30 July 2006

Dear Kraft Foods:

Thank you. Thank you very f*cking much for changing the recipe for the one good thing to survive my childhood.

Yes, I am talking about how you screwed up animal crackers. Rather than the wonderful taste of childhood -- some kind of crunchy sugar cookie -- they are now soft and gooey, and taste vaguely of ginger snaps.

So, what happened? Did your focus group tell you that aging baby boomers can no longer chew? Did your lawyers tell you to replace good crunchy cookies with something soft so as to prevent lawsuits? Did some suits with MBA's tell you that change is good, so change a good thing that has been around since the late 1800's?

Well that's just fine. Go ahead. Send these once-great cookies down the toilet with the rest of civilization. Trash them just like the world has trashed manners, education, ambition and clean air.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

27 July 2006

And Now, Birthdays

So, anyway, today is my 47th birthday. Other than not having died yet, it's no big accomplishment making it through another year -- which is why I don't make a big deal out of it. Me, I prefer to celebrate every day -- be thankful every day for everything that is good in my life. Why wait and only celebrate once a year when you get a new chance every day?

This really great illustration was one of the fab presents given to me by my wonderful Significant Other, Matt. He's an artist. He's really good. This is one of the reasons I keep him around. It's of our recently-deceased kitty Eames who died in May after a long and fruitful 16-year life, sitting -- like he loved to -- surrounded by the bachelor's buttons and California poppies in our backyard every spring. Isn't it great?

The illustration is available at Matt's CafePress store.

Another gift was the Sleepy Kitty throw pillow also available at CafePress. It bears an illustration from Mama Cat the children's book Matt and I wrote about Eames a couple years ago.

Clearly, I miss my kitty.

22 July 2006

What's a Monthiversary?

Okay, I will be the first to admit this is silly -- but, too bad. I like that fact that Matt and I celebrate our "anniversary" on the 22nd day of every month. We celebrate the day we met (22 November 1994). It might seem a little weird, and we don't make a big deal out of it, but we do it anyway.

This came about for quite a good reason: when we first met, we were both working for a daily newspaper. He worked a swing shift as a designer in the Mesa office of the morning paper, and I worked nights in the Phoenix office as the theater critic for the afternoon paper. We worked in different offices; yet, interestingly, we met quite by chance sitting next to each other in the theater where I was reviewing a tour of the Broadway show "Crazy for You."

Both of our schedules were really wacky -- compounded by the fact that I also worked as a documentary producer for the news department of one of our local radio stations. Things were hectic, and we often went days without seeing each other.

Early on we made two vows: first, that we would at least speak on the telephone every day, if we could not see each other in person; second, that we would make sure to be together -- if only for a few minutes -- on the 22nd day of each month.

This was mostly cute, at first; but became important about a year later when the afternoon newspaper merged with the morning and I lost my job. Luckily, Matt got a job in the downtown office (where I used to work) and then bought a house close by. Although we now lived only a few miles apart, it started to become a logistical nightmare to arrange to see each other specifically on the 22nd; but we managed it -- and have not missed a day in 11.5 years.

Happy 140th monthiversary, HBSP!

21 July 2006

The Ghost is in the Details

Hot summer film recommendation: We just watched a really classy, modern, film-noirish movie El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil's Backbone) -- a cool ghost story set in 1939 Spain.

Co-produced by Pedro Almodovar, Backbone stars the always wonderful Marisa Peredes (Almodovar's The Flower of My Secret) and the always sexy Eduardo Noriega (Burnt Money).

It is available through Netflix.

15 July 2006

Dance 10 Looks 10

Sigh! I have lived my life trying not to be a sheep, trying not to be like everyone else, not to do what everyone else does.

I was late to computers for my writing ("If a typewriter was good enough for Hemingway," I would say, "then it is good enough for me."); late to satellite TV ("What's wrong with cable?"); late to DVD ("What's wrong with VHS?"); late to TiVo. Now all of those things are integral parts of my every moment.

And now it has come to this.

YouTube. YouTube. YouTube. It was not my idea. It's Matt's fault, actually. First he showed me a clip from the original cast of "Dreamgirls," then I started looking up Broadway shows. I found more "Dreamgirls," Sondheim by the bushel (Sondheim is the greatest. Period.), and more.

I even found
this: not the greatest quality image, but a clip of one of the greatest Broadway performances in my lifetime. Of course, I mean Donna McKechnie, as Cassie (pictured), in the original production of "A Chorus Line."

During my 30 years as a journalist (I started young, really) I have interviewed many famous, important people; but none hold the memories of the several times I interviewed McKechnie. I just missed seeing her in the Los Angeles company in 1976, and had to wait 13 years to see her. (She got a laugh out of that when I told her.) Finally, I got to see her in a national touring company of the show, re-creating her part and looking as if no time at all had passed between 1975 (when the show opened) and 1989.

So, thank you, YouTube, for giving me a chance to see this again -- and Jennifer Holliday in "Dreamgirls" and Stephanie Mills in "The Wiz" and "Avenue Q" and....

09 July 2006

Let's Stuff Joe Breen Back in His Grave

While it does not affect me directly, I am so thrilled to read this article about a US District Court ruling against those who fancy themselves film auteurs.

My distaste of people who think they know better than the creative types goes back a long way. But, specifically to a case in the mid-1990s when I was commissioned by Arizona Highways Magazine to do an article on a new petroglyph museum in the metro Phoenix area.

I went out, did my interviews, wrote the piece, and sent it in. After a month or so, I got a copy of the article in galley form to review. To my utter horror and dismay, the article had been completely re-written and its approach totally changed.

In normal circumstances (including with this magazine), if the editor does not like your approach to a piece, s/he asks you to re-write it, and gives some direction on what s/he wants to see. Here, I not only was not asked, I was not told a re-write was going to be done.

With a deadline looming, and no time for me to attempt to fix the disaster that had been created, I told my managing editor to take my name off the article. Aghast, knowing the amount of prestige the magazine has around the world, he asked me why. "Because I will be a laughing stock if this article goes out under my name." I had written for Highways several times before, so it was already on my resume and not such a great loss; but the biggest reason was their arrogance in re-writing me without even so much professional courtesy as to ask me to try it first. (I still got paid for this article, which also lessened the pain.)

So, a couple months later, the issue came out and there was the piece of shit article without any byline. It was a bittersweet victory.

Of course, this ruling against film "editors" will probably go to the Supreme Court; but I am so happy the judges ruled in favor of the artists and not of the censors.

P.S. This is really eerie: I am now an auction item on eBay. Actually, it is another one of my articles for Arizona Highways Magazine. This, like the whole celebrity thing, totally freaks me out.

04 July 2006

Dodosaurus rex

Interesting New York Times article on the life of perhaps the most famous extinct animal in the history of extinction: the dodo.

Why has the dodo lasted so long in the collective consciousness of humans?

Is it because the dodo is the first animal in modern history to go extinct at the hands of humans? Is it because we are just fascinated with something -- like dinosaurs -- that never existed in our lifetime? Is it because there is a dodo in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?