Monday, November 05, 2007

A Long Way Since Tipperary

Well, I'm back!

I know, it's been over six months since my last post, but hey, I've been busy moving cross-country and getting settled--plus a lot of stuff happened that snowballed to mammoth proportions. So much so that I felt like a candle in the middle of an avalanche.

Anyway, just wanted to let everyone know I'm alive and well and finally able to begin writing here again, and with more frequency than half-year intervals. Sorry if anyone worried about me. Got a post coming up for this weekend, so stay tuned. Hope everyone is well!


Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Turkey Has Landed


I really, really, REALLY am so very sorry that it's been so long since my last post. As most of my readers (all five of you) know, I up and packed my Jeep and moved 3000 miles west, in an extremely short span of time. Every time I thought of writing an entry, something else came up and I never did get round to it. Plus, it's time consuming setting up house and getting a job. Who knew?

All right, so...details.

Back in late February, I was reminiscing to a friend of mine about when I lived in Arizona. We got to talking about it in depth, and I found myself feeling quite homesick for the desert--as I often did on occasion when I thought of the time I lived here. I'd been missing it for a few years, and always figured, well, one day we'll look at going back.

Anyway, on impulse, I pulled out my laptop and logged on to check airline prices--just for shits and giggles. Whaddaya know, there was a rock-bottom, once-in-a-blue-moon round trip ticket available for $300. I don't know what came over me, but I forthwith pulled my virgin Visa card out and booked the ticket right then and there. Something told me that it was the right thing to do. Didn't understand it then. Still don't quite understand it now, but as it turned out, I'm glad I listened.

Flash forward to March 3, and I'm on the airplane, zooming at 30,000 feet in a pressurized tube with 145 other passengers and praying to God I don't get someone's cold before touching down in Tucson. The food is bad enough; getting sick would just have been kicking me when I was down.

To make a long story short, I loved every minute of my two weeks in Arizona, which I labeled a vacation/job scout to justify my gleeful cavorting in the Southern Desert. Almost immediately I knew I didn't want to live in Tucson again; it's gotten waaayyy too big for my taste--they hit a population of 1.4 million about two years ago, and the city is enormous. Much more so than when I lived there before. Too much crime, too many people, too many traffic accidents where people die. Uh-uh.

I've been visiting Tombstone since I was ten and first came out here to visit my grandfather during summers. You may have heard of Tombstone. It was 125 years ago that eight or nine guys went at each other with guns and rifles behind a corral, and thus immortalized the town as the epitome of the "Wild West". Earps and Clantons...some such fellows. Three men died in the shootout and found their eternal rest over in Boothill Cemetery, while the others went on to achieve either ignominious deaths or an insane level of fame. I'll tell y'all about that stuff later.

But yes, I live less than a block from the famous OK Corral, and work right across the street from it.

I'm getting ahead of myself. That's what happens when you don't post in a while; all your darks and colors get thrown in the wash together. Forget separating. Anyway, I chose to come back and live here. I had no firm job offer, really--unless you count the fact that my friend Sherri said I could work at her restaurant when I got back. Which at least was money coming in while I looked for full-time employment. But again, somehow I knew it would work out. So I flew back home to New Hampshire and began packing immediately.

Whatever I could squeeze into my Jeep I kept. Everything else got sold or given away in one weekend during my moving out sale. We all say it, but it's still astounding to realize how much we accumulate in a relatively short time. I couldn't believe how much stuff I had. I mean, I'm only one woman. When I first came to New Hampshire from West Virginia (via Los Angeles), I had nothing but my clothes, a television set, and my computer. That was about it. Now, five or so years later, I was divesting myself of possessions that could have supported a small Puerto Rican family.

After packing the Jeep and closing up my apartment, I spent a few days with my sister before finally heading out in the early morning of April 6. I won't bore everyone with the travelogue; suffice it to say that I have seen the heartland, and it was beautiful, but there was too much of it.

Ohio, the state in which I was actually born, was cold and unpredictably snowy, what with the Lake Effect. One minute I could see perfectly where I was going, then the next, a complete white-out. Indiana and Illinios had a lot of corn. Miles of corn. So much corn that I literally got on my cell phone to friends and family and begged them to chat with me for a few minutes to save me from the boredom.

