To the Drunk Who Sat behind Me

I had been looking forward to seeing Arlo Guthrie in concert for months. Sure, this would be my 20th time seeing him since 1980, but that’s because I sort of view him as the milepost for my development. I grew up with his music. I still have several of his albums (remember those?) gathering dust somewhere. I’ve been at different stages of my life with each passing concert. I was excited about experiencing his wit and wisdom now that I’m finally at a place in my life where I know I’m exactly where I should be.

That, and the man is 71. I have no idea how many more mileposts he’ll be present for. Each concert becomes all the more precious due to the passage of time.

And concert tickets do not come cheap these days. While I’m in a better financial place than I have been in the past, I still have to sit in the nosebleed section. I still have to drive around and around and around in hopes of finding the cheapest possible parking. I still think about the many other things I should be doing with that money. Concerts are a luxury.

So you can imagine my irritation when I settled in to my seat at the theater and the alcoholic who was sitting behind me started acting up. (Lord knows I’ve made my opinions about alcoholics quite clear in this blog.) The woman would not shut up.

Not only would she not shut up, but she actually increased her volume to be heard over Arlo’s singing. And she kept shouting Wooo Hooo! (Not that I’m opposed to that. I’ve Wooo-ed my share of Hooos myself at more than one concert. But not in the middle of the entertainer’s enjoyable stories. Not 10 times during the same song.) No one came to hear your Wooo Hooos, lady.

She ignored my dirty looks. She ignored my leaning forward and cupping my ear. She ignored my husband’s polite request for her to keep it down. In fact, she got louder. Because the world revolves around her.

That’s why I know she’s an alcoholic without knowing her personally. Only habitual drunks go out in public and make a$$es of themselves, despite the disapproval of every single person around them. Only alcoholics are oblivious to the fact that they are ruining an expensive night out for everyone within earshot of them. Only alcoholics can be that freakin’ selfish.

I sat there and fumed for about 4 songs. I kept telling myself to not give her that power. I kept telling myself that I was there for Arlo, not for idiot. But she was so loud. So unbelievably loud.

Finally we moved to some empty seats even higher up in the nosebleed section, and had a wonderful time. Arlo never disappoints. He’s an American icon, just like his father Woody Guthrie was.

I noticed that Drunky McDrunkerson did not return to her seat after the intermission. I don’t know if she was passed out in the bathroom, or if she was asked to leave, but I guarantee you, she wasn’t missed by anyone. I just hope she didn’t drive home.

So, if you happen to be reading this, you drunken fool, please know that you looked like an imbecile, and everyone around you was resisting the urge to punch you in the throat. You are not liked. You are not appreciated. You are not the life of every party. In fact, you are the death of many of them. You owe us all a refund. You owe Arlo an apology. You should be ashamed of yourself. And now your horrible behavior has been immortalized in this blog. I’m sure it’s one of your highest achievements. How sad for you.

Arlo Seattle 2019.jpg

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What a Wonderful World

If you’re feeling jaded about the state of the planet, whether it be environmentally or politically, I urge you to take a moment to do the following internet search: Scott Kelly Photographs. You won’t regret it.

As an astronaut and three-time commander of the International Space Station, Scott Kelly has spent a great deal of time gazing at our planet from outer space. In the process, he was kind enough to take many stunning photographs of what he saw, so we could share in the beauty and wonder.

There are two other great ways to see his spectacular work. You can read this article about him in the New York Times, or you can buy his book, entitled Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space. This book is making me struggle to remember that I’m trying really hard not to accumulate more stuff. I want it, I want it, I want it…

But whether it winds up gracing my coffee table or not, I’m really thrilled that these photos exist in the universe. Because no matter how horribly we behave as a species, we still, it seems, haven’t quite managed to muck up the planet beyond all recognition. These photos are proof positive of that.

We live in a gorgeous place, full of color and wonder and infinite majesty. There’s still a slight hope that we can preserve what’s left, and these photographs, more than anything else I’ve seen in a long time, give us all the reason we need to do so.

And dare I say it? They’re a testament to the fact that the earth is not flat! If you believe otherwise, you’re a fool.

