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Dinner and A Movie

July 12, 2009


I have never allowed my status as an up and coming spinster to thwart my going out and having a good time.   I like my own company and if I’m hungry or want to see a movie, I treat myself.      I’m a decent date, too.  At least I know where my hands have been.  

Sunday morning I woke up and wanted to see the new Sasha Baron Cohen flick, “Bruno”, so I went.    I also decided to take myself to lunch afterwards.   

But first, a little bit about “Bruno”, if I may.   

The movie had a few laugh out loud moments which is rare for me.   But my guffaw moments weren’t always in tandem with the rest of my fellow movie watchers.   I found myself laughing at the little things in the scenes for which you had to look or watch and the movie is rife with these subtleties.  

If you were to ask me, I’d say go ahead and go – -to the earlier, cheaper showings and do so because I doubt seriously if Sasha Baron Cohen can pull off another movie of this ilk ever again.

Former 2008 presidential candidate, Ron Paul (R., Texas) has a cameo  in the flick and even though the whole thing was obviously set up, Ron Paul’s performance was delightfully uncomfortable, which completely worked considering the scene.

One would seriously have to believe that star cameos and each individual reaction to their part in both of Cohen’s movies which focus on the tried and true “fish out of water”  genre,  are set up.   That’s fine;  nut I think the luster is wearing off.  The premise  worked in Borat and  it works in Bruno, though I doubt if Cohen could pull a third (similiar) movie out of ass, which in this movie was well photographed.    

And frequently photographed.

After attending the five dollar matinee, I decided to treat myself to French inflenced Vietnamese food.   There’s a restaurant here in Houston, on the near SW side of town,  that makes absolutely incredible Franco/Viet cuisine.  

It’s called Vietnam Coast which offers a pan sauteed garlic and onion        shrimp dish that makes you want to develop festering boils on reachable body parts.    Yes kids…it’s that good.   If you’re ever in Houston and find yourself in this part of town, Vietnam Coast is on Hillcroft, in between Richmond and Westheimer.    Get the garlic shrimp but preface your meal experience with a bowl of Thai Lemongrass and Shrimp soup.    Oy to the Vey, it is delicious!!

Seriously, to all my Houston readers:   go there, sample their delectable wares and tell them Laurie sent you.  They’ll have absolutely no idea who that is, but what a great conversation starter it could  be with any member of that crazy ass,  multi-ethnic  Benneton ad Vietnam Coast calls its staff.   

By the way, they are friendly and courteous.

As I sat at my table, alone in all my solitude, I do as I always do:  I looked around and became bemused by who and what dined around me.   My table was smacked dab in the middle of the restaurant, so I had an almost 346 degree view.    You see, logistics ( including  well placed urns containing unusually tallish Bonzai trees and an oddly located cashier’s booth) made it impossible for tables to completely encircle me.

So anyway, to my lower right;;et’s call it my four o’clock,  there were two middle aged female  therapists who over pot stickers and edamame, discussed their higher selves vs. their authentic selves.


My attention went counter clockwise.   At my 2:00, there was a man also dining alone and  he sat quietly reading a book.   In fact, he only nodded and pointed when it came to addressing his waiter.  He was really into this book or at least, pretended to be.   Reading, I think, in a public place, not only informs, but it can be the perfect shield in terms of preventing you from conforming into becoming a member of polite society.    The book presents a convenient barrier.    Keeping you in and others out.   As a result, I pictured this man living a very insular life.      

At one point he held the book in one hand as he stretched a bit.   I strained my eyes to see the title.   That didn’t help.  All I can tell you is that it was  either written by Tolstoy or Telstar—I didn’t have my glasses on.

Then, to my lower left, a mere two yards from me sat two couples.     One couple  dominated the entire conversation.    They talked pedantically about their dog child which apparently is compensating for her barren status.   It’s black and white and I think named Dora.   Then they went on talking about a recent trip to the Balkans or the Falklands…I also can’t hear worth a damn.    

But whatever the location, I learned that the countries taxi drivers are    gruff and once you’ve reached your destination, they’ll 86 it right on out of there before giving you back your change.

Their audience who they were holding captive with incessant talking instead of bars, smiled and nodded polititely and feigned sporadic laughter as if on cue.

I thought about the extremely vanilla looking couple sitting across from them…the talkative ones.   It wasn’t as though they dominated the conversation, they were despotic about it.    Their hostages checked their watches a few times, sighed, too and I knew that were at their wits end.   Yet the vanilla couple still blabbed on and on and when She stopped for a breath, He filled in the gap.  

I wondered if they were like this with each other.    Did they talk non-stop at home, or was it  just something they could do when other people were there   to talk to.  I would suppose that it didn’t really matter if the victims actually listened or not.     Perhaps they didn’t talk at all at home and this lunch served as a way to vent all that silence.