I saw more cows than I hope ever to see again in my lifetime. They're all in Oklahoma. If the cows decided to band together and have a rebellion, they'd win that state in no time flat. Mind-boggling. Hereford, Texas, was the only place that may have had more cows, but it was hard to tell, since the Herefords were packed like sardines into huge pens. I thought it was wood before I got a closer look. I was so appalled at the conditions the poor things had to live in that I averted my eyes for the rest of the trip through that town.

Missouri was cool. I got to see the famous St. Louis arch, and even got pictures of it on my cell phone--at great peril and risk to life and limb. I haven't figured out how to transfer them to my computer, or I'd show them to you. Maybe one day soon that'll happen. My spirits lifted when I saw it, though--knowing I was officially at "The Gateway to the West" did wonders for my morale.

Roswell, New Mexico was bigger than I thought it would be. Also more normal. I didn't see a single alien, unless you count the ones that slid across the border of Mexico illegally. Very disappointing, actually. Maybe the outer space aliens have a condo community just outside of town, complete with enclosures and a gate guard.

White Sands, New Mexico was annoying. It went on forever and was populated with brainy NASA employees who have better Wal-Marts than the rest of us. Johnson Space Center's parking lot is bigger than Yankee Stadium. Too many people with too many expensive cars. But the sand was pretty.

When I crossed the state line into Arizona, I let out a triumphant, exultant whoop. If anyone had been able to see or hear me, I'm sure they'd have pegged me as a lunatic. But three days of driving will do that to you. The moment I saw my beloved Dragoon Mountains in the distance, my entire body relaxed, and I knew I was twenty minutes from home.

I pulled into the carport of my "new" house at 11:34 am on April 9. Three and a half days and 2,675 miles after I had started out. And my Jeep was still in fine form. The first thing I did was go and get something to eat, since I was starving. Called everyone and let them know I had arrived safely. Then I collapsed onto the little twin bed a friend had set up for me and was unconscious within minutes. Unpacking could wait another day.

More later!


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ya Learn Something New

You just never know what interesting things you might learn when you visit and comment on your friends' blogspots. Have a look at the following, and make sure you read the comments section, and click on the link provided in one of the replies. That's the most important part.

I give you Torquemada Unleashed. Courtesy of the incomparable Jean.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Outta Dodge

I just returned from Arizona after a 10-day visit, and am now in the full throes of organizing and packing up my life. I swore when I moved into this place that I'd never move again, because I loathe moving. They say it's one of the top three things that is most stressful. I think the other two are divorce and taxes. I can feel my anxiety and blood pressure rising exponentially with each new day.

Anyway, I wanted to drop a quick post to let everyone know that I am indeed moving to Arizona, and am on the fast track to get out of here and on the road by the end of the month. Hence, I may not be able to write for a couple of weeks. Once I get settled in my beloved Tombstone, I'll be back online and writing all about my new home. It's a pretty famous town, even though it only has 2000 residents. I've missed it there. Can't wait till this is all over and I'm settled. Did I mention I hate moving?


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

History Repeating

The other day I ranted at Britney Spears' mother in this blog, asking where the hell has she been while her daughter was falling apart in front of our eyes. Well, I want to retract that rant and in its place issue an apology.

From what I've been able to find out, Mama Spears did try--several times--to intervene, even to the point of near-bullying her daughter to get help. So did her father. It appears that Britney is the only one who doesn't want to take action. As of 1pm today, it has been learned that she has again checked herself out of rehab at Promises in Malibu--again, after less than 24 hours in the facility.

I don't know if anyone is going to be able to help her. Things are falling apart, and the center is not holding. We may be looking at another Anna Nicole situation, and God bless her family for trying to stop it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Blackjack Jesus

I have to say, I was a bit enamoured of my glib turn of phrase the other day. I even congratulated myself on my literary wit. However, Jean, in her generosity and brilliance, actually caught it by the tail and turned it into a catchphrase that I now love even more. She's just better at that than I am. Plus, her writing is just wonderful, and I always enjoy reading anything she has to say.

