being “us” were wide open and— at least to me—not readily apparent. Any old thing could have happened from having our first date be our last date, to submitting to the old ball and chain routine (not bloody likely in my frame of mind at the time but like I always say: Never say never.). Our random meeting on Craig's List—a wrong ad, right guy mishap—meant we knew virtually, literally, and figuratively, very little about each other at the start. So I went on what I heard and saw and drew logical conclusions. It was years before I found out my version of reality was a myth originating from the leftovers of a past love.
Tim and I met sometime in the first week of October and things went pretty well. "Pretty well" meant that by the time December rolled around I started thinking of ways to ensure Mr. Grumpy (his future, self-imposed and very apt alias) had a happy Christmas. He was brimming with bah-humbug and I felt the need to slap his bad attitude upside the head and knock the man silly with yuletide cheer. I saw it as Nativity poker. "I see your snide views on religion and commercialism and raise you with 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.' And to sweeten the pot I'm throwing in 'If you're gonna do it, do it right.' So there.  I call, Scrooge-dude. Read ‘em and weep."
I thoughtfully observed what interested, delighted and tickled my new beau’s fancy and followed the lead. Along with the obvious—wine, good food, photography, literature, cashmere sweaters, and sexy clothes (for me, not him) —I noted he had a fondness for eggs. In his kitchen he kept a bowl in which nested a stone egg along with a couple of blown hens’ eggs that had been dyed and intricately carved. So when I found another couple of eggs on a holiday shopping jaunt—one that subtlety chimed when shaken and one that merely looked pretty sitting in a bowl—I thought they'd be  nice additions to his burgeoning clutch.
This is one  of two bowls from our current collection. You can see one of the original carved eggs (pink and white) at about 7:00.
On Christmas morning when he opened the ovoid offerings (in addition to the basketful of other presents I showered upon him, kicking his Scrooge 'tude to the curb, not for good but for the moment) he seemed appropriately appreciative. Almost immediately the new, Noel eggs took up residence with the previously established bowl dwellers. They all seemed to get along well and eggsisted in peaceful harmony.

It wasn’t long before more egg opportunities presented themselves and we both joined in on the acquisition eggspedition. Once you have your eyes oriented toward ova you find they’re sold nearly everywhere and certainly in any place that sells souvenirs or gifty-type items. In terms of happy reminders of places you’ve visited, eggs seem to have a certain hard-boiled charm. You sift through your collection and reminisce about where you were when you got them. That marble one caught your eye in Volterra, Italy. The abalone pair you picked up in Russell, New Zealand. The little glass ones came from Moab, UT. Those faded soapstone eggs you found in Point Reyes Station but they came all the way from Tanzania. And so the scramble goes.

Years passed. The bowl in Tim’s kitchen filled and I started a bowl at my place with the eggs he bought for me. It wasn’t a huge mission in life but just a little sideline that aggreggated and multiplied. I witnessed history repeating itself. People saw I had an egg collection and wanted to help it along so they bought more eggs to contribute. Thus, they became an inanimate form of tribbles (see Star Trek episode 44: The Trouble with Tribbles for further explanation.). I started with one and suddenly the next time I looked, the bowl was overflowing and I had to get a bigger bowl. It’s a weird reproductive phenomenonwhich actually fits when you remember the fact that they are, after all, eggs.

As the eggs amassed our relationship incubated successfully. When we went to Italy for our wedding, we spent some time at Tim’s cousins’ place in Rome. Lo and behold, they too, had an egg collection. We discussed how much we liked them, and they told us where their eggs were collected and we all agreed the elliptical embodiments are kind of a cool way to bring back a piece of having been somewhere. We should have eggspected it but were nevertheless happily surprised when we opened our wedding gift from these same Roman cousins. Egged on by our shared interest, they thoughtfully gave us one pink and one blue gorgeously crafted porcelain egg from the famed Italian makers, Capidomonte. We were now officially acknowledged as egg lovers—united and celebrated in proper Italian matrimonial style.