Then I wondered what life was like at home.   Would they tell the other couple goodbye and go home to a silent afternoon, an even more quiet dinner?   And would bedtime contain more things left unsaid?    Angry nights turn into angry dawns and everything in between  is inconsquential when a marriage is in peril.

And this one certainly seemed to be seated in School of Life’s Principal’s office.

“How sad!”, I thought to myself.  

To this couple, I would imagine the sound of someone leaving and slamming the door behind them for the last time signals freedom.

To them, the sound of the click and dial tone, only means the much anticipated end of yet another meaningless phone call.

Did they fall out of love?  Did they just stop trying?

Maybe,  they just stopped talking.

They paid their bill and one couple when their way and the talkative couple went theirs.  I watched them walk to their car, where they stopped a talked a bit.   She picked some lint off His shirt.   He never stopped talking;   She never stopped listening.  She folded Her arms and kicked a pebble near Her foot; He stood there, hands on His hips a la Yul Brynner.

Then all of a sudden, they looked at each other, smiled, embraced and gave each other a brief but passionate kiss.   He moved His hands down her arms; She cupped His face in Her hands.    They broke their embrace, then He got into the driver’s seat and She want to Her side of the car.

They drove off with Her hand, rubbing the back of His neck..

I took a long sip of my tea as the waiter placed my check and a fortune cookie in front of me.    I opened it, but I have no idea what is said.  All things considered,  it could easily have read, “Dumb ass.  Wrong again.   Stick to making fun of Helen Thomas”.

Whoa….could I have been more wrong????

I left a $20 on the table and walked out the front door  to my car with my head down  like a despondent Charlie Brown at Christmas time.



July 10, 2009


I’m not a fan of tattoos.  Sorry, but I’m not. 

And this dislike hasn’t been something that Father Time has bestowed upon me, either.   No, my friends,  my unpleasant thoughts regarding tattoos goes Way back before  my boobs started heading south toward Tierra del Fuego.

As for why I don’t like them, well, I suppose that’s because back when I  was a post-pubescent sapling, Hippies were in and all of my contemporaries wanted to be them, but it was hard to be a real acid-dropping, anti-war “Let’s burn the ROTC building” freak, so every guy I knew had long hair and so did the chicks.    Long, straight hair parted down the middle.  

I recently looked at my high school yearbook from 1975 and laughed out loud when I saw all these Vidal Sassoon clones.    poodleThe guys just let their hair grow out in any old way, sans  rhyme or reason.  Depending on the cut from which they grew their hair, their do’s were often  misshapen,  short in some places and very curly in others.  We’re talking extremely patchy spots of hair. kids.    It gave some of the guys the appearance of a show groomed Standard Poodle.

The girls were more consciencious about their hair style (or lack thereof in 1975).  We  trimmed our split ends.  And for the maverick short haired girls who spat in the face of long-haired convention, they bought assloads of Short and Sassy Shampoo because that cute Olympic Gold Medalist, Dorothy Hamill (the ice skater) hawked it.   But really when you think about it, why bother marketing a shampoo specifically for short hair?   Does the shampoo “know” the hair it’s cleaning is short??

My point here is that today’s illustrated people who strive to be different by turning their entire bodies into a tattoo canvas, end up being just like everyone else;  just like the Hippies and the wannabes more than four decades ago.   I guess you could even take that back further and lump Bobby Socksers, Zoot Suiters, and 1920’s ear Flappers into the mix as well.   We as human, have some sociological need to be a part of the whole, as it were.   I guess we’re all born with an innate sense of community.   

 But the difference is,  you can always change your clothing style and you can always cut your hair,  but  a tattoo is forever and when you grow up and realize that that huge pot smoking butterfly that now spans your shoulder blades;  the very one that was so hip and cool 18 years earlier, now looks kind of odd when you hand the restaurant cashier your AARP card.

And yes, I know there’s lazer removal and other things that claim to de-art your body, but let’s be honest here, you can remove the color but there’s always a scar.    

If you’ve got a tattoo(s), fine.  Live and let live.   I’m trying very hard not to judge here and you may be (and you might always be) quite content with all your tattoos until the day you die.  Bitchin’ for you, but I’ve known several people (mostly women) who  pass a certain age find the experience of getting a tattoo most regrettable.  So again, this is just my opinion; something  that’s only relevant to me and yes, of you must know, I too was a style lemming back in the day.  I tried to mock whatever style graced the cover  of  Ingenue magazine and the way the kid dancers dressed on  American Bandstand.  

And perhaps one could say that by virtue of the purse I carry and the sunglasses I wear, I still am a follower, but the good news is that I will never have to be surgically detached from either.

OK, now that I’ve spilled my thoughts on tattoos, my sister sent me these photos.   The guy has an interesting calf tattoo and wanted to give the image more texture, a 3-D like depth and let’s be honest, a pair of 38 DD’s.


tatts 2

tatts 3

tatts 4


My Personal WTF Moment of Political Zen

July 7, 2009


I am a native Texan and on those occasions when my family can spin it right, we call my generation of Kendricks the fifth one that  has lived and toiled on the hallowed soil of the mythical Lone Star State.

