Monday, March 29, 2010

Lo-prah's Book Club

Oh I admit it, I'm green with envy for Oprah and I want my own Book Club too! So this is the first in a series I like to call Books I Liked and if You Have Good Taste You'll Like Them Too.

1) The Help by Kathryn Stockett -- I really loved this book. It's the kind of book that you actually slow down reading when you get toward the back because you just don't want it to end...but you need to know what happens too, so you'll find yourself turning pages faster and faster again, only to curse yourself when you realize you're 60 pages closer to not having it anymore. The story is set in the South in the early 60s. The "Help" are the black maids of overprivileged white women. The only white woman who really has any redeeming qualities at all is (of course) destined to the life of a spinster. The book is very well written. It's touching, and funny, and at times will raise your ire. It's a fast read that I found myself missing when I got to the end. (It's ok - you can throw up if you need to. This kind of effusive rant is really beneath me, I will try to do better in the future!)

2) The Glass Castle & Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls -- Both of these "memoirs" are very good and well worth the read. I actually read them in reverse order to their writing (Half Broke Horses and then The Glass Castle), but this made for a chronologically correct read. I hadn't actually heard anything about either of these books and I saw HBH on a display table at the library, so I checked it out. It's the story of Walls' maternal grandmother who was a rancher living off the grid in Arizona in the 1930s. It's a story of hardship and triumph and, and, and -- and now I'm starting to sound like web-critic for Barnes and Noble so I'm going to stop! The point is it was good. I read The Glass Castle after reading HBH. It was equally good, though it certainly raises those James Frey inspired questions like: "Did this really happen?" But, from what I can tell, unlike Frey, her Million Little Pieces seem to be substantiated by verifiable truth. Maybe you (I) just want it to be fiction because her life sucks so badly that you can't believe anyone from those circumstances would actually make anything of herself. I don't know - but it's good.

3) Devil in the White City by Eric Lawson - This is not a new book (I think it came out about 10 years ago or something), but I find myself recommending it again and again. It's the only book that I can think of that both Paul and I really enjoyed. It's a historical book (not really a novel, but certainly there are imagined elements) with parallel stories from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Half of the book follows the architects and landscape architects commissioned to build the fair, and the other half follows the story of America's first (known) serial killer. It's fascinating. The serial killer aspect is at least somewhat fictionalized, but it's based on the trial transcripts, letters, and a lot of other first accounts, so it's certainly grounded in fact. The details, however, are imagined. It's a heftier book than any of the others that I recommend, but it's well worth the read.

Please comment with your own suggestions!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sarcasm in Cyberspace

To know me is to hear me, and to love me is to appreciate my sarcastic sense of humor. This is one of the problems I have with blogging -- how do I adequately convey the level of disdain, exasperation, "botheration" (this, according to, is an actual word - a synonym for exasperation) or just plain annoyance that I'm feeling in cyberspace? I suppose I could just hit it head on with an "isn't it annoying that..." but this really goes against my inner nature. I want tone, inflection, and phrasing to say it all, and I'm troubled by the fact that someone might actually take me seriously if I were to say something like "Sarah Palin is a real modern American mom. She's out there everyday showing us regular gals that we really can have it all - and lipstick too!" So I am instituting "Lolo's Sarcasm Font." Whenever you read something on this blog in plain-old typewriter Courier font, please add snark, cynicism, and just a touch of superiority to your tone. Thanks! No, that should really say "Thanks"...I think.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Watch out Denver, Here We...Stay???

So our plans for Spring Break have suddenly changed and it looks like the Weissman clan will be enjoying (in true 2009 Recession form) the new classic "Staycation" here at home. I'm sure there are plenty of exciting adventures we could find right here at home, but I know we're all looking forward to countless hours of video games and, I mean, hitting all the local museums and really getting to know our city better...right!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Every 40 Year Old Woman has a 14 Year Old Girl in her Somewhere

