In My Orbit…

9 05 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

So The Girl has been vacating and marinating under the Central Coast skies, joining hubby in his geek pursuit of Military Radio collection, and visiting with his family. All-in-all, a nice little respite, where I got more sleep than I have in several months now–so it’s all good.

Time Passages

Now it’s back to life’s realities, and one of those is dealing with death. A few weeks back for In My Orbit, I paid tribute to Jack Gilbert and my cousin Ricky. Jack Gilbert’s memorial service is this Saturday, and it will be fitting to be part of a more public tribute to such a good man.

When you get to my age, you start marking time by these passages, and two more have made me reflective: Maurice Sendak, and Digby Wolfe.

Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where The Wild Things Are, In The Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There, died yesterday at the age of 83.  I loved Sendak’s work–it spoke to me as an introspective, bookish child, and the illustrations inspired me as a young artist. My first college major was commercial art with an emphasis in illustration; but I found I was much better at painting with words.

His books, along with Florence Parry Heide and Edward Gorey’s The Shrinking of Treehorn, and Julian Scheer’s Rain Makes Applesauce were part of the formative alchemy of who The Girl is today. Had I had children, I would have read his books to them too, passing on these shaping works to another generation.

I had the privilege of taking a class with Digby Wolfe in his last year of teaching at the University of Southern California, and went on to do one semester of focused study under his tutelage.

Digby Wolfe was one of the creators of Laugh-In, and his wit was just as sharp and fun 30-years in, as it was when he wrote the show in the 60s. He also had a depth of insight about character, and writer motivations which helped to make me more conscious and more directed in my own writing. Digby died of lung cancer on May 2, at the age of 82.

It was interesting that as a successful Renaissance man (he was an actor and singer as well) he spent the balance of his life as an academic, albeit a non-traditional one. He taught in the Watts Writer’s Workshop, then at USC, before he left Los Angeles for the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.  The obit in the Los Angeles Times said it best:

“‘He wasn’t an academic in any traditional sense,” Jim Linnell, dean of fine arts, said with a laugh. “He was a provocateur and a satirist. Having Digby in an academic program kept things lively, challenging and constantly pushing the boundaries of getting work done.'”

As a writer, I was blessed to have that support and influence, even for a brief time.

Chain of Fools

So I was fortunate to miss the Occupy LA/Immigrant Rights protest on May Day. While this local counterpart managed to remain low-key (what a shock), their brother organizations in Seattle and Cleveland did not fare so well. Downtown Seattle saw millions of dollars in commercial and personal property damage, and 25 arrests. But Cleveland takes the cake.

Five OWS Cleveland protestors plotted, then attempted, to blow up the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, 15-miles outside of downtown Cleveland. The smooth criminals rigged explosives that they thought were packed with C-4 at the base of the bridge, and tried to detonate them using a text-message code.

Of course, when you announce such an intention to a G-Man, you are bound to fail. Apparently an undercover FBI agent had infiltrated their pack and managed to thwart the plot by supplying phony explosives, and then calling in the posse. Good times!

OWS Cleveland’s official word is that they do recall these guys at their events, but they do not support bombing bridges. One of the suspects actually signed the lease to property where the OWS Cleveland protestors camp; so I think guilt by association can be proven here. What surprises me is the light press this continues to receive.

Now, had this been a right-wing group, or people who claimed to be a part of the Tea Party? It would be the Trayvon Martin news cycle all over again.

Rich Lowry calls it like he sees it, in an opinion piece in the New York Post; give it a read, if only to get the other viewpoint on these protests and the type of people it attracts.

Clowns to the Left of Me

From my house, that’s the direction toward Downtown L.A., where our idiot City Council wages war against sanity, commerce, and anyone finding or keeping a job in Los Angeles.

Their latest campaign involves banning single use plastic bags in an attempt to supposedly reduce litter. The law of unintended consequences comes into play here. According to the Los Angeles Times, Crown Poly, one major manufacturer of plastic bags, estimates they may have to lay off 20 to 130 employees because of this action. With unemployment numbers in Los Angeles city in the 10-11 percent range, you would think they would take pause at this action. But “think” and “Los Angeles City Council” are often mutually exclusive.

