Monday, March 30, 2009

Touched by a deaf guy

#18 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.
Trolling for this picture I realize that Amy Irving could rate her own essay.

A couple of things you could count on if you were a fictional character in the 70s: you would eventually befriend a runaway/prostitute, you would narrowly miss a drunk driving incident, and you would fall in love with a deaf person.

Deaf people were apparently everywhere in the 70s. Someone got the ferry running from Martha's Vineyard. And they were very good-looking, in the way we were good-looking in the 70s. Skinny, hairy, gabardined good-looking, without belts or pantylines.

Blindness was so 60s, so... Audrey Hepburn. Deaf characters lived these amazing independent good-looking lives where our character could worship them from afar "and never even realize..." Then you could learn their magical cool language (overnight with the help of a book), and they could solve your problems through their personal courage.

It made for a nice partnership.

You could count on the musical ASL number in these films -- Michael Ontkean's in Voices is a real tear-jerker. Who didn't run out for Joy of Signing after that? Boys thought it was a new way to meet chicks, and girls thought it was just another branch of social work we could break into.

If Diane Keaton had stayed in class with her deaf students instead of looking for Mr Goodbar, that movie would have had a very different ending.

One sign you have arrived as a cultural phenomenon is that you are parodied on SNL.

Iconic ASL moments from the 70s

Louise Fletcher's Oscar speech

Patty Duke gets self-referential in the Miracle Worker remake

Everybody Can performance of "You Light up my Life"

A deaf-dumb-'n'-blind kid sure plays mean pinball

Voices: "your coffee... is delicious..."

Learning the disability hierarchy from And Your Name is Jonah

Another Airport movie?! How can we dress that up? Ooo, add a deaf girl! (see also Towering Inferno)

Nashville - 2 is better than one!

Kitty O'Neill: Stockard + Stock Car + Stock character

late to the party
Children of a Lesser God - but good for Marlee. Got her Oscar. You ain't got one.

Notice that after all that exposure,we hadn't let learned how to applaud for deaf people, but we certainly knew they need a wide-shot.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I so hate to say anything about The Mill that might be construed as positive, and risk ruining my reputation as a miserable person. But I feel the need to share with you something that just occurred on my way to shutting down the computer for the night (and derailed that goal completely). It would be enough to just paste-and-go, but don't you really come by for the backstory?

My life of late has been immersed in Taxonomy. Like Br'er Rabbit, I pleaded with The Boss not to throw me in the brier patch of a new, radically different, quite possibly ahead-of-itself search technology, because I like nothing more than classifying things -- except perhaps figuring out how other brains are classifying things.

This "genome" approach to taxonomy (as refers to it) is beginning to show up in the oddest of places. And at the rate the Company is going, by the time we throw out our approach, it will no longer seem new and weird. And maybe that's for the best.

This week, worlds collided as conceptual searching showed up on my beloved Netflix. Yours too, I suppose.

Netflix would like you to begin classifying your tastes to a degree that allows them to better recommend movies you will like. Our old friend Search & Match. Netflix being Netflix, though, the taxonomy includes phyla you didn't even know a list of movies would need.

Monkey. I often/sometimes/never enjoy movies about MONKEY. Not even MonkeyS. Monkey is now a movie theme. If I answer OFTEN for Bollywood, Monkey, and Raunchy, what on earth will Netflix recommend? I am sad to tell you that I may sit here all night finding out.

My home page now says "Netflix recommends the following Critically Acclaimed Cerebral Drama," taking "more like this" and throwing it right into the rubbish bin.

This has been academically interesting enough in the usually dull language of my workplace. On Pandora, it was a kind of Easter Egg hunt to see how long before my personalized radio station branched its way to "Sister Golden hair," where it always seems to land no matter where you start.

But applied to The Movies, I may never get enough of this. I just changed TV Channels, Story Source and Sub-Cultures and got

African-American Political Dramas and Critically Acclaimed Witty Movies from the 1980s.

AND... the big chart pre-selects some answers based on my account history and previous ratings. Now THAT is a search/match I can get behind.