The pink and blue Capidomante eggs frame our wedding picture. The two other stand-alone eggs were gifts.
At some point—and there is debate as to eggsactly when—but after some number of years, Tim revealed a little tidbit he'd left out of the equation: Those original eggs, the ova I spied in his kitchen long ago, were not his. Nope. It was not his collection at all—it was his previous girlfriend's. I remember sitting there blinking at him, feeling slightly dumbfounded. The fact that they were the old girlfriend’s wasn’t overly surprising; her stuff had been strewn all over Tim’s place in those early days of getting to know him. What waylaid me was that this was the first time I was hearing about it. All those years—perhaps 4 or more—we'd been slowly gathering our congregation and I suddenly find out the primordial pile was contributed by the ex. It was an oddly eggsasperating moment when I realized—I accidentally poached her eggs!
I suppose I could have gotten mad; instead I cracked a huge grin. I mean you have to admit—it’s funny. What it boils down to is that we have an eggsquisite collection including the seed eggs from my husband’s old flame. It’s a perfect eggsample of befuddlement by way of eggstrapolation. So in addition to having stories to tell about from whence our eggs came, I’ve hatched the story of the inception of their collection. Eggscellent!

Our second bowl of eggs has a smattering from New Zealand, Moab, Volterra, Tanzania by way of Point Reyes Station, and the Christmas jingle egg.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


My paternal grandfather, Grandpa Don, was easy to love. He was fun and funny. He called my sister, Cookie and me, Cupcake. He would sit in his armchair in the living room or T.V. room and let my sister and I brush what was left of his hair. We’d take turns maneuvering the lonely, clinging strands that traversed the desert of skin surrounded by a retreating Friar Tuck semi-circle, with a baby brush, making sure the stalwart hairs were neatly arranged. He did a special trill or R-rolling with his tongue at the back of his throat that would make us laugh and beg for more. He indulged me when I was sick from mono in 4th grade with the” Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom” by V.J. Stanek. I spent days and nights poring over the tome, learning about everything from protozoa to pit vipers to pangolins. It was the best part and only lasting vestige of the 3 months I spent home from school. It remains my most precious book.

Grandpa Don was also endearingly unconventional in his grandfatherly manner. This was due to his love of scantily clad and/or naked women. Hold on. Take it easy. I can assure you his fondness never resulted in lurid or unsavory behavior towards anyone. His appreciation was honest and unapologetic and perhaps was a natural outcome of his profession as a corporate photographer for Chevron. A dyed-in-the wool devotee of the female form, to my knowledge, he was never scolded or denounced for his affinity. His interest was not only tolerated, in his home it was nourished and fostered. Cheesecake chiquitas and birthday suit kitsch were major parts of his persona. Perhaps this sounds odd coming from his granddaughter, but I must confess that I enjoyed his penchant as well.

Visits to the grandparents’ house in the outer Sunset District house of San Francisco, were not complete without a trip down to the basement to hang with Grandpa. In addition to an all-encompassing collection of shop tools, he had an extensive and eye-popping assortment of pin-ups. The top wall of his workshop was rimmed entirely with Vargas and Petty girl pictures.

The women exuded a blatant sex appeal which was not lost on me, although I was too young to put a name on it. I understood those fluffy, flouncy, flirty, femme-fatales were more than merely desirable. They were sirens in silk, vamps in velvet, seductresses in satin, elegant enchantresses, come-hither charmers, tantalizing temptresses, goddesses of give-it-to-me-baby. Beautiful and mesmerizing, I couldn't keep my eyes off them.

Strangely, my mom, with her staid, East Coast sensibilities, seemed unfazed that my sister and I regularly hung out with Grandpa Don in his man-cave decorated with girly photos. I wonder if she ever knew how much we talked to Grandpa Don about which were his favorites, and which were ours.  I pondered this mightily on each journey to the cement ground floor while I watched him work on whatever wood or Lucite project he had cooking.
I can't remember which part of which finger it was that was missing, but I recall watching him work and hoping he wouldn't lose any more of himself. For as many times as I asked him to tell me the story of how he lost a portion of his finger to the table saw, you'd think I'd remember what, exactly, was missing. It occurs to me now that perhaps he was thinking too much about his cheesecake instead of his fingers when he accidentally lopped off an unwilling, slow moving volunteer. Oops. BIG OOPS.

The other interesting sights my sister and I were treated to during those impressionable years, were the special drinking glasses Grandpa Don brought back from Mexico. On the outside of the glasses were women dancers in cultural clothing--Spanish Flamenco, Hawaiian Hula, Polish Polka, and Native American Pow Wow--and when you drank down, on the inside of the glass you'd see the same women but without clothes. The images were exceedingly non-explicit, but you'd see their forms undressed with tiny nipples and discreet creases. They were, in their nude way, very chaste and non-raunchy. The glass gals were merely culturally diverse, pleasing to the eye and in the buff. And when you think about it, shouldn’t everybody be au natural on the inside of a glass? Otherwise your clothes would get wet.

