LapDog

Friday, June 23, 2006

I scream, she screams, we all scream for . . .

Jane won't eat solids yet, but the semi-solid of ice cream is right down her alley. Once you've had the good stuff, though, nothing else will work.

Jane had her first ice cream in the heat of a summer evening at the Central Park Zoo, during dad's work party. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 29, 2005

Poor Car...

This is what we woke up to Friday morning:


poor car

Poor car...really, what did it do to deserve such treatment?

Anyhow, we were rather distressed and perturbed. There was no note from whoever hit us. Bad hit-and-run person. It was incredibly annoying to think that whoever did it would just get away Scott free! Our theory--someone, most likely drunk, had gone down our road, not realizing it was a dead end. Came to the end, and attempted to back up into our driveway to turn around, missing completely. As you can see in the pic, we aren't even that close to our driveway!

Anyhow, after taking lost of pictures, and making a Police report (Chris did this-he commented when he got back that the report was destined straight for the cold case files-not much they could or would do).

About noon when we got back from my post opp Dr Apt (traumatic on its own)our neighbors were out. They asked if we heard about what had happened the night before. The story is as follows:

Our neighbor Otmar was working in his garage about 2:30 am. He heard a rather loud crash. Rushing out into the street to see what had happened he encountered a rather inebriated Hispanic looking lady in a very nice yellow LandRover. She had stepped out to try and see/register what had happened. Otmar said "do we have a problem here?" She responded "we sure do" but a bit more graphically, I gather. Otmar then said that he would go inside and get his camera and a phone so that they could take care of it (I think that he was trying to steer her in the right direction. When he returned it was just in time to see her speeding off. What she did not know, however, is that Otmar walked behind the vehicle and memorized the license before he went inside and wrote it down. Hence, seeing that she had decided to flee, he called the police swichboard (not 911 as he has VoIP). When he said he was calling to report a hit and run they asked when it had happened. When he told they 3 minutes ago, they got really excited and asked which way she had gone. The caught her within 5 min...:) She denied that it happened (and failed her sobriety test) so Otmar agreed to sign a citizens arrest and testify in court if need be.
Otmar gets the award for civic duty/good neighbor...I should try and find a place to report his good deed to and get him an actual award--if not perhaps cookies or something.
Please make any suggestions you feel would be appropriate to honor such a good citizen.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Modern Stalking

I'm still having problems re-adjusting to the technological world (it's taken me five months to get on this bloody website, after all), but I'm starting to think that maybe the adjusted ones have the real problems. Why? My super-techno-savvy stalker.

Text messaging is one of those things that is new to me. It makes me feel kind of popular when my phone does that "special" ring, but mostly just annoyed, because it probably means I'm going to have to start typing with my thumbs. And while thumbs (particularly opposable ones) come in quite handy, I'd rather employ Morse code, smoke signals or cave-man grunting before trying to type with them. Which brings me back to my story. Over Thanksgiving break I was at home, happily doing UTTERLY NOTHING when my phone rang. "Hi" it read, from an 801 number that I didn't recognize. The last time this happened, I wrote back, pretending I knew who the person was, trying to be friendly-yet-vague to avoid offending anyone who I'm actually good enough friends with to give my cell phone number. (It's a short list.) It ended up taking a month for me to figure out who that mystery close friend had been. So anyway, it happens again. I debate for a moment, then decide to admit my ignorance. "hi. who are you?" I respond, blatently ignoring rules of captialization. "Jason." Jason. Which Jason? We exchange a few more lines, which inform me that he is a random stranger, and I am a random number that he text messaged. Weird. But at this point, I try to be polite, yet distant, in a leave-me-alone-but-don't-get-angry-and-send-me-obscene-messages kind of way. He apparently doesn't get the hint. Every day, usually several times per day, he sends me messages. "hi," "hey," "watz up." Articulate fellow. I bounce between ignoring and trying to be polite. (Sometimes I think being think polite is just another way of getting into trouble.) Finally, after a good four day stretch of ignoring, I get completely exhasperated and drill the guy--who are you, where do you live, why are you bothering me??!!?! Jason tells me he lives in Never Never Land with Tinkerbell. I tell him I never, never want to get a message from him again. (Okay, I was really much more polite and much less direct, but the phrasing just flowed. Poetic license, right?) He vanishes. I hope it lasts. But this all leads me to my point. (Yes, I promise I'm getting there. . . )