That said, I know all about those homespun Texas witticisms that have garnered so many natives so much attention in recent years. 

Dan Rather, a son of Texas himself,  was ridiculed for his “that dawg don’t hunt” metaphoric contributions to CBS’s prime time coverage of the 2004 presidential election.   

I knew every one he uttered.   Hayseed, perhaps but that’s how it is.  And not just in Texas.   This mode of analagous speech is ubiquitious through the South, too.   Having been raised with them,  I know what each means, so  I’m not shocked when I’m in a rural area,  say in far East Texas…and I’ve no idea where I am because I’ve never been that before and I stop to ask a farmer in his field about  directions, he tells me to go up the road a ways, then take a left dog leg where Homer Johnson found that sick, two-headed calf during the big rains that Asa Krieger’s bunions accurately predicted.

This is what I call a hayseed GPS, which only works if you’re from the area and know all about Homer Johnson’s penchant for wandering around outside in torrential thunderstorms.

It is true, these sayings are familiar and I can translate their meanings for the most part, but even so, I still cringed every time President Bush tried to speak extemporaneously.   He wasn’t the orator that Clinton is or Reagan was.   His public eloquence was often lacking.   I was/am a Bush fan and a fairly loyal Republican, but even so, I prayed every time Bush offered that deer-in-the headlights, blank stare before commenting.   

I was often uncomfortable in moments like this.

I’m also very uncomfortable every time Obama flack, Robert Gibbs opens his mouth.  I took an instant disliking to Gibbs during the campaign.   There’s something about him.   I think it’s his very efforted attempt at glibness and how he resorts to that idiotic laugh when ever he feels cornered. 

I’ve watched him at White House press briefings and I have to change the channel.   Actually, thanks to the geniuses at Sony, my TV can be programmed to scramble satellite reception whenever he comes on the screen.  The same applies to that glad handing, grandstanding walking embarrassment, Congresswoman Shiela “I Wanna Be Angela Davis” Jackson Lee (D., Texas…more on her in tomorrow’s post).

But the other day, the damn system didn’t scramble fast enough and  I actually had to watch  Gibbs standing at the podium in the press briefing area, having what started out to be a seemingly innocuous Q and A exchange with Chip Reid, a White House Correspondent with CBS, which by the way, vyed furioiusly with MSNBC to be the official campaign headquarters for Obama.

Chip got unusually testy with Gibbs.   THEN, St. Helen of Thomas chimed in.   For those of you who don’t know Helen,  the longtime Washington reporter is notorious for being a rabid Liberal,  has covered presidents dating back to Eisenhower.  She always sits in the front row and one can expect Helen to ask pointed questions.   And in this press briefing, she gets a few in with Gibbs who true to form, responds innapropriately with school girl giggling and commentary.

It’s not so much that Gibbs comes across here as something of a mockery of  the nervously defensive, fertive glancing, chain smoking  Nathan Sturm, comedian Martin Short’s character mock up of a lawyer representing Big Business, USA.

And when did Robert F. Kennedy Jr. start sounding like an aging Kathering Hepburn?

Anyway, let me reiterate:  the real news worthiness of the video you are about to see has more to do with  what Helen and Chip Reid say to Gibbs adn Gibbs’ glib responses.

I dunno, but me thinks something is a wee bit amiss in the White House’s Obama Administration/National Media Make Out closets.

See what I mean about Gibbs?  He’s like the band nerd  in High School who was hell bent to grow up be somebody someday in order to some day rub it in the phases of those big, mean upper classmen who kept stuffing him inside the bass drum.

And furthermore, what happened with the love fest between Obama and the mainstream media whicho diligiently helped get him elected?   Has Obama lost his luster in their eyes?   Has their attention deficit finally reached a certain level of near dismissal?    Whoa.   I mean WHOA!  Have certain members of the Liberal press somehow become “ooh look a shiny penny”  A-D-H Dee-mocrats??????

And not only that, it’s hard for me to take Gibbs seriously because he reminds me of Eggbert, Warner Brother’s silent, bespeckled brainiac  son of Prissy the Chicken, a spinster pullet who’s always tried to make unamused Foghorn Leghorn her animated husband.

Permit me to refresh your memory.

Here’s Gibbs and Eggbert side by side.   You tell ME YOU can’t see the similarity.eggbert1

Robert Gibbs Eggbert5    


Ostras de la Montaña a la Mexicana

July 6, 2009


It was 1958 and autumned spanned the sparse South Texas horizon.    At  this time of the year, he noticed the shadows were growing longer all across El Rancho Feliz.     The temperatures were by no means cold, but considering the mercury held steady at 106 degrees most of summer, the cooler temperatures offered a most welcomed reprieve. 

