The Mind Wobbles

So many things to absorb, think about, deal with and put up with - it simply makes the mind wobble...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Willie Nelson

If you check my "What I'm Listening To" link today, you'll see "The Essential Willie Nelson". I'm going to go get a cup of coffee, put the CD into my office PC's CD disc player and have Willie serenade me while I work - it's a 2 disc set, so it should last a while.

I've always liked Willie and enjoyed his music and his persona, but I had never purchased a recording of his.

A couple of weeks ago law enforcement officials in Lafayette, LA decided they could make the world safer for democracy by boarding Willie's tour bus. Surprise, surprise - they confiscated 1.5 pounds of marijuana and .2 pounds of narcotic mushrooms. Well, I guess we could all sleep safer and feel secure for our kids now.

Immediately upon having this breaking news appear onthe CNN Newsbreaks I periodically get via e-mail, I went to and ouchased this CD set out of solidarity with Willie.

As Bill Maher said the other night in the "New Rules" segment of his show:
"Until we win World War III and crush the evildoers in what our president calls a "struggle for civilization" - all law enforcement people have to work on THAT, and not on busting Willie Nelson."
Rock on Willie!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Music Recommendation: "Tony Bennett - Duets"

Run don't walk to buy the new Tony Bennett - Duets CD.

It is AWESOME. It celebrates Bennett's 80th birthday (he's still in wonderful voice IMO). Anyway, he duets with *everyone* including: Tim McGraw, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Juanes, Dixie Chicks, John Legend, Sting, Bono, Elvis Costello, James Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion (aka Satan), Billy Joel, George Michael, etc.

I got it at Starbucks - it was like $16. I've been replaying it all day.

It's a great gift for the parents and in-laws because the songs are mostly standards! It's excellent dinner music when you have guests, or when you're just hanging out and relaxing, etc.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday's Earworm

Just kill me now!

You know what song I have going 'round and 'round in my giant pumpkin head? You're not going to believe this.

Paris Hilton's *hit single* "Stars are Blind".

OHMYGOD!!! I'm actually humming it to myself.

[in my very best Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly" voice] Help meeee!!!

So...since it's completely unfair that I should be the only one to suffer, perhaps by sharing the lyrics to this magnum opus - you can suffer along with me.

"Even though the gods are crazy...Even though the stars are blind...If you show me real love baby...I'll show you miiiiine..."

BWAHAHAHAHA... Have a nice day!

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Saints Came Marching In

I saw part of the pre-show for tonight's football game. It was the first game to be played in the New Orleans Superdome since the horrors of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the first time in almost two years that the Saints played a home game *at home*. The New Orleans Saints vs. the Atlanta Falcons. Last time I looked the Saints were winning.

I watched Greenday and U2 performing along with some of the city's musicians. The performance was phenomenal. I was all goosebumpy and eventually just started crying.

It felt so strange to see the Superdome, such a symbol of the nightmare endured by New Orleans, now rocking and rolling and cheering on good music and good football. The fans were ecstatic as the Saints came onto the field. So many signs celebrating the rebuilding of the Superdome and the return of the Saints. But I was ambivalent.

The coverage also talked about the Lower 9th Ward and other areas of the city still destroyed and abandoned - ghost towns. It seemed wrong that people were playing football, it felt wrong so much money was spent to rebuild a place that had housed such horrific situations.

The whole time my husband and the TV announcers were telling me how good it was for the city that the stadium was back...that football was back. And I understand that, completely. And to a degree I agree and am happy for that.

But gut reaction was that the Superdome should not have been rebuilt, that it should have been razed and a new stadium built somewhere else. That's probably not practical, I know.

Well, tonight I'm a New Orleans Saints fan. Tonight I want them to win - for the fans, for the city and for hope. close to the stadium, a ghost town still waits for the saints to come marching down its abandoned streets.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Banned Books Week

September 23 - September 30 is Banned Books Week 2006.

During Banned Book Week, I encourage you to read a Banned or Challenged Book. Look through the ALA web site, there are several lists of books based on varying criteria as well as lots of disturbing (at least to me), yet interesting information.

The list of challenged books includes "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Catcher in the Rye", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", "The Color Purple", and of course the *oh so dangerous* "Harry Potter" series. The lists go on and on.

