Ready for the home

Go ahead and move me to the assisted living wing. I can't find Harold and the Purple Crayon at the condo or at work. I can't find the nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best, and paranoia is setting in. I'm turning into the little old lady at the nursing home who thinks the "help" is stealing her dentures and porcelain chicken figurines. Just put the blue rinse on my hair and turn up the Lawrence Welk Show real loud.

A dearly demented friend knows she is overstressed when she starts thinking everyone in her family needs a brain scan. One of them, she's sure, has a tumor. Send me, send me! Scan my brain and find what I did with Harold!


Blog Bonsai

Howdy, lil pardner! Welcome to Big Dewey's Kudzu Blog Roundup and Stalk Show! Tonight we are gonna wrestle the Itty Bitty Blog, pin it to the dirt, brand it, take cuttings, and replant them in a controlled nursery environment.

Like nearly every blogger, I hope I have something worthy of a larger readership if I could just lassoo and tame it. I'll need a darn fine cutting horse, and lots of help from Mr. Green Thumb to cull and distill the wide-ranging native Itty Bitty Blog species into something for a Mother's Day bouquet.


Mainly on the plain

One son is in Spain this week, visiting the Alhambra in Granada. Another son once programmed our computer to play the audio of Monty Python's classic Spanish Inquisition skit whenever it booted up. This was an improvement over when the computer played "Boomer Sooner" on start-up.

Thirty years ago we had college parties when Monty Python's Flying Circus invaded America on PBS. I wasn't into Monty Python all that much until my kids went crazy about it. They would do all the characters and accents around the dinner table. When the guys were watching the show, I was usually cooking, doing some homemaker task, or sitting working on papier mache projects. I have heard lots more of it than I've ever actually seen. That's why I'm enjoying Monty Python's Personal Best on KERA. This week's installment included the Dead Parrot Sketch and the Ministry of Silly Walks. One thing hasn't changed with time. I still seem to be cooking and doing laundry during the show.

Sonic Sensei

Forgive us our fast food breakfasts. A first grade student is obsessed with "trespasses". He's been to church, which is such a confusing experience! I still have flashbacks to third grade Sunday School class where singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" was the weekly main event.

THE Piglet lived in a very grand house in the middle of a beech-tree, and the beech-tree was in the middle of the forest, and the Piglet lived in the middle of the house. Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had: "TRESPASSERS W" on it. When Christopher Robin asked the Piglet what it meant, he said it was his grandfather's name, and had been in the family for a long time. Christopher Robin said you couldn't be called Trespassers W, and Piglet said yes, you could, because his grandfather was, and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William. And his grandfather had had two names in case he lost one -- Trespassers after an uncle, and William after Trespassers.

If you are in first grade, "trespassing" involves Jesus, Piglet, and Goldilocks sampling the Bears' porridge. Although porridge sounds more appetizing than curds and whey or gruel, you have to wonder if the Three Bears stepped out to order breakfast burritos and tater tots at Sonic.

Sssshhhh! Don't tell my doctor I go to Sonic, or I will get the blood pressure lecture. Still, for $1.61, it's a nice occasional morning treat. It's not so much that I feel I'm sinning or trespassing, as that I'm spying. A small, older Asian man does his morning tai chi and exercises in the back parking lot at my Sonic Drive-In. Wax on. Wax off. "Karate Kid" playing at the Sunrise Drive-In Movie!

Dot Tex

Here we are living in the most powerful country in the world, the only country with a winter attorney hunting season, and our own Lone Star cabal is just as busy as bees fomenting civil war in strategic Middle Eastern nations all the while turning over port operations to Emiraterenturoonies. That's why it's such a slap in the internet face that we don't get our own url...


It's such a perfect fit!

Guts & Gory

"Finally a Democrat with
reads the pea-soup green Chris Bell for Governor pamphlet on the kitchen table. Every time I see it, I turn into a sixth grader. Not a sixth grader of today, with a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush, though. A sixth grader of 1966, for whom "guts" was a bad word*. That was why it was such a bold, subversive, summer camp thing to sing about "greasy, grimy gopher guts." That's why I can never forget the horrible moment when I accidentally slammed my friend's finger in the door. As she looked at the big cut across the joint of her finger, she pronounced the immortal words, "I can see my guts!"