Inside the sprawling ranch house, Juana the cook cleared the table.  Hers had been a sumptuous meal; fried chicken, mashed potatoes swimming in a cream gravy.  Fresh green beans with sautéed with onion and pork renderings.   Fresh biscuits and for desert, chocolate cake…just as El Jefe likes.   And tonight “El Jefe was happy. 

He liked be called “The Boss”.   He liked being shown the respect he felt he earned.  

He finished his supper and walked out to his front porch sit sit for a while.  He did this every evening; it was a ritual.   He needed to sit and commune with his ranch, to remind himself of what it took to amass two thousand head of cattle and the 15-thousand acres on which his herd roamed.    The oil and gas wells that ‘them old boys from Houston brung in’ certainly helped.   Their proceeds helped fed the beast that was his ranch; El Rancho Feliz.   Cattle was king to Raleigh Joe Rassmussen. 

The shrewd cattleman was 69 years old that night.   He fancied himself to be a fair man, but his rivals didn’t think that to be the case.   It was his mindset that nothing can ever be achieveed by playing it safe….or nice.   It was intimidation that acquired El Rancho Feliz as much as actual dollars or financing through the Farm Bureau.    That earned him the title “That son of a bitch Rassmussen!” to his enemies.  

He was ‘sir” to everyone else. 

But to his loving wife, Etta, he was simply,  R.J.and she was the only person who called him that. 

His reputation for being rough and tough was legend in these parts, butMiss Etta could take the sting out of venom.  He loved this woman.  She’d been his wife for 28 years and quietly stood by him through thick and thin.  Her place was to support her husband and to remain silent; in complete submission to her man, though he always seemed to heed her gentle suggestions.  She was his rock in many ways; they’d been through so much together;  emotional feast and economic famine.  She’d also given him four children, though Bud had been killed in combat while fighting in  Korea.  The loss of his only son damned near killed R.J.    He was a proverbial chip off of  R.J.’s  block.  This ranch was destined to be his and out of the four kids, he was only one to really appreciate what it was; what it stood for.   The three girls resented it for keeping them isolated in a place that seemed to move at a difference pace then the rest of the world.  College offered them escape.  It proved to them that there was in fact, outside of the hot, sparse confines of the northern  Sonoran desert.  

“That’s OK.”,   R.J. tried to convince himself time and time again.   “They’ll learn to love this place someday.  Right now, they have no idea how much this ranch is a part of them, but it is.  It’s always fed their souls.   It always will.” 

Etta walked out on the porch with a glass of ice tea in her hand.   She sat down in the rocking chair beside her husband.   It was quiet.  No one was around for miles.   It was easy to become one with the land when that’s all you can see for miles and miles.   There was a light breeze; a slight rustling in the shrubs which lined the porch.  There was peace.  Words were uttered without ever being spoken.   This was a magic time for the Rasmussens; when the past and future converge in the present and a nuclear fusion of color stemming from a western sunset could only punctuate the moment.   

“I have to drive to Monterrey tomorrow”.   

“Why R.J.?” 

“I gotta take care of that land matter with Salinas.   That damned fool don’t seem to know what a property line is and I saw some of his cattle on our land the other day.  Had the double S brand on ’em and everything.   I’m tired of fixin’ fences with him,  both  literally and socially.    I hope we can reach some kinda agreement, but I doubt it.   He don’t know half of what goes on at his place.” 

“Mr. Salinas doesn’t know what’s going on at this own ranch?   How’s that, R.J?”

“Don’t you know, Etta?   I didn’t tell ya?   He’s one of them ‘gentleman ranchers’.  He’s some sort of banker in Monterrey and hardly ever leaves the city.  He don’t care about land.  This just some kind of investment to him.  He’s got hired hands managing it for him and I don’t suspect any of them gotta clue as to how to run a lawnmower, much less a ranch”. 

“Well, alright then.  You be careful and bring me back some of that good Mexican vanilla, OK?” 

“Yes ma’am.  Vanilla it is!” 

“And R.J., please don’t stop at that filthy, little dirt floor hole in the wall outside Monterrey and have those…those…well, you know; those nasty meat things you like some much!” 

“Etta honey, they’s  Mountain Oysters.  You know, bull testicles and I’m sorry but I will most certainly stop by that dirty old wall hole and eat me some of them  thigns.  You know I love ’em and no one else in the world can fry ’em like that cook they got.  Alfonso is his name.  You eat ’em with some onions and chiles wrapped up in one of them soft flour tortillas and bite down and then you…….”

“You hush up now, R.J. Rassmussen or your gonna make me sick at my stomach!” 

He laughed at his wife’s  feigned nausea.    She claimed to hate Mountain Oysters, even though she’d never ever even tried one.    He always suspected this hearty woman from good Texas stock reacted that way just to make her husband smile. 

The next day R. J. got his truck and headed south to Laredo’s International Bridge.  He crossed into Mexico without a hitch and drove down the highway.   The mountains were just ahead.   That meant that little dirty, dusty café that Etta reviled was just around the corner.  He’d been there many times.   This was all familiar territory to him.