More proof I should be working for Netflix, I think.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mom's day out

In the pilot episode of thirtysomething, best friends Ellyn and Hope attempt to meet for lunch, just like the old days. It is an allegory for the 80s, designed to keep each of us feeling bad about the so-called "choices," we have allegedly made, and to pit us resentfully against the Other -- the woman who made the choice you didn't make. Shame on us and our ambitions. And our choker-pins.

You lived in dread of that first lunch with your parented friends, and you gulped your wine as eagerly as Ellyn does. I had a group of younger friends who referred to people has having "crossed-over," which meant "domesticated," even if the children had not yet come along.

But look at Hope's face. Domesticity does have a corral around it. They wouldn't give it up for the world. You wouldn't ask them too. But once in a while, single people, give your Moms a day out. You'll both be glad you did.
I have (2) scheduled this Saturday.

step 1
Get an idea. It does not have to be anything spectacular. Just do the work for her.

Moms like....
....places they can't take the kids. This can be the China Fair, or it can be a haircut. A restaurant without crayons.
.... errands without tears. BJs and Target, yes, but also the cat to the vet and a Craigslist pickup.
.... shopping, though this comes with a twist. Take her as consultant on your purchase. She'll never go to shop for herself, and this way, you'll talk her into something eventually.
.... quiet places. Museums, parks, gardens. There's a reason they turn into church ladies by the time the kids are teenagers -- just for 5 minutes of silence.
... brunch.

Moms don't like... try to pay attention to you during karate class. You'll swear on your own mother's life that the lacrosse sidelines are just fine, and you'll bring the thermos of coffee, but it actually stresses them out worrying about whether you are having a good time. They know if that were not their own kid out there looking at dandelions, this is not how they would spend their Saturday morning. (They think we are sacrificing wearing yellow raincoats and swinging hatboxes down Newbury St. Don't ruin it for them.)

Step 2
Initiate. This is not as hard as you think; you just have to fully initiate. Offer a date and a time, an event and a plan. "We should get together some time" is why you haven't. Have you ever seen a mother's calendar? Be the one thing she doesn't have to organize. You will have to navigate that complex calendar. So remember our rules on Portability.

Step 3
Offer to drive. If you have eyes in the front AND back of your head, being able to rest them is a big deal.

Step 4

Now know this about me. I do sit on sidelines (I pack my own chair), I do try to learn my Jonas Brothers, I carry a crayon in my purse, and I always bring a toy. This is also appreciated, especially by mothers outnumbered by their children, but much less so than a chardonnay and an hour of no one calling their name.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Support your local drama club

It's spring musical season, and the crazy kids down at the high school are putting on a gosh-darn show!

High school theatre runs are short; you really have to be alert for them. But March-May you can count on somewhere in your 10 mile radius there being a big old-fashioned musical going on every weekend. Thanks to the quick minds at Baker's Plays, they will all also be different. Tonight I caught My Fair Lady at the Nashoba regional.

They did the whole crazy production: every reprise of Street Where You Live, every Stanley Holloway "what's this doing here" street scene. It went on so long, I expected an Agnes DeMille dream ballet to occur during the curtain call. 3 and a half hours of fearless adolescent potential on display.

You don't have to be a drama club alumna to appreciate this effort, but it helps.

So much hard work for one burst of a weekend, then everything goes back to Mr Formal and the Oak Furniture store. I might be caught in my own flashback.

So give them your $10. I promise you will get your money's worth, even if you don't have a Pepsi or win the 50/50 raffle. The worst of the cast will fill your heart with their courage, the jocks they corralled into the chorus will challenge your stereotypes about Athletes and Drama Geeks, and the leads (both dramatic and comedic - there is a pattern to these stories) will take your breath away. In this production, Eliza and Higgins had obviously been coached directly from the film version, but their impressions on Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison were so spot-on that you had to appreciate them just for that. I suppose no one is ever going to put an "original" spin on Henry Higgins at this point anyway.

Freddie Einsford-Hill was sadly miscast, or had a full-on Cindy Brady, because that role has only one thing to do: sing a big tenor number (over and over and over) and it was just too much for him. (this is not him. this is just proof that a teenage boy can pull it off)

As a rule, I would advise against making high schoolers try to pull off accents, particularly turn of the century East End. But once you've stricken My Fair Lady, The King and I, West Side Story, and Oklahomer (as we say these parts) off your list, you may be stuck with Grease. And can we all, as a nation, agree to stop putting on productions of Grease? Funny thing about the Nashoba production of course, is that if you are imitating Audrey Hepburn, that's a BBC accent learned by a Cockney character played in a Belgian accent by way of the Netherlands. Oh, who cares, she's in Givenchy.

