Category Archives: Pop Culture

Tools Of The Trade – Preparing for the Sanibel Writers Conference

So, have I mentioned that I am going to a writers conference on Sanibel? Four days of immersion in readings, lectures and writing workshops await me. Gary and Tootie are going to let me stay with them so I don’t have to "commute" each morning. This means an extra hour of sleep, which is a precious commodity these days, so their hospitality is much appreciated.

Here are my favorite implements of writing – a marble-covered composition book and a handful of blue ink Bic Stic medium ball point pens in the original "crystal" casing. And they all still have their caps. And none of them are chewed.

Yet! 😉

Years ago, when I was a child first learning to write, these marble-covered composition books came only in black. I have filled a few of the black ones in my time! In more recent years, the marble-covered composition book has become available in a wide array of colors. I’m quite taken with the blue ones; you really can’t expect different from a person blogging from the comfort of her blue suede sofa.

"Marble-covered composition book" is such an iconic phrase. In my mind, it’s right up there with "little red-haired girl" and "you bet your sweet bippy". Repeat these phrases to people of a certain era, and they know exactly what you’re talking about. Language can be a huge part of the shared cultural experience. That’s one of the things it has in common with music, the visual arts and food.

I’ve only just returned to my comfy little home after a long (10 days) stay in Orlando. It feels like a bit of a burden to be leaving again so soon but I am sure that once I get there, I will be happy that I signed up.

Stay tuned!

Sent from my Nokia N97

“Lucy… is that mah name?”

Here’s a Dove “fortune” that sparked some thought. My first reaction to this one is “OK, but who might that be – who am I?”. And that question always makes me think of the old episode of “I Love Lucy” where she pretends to have amnesia in a Southern belle accent.

And then I just laugh.

Ah, pop culture – it keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously 😉

Sent from my Nokia N97

Subscribers – if you don’t see a video below this sentence, click through to the blog http://thesinglerider.com/2010/09/lucy-is-that-mah-name/

Secrets

Love me some OneRepublic music, but this video is a bit on the disappointing side. I don’t think it accurately reflects what the poet really means by this song.



When I first heard “Secrets”, I immediately thought that Ryan Tedder was responding to criticism that his lyrics are not the usual “oh woe is me, relationships suck, my heart is broken” pop radio fare. The way I perceive a lot of what he writes is that his songs are often a reflection of what’s going on with him and the band on a professional level. I figured that perhaps he may have been criticized for not revealing himself emotionally enough, so this time around he’s “gonna give all my secrets away”.

Only, I don’t think he means it. I’m not sure it sincerely bothers him to the extent that he’d abandon what moves him to write in favor of what the critics want. Counting this one, there are at least 3 songs on the latest album that are about the career, the amazing experience of touring, being vaulted into the next level – or being afraid that they won’t be vaulted into the next level due to poor timing and/or connections.

No, I think “Secrets” is an indication that he acknowledges the criticism but he’s only kidding when he says he’s going to give it away. I think this is a man who knows where the line is. He’s not really moved to write about interpersonal relationships all that often. He’s very into his work, into his career.

It may shock some of you to know that there are people in this world who are NOT focused 24/7 on relationships – finding them, maintaining them, destroying them, ad nauseum. I should know – I’m one of them! I get the impression that Ryan Tedder is similar – many of his songs relate to his experiences as a musician, writer, producer, to his professional experiences, not his personal ones. Does that invalidate his poetry? Nope. I “get” him. There have to be others out there who “get” and appreciate what he writes, too.

It doesn’t have to be all about the emo, all about interpersonal drama, to be interesting. Really, it doesn’t.

