Professional Critic

Not sure if I have enough intrinsic motivation to be a professional critic of anything. Sounds like a lot of work to me. Although if I were paid some ridiculous sum of money just for stating my opinon about stuff I suppose I’d already have more money than God.

Professional critics should be qualified experts in their fields if they want to be taken seriously. I’ve never run a catering business or written a novel or directed a movie, so whatever I say about food and books and film is bound to be a purely subjective value judgement, having very little to do with rightness or wrongness or usefulness or meeting some lofty standard of excellence.

I like things, or I don’t like them, or I’m completely unmoved by them. An opinion on art is probably the most worthless opinion there is. Although everybody has one. So give me Art Critic as a profession, thanks very much. And pay me incredible amounts of cash to stand around sipping wine in art galleries all day.  All I need is a notepad and a thesaurus and I’m good to go.

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A Fascinating Time Period

“She wore too much makeup, and she drove a car. A cigarette dangling from her acrimonious pout seemed to be a permanent fixture and you never knew whose bed you’d find her in. She consumed far too many cocktails, she listened to jazz music and she worried about little other than perfecting her status as a social butterfly. She was brash, she was bold and most of all, she despised all the social norms set in place by the generations who had gone before her. She was the flapper.”  (from Glamorous Glue)

The 1920’s – the jazz age!

Babe Ruth,

George Gershwin, Irving Berlin,

Charles Lindbergh

F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Great Gatsby.

Ernest Hemingway. Kahil Gibran.

D.H. Lawrence and Lady Chatterleys Lover.

the Group of Seven, Slavador Dali

Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Frederick Banting

Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton

Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo

Harry Houdini, Mary Pickford

Alfred Hitchcock

Cole Porter, Duke Ellington

Lon Chaney, Rudolph Valentino

The bob haircut! POLE SITTING! Dance Marathons!

I’m hardly skimming the surface of fascinating people and things.

Of course there was also prohibition, the rise of the Nazi party and heading full speed towards the great depression. It’s hard to get EVERYTHING right.

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Remember that one time on the bus when…

Remember that one time on the bus when….?….share your mass transit stories.

Absolute best plinky prompt in a long time.  Deserves a blog all to itself.

Because that one time on the bus when Jimmy Carter lost his wallet and Snow White kept him together – that’s a story that warrants details, my friend.

The bus in question isn’t of the mass transit variety, it is a luxory tour bus, full of tourists, leaving Glasgow early in the morning.  Fronk told everyone the day before what a scuddy place Glasgow is, populated by lowlife felons.  Lara thinks those might not have been his exact words.  Maybe he said scalawags or hoodlums, but whatever terms he used,  his contempt was clear.  For Fronk, Edinburgh is a much more civilized place to be.  Edinbugh is smooth, and  Glasgow is rough in comparrison.  Since he personally has lived in both cities, no one on the bus feels too inclined to openly disagree with his informed opinion.   But let’s get back to poor Jimmy who is working himself up into a state, convinced that one of those Glasgow blackguards must be responsible for this very unfortunate turn of events.

His name isn’t really Jimmy Carter of course, but the resemblance is astounding.  When they think about it later, neither Lara nor Ainslee have any idea at all what his real name is.  Or how he came to be happily married to a Snow White clone whose real identity they never learn either.  She is just the sweetest little thing, maybe four foot ten in her bare feet and ninety eight pounds soaking wet with lovely smooth skin and jet black hair.  Almost makes you want to start humming that “hi-ho hi-ho” song every time you look at her.

Lara is writing “Glasscow” in her travel diary when Jimmy shows the first indications of working himself up into a full blown panic,  and Ainslee is helpfully pointing out that “Tincow” and “Plasticow” are probably neighboring towns.  Although she thinks “Rubbercow” might be somewhere in Wales.   Things like this are snortingly funny first thing in the morning towards the end of your holiday when you are  ridiculously sleep deprived.   Watching a fellow traveller heading towards meltdown definitely puts a bit of a damper on things.

Jimmy is suddenly in the aisle, waving at Fronk, asking him to wait, please wait!  His wallet is missing.  Missing!  It is not in his pants pocket.  He is rather frantically patting himself down from head to toe, as if the thing might have grown legs and migrated to some other location on his body.  Snow White calmly and methodically checks their carry on bags and then stands on their seat and rummages around in the overhead bin.  Then at Jimmy’s suggestion she even checks her own purse.  Nothing good to report.   She gives Jimmy’s arm a reassuring pat and tells him not to worry, everything will be alright. Lara is completely mesmerized by her.  Because she has not done the normal things a wife might be expected to do, like panic herself and ask a bunch of stupid questions.   If that were me, Lara thinks, I’d have grabbed him by the arm and said completely useless things, like ARE YOU SURE? and WHERE DID YOU LEAVE IT?  But those would be purely diversionary tactics to keep her husband from somehow making the whole situation her fault instead of his.

