Sunday, February 27, 2011

Never too old to head bang

Last night I checked another item off my bucket list and, until I met my new son-in-law, would never have had it on my list at all. The item: attend Heavy Metal Band Concert.  Perhaps "attend" is the wrong word--too sedate when you consider that the sound blasts your eardrums (thank goodness for earplugs), vibrates your sternum and "melts your face." That last cool quote from Dave himself. 

It was a lot of fun, kind of like Halloween. We picked out our outfits to 'blend in" with the crowd, but were a bit shy on tatoos, piercings and accessory chains and at least 30 years too old.  Next time we'll know better.  Here we are -- oh so heavy.
Right on!
Sporting Deathalizer tees
Smoke machine added the hazy look

Bonus between bands: go-go girls!

Deathalizer, the band

Heart doctor by day--death doctor by night

Me to Emmanuel, the lead singer: Don't worry about us. You can drop as many F*bombs as you need to... (and he needed to drop a lot) 

Me to Gary: This is the kind of venue you read about in the newspaper know...there's a fire and everyone gets crushed rushing to the narrow stairway.

Me to Scott at 2 AM: I can't believe all the people on the street---look  at these crowds--it's crazy.
Scott:  Hey, Dorothy, are you from Kansas? This is called city nightlife. 

Gary to me: I can't remember when the last time we stayed out until 3 AM.
Me: maybe never?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Pleasure of My Company

I was looking through a library rack (old school!) and found a 2003 work of fiction by that "wild and crazy guy" from SNL-- our old pal Mr. Martin. Photo on front of book shows a guy with arms hugging his own body, so how could I go wrong with that?

This book did not disappoint. Our antagonist is Dan, an OCD math whiz (possibly autistic) who sits in a Santa Monica condo, looking out his window....Hmm,  I do that:

Dan can walk to a particular pharmacy, only if no curbs mar his trip. His plan is to cross his road at a spot that has a carport path on his right, facing a matching carport path across said road. A six inch curb is truly six yards high in Dan's world.  I, too, know many hours a day in Fort NJBookwoman, so  I can say "Hurrah" to Dan's valiant contacts with a non-nurturing world. I do cross my Fort's boundary daily with a sashay down my long carport path to pick up mail.

But Dan still has many wondrous actions and things to talk about, such as this:
Dan is on a TV criminal show about a killing in his building.

or this:
A company that cooks up yummy fruit pastry starts a campaign that Dan wins, as Most Normal Guy in this happy country of ours.

or this:
Dan waits for Clarissa, his psychologist in training who visits on Fridays and has a baby boy.

or this:
Dan has fantasy thoughts about a foxy lady who is usually across from his brick building, lounging against a fancy black car and talking to guys and gals who want to own a condo. This lady has a Montblanc and says "Sign now", but Dan just longs for this lady to look up at his window and grin at him.

Hmm again...Is it unusual that I can sight similar signs on my own road and a black car:

But I spy no man who works for an organization on that sign. (Nor do I long for such a man!)

and finally Dan's big crisis:
Dan's Grandma stops living and Dan wants to go to visit and honor his granny. Clarissa and baby son will go, too. Can Dan do it? No, too many things to worry about, but Dan wants to try so hard. So our autistic pal thinks and says "I'll go but won't say words that contain this particular part of ABCs and I will focus on this task and won't worry about all things which normally limit my world."

TA DA! Dan did it!

Stop, you say! You know what is amiss.

OK. Finis.

Whew, I'm exhausted. Did you figure it out? Or did you worry I had started drinking in the morning or toking in the afternoon? 

Look again at this crazy post---no e's! (although i cheated a tiny bit with the title of the post)

Steve Martin's The Pleasure of My Company is a very funny and touching novel and  commentary on modern life, love and loneliness. The narrator and hero is Daniel Pecan Cambridge, who travels all the way to Texas despite his myriad phobias by focusing on a game of speaking without using any words that have the letter E in them.  Along the way he learns to reclaim his life.

