Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cathy Rigby

#28 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

Cathy Rigby is 57.  I recently incited controversy by describing her as 60 ( no, it was “SIXTY”) and was corrected, though not by her.rigby77

They just don’t make Olympics like they used to.

As long as The Readership is clinging to their accuracy (and we thank you for that) let me emphasize that Rigby is also a 60’s memory, as she first appeared in the Olympics in 1968 at 16, bringing the US into contention.  Sort of.

But then, we were raised to believe that the Soviet Union ran forced death march camps of tiny children in order to sweep the Olympics, and that winning Worlds was not the same as Olympic medaling.  Rigby didn’t do either.  But oh… how we loved her.
She was warm and cute and fit in your pocket.  That other blonde Chris-Evert-Biographypixie we loved was a little intimidating. 

She would kick her way out, we thought.

But let’s talk Rigby.  In another era, in another time, in another phase of her sport, she might have made the platform.  She coulda been a contenda.  But it was not her night.

How American.


newly born, 1968.

This is Rigby in the 70s World Championships.  Gymnastics was not as fast or as violent as it is today – the emphasis was on control and flexibility.  POISE.  We still valued poise in those days, and of course excellence.  Not Keanu Reeves “excellent,” but a job well done.  Not THE best, but OUR best, and in the grainy-yellow days of our Viet Nam era, you didn’t need to win if you made a good showing.

Rigby hung on through 2 more Olympics, retiring from the sport at 20, still under 5 ft tall.  (Evert, by the way, a gangly 65.5 inches, taller than BJ King.)

What else could a girl do?  Mary Martin was 60 and someone needed to take Pan on its 20th anniversary tour.  A career was born.  More on which in a moment.

Cathy Rigby is in the Museum of Menstruation.  Which part of that sentence do you love the most? 

Maybe it’s their logo:
The MUM (oh hilarious) is a clunky-looking website, but there is some great stuff on there, next time you are up too late flipping through the Internet like a magazine.  Spend some time on the Menarche Education area and you too can be as modern as a shaved flapper.

Here is a 1980s memory that this essay should include, because the adhesive strip (peel peel peel) did change our lives.

(even though you and I both know there’s no way she’s wearing a cotton ponyStayfree, which in 1981 were about 3 inches wide and as thick as a roll of socks)  

Stayfree taught us there is a perfect time every month to wear your most form-fitting white clothes.

Rigby promised a farewell tour of Peter Pan in 2005, as the character marked his/her 100th anniversary. and yet she returns to Branson this summer (playing for the next 2 weeks, ya’all).  Never grow up, indeed.    She looks a little like Betty Buckley just there. 

Tickets are $45. And you may seriously not get this chance again.  The only person left who fits in that rig(by) is Kristen Chenoweth or Jada Pinkett.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Through the booking glass

I Write Like is a goofy little app/game huge_8_42475 that analyzes an excerpt of your writing and offers up… who you write like.  It doesn’t explain it at all, or give you any insight into who that person is, if you have never heard of them.

But it made me try an experiment of the kind you may remember from my hyperlinking through the Internet until I linked Liberals and Conservatives at their common interest.

If you do remember that, you have been reading this publication far too long.

I pasted a few hundred words into the IWL app – actual fiction, not bloggy stuff – and it determined that I write like David Foster Wallace.

right. exactly.

If you follow the publishing world, especially as reported by the   New York Times Book Review, you’ll begin notice that the best-seller lists, like the Box Office Blockbusters, are dominated by a few names, and often all at the same time (Gladwell, Rowling, Larsson, Palin…. Beck… ) and then there is everyone else.  The truth is that you haven’t heard of most of the people who are published.  (More for the list of Things that do Not Change Whether I Submit Material for Publication or Not).  I’ll write that entry someday.  Or I won’t.  And it won’t matter either way.  harharhar

This essay is going off on a direction I didn’t intend.  It happens every once in a while when someone asks me, “where did you get your MBA?” and I say, “I don’t have an MBA.  I actually have a degree in publishing.”

Pause – curious expression as if checking the ID of the personjoanreally they thought they were talking to.  Gently: “really?”

Here’s what I did – if I write like Wallace, who does IWL say Wallace writes like?  I pasted in Amazon’s excerpt from Girl With the Curious Hair (tattoo) and clicked enter;

Wallace writes like Stephen King, it says.

