Mom and Dad have been a little blue lately - change of seasons, health stuff, etc... So Mom decided they needed something to brighten them up. A funny movie, say. My parents aren't big movie-goers; they go to maybe two flicks a year, tops. But Mom looked in the papers, found a comedy that seemed to have a lot of good reviews, and began cajoling Dad to take her. "We need a few laughs!" she said. Dad finally caved, and off they went to the Pelican Cinemas.
The movie she chose? Borat.
So they didn't so much get those laughs they were looking for from their night out, poor souls; but lordy mercy... The mental picture of my conservative, ultra-polite little parents sitting through that crass-a-copia of a movie - the looks that must have been on their faces! Their tense little whispers: "We should leave." "No, let's just wait a bit and see if it gets any better." "I don't believe this." Oh, that's comedy gold.
That being said, my poor folks need a chuckle now more than ever. My tastes tend to run non-PG, though, so I'm stumped as far as recommending anything for them to rent... Any suggestions? (Obviously, PG-13 and under would be swell; the slapstickier and unraunchier the better...)
Copied from an email I sent to my Midwest cousins - me, of all people, one of the only Democrats in the bunch. Downright shocking! Or maybe not so much, considering that my dad and brother were career military (Thom is a combat veteran many times over; Dad served overseas in peace and honorably stateside during the Vietnam War), and my mom tended bar at the local VFW for 20+ years... Four of Mom's brothers served in the British military during WWII, while one of Dad's brothers fought for the U.S. So, Veteran's Day has always been pretty notable in our family. I may not agree that our nation should be fighting the current war in Iraq - but you bet your ass I have as much respect for the men and women who are fighting there now as I do for the ones who've served our country in the past.
With Veteran's Day coming up tomorrow, I'm thinking back on the trip that Bill and I took this summer - we toured European WWII battle sites with two of the men from Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division (the soldiers featured in the HBO mini-series "Band of Brothers") - Babe Heffron and "Wild" Bill Guarnere. These guys were absolutely awesome, and it was, needless to say, an amazing trip (I posted way too many pictures here, if anyone's interested in checking them out).
When we were in the Normandy American cemetery in France, we were told that French families have adopted many of the graves in the cemetery - they leave flowers and pay their respects on holidays, and pass the obligation down to their children. With all the bad press that American/French relations have gotten, it was good to discover on our recent trip that there's actually still an incredible amount of respect and gratitude among the French people (and the Belgians, Dutch, English, Austrians, etc...) for what American veterans did for them 60+ years ago. They have monuments to American soldiers/sailors all over Europe, and memorial days are a big deal to them. Europeans who weren't even born until after the war would get teary-eyed describing the gratitude their parents and grandparents had for their American liberators. In Eindhoven, the Netherlands we attended a huge parade on their Liberation Day, at which our guys were guests of honor (Babe is credited with being the first American to enter Eindhoven, so he's a pretty big deal among the Dutch...). Really, everywhere we went our veterans were treated like rock stars.
I've attached a picture of three of the veterans I'll be thinking of most tomorrow - Babe, Frank Fericks (a US Navy pilot) and "Wild" Bill, at the Luxembourg American cemetery. It struck me that the inscription above their heads is not only a good way of describing the places where our soldiers are buried, but of the hearts and minds of ones who are still alive. Here's to letting all our veterans (including my own brother Thom!) know how much their valor and sacrifice mean (or should mean) to all the rest of us who benefit from the results every day. (Middle picture: Bill Guarnere, circa WWII. At right: Babe Heffron circa WWII).
I can barely stand looking at my own site anymore because the masthead graphic is so cheesy. It's bugged me for ages. What am I, a newspaper columnist? Or a high school senior, with the whole perky, chin-on-hand pose? Gah. I put it up in 2001 and was already done with it by... late 2001. The thing is, we moved to Movable Type and I totally cannot remember how to change it. I'm going to have to shanghai Wee tonight and make him help me swap it out. Now I just need to figure out what to do next. I'm no Dooce when it comes to clever graphics. Hmm...
The sounds in the courtyard outside my front door today:
- Hooting and yelling from the pack of middle-aged Indian men who play cricket in the park behind our house every weekend. They really worked up over every game. Our Indian neighbors seem so mellow and quiet most of the time that it's funny to see these guys out there playing with such loud enthusiasm in their tucked-in polo shirts and belted jeans. Plus, it's... you know, cricket, with the googlys and sticky wickets and whatnot. I've always pictured it as some goofy, twee hybrid of baseball and croquet; it never occured to me that there might be players out there who'd get all extreme over it.
- One of the family of awesome pianists in the house next to us is practicing piano. Sort of. Judging from the jangly, discordant arpeggios they're pounding into the keys, whoever it is must be feeling pretty feisty about something... Like a fiendish house elf, as Ian put it. One of them is pretty much always at the piano, and I've gotten so used to gardening with accompaniment that I actually get kind of annoyed if they aren't playing. I'm tempted to see if they'll start taking requests. Gershwin is great for planting, though Vivaldi works, too. Thanks!