Anyway.

Earth. What a gift!

(Join me in gazing up at the International Space Station as they gaze down at us. Learn now, here. It’s fun!)

Scott-Kelly--800x430
That’s one helluva selfie!

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N-N-1 Again

There’s an interesting project that’s been floating around in the blogosphere, thanks to my friends Anju and Norm, who write the blogs This Labyrinth I Roam and Classical Gasbag, respectively. It’s called N-N-1, where the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time.

Basically, you take a picture within a designated timeframe, and then write 50-200 words about it. You turn it in to the designated host (which this time happens to be Natalie, from the blog Wild Rivers Run South). You don’t have to be a blogger to participate, but if you are, when you turn this in to Natalie, give her a link to your blog and/or website as well, and she’ll include it.

Sound interesting? I know the deadline is rather short for this one. Entirely my bad for not posting this sooner. Here’s Natalie’s information in her own words:

Miss Anju and Mr. Norm asked me to host the next N-N-1. With some fear in my heart, I accepted. But because of the person I am, I want to make this one slightly different.

We have done themes before, and I like them, so this time let us do the theme “Season Changes.” The theme is voluntary, so you are not required to stick with it. Secondly, rather than be forced to take your picture on a specific date and time, or even just a specific date, you have a three day window to take the picture.

Now for the details:

Take your picture sometime between Thursday, May 2nd and midnight on Saturday, May 4th. Send your picture, a bit of writing (no more than 200 words of prose or poetry) to me at ngarvois@gmail.com no later than midnight on Monday, May 6th. Oh! All times are local to where you are. I’ll put all of the submissions together and post them in my blog, wildriversrunsouth.wordpress.com, and send you a link so that you can reblog the post if you want to. You do not need a blog in order to participate. If you know somebody who would like to participate, please let them know.

I hope you’ll participate. It’s been a very fun and eye-opening experience in the past. I’ve shared two of them on my blog, here and here. Check ’em out, and contact Natalie!

Images around the world

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10 Day Album Challenge #5: Stella Donnelly, Beware of the Dogs

If you haven’t been following this series of posts, a friend of mine nominated me to do an album challenge. “The task is to post once per day for the next 10 days about the top ten albums that have an impact on your life, and to pay it forward by nominating someone else each day to do the same.”

Okay, so I’ll play. But I’m changing the rules to suit me. First of all, I’m not writing about this 10 days in a row. I will write about 10 albums, but only on the occasional “Music Monday”. And I refuse to nominate anyone else, because I try to avoid adding stress to the lives of the people I love. Having said that, if you’re reading this, and would like to take up the challenge, go for it!

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Once again, National Public Radio has introduced me to an amazing artist that I probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. (I struggle to keep up with pop culture.) But on this day, I was driving down the road, listening to an interview with a delightful singer named Stella Donnelly.

Before I even heard her music, I fell in love with her Australian accent and her upbeat, positive, enthusiastic personality.  She’s one of those people you can tell you’d enjoy hanging out with, even if you were only, I don’t know, folding origami cranes or something. She’s intelligent and fun and sincere.

From that, you’d expect to hear a bunch of songs about rainbows and unicorns. But what I heard next took me a little by surprise. They talked about how her first breakout song, Boys Will Be Boys, came out right around the time the #MeToo movement took off, and because of that she received death threats and obscene messages. In my opinion, messing with Stella Donnelly would be like drop kicking a puppy into an active volcano.

As the title makes clear, the song is about rape. And it addresses how women are often blamed, and made to feel guilty, for the violence perpetrated upon them. The last line in the song is “Time to pay the f***ing rent.” When I heard that, I cheered. You go, Stella! You tell ‘em!

Stella is a study in contrasts. Her melodies are as sweet as she is, but her lyrics are often like a straight shot with a barbed arrow, and they always hit the bullseye. I think that is because she speaks her truth softly, so people will actually listen.

After that interview, I ran straight to her website and discovered that her tour was taking her through Seattle, so I immediately bought tickets. The concert was at Barboza, a venue I’d never been to. It was a dark, sticky, underground, claustrophobic little hall. But this place manages to book some edgy acts. It was full of hip Seattleites, and we were arguably some of the oldest people in the place. I wanted to rescue Stella. It didn’t feel like she should be there. But she held her own. In fact, she thrived.