It got me thinking. I've been catching up on my blog as well as other friends' blogs, emails, and the like. Brock had sent me a lovely email a while back, and I read some of his always gentle and optimistic posts, despite some hardships he's having at the moment. His wife Auny had some interesting entries on her website about faith, too. Now, I'm not by any means a devoutly religious person, as I've said before. I consider myself a questioning Christian, if indeed I can call myself a Christian at all. As I've also said before--maybe not here on this blog, but I think I said it on Brock's--I believe that everyone probably has a piece of the God puzzle, and I also think that sometimes people get too bolluxed up in scripture, squabble too much over doctrine, and miss the big picture. Everything gets blown out of proportion so much that they forget what their original fight was really all about. And all I can think is, God is either up there shaking his head in defeat, or laughing his ass off at the silliness of the human race.

God and Jesus are gamblers and gamesmen. And their prophets? So was Bhudda, and so was Mohammed. Moses was a rather compulsive crapshooter, and Abraham was the most consummate poker player of all the prophets; the man looked God in the eye and bluffed Him down on Sodom and Gomorrah. The Earth is a giant casino, and world history as we know it is full of improbable gambles--not the least of which was the creation of homo sapiens.

I realize that people may look askance and aghast at me for what appears to be blatant blasphemy. If a hardcore fundamentalist got near me, I'm sure he'd be in fear for my soul and try to save it from the fiery pits of Hell. However, irreverence is not disrespect, and I maintain that a dose of humor to go along with theology is a healthy thing. It keeps you from getting into that bolluxed-up state I was talking about. Laughter is a universal leveler and it keeps things in perspective.

Jesus had a sense of humor, you know. What group of young men would drop everything they had--their families, friends, and livelihoods--and follow a guy who was somber, gloomy, and portentious all day and all night for three years? Galloping around the Galilee, depending on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter? I don't know about you, but I have a hard time believing the disciples would have stuck with Jesus as long as they did if he wasn't a fun guy to be around. The hordes of people who came from all over to hear him preach must have seen a dynamic and entertaining speaker--who wants to traipse out of town for a day to hear someone drone on with maddening brevity or hurling invective? Yuck. If I want that kind of crap, I'll watch American Idol.

Then there were the children; the New Testament tells the story that when the disciples tried to keep the kids from bothering the Rabbi, Jesus chastised them, saying, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not; for such is the Kingdom of God." Kids freakin' loved him--and anyone who has ever been around children for any appreciable length of time knows that they don't suffer fools gladly. If you scare them, talk down to them, or if they find you utterly boring and without any redeeming playtime value, they won't bother with you. That the village urchins were said to excitedly run to him whenever he came around says a lot for his charisma.

If you read between the lines of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, you'll also find other examples of Jesus' humor. Man, it was sharp. Now, it wasn't the kind of humor we might recognize today; as far as we know, they didn't tell "knock-knock" jokes or have an ancient version of "Jackass" back in the day. Jesus' humor was contemporary and subtle; it was used in such a way as to illustrate a point to his flock, rather than jamming it down their throats. He loved allegory, metaphor, was a master of sarcasm and a lover of puns. Sometimes when I read the Gospels, I can all but see the deadpan delivery when Jesus confronts a situation so ridiculous, the only way to respond is with humor.

Take Luke, chapter 19. Zacchaeus was a short little man, and a tax collector--one of the most reviled--if not the most reviled--of men in that day. No one ever wanted to mix with tax collectors, because to do so was to soil oneself with a man in cahoots with Rome. Sort of like any member of Congress in today's world.

Anyway, Zacchaeus was really short. One day Jesus came to town and a huge crowd gathered round him as he walked through the streets. Zacchaeus had heard so much about the Rabbi and wanted to get a good look at him. So he tucked his pride in his pocket, skirted the edge of the horde, and climbed as far up a tree as he could go in order to get a birds-eye view.

Now, the idea of a tax collector debasing himself in such a way is funny enough. But when Jesus saw this short little man dangling precariously atop the branches, he stunned both Zachheus and the crowd by saying, in what I imagine to be a completely droll and straight-faced manner, "Zacchaeus, come down. I'm going to stay at your house tonight."