There it was: “El Restaurante del Lago”.   There wasn’t much to it.   You couldn’t even call it a building, really. dIt was basically a couple of old softdrink and beer billboards half propped up by post and half leaning against each other.  A crude awning covered a few tables, a dirt floor that was perfect for dancing on Saturday night and in the back, there was a hastily made deep fryer and stove.    The place was wired for electricity, though R.J. could never figure out how they did it.   A jukebox in the corner played some conjunto music.

“Hola, Senor Rassmussen.   Es good you come today!”

“How you doing Manuel.  Good to see you, too.   Is Alfonso cookin’ up them specialties of the house today?  I sure can smell somethin’ good.”

“Today we have the food you like.   You want a tequila and you wait?”

R.J. nodded and noticed a few oldtimers sitting in the corner.  They were dark skinned and looked tired and worn down.  Hard work in the hot north Mexican sun had aged them beyond their years.    They said nothing and with the exception of a periodic sip of their beer,  they were motionless.

R.J. could smell Alfonso demonstrating his craft at the deep fryer.  His taste buds were prepped and ready to savor this treat.  Manual brought him a jigger of tequila and a few limes and J.R. sat there, sipping it slowly in anticipation of his meal.

The waiter brough him a plate and R.J. looked down to see two very large, lightly fried mountain oysters with  a some onions, jalapenos and a few tortillas on the side.

Manuel barely had time to deliver a plate to the old men drinking beer in the corner when J.R. had eaten everything on his plate, and motioned to the waiter to bring him another plate.

“Si, Señor Rassmussen!”

He finished his plate and noticed that the two other diners were also enjoying particularly large, rotund Mountain Oysters.    He sipped the rest of his tequila.  It tasted good.  Life was good.

Just then, Manuel brough him another plate.

“Es fresco de la bull fight en Secorro across el calle, Señor Rassmussen.  Perfecto, no?”

R.J. looked at the plate.   This time the portions were considerably smaller.

“You say these is fresh bull balls from over to the bullfightin’ ring across the way?”

“Si, the battle just happen now.  These are muy fresco!”

“But they’s so small lookin,’ Manuel.  The other ones was so much bigger.  Why is that?  What the hell happened?.  Doesn’t matter I suppose, I’m hungry.   Guess this bull didn’t put up much of a fight!”

R. J.  grabbed the tortilla full of testicular goodness a la bovine.  He bit down and started chewing and noticed the taste was slightly off.

Manual grabbed the dirty white dish towel that was flung over his shoulder and started swatting at flies.   “Well, Señor Rassmussen, sometimes de bull wins!”

R. J. immediately spat out the food in his mouth and winced while coughing a bit.    He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, shuddered slightly, then said,  “Well olé  then, goddammit!”

Rather strange. Kinda Odd. Sorta creepy.

July 5, 2009

. .

Is it just me or is there anyone else out there who also thinks Julia Roberts is an OK actress, but hardly a Hollywood goddess in the looks department?  Julia Roberts

She just isn’t pretty in my opinion.   Her head is  huge, too big for her body and  her mouth goes ear to ear.   I’m sure she’s a nice person and a perhaps even quite talented with a script in hand, but physical beauty?  Only if you’re really into Pez dispensers.

Otherwise, I’m just not seein’ it.

I was skimming through the satellite  this weekend and stopped on the Disney Channel.  Hannah Montana was on.  I watched it for a while, embarassed by the horrible writing and even worse acting.  That’s when I decided to regard series lead actress, Miley Cyrus as strange.    For starters, she’s been 16 for the past four years and her voice has a creepy timbre to it.   I had a deep voice as a child and young woman, but she’s vying to be the next raspy talking Brenda Vacarro, Suzanne Pleshette and Rose Marie  in terms of vocal stylings. 

She’s a woman child in the strictest sense.

Did I mention that I find her completely annoying, too?

So, I was watching something on some channel Sunday afternoon and up flashed Barbara Walters on the screen.    I was startled at what I saw.   

You see, when an esteemed actors or newsperson (especially for those with  XX chromosomes seething throughtout her DNA’s doube helix) starts to  age physically, the Director of Photography will often try to help out the magicians in make-up by filming the woman through a soft filter or gel screen which attempts to soften the  facial lines and wrinkles.   You can tell if a lens of this nature is being used in the shot.   It has an almost ephemeral quality to it.

In Babs’ case, I could barely discern it was a human being, much less her specifically.   I found the whole attempt to make this octogenarian appear young and vivacious quite funny.   

She just looked out of focus.

Well obviously, this is a case of ‘Vanity, thy name is Barbara’ and I would suspect the image of  her on our TV screens will only get worse in the future.  I imagine that by spring of 2011, she’ll simply come across on camera as ectoplasm.