Those probably aren't the same guts that Democrat Chris Bell has, but I appreciate his courage bringing ethic charges against Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, and now running against greasy, grimy Governor Good-Hair Perry. Bell's "Don't Mess With Ethics" reform plan has some fitting words for this flashback--Slam shut the lobbyists' revolving door! With each day's news we see more of the sickening innards of the Bush/DeLay/Perry Texas Gang of politicos, and realize just how long the disruptive effects of their power will linger.

There are as many versions of the camp song as there are kids' summer camps. Ours went:

I've got lots of greasy, grimy gopher guts
mutilated monkey meat
itty bitty birdie feet
one whole pound of all-purpose porpoise pus
floating in pink lemonade.

*In 1966, in Lincoln, Nebraska, it was still a poor choice to voice the observation that "somebody tooted." Now kids grow up with Walter the Farting Dog picture books for preschoolers. As the Publishers Weekly review quoted on Amazon notes, "Yes, this lowbrow endeavor could be a crowd-pleaser but, like its topic, its disruptive effects will tend to linger. Ages 4-8"


Mozart Dials M for Murder

You can pick your friends, and you can mostly endure your relatives if they tell good stories and keep the refrigerator well-stocked. It's the guy in the next seat at the concert that gives you the most homicidal thoughts*.

Undesirable characteristics in adjacent ticket-holders include
  • knuckle-cracking
  • perpetual throat-clearing
  • talking during the performance
  • bouncing the entire row of seats due to over-caffeinated knee-shaking
  • aftershave that causes burning of eyes

The guys in the Meyerson Grand Tier row D, seats 18 and 19 scored in the hundredth percentile this evening. Their mommies must be SO proud.

*Okay, right after the spouse who leaves used dental floss on the floor.

Press Conference

You may be wondering why I've called you here together today. By now you know that CollageMama did not hold the winning Powerball jackpot ticket, and neither did her dad in Lincoln. I have not been working out the legalities with my co-winners and attorneys. Alas. The good news is I am having so much fun with friends and going to so many wonderful arts events that I can't blog fast enough to keep up.


Light bulb jokes

The joke goes, "How many caring, sensitive men does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" *

Alas, my joke is how many trips to the store does it take the fifty year old woman to remember to buy the light bulb so she can see what she's doing IF she can remember what it was? I've been driving around all week with the burned-out light bulb on the passenger seat. If I didn't have the bulb I wouldn't remember what size base I need. I kind of talk to it, and remind it to not roll off the seat on sharp turns. Keep forgetting it in the car when I go into the grocery or drug store, though. Probably good it's not a baby!

So now that I finally have the light bulb I can read the note on the table that says "get furnace filters". Can't remember what size, though, and I hate to drive around with a dirty furnace filter in the car! If you see a gray-haired lady with a tattoo on her wrist that reads 14x25x1, it will be me.

*"Both of them."


Evening with a Yink

Seussian evening in the Dallas Arts District tonight with a bit of Mayan art, the Dallas Museum of Art's Thursday Jazz in the Atrium, and the Nasher Sculpture Center's Third Thursday program, this time in conjunction with the Dallas Opera. Good golly! That's an all-you-can-handle buffet of culture with free parking.

The Nasher's signature color is Green/Eggs/Ham green. Sitting on the green chairs that match the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bandaid over my hot glue gun burn, with my purple thumb from a week of art projects with stamp pads, I listened to the iconic British textile designer, Zandra Rhodes, and Dallas Opera's maestro Graeme Jenkins discuss the process of costume design for opera. Several folks in the audience were dressed head to toe in Nasher green, while others showed off jingling and clanging fashion accessories made of antlers and mirrors.

Zandra Rhodes designed costumes for the San Diego Opera's 2001 production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute". The Dallas Opera's "Magic Flute" opens Friday night with those costumes. Rhodes has designed royal looks of both Princess Di and Queen's Freddie Mercury. Rhodes' Yinkian pink hair and Louise Nevelson-style heavy eye makeup are her trademark looks. She talked about those looks as a costume she wears, an easily recognizable caricature of herself that she can "be inside". Interesting to ponder if the rest of us are wearing caricature costumes of ourselves...

Ms. Rhodes let us in on a secret of forming the fabric feathers, scales, and petals for "Magic Flute"--weed whacker line! In Nasher green?

This one,
I think,
is called
a Yink.

He likes to wink,
he likes to drink.

He likes to drink, and drink, and drink.
The thing he likes to drink
is ink.
The ink he likes to drink is pink.
He likes to wink and drink pink ink.

if you have a lot of ink,
then you should get
a Yink, I think.


Turning twelve

Somehow my toddler nephew is having his twelfth birthday this month. He's in accelerated math at his middle school, which gives me flashbacks to Millard Lefler Junior High School.