The Maine accent of Carousel, as written by Oscar Hammerstein ("Ain-cha skeered, Carrie?") spoken in the Petersburg accent, could not have held up much better. What I would give to watch that videotape. If only I had a 20-lb top-loading Panasonic to play it on.

First weekend of April: Guys and Dolls at Clinton High. Save me center-center.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What's the deal with nursery themes?

Sorry I haven't checked in in a while. I never think I am quite as interesting as you seem to. But I do appreciate the drop-by. It is 9:30 and I feel like I could fall asleep right here, which will be a regrettable mistake come 4:30 am, so thanks for keeping me company. Here is what I am thinking about.

The number of pregnant women in my life has been upped to 5, but the newest one is still a secret. no, it's not who you think it is. You don't even know her. But twice today I learned that the baby was "active." Their planets are calling them home. Or maybe just the full moon.

These are the common themes in my daily conversation, and speaking of themes...
What I want to wonder about is
why do we think the nursery needs a theme?

If Baby needed a theme, it would be this. Wouldn't you love to, just to tweak your mother-in-law?

Also on that list:
Mardi Gras
State flowers and birds
Early American primatives
Periodic table of elements (I know a lot of you lost this battle with the spouse)

Is it just that you have to "do" the baby's room anyway, so you might as well have a creative outlet about it? No one ever does the room in shabby chic with chianti drip candles. I have been in homes where the baby's room is the only room decorated at all. Oh, which reminds me...

Duck decoys (you know who you are)

Pottery Barn kids is not a theme, so much as a...gestalt. One's basket shelves do make the nursery.
In her teen years, Greatest of all Sisters had a groovy theme featuring either a smiley face rug or a hang-ten foot. I don't remember which, but Dodie will. The theme was Hippy Sunshine, in that vibrant 70s yellow-and-orange that they later learned makes people insane. I have a separate essay coming on sunshine yellow.

My schtick was Peanuts. Curtains, bedset, posters.

Some of you know this story.
I let the Peanuts theme hang on far too long, but not long enough to become ironic. One night when Sister had her terribly cool friends over, and Dodie and I were in my room playing chess (which we thought overrode our Toughskins) one of these teen heartthrobs wandered in to faux flirt with us.

I thought we were pulling it off, too, until he said, looking around at the Cowabunga poster, not yet replaced by this monstrosity and he said,

"Is this your little sister's room?"

Your theme can turn on you. Just like that.
And then one day, your precious Madison Jason Ru'Mala is painting over the giant Paddington you so lovingly traced using the overhead projector you borrowed from the media closet with a roller laden with chalkboard paint. The Noah's ark throw and the dumptruck border will all be retired to the scrap heap. Maybe that's what the theme is for -- so you'll know when the babyhood is over.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2 quick things

The Rabbit got a haircut.

I have gotten a better look at Satin Shorts, who I failed to mention the first time. He is a 50-ish guy in magnificent form, who uses the elliptical on the mezzanine (how's that for a turn of phrase?). Not a bad view if you don't mind that he is dressed like a Harlem Globetrotter, which it turns out I do. Satin shorts? With stripes? who let that happen?

Today I saw him from the front, and you know, he is more like 60-ish.
So... bravo, Meadowlark. I withdrawn my comment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

For one brief shining moment....

The rare moment in the New England spring, when the sun and the temperature peak on the same day, brings everyone out into the open. Days like this are when I miss living in the city -- enough to carry myself there 2 days in a row to experience it.

Knowing it is still too muddy and snow-deep to hike, my only other desire on a 60 degree blue-sky day was to wander the streets until I was too tired to go anymore. When I lived in Boston, this was a regular occurence, since I had no car and no money and the best thing you could do to fill a Saturday was walk to the North End, buy a cannoli and walk back.

I did not know gritty 70s Boston -- I moved up after the Kevin White revitalization years, and the Massachusetts Miracle. 80s Boston was still an island to its own, though -- local establishments and insider tricks. Where The Limited coming to town was such a novelty it got a 4-story building at Faneuil Hall. (That building, I learned yesterday, is now an Abercrombie. So I guess thinks only change in proportion to their times.)

