Thursday, February 26, 2009


With me, it is the ridiculous. The old Laurel and Hardy movies, Some Like It Hot. Slap Stick.

I admit it. I'm a peasant.

My husband loves any Woody Allen film. I love Woody too but the one I can't get enough of is "Sleeper". The scene where he's coming out of his long sleep breaks me up every time. I think my husband enjoys Sleeper too, but in moderation. His favorite movie of all time is not a Woody Allen film. It's "An American President" with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning. If I am totally in the dark as to what film to suggest to him for an evening together "An American President" is a good choice. I love that film too. I think there's not a lot of dialogue in "An American President". It's built around ridiculous situations. That's probably why both of us like it. Tonight we're watching a Woody Allen film, an Academy Award winner--"Vicky, Christina, and Barcelona" and all I can think of is there's a lot of talking. It makes me think of Barcelona and weep. The Rambla! Ah.... I don't know when if we'll ever get to Spain again. He on the other hand is grinning and enjoying himself immensely.

An example of the ridiculous came up tonight that gets me laughing every time I think of it. It was right out of Slap Stick Heaven.

A little background. Our dog Plato is always hungry. It doesn't matter when he ate last, he's hungry. And he will eat--strange things.

My husband came home about seven o'clock tonight. He got himself a Scotch and sat down in the chair next to me. All of a sudden he said, "What's that noise?' I didn't hear the noise but in retrospect it must have been a rumbling noise of some kind. He finally was curious enough to go upstairs to check.

A minute later he came down with Plato. Plato was attached, with his collar, to a large metal mesh wastebasket and a plastic bag. "Get it off him," my husband demanded. I was laughing too hard to comply for awhile. The plastic bag had contained a diaper. Yes, Plato had been in our son's and daughter-in-law's bedroom--which had been conveniently been left open by the cats--and in trying to grab the diaper had gotten trapped by a very large, inconvenient metal wastepaper basket. Plato will eat anything.

I laughed about the sight of Plato attached to that ridiculous metal wastepaper basket for hours. My husband was irritated. He didn't find it funny at all.

What are the uses of humor? I think one of the uses is to help us through our day. I've heard one of the best things we can do for our health is laugh. We come upon the ridiculous a lot more than carefully set up dramatic situations that make us laugh. I'm glad I laugh at the ridiculous. I wish my husband did.

When I went to my brother's funeral service--it was a chance to listen to old memories--it felt so good to laugh. Laugh at the three Dave's: the Dave that got to me most was the one who appeared for his fishing buddies in a ridiculous bucket hat, a tea shirt that was mostly holes that belonged to my father, and a pair of Hush Puppies that had been resoled at least a dozen times. My brother appreciated the ridiculous. He laughed at the ridiculous. Maybe that's why I loved him so much.

What makes you laugh?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


What is it about the usual, the comfortable? I will go out of my way to find it.

Certain things in a routine are sanity threatening: doing the dishes, cleaning up dog poop. To combat these aspects of my life I need a good, hot cup of Earl Grey Tea and a newspaper I can devour.

The San Francisco Chronicle is our home newspaper. We also take the New York Times. I always leap for the Times first--starting with the art pages--but when it's time for that cup of tea I very often have the Chronicle in front of me.

This morning it was announced on the front page that the Chronicle was going to be going the way of a lot of things these days. Major layoffs are in store etc. etc. The Chronicle is owned by the Hearst Corporation so it's not like it's a small town operation that's coming onto hard times. If the cost cutting doesn't work then Hearst will try to sell the Chronicle and if they're unable to sell it they'll close it down.

Something strange and disquieting happened with the Chronicle about two weeks ago which seems contrary to a newspaper trying to stay afloat. A big thing was made of it--a week of little hints as to what was going to happen and then the big announcement! Next day guys you will see a new Chronicle!

Pfffft. A big nothing. In fact I hate the look of the new paper. The comforting look of the old paper is gone, column widths have been changed, layout has been changed, typeface has been changed. Everything looks washed out. Worst of all, a washed out color has been added around titles of sections. Pfffft. The usual is gone. The new--in all its strangeness, is here. Why oh why when disaster is around the corner would the powers to be do this? Apparently this is an interim step to tying in with a hot shot operation in Canada that hopefully will rectify all this pffft.

It is strange what a change of layout will do in a piece of writing. One of my favorite columnists in the Chronicle is Jon Carroll. I am particularly enamored of his stories about his cats, one of whom is named Bucket. I feel like I personally know this man and I like him. I know and love Bucket. There's another cat but the name escapes me for now.

Once I decided to send a copy of one of his columns to a friend who also likes cats and went to the online site. I was disheartened to find that the particular column I was interested in looked totally different on the site. I did not react to it the same way. I didn't laugh. That's what the new Chronicle looks like: it's hot off the internet, no human is at work here. As if to molify it's readers and the lovers of cats like Bucket and columnists like Jon Carroll they give us a little washed out picture of Mr. Carroll. He looks totally different than I imagined. Not bad. Kinda cute, really. But the nice, grandfatherly look I had invisioned for him is not there.

I used to think the Chronicle was disposable. I rather looked down on it. It's not the Times. Now I know I'll miss it. Who would want to buy pfffft.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My husband, Jerry, usually joins a group of his friends in France to ski in January at a glorious place called Courchevel. Why January? I haven't the foggiest notion except maybe it's a time parents don't come with their kids. This is a dedicated bunch. They go out in any weather, except for Jerry. Thank God when it's snowing he stays at the hotel and reads while the rest go out and tackle the slopes.