Yule happens

122120091916.jpg I was supposed to be in New York celebrating the Winter Solstice with my “coven” (fancy word for my back home tribe “sistas”) and a stewpot full of root vegetables but, alas! The weather had other ideas. Multiple flights have been canceled since my original departure date of Saturday 12/19, due to blizzard conditions and/or airport closure. So here I sit, doing Yule as a solitary. The moon looked fabulous on the rise tonight, like a crescent cradle in the sky, ready to rock 🙂 I had a moment of panic when it looked like my wishes would not burn but I kept reminding myself that MY wish is the Universe’s command, and simply re-lit the contents of the prayer bowl before the flames went out.

Yes, the Universe will deliver; however, I was reminded today that this does not mean that we sit back and do nothing. The reminder came in the form of Disney’s latest hand-drawn (yay!) animated film, The Princess and the Frog. Tiana wishes upon the evening star, but she also works HARD to achieve her goals, none of which have anything to do, initially, with being a princess, snagging a prince, or kissing frogs. The Universe WILL join in at some point to ensure a sealed deal, but in the meantime, we must continue to strive toward the goal.

My favorite quote: “oooooh, no – there is NO WAY I am kissin’ a frog AND eatin’ a bug on the same day!” 😉

Favorite song: a gospel number called “Dig A Little Deeper”

When you find out who you are
you’ll find out what you need
Blue skies and sunshine – guaranteed!
Open up the window – let in the light, dearie!
Blue skies and sunshine!
Blue skies and sunshine!
Blue skies and sunshine – guaranteed!

🙂

Tomorrow, I get to repack my bags for 4 days instead of 8 and jet my way north to the frozen tundra that is Da Loverly Isle of Long. I am wondering why the Universe wanted me on THIS particular flight, instead of the other two that were canceled…???

Posted by Wordmobi

Forgiving Salinger

catcher-coverJ. D. Salinger used to be my favorite author. I first read Catcher in the Rye circa 1973-ish, when I was in 7th or 8th grade; my science teacher was actually loaning it around to people in my class, and I got on the list and read it and loved it. I loved it so much, that by time I got to 10th grade and we were actually reading it in English class, I swiped a copy. I still have it. Ancient, tattered, it bears the stamp on the inside cover, “MARTIN VAN BUREN HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH DEPARTMENT” (watch me get fined now or something – arrested, even!). It’s well-worn because it has been read a bazillion times.

A few years later, someone loaned me a copy of Nine Stories and I fell in love. With Salinger, too! 😉 I liked “For Esme, With Love and Squalor” best, but his favorite was “Teddy”. If I recall correctly, he had to beg me repeatedly to return the book to him. I think eventually I must have, because the copy I have on my bookshelf now is a mass-market paperback from 1991, and my introduction to Nine Stories was circa 1978. I also have a paperback copy of Franny and Zooey on my shelves.

Still more years later, there came unto us the internet, and Salinger was one of the first of those seemingly day-long searches I used to conduct back then with my CompuSpend oops I meant to say CompuServe account. I found out lots about him that day. He was reclusive. He refused interviews. He’d published short stories prolifically, in such prestigious publications as Colliers, Good Housekeeping, The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker, to name a few. There are many pages on the internet devoted to lists of Salinger’s “uncollected works”, nearly all of them mentioning that he doesn’t want them “collected”.

And then came that fateful year I picked up a copy of Dreamcatcher, Margaret Salinger’s memoir of growing up in the orbit of her famous father. Ah, FINALLY, some good and detailed information about my favorite author! I took the book with me on vacation to Sanibel Island and devoured it. After finishing it, this is what I had to say about it in my trip journal:

“I have to say that up until finishing this memoir, J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” was my all-time favorite novel. However, now that I know that he was such a pitiful excuse for a husband and father, my enjoyment of his writings has become tarnished. This man and his wife were classic examples of those who should not breed, for they steadfastly failed to comprehend their responsibilities as parents. If even half of what Peggy Salinger has written is true, both parents needed institutionalization followed by a swift kick in the pants to straighten their sorry asses out.”

