Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's Too Late, Johnny

Johnny at 80: not sexy.
Maine being basically off the grid, I usually jump at the chance when a "big name" entertainer decides to come here. After all, it's not every day, like it is in DC or New York, that a giant of the industry visits America's Vacationland. So I get tickets to see them all, even if the performer was never a true favorite of mine, just to feel like less of an outsider. But I have to draw the line at Johnny Mathis, who is scheduled to appear here next May in what is being billed as "A Night to Remember." (I hope he remembers to come.)

When I was in high school I adored Johnny. What girl didn't? With his beautiful face and incredibly velvety voice, his tender love songs went straight to my heart. Then sometime in college I learned the truth: He wasn't singing to me at all, or in fact to any girl. Johnny was gay!

Of course I forgave him and moved on. But now he's back, and besides being gay he is 80, and that is simply unforgivable. I am certainly not interested in hearing some old, gay guy croon "Chances Are" and "A Certain Smile." He's 80!!!!! How embarrassing.

My Age Exactly

                             Roz Chast
Here in Maine it's hard to find friends. That's because the people who choose to live on the cusp of society aren't all that social. Most women my age are busy knitting caps for their grandkids, and the men would rather go out hunting or fishing than sit around and chat over a glass of wine or a beer, which is a pretty popular activity back where I come from. So instead of passing the time with friends or getting paid to make more money for someone else, I embark on volunteer assignments. My latest one at a hospital has taken me into the world of the sick. This is a double-edged sword, since while I feel sorry for people with serious health problems I am simultaneously glad that mine are not so bad after all.

One place I work is in the radiology department. When a patient arrives for an appointment, he/she is first identified by date of birth date rather than name, since this is how most computers store personal information these days. Being pretty good at math, I do the calculations in my head and instantly know where they are in relation to my age. Sometimes this is quite disheartening, like when someone ten years younger looks ten years older, causing me to consider sticking my head in an oven, just as soon as I can find an oven.

A few days ago a great-looking woman with long, red hair and a dynamite figure, dressed stylishly, arrived at the front desk. She gave her birth date and I was stunned to realize that she had eight years on me, which would make her 76. I jokingly said, "I think you got your birth date wrong." She smiled and said that really she is that old, and for some reason she looks young and always has, even with her original face. "My God, I'm almost 80," she exclaimed. "It seems like just yesterday I was playing in the sandbox."

That lady made my day. Maybe age really is just a number.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Loners Anonymous Winter Meeting

                    Gordon Studer
It's been quite a long time since our last Loners Anonymous meeting. I think today is a perfect day for one, since it is grey and dreary outside with a steady downpour, the kind of day nobody wants any part of. That suits us just fine, since we all really enjoy staying at home, alone, doing "our thing."

None of us is ever quite sure how many are in attendance, but based on some conversations I have overheard lately, it seems as if our group is growing. I'm pretty sure my next-door neighbor belongs since she moved in over a year ago and I still haven't met her, although I have seen her from a distance. (Whenever she sees me outside she scurries in the opposite direction, a sure sign.)

Our meetings are low-key, of course, and don't require much in the way of refreshments, or any preparations at all, really. In fact, I have written this post during today's meeting and did not catch any flak for doing so. That's one of the perks of membership. Another is that you can talk for as long as you want on any subject and nobody tries to hurry you up or steal your thunder. The spotlight is always on you!

I love this group.

Open Letter to Jeb Bush

Dear Jeb:

I heard yesterday that you are considering running for president in 2016. As someone who likes you a lot and thinks you would do a great job, I beg you: Don't do it!

Right now you have a nice life, with a wonderful wife, great kids, and even two adorable grandchildren. Your parents are still alive but certainly not for long; why not enjoy them while you can? Hang out with them at one of their nice homes. Or heck, why not go skydiving with your Dad? Or maybe clear some brush down in Crawford with your brother, that sounds like a good time too.

And let's remember, the press will destroy you no matter what. You could be Jesus Christ risen from the dead, but if you're not a Democrat you are dirt! They are already salivating over the possibility of sinking their fangs into another Bush. (I recently heard several of them saying that you had "put on a lot of weight.") And too, there's Hillary and Bill--nobody can accuse either one of them of playing fair. Do you want to walk around with a target on your back?

Please Jeb, just live out your nice life as a happy family man with tons of money. And tell George and Laura we still miss them and think of them often.