Several years ago Jerry and his roommates were assailed one night by a loud, relentless, whining noise . One of them, our friend Bryan, a big, bear like guy with a temper, was being driven crazy. Everyone warns Bryan about his temper. Bryan's temper has gotten him in trouble--especially with his wife. Nothing much keeps my husband up and our other friend, who everyone calls Jerry T to differentiate him from my Jerry, was already asleep. Jerry T goes at breakneck speed all day until his eyes close at the dinner table and then he's gone.

Bryan is one of the most dedicated skiers. After tearing through his suitcase, everyone else's suitcase and poking in every corner of the room, he picked up the phone and in a nasty voice insisted someone from the hotel come up and investigate.

A man from the front desk came up. "It's the heating system!" roared Bryan. "It has to be!"

The man put his ear to the wall. Nothing. Just a nice, reassuring hum. He shook his head and left.

The noise continued, relentless.

Bryan paced, pulling his hair and bleating like a stuck pig. "How am I going to ski in the morning? This is awful!"

My husband--ever the practical member of the bunch--said, "Bryan, put a pillow over your ears. Maybe it will stop."

Jerry closed his eyes. Bryan tossed and turned. "This is impossible! I'll never sleep!"

Suddenly he put his wrist to his ear. "I can't believe it! It's my fucking watch!" He marched to the door and threw his watch into the snow where it continued the nasty, relentless noise well into the night.

Finally Bryan slept. The next morning broke clear and glorious. Guess who didn't ski? Bryan had to retreive his watch from the snow and take it into town to be fixed. The wages of a bad temper.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Life can be interesting in our household. Like yesterday my iPhone was missing. Now that is a disaster, right? Losing any cellphone is a problem but an iPhone? Mine has all sorts of personal information on it besides all the neat buttons.

I hunted. Not a sign of it. I hadn't been anywhere so I knew it had to be somewhere in the house. My husband was freaking out. I mean, somehow I think he was thinking that somehow it would get into the wrong hands. BRRRRRR. What a thought.

This went on all day. Finally my daughter-in-law, Wendy, suggested I call it. Of course. Why didn't I think of that? The only thing that worried me a little bit it had been very low in power. iphones without power don't work.

So I called it. It rang. Yay! Wendy said she could hear it and it sounded far away. I hunted upstairs. No luck. I went back downstairs and inlisted the help of Wendy and Theo. Wendy finally located it--in a drawer under a pile of rags.

I have to explain something at this point. I have set my iPhone to remind me when I have to take my medicine. At 10 AM it goes off with a very annoying little melody. It keeps up that disgustingly cheerful melody until you plug in a password and open it up. My son, Glenn, cannot abide that melody. It was Glenn who put my iPhone in the drawer under the pile of rags. He does not know the password. Wendy now has the password but if I know Glenn he will not have access to the password when the annoying little melody starts again so we will be vexed by a missing iPhone again at some point.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


We are all creatures of habit. Our days are arranged around the usual: crawl out of bed, do the morning routine which in our household often includes looking at finances, have a cup of tea, have a bowl of cereal. I will not take less than a superlative cup of tea. I will go out of my way for a good cup of tea.

Somewhere in there one dresses. In my case, since Berkeley mornings can be cold, I bundle up. A pair of nice, comfy slippers are part of the routine here, I do not like shoes. Never have. Never will. When I was a kid I used to take off my shoes at the beginning of the summer and not put them on again until fall. We had a gravel driveway which I had to cross to get to the back door of our house. At the beginning of the summer my passsage across that driveway was accompanied by a series of yelps. By the end of the summer I ran across it pain free.

Yesterday morning I was fully dressed and reading a book to my grandson. I looked down and for some reason saw my feet, which, instead of being in a matching pair of shoes, was in a mismatched pair. It really struck my funny bone. It looked so strange to have one black shoe and one gray shoe on. Delighted, I told Theo, who didn't find it anywhere near as funny as I did. To a three year old the whole world is a mystery, why should a mismatched pair of shoes be hilarious?

I had put them on no more than a second before. Two sets of shoes were under a nearby table and, intent on Theo, I hadn't noticed my mistake. When I got up about a half hour later and began to walk around I discovered something very interesting. My feet felt good!

Now, just to clear something up. My feet never feel good in shoes. Except in this particular, mismatched pair.

Why? I think the why is extremely interesting. I buy good shoes. They mold to my feet. When you have a matched pair of shoes on you aren't particularly aware of your feet except that they hurt. Even with a good pair of shoes on your feet. All you know is you have a good pair of shoes on your feet why don't your feet feel better?

With the mismatched pair on your feet suddenly your aware what's happening with each foot. Oooooh, there's this nice cushion under my right foot and under my left foot something different--but it feels good too. Try it some day. It's damn interesting.

Today, guess what? I'm in the same mismatched pair (by accident, since this morning my son was sleeping in the room where the shoes were and I didn't want to disturb him). My feet feel good. I'm not changing the shoes. I may start a new trend!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I happened to have a frustrating experience yesterday and thought to myself--it's all those silver cars.

Do you realize how many silver cars there are these days? It used to be silver cars were so special you'd have to pray yours wouldn't get stolen. My husband and I have a silver car, every blessed person we meet has a silver car.

What I did is walk toward the passenger seat of a silver car thinking it was mine but of course it wasn't. The woman at the controls of the car was busy reading or some such thing, and didn't even look up. I was going to open that car door. That could have been embarrassing.

Seriously look around the next time you're out and about. See how many silver cars there are. It's indecent.

Besides being silver all the cars these days look alike. See one car you've seen them all. They all look like a box on wheels.

Another thing wrong with these poor excuses for a car is you can't see out of the back of them. Important laws got passed and now you have to have head rests all across the back that block any view you would expect to have looking in your rear view mirror.

Pardon me for ranting. I just hate silver cars--and that actually is funny. My husband and I both have Passats, and you guessed it--they're both silver. They are absolutely identical and they're silver. We have joined the enemy.