That’s Stella in a nutshell. She seems so fragile and vulnerable, but she has a backbone made of pure steel. It’s that dichotomy that appeals to me the most.

For an introduction to Stella Donnelly, check out this Tiny Desk Conert. After that, I strongly encourage you to check out her debut album, Beware of the Dogs. You’ll be so glad you did.

Beware of the Dogs

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“The City Without Jews” is a Very Confusing Movie

Back in 1923, before all the Nazi atrocities reached their horrifying peak, Hugo Bettauer published a novel entitled The City Without Jews. It was a best seller. We are told that it was a satire to show people what would happen if intolerance took hold. Bettauer was himself a Jew, and wanted to write something that spoke out against the increasing backlashes against miscegenation that he was witnessing in Vienna at the time.

In 1924, this book was made into a silent movie, which was recently rediscovered, restored, and has been screened all over the U.S. I looked forward to seeing its debut in Seattle. I was fascinated that at such a fraught time in Austrian history, there was a popular author with such progressive views. (He also wrote about women’s rights and homosexuality at a time when those things were rarely spoken about.) I also hoped it would be very timely in its warnings, given the increased anti-Semitism we are seeing in America and Europe.

Well… um…

I can’t really speak about the book, having not yet read it, but if I hadn’t read up on the movie beforehand, and therefore hadn’t been informed about the message it is supposed to portray, I wouldn’t have drawn that progressive conclusion. Not at all.

Yes, the politicians who vote to have all the Jews removed from this fictional city do come off as buffoons. Yes, the crowds that supported their decisions seem mindless and violent. I’ll give them that. But once the Jews are expelled, and people start to grumble because their city hasn’t been made great again, the Jews are brought back not because the people have somehow rediscovered their moral compass. No, they are brought back because their absence is hurting people in their pocketbook. Jews are treated as a commodity. They come off as a necessary evil.

Several other things made me uncomfortable about the movie, as well.

First of all, there was no indication that ejecting so many people caused any kind of upheaval. The Jews seemed to voluntarily, if reluctantly, leave. No violence. Just some prayers and a tear or two. No talk about losing homes or businesses or loved ones. They trudge down a cold road, on Christmas day, no less, and there’s this feeling of resignation. The richer ones hopped on trains. It was all rather easy and convenient.

Second, even when the people in the city decided that they wanted the Jews back, it only happened through the trickery of a Jew. He sneaks back into town, posing as a Frenchman, and when it’s discovered that the motion is just one vote shy of passing, he gets one of the most racist councilmembers drunk, then drugs him, and drives him around, thus preventing him from being present for the vote. The sneaky Jew prevails.

And if you had missed that message somehow, there’s a scene to reinforce it. The Jew in question is sitting at a table with another man who identifies as Jewish, but was able to stay in the city because he was second generation mixed, so he was essentially “passing”, and he says to the trickster something along the lines of, “Only one of us would be able to do that.” (Meaning trick them into rescinding the law.)  Laughs all around.

And then, of course, all the Jews happily come back, the first one met with innocent children bearing flowers, a cheering crowd, and everything gets back to normal and everyone lives happily ever after. Uh… what?

While watching this movie, I tried to tell myself to stop looking at it through a 21st century lens. I kept reminding myself that it was supposed to be a satire. But I struggled. I really struggled.

I think you could just cut out a scene or two, and this could be shown at a White Supremacist rally as a comedy that lampoons Judaism, right down to their bobbing and wailing in the Synagogue. (And I found it interesting that a lot of the politicians were similarly bobbing while passing their evil laws.)

I know that the author meant well. He even paid for it with his life. A year after the movie came out, he was killed by a Nazi who was then declared temporarily insane, did a year and a half in a mental institution, and then was set free to live his hateful, unrepentant life until 1977.