I mean, what would you say to a man peering through tree branches at you? You might smile and wave, or maybe nudge your buddies and point the guy out. Jesus went one better, shocking the assembled crowd by not only inviting himself to the sinner's house, but actually deigning to speak to the man. It turned everyone on their ears. And Jesus knew it. It's hysterical. Better yet, he won a convert with humor rather than force. That's an effective speaker.

Here's another example: Jesus came across a man possessed by evil spirits, and conversed with the demon, asking, "What's your name?"

And they said, "My name is Legion, for we are many."

Well, Jesus was about to drive the demons out of the poor man, but they begged him not to cast them back into hell again. So what does Jesus do? It's pretty cheeky. He says, OK, fine, I won't send you to hell. No problem. Instead, he knocks them into a herd of pigs, all of whom promptly went insane and careened into the Galilee like a flock of insensate lemmings--and drowned.

I mean, come on! That's funny. Jesus got the last word and the last joke, and thoroughly enjoyed showing Legion the folly of their request. You don't want hell? All right, but I won't guarantee what I give you will be any better. It's your funeral.

Blackjack Jesus. If you ask him a question or make a request of him, you better mean it, because he won't necessarily give you what you want or what you want to hear. What he will give you is what you ask for. He won't cheat; he's just better at the game. You say "hit me", and he will. Just don't complain when he knows the cards better than you. You take your lumps and suck it up like a grownup. Don't worry; he'll let you play again. That goes for God, too, by the way. Or Allah, or Jehovah, or Uncle Bob--whatever you want to call him.

One of my favorite examples of Jesus' humor--aside from some of the wonderful brilliance when he's talking to Peter (who, we must admit, was a little thickheaded and hot under the collar)--is this one, and I'm paraphrasing the first part:

There was a rich man who came to Jesus and asked him, "What do I need to do to be your disciple? What must I do to follow you?"

And again, ever the consummate Blackjack player, Jesus deals out the hand. "Oh, come on," he says. "You know the commandments. Don't cheat; don't steal. Don't kill, don't lie. Honor your father and mother."

The rich man says, "I've done all of these all my life."

Jesus was impressed and saw that the guy was genuine. So he calls the final bet. "There's only one more thing you need to do, then. Sell everything you have, give your money to the poor, and come along with us."

It's the only thing the man wasn't expecting. His face fell, and he walked away without a word.

Jesus watched him go, and then looked round at his disciples, saying, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."

Contemplate that imagery. A camel trying to squeeze through the eye of the needle. It's one of the trippiest, most evocative, and hilarious analogies Jesus ever used. Even through his disappointment, Jesus was able to use humor as illustration, and people got it.

Take a look at the world's most sought after speakers. I don't care who they are; politicians, philosophers, preachers, or prophets. You'll find that every single one of them used humor to keep people interested and thinking. Now go look at your Bible, your Koran, the I Ching. See it?

Whether you believe that Jesus was the Son of God, or that he was a brilliant and insightful prophet, one thing is incontrovertible: He was human. As God's son, he was sent down to experience being a man. As a prophet, he was flesh and blood from day one. Men--human beings--get angry, get tired, get scared, get hungry and thirsty and sleepy. They cry, and they laugh. To say Jesus never joked or laughed or couldn't poke fun at himself is, for me, highly illogical and unbelievable. The guy possessed a rapier wit and intelligence even the Pharisees couldn't match. To me, that truly makes him the Son of Man.

Bald Truths

Boy howdy, I knew Britney was on that bobsled, but apparently it's careening downhill even faster than I thought. The very day after I posted the "Tapeworm" blog, she went and did this.

I hear her mother hopped a plane from Louisiana to Los Angeles, rushing to do damage control. Which is good; someone obviously needs to take the wheel.

My question is, what in the hell took the woman so damn long? Her daughter's been imploding for months, if not years, before now.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mea Culpa

Hi, everyone! Guess what! New post coming later on--either tonight or tomorrow morning. I promise. Really and for true. I just gotta finish it.

See you then!