Next week I'll be reading Judy Blume's "Forever" - primarily because someone thinks I shouldn't!


Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Mentor Has Died

The principal and founder of my elementary school died yesterday and I want to write about her and what she meant to me.

Between first and eighth grade I attended a very small private school here in Miami. Although all the core subject classes were taught in English, it was very *Cuban*. All the students were - like me - children of Cuban exiles, and it was early enough in exile that there was still a real possibility that we would eventually "return" to Cuba. This meant for example, that the food served in the cafeteria was home-style Cuban food, and that because music was taught in Spanish we learned Cuban children's songs rather than the traditional American songs - hell I didn't learn "Itsy Bitsy Spider" properly till I was in my 20s!

Anyway, the school was named Conchita Espinosa Academy (CEA), after the founder and principal of the school. While I was a student there I respected and feared Conchita (as we all called her), but now I realize what an important influence she and her school were in my life.

She was an amzing woman. At the age of 14 she graduated as a certified professional piano instructor from the Conservatorio Internacional de La Habana (International Conservatory of Havana). When she was only 19 years old she founded her own conservatory in Havana. She got married when she was 23. By 1959, at the age of 39, she was widowed with two small children and her country crumbling around her.

She was spirited out of Cuba in 1960 without her children because the escape was too dangerous. Arriving in the US all alone, barely speaking English and with $5 to her name - she was able to get both her children out of Cuba via Operation Pedro Pan.

In 1963, she opened a school in a renovated house in what would become Little Havana. Through the years the school moved a couple of times to existing buildings in the Cuban neighborhoods in which the students lived. In 1984 (long after I had graduated) they were finally able to build a beautiful state-of-the-art school which now houses more than 700 students ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade.

I loved going to CEA. At the time I started, you were able to "skip" Kindergarten, so I started in the first grade in 1969. I was 6 years old and knew a little English which I had learned on TV and from my parents, but I didn't know how to read or write anything other than my name. My class had about 20 students - all the same as me - not really knowng how to speak English. From what my parents told me, within a month, I was reading and writing in English - and by Christmas I was reading at a 2nd-3rd grade level.

The school was - pardon the redundance - very *old-school*. We would stand up when an adult walked into the room, lots of "Yes Ma'am/No Ma'am", we actually had a *Good Manners* class! And the fact that there were so few of us gave it a family atmosphere. I remember once when I was in like the 4th grade, Conchita called my mother to see if everything was OK because I wasn't "acting like myself". I hadn't gotten in trouble or acted out or anything, I was just quieter than usual or something - can you imagine that in today's overcrowded schools?

I have a milion wonderful memories from those years - and none of them would have been possible if not for this woman. As the school's web site says on the memorial page:

"Her perseverance, passion, and joy for life changed the lives of students, faculty and families and will continue to enhance the lives of all of us who are a part of this special community. "

Adios Conchita...muchas gracias.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Julio Iglesias

Raise your hands if Julio Iglesias - even at 63 - still makes your knees weebly-wobbly when he sings [waving my right hand high in the air].

I was watching Tuesday's "The View" on my TIVO-like substance, and he was on to promote his new English-language album Romantic Classics .

He sang Willie Nelson's (We love you Willie! Keep on keeping on!) "Always on My Mind". He was all off key in that Julio Iglesias way, but it was just so damned sexy! He really doesn't even look all that good anymore - but the man just oozes a sexuality that his handsome yet (IMO) vapid son Enrique can only hope to achieve some day.

The snippets I listened to from the album are fabulous - there are some wonderful *old school* songs like "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart", "This Guy's in Love With You", and even Perry Como's (there's a blast from the past!) "It's Impossible", as well as some 80s romantic pop. (Useless Trivia Alert: "It's Impossible" was originally written by a Mexican composer named Armando Manzanero - the song in Spanish is called "Somos Novios" - the lyrics are not a translation, the subject matter is different.)

Needless to say the CD is going on my Christmas List.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I just watched the premier episode of NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - it was great!

Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme (formerly of "The West Wing") are back and spot on - the show is smart, quick, witty and biting.

Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing") and Matthew Perry ("Friends") have wonderful chemistry and play off each other beautifully. Although Whitford and Perry were the focus of the first show - the rest of the cast seems promising.

So I guess I'm adding another show to my "must see TV" list.

More as the new season progresses...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Book Review: "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

I wound up enjoying the book tremendously, more than I expected to when I started.

The story starts out slowly, but subtly draws you in until you are intrigued as to what's going to happen next. The world of circuses, at least to me, was completely unknown - so I couldn't predict what was coming. I was surprised at what horrible conditions both the people and the animlas endured on "train circuses" of the 1920s-1940s. If you're looking for a happy "magical" story about running away to join the circus - this isn't it.

The character development is limited, as it is written in the first person. My favorite character was Rosie the elephant - because the narrator clearly loves her and therefore you love her.

Apparently Gruen did vast research on the train circuses - making her use of jargon, lore and the incorporating of actual stories the core of the novel.

The book struck a personal cord with me in that for, as far as I can remember, the first time we get insight from the perspective of old people living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. My mother lives in an ALF although, sadly, she is not as mentally clear as Jacob . His frustration at his body failing him and of people making decisions for him and treating him like a child, along with feelings of being abandoned and useless really got to me and were gently and movingly written.

The magic comes in the highly improbable, yet tremendously satisfying ending.

I definitely recommend the book.


Friday, September 15, 2006

The Big Red Purse

I am not a *purse person*, much less a *red purse person*. To me purses are purely utalitarian objects and if there was a way I could avoid carrying them, I would. My purses are mostly black with a brown thrown in for good measure.

I wasn't always like that. In my misspent (overspent?) youth, I had shoes in every color and purses to match - which contributed greatly to my former $32,000 credit card debt that thankfully has been completely paid off.

Anyway, I would carry a different purse every day depending on the outfit and shoes I wore. Today I have one black *office purse*, regardless of what I wear, and sometimes I even use it for non-office activities because everything is already in there. When it would die from sheer exhaustion, I would buy a new black office purse and work it to death.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday a "purse lady" was at my office - she set up shop in front of the company cafeteria. I had been telling my husband for a while that I needed a new purse for work, as mine was falling apart after over a year of daily use. Now, my office purse has to be huge because of the ridiculous amount of crap I carry with me every day. I wish "Let's Make a Deal" was still on - I would SO win the part at the end where Monty Hall would give money to people who had weird stuff in their purse.

Seriously, in my work purse in addition to the usual stuff, I carry measuring tape, a set of mini screw-drivers, a corkscrew, a book, a nail care kit, a pill bottle full of over the counter stuff, several packs of mint tea, a stain-remover pen, a bunch of give-away pens, match boxes, old ticket stubs and who knows what else.

So I'm perusing the purses and I see a big red bag that was perfect for my load o' crap - except it was red, not black. I asked the purse lady if she had it in black. She said that it only came in red, but I should get it anyway. I told her I wasn't a red purse kind of girl. Well, she went into full tilt sales mode! She told me that red was the *new black*, that I could wear it with any color because purses didn't have to match anymore! Is that true? When did that happen? And then she tells me, "You're young, you can carry a red purse". Well that was it! What can I say? She had me at "you're young"!

So I bought this beautiful big red purse for $35 (original price was $50). And now it's sitting in my bedroom, looking at me. Daring me to use it. Will I?

I don't know.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

R.I.P Ann Richards

Former Texas Governor and all-around fabulous woman Ann Richards has died of esophageal cancer.

I *loved* her!

This is a woman who launched a political career after turning 40, having raised four children. She eventually became only the second woman in the history of Texas to be elected Governor. She also overcame an alcohol problem and took up motorcycle riding in her 60s!

She became nationally recognized during the 1988 Democratic Convention when she quipped about George Bush (father)"Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." The sad irony is that she was eventually defeated in her second Governor's race by Dubyuh - who was born with *two silver feet wearing platinum boots* in his mouth!

She was often quoted as saying: "Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

Godspeed'll be missed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OK, see - this is the kind of stuff that makes me crazy!