Fronk finally gets Jimmy to sit down and breathe deeply and try to recall when the wallet was last seen or used.  Jimmy is pretty sure he had it last night.  But perhaps not this morning at breakfast.  Because breakfasts are always complimentary.  Fronk smiles at Jimmy’s little white face and makes a phone call to the hotel they have just vacated.  Jimmy’s head appears to be prespiring.  When it becomes apparent after some lengthy discussion that the wallet has not been left behind in their room and has not been turned in to the front desk, Jimmy is skeptical.  But before he can get going on his missing credit card rant, Fronk has persuaded him to come off the bus and identify his luggage down below.  Snow White dutifully follows behind him, probably propping him up.  Stand by your man, thinks Lara.  What is it about this lady that makes her want to sing these stupid songs?

Lara flips back a page in her travel book and corrects all the misspelled Glass Cows.  Honestly.  She should get Ainslee to proof read the damned thing, but isn’t sure she wants to be the cause of all the hilarity that is sure to ensue.  Ainslee is looking out the window at the post-dawn city.  It’s going to be another sunny fall day, their last in Scotland.  Their first in Wales, if they manage to get back on the road with a sedated Jimmy Carter duct taped to his seat.

But suddenly, there he is!  Triumphantly waving his wallet above his head as he beams at his fellow travellers!  The wallet was in the back pocket of the pants he wore yesterday, neatly folded in his suitcase.  If Snow White is the one who folded them neatly and put them there, her expression does not give this fact away.  She is placid and serene and not at all surprised that things have turned out just fine.

“Wow,” Lara says as she watches them sit down and sees Jimmy give his wife a hug and smiles as he kisses her forehead and once again reverts to his normal human color. “I want Snow White around for my next crisis.”  Ainslee tells her to write that down for posterity, but Lara decides it’s not a statement she’d like taken out of context.  She jots down “Jimmy Carter is one lucky guy” instead.

Something I Wish I Had Done Differently

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets.

No doubt, if I were suddenly thrown back in time into the middle of one of my more cringe-worthy moments, I might strive for a less mortifying outcome.

But that’s one of the beautiful things about this life – there’s no way it can happen. I have been there, and I have done that, and it is over. I have either learned from it or I haven’t. I can re-live it in my mind a bazillion times and it always turns out exactly the way it turns out. If I could change it I would also change the me that I’ve turned out to be. And since I’m freakin’ perfect, why in the world would I want to do that?? Stop rolling your eyes, there’s no point in arguing with me. You may wish you hadn’t.

It should be a given that the older one becomes the less stupid things one does, but the truth is, the mistakes just keep re-inventing themselves. Once a decision is made and acted upon it cannot be unmade. Best to just get over yourself and get on with things, and maybe you’ll make a more intelligent choice the next time around.

If you’re into making wishes, go ahead and make a whole whack of them. Just make sure they’re all for tomorrow. Don’t waste even one of them on yesterday.

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How Do I Procrastinate?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love procrastination? Let me count the ways

While wandering in a nameless void far-reaching, so deep and wide and tall

My brain goes missing.  I’m catatonic,  facebook glazed and googled.

I fear the internet might end tomorrow and I with it.

To-do lists that I’ve made have lost all power as I drag my feet

And ponder. I am pensive. I put on hold, protract, postpone.

I choose to dawdle freely as the piles grow deeper,

To linger purely based on no ambition.

No passion fills my breast for expidition

Of the tedious mess of tasks that fill my life.

The morning wanes, though what is lost but time and brain cells?

I’m breathing still, no tears and few regrets.

Suspended in the grip of sweet boondoggle –

I shall but love thee better after lunch.

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Lifetime Supply

I’d like a lifetime supply of plinky prompts. And headache medication.

I was going to say money, but with my luck the amount would be dependant on the length of ones life, and I’d be awarded fifty bucks and then promptly get hit by a bus.

And then what if I asked for something and then next week my lifestyle changed so that I no longer needed it? That would sincerely irritate me.