Yes, the bloom was off the rose. I’d spent happy decades revering the man whose mind invented Holden Caulfield, only to discover that he was a whacko. No wonder he was hiding. He might be sick, but he’s not stupid. If a life-long fan can become turned off by the truth about him, think what would happen with casual readers. Think of all those unpurchased paperbacks. Think of all those 10th graders whose parents are having a hard enough time with the fact that they’re reading a book spattered with the F word and various other expletives. You wanna see books burning? Just wait until they find out what a horrible father he was!

And so, for the last 6 years, I’ve sulked, refusing to do the annual pilgrimage into the mind of the teenager that is Holden Caulfield. A few of those 6 years, my books were in storage, anyhow, so I didn’t really need to sulk those years, but probably did anyway. I did lay hands upon my Salinger paperbacks, though – twice. I’ve moved twice in that time period, and so I actually touched them without reading them, once to pack them up into storage, and then again when I got to the new house and unpacked them.

I had to do a book purge when I got here. I don’t know what possessed me to own so many books, never mind pack them and pay to move them from Long Island to Florida. I knew it had to be done, but it still felt like an amputation. I posted the titles online to various forums and lists, and mailed out the ones that people wanted. The rest went to Goodwill in Lehigh Acres, where the manager of the place was grateful to receive them.

Interestingly, I gave away Margaret’s hardcover, but kept J. D.’s paperbacks. Oh, I was still mad at him, but somewhere inside, I was still deeply attached to ol’ J.D. and his stories. There are other items I’ve dragged with me from pillar to post over the years, items that I keep in a certain Box, items that I have not wanted to read but not wanted to part with, either. But that’s another post for another day.

My recent run-in with personal history, compliments of Facebook led to a raid on that certain Box… (when I can face The Box again, I’ll let y’all know). The raid on The Box led to remembering Nine Stories in ways in which I had not indulged in many, many years. And so I left The Box and proceeded to comb the bookshelves in my home office, whereupon I found the book, turned immediately to the last chapter where I knew I’d find “Teddy”, and read it through.

J.D. is a talented, sensitive, brilliant writer. These attributes coexist with ineptitude as a husband and a father. Margaret Salinger commented something to the effect that she’d expected the man who thought up the role of the catcher, the guy who keeps kids from running off a cliff, to be that for her. Given that she is his child, I’d say she had a right to expect that, and has a right to be disappointed about it. I hope writing the book has helped her to cope with that disappointment, at least somewhat. I know that such profound disappointment in a parent is not something you ever really get over, but you can’t let it cripple you for the rest of your life, either.

So I read “Teddy” and I enjoyed it. And remembered. And shed a few tears. I’m not sure I’m ready to forgive ol’ J.D. yet, just as I’m not quite sure that I’m ready to forgive myself. All this time, I thought I’d abandoned Salinger in solidarity with his daughter, because he was such a poor parent. But now… now, I think I realize that it may have less to do with his sins than it has to do with my own. Like a lot of things associated with that time in my life, J.D. now makes me feel like that 17-18 year old fuck-up I used to be, flailing around on the bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy, so desperate to survive, so heedless of the wounds I was inflicting upon others. And, let’s face it – upon myself.

Clearly, I am in need of redemption. Got any ideas, anyone? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere between the covers of Nine Stories. Perhaps I should read the whole thing. Just to find out.

The POTUS picks up poop?!?!?

I’ve been doing some studying each night, so didn’t catch this Brian Williams Inside The Obama White House news special when it aired on NBC. However, I went to MSNBC.com today and found a bunch of video segments from the show, which was actually a good way to get this watched – in chunks and at my leisure.

MUSIC – I love the fact that they chose modern music to go with our modern President and his young staff. A few of my faves – Bittersweet Symphony “the most popular song Jagger and Richards never wrote”, and Everclear’s Wonderful make prominent appearances. They used Mika’s Lollipop for Sasha and Malia, which was totally charming.