But still, I struggle. If you’re interested, you can see the movie for free on Youtube. Let me know what you think. I’d be genuinely interested in hearing from you.

citywithoutjews

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Impermanence

When I was 19 years old, I was in love for the first time, in Paris for the first time, and seeing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral for the first time. It doesn’t get much better than that. It was one of the high points of my life.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the love wasn’t going to last, but, as they say, I’d always have Paris. Some things you just assume will last forever. Some things, you think, will be as permanent as Mount Everest.

Watching Notre Dame burn broke my heart. That spire crashing down felt like it went right through me. Yes, they’ll rebuild, but it will never again be “my” Notre Dame. That’s gone.

We tend to forget that the things made by man are very impermanent. If a stretch of interstate highway was abandoned for 10 years, it would be so reclaimed by weeds and trees that it would be unrecognizable. Whole cities have disappeared with the passage of time. Buildings and bridges collapse. Towns burn. Tumbleweeds roll down what used to be main streets. Waters rise, winds blow, sand dunes encroach.

Most of us try not to think about it. It is hard, living in that state of awareness. Impermanence is scary. It reminds us of our own mortality. If Notre Dame can burn after having stood for about 800 years, then my fragile little body is toast.

But in many ways, that impermanence is actually a gift. While Notre Dame propped up my 19 year old’s sense of beauty and romance, I went on to have many other amazing experiences, and I’m sure that more are in the offing. Knowing that all these things are merely blips on the radar of the universe makes me appreciate them even more. What I am experiencing right here, right now, will be gone in a moment.

What a gift that I got to collect these memories, if even for just a cosmic second, even if they aren’t made of mountains, and will someday be reduced to dust.

Don’t forget to appreciate the now, dear reader. In the overall scheme of things, it’s really all that we have.

Notre Dame

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The Dental Arts

I may be a bridgetender, but like an onion, I have many layers. I also have a degree in Dental Laboratory Technology and Management. I am fascinated with dental appliances and their fabrication. I graduated with honors. I had big dreams.

Not that those dreams went anywhere. After applying to 200 different labs with no viable offers, and after seeing that dental appliance technology is outpacing the little mom and pop labs that I hoped to be a part of, and after having a wrist surgery that would have made it extremely painful to do the fine motor movements required on a day to day basis, I wised up and went back to bridgetending.

But the fascination remains. So when I needed a crown replaced, I was delighted to see it’s entire design and creation chairside. We’ve certainly come a long way from the days when you had to get a gloopy, bad-tasting mold taken of your teeth, then come back weeks later to have a crown fitted that had been fabricated in an offsite lab.

Instead, they popped off my old crown, and took photographs of my teeth from every possible angle, and then, voila! A three-dimensional image of my teeth appeared on the computer screen. It was fascinating.

From there, Mary, the technologist, created a crown for me on screen. Make no mistake, this was no flimsy endeavor. This takes skill in both science and art. She has to have knowledge of oral anatomy and how various teeth interact with one another. And she also must create a final product that will not only be functional but also aesthetically pleasing. That’s an admirable talent.

I watched her create this tooth and enjoyed imagining her thought process. It was like digital sculpting. Leonardo da Vinci would have been intrigued. And proud.

She consulted with my dentist (a big shout out to Dr. Steven Lockett in Renton, Washington, and his entire amazing staff!) and did a few tweaks based on his suggestions, and then sent the data off to the machine for fabrication. I wish I could have seen that. I know that the machine carves the crown out of little blocks of some mysterious substance that is probably trademarked by the company that created CEREC, the CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) system that my dentist uses.

I could be wrong, but I think of it kind of like 3d printing in reverse. Instead of creating things from a bead-like substance, this machine carves it down from a cube. I mean, seriously, how cool is that?

In no time flat, my crown was hot off the presses, so to speak, and ready to go into my mouth. In it went, and off I went. Just another thing checked off my to-do list. And yet, when I think of the science and artistry that went into the whole endeavor, I still am filled with awe.

By the way, one of my favorite blog posts is the one I wrote entitled Cool Stuff You Never Knew about your Teeth.  Check it out! If you don’t learn at least one thing from it, I’ll eat my hat. With my brand new crown.

https _upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_d_d0_CEREC-kronprep

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