I think these glasses are pretty subtle. But I realize not everyone appreciates the genre.

I still have the glasses on display in our dining room. Upon showing them to a visiting friend, she exclaimed, "This explains a LOT about you!" If she meant that she understands why my tastes run a smidge on the racy side—I see what she means. If not, she may need to elaborate. I didn’t ask for specifics. Like my grandfather, I see nothing wrong with some tastefully done nudity and I see no need to defend myself. The images are not even close to what I’d label as obscene or graphic—but that’s just me.
Grandpa Don died when I was in fifth grade—forty some years ago—from emphysema. You guessed it. Smoker. Big time. Had to be on oxygen at the end. He wasn't very active during the wind down. Kinda just...faded away. That's how it seemed to me at the time. I guess losing most of your lung capacity will do that.  You breathe in. You breathe out. And if you have emphysema that's not enough. It kills you in the not-so-long run. From what I could tell, oxygen starvation is not a good way to go. By the end, not even the sight of Vargas vixen could inspire him to take the lungful he needed.
I was very sad about his passing. I never doubted it back then, nor do I now. But I remember thinking at his funeral that I should be crying. I didn't cry. I don't know why. To this day, I don't know why.  But I miss Grandpa Don. He was a big influence in my life. I was reminded this past weekend that he remains so. 
At the art and wine festival in Novato this weekend, we found a booth that had old forties and fifties ads, giclees, put onto canvas and paper. (Please check out francofolie.com if you’re interested. He has Vargas prints as well.) We bought three and a fourth was thrown in as a bonus.
These prints are mainly by Gil Elvgren, a contemporary of Vargas and Petty. Both Elvgren and Vargas did commercial work, however, Vargas’ art eventually became a staple of Playboy magazine. Elvgren, to my mind, had a better sense of humor. His girls are often more clothed but in whimsical, humorous situations. I love his work and something tells me Grandpa Don would have too!

An Italian ad for a mattress. "My goodness! That certainly was a GREAT night!"
Artist: Milo Manara (Thank you, Roberto Mongardi, for your help.) If this doesn't get you to buy this mattress check your pulse. You might be dead.

"I wonder if Petey would mind giving up a few tail feathers in the interest of fashion." (Gil Elvgren)

"Oh gosh! Need to hurry and wipe before shampoo gets in my eyes!" (Gil Elvgren)

"Golly gee! Now I'm all wet!" (Gil Elvgren)
This picture, titled, "Fresh Lobster" we didn't find but will have to look for it. I love this print! (Gil Elvgren)

Thursday, May 26, 2011


OK. My last blog entry for Mother's Day was admittedly on the heavy side. ::Sigh:: I'm still feeling a bit leaden from it.

Therefore, in order to completely counteract the residual gravitational pull of discussing my mom, my childhood, suicide, self-destructive behavior and other emotionally draining topics, I'm letting the pendulum swing in the opposite direction. With Spring teasing my id,  periodic sunshine revving my circadian rhythms and mid-life jamming the signals of my hormonal cycle, I have no choice but to give in to natural groove and go with it.

As a result, I've put together a Do List, more specifically, MY DO LIST.

I don't mean to insult your intelligence or knowledge of pop culture, but on the off chance that you're squinting your eyes, shaking your head, pursing your lips and wondering what the hell a Do List is, allow me to explain.

A Do List is a list of celebrities who you are, in agreement with your partner, allowed "to do" one time, should the opportunity ever arise. The pure beauty is that the event does not count as infidelity. In fact, your partner doesn't even have to know about it. It's like having ten, one use, anonymous E tickets for sex with the top ten celebrities of your choice. Are you with me? Good. Let's move on.


1) Do they have to be celebrities?
     Yes. If they were just that old unscratched itch or smoldering ember from years passed, there would be too much emotional tug. The opportune coupling might then become a threat to the partnership. We don't want that. Stop your whining right now and say it with me, "We don't want that." Good.

2) How many may I have on my list?
     That's between you and your sweetie but personally, I'd put the max at 10.

3) I only get to do them once?
    Yeah. That's the rule. This is meant to be pure carnal bliss while avoiding emotional attachments

4) What are the chances you'd actually ever be in a situation where you might be able to take advantage of your options?
     Gosh. I'd have to say skinnier than slim to none. I guess that's really the point. But it's good fun and excellent fantasy fodder, don't you think?

