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MY FUNNY VALENTINES…

February 14, 2011 21 comments
I realize this is an odd lead-in to this post, but I need to give a little bit of explanation about what inspired it.  I watched a disturbing documentary a couple of weeks ago about the sex trafficking of children, particularly underaged girls, in Atlanta.  Even more disturbing was a 30 minute film included in the program titled “The Candy Shop.”  This film was set around the turn of the century, and it was intended to be a twisted fairy tale about the trafficking of young girls.  There was a young boy in it who hawked newspapers.  He noticed that a strange, tall cadaverous man had opened a candy shop across the street and that the customers were adult men.    It was later revealed that this evil creature had developed a machine that he put little girls into and turned them into “candy.”  It reminded me a lot of an even darker version of Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”  At the same time, there were a couple of men who are very much on the periphery of my life that I was hearing stories about involving some bad behavior.  (Not anything to do with the above topic, but still, bad and hurtful behavior.)  I had all this rolling around in my head, and I knew my little brain was about to start reciting a “men are evil” mantra – and that’s a road I don’t like to go down.  Instead,  I made a very conscious decision to refocus and stay away from that kind of thinking.  Because in my life, the genuinely significant men are absolutely extraordinary.  So this Valentine’s Day post is dedicated to the great men in my life…and to great men everywhere.

This list is by no means complete, but I’m hitting the highlights. 

 

Will doing Mick Jagger

WILL NORMAN 

The best, the brightest, the most beautiful child on earth – on the cusp of becoming the best man on earth.   There aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to my perfect son.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Will or who has a bad thing to say about him.  (They’d damnned well better not do it within earshot of me, anyway.)  My son is the best thing to ever happen to me.  Period.

 
  

 

Butler is the Sun

BUTLER DAY

I’ve known Butler since I was nine years old – he’s closer to me than my own brother.  As his sister, Beth, so aptly put it, Butler is “surrounded by an aura of wonderful Butlerness.”  For those readers who don’t know him personally, I’m truly sorry for you.  See this picture?  It’s no accident that I chose Butler’s face to put on the sun – a benevolent Butler-Sun beaming down on us all.  Hey…in a perfect world.

 

 

Michael Moss

 

MICHAEL MOSS  Where do I begin and where do I end with this one?  For those of you who haven’t had the privilege to witness and be a part of the the journey of this magnificent man, you’ve missed a true odyssey.  Our intense (I think it’s a 25 on the Richter scale) and sometimes rocky friendship of over 30 years is something akin to driving down I-75 and sighting a unicorn…or a centaur.  Rare.  Inexplicable.  The very stuff of myth.

 

 

 

TOM DECHMAN  Arguably the finest teacher, certainly the finest public school teacher I’ve ever had.  Tom taught me things when I was sixteen and seventeen years old – and I don’t mean lessons from books – that I have literally used for the rest of my life.  The man was such a genius that the first time I asked him a question and he replied that he didn’t know the answer, I thought he was lying.  Tom passed away in 2003, and I still think about him and miss him…and probably always will.

Tom Lake

 

TOM LAKE  Just when my former teacher named Tom died – this new one named Tom stepped up to the plate for me.  (And for those of you who’ve ever tried to teach ME anything, you know that it really does require stepping up to the plate.)  Tom Lake is the American/Western equivalent of the Dalai Lama as far as I can tell.  He’s a kind and compassionate friend and incredibly gifted shaman (also a taskmaster, when necessary) who travels all over the world to share his limitless talents with his students.  A true healer and a constant source of inspiration to me and all those lucky enough to know him.

 COMMANDER GEORGE W. “KIM” KIMMONS  I think of this man as the one who should have been my father – in the best of all possible worlds.  I met Kim when I was about eleven years old.  I thought the moon and stars revolved around him – and maybe they did.  I was just getting interested in playing the piano during those same years, and Kim only knew four chords.  He could play virtually anything with just those four, and decided to teach me some songs.  (Okay, they were mostly dirty Navy ditties, but still.)  His nickname for me as long as we knew each other was “Leeter.”  Believe you me, he’s the only person in the world who could get away with calling me that.  Don’t any of the rest of you even think about it.  Kim passed away in 2002, and I miss him terribly.  He was simply one of the finest men to have ever walked the planet.  Ever.

Allan Kollar

 

ALLAN KOLLAR  I’ve known Allan since I was in high school – he’s the former ringleader of Midnight Auto Supply turned rock star of the theater world in his neck of the woods. Makes me laugh harder than anyone I know.  Allan is a funky combination of Southern gentleman, boy-next-door, Dennis the Menace… and Denis Leary.  His crisp, candy-coated exterior hides a molten center of…what?   Lava?  Nitroglycerin?  Kryptonite?  The world may never know.