Love, Andrea (and Mitch, I'm sure he would agree)

P.S.: You have porked up quite a bit if I may say, and those campaign stops at all the state fairs with the barbecued ribs and all the rest won't help. How is your cholesterol these days?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Life in a Small Town

Bah, humbug!
At the little post office in my little town, there is a lovely tradition dating back many years. Beginning on December 10 and until New Year's Day, the locals supply sweet treats for all, leaving them on the table in the lobby, such as it is. There are two deliveries each day, one first thing in the morning and the other after lunch. So if you're a sugar freak you can partake twice a day, adding to those extra holiday pounds for free. The sign-up sheet appears around the end of November, with people choosing when they want to bring in their goodies.

I must admit that this adds a bit of excitement to picking up the mail. In fact my husband frequently offers to do the chore at this time, and not so much the rest of the year. There are homemade cookies and breads and cakes. There are frosted things and sprinkled things, and candies of all types. Yesterday there was a bowl of handmade peanut brittle. Last week someone outran the pack with dozens of walnut-banana mini-cupcakes, arranged artfully on a platter and with a stack of napkins imprinted with images of Santa at the ready.

Most days I look away, or brace myself, take a sniff and then pass it all by. But today I went in sort of hungry, having had an early breakfast and busy morning, and was ready to indulge. I was dismayed to find a tin of those ubiquitous Danish cookies, the kind you can get in the CVS all year for $5.99. There they sat, still in the original tin without so much as a red ribbon or shred of silvery tinsel nearby. Whoever brought that deserves a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking this year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Where Are All the Good Muslims?

Where are all the nice Muslims hanging out? My husband is always telling me not to judge an entire group because of a rotten few, and that most Muslims are wonderful people, there is just this one little nutty faction. Like the guy who took hostage 16 innocent people in Sydney, Australia last night, random shoppers who happened to be in a chocolate shop. Then suddenly they're in some horror movie with a guy in a turban muttering "Get me an ISIS flag, or else."

Where are all the good and decent Muslim leaders and why don't they speak out against this tiny little fraction of radical beheaders who believe in the same religion they do? I am just looking for one.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Jake and his creepy eyeballs.
About the only thing this film gets right, besides the stunning cinematography that almost makes seeing it worthwhile--I said almost-- is the title. Never has the word "crawler" been used more appropriately, bringing to mind all sorts of creepy, unsavory, slimy things of the night. Sadly, Jake Gyllenhaal does a bang-up job as Louis Bloom, a repulsive insect. I may never like him again, which is sad because I always counted him among my favorite actors. But in this film he's a sociopathic, half-demented weirdo with no redeeming qualities, and that's being kind.

As a petty thief looking for a career, our hero stumbles onto a late-night car crash and is fascinated by the news photographers who show up to film the grisly scene. Watching them, he gets the idea that he could to the same thing himself. And so, being a self-described "quick learner," next thing you know he's got himself a cheap camcorder and is scurrying around L.A. looking for tragedy to record and sell to the local news.

There are so many loopholes in the script it's a wonder I didn't fall through one and end up in John Malkovich's brain. For example, how does Lou pay the rent for his crummy apartment? How come he doesn't know a soul? And just what rock did he crawl out from under? (We are given no background information on him, other than his name.) But the question you will ask yourself continually is what the heck is wrong with his eyeballs? They bulge out in a monstrous way, and you're stuck watching the whites of his eyes, complete with little red veins, in every close-up. Are they fake? Is it Halloween again? What's going on? And why are the L. A. police so slow to show up for everything? Lou beats them to the crime scene every time, despite the fact that he's listening to their police radio and hearing alerts the same time they do. Are they all out getting donuts?

Bloom thinks nothing of killing people, be they friend or foe, to get ahead, or using extortion as a path to sexual gratification. The object of his affection is Nina, played by Rene Russo looking haggard and quite unattractive, in part due to about a pound of blue eye shadow apparently applied with a palette knife. (Again with the eyes!) Nina, another creepy crawler, is an unsavory TV news director who wants videos of the goriest, most heinous things out there to increase her station's ratings. Bloom is her man. Together they work their black magic; Bloom's wallet grows fatter as Nina's ratings rise.

Halfway through, my husband, a major rubbernecker who likes to see gore as much as the next guy, whispered to me that "this is so dumb" and that he could "leave at any time." I promised him that things would improve, having heard that Gyllenhaal was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. Sadly, things went from bad to worse. Now, besides all the negative images in my head, my husband was once again proven right. I hate that.