First the good news:

"Sixth-grade girls in Michigan could be the first required to be vaccinated against cervical cancer under a proposed new law."
"The proposed law would require girls headed for sixth grade next year to be immunized against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes most cervical cancers and can also cause genital warts."
"The vaccine, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June, was shown to be 100 percent effective against HPV. Doctors say it works best if administered before girls are sexually active."
Now the insanity:

"That concerns some conservative groups who worry the vaccine could encourage promiscuity."
OHMYGOD!!! I simply do not understand how parents would *not* jump at the chance to keep their daughters from possibly getting cervical cancer!

Sixth-Grade Girls Could Be Vaccinated Against Cervical Cancer

Wednesday's Earworm

I have no idea why, but all day today I have been singing/humming The Mamas and the Papas' version of "Make Your Own Kind of Music". It was played on a couple of episodes of last season's "LOST", but that was months ago and I don't remember hearing it recently.

"Make your own kind of music...sing your own special song..."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The New TV Season

When I was a kid I used to love the "Fall TV Season". I would pore over the extra-thick special edition of the TV Guide - by the way I hate their new format and content. Anyway, I would research the new shows and look for tid-bits about my returning favorites.

Back then there were three networks and some local and UHF stations - and I had scheduling issues! Now I have digital cable and like 500 channels - even my TIVO-like substance can't help!

And now a lot of shows don't even start their seasons in September!

Anyway, tonight I watched a returning favorite: "Dancing with the Stars" - don't judge me! I like the dancing. My early prediction for winning the whole shebang: Mario Lopez - he played Slater on "Saved by the Bell". Remember?

I also watched a new show starring Anne Heche, of all people. It's called "Men In Trees" - it's sort of "Sex in the City" meets "Northern Exposure" - I really like it! It's about a relationship coach (Anne Heche) who gets cheated on by her fiancee and winds up starting over in Elmo, Alaska where she had traveled as part of a book tour. It's smart and quirky.

Of course there are some favorites I can't wait to see again..."Lost", "Gray's Anatomy", "Gilmore Girls", "Monk", "House" - technically that's already started, but I have the first episode on my TIVO-like substance and haven't watched it yet.

And, as before - I have scheduling issues!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday's Earworm

An earworm is loosely defined as:

a song stuck in one's head.


My earworm today is sponsored by the Oxygen Network who, unbeknownst to me, on weekends plays the sitcom "Mad About You" 14 times (seriously!). I inadvertantly wound up taping all of them on my TIVO-like substance. Of course, once they were taped, I *had* to see all of them.

So the show's theme song "Final Frontier" (Useless Trivia Alert: the song was written by the show's star and producer Paul Reiser) is now on an endless loop in my head.

"Tell me why, I love you like I do..."


Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?

I was at work. My husband was home sick and watching TV when they interrupted with the news that the first tower had been hit. He called me and told me. While still on the phone with him, I accessed the live Internet feed for the NPR station in NYC. Apparently they are located near where the WTC used to be - as they were describing it as being very close. At this point everyone thought it had been an accident.

Then my husband said another plane had hit the second tower - and I told him he was probably just watching a replay of the first building. At that moment the NPR guy said the second tower had been hit. And that was it...the beginning of what turned into a national nightmare.

I'm planning to avoid any 9/11 coverage. It was tough enough when it happened, I' not ready to relive it. I'll just light a candle tonight and pray for the relatives of those who died 5 years ago today - and also pray that the violence unleashed by the event will end soon.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Papi died three years ago

Three years ago today, my father died of a brain embolism. He was unconscious for 11 days after going through emergency brain surgery - the last time I spoke to him was on August 27th, 2003 - just before he went into surgery. On September 5, 2003 I had to make the impossible decision to take him off a respirator - after the doctors told us he could potentially stay unconscious indefinitely. It was horrible.

I miss him every day. It has, of course, gotten easier - but every now and then out of the blue, I miss him so much that it hurts my heart and I just break down and cry.

I was definitely Papi's little girl, even at 40. I am the person I am today because of both of my parents, of course, and there's a lot of my mother in me - but my dad is responsible for much of what makes me happy. He taught me how to love books, art, different types of music, movies - and he taught me how to enjoy and appreciate food, wine and spirits. As I was growing up he taught me to try everything once - if I didn't like I'd never have to eat or drink it again. I've followed that rule, and so far the only thing that I will not eat are canned beets.