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE GOOD STALKERS? The ones who lurk around corners, memorize your class schedule, look up your home town address on Route-Y? What kind of a stalker is Jason, anyway? Text messaging a stranger? Where is that going to lead? Why on earth would anyone spend that much time typing with their thumbs to someone they don't know? For all he knows (as I did point out to him) I could be psycho. Or worse (for the 21-year-old boy he claims to be) I could be fat and ugly. I miss stalkers who did their background research before picking a victim.

But I think what's really missing is human contact. So much technology enabling communication--e-mail, cell phones, instant messenger--and Jason resorts to text messaging a random phone number, trying day after day to connect with someone, anyone. That is a sad commentary. Maybe amidst all the drive to improve our connection, we should think less about the speed and more about what we're connecting to.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I Wanna Go Home

A week and a half ago, wandering through the Village (or is it The Village?), Jamie and I paused to look at a menu for Home. We were hungry and I knew I’d heard the name—in fact, I was pretty sure I’d heard good things associated with the name—but we decided we weren’t in the mood for American food (you can read the whole story, including where we ended up, plus a couple great recipes, here). Over the next several days, intermittently, we’d talk about how American cuisine really didn’t do anything for us and, besides, I’d made chicken cordon bleu the night before.

It turns out we’d unfairly maligned American cuisine. Last night, visiting teaching, Jamie found out that Rick and Misty (who are our It people for all things food-related) love Home. Context? Apparently, somehow the discussion led to Jamie’s relating that I won’t eat ketchup; Home makes its own ketchup, which Misty seemed to think I’d like. We were looking to have one more nice meal before I started work. On the strength of their recommendation (plus the fact that they have a $13.99 lunch special where you get any entrée and any dessert) we decided to go there today.

We showed up for a late (3:30) lunch—we’d finished breakfast at noon. And the restaurant looked deserted, other than four people apparently scouting out their dinner seating (they decided on the table by the door, even though people were going to be coming in and out, then hugged each other and left). An employee asked us if we wanted to be seated inside or out. I glanced backwards, but the sidewalk wasn’t big enough for a chair, much less a table and two chairs. Again, it turns out there’s a backyard with a wood deck and room for, say, a dozen tables. Everybody (which, at 3:30, meant three other tables) was out back. Today was gorgeous, and the atmosphere was nice.

I didn’t try Home’s ketchup today; the grilled trout was too tempting. Jamie had the chive and spinach pasta with sweet peas, leeks, lima beans, and asiago cheese. I was still talking about the fish at 5:30 when I dropped Jamie off at her dance rehearsal; I probably would have talked about it the whole way home except that, even in New York, people look at you funny when you talk to yourself about trout on the subway. But the trout was perfect—moist, fresh, perfectly done, and sauce-less, complemented only by bed of cracked wheat, grape tomatoes, and cucumber on which it was served, plus the lime I squeezed over it. It didn’t need anything to disguise (or, for that matter, enhance) its flavor.

Dessert for me was a delicious goat cheesecake with diced pear—its flavor and consistency were a little off of your run-of-the-mill cheesecake, but in a good way. Jamie had a chocolate pie with pecans that wasn’t as good as my dessert, but was still pretty darn good.

I should also mention that our waiter served us ginger lemonade (which was a bit tart for me—I like mine sweet—but perfect for Jamie) pulled out of a half-size fridge in the back, right by our table. There were a couple caterpillars that Jamie saved from sure dishwashing. And we learned that spectacular American food can be cooked in a kitchen even smaller than ours (as we were leaving, though, they were setting up for a party of 17; I have no idea how the kitchen could produce that many dishes at once—I’m not even sure they could fit that many dishes in the kitchen at once, and I shudder to think about washing them).