 

 

Joe Tallant

JOE TALLANT  My favorite uncle – always has been – always will be.  The true genius in my family.  Could doubtless figure out how to take apart a nuclear reactor and put it back together again.  (Could also tear up a crowbar.)  One of the only people in my family whose brain is frequently on the same weird wavelength as mine.  I guess that’s not necessarily a quality most would aspire to, but it certainly makes communication easier between me and Joe.  I truly don’t know what I’d do without him to explain to me how shit works.  And I mean everything from an electric toothbrush to a rocket ship and all things in between.  There’s only the singular Joe Tallant, but really, it’s too bad everybody can’t have one.

 
 
 
 
GARY TALLANT Gary is my second cousin… or maybe my third, and one of my favorite people in the world.  My God, he cooks, he calls, he cares.  I had the great privilege of watching Gary in action when he did work on the house for the past two summers.  He is an old-world craftsman – the likes of which you’d be hard pressed to find anymore.  And a perfectionist from the word “go.”  (He is, after all, a member of the Tallant family.)  All you have to do with Gary is talk to him for five minutes to know he’s the kind of person you could trust with your house, your bank account, your kid…or your wife.   He is a pure pleasure to have around…just to drink in the good vibes of a man who consistently does the right thing by his friends, his family, his clients, and everyone else he comes across.  Not to mention he’s the proudest (new) grandpa you ever
did see.  Don’t let that humble exterior of his fool you…absolutely an incredible man.


Dan Lawson

DAN LAWSON  Husband of one of my dearest friends, and father to their sons, Tom and Warren.  This is the guy who uncomplainingly packs all our stuff into the van every summer when it’s time to go to Hunting Island.  Who patiently explains to us, over and over and over, how to work the remote.  Moves furniture around for parties, makes ice runs, ferries his kids all over God’s green earth (and God’s green golf courses), and I could go on and on.  Dan’s another one who makes me laugh so hard I almost start to snort.  He has always been unfailingly good to me and as far as I know – has never asked for a single thing in return.



 

 

Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love

BEN NORMAN

Last, but certainly not least, my ex-husband and the father of our beautiful perfect child.  Ben and I just couldn’t seem to gee haw when we were together, but we do have the greatest kid in the world.  Ben is an IT ubergeek, and I mean that in a good way, who taught me the Golden Rule of handling PC problems, and I quote “Have you rebooted?  DON’T call me about your computer malfunction until you’ve tried rebooting.”  Most importantly, he’s a good father to my son.  Every time I hear horror stories from my friends and family about their exes, I secretly rejoice that mine is nothing like theirs.  In the world of ex-husbands, Ben is definitely a keeper.  (And really, he only wears that Elvis costume two or three times a week.)
 

 

My completely unsolicited advice for Valentine’s Day?  Take good care of the good men in your lives.  Love them and let them know that you do.  Lyta has spoken.

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Categories: Uncategorized

TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD…

May 17, 2010 3 comments

Yay!  It’s my birthday!  Once again I have been inspired by Jenn of Ark.  To wit:  the WTF creatures on the Quiznos ads.  I love these.  I love their rodent-like appearance.  I love their bad singing.  Jennifer, I thought I was the only one until your post.  My “Kill Your TV” shirt notwithstanding – there are some commercials out there that are better than actual programming.  A sign of the end times.  If you’re a goddamned Jehovah’s Witness, that is…

Me love the Sock Monkey: 

Me love Nessie: 

It’s My Birthday, It’s My Birthday, Happy to Me, Happy to Me! 

Final Thoughts:  I have the best friends in the wide, wide world!

Categories: Uncategorized

He Ain’t Harvey…He’s My Br’er…

April 3, 2010 9 comments
So very Easter appropriate...

"Wake Up"

 I think the Christian Easter story has been pretty well covered…so I decided to explore the bunny angle.  The Easter Bunny ( or as it used to be called the “Easter Hare”) was associated with the Pagan celebration of the goddess Eostre, hence the term “Easter.”  Eostre was associated with fertility and therefore closely tied into both the hare and the egg aspect of the celebration.  Outside of Greco-Roman mythology, rabbits are “trickster” figures – gods, goddesses, mortals, or spirits who play tricks on others and don’t play by conventional rules, blah, blah, blah.  So enough with the academic bullshit…let’s bwing on the wabbits. 