When I was his age I received a mechanical pencil for my birthday. The pencil was pimento red, and I bet I still have it in a box someplace. I thought it was totally cool having all the little leads and replacement erasers. My math class gave me cool points (and Lord knows I needed every cool point I could get in junior high) because of my groovy pencil. That mechanical pencil was a connection to my engineer dad, like having a guardian angel on my algebra shoulder.

At the Montessori school where I teach it is a huge honor for a student to have a mechanical pencil. The kids have to pass certain levels of handwriting and math before they are allowed to bring one to school.

I know that there are lots of disposable Bic mechanical pencils out there nowadays. I want to give my nephew the real deal--an engineer-worthy mechanical pencil to be his middle school talisman.

Taking the stage

Maybe it Abe Lincoln's birthday that started it, or maybe it was Olivia the pig, but theater boxes were on my mind. What if... what if? Could we add french fry box seating to our theaters? If you were performing, wouldn't you want your friends sitting in the boxes? What if your best friends were french fries, crinkle fries, or curly fries?

When I was just a wee wisp of a child, in 1959, Hanna-Barbera introduced Snaggletooth, a melodramatic mountain lion, to the cartoon cast of The Quick Draw McGraw Show. Snaggletooth often said, "Exit stage right," when he got in a predicament. In 1959 I didn't know my right from my left. I still don't when I hear the words, "stage right" or "stage left". I am directionally-challenged, which is why I can't use a curling iron while looking in a mirror to save my life!

Snaggletooth evolved into Snagglepuss, but I still get mixed up with stage directions. I want to exit to my cave. Snaggletooth was also fond of saying, "Heavens to Murgatroyd!"

Bonus questions:

1. What year was Pure Prairie League's two-record LP, "Live! Takin' the Stage," album released?

2. What blogger imitated Quick Draw McGraw's alter ego, El-Kabong, and bashed her little brother over the head with his brand new plastic toy guitar on Christmas Day 1961?

Thumbprint Theater Presents...

...a live performance on the Illusion of Space Stage! Thanks to my weekend puzzling about optical illusions and opera illusions, I decided to use a theater as the way to teach about perspective. It was that or a microwave oven. Both help explain the view of a box interior. Both help kids understand drawing objects so they appear to be on the floor of the box. The theater just seems more entertaining than watching a Stouffer's Spinach Souffle go round and round for 4-5 minutes before stirring.

I hope you enjoy the shows!


Will Smith in Aisle Three

My memory was erased again in Albertson's this evening. Stopping on the way home from work to get some Swiffer Wet, I scored a parking space right next to the shopping cart corral. Yee-haw, baby, I am cooking with gas!! I'm still in The Zone when I find Pledge Wet Grab-It on closeout, so I get twenty-four for the price of twelve. Minute Rice, check. Mushrooms, check. MGD, check. Mac & Cheese, check. And that's all I remember.

Flash! Blink! Huh? Whuh? The Men In Black have zapped me again with their grocery store memory reset neuralyzer. Mind Is Blank. I check out, and scoop the bags out of the cart to carry to the Buick.

"But wait," you say. "Weren't you parked right out next to the cart corral? Isn't this the perfect time to drive the cart out to the Buick??"


Weather Report & Return to Forever

It is snowing in Bloomington, my son says.

It is Dave Brubeck in my cd player. Piano jazz. Snow. Dark beer. Walking on icy sidewalks. Fogged over eyeglasses. Vegetarian potlucks. Icicles. Parking meters. Crystal windshields. Frosty ears being cupped and warmed. Old hissing and clanking steam heat radiators. Boots leaving melted puddles on wood floors. Wish you were here.


Unaware of the drilling

Parenthood and the demands of job and family act as an anesthetic that keeps the bulk of Americans too numb to stay informed and angry about the direction the U.S. is taking. This is not meant to be an excuse for an uninvolved citizenry, but just an observation. Being fifty is a good thing. It gives me fewer anesthetic demands on my energy, and allows me more time to be informed and angry. Being fifty also gives me more time in the dentist's chair.

After the early morning dental appointment my face, mouth, and brain were pretty numbed, plus it was raining. I felt too drooly to accomplish housework, and almost drooly enough to fit in with the unusual characters who attend movies on weekday mornings. So I figured it would be a good time to go see Eugene Jarecki's documentary film, Why We Fight.