So American is my new favorite cuisine. And some day, if I can ignore the fish, I’ll try the ketchup—if ketchup is edible anywhere, it’s edible at Home.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Anyone can marry you in California!

Yes, that is right. I just attended a lovely wedding in Chico California (which turn out to be directly north of Sacrament, although not close...I always thought that it was somewhere near Fresno, although I have no idea why). Anyhow, Chico is actually a very nice little community, seemingly built on two diffrent industrys, students at Cal State Chico, and amands. For you uninitiated with local Chico dialects that is how the local farmers pronounce almond. I really didn't believe it when they first told me, but apparently they really do. Not, I should point out, because they do not know how almond is really pronounced...you have to be around them and accepted for quite awhile before they will throw the local pronunciation of almond your way. This being said, I have no idea why they pronounce almond wrong, tradition perhaps?
Back to the wedding however. This is the second wedding in California in the last two years that I have been to, and the second one where the couple had a friend (not a friend minister or a friend judge, just a friend) perform the service. As this last friend was the best man and lives in atlanta, it peaked my curiosity. What authority exactly do you have to have to marry a couple in CA? It turns out that, for a fee, the local county will deputize anyone to perform a one time ceremony, providing that the couple has a valid marrage licence, etc.

I just thought you should know...

Friday, September 17, 2004

And Now You Know . . . the Rest of the Story

The good news is, not a cent of the royalties will go to sick children in England. The bad news (at least if you’re European): Peter and the Starcatchers cannot be sold in Europe until, at the earliest, 2007. (Why? you ask. Because that’s apparently the way Disney worked out the rights to derivative Peter Pan products—J.M. Barrie left the proceeds to a children’s hospital in England, the English legislature extended its copyright period when Peter Pan’s copyright ran out, and it is set to run out again in 2007, plus, apparently, every country in the EU has to respect the other countries’ laws. Not that Disney can complain; their trademark mouse has been protected by at least two gratuitous copyright extensions here.)

But Peter and the Starcatchers, a collaborative work by Dave Barry (of the booger jokes) and Ridley Pearson (a crime novelist) can be bought and sold in the Americas, Asia, Australia, and, I assume, Antarctica. My copy’s signed by the authors. And, on that note, Mr. Barry is as funny in person as he is on the page. He and Mr. Pearson walked up to the reading stage in Barnes & Noble in pirate patches and hats, and cracked wise between reading chapters, and especially in answering questions (many of the audience apparently believing that Mr. Barry was a children’s novelist, and not a booger columnist).

Which leads to the book, conceived of as a prequel answering various unanswered questions from Mr. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The authors play together in the Rockbottom Remainders, but live in separate states (how do they practice? they play songs of three chords or fewer and, if they do a terrible job in performance, they’ll practice the song afterward). The book ping-ponged back and forth over email; each took generally the point of view of certain characters, wrote the original draft, and then jointly revised any number of times. The result reads organically, although there are a number of one-liners that are instantly recognizable as unadulterated Dave Barry.

It’s published by Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children, which recommends the book for ages 10 and up; Mr. Pearson says his daughter’s friend, a first-grader, read the galleys twice, once in two days and then again in three. And Mr. Barry insists that their target demographic is anyone with $18; he’d be fine with cows’ buying it, although he’s so far only at the show-the-pictures stage with his two-year-old.

The cows would have to have both a sense of humor and of adventure; otherwise, the book wouldn’t do much for them. Anyone with both senses, though, is bound to enjoy Peter and the Starcatchers—it moves briskly and imaginatively. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually read any of the versions of Peter Pan Mr. Barrie wrote; rather, I know the story through Disney’s movie, Disney’s Hook, and probably the stage version that gets occasionally played, which may or may not be the stage version Mr. Barrie wrote. But that was more than enough familiarity to understand what blanks the authors were filling in.