But of course the times have changed.

And now a trip to the city requires some planning, and a little more cash. Though I can still pass a day spending nothing but transportation fare (tolls + parking + T fare, so it ain't 85 cents, is what I am saying...). I decided to walk the new Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway - the $10B worth of grass they laid over the central artery.

I now live 35 miles from the city, and the decision to drive in or park-n-ride is based more on financial output than convenience or even stress. Now that the commuter parking is $7 and the T is $2 one way... one is not really saving time or money. After all, I know where the 10-hr meters are in Brookline, and on Sundays, they are free. So I drove in. So did everyone else.

On days like this, after the dark cold night of winter, Boston explodes into the streets. My ordinarily 1 hr drive became 2, but I had NPR on and the sun on my face. It was almost as good as hiking. The C line is notoriously slow -- I have run faster -- but I was "Livin' in My City" -- recalling years of afternoons spent just like this, with a lot less money and a lot more stress.

I got off at Govt Center because I like the approach from the brick summit down to Faneuil Hall. Ben Franklin stands there waiting for you to cross the street -- well, it's this guy, who will charge you for taking his picture. I wonder if he charged these people.

I charged into the thick of it -- through the Hall, through Quincy Market, and out the other side, where you used to be faced with a Frogger race to get to the North End. You deserved that cannoli.

Now you walk across the street. You just....walk. You look "both" ways, not 5 ways (including both a squat and a tiptoe). And you cross the street. It's the FUTURE.

My preferred North End stroll (with or without stops for cannolis). Columbus Park first, follow shoreline as best you can. Salem st. Weave in and out getting lost for a while. Hanover st to the end -- stop at the Peace Garden. get this: I found out over lunch that The Boss's grandfather built the Peace Garden. Well, of course he did. Awesome runs in the family.

Yell "Anthony" down Prince St. Oh, go ahead, everyone does it.

Find All Saints Way. This takes effort, so get some espresso beans to carry with you to find your way back. If you prefer more structure, and a guide, here is another opportunity.

Maybe next weekend. Today it snowed 3 inches. {sigh}

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I kan haz followerz?

You know you laugh at LOLCats. don't front.

I have discovered the blog has new Followers, as indicated at the bottom of the page.

I want to give big shout and a thank you to "Violet," of the Lemonade Stand, who has been a follower attached for some time, and has the distinction of being the first DrawingIn reader that I did not know personally. And she has been a regular visitor. Writing that made me feel neglectful, so I popped by to see video of the now not-so-baby.

There are new followers now, and this almost constitutes... a following.

I added the visit counter some time ago as well. Don't believe it for a moment; it counts me. It is not supposed to count me, but I know that it does, so 15,000 visits in the past year is grossly overinflated. I should try to fix it, but I didn't know there was a following. 2 new followers this week, and it is almost a Movement.

that's the Group W Bench.

Only in the Drawing In Room do we serve up such an ankle-deep photo reference.

I had a Google Reader subscription for a while. But it was Buggy in IE6, and I couldn't find the unsubscribe, so I just left it alone. I do follow a few blogs, but not in the public "I am a Follower" way that my Followers have chosen. See how I just said My Followers, all causal, like everyone has them?

see me.... feel meee.... touch me....

A friend recently launched her blog and asked for some feedback on it. I began a sentence with "The most successful blogs...." what does that even mean? Money making, I guess? High traffic? I look at others' blogs I follow and they have these high traffic numbers, and 50 comments per post, and I think... well, I would probably crack under the pressure anyway. Successful for me is just frequent. entertaining -- for both of us, but I'll be honest - I am never sure what you as a readership will respond to. I hope that what I find interesting, you do too.

I'll apologize to my new followers for their signing on during a period were I seem to be making little sense, and thinking of nothing of consquence beyond how badly The Banana Nut Cheerios product turned out and whether everyone in Pueblo, Colorado has a PO Box.

Sometimes we talk about politics and money and god, the war, people who haveinfluenced our lives, working our programs and taking our inventories, babies and bosses and ViewMaster reels.

