Sunday, March 21, 2010


Back in the last millenia, when I was a debater, my coach told me that people favour the status quo. The presumption is always with the current system.

Even if things suck, we are creatures of habit. I used to joke that the reason Professor X and I had been married so long was that we were too lazy to go after something better. Don't get me wrong - I do love him and we have more fun than a barrel of monkeys most of the time - but we've also had a few moments of lifewouldbebetterapartitis, and there is an smidgen of truth to the notion that one reason we have endured is simply because we're afraid that being with a new person might be worse. I read an interview with Valerie Bertinelli about her breakup with Eddie Van Halen. She decided to leave him in 2001, yet didn't actually divorce him in 2005. She explained the time lag by saying "I'm a procrastinator."

People can recognize things aren't good, but they procrastinate on making changes. They worry that they'll rue their actions. Let us draw inspiration from brilliant songwriter Kevin Cronin, whose classic single from the You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish album reminds us

So if you're tired of the
Same old story
Turn some pages
I'll be here when you are ready
To roll with the changes

Let's watch the lads in R.E.O. Speedwagon sing this toe-tapping tune.

Man, that brings back some memories of my wild youth. I remember seeing these guys when I was in high school. Let me propose that this song be an anthem for all progressives who yearn to feel a sweet sun shower.

Yes, my fellow Americans, it is time to be brave and embrace the change that is upon us. The House of Representatives voted today to take some baby steps toward health care reform in our country, and I say Bravo!

I will have more thoughts on this tomorrow. I must nap now. Change is great, but a mite exhausting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Céad Míle Fáilte!

Chapel atop Croagh Patrick

St. Augustine's National School, Murrisk, County Mayo

Today is a special day for me and my family. Although we're not Catholic, our spirits are uplifted at the thought of this special saint's day. Many of you know that the Fabulous Forrest Family took a year-long sabbatical in Ireland. We lived in a magical place in the northwest corner of the Republic, in County Mayo, called Murrisk. The village was little more than a collection of homes strung out along Clew Bay, anchored by a small community center, an abbey and cemetery, and a couple of taverns.

And a school. There were two classrooms - one for pre K-2nd grade, the other for 3rd-6th grades. Our children were instantly welcomed there by the wonderful teachers and students, and Professor X and I made friends with their schoolmates' parents and the teachers.

We lived in a beautiful home at the foot of Croagh Patrick, a high mountain with a tiny chapel atop it. Legend had it that St. Patrick had climbed up, built a church there, and after fasting for 40 days, he threw a silver bell down the side of the mountain, knocking the she-demon Corra from the sky and banishing all the snakes from Ireland.

Our fireplace was often ablaze, filled with the loveliest smelling peat, as a wild wind raged outside. I miss the smells and sights of Ireland as much as the sounds. Such music they have! 'Tis fine, indeed.

Here's a clip of one of my favorite movies, Hear My Song. Here's some fun background information about it. It's got a brilliant soundtrack. Ned Beatty plays real Irish tenor Joseph Locke in a VERY loosely based version of Locke's last concert. Very cute Irish guy Adrian Dunbar plays a concert promoter who persuades Locke to come out of forced retirement (he was wanted by the Brits for tax evasion) and perform at a benefit for a London concert hall. This clip shows Locke (Beatty's voice is dubbed by Vernon Midgely) singing on the way over to England.

Another marvelous film related to Ireland is Waking Ned Devine. Some youtuber combined the last song in the film, a classic tune entitled The Parting Glass, with some photos of Ireland with a special emphasis on County Mayo. It's sung by Shaun Davey.

Oh, geez. I'm starting to get teary-eyed.

If you're wondering about my post title, it's Gaelic for A Hundred Thousand Welcomes. Which is what we received when we went to Eire. I remember so well one of my son's friends opening the door to his home when we came for supper one night. Young Matthew proclaimed to the four of us "Come in! You're very welcome!"

Now I'm REALLY getting all teary. We absolutely must go back and spend more time in that place. A piece of my heart is there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blogging and Porn - Addictive Behaviours 101


I'm starting to prepare for my late spring teaching gig, and I'm beginning to wonder if I'm doing the right thing.

I'll be leading a course entitled Share Your Brilliance: Blogwriting for Beginners, and I'm worried it will create a classroom of addicts.

Last night, I tuned into House, MD with great interest; previews had revealed that the POTW (patient of the week) was a woman blogger. There were another subplot that intrigued me even more: House and Wilson were going speed dating. I couldn't wait for the funny to begin. Ultimately, I was a little disappointed because the speed dating bit was pretty short and most of the best parts were in the preview. Of course, when it comes to any opportunity to watch Hugh Laurie being clever, I am totally insatiable, so perhaps my expectations are unrealistic.