“Donnie Darko” is one of my favorite movies of all time.  And features what is doubtless Harvey’s creepy, creepy cousin “Frank.”  Or as my son and I fondly call him “the evil silver bunny.”  I won’t spoil the movie for those of you who NEED TO WATCH IT, but Frank actually isn’t evil at all.  Wabbits and wesuwection themes abound.  From the “Watership Down” reference to a double feature of “Last Temptation of Christ” on the same billing with “Dawn of the Dead.”  (Not to mention Frank’s very Easter-appropriate command “Wake up.”)  Too many interesting ideas  to count and explore in this one post.  I give it five…carrots.  Out of thwee.  (And yes, I will do the Elmer Fudd thing whenever the mood strikes…just go with it.)  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPplDPm2m4Y

Anya’s Bunny Freakout 

I know…this doesn’t exactly fit…but if a five hundred (or so) year old vengeance demon like Anya is freaked out by bunnies…it’s just too good to pass up.  (This is a clip from “Buffy” where all the characters are under a weird spell that makes them sing everything.  They’re all exploring their theories about what is causing the involuntary singing.) Speaking of bunny freakouts, does anyone remember President Carter’s swamp rabbit encounter from the seventies? 

   

In 1979 President Carter was quietly fishing when a very aggressive “Swamp Rabbit” swam up to his boat, hissing and apparently intent on boarding. (A Wepublican Wabbit, no doubt.)  The President manfully defended himself with his canoe paddle. 

  

   

It looks vicious, doesn’t it?  Almost as dastardly as the rabbit in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and NO…we’re not going there.  You’ve all seen the movie.  And where is that Holy Hand Grenade when you need it?  (Almost forgot – for you conspiracy/coincidence/crap theorists – the President’s initials are “J.C.”   Just like that other guy in that other Easter story.  Spoooooooky.) 

And now for a weal celebwity…(Elmer Fudd again.  Tiresome, isn’t it?)

   

     

This, of course, is the classic character Br’er Rabbit.  A trickster to be sure.  Immortalized by Joel Chandler Harris (whose first two initials are J.C. for all you tinfoil helmet people…ooh…aah…egad!)  And then there’s his wascally cousin… 

   

whose mission in life is to drive Elmer Fudd 

absolutely cwazy.   

 And let’s not forget this most beloved pooka (look it up!)   

If you haven’t seen this film…it’s pretty swell.   So just what the hell does all this stuff have to do with Easter?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe everything.  Maybe it’s all very “Da Vinci Code.”  Maybe it’s a little trip down the rabbit hole that only happens at midnight on Easter Eve when Lyta is hopped up on Peeps and Cadbury eggs.

Categories: Uncategorized

WHERE THE WILD THINGS USED TO EXIST…

March 2, 2010 11 comments

The Modern Vampire?

The following piece was written by my cousin, Jody Callahan. (With a little editing/paraphrasing on my part.)   I decided to post it because I think it’s a damned good commentary on the subject.  I haven’t subjected myself to the “Twilight” movie.  (After reading Jody’s opinions I may have to see it, after all.) But I must admit to reading the books.  Mainly because a nice but misguided Barnes and Noble employee recommended the books for my son, and I often like to read what he’s reading to see what he’s interested in.  These books and movies seem like a backlash against real horror movies more than anything else.  The premise of the first novel is that Bella, your average misunderstood teenager, goes to live with her father, who she has never been very close to (geographically or emotionally).  She soon notices that there are several students in her new high school who are different from all the other kids.  (I’ll say.)  She finally realizes they are vampires.  But they’re good vampires (of course) who only drink animal blood.  One of these, Edward, becomes Bella’s vampire love interest.  He, naturally, is supernaturally handsome, charming, kind, restrained, modest, wealthy, worldly…there’s not even a mild undercurrent of bad boy or bloodsucker in him.  I understand that the writer of the novels the movie is based on, Stephenie Meyer,  is Mormon.   I can see where the concept of cautioning teenagers against premarital sex and advocating morality and virtue is appealing to her.   In this case why choose the format of the vampire/werewolf novel for this?  Just a currently popular vehicle for the message – I grok that.  This doesn’t make it any less annoying.   Of course, most of the main vampire characters in the novels are of such high moral character and such models of self-discipline, I have to wonder why Ms. Meyer didn’t choose a band of angels to come down from heaven and attend high school.  And the werewolves in the series… aren’t.  Not in the traditional horror movie sense.  They’re an extremely noble and loyal tribe of shape-shifting Native Americans who protect the area from vampires.  Politically correct werewolves, so to speak.

There is no doubt who the target audience is for the movie itself.  (At Christmas I saw a ten-year-old girl having a serious meltdown in Target because they didn’t carry the particular “Twilight” movie poster that she wanted.)  But as far as I know, with some exceptions, since when are vampire and werewolf novels and horror films appropriate fare for kids that age? (And for all you people who know me and know I’ve been reading Stephen King since I was twelve  – YES – I’m one of the exceptions.  As is my son, who I took to see “Blade” when he was five.  Some kids can handle real vampires and most, apparently, cannot.  In fact, at the time I took Will to see “Blade” I remember thinking about how his cousin, also five, was still afraid of the Wicked Witch of the West.  And that’s more the norm, I think.  And did my son like “Blade”, you ask?  No…he psychotically loved it.) 

