Say What You Will…

Do people still make disparaging comments about the internet? About how it’s ruining the ability of mankind to interact on a human level and so on? If so, then I counter, say what you will! Tonight, thanks to the internet, I experienced something akin to what a time machine must feel like–I heard the theme song from TAXI. I had this amazing flashback of hiding upstairs in the loft above the living room in my childhood home. My parents would have the TV just loud enough that I could hear the theme; for some reason, I loved that song. It was lonesome, yet urban, and gave me the idea, even at the age of five, that life was going to be simultaneously sad, funny and beautiful.

Eventually, my parents let me stay up to actually watch TAXI with them. I felt so privileged. I experienced my first crush, on Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas. Later, Andy had some competition when my parents started letting me watch M*A*S*H.  I fell in love with Alan Alda’s Hawkeye. Are you sensing a pattern? Another crush was on Tom Hanks in BOSOM BUDDIES.

Sure, I could look at Indiana Jones and appreciate that he was a handsome man with a cool story. I knew I was supposed to be dreaming about John Travolta (truth be told, I was more of an Arnold Horshack fan myself!).


As a pre-teen, my unabashed love for the funny guy was cemented when I found myself attracted to Herbert Viola on MOONLIGHTING. Forget Bruce Willis! I mean, Curtis Armstrong, people!  He played Booger in REVENGE OF THE NERDS!




And we haven’t even gotten to the crushes I had on cartoon characters…hello, Shaggy? Even as a little girl I remember thinking, if only he’d keep his mouth shut.

I think the only age appropriate crush I had on anyone on television was my undying love for Meeno Peluce’s Jeffrey Jones from the heartbreakingly short-lived series VOYAGERS!. I can’t believe the show only ran from 1982-1983, in my memory it was such a big part of my childhood.  Maybe it’s because I filled notebooks with episodes that I wrote for the show, episodes, of course that incorporated a young girl, who looked just like me. 

Here he is, the little guy with the giant afro, alongside his co-star, Jon-Erik Hexum who tragically died in an accident on the set of a program that followed VOYAGERS not long after VOYAGERS was cancelled. As a joke, he played Russian Roulette with a prop gun loaded with blanks, not realizing blanks were actually deadly at close range. When I was a kid I blamed him for the lack of subsequent episodes of VOYAGERS!…thanks to the internet, I now know that I have CBS’s 60 MINUTES to blame.

Although Meeno was in not only THE BAD NEWS BEARS, but in plenty of great television, including THE LOVE BOAT, STARSKY & HUTCH and PUNKY BREWSTER, alongside his half-sister Soleil-Moon Frye, you don’t see much of him anymore.

Turns out he’s behind the camera, busy taking gorgeous pictures all over the world. You can see some of his remarkable images here.

So, without the internet, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to confess to the world that one of my first celebrity crushes was on the guy that played Booger OR find out what happened to one of my first muses, Meeno Peluce, who inspired spiral-bound notebooks full of adventures through history.  As Meeno’s voice over said at the end of each episode of VOYAGERS!, “If you want to learn more about (whatever the historical element in the episode was), take a voyage down to your public library! It’s all in books!”

And, now, on the internet.


Candy in Socks. Of course.

There are certain things that I find funny that my son doesn’t question. Stockings, for one, hung by the chimney with care. Stockings. They’re basically socks. Socks that hang in our living room from the day after Thanksgiving through December. Why? Then again, why should he question them? They’ve been there as long as he can remember, and on Christmas morning they’re filled with presents and candy. Is there really a need to ask questions?

When I was a kid, we didn’t have hooks for our stockings, so the stockings would, come Christmas morning, be displayed by the chimney with care. Lined up diagonally across the flagstone of our 1970′s hearth, fat with goodies like Tinkerbell perfume, Chapstick, little paper envelopes of Cinnamon-flavored toothpicks, Choose Your Own adventure paperbacks, candy and, always, a pad of paper and a pen to diligently record what everyone had given us so we could write our thank-you notes. Our house had a staircase that wrapped around the chimney, and there was sort of an overlook above the fireplace over which one could peek down into the living room. I still remember descending my bunk bed bright and early every December 25th, crawling silently along the shag carpeting and rising just far enough above the edge to see whether or not the stockings were full.

What a feeling to find that they were.  I KNEW I’d been good!