- Tiny, angry peeps from the hummingbird hovering at the feeder. It's pissed off because I'm hanging out nearby and because the feeder is empty. Taking off, it makes a whirring fly-by near my head. Clearly, the level of service at Chez Tessenwee has been unsatisfactory. Time for me to go boil some sugar-water.
- Metallic rasping of a rake against asphalt as the neighbor across the street cleans up dead maple leaves from the road. I'm still loving that October smells like old leaves and wet soil and wood smoke here, as it should. And yet, the weather's still warm enough that I can plant another round of vegetables in my Earthboxes. I'm attempting broccoli, broccoflower (a broccoli-cauliflower hybrid), brussel sprouts, lettuce and peas, and replanting my herb pots with rosemary, basil and chives. Last weekend I brutually pruned out the overgrown morning glory and thorny bougainvillea along our fence, and the courtyard seems pretty barren now... My arms still look like I was wrestling angry cats. I needed to do it, though - the live vines were growing on a base of old dead foliage that had become top-heavy and was beginning to collapse in one big, snarled sheet. Creepers had started seeking out new territory across the patio and have been slowly consuming Seymour, our giant split-leaf philadendron. Now I have to figure out what to do with all the space I created. Having a garden nursery a 1/2 mile away is going to be dangerous, I fear.
Meet Vertigo! You'll have to wake him up. He's mighty fond of mouse arrows...
|adopt your own virtual pet!|
So here's the thing - I'm most likely going to bail on the NaBloPoMo thing... Just thought I thought I'd just get that out there and save all three of my devoted readers the trouble of checking in every day.
Something about this "write every day" thing just bugs the shit out of me. I hate the sense of obligation. It's the same reason I don't usually join clubs or volunteer or make resolutions that I have any intention of keeping. Same reason I dropped that writing class at Stanford. OK, not so much "dropped" as "mysteriously stopped showing up but was too embarrassed let anyone know I had no plans to go back because writing on command is hard!!".
I still haven't quite figured out what it is that makes me such a putz about the concept of obligation - fear of failure, inner-child contrarianism ("I'll do the dishes in a minute! When I'M ready to do them! Jeez!"), or sheer garden-variety laziness... I'm sure there are plenty of psychological catch-phrases fit for tattooing across my metaphysical forehead, summing up why I'm whining instead of relishing the challenge. What it all comes down to, though, is that I'm declaring pre-emptive defeat, but I'm feeling pretty OK with that. I embrace my inner slacker!
Anyway, next time I have some thought binge that needs purging, I'll be back. Until then - hey, there's always Flickr...
Right. It's November 1st and I said I'd post something every day this month.
"I don't have anything to write about," I bitched to Wee.
"Talk about buckle bunnies!" (We were just on the topic. By way of talking about dumb Americans. By way of talking about the star of "Borat" and the wealth of especially witless costars he'd find at places like, say, rodeos.)
"I don't want to talk about buckle bunnies."
"Do you know what a buckle bunny is?"
"Dude, you couldn't walk three steps at the Tulelake-Butte County Fair without bumping into a buckle bunny. But I don't have anything to say about them."
"Well, talk about counting resistors at inventory today. Plenty of people have had jobs where they had to count things. They can relate. It's commiseration!"
"It's bad enough I'll be counting them in my sleep tonight. And counting them again tomorrow. Next."
"Talk about all the cute kids you saw at the door last night."
They were cute. But that kind of goes without saying. Although it was kind of weird that a couple of the parents were not only in costumes but actually holding out their own candy bags this year - like, not for one of their kids, but for themselves. When did that trend start? Oh, and I kept getting called out by the kids for guessing their costumes wrong. I was just trying to be interactive, but it's a little like asking a woman with a protruding tummy when her due date is - assumptions can be hazardous. Plus, it sucks to be a kid with a costume that no one gets.
Bill's solution to this is simply to not answer the door, and thereby to be released from the burden of interactivity. But I love the Halloween candy giveaway. Sure, I'm a sucker for tiny kids in costumes, but I also feel like it's a karmic obligation in return for when I was one of those kids, released from my parents' recognizance and unleashed on the neighborhood for one cold, giddy night. My mom and dad never ran security for me like parents do today - granted, I lived in a good part of a smallish town, and maybe it's a more dangerous world now than it was 25 years ago. That's a pity, though, because for me the independence was a big part of the deal - that rush of freedom and apprehension that made everything look a little sharper as we ran along familiar streets turned exotic by shadows and stillness. I loved that I could just run up to the doors of strangers with every expectation of having them opened and of scoring free candy. I liked peeking inside the houses whose outsides I passed every day and seeing who lived in them. Even when we eventually wore down and started jonesing to get home and lose the costumes and makeup, we could look forward to the serious science of sorting, categorizing and prioritizing the booty, and figuring out a good place to hide it from mercenary older brothers. (As if that ever worked...)
Man, being a kid on Halloween rocked. Serving up chocolate to whatever kids who still brave the neighborhood streets instead of sucking out and going to the mall just helps me get a little closer to those memories.
Although, now that I know that it's apparently cool for grown-ups to dress up and beg for candy as long as they have a kid with them? Yeah, I really need to hook that up.
Ha, and with one minute to spare... There's day one!