There was also SPOILER ALERT! a fabulous subplot about House discovering that Wilson had been in a porno movie when he was younger. House, being House, tormented poor Wilson mercilessly about this. It started when House rented three films from a local shop, Wilson returned them before House watched them, providing a flimsy excuse for doing so, piquing House's curiosity. House then re-rented and viewed them and spotted his colleague wearing a most fetching bear skin. There are more twists and turns, but you get the idea.

It was only later, after watching the addictive behavior of the blogger patient who felt she had to constantly post about every aspect of her life that I began to think about House and his actions related to porn. Sure, he jokes about it a lot, but renting the films shows he follows through. And three films? I mean, aren't they all basically the same thing? As Ronald Reagan observed about trees, you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. Aren't there better things to do with one's time? Better films to watch? Maybe even spend time with actual women?

My class has nothing to do with that type of addiction - unless my students intend to create racier content than I think they will. But it raises the same sorts of questions if students wind up falling down the rabbit hole of blogging addiction. The blogger character in last night's program talked about the sense of community and interaction with people through her blog. She was constantly grabbing her laptop to share new developments in her life, even as doctors struggled to figure out what was wrong with her. Her loving husband stood by, trying to talk with her and make decisions about the future as she turned away to communicate with Bloggyland. It was annoying. And I recognized some of the behaviors as my own.

This Sunday marked my second totally awesome Oscar Party at Bad Mom's house. A gang of super fun women gathered to watch the festivities, eat scrumptious food and drink amazing cocktails concocted by Bad Mom's wonderful husband. We dressed in our best red carpet finery (I chose black velvet, red lipstick and sparkling rhinestones) or incognito celebrity airport outfit. We laughed and gabbed in the classic tradition of what Professor X lovingly dubs a hen party. Except two of us were high tech hens. We hunted and pecked our keyboards, live blogging (on Facebook, don't look for it here) the Oscar action. We also multi-tasked, chatting to each other from our laptops although we sat a mere foot apart.

We had ginormous fun. But are we losing that personal connection? Are we becoming so dependent on our little silver devices that we're not able to interact properly? Am I going to spread this type of aberrant behavior by teaching the class? Is this the downfall of society?

Stay tuned for more thoughts on this troubling topic.

Some brilliant youtube producer combined clips from House with the stirring song "The Internet is For Porn" from Avenue Q - Enjoy!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Just Get Through the Goddamned Day

A few times in my life I've had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.
~ George Falconer in A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Orchestral music reminiscent of Hitchcock's very best soundtracks plays throughout the trailer for one of the best dramatic movies ever. I love everything about this film - the superb acting, the cinematography, the art direction.... If his role in A Single Man is not recognized with an Oscar for Colin Firth, I will be extremely displeased.

You catch yourself holding your breath while you watch this movie, knowing that something terrible is going to happen; with the knowledge that something terrible has already happened. In the same way that filmmakers captured Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes' viewpoint in the restaurant scene - the sharp focus on details that were almost unbearably overwhelming to a character in a heightened state of awareness - A Single Man achieves this continuously. It is quite a feat to behold.

The soundtrack is so hauntingly lovely. It's a travesty this didn't receive a nomination. Composers Abel Korzeniowski & Shigeru Umebayashi are brilliant. You really should immediately buy the entire score - check it out beginning with the first track here. The taut piece underlying the trailer is A Clock Tick. Others, like Stillness of the Mind, are achingly sad.

The writing is beautiful, so well crafted. It doesn't hurt that it's delivered by such a drop-dead gorgeous Brit total babe fine actor.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

55 Seconds of Fame

Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I can share my boy's moment of glory as he opened Monday's session of the Washington State Senate. I won't tell you how many times I have played this. Let's just say it was a few. Quite a few.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A New Chapter - Or At Least a New Page

Super Son has left the least, temporarily. He's gone off for a week to serve as a Page in the Washington State Senate. It's going to be a great experience.

Daring Daughter, Professor X and I are missing him. This is the first time he's been away for that long. The four of us do so much together - go to movies, plays, concerts, play board games, cook, laugh - that it feels very weird not to have him here. It's like the comfy chair of our family has lost one leg. Pretty soon we'll figure out how to be a three-legged stool, and we'll have a good time for the next few days. But this gives me a hint of what things will be like in three years when he goes away to college. And I don't like it, not one little bit.