Governor’s Pen Is Busy

Standard

‘A funny story about…editing.’

Editing is kind of like housekeeping. When you’re doing a good job, nobody notices your work. But put that comma in the wrong place or flub up on “it’s vs. its,” and it’s like you left dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry unfolded or the bed unmade.

There were many comments on this recent Facebook post. Mine was: “No, it means you don’t know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re'”

There was a book that came out a few years ago called Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, commas really do make a difference that showed how misplaced punctuation can not only feel untidy but can cause some pretty funny misunderstandings. To illustrate, just take the comma out of that title, (or the subtitle, for that matter) — completely different meaning.

Does this mean that “Live alligators stay on boardwalks”? (In which case that’s the last place I’d want to be) or that I should stay on boardwalks?

Another example from the book: a sign saying “Eat here and get gas” instead of “Eat here, and get gas” could make you drive right on by, even with an almost-empty tank. 

I was chatting just the other day with the Only Person I Have Met in New York Who Also Went to The University of Missouri Journalism School (hi Kim!). We were reminiscing about those Golden Olden Days and about how we both worked at the Columbia Missourian, which was an actual daily newspaper — not a campus paper — where J-School students were required to work in order to graduate. Kind of a cool trade: free labor for the paper in exchange for real-world work experience.

Rare photo of me while attending the U of Mo. That’s my BF Larry, he of “Larry and the Nose Holes” fame

We talked about our professors — Kim: “Mr. D was a terrible teacher.” Me: “U of Mo J-School advertising professors were the living definition of the adage ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.'” (nice comma workout, that.)

I don’t really have a quibble about this sign or its comma placement. I just get a kick out of it — and wonder what the heck the “etc” snakes are. Anaconda? Vipers? Spitting cobra?

But I completely forgot to tell Kim my editing story. Like I mentioned, we all had jobs on the good ole Columbia Missourian. For we students with hopes for an advertising career, this work was pretty grim. Because it was a newspaper, there wasn’t much chance to flex our creative muscles. Nope, we worked in Ad Sales, which was kind of the college equivalent of selling Girl Scout Cookies. I was terrible at this. “You wouldn’t want to buy any cookies today, would you?” didn’t translate very well to selling ads to shoe stores.

Me, in my dorm room, having a blast between bouts of (not) selling ads

But it sure looked like the kids who worked as editors had fun. There on the wall of the newsroom was a framed front page of a bygone issue. Featured there, above the fold, was a story about a flurry of legislative activity — Columbia was the state capital as well as the site of the university. The headline? Governor’s Pen Is Busy.

Only the editor left out the space between “pen” and ‘”is.”

Amagansett, New York. March 2022

 

 

It’s been an Apocalypto kind of day

Standard

‘On watching movies more than once’

I know I know. I’m not the only person who watches the same movie more than once. For instance, many people have special Christmas movies. “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “Love Actually.” “A Christmas Carol” in one of its many variations. (I like the Muppet One best. Those rat muppets in the hula skirts singing “We’re Havin’ A Heat Wave” after Michael Caine’s Scrooge threatens to fire them for asking for more coal are eminently re-watchable.)

When we were at The Child’s for the holidays, she insisted on watching “White Christmas.” She even sang along to “Snow.” Which warmed the cockles of my tradition-loving motherly heart– see “Taking Motherhood to a Whole New Level” for non-movie-watching activities involving scary heights–since we used to watch this every Christmas when she was an Actual Child. She sang along to “Snow” then, too.

She also insisted that the new James Bond film was a Christmas movie. And who am I to argue? I think Die Hard is a Christmas movie

And I know a lot of people–besides myself, I mean–who have watched really good, really classic movies more than one time. I’m talking “The Godfather” here, folks. Which, in my humble opinion–plus a lot of other not-so-humble people’s–is The Best Movie Ever Made. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this stupid blog post and load ‘er up. There’s a restored 50th anniversary version (gasp! fifty years!) but any ole version will do. I just watched it again for the umpteenth time on my iPad because I couldn’t figure out how to use the “universal control” on the Big New TV that basically ate the den in Amagansett. Sigh.

Anyway. Back to movies. In this really good, really classic category I also include “All About Eve” and “Fargo.” And hey, “Jaws.” Seriously. Just because “Jaws” has sharks and such doesn’t mean it isn’t a classic. I just wish Spielberg had dispensed already with the mechanical shark. It was silly and he didn’t need it. Boys with their toys. (Another big sigh goes here.)

Marge “SunofaGunderson” in “Fargo.” Hey. It’s a beautiful day. And is that your buddy there? In the chipper?

I love these movies so much I could “do” them for you. By which I mean I could quote huge chunks of dialog while mimicking the actions too. All it takes is a cocktail. One cocktail.

No, what I am talking about in the title of this piece is the kind of movie that really doesn’t have any rhyme nor reason to be repeatable. Like, it isn’t a “classic,” in the sense of having film-school classes organized around it. (See anything Orson Welles.) And it isn’t inextricably linked to a Major Holiday. (See “Bad Santa.” Or not.)