The Tapeworm

A friend of mine from back in Hollyweird called me last week. She was trying to find out who's designing and distributing the infamous "Gift Baskets" for the Oscars this year. Now, bear in mind, I got out of Los Angeles about eight years ago. I still keep in touch with a few old pals, just to kind of keep my finger on the pulse of things, and I still get a bit nostalgic about Hell-Ay. But by and large, I'm really, really glad I left when I did--otherwise I doubt I'd like myself very much at this point. That town has a way of sucking every bit of your own soul out and putting something else in. It lacks in substance and harbors an excess of ickiness. I call it the Tapeworm.

Anyway, my friend needed me to call a few contacts and find out this kernel of information for her. It brought me back to thinking about Celebrutality again...remember, one of my earlier posts during which I railed vituperously at the entitled attitude of Hollywood bourgeoisie? Well, guess what? The Academy, in their infinite wisdom and ball-shriveled fear, have completely washed their hands of the heretofore traditional gift baskets. No more freebees for people who make enough money to afford the actual items in the basket. No more getting away with receiving said freebies without giving some of the largesse back to the government. They'll have to make do with designers giving them gowns to wear in exchange for publicity, and Harry Winston loaning jewels for same.

As you may surmise, Hollywood's Babylonians are decidedly not happy about this unlucky change in events; their world is tilting on its axis. Half the reason they go out to these soirees is to bilk and shill for goodies. You just know Paris Hilton is moaning into her Grey Goose at the injustice of not getting a bonus Treo for her trouble; forget the fact that no one, including Paris, really knows why she got an invitation to the event at all. The day Paris Hilton is nominated for an Oscar is the day the Seventh Seal will be opened and a great silence will be heard in Heaven for half an hour. Because even the angels and cherubim will be stunned into unholy speechlessness. Jesus will start dealing Blackjack in Vegas, and God will go to Turks and Caicos for a well-earned vacation.

But I digress. My point is (I think) about the fact that the more money people seem to have, the less they want to spend it and the greedier they get. The Academy may not be putting up gift baskets this year, but I'm willing to lay odds that the after-party hosts will take up the slack; the uproar otherwise would simply be too deafening, and besides, no one would go to the parties if there were no goodies to heist for free.

"FREE" being the operative word.

Vanity Fair has the best party of the night--as a rule, they usually host it at Morton's after the awards ceremony, and it is by far the most coveted invitation out of all the parties on Oscar night. Everyone who wants to be seen must go. Even if you're George Clooney, unless you've gotten that golden ticket of an invite, you're relegated to the B list for the evening. You're crap, and no one wants to photograph you. And VF has the best food, the best place settings, and the biggest open bar this side of the Mississippi. It's a great party that simply smells of money. However, none of the guests will spend any.

It's amazing to me, actually. There are people in that industry that make more money in one week than most of us see in five years, and yet, they never seem to have to open their wallets for anything. I don't know how that happens, really. They get free dresses, free jewelry, free food at tickets and free hotel rooms, you name it.

Take Anna Nicole Smith, for instance. God bless her, she was a train wreck of the first water. Not even really a C list celebrity. Okay, yeah, she had a couple of pithy endorsements for questionable diet remedies, and a now-defunct reality show--but at the rate at which she appears to have consumed drugs and alcohol, her paycheck couldn't have lasted that long. She had yet to receive a penny from the Marshall estate. Where did she get the money for all her traveling? The hotel rooms and airfares? Vacationing in the Bahamas isn't cheap, let alone living there. And the phalanx of attorneys she had working on various lawsuits is mind-boggling, and I'm sure they were keeping meticulous records and invoices for their billable hours. I'm sure they still are.

Where the hell was the money coming from?! How can someone who had no obvious marketable skills (besides her boobs, a sad and tragic life that translated into a media spectacle), and no apparent source of income that supported her lifestyle--how could she live the way she did?

Keep in mind, she was a celebrity of a lower order, and she was able, somehow to enjoy (if indeed she "enjoyed" anything, poor thing) a level of comfort and luxury not many of us do. Now, consider the A and B list people. They get even more than that. None of them ever seem to end up having to pay for anything, or if they do, they get huge discounts and are shitty tippers.

So much gets wrapped up in their sense of entitlement that it's like a tapeworm; they can't stop feeding it, and it never fills them up. Remember what I said about Hollywood eating your soul? That's the tapeworm. It always wants more, and more is never enough. Meanwhile, the things they really and truly so desperately need, they never get. Like a wake-up call.