These days, my husband and I don’t do regular gifts for each other. We pick one gift for the family (seeing it written out like that makes me feel so practical and parental)–but we still fill each other’s stockings. Truth be told, we get a little out of control with the stocking filling. We’re not just talking travel toothpastes, bath bombs and fun-sized Snickers, people. I’ve tucked many an airplane-sized spirit in his stocking (about four can fit in the toe alone) along with DVDs, CDs…he’s wrapped thoughtful books, gorgeous earrings, and…okay…airplane-sized spirits in mine. It’s fun to have the challenge of boundaries. Whatever fits in the sock goes.

Ellis still gets showered, stocking and otherwise. He’s very questioning these days; I will be surprised if he doesn’t ask me, this Christmas morning of 2011, now that he’s almost five, why the hell his presents come in a sock.

With that in mind, I’ve done a little research:

I’ve found the most popular story to be that of a ‘kindly nobleman’ who, while raising his three daughters by himself, lost all his money through bad investments and useless inventions. When it came time for the daughters to marry, the family was distraught because they had no money for the dowries they needed.

The devastated daughters, not wanting to make their father feel bad, went about their business. One night, as any other, they washed their clothes and hung their socks by the fireplace. In passing, St. Nicholas noticed the dark cloud that hung over the household and was inspired to help. He flung a few bags of gold from his pack down their chimney. The gold landed in the stockings, and the next morning the daughters woke to find enough money for all three to marry. In their socks!

And that’s how Jesus was born!

Wait a minute…

Ellis knows both sides of the Christmas story, loves Jingle Bells and Silent Night alike. Loves his nativity scene and his stocking. Interestingly, the explanation above mentions nothing about Christmas, other than the fact that it was St. Nicholas who tossed the gold down the chimney.

As long as Ellis understands the joy of giving as well as the joy of receiving, I’ll be satisfied that he’s getting the message of the holidays, both secular and religious. And I think he does grasp that concept, because he gave me his last red Skittle the other day. “For all the nice things you do,” he said.

Me: Sniff!

Below, Uncle Erik, my brother and Ellis’ godfather, delighting in the tradition of the Christmas morning stocking. I’m quite certain he wished St. Nick had dropped a bag of gold in there as well.




Tiaras: Over-looked, Under-appreciated.

My son asks me on a regular basis what my favorite holiday is. He lists them all, the months in which they fall, the traditions they hold–I think he just gets excited thinking about all of them on one endless timeline, conveniently ignoring the weeks that must occur between them. Weeks that, if you remember your childhood, for a 4-year-old pass about as swiftly as Southbound traffic between Seattle and Tacoma around 4pm. He is endlessly perplexed when I answer:

New Year’s Eve.

Not Christmas (which I, however, do love), not Halloween (which was my favorite as a child and is his favorite now), not Thanksgiving (although it’s SUCH a great excuse to sit and eat all day)…it’s New Year’s Eve. There are several reasons why. Yes, I have my reasons.

1. Champagne. The very best beverage in the whole wide world. It’s also a reason to enjoy attending weddings. Because I have neither yet won the lottery nor sold a script for…any…figures, I opt for a delicious and pocketbook-friendly Cremant. You can find a good one with which to ring in the New Year for under $10 at Trader Joe’s.

2. The kissing. The same reason I love mistletoe. I love an excuse to kiss someone, especially when fireworks might be involved.

3. New Year’s Resolutions.  I delight in the optimism of the New Year. I make resolutions every year. I am sorry to say that I have followed through on NONE of mine this year, as I only finished two new paintings, my nails are still disgracefully gnawed and I still don’t know how to make my own pickles.  I guess there are still…three?…weeks in the year? There might still be hope…

BUT…most of all…I love an excuse to wear my tiara.

I’ll take any excuse. But New Year’s Eve is the only time (since I’m too old for prom and am twenty years past my Quinceanera…plus, I’m not Latina) that wearing a tiara is not awkward. No. On New Year’s Eve, no one can say boo when I parade proudly into the room, silver(ish metal) and (faux) diamonds atop my head!

I bought my tiara when it was absolutely the most foolish purchase I could have made. I was jobless at the time, eating Top Ramen in every form I could conjure (don’t knock it–here are some creative ways to make those noodles rock!), in fact, let’s get even more Dickensian–I could scarcely afford the cough medicine I needed to get well enough to sleep through the night. BUT, my boyfriend (now husband) had won tickets to Teatro Zinzanni – a fantastic magical gala event with trapeze artists and singers and waiters who pulled your seat out for you and, I’m not going to lie, I felt like a millionaire.

So I decided I needed to look like one. How could I accomplish that? I found my answer in the gift shop on the way from my table to the restroom. In a $19 tiara.