Stephen King writes like…Stephen King.  I couldn’t fool it.  So I chose Richard Bachman, the  pseudonym King uses so he can further dominate the NYT List.

“Richard Bachman” writes like Daniel Defoe .  I start to think wewillem_dafoe have little chance of circling back to Wallace, much less to me.






Daniel Defoe writes like Daniel Defoe, and this game is not as fun as I had hoped it would be.   I suppose if you have written Moll Flanders, you are in a class by yourself

There are some academics among our Readership who will know who Wallace is – who may have even read him.  They know a lot of things we don’t.  They may know he was briefly a member of the Emerson family; they certainly know he committed suicide -- at my age even – because we watch these things in each other.

caryI thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives.”  ~~ CK Dexter Haven

I have not read David Foster Wallace (this post is now climbing higher in the search results).  What if an anonymous website with a conceptual search engine is write right? 

Short stories filed under Fiction.  enjoy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not so fast, Lunesta

Watching a fight between the FDA and Big Pharma is like getting to watch your grandfather holler at your dad.  It's kind of a thrill, but then you think, "well whose fault is that?"

About a month ago, when I meant to comment on this, but was clearly busy doing something else,  the FDA called Sepracor on a Lunesta ad that seemed to tell less than the whole truth.

The offending claims ("misleading" is how the Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications described them) included a suggestion that Lunesta is better than other products. In an advertisement? gasp.   Turns out they can't say so unless they can prove it.  A good enough rule, I suppose.  Are these the same rule makers who say it's ok to market a drug as long as you admit (in voiceover and onscreen) that you have no idea how it works?

What's worrisome is wondering what in the world Sepracor wouldn't say about Lunesta if this is what they will say?

"LUNESTA acts quickly, so take it right before bed, and only if you have 8 hours to devote to sleep."
read: Lunesta is made out of ether.

"Walking, eating, driving or engaging in other activities while asleep without remembering it the next day have been reported....Side effects may include unpleasant taste... "
Read: Mind Erasers taste better

"Severe allergic reactions such as swelling of the tongue and throat occur rarely and may be fatal."
Read: People who live alone should not take Lunesta

This next bit is not from the official website, but is my favorite case for the drug being worse than what you took the drug for.  (U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health)

You should know that some people who took medications for sleep got out of bed and drove their cars, prepared and ate food, had sex, made phone calls, or were involved in other activities while partially asleep.After they woke up, these people were usually unable to remember what they had done. Call your doctor right away if you find out that you have been driving or doing anything else unusual while you were sleeping.
Imagine the fine print:

The actual ad in question featured a woman sleeping in a boxing ring, which has been removed from the air at this writing.   DDMAC called the makers of Rozerem, another sleep aid, on the same offense (unsubstantiated superiority claims).  Pay attention here:  Rozerem, made by Takedo, whose former general manager is now Chairman of Sepracor.

messy, messy, indeed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Update: HR1700

Keeping you up to date on the House bill no one else in watching.

Our little Bill has moved out of Senate Committee. (cue vuvuzela).  It is S2129 there.  It don't know if this versioning system indicates that there are far more Senate bills than House bills, whether one of them uses a Julian date, or whether (as we do in software) they changed the numbering system once in one chamber only.

It was recommended by Senate Committee to be considered by the entire Senate.  (Hold your breath, Feminists.)  This bill is sponsored by Sen Susan Collins (R-ME) whose stats are not strong in the sponsorship area.  76% of the bills she has sponsored did not make it out of committee, and of the ones that did, only 25% made it.  On the other hand, Rep Barbara Boxer's stats are not much better, and she managed to get our 1700 passed.  Government is not baseball, after all.  (it just feels like it in the 4th inning)

The Senator seems wrapped up in some chemical-interest bills at present, but she is also committed to
S. 451: Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act and an amusing variety of "awareness day" type acts.  You know we love a good awareness day in the DrawingIn Room.  I should revisit that topic sometime soon. makes it possible for us to track our Bill from here, so you'll notice the tracking widget now at the bottom of this page, just about Subscribers and Followers. This should also let us know when the bill is up for debate on the Senate floor.  Where's Robert Byrd (pronounced Boid) when we need him?

 If you like visual representations of statistical data, you might enjoy GovTrack's left/right bill sponsorship chart.