Young adult is where it’s at these days—J.K. Rowling (ever heard of Harry Potter? I hear it sold a couple copies), Michael Chabon (Summerland, which I have yet to read), and now Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson; even Ed Koch, Madonna, and Jamie Lee Curtis (although, admittedly, the last three shoot for an even younger, less-moneyed demographic) (okay, I take that back; having just looked at their books on Amazon, and despite the significantly lower numbers of pages, words, and ideas, both Mr. Koch's and Ms. Madonna's children's picture books cost more than Peter and the Starcatchers, and Mrs. Lee Curtis' books are insignificantly less expensive. Who'd've thunk it?).

In conclusion, read this book or the poor sick European children will have won.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Starstruck

Last night was the closing performance of Lincoln Center Out of Doors, a free series of music and dance and other free performance on the Lincoln Center grounds. The series had been trying to present Chick Corea for some time, the announcer said, and last night they finally had him and his Elektric Band.

In high school, I loved Chick Corea and the Elektric Band. See, Chick played for Miles, then formed Return to Forever, and has otherwise always been on the forefront of fusion jazz, while keeping his toes in acoustic jazz (with Michael Brecker, with the Akoustic Band, with Origins, among others) and classical music (most notably in my CD collection, a number of string quartet pieces for John Patitucci). I’m no longer the fusion fan I used to be, and would have rather seen Chick in another musical setting, but he’s Chick. And it was free.

He played two sets, separated by the announcement that usually he’d have a fifteen minute intermission, so pretend we were getting a cup of coffee or something. The first 45 minutes included three songs from earlier albums, my favorite of which was the third, “C.T.A.” The last 75 minutes came from Chick’s new album, a “tone-poem” based on his favorite L. Ron Hubbard novel (yes, Chick’s a devoted Scientologist).

Complaints first: the band is treble-heavy. Except when Chick is playing a piano, rather than a keyboard, the music feels like it could tip over on the slightest curve. The acoustics of the piano fix the problem with a tone that fills up the mid-level and bass harmonics. Unfortunately, Chick only played the piano on a couple songs, including the last two of the night, which also happened to be two of the group’s strongest. And I don’t like Eric Marienthal. The only thing that keeps him from being smooth jazz is the fact that he’s playing with Chick; his fingers fly, but his tone, his attack, his slides, his vibrato all suggest Dave Koz and Kenny G.

That said, I love Frank Gambale. He reminds me of John Scofield, a steady distortion and runs that would make your most devoted metalhead blush, only using harmonics he (the metalhead) couldn’t even imagine. He’s even better on acoustic. I remember the (uninitiated’s) shock at hearing Clapton play acoustic, knowing soloing on acoustic’s harder than on electric. Clapton doesn’t hold a candle to Gambale. And the bass player (who replaced Patitucci a couple months ago, apparently) can slap as well as anyone I’ve heard.

The second half made me think. President Spencer W. Kimball, both citing others who came before and explaining his vision of the potential of Mormon art, said that Mormonism had yet to create its artistic masterpieces. “For years I have been waiting for someone to do justice in recording in song and story and painting and sculpture the story of the Restoration,” he said. And I think his lament still holds—in spite of the recent outpouring of movies, music, even writing, artists have yet to live up to the grandeur of the Restoration (with a couple notable exceptions—Minerva Teichart leaps to mind, and nobody else). The problem, especially with the literature, film, and music? Excessive didacticism and insufficient artistic ability.

Chick, however, presented an amazing tribute to Scientology (true, he was competing with Travolta’s Battlefield Earth). I don’t think To the Stars will be immortal; in 50 years Chick will be remembered, but not for his Elektric Band material. Still, the music succeeds. And I think it succeeds because it’s an evocation; it’s metaphorical. It doesn’t try to tell me or teach me that Hubbard was right, it just tries to paint a picture of the characters of his book.

What am I arguing, then? That the great and memorable Mormon evocation of the Book of Mormon story, of Nauvoo and Jackson County Missouri, of the exodus west, will be jazz (or other lyricless music). Will be dance (also a metaphorical, rather than a didactic, art form) (meaning that it tends to fail when it tries to be didactic, not that it never tries). Will be non-representational art (imagine what Mark Rothko might have done with the Martyrdom). It will function like the Spirit, evoking and suggesting, rather than telling its audience what to think.