Anna Nicole was a woman who so desperately wanted to be famous. Everything she did was to that end, but you know, I really think she would have been so much better off had she remained "undiscovered". If she had stayed in Texas the rest of her life working in a greasy spoon, raising her son and marrying a mechanic, I seriously think she'd be alive today. Yes, she got famous, just like she always wanted, but her fame also enabled her addictions. She needed help, not Methadone. She needed someone to care enough about her to take her by the elbow and steer her towards a reputable doctor and treatment facility. Instead, what she got was a gaggle of lawyers, lovers, and general sycophants who only hung around her so that they could feed on the fallout of her largesse. They didn't give a crap if she was high or drunk or messed up beyond belief; as long as the cow kept farting cash, they were content with the status quo. Why change it? If she were, God forbid, to straighten up and sober up, she probably would have realized just who these people were and forthwith booted them out on their asses. Their insurance was her addiction and her insecurity.

She's not the only one. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears aren't far behind Anna, if you ask me. Both are riding on an out-of-control bobsled straight into the hell of ignominy, and no one seems to care enough to try and stop them. Nobody. Where are their parents? Where are their friends? Do they have any? They have people around them all the time who are more than happy to ride on the bandwagon, get into exclusive clubs, and suck down free booze. Both starlets are in their early twenties and look forty. That's just pathetic, and terrifying. One day, we're going to have another headline on the news that tells us one of them is dead, killed by an overdose, or alcohol poisoning, or a DUI.

In large part, it happens because these people do get too much free stuff, too much unwarranted license to behave with excess, too many excuses. The tapeworm inside them keeps clamoring for more and more and more until finally, as Yeats said, Things fall apart. The Center cannot hold. They are eaten up from the inside, like a rotting corpse with a beautiful makeup job, until it all simply falls in on itself. That's what tapeworms do: lets you live on just enough to keep you alive, but takes the bulk of everything for itself and demands more. Finally, it just takes everything.

It's ironic to me that two of the women I've just named--Lindsey and Anna--worship Marilyn Monroe. Anna wanted to be Marilyn; Lindsey wants to emulate her, too. Hell, Linds just bought Marilyn's old apartment. This woman was the blueprint, really. Marilyn was beautiful, she was idolized. She was actually an exceptionally talented actress, which makes her story even more tragic, because what she might have become will forever be speculation. But she was also insecure, vulnerable, helpless in many ways, and she was enabled, coddled, addicted, and mishandled. And she died. Even her rivals felt bad for her.

Joan Crawford was nobody's fool. She was tough, ambitious, hard-working, some would say cold. But no one could ever call her stupid. She didn't like Marilyn and made no bones about it; Marilyn offended her, threatened her ego, and represented a debauchery in the business that Crawford abhorred. But despite those feelings, Crawford pegged Marilyn's problem with a precision a surgeon would appreciate.

Right after Marilyn died, Joan became very upset when she heard about it. She was having dinner at director George Cukor's house and talking about Marilyn when he called bullshit. "What is this?" he wanted to know. "You never liked Marilyn."

As always, she was bitingly honest. "Yes, you're right," she admitted. "She was cheap, and an exhibitionist. She was never professional, and that irritated the hell out of people. But for God's sake, she needed help. She had all these people on her payroll. Where the hell were they when she needed them? Why in the hell did she have to die alone?"

There will always be stars, and twice as many tapeworms looking for hosts.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

You Talkin' to ME?

Yes, I know, the mighty horde of my readership is ready to lynch me for not posting in exactly a month, but hey, I've been busy. I'm by no stretch the most consistent blogger on the net, but the way I figure it, I'm not getting paid for this, so what's the rush? At least, that's the justification. I aspire to be like my pal Jean over at "You Are Here"--she posts regularly and without fail, sometimes two entries in a day--but I think it's going to be some time before I even stagger towards one tenth of her prodigiousness. You should go and check out her site whenever you're waiting for me to get my ass in gear--she's hysterical and always has something interesting to say. I, on the other hand, have plenty to say; it's just that I'm fundamentally lazy.