So, come on, Barbara—suck it up like fellow journalist,  Helen Thomas.  Helen don’t care about her looks no more.  She don’t go for no Vaseline schmeared on the lens.   Helen is open and honest about her  hideousness.   Gravity and age (and apparently political heat from Obama love) are combining to contort her face into sort of odd Picasso-esque face melt.

Case in point:

This is a photo of Helen from 2000.


We can see evidence of face melting back then; some nine years ago.

Here’s Helen in present day, photographed not long after she  attended a White House Press briefing:

melting face2 

I like your moxie, Helen though I suggest you do something about that eye popping thing that’s happening.  I’d suggest having your physician check your thyroid.


I was skimming through the satellite  this weekend and stopped on the Disney Channel.  Hannah Montana was on.  I watched it for a while, embarassed by the horrible writing and even worse acting.  That’s when I decided to regard series lead actress, Miley Cyrus as strange.    For starters, she’s been 16 for the past four years and her voice has a creepy timbre to it.   I had a deep voice as a child and young woman, but she’s vying to be the next raspy talking Brenda Vacarro, Suzanne Pleshette and Rose Marie  in terms of vocal stylings. 

She’s a woman child in the strictest sense.

Did I mention that I find her completely annoying, too?

Dakota Fanning is also kind of creepy.   I don’t think she has ever been a child.  She had such an adult-like countenance about her.   I doubt if she ever played by herself or with other kids.   I’ll bet she never pretended to run a store, a hotel or a brothel as we did when we were kids.   I’ll bet her memories of childhood consists of nothing but sound stages, reading scripts and craft services.   

michael_jackson2Sadly, that could contribute to some  fairly  strange  behavior as an adult.  Oh, you know – – she’ll do things not unlike Michael Jackson did:   she’ll want llamas someday;   she’ll buy the mishapen mask that special effects expert, Rick Baker made for Eric Stolz  in the movie Mask;  she’ll buy Allen Funt’s bones (anyone??) and she’ll eventually pal around with a large Rhesus monkey named Soapy Orbs.  

You laugh but this is all quite plausible considering Dakota’s father’s full name is actuallyJoseph Jackson Fanning.

I am no longer a fan of Brad Pitt.  I thought he was the cutest thing next to squeezing my ass into size 6 jeans when I first saw him in Thelma and Louise back in the early 90’s.    I thought he was a decent actor, too but then I saw him in the movie,  Mr. and Mrs. Smith.   You know that scene in which he comes back to the hotel room with breakfast after he and Anjelina’s character spend a night of debauchery together?     She’s just woke up and still in bed, a flower in her hair and he’s standing by the window looking at her.  As he does,  his nostrils flaring like some scent horny simian preparing to pounce on a nest of tasty, tasty termites.

Haven’t been able to look at him since.

I was watching one of the upper tier channels on DISH and that usually means one of them educational channels and lo and behold, a commercial featuring BILLY MAYS came on!   And what’s even wierder, he began the thing by shouting. “Hi Bill Mays here and I’m back again……”

I watched the spot in its entirety and not once did it mention that Billy had died or what have you.

That wasn’t only strange but in bad taste considering Billy’s bod lies in a newly dug grave.


Finally, I can’t get into the show, Desperate Housewives.     I can’t trust a situation (real or from Tinsel Town)  in which the female characters are all thin, decent looking, perfectly coiffed, expertly made-up  and wearing amazing clothes that don’t possess ANY elastic around any waistband at any time.

Ah yes…to someday be able to walk through a door at the saDr. Smith11me time my stomach does, as opposed to the rest of my body entering it some two minutes after my gut does. 

Oh the pain!  The pain!!!

For Walter

July 3, 2009


Walter Minter Tarpley was my best friend.   We had a strangely initmate love/hate relationship that only a gay man and a straight woman can have.  Our disagreements could divide a nation; our good times often bordered on criminal, but life with Walter was fun.    It was an amazing, in fact.  

He didn’t believe in much, except that a good time was had by all .    His circle was small and I always felt quite honored to have stood at one of the corners.   Circle in a square; square in a circle and somehow, it…we always fit.     He could be extremely cavalier at times and his carelessness bothered me, but then again,he made me realize that I wasn’t really the hip, happenin’ chick I thought I was.   He was liberal.   Tim Robbins liberal.   I was Conservative and becoming more so as each year passed.  It had gotten to the point that I was inching toward being politically on par with Elizabeth Dole, save for the fuel injected Southern hair.  

We argued about the ever growing abyss between the two parties, but we learned to sway the topic if politics reared its head.   And despite our differences, we cared a great deal for each other.   Our first outing together was  Halloween in 2005.  We had a wonderful time that night and the next day, I had a tough time working because I kept laughing at the things we’d done..said…felt.  I remember thinking that day that we’d be friends forever; but forever only lasted just  under two years.

He died on July 4th 2007.   

I think of him daily, so it stands to reason that I can’t let an Independence Day go by without  honoring my best friend and remembering how his life changed mine and how his death, altered the way I look at life.