Before you say I have way too much time on my hands, consider this as an exercise in preventive Alzheimer's. You know, learn a new language, do crossword puzzles, keep the brain active in new ways. Speak (or write) without e's! You may want to try it, but give yourself a break and begin with an easier vowel: U would be a good choice and writing is definitely easier than speaking!

Friday, February 18, 2011


One of the minor annoyances of chemotherapy (or maybe it's just a consequence of my age) is that I have bouts of insomnia. No rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes I just get into a bad pattern that involves tossing and turning, rearranging pillows, roaming the house at 2 am, switching bedrooms, trying out the couch downstairs, reading, watching movies, drinking warm milk, or practicing yoga breathing, before I finally drift back to sleep.  Then I sleep later in the morning, shift all meals 2 or 3 hours later, go to bed at midnight because I'm not tired and repeat the whole process.  The bedtimes get later and later, so you can see the result is akin to being a college kid and subbing day for night or being a world traveler, unsure of what time zone you're really in. Three o'clock--must be lunch time!  Six o'clock--nap before dinner!

After a week or so of this nonsense, I return to a more normal sleep schedule, highlighted by a marathon 12 hour sleep to start, just to reset the internal body clock.

What's strange is that I miss my crazy nights sometimes.  There's something about creeping around your house at 3 am that gives you a sense of peace and well being. I've been playing with a new toy that Gary got for Christmas--binoculars with a camera inside. The moon has just been so bright the last few nights, that I've been looking out my window in the wee hours and clicking away. The only problem is I'm so used to digital previewing that it's weird to have to wait until you download the pictures to your computer to see if any came out. (and I do wait for daylight to do that).  I overestimated how much light the moon was actually shedding on objects below, so got a set of very black photos the other night. Here's the best of the batch:
Moon peeking through the tree branches

Oh, yeah, and I know, before anyone states the obvious, that the key to returning to sleep is to NOT engage in any activities that will stimulate the brain and wake you up more.  Seems like running from one window to another is not exactly a soothing, back to sleep ritual.

My ritual when I was a little kid was to listen to the same record every night.  For some reason, the record player, which was a sizeable piece of furniture--mahogany cabinet with a heavy, polished lid--was in my room.  I don't remember all the songs that were on that 78--maybe because I always fell asleep before the record ended-- but I'm pretty sure  these catchy tunes were included :
(have a listen, courtesy of You Tube)

They're very upbeat for bedtime lullabies, but obviously my parents were on to something because it worked for me then and I'm wondering if the Chordettes and Dinah Shore will work the magic for me now.  May just have to try that out.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mouthy Teenagers

Sad story in the news recently about a distraught Florida mother who shot and killed her teenage son and daughter because she was sick and tired of them "mouthing off" to her. Aren't all teens mouthy?

Curious NY TImes op-ed piece on Friday when an empathetic mother of two teenage sons (also mouthy) explained her own experience. Her older son had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD and--here's the new one---Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which I guess would be shortened to ODD.  My first thought: was she spoofing us? Was she really a writer on the Daly Show or Colbert? No, she continued, the only way she coped  with her ODD son was a year of intense therapy.  I wondered if once this tell-all article hit the newsstand her problems with son #1 would worsen. I could hear the bullies at his school now:
bully #1: hey, man, knew you were a loser--i mean violin and Hebrew school and no sports? 
bully #2: Yeah, we knew you were odd, but not ODD, too.  hahahah

It could be a new plot line for Glee, so I'm emailing them my idea. A lot of potential here. I'm thinking Lauren, the fat girl could be the ODD candidate.  After all she's pretty hostile to the affections of  Puckerman, the cool, Jewish, juvenile delinquent football player and glee club member who sports a Mohawk haircut and thinks he is in love with Lauren. (The ingenuity that went into creating "Puck" is breathtaking!)

I know--I'm just getting old--not like the good old days when ODD was simply labeled teen rebellion or adolescent angst. Far from being odd, being ODD had a definite cool factor. Look at James Dean, Marlon Brando, Holden Caulfield, Elvis, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and all the other rock and rollers.

Next time you encounter a teenager disrespecting his elders, mouthin' off to Mom or just acting like a jerk, tap him on the shoulder and reassure him you're familiar with his oppositional defiance disorder and can recommend some Big Pharma solutions or an afternoon of watching Rebel without a Cause.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A little bit of country

Hey y'all:

Today is my brother Chuck's birthday, so I'm sending him a Country shout-out.  Born under the Aquarius sign, apparently he had Country in his heart right from the beginning and has morphed into a big fan, bringing some of us along for the ride. Yes, I attended the Brooks & Dunn farewell tour last summer and really enjoyed it-- a lot of crossover between rock and pop and country. Of course, the show wouldn't have been complete without the requisite patriotic song and marching Marines (or rent-a-marines)--way too hokey for a cynical child of the 60's like me. The best part of country is that they sure know how to tell a story and play the fiddle.
Even Gary has gone a little country, playing a Hank Williams CD the other night, whiney guitar and all...Hey, good lookin', what'cha got cookin'...  It's all part of his fascination with early rock and roll and that trip to Memphis. Maybe Nashville, next time?

So, dear brother, not many cowboys up there in the Bronx, but this song's for you: (and to think you were born in a smoky, river town....)  Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Like some of you, I grew up with mushy broccoli, overcooked asparagus, canned string beans and turnips hidden in mashed potato because that's the only way they could be eaten. I've tried to do a better job with veggies- stir frying, steaming, and crisp cooking, but I still find I'm woefully inadequate compared to the modern Epicurious cook.

A perfect example was my recent trip to Mohonk Mountain House with friends who all enjoy cooking. My faux pas was registering surprise that the delicious cream of parsnip and leek soup was slightly sweet. "Of course," they chorused, "that would be the parsnips."  From there it went downhill, as I admitted that not only had I never cooked with parsnips, but I had trouble conjuring up what they looked like.  "Oh, they're green, I mean white-ish and round--no, I mean long....." Very embarrassing and this from a woman who has vowed to cook more vegetarian meals this year.

I usually implicate Gary as a reason for my shortcomings, so here it is:  The man loves food---he can eat gourmet, but is perfectly happy with plain, downhome cooking, including leftovers. ("oh, boy, open up the tupperware for a "bin" night dinner").  How can I be expected to know the exotic new (actually old) vegetables with a guy who still loves frozen mixed vegetabes (with the little diced carrots)!

Here's a little quiz to identify these au courant veggies.  BONUS round: how many have you cooked with or eaten?
Veggie #1

Veggie #2  Hint: it's not moss

Veggie #3

Veggie #4 Hint: not carrots

Veggie #5 Pay attention, Beth

Veggie #6
Veggie #7 Hint: not rhubarb

Veggie #8 The circle game--looks a bit like #1, doesn't it?

And the answers are:

  1. fennel - anise flavored- use raw in salads or oven roast
  2. endive frisee aka chicory - for salads, although occasionally pop up as "wilted" in pasta
  3. Belgian endive - these white boat-like cradles are available year round because they're grown in the dark for a month (like mushrooms), starting with the roots of chicory plant  - use raw for salads or stuffed hors d'oevre or can be baked
  4. parsnip - looks like white carrots, slightly sweet; good for soup or stews
  5. turnip - purplish on the outside, not orange, as my daughter guessed; inside is white--to blend with mashed potatoes, of course; good also in stews or roasted
  6. leek - in the onion family, raw for salads or cooked in soups, stews; popular in Wales--oh those crazy Welsh!
  7. Swiss chard -  boil up the leaves and white stems for soups or stews. Colored stems are tough and no, not native to Switzerland, but popular along the Mediterranean
  8. kohlrabi aka German turnip - often used raw in salads; tastes like broccoli stems. Yuk?
If you get them all right, go directly to Gourmet magazine, join the Foodie club and don't ever eat dinner at my house.  It's an icy day here, so I'm off to saute some non-Swiss chard and stuff some endive with goat cheese. Boy, will Gary be surprised.  Bon Appetit.