Spring break is approaching, and I must say that after the events of the last few days, I am prepping myself for more family drama. We're going to Telluride ("home") to visit my parents, and though I think it's all fine with Blake now, you just never know really. Old wounds can resurface faster than the blink of an eye, and before you even realize that your joke about always winning at backgammon has a backstory all its own, it's too late!
There's just something about family that makes us all revert to the rolls we played growing up. I am the middle child and the only girl, so that carries with it some stereotypical feelings of inadequacy, constant rebellion, and a sometimes insatiable need for more attention. Scott (my older brother) was the over-achiever highly motivated self-directed one. Blake, on the other hand, was the baby, overly coddled, several year younger third child who was blessed with parents who were pretty much done with parenting by the time highschool rolled around for him. -- I would come home from college aghast at the sugar cereal in the pantry and conspicuously absent curfews for my then 7th grade younger brother. And believe me, this unfairness did not go unnoticed (nor unmentioned, for that matter).
And still, 20 years later, get us all back in the kitchen at 400 N. Oak and we may has well have travelled back in time to 1985. Scott will be there telling me what I "need to do" and Blake will mouth over his shoulder - " Remember my motto: say yes and do whatever you want." I, on the other hand, will probably feign interest for a few minutes before my 14 year old self shakes her head, says "what-ever" and gives the accompanying eyeroll shown here.
So even though at 14 I was certain my 40-something parents were - like - 100 and couldn't possibly remember or understand being a teenage, I (now the one who is - like - 100) I know for sure that I was wrong. Not only can we relate to and understand those teenage years, we will actually become them if faced with a sufficient amount of familial strife, particularly with siblings and parents.
I can already feel the eye-roll building momentum, the hip jutting sideways, and that heavy sigh of exasperation followed by "WHATEVER" rolling off my tongue...I'm afraid it could be a long week ahead!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The internet is weird

Well, I caused quite a stir with yesterday's photo. Everyone is speculating whether it is indeed my younger brother running naked through a room of old ladies playing bridge, and quite frankly the issue was never settled to my liking (or Blake's either, for that matter.) But I have to say, it was totally unintentional. I kind of feel like I'm living an episode of Lost.
***SPOILER ALERT****No - the spoiler's not for you loyal's for me! I need you to understand that we just started watching Lost this winter from Netflix and we're only partway into season 3 so don't be putting in the comments something like "Can you believe Sawyer killed Kate last week" because I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!! Well, that's not true, I DO want to know, but I don't want to know YET...and I certainly don't want to from you!
OK - so now that that's clear, I'll explain. You know how on Lost there's always another one of the characters in the background of some other person's back-story? That's basically what happened to me with that photo. Honestly, I just went online yesterday to find a snazzy photo to jazz up the Bridge post (4 z's in that sentence). Anyway, I went on Google images and put something like "bridge" in as a search term and that's one of the photos that came up.
I just thought the picture was funny - and I didn't even notice that it is (was, could be, whatever) my brother...but Paul and Lori immediately noted the resemblance, and then I thought it would be funny to do a cyber-poll on FB to see if others agreed.
Well, the whole thing spiraled out of control and I think Blake's a little annoyed at me now. I took down the poll, but the truth is it's pretty funny. The thing is, he doesn't remember doing that, but he says it is entirely possible that he did during some hazing ritual when he was a pledge...if I really thought it was him I wouldn't have posted it...well, that's not true, I probably would have anyway.
So Blake wanted to know where I got the picture, and I have been trying to recreate the same search and I cannot for the life of me find it. I'm almost sure I just put "bridge" in the search terms, but now when I do that photos of the Golden Gate and Brooklyn bridge come up...not old ladies playing cards with some naked drunk guy running through the room. I don't get it!
Anyway, now that it's all said and done, I really want to know if it is in fact Blake...but it's kind of like that age old question of how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop...the world may never know!

Monday, March 22, 2010

All of the cool kids are playing bridge

So, a few years back, I was watching 60 Minutes (first instance upon which you might assume I am several decades older than I am), and they were doing a story on Bill Gates and Warren Buffet taking up the cause for teaching Bridge to school children. My grandparents had taught me and my brother to play when we were kids, so I thought maybe I would cajole Paul into learning and we could have a new hobby. (Second instance upon which you might assume I am several decades older than I am.)
Anyway, we took a class from local bridge legend Norma Sands (third instance) with our friends the Rosenbergs and it was off to the races, so to speak.
Unfortunately, Bridge with Bridget and Michael (despite the close association of her name to the game) didn't work out so well. Mike wanted to try to bluff during the bidding, which really defeats the purpose, and he was dismayed that the "language of bridge" (fourth) meant that not only his partner, but also his opponents would be clued into his hand.
So, after a few rather pathetic attempts to start my new bridge playing life off, our foursome fell apart and we dropped it. (For those of you who have been following my blog, you'll know this is not a real departure from my normal MO, so try as I might to blame Mike, I guess I'm the common denomiator in all those failures to follow through).
That said, I recently had a renewed interested in all things 1950, and our neighbors Bryan and Julie are learning with us. They're coming over tonight for our 3rd game. We've mastered the art of the first bid and are now all struggling with the "my partner seems to indicate that they can't help me with my bid so where do I go from here."
The problem for me and Paul is that Bryan is a professional poker player (yes...that's his job), so his natural propensity for all things cardlike is going to mean that we will be quickly outmatched. But, for now, we can still give them a bit of a wish us luck!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cheyenne Wells, Colorado - Annual Machine Gun Shoot