The film is informative and detailed, but done well enough that it doesn't feel like a junior high filmstrip (except to that one guy who was snoring. I wanted to put his ponytail in the inkwell.) Mr. Troester's eighth grade social studies class is where I first heard of the "military-industrial complex". The complex has only grown in the decades since. The military-industrial complex controls our elected representatives, and dwarfs our president (who is not exactly fighting back against Mr. Tooth Decay). It keeps citizens numbed on propaganda and platitudes. We don't really feel the grinding away of our beliefs and values, our rights and representation, our respect worldwide.

Chris Vognar's review in the Dallas Morning News.

From President Eisenhower's Farewell Address, January 17, 1961:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Laundry Yodel

All Free & Clear in a load so gross-oh
Febreez odl lady laundry lay hee hoo
Bounce in the dryer for the static clinger
Lady odl lady laundry-oo
Smocks from a class that was such a joker
Lay ee odl lay ee odl Clorox 2
Crusty and smeared from the paint and noser
Lady loadl lady loadl-oo

I am starring in the off-Broadway production of The Sounds of Washing. Making sure my students have clean (though stained) smocks to wear when painting has made up for some of the appliance silence of my empty nest.

Optical Star Trek Effects

Trying to teach perspective leaves me feeling trapped in an Escher drawing. I climb the stairs. I climb the walls. My students sit on chairs on the ceiling.
How do we create the illusion of space on a flat piece of paper? It's difficult to verbalize the concept at a level for elementary school students. I'm just hoping to increase their visual awareness, and my own in the effort.

This puzzle comes to mind partly because of recent visits to the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, and the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. These gorgeous buildings with marble staircases and numerous tiers, boxes, and lofts give me the Escheritis feeling, too. The higher my heels, the more times I feel like I've gone up/over/round/round without a sense of direction. I've been lost in a couple poorly marked parking garages lately, too. Ack! Escher in a car! I sympathize with scuba divers who panic and lose track of the direction to the surface. I should mention here that I'm also hopeless looking in the mirror to use a curling iron.

Dallas Opera's most recent production, Handel's "Rodelinda," brought together incredible voices and excellent costumes, with a minimalist set. It sought to create the illusion of several different locations through silhouettes, rectangular frames of decreasing size to suggest depth, and a gosh diggity lot of sliding doors reminiscent of the original Star Trek bridge on the Enterprise. Zshooz-voop. Open. Enter. Close. Voozsh-zoop.

It was warm in the balcony, and, despite the incredible music, kind of drowsy. I admit I was sort of squinting down at the stage. I wondered when the set would become the classic optical illusion:

The next scene was Bertarido and Unulfo in the underground prison cell, suggested by two lattice grids. My brain was distracted by illusionary gray spots from another classic optical trick:

To look for more optical illusions(scroll way down to the bottom of the webpage), journey to your library's Dewey Decimals 152.148. My old buddy Escher and I are going to share a goblet and have some face-to-face time. I'll think about perspective tomorrow in the other illusion of time!


"Wooden Attitudes" at Valley House

There's a wonderful show at the Valley House Gallery on Spring Valley between Hillcrest & Preston. Philip John Evett's exhibit is entitled, "Wooden Attitudes", and runs until March eleventh. It includes about two dozen large sculptures of carved and assembled wood.

These smooth, glowing, elongated female figures are an excellent contrast to the "Women of Giacometti" at the Nasher Sculpture Center, on display until April ninth. Evett's sculptures are serene and slightly whimsical. Viewing them is a joy, like seeing beautiful string instruments before a concert. Giacometti's "Women of Venice", by contrast, seem emaciated, agitated, and trapped. I would rather have an imaginary lunch with Evett than Giacometti. I sense a creator of wisdom and quiet humor, plus he's eighty-two years old, just like my dad.

The gallery is small, and a visit can almost fit in a lunch break. It's free. If you have more time, there's an inviting sculpture garden. Gallery hours are 10:00-5:00, Monday-Saturday. The next exhibition, beginning March 17, 2006, will be new paintings of Henry Finkelstein. I really liked his large, bright, brushy landscape paintings two years ago, and look forward to seeing more of them.


The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

My junior high English teacher would be pleased, to the extent that her pinched outlook on the verge of retirement, and pinched toes wearing those black lace-up old lady shoes, could be pleased about anything an eighth-grader might possibly do. I wondered what the title character's name might mean when I went to see Tommy Lee Jones' directing debut, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada."