When I walked back to my table, I was a different woman. I didn’t just have a tiara on my head. I had…sniff…hope on my head. My decision to buy that frivolous adornment, and my sweetheart’s total acceptance and delight when he saw me wearing it, was the embodiment of faith that things were going to get better. And they did.

So, now when I wear my tiara, and I’m not kidding when I say I seek out every and any situation in which I can, I feel like I’m wearing a leap of faith.

If you can, you should go to Teatro Zinzanni. A few years later we went again, on our own dime, I might add. Not only did I wear my tiara, my husband bought a leopard-print fez! We had the pleasure of seeing Martha Davis from The Motels perform Only the Lonely. Teatro Zinzanni is a level of heaven on earth in which I love to dwell. Especially if it’s for the brunch show on a Sunday, those tickets are your best value.

BUT, if it’s a tiara you’re after (and you know it is), there are other places to buy tiaras. Online, for instance.

Holy mother-of-glam, this place even has a Princess Kate replica!


My Latest Love Affair…

…is with Jell-O.  Raspberry Cosmo Jell-O to be exact.

I don’t know what came over me when I first saw this little video.  Maybe it was the two holiday events I was attending that required I bring a homemade dessert. I don’t know how to make a dessert. I don’t really like dessert. I don’t really eat dessert. I prefer to drink my dessert. With that in mind, it must have been the word cosmo that caught my eye.

I watched the video, it looked so simple, so elegant.  I loved the fact that I could (in fact must) prepare it the night before (so it can ‘Jell’ in the refrigerator overnight).  As we all know, the last 45 minutes before any holiday event is spent making oneself beautiful.Trying to throw a dessert together on top of that would definitely result in my stopping by the grocery store to buy a cake, a cake tray and cellophane wrap so that, by virtue of my transferring it from its packaging to a tray, it would be’ homemade.’

I was delighted to find that suddenly I had a need for those shiny copper-colored tins I always see at the Tacoma Goodwill Outlet.  I became obsessed with finding a Jell-O mold. And I felt so womanly on my hunt! Of course, when I went to the Goodwill outlet, this was the first time in history there was, among all the bins and piles of junk, not a single Jell-O mold. Next stop, Life Center Thrift Shop on 6th Avenue, just off of Hwy 16.  They had the perfect mold for $2.00.  A light shiny tin ring with the shape of roses on top.  Super classy!

Whereas I felt like such a, pardon the Roseanne-ism, domestic goddess when searching for a Jell-O mold, I now felt like a high-tech Rachael Ray–because I propped my laptop up on my kitchen counter and played the video, followed the instructions…then sat back and waited for the magic to happen.

Twelve hours later, my husband was sitting in the passenger seat of my beloved ’93 Ford Escort, Jell-O on his lap, begging me to take corners and speed-bumps with more grace. The Jell-O made it to the event in one gorgeous jiggly piece.  I had crafted a sign out of a cocktail straw and a Christmas gift tag to let people know that this particular Jell-O was ‘not for kids.’  Funny–if you put a sign on your dessert that says ‘not for kids,’ it disappears twice as fast.  Try it at your next gathering.

I had stealthily and without witness placed my creation among the spice cakes and cookies. I stood back and listened to the commentary:

“Look, not for kids, that means it has booze in it!”

“It’s good, but it’s too bad it’s not in cute little plastic cups like a Jell-O shot.”

“Mommy, this tastes like Daddy’s breath smells.”

(Oops, I forgot that some kids can’t read yet…do warnings made of cocktail straws and gift tags hold up in court?)

I take issue with the woman who wanted her Jell-O in a ‘cute little plastic cup.’  I always thought those cups looked like something in which a urine sample would find itself. I love the fact that my Raspberry Cosmo Jell-O was a sophisticated take on a college kegger classic.

While this is not the most economic of desserts to bring to a gathering (you need vodka, triple sec, those little packets of unflavored gelatin are shockingly pricey, and that cup of fresh raspberries in December really hurts), it sure is a hit.  Just try not to drop your freshly purchased bottle of triple sec in your driveway on the way out of your car like I did. Not only did I have to go right back to the liquor store (embarrassing AND twelve more dollars I’ll never see again) but getting out of your car and instantly dropping a bottle of booze at your feet does not look good to the neighbors. Of course, that’s another reason I love Tacoma (just like my bumper sticker says I do), just about anything goes.

Feast your eyes on my edible artwork, then watch the video and give it a go.  Maybe you’ll impress the hell out of yourself like I did!