 Dracula  sure as hell wasn’t written for kids.  And granted it may seem a little tame nowadays.  But the underlying message is the same today as it was then:  Monsters will harm you…kill you if they can.  They’re evil.  It’s their JOB.  They’re not interested in your chastity…or your virtue…or your life.  Their goal is to rob you of all those.  So when did vampires stop being evil, undead bloodsuckers?  When did werewolves stop ripping people apart?   (And don’t even get me started on the love story angle of the “Twilight” series.)   Watering the subject matter down to guarantee yourself a larger, albeit younger, audience  just doesn’t cut it.  Shame on you – Stephenie Meyer.  In any case – on to Jody’s thoughts – seeing as how he’s the one who suffered through the film. ( Thankfully, he didn’t fork out the cost of a movie theater ticket  to see it.  Although, even at Netflix prices…I sense that it wasn’t worth the time.)

“Twilight”

Jody Callahan

I don’t know where to begin. Not that I have so much to say, but the movie is so forgettable it’s hard to get a hold on it as a whole – like some particle floating beneath the surface of the water –  the harder you try to grab it the more you push it away. Actually, that simile was more than this movie deserves. How about I go at this bullet point style?

· I can see how a 13-year-old little girl would go for this, because what does she know about anything? What disturbs me is how many grown-ass adults are into the Twilight movie and the books. (It’s as disappointing as back in MySpace days, when adults would list as their favorite books several titles from their childhood, one classic read from high school, Nicholas-fucking-Sparks, one from whatever minstrel representative of their particular political view, Harry Potter, and the Bible. This means to me that most people read shit if they read at all. Yes, I get that Harry Potter is for fun, but if I’m given a choice between an HP title and one appropriate for my age…)

· I don’t care how hot you are, staring and mouth-breathing at each other does not make for lasting sexual tension.

· I love horror movies. I love the lore. I love rule breaking. But you have to know, respect, and follow the rules with devotion and discipline before you can be worthy of breaking them. Vampires do not fucking sparkle in the sunlight. The light of day kills them dead. They don’t glint and glitter like a teen or twenty-something that insists on dressing like a “sexy” fairy for Halloween. Go find a friend who hasn’t seen the movie or read the books. Tell him that you came up with this new and awesome vampire story. Tell him your new take on the lifestyle of the undead is that instead of being burned to death by the light, they stand with their arms outstretched in the sunbeams like it’s a Creed video and sparkle like pretty diamonds. Then stand still with your arms by your side, because you friend is right to run up and punch you and demand that you apologize.

· Allow me to paraphrase some dialogue:
Edward: “I’m going to kill you.”
Bella: “You’re pretty.”
Edward: “Seriously, I will rip you apart and feast on your blood and entrails.”
Bella: “I drive a truck.”
Edward: “Are you listening?”
Bella: “Huh?”
Edward: “I’m a sexual predator and serial killer by nature. It’s difficult for me to not rape you to death right now and eat your dead, lifeless corpse.”
Bella: “You’re so complex and hard for me to read.”
Edward: “Forget it. Let’s just climb some trees in the next scene.”

· Is there anything a crippled beer-drinking Indian in a wheelchair can’t lend credibility to? Like the story that once upon a time in pilgrim days some vampires dressed as foppish dandies and killed a guy in the woods…

· Of course, God forbid the film show much of West Coast Indians, or their reservation at all. Instead, let’s whisk Bella away to her high-school-for- Abercrombie & Fitch-models who can’t be all that bright because they appear to be 25.

· Let’s see. Somewhere else in there the girl from “Up In The Air” put on a prom dress while Bella didn’t care. It was the closest I felt to the movie.

· Did they play baseball or did I dream that?

A bigger reason I can’t comment more on this movie is because it doesn’t matter.  I was too old for this film when I was 19.  It’s a movie about people wishing something more remarkable would happen, and maybe that’s the connection between it and its loyal following. And I’m being sincere. The romantic leads barely kiss. They were going to have sex but decide not to, and spend all their time wondering what it would be like if they did. At the end a bad-guy vampire wants to eat Bella “just because”, so the good guys go for a drive, get bored and have a “climactic” battle where no one really gets hurt except the bad guy. Then Bella and Edward go to the prom.

The only saving grace is that Kristen Stewart is getting notoriety for this. I think she can/will be great based on her performances in “Adventureland” and “Into The Wild.”

I’m gonna go find a cute girl and stare at her and mouth-breathe and see how far that gets me.

Jody