I'm many years from eighth grade, thank heavens. Still, I worry that I might be missing the detail that my essay MUST have to pass. You can't get by on just beautiful cursive in the harrowing world of late-Sixties junior high. You have to have substance! (Nowadays beautiful cursive is a lost art, and substance is cut and pasted from the Internet.)

This is the fodder for those recurring nightmares of trying to withdraw (passing) from the college class in time to get your tuition refunded, but after you've forgotten to go to class for many weeks. Don't lie. You have them, too. It might be Physics, Econ, or third year German, but you are desperate to get out no matter what the subject. [Some other blog we'll try to figure out why your dorm room shape-shifts into a shop in a large enclosed mall.]

Is Melquiades the translation for Melchior, the Wise Man aka Magi? No, but it was worth a shot. Maybe I will get a "makes a positive contribution to class discussions" note on my eternal report card. The Hispanic baby name, Melquiades, means "Rey por la gracia de Dios"; king by the grace of God.

There but for the grace of God go I. Much of the movie is about walking in each other's shoes, either by choice or by force. Not everyone will choose to watch this reverse border-crossing, but it is worth the journey for those who do. I will view U.S./Mexico border issues with a different awareness in the future.

The movie is very quiet despite its violence. The panoramic landscapes give the action space for reflection. While newspaper reviews have cited Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia movie, it felt more like Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove book to me with its themes of friendship, commitment, and redemption. I saw "Alfredo Garcia" on a first date in college, and read most of Lonesome Dove while stuck with a toddler in a customer waiting room of an automotive repair shop, so this is a very subjective comparison.

The movie seemed much longer than the two hours it runs. This is not a negative comment. It is not wishing someone, anyone, please, please, would kill off Wyatt Earp so Kevin Costner's movie would end before I gnawed off my leg. I left Three Burials with the feeling of having been on a long cleansing journey across spare, windswept terrain.

Robert Earl Keen's song, "Mariano"

The man outside he works for me, his name is Mariano
He cuts and trims the grass for me
he makes the flowers bloom
He says that he comes from a place not far from Guanajuato
Thats two days on a bus from here, a lifetime from this room.

I fix his meals and talk to him in my old broken spanish
He points at things and tells me names of things I can't recall
Sometimes I just can't but help but wonder who this man is
And if when he is gone will he remember me at all

I watch him close
he works just like a piston in an engine
He only stops to take a drink and smoke a cigarette
When the day is ended, I look outside my window
there on the horizon, Mariano's silhouette

He sits upon a stone in a south-easterly direction
I know my charts
I know that he is thinking of his home
I've never been the sort to say I'm in to intuition
But I swear I see the faces of the ones he calls his own

Their skin is brown as potters clay, their eyes void of expression
Their hair is black as widow's dreams, their dreams are all but gone
They're ancient as a vision of a sacrificial virgin
Innocent as crying from a baby being born

They hover around a dying flame and pray for his protection
Their prayers are all but answered by his letters in the mail
He sends them colored figures that he cuts from strips of paper
And all his weekly wages, saving nothing for himself

It's been a while since I have seen the face of Mariano
The border guards they came one day and took him far away
I hope that he is safe down there at home in Guanajuato
I worry though I read there's revolution every day


Power Series

In the last two weeks I've had the great luck to see paintings of powerful machines. The Dallas Museum of Art is showing paintings by Charles Sheeler known as the "Power Series". Sheeler made the paintings on commission for Fortune magazine in the late 1930's to celebrate mankind's attempts to harness nature. The images are of an old-fashioned waterwheel, a coal shovel, a steam turbine, a hydroelectric power turbine, an airplane propeller, the wheels of a locomotive, and electrical power transmission towers at Boulder Dam.

Sheeler referred to himself as a "Precisionist". His paintings show no brush strokes, and are closely related to his photographs. They are completely unlike my own artistic tastes, and yet I've always been fond of them. This piece is owned by the Dallas Museum of Art, and always holds my attention:

As the daughter of engineers I visited construction sites, industrial plants, hydroelectric dams, and noteworthy architectural sites as a child. I was well aware of the construction of Interstate 80 across Nebraska. The highlight of any trip to McCook, Nebraska, with the Interstate construction detours, was a visit to the bridge over the railroad tracks at the train station. Watching trains pass beneath the bridge was as much fun for me as it was for Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham. I thank the Out of Lascaux blogger for these images of Sheeler's paintings.

Now it's time for a different Power collection, painted by a five-year-old boy. Here are two tempera paintings from Sam's "Three Machines" series. How terrific that his concepts of machines include both grid structures and radiating energy!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...