OK, here goes. In no particular order I give you:
  • Ken Watanabe: I adored him in "The Last Samurai". Muscle-ridden, reflective, philosophical, committed, pent-up, angry, loyal, imperfect. Oh, yeah. That could work.
Ken, just give me a chance and I can wipe that serious look off your face for a night.
  • Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a., The Rock: OK. Knock it off. I saw you rolling your eyes. No judging allowed. I like him. He's funny, self-deprecating, hunky, and I could just imagine the feeling of being wrapped up in those steely arms. Yes. That is me you see melting into abandon...
Lord, hear my prayer.
  • Ryan Kwanten: He cannot possibly be as stupid as his Jason character on True Blood. And besides that, he doesn't need to say a word. In fact, he can just lie there in bed and I'll do all the work for both of us. Happy to oblige.
Like I said, he can just lie there and I'll do all the work.

  • Ed Burns: I guess what I like about Ed is that he seems pretty smart, fairly cute if slightly goofy-looking, not overly concerned about his appearance, and is waving a brave, unapologetic good-bye to his hairline. I appreciate that in a guy. Do you suppose that means he'd try harder? I'm willing to find out.
    How about it, Ed. Are you like Avis?
  • Isaiah Mustafa--The ex-footballer, Old Spice dude: I know, I know. You're right. He's a sort of a cliched and obvious choice. He seems to have a good sense of humor underneath those biceps. And admit it--he's beautiful without being pretty. Good Christ,  look at the dude. What's not to love?
I love a man who can handle a horse and smells like a man, man.
  • Noah Wylie of ER and Donnie Darko fame (to name a few):  He's just got that sweet, brown-eyed, take-me-home-and-have-your-way-with-me, puppy dog look that makes me want to snuggle right up to him and spend the night satisfying our mutual beastly urges.
Hey, there puppy. May I scratch you here or there?  You can scratch me anywhere...

  • John Corbett: Remember him? He played the philosophical, ex-felon DJ on Northern Exposure and Carrie's boyfriend in Sex and the City. He seems like another guy who doesn't seem overly concerned about his looks. I can imagine having a beer with him, slipping between the sheets, enjoying a romp and a few laughs at the same time. No one gets hurt and we both go home happy.
Adorable. Who could say no when all you have to do is nod your head yes?

No doubt you've noticed I still have 3 spots open. True. I figure I've got lots of time to put things together so I'm not rushing myself. The truth is, there aren't LOADS of men out there I find overwhelmingly panty-dropping appealing. Is it possible middle-agedness is catching up with me? Or perhaps--just maybe--I'm saving those places for a woman or two or three or... Oh, pshaw. Who could blame me?

This is probably unnecessary, but I feel the need to explain a few blatant omissions:

  • Johnny Depp:  He was at one time in my line-up but he's gone overboard with that lame pirate look. Lately, he  appears to be outrageously  filthy and very likely germ-infested, neither quality falling into the category of sexy.
  • Brad Pitt, Rob Lowe, Jude Law, and the rest of their ilk: Their major issue is they're too pretty. The last thing I want to be thinking about is how much prettier my date is than I. Total buzz-kill.
  • George Clooney: I dunno. He just doesn't do it for me. I do think he'd be fun to hang out with. Maybe he could be the older brother I never had.
  • Ashton Kutcher: I should really like him--tall, dark, handsome, but... ::shoulder shrug::  he already has his cougar. He doesn't need me. All I can say is I'm just not that into him. But Demi, girl, you knock yourself out!
  • Tom Cruise: Just kidding! Really, I wasn't at all serious. Were you?

If you're wondering if I'm supposed to rank them, the answer is yes. I just can't bring myself to put one over the other. That being said, the older guys have an edge on the younger ones. No doubt about it. Generally speaking, the older they get, the smarter they get, and therefore, the better they get. At least that's the hope.

You're upset. You're not comfortable with this. You're saying I've objectified these men.

You're right. And your point is...?

Be real. On some base level I do this because, as human as I am, I'm still an animal. I'm indulging my animal side right now. Deal with it. Run with it. Snarl at it. Grab it by its scuff. Mount it. Hump it.

Ah. You feel better now, don't you?

Once you're done forgiving me for my base indiscretion, I invite you to give it some thought. I'd like to know who makes YOUR DO LIST. Please feel free to respond in the comment section below. Your humanistic/animalistic identity needn't be exposed. You are invited to be as anonymous as your sense of decency requires. But really... my animus is aching to know.