Sometimes I forget that Colorado is deep in the heart of redneck country, so stories like this one help remind me of my roots. We're just a hop skip and a jump away from shaved heads and swastikas here in Denver, and this will prove it.
To give a little back-story, this morning I was checking out some local drive-trip ideas to do with the kids this summer. I didn't enroll them in camp, and we don't have a big trip planned, so I am trying to figure some stuff out that will fill the long hours of daylight in June and July. SO, I thought I would check out Bent's Old Fort down in La Junta. My internet travels quickly led me east to Dodge City, and I thought "hey - we could do a Santa Fe Trail wild west tour!" FUN!
I then turned to Mapquest to see what exciting hot spots we could hit in our tornado-chasing Tahoe when we're gettin the hell outta Dodge...and I noticed a little town in eastern Colorado called Cheyenne Wells. For some reason I felt like I had heard of it before, but in retrospect I was probably thinking of Indian Wells.
Anyway, it's all pretty close so I figured there must have been some gun-slinging going on there in days past...little did I know!
Turns out, this quiet little community hosts it's very own annual Machine Gun Festival. It's put on by the local volunteer fire-fighters and you can rent a 50 caliber rifle, machine gun, even a cannon for your shooting pleasure. That's right, ordinary folks out for a weekend of machine gun shooting and cannon blasting. Throw in a few Budweisers and we got ourselves a right fine weekend! Bring the kids, but "hearing protection" is required, so swing by Walgreens on your way of town, or just reuse those plugs you got for last month's monster truck rally.
See y'all there!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Maybe a cute new background will inspire me to write?

I suppose it's not likely, but there's certainly no harm in trying! And I accomplished my mini-goals for today if I can count picking up my dog's poop when noone else was watching as a random act of kindness!

Getting back to the keyboard

Call it Adult Onset ADD or just a lazy excuse, but whatever it is, I have a genuine problem with sticktoitiveness. (Yea, I made that word up). But as part of that overall problem, I find myself unable to complete some pretty basic tasks such as remembering to give my son his antibiotics after day 6, putting away the folded laundry, or writing blog entries after a week of a pretty good effort. That said, I'm back at it! Since this entry is really more about the process and less about the content, I should warn you - all of you 3 million readers of this blog who have been sorely disappointed by my cyber-absence of late - that I can't promise much of an interesting read beyond now...
Lately I've been trying to get to the root of the problem. Is it that I'm afraid of the success I'll enjoy if I actually finish something I start? Maybe - that's pretty deep for my superficial self, but it could be. Fear that I'll have nothing left once the task is complete? Again, awfully psychoanalytical, but perhaps. Or maybe it's just that I am easily distracted, get bored, and quickly latch on to the new, more colorful distraction that pops up in front of my face. This seems the most likely.
I have long called myself "immediate gratification girl," and I have trouble recognizing the benefit of sustained efforts toward some amorphous long-term goal. I guess that's something that attracted me to litigation - you get a case, you jump through all the hoops of the pretrial process, and in the unusual event that you can't reach a conclusion beforehand, you have one last big push for trial and then it's over...on to a new task. (I know - there are cases that drag on forever, but not in the silly world of petty crime and rear-end car accidents that I lived in.)
But, I'm giving myself 2 months to see how I feel when I do a few things every day. Here they are:
1) Write on this blog for a minimum of 10 minutes.
2) Walk Roxy for a minimum of 20 minutes.
3) Do one complete load of laundry (wash, dry, fold, put away).
4) Extend one random act of kindness. (This has a very broad interpretation - it might be opening the door for a stranger, picking up a piece of trash on the ground, whatever, but it must be a conscious choice.
I figure reporting the random act of kindness could give me at least 30 seconds of material for my blog, so it's kind of a symbiotic relationship there.
Anyway, I've well exceeded my 10 minutes today...the ball is rolling! Now I just need to go find something nice to do...that might be hard for me. We'll just have to see!
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