I wrote this post two years ago.     I republish it today.

For Walter.


Twenty years ago, I dreamed of meeting one man that I could be friends with for the rest of my life…one man to laugh with, cry with….share my most intimate thoughts with.

He was given to me on a warm and sunny August day in 2005.


Walter came into my life quite by surprise, but hardly by accident. He sent me an e-mail at the radio station where I worked. It took no time at all for us to become friends and when we did, I found that I adored Walter.He was devilishly handsome, brilliant, crass but polished, opinionated, fearless, acerbic, openly gay and hilarious.

To me, he was Perfection.

He was also a tortured soul. As was I, when we met. One would think that two fractured people would just create a pile of emotional shards. But that wasn’t the case with us. We seemed to provide the bonding needed to keep each other together. I think it was laughter that served as the consummate adhesive. We became best friends.

My relationship with Walter was rather cloistered. Few people understood our connection. I’m not sure even we understood the degree of our closeness. That was fine with us; we preferred it that way. When other people listened to us speak, it was as if we were speaking Esperanto. We jokingly said we spoke “TarKen”; our own language which was interspersed with many expletives and the requisite “Filthy” and “Dirty”, all spoken in a feigned British accent we used.

Few “got us” and that was OK.  We held on to each other, only letting go only when the other stepped free, but even so, the bond was never broken.Nor can it be. We were content  knowing that we’d found each other. We were happy to have found a certain “punctuation” to the paragraph of our lives.

We just clicked…my cup to his saucer—mismatched, chipped and crazing down the center, but still beautiful, even in it’s damaged state. Perfectly flawed.

Walter entered my life at a time I needed him most. He brought joy and laughter where there was none. He helped me learn to live again.   In fact, he was best time I’ve ever had. He felt like home. Comfortable, safe and secure. Like a hug, accented with the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, wrapped in a soft, familiar blanket.   He never dismissed me or made me feel anything less than extraordinary.

He was never aloof, nor did he ever exist passively in my life. He was a willing participate–fully involved, concerned and more importantly, he was there when I needed him. We were good about being there for each other. Walter understood that Life is inconvenient. So is Love. Neither will ask for permission. Both can be obtrusive. He was never too busy for me, even when I was. H e was kind in the sense that he never decreed me as anything other than one of his very best friends. What an incredible honor!

We had our disagreements. They were legendary. And vicious!! Imagine a film recording of Joan Crawford telling off the board of Pepsico on a continuous loop that plays at painful decibels.We never stayed mad at each other;  at least, not that long.

Ultimately with Walter, I always felt loved. Unconditionally so. I could be thin, pudgy, hair perfect or teased up to a dizzying Elsa Lancaster’s Bride of Frankenstein height. I could be sans make-up or with a full compliment and wearing something that fashion-wise, would’ve have been considered only luke-warm from five seasons earlier. That didn’t matter.

To Walter, I was always just Laurie. No pretense.

To me, he was always Walter. No pretense.

One night he asked me why I couldn’t have been born a gay man. On that particular day, I had to fire six members of my staff. I was crying in his arms. I was wearing this silk blouse with, pink feather scuffs. I looked up at him, mascara streaming down my face and said, “Take one look at me, Walter. Look at what I’m wearing then take a gander at my make-up! I have to ask you, what makes you so sure I’m not?”

Our friendship was enduring and so incredibly special.  We had this idea that we’d grow old together. That we’d live long enough to comb gray hair, use our AARP discounts at dinner, complain about arthritis and those damn kids and their crazy music. We thought surely one day, I’d be Blanche to his Baby Jane. Aging wouldn’t matter as long as we could view the process through each other’s eyes. Together.

But the Universe had other plans. It gave me Walter, but the one thing it couldn’t give me was a relationship with him that could be measured in years. He was only in my life for a mere 23- months. That was all. Even though I have many brilliant memories that could rival the most dazzling, star-filled constellation, I must state that this is all so incredibly unfair.I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I’m still not. My first hello to him–seemingly uttered just yesterday– still resonates on my lips!!

I wanted more time. I needed more time for one last look at his wonderfully handsome face; one more chance to absorb the warmth of his smile; to hear that wicked, wicked laugh; to read his soulful eyes; to feel the touch of his hand.

God, I sometimes question your existence and the pain I feel right now is representative of one of those occasions. But if you are real…if you do exist, then please give me strength.Help me fully understand this conundrum—that sometimes, people are put in our paths for special reasons. Is it because sometimes, it’s to force us to give of ourselves and sometimes it’s for us to receive? If so, then that means sadly, tragically, these beautiful, divine human gifts must also leave our lives for special reasons.

Why Walter left mine is something I’ll never, ever understand,  ut I know why he came into my life. And that was to save my life  and I’m a much wiser and richer woman for my all too brief experience with this angel.  In some ways, I’m alive,  here today because of this man.  I love Walter and always will.