And sometimes we just want to laugh at a funny caption on a cat picture. Miss Bender regrets.
Better luck next time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

God made snowstorms so...

... people would watch David Lean movies.

Spent our March snow day watching Ryan's Daughter. This is why you can't remember if you have seen Ryan's Daughter.

Because you have seen Dr Zhivago. Not your fault, really, if you can't tell Sarah Miles from Julie Christie, even in this 2 shot.

One has snow. One doesn't.

Oh, check THIS out.
David Lean has some kind of Hitchcock-thing for the wide bottom lip and crystal eyes.
The one with the sand was Lawrence of Arabia.

I hope you don't log on here to find anything deep and meaningful. That's out of stock right now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

This Season on Drawing In

It's time you got to know the new cast of characters at the gym. I have become a gym rat (again, I am afraid) and now that I am there every day I am free to assign personae to my co-members.

When I belonged to the Waltham Athletic Club, I was actually more of a gym rat, but probably not working as hard. The WAC had more toys in it -- specifically, a full-sized pool, 2 hot tubs, a steam, a sauna, a full-court basketball gym, and some circuit stuff too. I would speand hours there. Blue Cross paid for 1/3 of it, so in my otherwise unglamorous life I could take advantage of a "club" that required me to change clothes about 3 times when I was there. It had other things I didn't even take advantage of, like tennis courts, raquetball, and an on-site golf pro. (how the bloody did I even afford that? I don't recall).

But I moved away. Because I wanted a house and blahblahblah. (though I'll tell you, House nearly paid for itself tax-break wise this year. That piece of change might have otherwise gone to the military-industrial complex. )

So I got all escrowed up, moved to the exurbs, and the Mill, and got fat and sleepy.

I have never really looked like Jamie Leigh, well maybe here, but only because Laurie Strode and I had the same awful wardrobe.

I would never find the WAC again. But I never got much healthier at the WAC. Enter Global.

Who's Who at the Club
Dave: Signed me up. I do not think that is really his name, but I can't remember what his name is. So in my head he is Dave, and in person, he is, "hey, how's it goin'?" with enthusiastic familiarity.

The Rabbit: This is a kid who works-out with his father. He is likely older than he appears, and his father has dragged him along to the gym to beef up his 98-pt paleness. He walks toes-first and skirts around people without looking at them, only out of the corners of his eyes.

The Gals: As you might imagine, they work out together with a staff trainer, and they howl and "cut-up" while they try to make sense out of the cockamammie equipment stashed in every corner. If laughter is the best workout, they are the elite.

Jammer: My brain makes these names up on its own. I am only aware of them when I see someone and my brain announces to me how they are categorized. I can do better with The Jammer, but I only discovered her the other day. She was on the treadmill rocking out to her iPod -- eyes shut, head banging. May I add that she looks like a home ec teacher, or the office manager at the mortgage company. When I saw her the 2nd time, my cortex said, "hey, that's tha Jammer." My cortex is very excited when it recognizes people, and likes to tell me so.

Keri Strug: Teenage phenom athlete of some kind with her own trainer she addresses with the intimate respect one would an Edwardian Governess.

The Nudist: Self-explanatory. If you are drying your hair in the dressing area -- however long that takes -- on a Saturday evening, naked... you are an exhibitionist.

Medicine Ball: Props to this guy. He is about 60, made out of cinderblock, and has a routine which involves carrying 2 handled-medicine balls, one in each hand, upstairs to the "mezzanine," across the floor, down the other side, then back up again.

Creepy Guy: Prefers the treadmill behind the thigh machines and waits for the ladies. We stay away.

Names I imagine I have:
Pink Towel

Sauna (I am the only one ever in it. Let's hope Nudist doesn't ruin this for everybody)

I have never found a machine that makes me sweat like (product endorsement) the Expresso Bike, which I just discovered has a bike-powered video game built in, in addition to its many virtual routes. Take that, Wii Fitness.

After an invigorating dash by the beach or through the redwood forest, I enjoy hunting dragons in this masochistic version of Jockey's Ridge where you lose all your points if you happen to fall into the water. Plus the dragons have figured out I can not possibly follow them up the dunes, so they hover there and laugh at me.

Now I just want to Beeee there, before the snow comes and socks me in for the entire day tomorrow. Gotta go. More later.