January 2008

It’s stuff like this that gives me hope about the war in Iraq:


So, I need a haircut desperately, and I was looking at pictures of curly hairstyles. 

(Which is completely useless, because whether a hairstyle looks good on YOU depends on the shape of your face and head, the texture, curl, and fullness of your hair, etc.  But, I digress.)

I found this:


Reverse ponyhawk?

Spontaneous hair matting?

Landing strip?


What’s crazy is that out of 14 hairstyles featured in the book this came from, the author (or publisher) chose THIS one for a marketing teaser.  This is one book I won’t be buying …

On a curly hair website, I clicked on a post titled “Has Anyone Here Used Bacon Salt?”  I thought maybe it was one of those things where it’s so crazy, it just might work.  The post turned out to be totally unrelated to hair.  What a tease.

B. and I saw “Talking Pictures” by Horton Foote, at the Goodman last Saturday.  We both liked it, though B. thought it was somewhat “fluffy.”

It’s set in 1929 in a small town in Texas.  The main character, Myra, plays piano for the local movie theater.  “Talkies” are coming to town, and she’s afraid she’ll lose her job.

She lives with her 14-year old son in a rented room in a house.  She’s divorced.  The house is owned by a middle-class family.  The father is a railroad engineer, the mother takes care of the home, and there are two teenaged daughters.  Myra has a warm relationship with the family, but from a polite distance.  Other characters include a friend/suitor who lives over the garage (Willis), Willis’s estranged wife, the estranged wife’s jealous boyfriend, Myra’s ex-husband, and, for good measure, a Mexican Baptist preacher’s son who teaches the family to sing “Rock of Ages” in Spanish.

Quick plot summary –

– Myra is worried about her job.  The dad of the family is also worried about his job – a more senior engineer has decided to “bump” him, so in turn he has to bump somebody else, and the family is going to have to move.  Willis courts Myra.  Daughters strain somewhat at the strictures of being “ladylike”, but always ultimately obey their mother.  Myra’s son comes home from a two-week visit with his dad and tells Myra he wants to go live with his dad.  Mexican Baptist preacher boy befriends the younger daughter.  Family is initially wary, but warm to him after he brings over a Spanish version of the Bible, and sings hymns in Spanish. 

– Willis courts Myra.  The family finds out that the dad isn’t going to lose his job after all – the senior engineer has changed his mind.  Willis’s wife comes by and demands Willis take her back.  Her boyfriend comes by and threatens everyone, then shoots himself in the foot.  (Literally, not figuratively.) 

– Myra loses her job. Myra’s ex-husband comes to tell their son that the son won’t be able to live with him after all, because his wife (the second wife) is against it.  Son is livid.  Second wife calls to say the ex-husband to say she’s leaving him.  Willis courts Myra.  Ex-husband meets Willis’s wife, they hit it off and run off to Mexico to get a divorce.   Myra goes to the first talking movie with Willis.  She realizes she loves Willis, and agrees to marry him. 

I really liked it, and left feeling really good.  The description on the website leads you to think the characters will be used to examine the effect of the massive changes in American culture around that time, but the play doesn’t really do that.  They’re not vehicles at all.  The play does glance at narrow-mindedness, racism, financial troubles, and so on.  But just by the by, as the characters go about living their lives. 

Myra doesn’t obsess about losing her job, though she does worry.  She talks about movies only when asked, usually by the starstruck younger daughter.  After she does lose her job, she goes to see the first “talkie” at the same movie theater she just lost the job from.  There are a couple of improbable scenes, but for the most part, action flows naturally from the characters’ inner nature.

I feel like I finally got some understanding of the traditional Southern way of life, which I’ve never ever understood at all, being very much an East Coaster.  Somehow, in this play, the elaborate politeness and lack of directness all made complete sense.  It was internally consistent.  I could see, if you believed and felt A, B, and C, you would act in X, Y, and Z way. 

In their world, politeness was incredibly important.  Politeness, in this world, was inextricably linked with kindness, and with goodness.  In New York, you can be a good, kind person but also quite blunt and even downright rude.  In the Old South of this play, that would be impossible.