His death cannot negate my feelings or the relationship I’ll continue to have with him. The love lives on because I do. And I live on because this precious man gave me a reason to do so.   His friendship gave my life back to me.

I went to his memorial service and saw his ravaged body lying in the coffin.   He would’ve hated that.   He would’ve loathed how his make-up had been applied and how badly he was lit.    I made myself look at him.   That wasn’t him, but I needed to see him one last time.   I fought the urge to cry as I touched his drawn face.   I stood there and smiled for a few fleeting moments when I thought about life and how everyone has to die.    This was Walter’s time to go, but unlike everyone else, Walter also knew how to live.  


Twenty years from now, I’ll dream of how I met that one man who I wanted to be friends with for the rest of my life…one man I laughed with, cried with…shared my most intimate thoughts with.

And I’ll remember how he was taken from me on a warm and rainy July day in 2007.


“I’ll take Paul Lynde to win!!”

July 2, 2009

hollywood squares

It was a game show that prided itself on being rather progressive.  It pushed boundaries in terms of it’s risque entendres  that served as answers.   And with the exception of a few references to masturbation which I didn’t get,  The Hollywood Squares made me laugh…even as a kid. 


It began as a black and white pilot on  CBS in April of 1965.   That pilot was hosted by Miss America pageant host, Bert Parks and the original seats in all nine squares were kept warm by Cliff Arquette as his comedy pecharlie weaverrsona and alter ego,  Charley Weaver.   (Trivia:  Cliff is the grandfather of Roseanne Arquette of “Desperately Seeking Susan” fame and her sister, Patricia Arquette, of  TV’s “Medium”)   Wally Cox was there, as was gravelly voice Rose Marie, her Dick Van Dyke Show co-star, Morey Amsterdam; Jim Backus (the voice of Mr. Magoo and of course, Thurston Howell, III from “Gilligan’s Island, 1960’s B-lister, Abby Dalton;  Canadian warbler, Gisele Mackenzie,;50’s TV game show host and walking ashtray, the painfully thin and pointy looking, Robert Q. Lewis and actress, Vera Miles.  

CBS shot a second pilot hosted by someone named, Sandy Baron, but chose not to pick up the show’s option with either host.    It hung around in Goodson/Toddman limbo for about a year or so before it was snatched up by NBC.     Network execs chose Peter Marshall as host, a job he held for fifteen years until 1981. During most of its daytime run, it dominated the ratings until 1976.

And Miss Paul Lynde occupied the Center Square and became a good reason why so many people tuned in.

While The Hollywood Squareswas a legitimate game show, the premise of the game largely acted as the background for the show’s comedy in the form of the zinger/joke answers.  Contrary to popular misconception, Paul Lynde’s often hilarious one liner responses were NOT extemporaneous, out-of-the blue gems of uncompromised hilarity.    The show’s writers gave the lines to the stars prior to their “real” answers. The stars were also given question subjects and plausible incorrect (“bluff”) answers prior to the show.     So yes, they were briefed before production and that helped them with bluff answers, but they were otherwise hearing the actual questions as they were  asked on air.

I figured the the stars were given pithy responses before hand, because let’s face it,  John Davidson, Vincent Price and Julie Newmar weren’t exactly known for their comedic prowess.

And that’s what made this show so funny.   Unfunny people were funny.  

Read on to remember some hoot from many, many years ago.   Some of it is funnier than you remember.

Q.  Paul, what is a good reason for pounding meat?
A.  Paul Lynde:  Loneliness!

Q. Do female frogs croak? 
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough. 

Q. If you’re going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it. 

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years. 
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes. 

Q. You’ve been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman? 
A. Don Knotts: That’s what’s been keeping me awake. 

Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he’s married? 
A.. Rose Marie: No wait until morning. 

Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish, as you get older? 
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.. 

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say ‘I Love You’? 
A. Vincent Price: No, you can also say it with a pineapple and a twenty.. 

Q. What are ‘Do It,’ ‘I Can Help,’ and ‘I Can’t Get Enough’? 

A. George Gobel: I don’t know, but it’s coming from the next apartment. 

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking? 
A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I’ll give you a gesture you’ll never forget. 

Q. Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather? 
A. Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily. 

Q. Charley, you’ve just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year? 
A.. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I’m too busy growing strawberries. 

Q. In bowling, what’s a perfect score? 
A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.  

Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics, what is the other? 
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.. 

Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet? 
A. Rose Marie: Unfortunately Peter, I’m always safe in the bedroom. 

Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls? 
A. Marty Allen: Only after lights out. 

Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do? 
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?  

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to? 
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.. 

Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people? 
A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army. 

Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it? 
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn’t neglected. 

Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do? 
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth. 

Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant? 
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant? 

Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex? 
A. Charley Weaver: I’ll lend him the car, the rest is up to him 

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they? 
A. Charley Weaver: His feet. 

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed? 
A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh