Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Every Party Has a Pooper

A friend of ours is throwing herself a 40th birthday party and--heaven help us all--she's settled on an 80s theme. The invitation, in fact, is her face circa 1984 cut and pasted onto the famed Devo Freedom of Choice album cover. "Wear your best 80s outfit," urges the invite, "and bring a picture of yourself from the 80s."

Problem #1: Like most mentally stable people, I long ago bid a not-so-fond farewell to acid-wash jeans, stirrup pants, Flashdance-like sweatshirts, black rubber bracelets, leggings, and anything containing shoulder pads. Psyche! I never owned a pair of acid-wash jeans. You may think that's the point I'm trying to make, but you'd be mistaken. The point I'm trying to make is that I have nothing to wear to this shindig.

Problem #2: A picture of myself from the 80s?! Why don't they just ask me to bring a picture of myself eight months pregnant and naked? Cuz I would find those two things just about equally difficult to share, my people.

Theme parties? Not so much, thanks.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Shoe Smarts

I don't know how many miles I walked at Disneyland, but I walked most of them with a messenger bag (contents: 2 diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for for Ri & Vi, kid sunblock, video camera, digital camera, cell phone, cash, lipstick) slung across my body and--with the exception of some crucial and blessed breaks courtesy of my sister-in-law and nieces--32-pound Lea on my right hip. Now, before you think to yourself, "Well, genius, ever heard of a stroller?" let me just say that I have an inexplicable aversion to strollers. Can't do 'em.

And so my shoes of choice were reasonable. What I cannot stop thinking about are the women--some with children, some without--who chose to wear shoes like this to. a. freaking. amusement. park.

I fear their days in the Magic Kingdom did not end well. In fact, I'm sure that Disney Special Forces are sent out to scan the perimeter of the park at closing in search of females crumpled over in pain. And I'm sure these females are clutching their blistered feet and moaning something like, "Why? Why didn't I wear Pumas like that stupid woman who refused to put her kid in a stroller?"

Sunday, June 27, 2004

A Fresh Start...

...requires a new outfit. So the pressing question of the evening is: does this new blog make my butt look big?

Just arrived home from LA where we spent two almost sane days at Disneyland; attended a wedding at the Scientology Celebrity Centre (oh yes we did! And let me just say, they don't serve diet soda of any kind there. It was tragic); and where I brilliantly fielded the aforementioned hate e-mails.

About those, I just want to say this: the first one, which was only a few sentences, was cryptic enough to speed my pulse up a little. But the subsequent narratives, which included everything from the most unintentionally and hilariously elevated diction I have ever had the pleasure of reading, alter egos (shaddup! I'm serious), increasingly spastic typos, and disintegrating grammar, made it clear that I wasn't dealing with someone whose life was taking place in this reality. Topping it all off was the fact that the writer would only refer to themselves in the second person. Frankly, it started to get a little creepy. I think it's over now; I hope so, at least.

Thanks for your e-mails, all. You're nice.

But before I go...celebrity sightings! Jane Fonda at The California Grand and on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride (no, she didn't wait in line, you silly people), Tom from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy eating at Mauro's in Fred Segal on Melrose, and Matthew Perry perusing the book wall, also at Fred Segal.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Fare Thee Well

I'm scooting out of the blogiverse for a week or so, which is for the best since my sidebar is nowhere to be found (well, actually, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, it's all the way at the bottom of the page), I'm getting hate e-mails, and nothing (in the broadest sense of the word) is what I thought it was. Not even close.

But all is not doom and gloom. On a quick run through Target today, I saw Lea's friend Shaw Reck and you know what? He's grown a snazzy little goatee, and he looked okay. Not quite happy, but okay.

Which is what I hope to be when I get back here to you, my people: okay.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Well Lookee Here

It seems Elle magazine has given Rex Aquarium (I don't know what's up with those naked girls in 8-year-old boy soccer shorts) its pretty little nod of approval, naming the single "Alicia" its #3 Song of the Summer. One of my impossibly tall nephews-in-law is up front on vocals and another is on bass. They've been touring for months in their grandparents' white van, which is a kinda cute and guerilla-ish way to spend the summer.

Go Rock Supahstahs.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

And the Winner Was...

...some woman who coughed up $25 and then proceeded to question Anna Kournikova's intelligence and tennis prowess. I took her to task and said, "Are you questioning Anna Kournikova's intelligence and tennis prowess?" She took a sip of her martini, held it up as if to toast, and said, "Yes I am!"

My prediction was wrong; there was no heart over the "i' in Kournikova. In fact, the signature looked as if it had been penned under great duress whilst Anna scuttled through the airport wearing white platforms with Enrique Iglesias trailing behind holding onto the back pockets of her "man-these-really-really-really-hurt" jeans.

I dunno. Just a guess.

Friday, June 18, 2004

It's Raining Men

I was just staring--with longing, hope, and a fervent desire for time--at my stack of summer reading, and I realized the ratio of male to female writers is pathetically imbalanced. But instead of trying to right things, I think I'll just go with it:

But for the Lovers, Wilfredo D. Nolledo. It just arrived in my mailbox yesterday!

Names Above Houses, Oliver de la Paz. I've had this for awhile, but can't get past page 5 because I'm always stopped cold by these lines: Fidelito's mother found a pair of nubs bordering his spine. They were drawn up like hands wringing their own skin from themselves, two clenched fists. Traslated, it was the odd grace. It's coming to the lake with me, this book. I'll finish it there.

Seasons by the Bay, Oscar Penaranda (yes, I know there should be a tilde over that first 'n' but no amount of coaxing will persuade blogger to let me do it). This just arrived yesterday from Oscar, and I'm going to review it for Cecilia Branaird's site. If any of you wordy types would like to review his new collection of poetry, Full Deck (Jokers Playing), please backchannel.

Spain's bestseller, The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Because you gotta read one big fat book during the summer.

The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing, Ben Yagoda. How could I resist?

All Over Creation, Ruth Ozeki. The lone female represented.

And of course I'm going to order the MELUS special issue on Filipino American literature, hot off the press, and painstakingly edited by Rocio Davis.

And, um, that'll do it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

And the Tee Shirt Goes To...

Try not to burst into a hysterical fit of snorty laughter when I reveal that...I'm a rabid, tireless member of a motley crue called the Park School Foundation, which raises tons and tons of money for the little public elementary school in my neighborhood. I've been working with them for two years in a now successful effort to whip the school into shape by the time my little freakie deakies get there in 2005.

Snore. Wake up! Wake up! I'm about to tell you something mildly amusing!

So, we're throwing this big live auction shindig Friday night on the tennis court of this big hoo-ha house a few blocks away. You know, food, music, and a vodka bar to ensure that people are good and drunk by the time they start bidding. Anyways...I, of course, got stuck with the job of writing up the little blurbs for each of the 4 million auction items. Some are cool: a house in Mexico, a house in Tahoe, a pitching clinic with Kurt Reuter, blahblahblah. But by far the best and most hysterical one is...trumpets blare, clouds part, golden rays of light emit their, um, golden rays of light...a t-shirt signed by the one and only, the irrepressible and beautifully vapid Miss Anna Kournikova. How much do you want to bet she puts a little heart over the "i" in her last name?

And how much do you want to bet that my Google searches triple simply because I typed the words Anna Kournikova, Anna Kournikova, Anna Kournikova right here in my blog?

More importantly, though: would anyone like to start the bidding?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Golden Girls

For painfully obvious reasons, I miss the girls' babysitter. However, she had a nasty habit of politely ignoring my well-articulated rants about the Cult of Barbie. Which is how Risa and Vida ended up with a mermaid Barbie and accompanying Barbie swimming pool. The Barbie, at least, is brown, but because of her sparkling purple fin, she can't stand up; she can only loll about looking tropically lovely. I try to keep these two toys at the bottom of the toybox, so to speak.

But it was warm here yesterday, and after listening to twenty minutes of the most annoying whining and pleading I had ever heard in my life (or at least in the last two days), I agreed to let the girls take their stupid little Barbie swimming pool onto the porch and fill it with water. They ran to the garage to retrieve their three kid-sized adirondack chairs. They positioned these carefully around the pool, and I gave them each a cup of water to dump into the thing. They did a brief round-robin storytelling session in which someone played Barbie's sister, Barbie's prince, and Barbie's mother. Then Vida tossed Barbie into the water and, since that is basically all you can do with Barbie and her swimming pool (it's no "learning toy," after all), they soon grew bored.

Feeling a solid fifteen minutes of freedom about to slip through my hands, I sprinted into the house and re-appeared with every little role-playing toy I could find: an entire army of zoo animals, several dinosaurs, three crawling babies, Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Rafiki, and the Run-DMC action figures (complete with turntable) so thoughtfully bestowed on them by their Uncle Matt. I more or less tossed these things through the French doors like they were steak. Thankfully, the girls reacted like lions. Yes!

I tip-toed to my writing perch and sat pounding keys while keeping an ear tuned to the porch. For thirty solid minutes, my sweet daughters spun artful tales of violence and mayhem: animals drowned, babies fell off of buildings, Nala lost an ear and was spurned by Simba, the dinosaurs ran out of plants and ate each other, Run-DMC sparred with hyenas, the giraffe's neck was injured by the same hunters who killed Bambi's mother. And then...and then...silence. "You guys okay?" I yelled.

Still silent. I got up and took a look outside. Each girl was reclined in her adirondack chair with eyes closed, face turned towards the sun, and both feet in the pool. I had a vision then, both comforting and disturbing. It was of them, eighty years from now living together in a Florida condo. With a pool, of course.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Zadie, You So Funny

Have you met anyone who didn't love every page of Zadie Smith's White Teeth? Because I haven't. In fact, I was so charmed by White Teeth that I never read The Autograph Man, her second novel. I know that makes no sense. I guess what I mean to say is that I didn't want to be disappointed, so I just avoided the second book altogether. But I like to catch the smaller things she writes--not essays, quite, but what I think of as "amusements." She has one--"You Are in Paradise"--in the current Summer Fiction issue of The New Yorker. It starts like this:

If you are brown and decide to date a British man, sooner or later he will present you with a Paul Gauguin. This may come in postcard form or as a valentine, as a framed print for your birthday or repeated many times over as wrapping paper, but it will come, and it will always be a painting from Gauguin's Tahitian period, 1891-1903. Chances are nudity will be involved, also some large spherical fruit.

I've read that about fifteen times now, and it keeps cracking me up. You can read the whole thing right here.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Cuz I Just Can't Get Enough

In his essay, "Forgotten Soldier Boy: War & the Poltics of Country Music," David E. Whisnant has this to add about everyone's (yes, that means you) new-old favorite song, "Filipino Baby":

I learned recently that the song came not out of World War II but out of the Spanish American War. It was written by Charles K. Harris’s in 1898, and in the original song—unlike the version I played for you—it is a "colored sailor lad" ("as black as black can be") who asks his white shipmates to look at "my gal’s photograph." When they do, they laugh at him (and at her, who is also black). Undaunted, he tells them "There’s no yaller gal that’s dearer / Though her face is black as jet." On balance, it appears, the condescending tolerance expressed for the cross-racial relationship in the World War II song renders it somewhat less overtly racist than Harris’s rather minstrel-like original.

Kinda puts a whole new twist on things...

Friday, June 11, 2004

I Don't Make This Sh*t Up, People...

In August 1946, Cowboy Copas reached the #4 spot on the country & western charts in 1946 with this little toe-tapper:

Filipino Baby

When the warships left Manila
Sailing proudly o'er the sea,
All the sailor's hearts were filled with fond regret
Looking backward to this island
Where they spent such happy hours
Making love to every pretty girl they met.
When up stepped a little sailor with his bright eyes all aglow
Sayin', "Take a look at my gal's photograph"
Then the sailors gathered round him just to look upon
Her smiling face
And he said, "I love my Filipino Baby."
She's my Filipino baby
She's my treasure and my pet
Her teeth are bright and pearly
And her hair is black as jet
Oh, her lips are sweet as honey
And her heart is true I know
She's my darlin' little Filipino Baby.
In a little rustic cottage in the far off Philippines
Dwells a pretty little maiden all alone
She is thinking of her true love, though he's far across the sea
And her heart beats true for him and him alone.
Then one day he whispered,
"Darlin' I've come back from Caroline
I've come back to claim the only girl I love."
Then that night there was a wedding while the ship's crew gathered 'round
And he wed his little Filipino Baby.

How did I unearth this delightful treasure? I was diligently researching Douglas MacArthur's mistress, Isabel Rosario Cooper, when I found it deep in the mire of this site, which I refuse to actually name for fear of the GC's, aka the "Google Consequences."

Brilliant bloggers like The Wily Filipino could take the time to place this thing in its proper cultural and historical context, providing readers with important information that they could then share with others to create a daisy chain of meaning and knowledge. Me? I'm just rolling my eyes.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Outlaw

I play nicely with others, I don't cut in line, I occasionally pay attention to the speed limit, and though I have to tie my hands behind my back to avoid it, I never steal the Sunday New York Times when I see it lying still virginal in its blue plastic sheath at 4:00 in the afternoon in front of someone's house.

But...my driver's license is expired.

It expired more than a year ago, but I only realized it a few months back. And now my pulse quickens every time I climb into the driver's seat. I'm convinced that I will be pulled over on my way to preschool drop-off, yanked out of my car through the window by Johnny Law, and roughly chastised for being a recreant, a rule-breaker, a renegade, and other words that begin with an "r."

I'm living a Michael Jackson song: I'm bad. You know it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

More on Zoo Pals. Cuz I Know You Love It.

The super-cute and brilliant Weez, EdaMommy, my high school chum Dan, Auntie Ginger, and—apparently—every parent in the Western hemisphere has fallen under the potent spell cast by Zoo Pals.

I stand alone, immune to their strange siren call. I didn't even know they were called "Zoo Pals" and, as you may recall from an earlier post, referred to them only as "those stupid plates." Meanwhile, besotted fans have been cutting out the eyes of their favorite Zoo Pal, taping a popsicle stick to the back, and running around exclaiming "I just made a craft!" Pfft. Need I remind you, my people, about my own crafty experiments? Time-consuming, exhausting, and, well, not particularly fulfilling experiments in which pre-drawn (as in "all the work is already done) animals do not figure?

I'm bitter this morning. I'm EdaMommy's best friend: BitterMelonMommy.

Monday, June 07, 2004

I Heart Carbos

Can I just eat my rice in peace, please?

This morning while walking down Burlingame Ave., I spotted a sign in the health food store that said "Low Carb Bread Available Here!" I immediately took a left turn into the Crepevine and ordered a short stack of pancakes and a side of house potatoes with rosemary and garlic. I ate it. I ate it all.

And it was so good.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Dying a Slow Death at Target

I'm almost used to it. I can pretty much count on having to endure at least one incident of excruciating embarrassment when braving the world with my daughters. Vida once chastised another mother for allowing her daughter to drink soda. "Um, excuse me," she said, "she shouldn't be drinking Pepsi. That's a grown-up drink." The funny part was that the mom then attempted to explain why her daughter was drinking soda. I tried to pretend I didn't even know Vida, but then she turned to me and said, "Right, Mom?" Hi-ya.

Then there was Risa at the doctor's office. Our regular guy was, who knows, skiing in Aspen or something. So in walks a different tall and smiling doctor. He sits down on the little stool in front of us, and Risa says, "Hey, your head isn't round!"

Imagine the silence.

Imagine the pointy-headed doctor's horror.

Imagine my dismay.

Imagine Risa, oblivious.

But that's a distant memory now because of what happened yesterday at Target. There we were, Lea and I, sitting in the little food place. She was daintily extracting chocolate chips from her cookie and shoving them in her mouth. I was watching her; she's better than television. And then a man walked by on his way to order up a bunch of tacos. He was short. Pear-shaped. Big. With a large face. He wore an expression of permanent sadness. His Marshall's employee pin (he must have been on his first 20-minute break of the day) was, for some reason, way up high on his shoulder and violently askew. Have you ever seen someone and just wanted to, you know, cook soup for them and make sure they were okay? That is how I felt about this gentleman.

Later, when he was downing his Taco Bell bounty, Lea swiveled around in her chair. She caught his eye; he smiled faintly. Lea played her 2-year-old game, looking away and looking back to see if he was still caught in her flirty toddler trap. He was. I said, "Can you say 'hello?' She did. And then. And then. And then she said—in a voice louder than a bullhorn—"Mama, is that Shrek?"

Why don't they have a button you can push to make yourself invisible? Why has someone not invented that?

My only consolation—and it's iffy to say the least—is that maybe he couldn't understand what she was saying. After all, it did sound like, "Mama, ees dat Shaw Reck?" And he did continue smiling, as opposed to bursting into tears and running out of the store. But even if he didn't understand at the time, could it be that halfway back to his job (which I'm convinced is miserable and underpaid) at Marshall's it suddenly became clear to him that she thought he was Shrek?

I have a headache.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

EdaMommy Knows Best

The Scene: a barbecue at the house of one of our neighborhood friends. Six adults, seven children.

First of all, our lovely hosts had those special paper plates that each sport the visage of some friendly cartoon elephant or tiger or fish or whatnot. And the ears double as two little cups to hold, I don't know, peas or grapes. K. lined up the plates, first asking if my girls would have any animal preference (no, thanks, they would not). She then whipped out a Sharpie that appeared to be reserved for such moments and wrote each child's name between the ears on each plate. Hmmmmmm. Impressive.

Our other neighbor swooped onto the scene. She began to shell the edamame and place a handful of the shiny beans in one of the ears on each plate. I will now refer to her only as EdaMommy. "My kids insist that I do this," spake EdaMommy. "And I'm so desperate for them to eat something green, that I do it." I laughed, but it was one of those over-my-rotting-corpse-would-I-ever-do-that laughs. I hope she didn't notice. When she finished with the edamame, she asked if all the kids like carrots. They did, so carrots went in the other ear cup.

I'll save you from some of the more excruciating details and just tell you this: two of the seven kids did eat corn, but not on the cob, so I gamely cut the kernels off two ears of corn and placed them on the appropriate plates. Four of the seven kids wanted only strawberries, not cantaloupe and certainly not with the mint leaves scattered throughout. I separated the fruits, picked out the mint, and did my best to remember who wanted what. EdaMommy cut the tri-tip in tiny pieces to ward off worries about choking, and served it up. K. sliced up soy dogs and put those on the plates, too. Three kids required ketchup. Five wanted lemonade, one wanted milk, and one wanted "spah-kling water." We used white cups for all to eliminate shouts of "I want purple! Orange is my favorite! Why does he get the yellow?" The Sharpie was pulled out once again to mark the cups.

Was this intricate, time-consuming, ridiculous ballet worth the effort? I couldn't believe it, but yes. The kids sat on one side of the patio without issuing a single complaint between them. All they did was ask nicely for more lemonade or steak or mint-less strawberries, and we took turns getting up to tend to them. Otherwise, they left us to our grown-up talk which—they'd be thrilled to know—was all about them.

But I'm still not gonna buy those stupid plates.