There’s not really a lot to deeply analyze, because there was a lot of plot, but not really any complex structure.  The play was about feelings, and respecting other people’s feelings, and looking for the way forward in hard times.  Even when the “bad” characters act poorly, they sincerely apologize afterward, and are forgiven.  When Myra loses her job, Willis tells her his mother always told him, no matter how bad things get, don’t despair.  He repeats it – Don’t despair.  And you realize these aren’t just words – they really mean something. 

And you can’t really analyze that.  It’s either something you feel, and are moved by … or you don’t, and you’re not.

Oh, what the heck.

Calif. farmers want to sell water 

By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press

Fri Jan 25, 4:15 PM ET 

FRESNO, Calif. – With water becoming increasingly precious in California, a rising number of farmers figure they can make more money by selling their water than by actually growing something.

Because farmers get their water at subsidized rates, some of them see financial opportunity this year in selling their allotments to Los Angeles and other desperately thirsty cities across Southern California, as well as to other farms.

“It just makes dollars and sense right now,” said Bruce Rolen, a third-generation farmer who grows rice, wheat and other crops in Northern California’s lush Sacramento Valley.

Instead of sowing in April, Rolen plans to let 100 of his 250 acres of white rice lie fallow and sell his irrigation water on the open market, where it could fetch up to three times the normal price.

OK, I know farmers have it tough. But they’re given water subsidies BECAUSE THEY GROW NECESSARY FOOD.  It’s not fucking free water to do whatever they want with. Like:

… sell it to towns for a profit …

     … which supports ever-expanding residential development …

          … which is completely unsustainable

               … because they’re in a DRY AREA WITHOUT ENOUGH WATER.


Agghhh, I’m having the worst sinus headache. 

I found a really good site about sinuses.  It’s nice because it has SO much information, but isn’t too clinical for a lay reader. 

I hauled out my neti pot* last night, and found I still hate it.  It feels exactly like when you accidentally snort seawater.  Like when you’re bodysurfing and end up tumbled in the soup.  Only without the fun.

And, I can only do it from left to right.  When I try right to left, the water just backs up and doesn’t go through.  A couple of years ago, an ENT said my nasal passage is crooked – he actually asked if I’d ever broken my nose.  (Not that I recall.)  I wonder if that has something to do with it.

Finally, it doesn’t really help.  The pain is up between my eyes, and I just don’t think the water gets up that far.

 I think I need to go in again and see if I can get a CAT scan or something.  I’m not keen on going back to that ENT, because his specialty is the operatic voice, which isn’t too relevant to me.

* What the heck is the pink vaguely nose-shaped thing on the left side of the image on that page?  It’s on the front and side of the neti pot package, too.  It’s sort of like a pig’s nose sitting on top of a large, featureless blob, surrounded at the base with a flared-out edge.  Or it might be the bottom of a person’s nose peeking over the top of a brimmed hat.  I keep looking at it, and I cannot figure out what it’s supposed to represent. 

Whatever it is, clearly SinuCleanse thinks it’s important, because it’s a registered trademark.

Ohmigod I want a throwable videocamera.

I just read that the Mayans sacrificed boys and young men in cenotes – not girls, as previously thought.

I’ve had a deep-seated terror of cenotes since age 8, when my family visited Mexico.  The cenotes we saw weren’t especially large or dramatic – more like wide wells, surrounded by forest.  I remember the fear I felt when the tour guide described how they threw the girls in.  How the girls swam and swam, hands slipping on the dank limestone walls, nowhere to grab hold, until they drowned. 

I pictured it so vividly, and identified with the girls so strongly, that I felt as if it could somehow happen to me at any moment. 

Every now and again over the (many) years since, I’ve thought about the cenote girls.  Each time, it’s bizarre, but I feel that chilly fear all over again.

About four years ago, I saw an exhibit by a modern abstract painter at the Mexican Museum of Fine Arts.  The paintings were very abstract, just rectangles piled up in different arrangements, vaguely suggesting people, dwellings, pyramids, etc.  Then I saw one particular painting and froze.  Before I consciously thought it, the word rushed into my mind: cenote.  I felt cold all over, and weak. 

 I looked closer, for a reality check, and decided that I was being silly, it was so abstract it could be anything really.  I wobbled up and read the card.  Sure enough … the painting represented a cenote.

All of this is to say that while I feel terribly sad for the poor boys and young men who were sacrificed, I felt a huge weight lift when I read this article.  They didn’t sacrifice girls after all.

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