Category Archives: random musings

To Pee Wee or Not

When my daughter was a pre-schooler, her dad and I were pretty picky about what we allowed her to watch on TV.  Especially on Saturday mornings, when kids’ programs were mainly poorly-produced cartoons that didn’t even pretend to be anything other than pitches for the cartoons’ licensed toys.  As a creative director at an ad agency and media producer,  Julie’s dad had especially high standards for what he called “production value.” In his view, production value included the quality of content. (This also applied to books, so minimally artistic, cheaply produced books … e.g., the Berenstain Bears series, Disney-derived paperbacks… were off limits).

Dad’s intent was straightforward: he wanted our daughter to grow up with an appreciation for quality creative work. He believed in encouraging an expansive imagination, especially during childrens’ early years …. before school teachers introduced and rewarded logical, pragmatic thinking at the expense of fantasy.

On Saturday mornings, Pee Wee’s Playhouse reigned supreme. Great production value! Humor for kids and parents! Creative sets! Real actors, not sketchily drawn cartoons! Skits that played to kids’ still-loosely-defined ideas of “the real world.”

Pee Wee’s Playhouse’s run ended at about the same time Julie lost interest in Saturday morning television. But over the years when we watched it together, I became a crazed fan.

A few days ago, the Pee Wee Herman Show opened on Broadway. I’ve been thinking about buying tickets ever since I first heard about it last spring.  Now, I’m wondering whether the TV show will succeed as a live musical. It’s an unabashed trip back in time for hard-core Pee Wee’s fans, but in a very different medium and context.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse was innovative and wacky. Its “production value” stood out in relief from other kids programs in the eighties. The live-on-stage Pee Wee Herman Show  may have revived the wackiness, but on Broadway, the production value is nothing new.

I always jump on a reason to go to New York, but this time, I’m not sure it’s worth the trip.

Looking for My Voice

www.keekaye.com

When I was in elementary school, I was placed towards the back of the girls’ alto section when we had chorus or practice for  school performances. At that stage in my singing life, height was the determining factor in where you were placed. Progressing through junior high and high school, my height stayed pretty much average, but I found myself standing in the no-man’s land of vocal outcasts, a mix of lip-synchers and earnest-but-tone-deaf crooners. (People in this music-loving group grow up to be the people who belt out hymns in church, testing the charitable spirits of people in adjacent pews.)  When public singing is called for, I’m an enthusiastic lip-syncher, mouthing the words to nearly every song I love.

Maybe that’s why the topic of “voice”  fills me with a hobbling mix of insecurity and longing. I long to be a freely expressive singer, but I self-limit to solo car travel, road bike rides on windy days and shower-time. Now, I’m faced with finding my “voice” in writing.  For me, the idea of voice, sung or written, is fraught with anxiety. Continue reading Looking for My Voice

Sleeping with Dogs

Six years ago we bought our first miniature dachshund puppy. Nobody warned us (until it was too late) that this breed is genetically wired to burrow into their owners’ beds at night. Now, we stop everyone we see at the human end of a leashed dachshund, asking where their dog sleeps. The results of extensive intercept-research: doxies in owners’ beds, 99%. The other 1% must be too ashamed to tell the truth

Moxie at rest, looking innocent

Continue reading Sleeping with Dogs

Blonde is Back

I’m back, but I can’t figure out where I’ve been. Or why I went missing. All I know is that the last time I opened my head to you was two months ago.

Going missing for two months isn’t supposed to happen.  In mid-August, I was fired up and writing posts. Then I was fired up but not writing.  Then I was fired up, period.  I took notes about topics for the blog. I jotted down ideas that made me laugh. There are cryptic scribbles that made sense at the time but need decoding now.  None of them made it to the page. I just needed some high-quality mental space, a good block of quiet time. The idea of writing was appealing, but the will-to-action became elusive.

The really wierd part is that I was avoiding doing something that I actually enjoy. Unlike eating an extra serving of soft ice cream, there’s no guilt or remorse that follows writing. For me, writing is rewarding. Still, I couldn’t get back to it. Nothing was really stopping me, either. At first, I told myself that I’d start up again in a few days. Or, “next weekend.”  When the house guests leave. Or, after the trip to Maine. When the second round of house guests leave. After Labor Day. Before Halloween…

Maybe it’s happened to you.  You have great intentions to accomplish something.  Like making your exercise program a habit:  you know you’ll feel great when you “just do it.” (Thanks, Nike). So, why aren’t you doing it? That’s the question. Somewhere along the procrastination process, the “to-do” task morphed into a spectre that now greets you when you’re waking up and spooks you when you’re trying to sleep. That nasty, grinning, nagging spectre is in your head, at your back, staring at you in the mirror and sitting next to you in the car. Continue reading Blonde is Back

No More “Girl-on-Top”

Lately, I’ve been running half-marathons. In the past, my running was pretty much limited to airports – getting to the gate before the plane’s door shut. I got started nearly two years ago, when my husband and I signed up to train and run with Team RMH, a fund-raising team to benefit the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford. In November, 2008, I ran my first “half” at Pacific Grove. It was great fun, and I marveled that I could go this distance simply by training pretty moderately but consistently. It’s kind of a lazy-girl’s way of running, without risk of overtraining or getting injured.

Six weeks later, I decided to do another big run. It was just for fun, and I was in high spirits, feeling buff.  A supporter of Muffy Vanderbear’s assertion that “Life is one big dress up party” I spiffed up at LuLuLemon, buying upbeat, fast-looking running shorts and a comfy tank top.

Race day came; it was overcast (good!) and muggy (not so good), but I pushed through. The run was well worth the luscious grape Popsicle that I was handed along with the finisher’s medal. A few weeks later, an email arrived from the “official photographer” of the event. I eagerly found the proofs of my finish and was amazed to find what seemed to be an unusually good action shot. Never mind that the “proof banner” obstructed part of my body. I looked appropriately sweaty, the running costume looked fresh and lively, I had an honest smile on my face and my legs and arms looked like they were still in comfortable motion after going the 13.1 Feeling proud and bullish, I ordered several prints. Hell, I was looking good, and why wouldn’t my family and friends want a nice 5×7 of my hero shot?

A few days ago, the big white envelope arrived. I eagerly tore it open and pulled out the prints. My jaw dropped open. My eyes widened. What happened to my left leg? Was someone playing a cruel Photoshop joke on me? Whose leg was attached to my body?? What WAS that thing, and where did it come from? The old Sesame Street bit, “one of these things is not like the others,” came to mind… my arms and the other leg looked pretty much as they had when I started the run at 7:00 a.m. But that “other thing” sure didn’t look like the rest of me. The stacks of material in a fabric store crossed my imagination, too – why did my leg look strangely like a bolt of finely-crinkled crepe? Or was it Silly Putty?

One of these things is not like the other..

Shock trumped revulsion. Disbelief. Self-loathing. The pain-o-meter got worse when I also realized I’d paid exactly one hundred times more than the prints were worth if they’d been ordered through Walgreens or KodakGallery. I’d been had, willingly. All this, for a picture that could have come from  “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”

Plan 9

Lessons learned:

  • Pride indeed comes before the fall.
  • Gravity is a Truth; my body is a testament.
  • Aging skin is not really attractive, even if you’re in great shape.
  • Mirrors don’t show everything.
  • Spandex and Lycra are our friends.
  • Beware what’s hiding under the “proof banner.”
  • Don’t order large prints. The icky things look bigger, too.

One more crepe-y, drape-y insight: some things just aren’t so pretty anymore.  No more girl-on-top.