BO, THE DOG – I cannot believe the POTUS picks up poop! Clearly, Brian Willaims is a sucker for dogs. He’s got that lovey-dovey I-am-a-sucker-for-dogs voice on when he speaks to the pooch. I’m really sort of in love with that dog, which is unusual for me… I’ve been SO set on leading a hairless existence and not being tied down by pets when I travel or go out. However, I now believe that there MIGHT be a puppy in my future! OK, maybe not… I have to think long and hard about this.

THE VEGETABLE GARDEN – What a great idea this was. Cost effective and charitable – they use the veggies at the White House and also donate some of them locally. When the First Lady visited the school kids who helped her plant it, I liked the fact that she dressed in yellow, which is apparently their school color (all the kids had on matching yellow t-shirts). When she did the sit-down with Brian Williams in that outfit, there were yellow roses in a bowl on the table behind her, which was a nice, coordinating touch.

SACRIFICES – And now we know why Bittersweet Symphony may have been selected. Working in the White House, no matter whose White House it happens to be at the time, is a huge honor, a once-in-a-lifetime, rare opportunity to directly impact the direction of our country and its people. But it is also a sacrifice for one’s country, second only to serving in the military. These people are not spending a lot of time with their families, although clearly the administration wants them to be able to. Some left their families behind in a different city when they joined the administration. When you have this kind of job, this is what you do 24×7. It’s what you breathe, it’s the REASON you breathe. This is what it means to go into public SERVICE, to SERVE your country in government. I know something similar to this kind of life, remember it well. Wouldn’t want to go back to it. No wonder they’re all so damned young; it’s a lot easier to take the grueling pace when you’re still young.

RAHM EMANUEL – Speaking of sacrifice, this is someone to admire and respect. I know this personally, from years and years of mergers, acquisitions and re-organizations at the firm. Sometimes you fall into a spot that you’re not thrilled with, but you do it anyway because you are called to it. It takes HUGE self-discipline to do something you don’t necessarily want to do but are called to do, and to do it REALLY well – actually kick ass at it. Hats off to Rahm, he’s earning it.

THE OPPOSITION – the nation is less safe because people who work in the White House now take off their suit jackets? One wonders how they reacted to the M&Ms, the darts and the basketball… what is this, Microsoft? ROTFLMAO! How do they come up with crap like this? Can’t they find something REAL over which they can act scandalized?

As to the Supreme Court appointment, I like that our President can be a bad-ass, be firm with the nonsense, without straying into the land of also being a butt-head about things. He pushes back against and has little patience for the ridiculous. I’m wondering…. since when is it wise to completely ignore one’s hard-won experiential knowledge and not leverage it when making decisions? That’s called LEARNING, when you use past experience to be successful in a current situation. Since when would the experiential knowledge of a white male be the same as that of a Latina female? Not saying one is better than the other in general, but under certain circumstances, each has experiential knowledge that could certainly inform their actions and decisions better than the other. No need to act scandalized – this is only logic.

Finally, he’s got a good sense of where news reporting ends and entertainment begins. I like that he doesn’t watch the pundits because he understands them to be entertainment. “It feels like WWF wrestling – everybody’s got their roles to play…” Wise of him to recognize that!

WHEN THE GIRLS REACH DATING AGE – loved Brian Williams’ advice about greeting their dates at the door with a shovel! 😀

AMERICA’S RELATIONS WITH THE WORLD’S MUSLIM POPULATION – Are there really people who feel that ALL Muslims are America’s enemies? I don’t know what to say to them to relieve them of the burden of such ignorance. I pray that God – anyone’s God, everyone’s God – opens their eyes and their hearts.