While we wait, you can get your history on here:
NWHM's virtual museum
Dallas' Women's Museum
US Army Women's Museum
Women's Rights NHP
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


for $1, I will both taste and judge your barbecue.

The theme of the event was "Patriots, Pride, and Preservation," which seemed a stretch at alliteration.   Also written down the side... "all-America Celebration," to reinforce the role of Independence Day in our culture, I guess.  In case you're new.

Commemorating the Revolution in Revolution towns is always a little extra-patriot/pride/preservation, isn't it? I think it's the Mohawks in full battle dress that do it.

Now, if it is a thousand degrees and the 4th of July, and you are wandering the streets of Saratoga in search of entertainment, why not throw yourself into the BBQ & Dessert Fest to a degree absurdly disproportionate to the task?  We could only have outdone ourselves by wagering on the outcome.

12 Restaurants
10 categories
a pile of singles
a fork shortage
a party of 5
a fat black dog
an afternoon

You know how these things work.  You get a ballot and sometimes a pile of taste tickets, but in this case tickets are sold at the sites in this walking tour of Broadway and its feeder streets.  We started with cake supplied by Saratoga Gaming, which had missed the opportunity to be called Firecracker Cake.  If your festivities this year did not feature Pop Rocks in some frosting, your neighbors are not subscribing to the right magazines.  This got our tasting out of the gate (which do you want, racing puns or firecracker puns?) just as the sun hit its peak.

The worst BBQ I have ever experienced was served at the Holiday Inn.  You know how I love my judge's comments.  I found a pen and jotted on my ballot, "inadequate, dry, not tender, bun is inferior" (inferior!) and then I took off points for their being disorganized at our first BQ stop.

And the game was on.  We passed that pen around at each stop and talked each other out of complacency when we stumbled and decided something was "the best so far."  I challenged myself with new adjectives for each taste, but could not get anyone else to catch onto the word "whimsical."

The main entertainment in downtown Saratoga (after being seen and dog wrangling) is bar hopping.  I expect this comes from a culture of spending long wait times between short races.  So the set-up is right for this sort of event, and in the winter is a good old-fashioned chowderfest, hundreds of miles from where oysters are grown.  The off-Broadway spots were better at accommodating this, as they are the smaller bars, glad to have you come in and rest a spell.  On Broadway, they tended to be set-up outside, so as not to waste valuable table space on the dollar-holding riff-raff.

The lines for ribs at the salsa and spice company (because when I think Saratoga, I sauce) trailed to the street, because the owner/manager wanted to chat up each participant about his potato chip rub.  He was dismissed by his 20 year-old staffer who told him to go back to stocking pretzels and stop jamming up the works.  Her words may have varied from those.

Barbecue is not a finger food, despite what the staff at the Cantina had to say. "Old-fashioned!" said the waitress who had run out of forks.  I am not sure if that is Pride or Preservation.  I found it messy, and passed.  While dousing ourselves from our water bottles, we were stopped by a stranger who sidled up and told us not to miss the chocolate lemonade cake at the Hampton Inn. 

It was a festival of desserts, all right.

The taste at gourmet italian ice was too small.  The cobbler at Circus cafe too autumnal.  The Grey Gelding served meatballs,  without irony, in a confusing palate of apricot and jerk spices and possibly too many meats.  K McK chastised herself for unknowingly eating veal.  I gave them all 3s (out of 5 - the Netflix scale) but with constructive criticism they would never read.

Seven Horse Pub outclassed the competition by serving a complete plate - pork, slaw, and cornbread, though they too were running out of forks, and I didn't help by dropping mine on the floor.  The gigantic Parting Glass,  the center of all things competitive darts,  looks like your college Rathskeller in the cold light of day.  They bravely served Celtic Cabobs and apple bread pudding (Preservation! Pride!) but it came too late in my tasting menu to be tolerated.  Bring on the Lemonade Cake.

I won't build that into a third act - you have the gist of it already, and I have to get dressed -- but when we got to the Hampton Inn... it was gone.  Not the Inn.  The cake, I mean.  All out.  The Brigadoon of cakes.  (I just found a recipe for Brigadoon Cake.  who knew?).  We actually pouted about this for a while while we stomped to the Bread Basket Bakery and ate what looked like a cupcake and tasted like a scone.  I downed an iced coffee.  Skip took issue with the balloting system and almost withheld his votes because of it.  We recommended he get on next year's committee.

And call it "Festivity, Food, and Forks."