Never mind, I’ve got it. A lifetime supply of lifetime supplies. Whenever they’re ready to supply that, I’ll supply them with a list.

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The Smartest Person I Know

There’s all kinds of smarts. Book smarts and people smarts and street smarts and fashion smarts. The more you say the word ‘smarts’ the dumber it sounds.

It’s possible to be accomplished and inept, intelligent and stupid, perceptive and obtuse, all at the same time.

So I guess the smartest people I know are probably the ones who realize exactly how unsmart they really are.

And they’re all smart enough to keep the fact of their ignorance to themselves and well hidden.

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Time Travel to Some Historical Event

I’d go back to Victorian London in 1888 and join the match girl’s strike. Because being one of the 1400 women and girls who effectively shut down a factory in the interests of being treated fairly must have been a wild emotional mix of fear and euphoria for everyone involved.

They learned the power of numbers and that it’s possible to right a wrong. Or maybe a lot of them just went along with the crowd to take a break from dipping those damned matches all day long.

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Blowing Off Steam

The best way to blow off steam when you’re angry is to back away from the situation, close your eyes, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Kind of like breathing your way through labor pains. Deep breathing always helps me put things in perspective. Kind of de-fogs the brain.

Then I try to drum up some empathy for the idiot who made me mad. Taking the other person’s point of view isn’t easy, but if you can do it your righteous indignation is more likely to disipate. And then you need to ask yourself what difference all of this will make in an hour. Tomorrow. Next week. A year from now.

Anger comes in many degrees. It can build up slowly to a breaking point, or it can hit you like a sledgehammer right between your eyes. I get annoyed and have my little hissy fits. Irritated, exasperated, peeved, impatient. I whine and I grumble. I think that’s pretty normal.

It’s the raging, violent, passionate and infuriated blow ups that scare me, whether I’m the cause or the object or the source. Shoot yourself or take a pill. I don’t know what the answer is. Just get away from me.

Well I certainly hope that was helpful. And didn’t piss you off.

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Family Dinners

I’ve seen decades of family dinners. They evolve.

1950’s Mom, Dad, Grandparents, three kids and baby. Every night around a set table in our designated spots. Grace is said. Manners are used. We eat everything on our plates and cannot be excused from the table until everyone is finished. We are allowed to complain bitterly about it being our turn to help with the dishes, but we have to do it anyway.

1960’s Mom, Dad, two teenagers, two little sisters, grandma, random relatives, neighbors, strays. We still say grace. Our manners get lost in our rush to finish and go off to do more important things. Homework. Jobs. Dates. Loud music in our bedrooms with the doors closed. Smoking out the windows, dropping hurriedly snuffed out butts down into the flowerbeds. Blaming it on old Uncle Bill who smokes a pipe and whose showing up for dinner should be useful for something.

1970’s The family grows. In-laws, spouses, grand babies, significant others. It’s hard to keep track of everyone. Whoever can make it home does. (And all of us try.) Because, my gawd, the food is amazing! Why did we not realize that or appreciate if before? Mom’s (Grandma’s) biscuits. Everything garden fresh. The best pies ever.

1980’s Because we’ve moved away, the holidays home become treasured celebrations for us. Our kids must reacquaint themselves with their cousins, their aunts and their uncles. All the various people they are related to but can’t begin to figure out how. The old farmhouse is a curious place to explore. The ‘grandma dinners’ are the best dinners ever, vegetables and all, because she never makes them eat anything they don’t like. They can have extra dessert instead and all the juice they can swallow. Grandma rules.

1990’s Now my kids are the ones with jobs and dates and homework and friends. We eat on the run, or in front of the tv, or out somewhere, or not at all. When they move out, we make a pact to get together every Sunday for a family dinner. I look forward to these Sundays and cook enough food for twenty people so that they can take home all the leftovers.

The holidays with the grandparents are sparse. They have moved to town and now take everyone out to restaurants for our family dinners. We can order whatever we want. Dad (Grandpa) pays. It makes him incredibly happy to see us all together and I think he would pay double just for that.

2000’s Now I’m the grandma! My parents are gone. I try to live up to the grandma standard my mother set, but it isn’t easy when you can’t make a decent biscuit to save your life. When my kids bring their familes our dinners are more likely to be delivered pizza than something I throw together. Kids should get to eat whatever they like, right? Our Christmas dinners at my son’s house are our most recent evolution of the family dinner. Five growing grandchildren make them memorable. I make great stuffing and awesome fudge. Perhaps they’ll remember that.

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