“A ROCK STAR” – love, love, love the reactions at the Five Guys burger joint. I would have flipped out, too, had I been there. That’s one way to treat your staff to lunch! He cracked me up later on with the remark, “I never thought I’d have a bobble-head…” LOL! 🙂

“OUR” GENERATION – “The hand that we were dealt – this is a challenge for our generation.” This president is barely a year younger than I am. Because we are part of the same age cohort, he is a leader with whom I can identify. We grew up listening to the same songs on the radio, watching the same sitcoms, learning about the same world events on the news. He was shaped by the things that shaped me, too. I really feel that he “gets” the challenges facing people of our age – the fact that our mortgages are upside down and our retirement is in the toilet and that the most important thing he can do for us is fight to lower the cost of health care, because at our age, we’re going to be needing that very soon.

FINAL THOUGHTS – I appreciate that Obama is smart, personable and articulate; he represents the best our country, our generation has to offer. I don’t approve of EVERYTHING he does or will do, but I’m overall very satisfied with him so far. I think he was handed a sack of shit, and he’s doing his best to turn it into something useful that can be brought forward into the future. May he be successful, for ALL of our sakes.

Is there anybody… OUT THERE?

I’m fascinated by a Beatles song called “I Will”.

Who knows how long I’ve loved you?
You know I love you still.
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to, I will.
For if I ever saw you
I didn’t catch your name
but it never really mattered
I will always feel the same.
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart.
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart.
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
And the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will
I will.

The song seems to support the idea that there is someone for everyone, out there, somewhere – and that whether or not you’ve met, you’re already in love and always will be.

How can you love someone you haven’t met yet? How can you be willing to “wait a lonely lifetime” for this one particular person? What about the theory that there are SEVERAL someone’s?

If there are several someone’s, it would seem I’ve squandered all of mine. I sometimes wonder, did I give up on love, or did love give up on me? Was it really MY decision to be done with all that, or did the Universe decide that I’d had my chance(s) and blew it?

Being thrown into a chemo-induced state of early menopause at the ripe old age of 33 might have had something to do with it, too. I felt decidedly unattractive during and after chemo. You never know how much you depend upon your hair to feel attractive until it’s gone. After it grew out and I was feeling better about myself, I noticed that … no one was noticing. Not any more. I used to have some fun turning heads walking down the streets of Manhattan in my Victoria’s Secret power suits with a hemline up to THERE. But after chemo, after it had been confirmed that I was no longer child-bearing material, that all ended.

Did I look all that different? Not really. But it was like they knew – all the guys that used to wink, smile and wolf-whistle, they KNEW, somehow, that I could not process their DNA into little legacy beings for them, and they looked right through me. Maybe it’s pheromones? You know, like the little ant scouts that find food and send a chemical signal, and the next thing you know all their little friends are on your doorstep. Maybe the chemical signal dies with menopause. Or maybe it was more of a psychic signal, a change in my own attitude, that put them off.

It was a bit hard to swallow, and baffling too. But of course, not everyone is interested in procreating, and there were still dates to be had, just not with the wolf-whistlers. After a good run of disappointments, I decided to hang it up once and for all. I was done. All the energy and angst, for what, exactly? Was it better than being on my own? No, I can honestly say, it wasn’t.

So now, every time I hear “I Will”, I have to wonder. Is this person REALLY out there, unknown, but already loved, already loving me? Have I passed him on the street, or maybe bumped carts with him at the supermarket?

Can love REALLY start before you have ever met the person? 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is this, that, and the other thing, and that it abides. It endures, it continues… I guess the assumption here is “forever”, that love is infinite. Which means not only does it abide into the future, but it must also abide into the past, with no alpha or omega. Kind of like God.

If I never meet this person, or if I have met him but did not recognize him – if I must “wait a lonely lifetime”… then how can this love be real to me, and what was/is the purpose of its alleged existence? Or is it all just a crock?

Which brings me to the title of this post, inspired by Pink Floyd this time – is there anybody… OUT THERE?

I’ve got more questions about love than answers. As usual. As always and “forever and forever” 😉 And if anyone has an answer – even a partial answer – I’m listening!