No. This kind of movie is the antidote to a mood. Like, today I had one of those kinds of days where little irksome things kept happening. Blinky warning lights on devices. Pieces published on websites with question marks in odd places. Not being able to locate a record locator. That kind of stuff.

So. I had an irresistible urge to watch “Apocalypto.” Now, this is a movie I had never heard of until I happened to be visiting Second Oldest Younger Brother Roger one time and he happened to have it on hand. “Want to watch Apocalypto?” he asked. “Not my kind of movie,” I replied.

The DVD case for Apocalypto doesn’t exactly make a case for watching it

“Not your kind of movie, eh? We’ll just see about that,” Middle Younger Bro wisely said, slipping the DVD into the little slidey thingie.

Of course he was right. From the opening scene where a huge boar gets trapped and gobbled up raw by extremely attractive scantily-clad men (Jaguar Paw is, well, grrrr!) to the wild treks through the jungle and the Mayan rip-their-hearts-out (literally) sacrifice scene to the really ironic ending, it’s a keeper. And, oddly enough, an antidote to whatever nonsense is happening in your life. It puts being on interminable hold in proper perspective for sure. (See “A Life on Hold.” Or not. Maybe just watch “Apocalypto.”)

My fairly routine need for an “Apocalypto Fix” has even entered the Henry Family Lexicon. When we are on our Sunday Night Family FaceTime calls, if I happen to look a little downcast, one of my bros will say something like, “Looks like you could use a little Apocalypto.”

The weekly gathering of the Henry Clan. “Apocalypto” may be mentioned

Incidentally, The Dude claims not to understand how I can want to watch a movie more than once. He says you don’t need to because “you already know what happens.” But then, this is the same guy who once watched “Four Weddings and a Funeral” twice–in one session. (He was having a particularly bad day.)

But did I watch “Apocalypto” last night? Nope. I went to the opera to see Rodelinda. Which is a rarely performed Handel opera. With two count-’em-two countertenors. I hadn’t seen it when I took the rather grim selfie at the top of this post. And now? Those Handel-y rhythms soothed this savage breast so well that it pushed “Apocalypto” right out of my head.

Well, until tonight anyway.

New York City. March 2022

If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the hardware store

Standard

‘Shopping local means lots of local color’

It’s been really hot here in Amagansett, though not as hot as it was the last time my Middle Younger Brother Roger was here.

That time it was so hot that you couldn’t walk on the sand without burning your feet. My poor wilted sister in law, the amazing Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn, was loath to leave the library, the one air-conditioned room in the house. (The AC is for the books, you see. To keep them from molding. People, at least most of them, don’t mold. So the rest of the house doesn’t need it.)

Before Roger and Jenn melted down into viscous puddles like the Wicked Witch of the West, they did manage an outing. Roger: “Where can I get an Amagansett hat?” Me: “Herb has Amagansett hats. Go see Herb. At the hardware store. Herb’ll fix you up.” (Now, I don’t have a photo of Herb’s hardware store — inside or out — but the shot at the top of this story shows The Child and me standing out front a few years ago.)

Everyone knows you can’t wear your Amagansett hat in Amagansett. Here Dude Man is seen wearing his on a plane to Borneo

Now, my Brother Roger is the kind of guy you could drop into the middle of the Sahara Desert and he’d make ten new friends in the first ten minutes. And Herb? Well, suffice it to say that Herb is a Local Character who defies easy description.

Continue reading

The one where my life is like a Friends episode

Standard

‘Art imitates Life. Or is it the other way ’round?’

After I wrote last week’s smoke-alarm story — “Things That Go Shriek In The Night,” in case you missed it — I got a message from my pal Nancy (hi Nancy!) who said it reminded her of the Friends episode where Phoebe tried to bash and smother her crazy smoke alarm into submission. Here’s a taste:

So who came up with this bit first, Friends — or me? My friend Terril (hi Terril!) remembers that she was a houseguest back in the nineties when my bashing-with-the-broom incident occurred. She said, “I woke up in middle of the night and through a window I could see you downstairs — standing on a chair while wearing just a t-shirt and swatting at a screaming smoke alarm with a broom. I thought it best not to get in the middle of the warfare. Might have gotten clobbered with a broom handle if I’d gone downstairs and said ‘So, Alice…what’s up?'” Good call, Terril. Good call.

Continue reading

And now for something completely different

Standard

‘Trying desperately to distract myself from thinking of tomorrow’s (gulp) shot’

Last week I promised to come up with something fun today, in spite of the fact that it is Injection Eve. (For those of you who didn’t read last week’s post, here it is, but basically it’s me whining about having to get a steroid shot to help me deal with herniated discs. To say that I am “nervous” would be like saying Trump is “unpleasant.”)

“Please fill out one form per body part” Um, okay

Other than filling out forms and sweating bullets, there’s nothing more to be done to prepare myself for this procedure. So I’m just going to try to distract myself by thinking of nice and/or silly things. Like being at my Mom’s 90th birthday celebration last year, which was both silly and nice.

Two of my very favorite women: my Mom and my Personal Child

Speaking of nice things to think about, just try not to smile and/or “awwww” over these little guys. (Yes, I made those sweaters. And already posted pictures of them. But now you can see how much better they look with cute babies filling them out.)

Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth and I both put our tights on one leg at a time

Standard

‘And we both sit down on the bed first’

I’m not all that cagey about revealing my age. Though it does bug me to be asked. Usually, unless the person asking is a government official or someone hinting that I deserve the Senior Discount, I just smile and say that I’m old enough to remember when Sir Paul was a Beatle. They get the idea. And I get the discount.

Note to Young Persons in Positions Serving the Public (movie ticket sellers, museum fee gatherers and the like): if someone wants the Senior Discount, she will ask for the Senior Discount. MoMA won’t make any new Friends if you suggest that discount to someone you in your dewy-eyed wisdom deem eligible. Trust me; I know whereof I speak.

The Dude and me on a recent tights-wearing occasion. It was me wearing the tights

But back to Queen Elizabeth and me. You know that old (speaking of old) saying, don’t you? The one about The King of England and the lowliest commoner both putting their pants on one leg at a time? Well, I realized last Tuesday that I am now just like Her Highness, at least in the Getting Up There Department. Because, when I put on my tights, I sat down on the bed first.

Continue reading

A rose by any other name is, well, a rosé

Standard

‘More fun with mispronounciation’

Yes, yes. I know that it’s really “mispronunciation”. I just wanted to mess with you a little. And to see if you (like me) are operating on less than all your mental cylinders.

Red, white, and blue-sky blue. That’s me in Summer Mode

See, it’s hard to focus on stuff like a Weekly Blog when it’s as gorgeous as it is here, both weather-wise and scenery-wise. Though having one of my stories published in an actual newspaper — the kind that uses actual ink and is sold on actual newsstands and lands ker-plunk on actual doorsteps — gave me a nice boost. Here’s the story in case you are not one of the East Hampton Star’s many discerning subscribers: it’s called House Guest Hall of Fame.

One of the ways it’s NOT so gorgeous out here. Traffic like this is one of the reasons I almost never leave The Compound

Speaking of house guests, it’s also been hard to focus because I’ve had my share of them lately. And, thank the Hospitality Gods, they were all good guests. First I had my Bridge Buddy Pajama Party. (No photos exist, thank the Embarrassment Gods, since we did get up to some negroni-fueled hijinks.) Then the Chocolate-Company-Owning Nephew and Niece with the Three Adorable Daughters paid a visit.

Continue reading

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Standard

‘Lutheran Liar here with some late-breaking news’

Those of you who have followed my blog lo these many moons (thank you, and bless you all) may have noticed, popping up here and there in my stories of growing up in the Mid-Century Midwest or in my tales of cohabiting with The Dude and The Child in New York or even in my reports of tangling with snakes in the jungles of Africa and Advertising — a certain dream of mine. Which is a wish to be published. Well, published other than by me.

Me, when I “published” my first pieces. In a newspaper I wrote and ran off on the Carlyle Grade School mimeograph machine

See, writers (writers like me, anyway) not only love writing, they love knowing that people are reading their writing. After posting these stories each week, I try not to compulsively check my stats to see how many readers I’ve snagged. There Writer Madness lies. But, every once in a while when I sneak a peek, I must admit that I get a complete and total rush when something that I’ve written strikes a spike-in-stats chord.

Me, when I see a spike in my stats

Continue reading

Song of My Selfie

Standard

‘A Whitman’s Sampler’

“I am large, I contain multitudes.” So sayeth the Internet, no doubt referring to those self-portraits otherwise known as “selfies”. Now I should point out, before I get too carried away with my mangling of Leaves of Grass, that the portrait at the top of this post is not actually a selfie. It may be difficult to imagine in this age of the ubiquitous hand-held device, but there were no cellphones in Seventeenth Century Holland. Though it sure looks as though those burghers are hamming it up for Instagram, doesn’t it?

Twenty-First Century Burgher Selfie. As you can see, I am not immune to the lure of the self-portrait. Even when being run down by a bike messenger

Speaking of hamming it up, I’ve been known to indulge in the odd selfie. In fact, I’ll be peppering this post with a few of my favorites — because why not? Continue reading

Driving the Unicorn

Standard

‘I’ve never bought a car. Not a new one, anyway.’

A couple of weeks ago I revealed to all and sundry that I have never, in all my grownup life, bought a couch. (See the aptly-named “I have never bought a couch” for deets.) Not buying a couch, I mused, meant that I’m probably not really a grownup.

Well, today I’m going to admit that I have never bought a car, either. Well, I have bought a car — an old Austin America, which I’ll tell you about in a sec — but I’ve never bought a new car. Where you go in a showroom and talk to a car dealer. You know, like that guy Jerry Lundegaard in “Fargo”.

I remember going to the showroom with my whole family to buy this Ford station wagon. It was brown and cream and smelled amazing

I got to thinking about this whole new-car thing because we just got back from our annual Best-Friends-in-the-Catskills Visit. (See “Take me home, Country Road” for a nice tale about them.) Said Best Friends always have a new car — they lease a brand-new Mercedes every year. (Something to do with business or some such.) Continue reading