My dad made me curious about the world and about people, we discussed politics and he taught me to love New York City and Miami - and his beloved La Habana. He expected the best of me but he didn't pressure me.

One of my best Papi memories: I must have been around 4 years old, living in New York City. He and I had gone out - to a museum or a park, or wherever - just the two of us, so it must have been a weekend. I can only assume it was really hot because he let me take off my clothes and remain in my little undershirt and panties so that I could splash and play with a bunch of kids around an open fire hydrant. My mom would never have let me do that and had a conniption when we got home.

OK, so now I'm crying for the hundredth time today - I'll stop now.

Te quiero Papi...and I miss you!

Friday, September 1, 2006

Ooops! I did it again!

I watched the Video MTV Awards last night.

Someone needs to stop me from dong this to myself, and God bless him my husband tried.

Actually for a 43 year old woman with no children, I recognized more people than I expected. That's because in the morning while hubby finishes getting ready I watch the digital music video stations, so at least I have a general idea of who's who.

I would have liked to have seen Shakira win, but her performance was wonderful as was Justin Timberlake's. And the big winners of the night *Panic! At the Disco*, although I don't quite understand why they seem so angry were entertaining enough I suppose.

So it wasn't really the music - it was some people's behavior. It started with the Pre-Show. OK, yes, I saw part of the pre-show, I'm telling you it's like a train wreck I can't take my eyes off it! Anyway, during the pre-show for some reason P Diddy, or Puffy, or Puff Daddy, or whatever the hell he calls himself now decided he wasn't going to speak to the MTV guy that was interviewing him - he had some toady speak for him. Puffy just stood there nodding his head, looking all dapper and communicating by nods, and facial expressions with his "speaker" who would then tell the MTV guy. Oh, I'm thinking, he has laryngitis - hmmm, how odd. But NO! He didn't have laryngitis, he later presented someone during the show and his voice was perfectly fine - he was just being an ass!

Still on Diddy, at one point he hands the MTV guy a cigar and through his interpreter tells him to smoke it. The MTV guy makes this big to do about how he can't smoke it on the air, but he'll smoke it later - and as he's leaving the interview area, again P has his guy tell the MTV guy to be sure to smoke the cigar and the MTV guy - again - says he can't smoke on the air. Excellent. Don't smoke on the air, don't want to set a bad example. Fine. Later on during the show - another bunch of angry white boys – don’t know the name of the band - wins and the guy goes to the podium to accept the award with a drink in his hand, already half-soused and proceeds to tell everyone that he is going to get "totally trashed". A while later, who should show up to introduce someone but good ol' Snoop Dogg - with a huge glass of what appears to be OJ, but we know better. Sure enough, during his spiel he tells us he would rather be "smoking something but since he's on MTV, he'll just stick to drinking!" And along the way the level of inebriation in some sectors of the crowd increased exponentially. can't smoke a frickin' frackin' cigar on MTV but you can be drunk out of your mind *and* announce to the youth of America that you're going to get drunker! Lovely.

The worst of all however, bar none, no question, were the "people" - and I use the term as loosely as possible - from "Jackass". OK - what the hell is that? I'll wait here while someone can come up with a reasonable explanation as to why these entities are allowed on television or anywhere. I'll sit while I wait, if you don't mind.

They were apparently in charge of something during the show, as they kept appearing, getting dumber, and drunker and cruder and more annoying as the evening progressed. The first time they appeared - there's a pack of them - there was one naked midget (his unmentionables were blurred), and a bunch of other idiots. So, the apparent head idiot decides that he's going to stick his fingers into a battery operated military field phone. "Why would he do that?" you ask. Well, that's because *you're* normal. He sticks his fingers in these socket thingies and an assistant idiot cranks up the battery and of course, proceeds to electrocute the head idiot. When he pulls out his fingers the tips are burnt bloody. WOOEEE what fun!

The one good thing to come of the VMAs was Al Gore's appearance. He was fabulous! He was funny, he was interesting - he just showed up to plug his web site about the environment. The audience went wild* when he appeared - it was great. You know what? I think Gore is going to run for President in 2008! At this point, he may be my candidate!

OK. I've ranted long enough...for now!