One of the useful idiots, Councilman Paul Koretz, compared the company to makers of horse-drawn carriages who were phased out with the introduction of the automobile.

“‘I’m the last one to allow for layoffs in L.A. city, and I fight them hard,’ he said. ‘But I’ve never stood and said that if a job doesn’t make sense anymore, that we’ve got to keep that job.'”

Who says it doesn’t make sense? The majority of these bags are made from recycled material–heck, some of the grocery stores have recycle kiosks for unused bags, along with other things recyclable.  How many people are employed in this enterprise? I know a few, and their jobs are on the chopping block too.

I’m all for environmental awareness, but like what they did in the San Joaquin Valley to save a Delta smelt, this smacks of foolishness that will further cripple the city and the State.

In My Orbit…

16 09 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

This is the “Girl’s Gone Wild” edition of In My Orbit.  The way the GOP establishment and the mainstream media is treating the Delaware Republican candidate for Senate is akin to how they would treat some bubble-headed-young-adult girl who flashes her breasts in the aforementioned DVD series.  So much tsk, tsking, Karl Rove bemoaning that all is lost, and the usual credibility-destroying stories about financial and mortgage troubles, abstinence work, and a masturbation comment?  A good chunk of the country (including yours truly) are unemployed, underemployed, or have lost their homes to foreclosure; so as far as we’re concerned, she can actually identify with what real people go through. We have an admitted tax cheat as Secretary of the Treasury–financial malfeasance didn’t stop the Senate from confirming him, did it?  And with sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy on the rise, abstinence education doesn’t look all that bad.  Truly, if this is the best they can come up with, then Christine O’Donnell is definitely a shoe-in for November.

The smart and sassy political consultant and radio co-host Jeri Thompson, who also happens to be the wife of former Senator, Presidential candidate, and Law and Order DA Fred Thompson, chisels a substantive piece in her American Spectator column today.  Jeri exposes and excoriates those behind the Christine O’Donnell silliness, detailing the establishment’s marginalization of women conservatives, the Tea Party movement, and the new wave of populism that has been ushered in because of said Party, and despite the GOP establishment.  A prescient quote:

“While they may not be intending to be sexist, the message, the attitude and whining sure make many in the GOP look eerily like the elites we are trying so hard to usurp. The sexism issues aside, it’s time for the Washington GOP establishment to man up and stop sulking over losing — no, getting walloped — by a woman they continue to insist is unqualified despite the fact that she has a pretty big win under her belt under pretty difficult circumstances.”

My good read of the day:  Don’t Tell Me She Cant Win.

And the Daily Mail drops an interesting tidbit about our dear FLOTUS.  In a new biography by journalists Michael Darmon and Yves Derai in collaboration with Carla Bruni, the FLOF (First Lady of France), Ms. Bruni allegedly asked Michelle Obama about her position as the U.S. President’s wife, and Mrs. Obama replied: “Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!”

There have been denials by both Ms. Bruni’s and Mrs. Obama’s handlers that these words were never spoken, and I believe that’s true.  Who wouldn’t love taxpayer-funded vacations to Spain and magazine photo ops practically ever week?

Whether true or not, like the “first time in my adult life I’m proud of my country” comment, this one will be wrapped around her neck like an albatross.  Michele Obama thinks being First Lady is ‘hell’…

And sweet Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe of Precious fame graces the cover of Elle magazine this October!  This is unprecedented, since no woman above a single-digit size has ever been allowed to headline the magazine.  A milestone or an anomaly, who knows?  But such an accomplishment should be celebrated, particularly after obvious snubs of the young and vivacious Gabby by Vanity Fair and Vogue in their Hollywood editions.  Sadly enough, the majority of the news coverage is about whether Elle “lightened” her skin in the photos! Gabourey Sidibe’s Elle Magazine Cover Raises Controversy…

It once again highlights Hollywood’s discomfort with plus-sized role models, particularly women of color, who on the average, can more closely identify with Gabby Sidibe than say, Halle Berry.  Despite their gifts and accomplishments that have little to do with their size, the Hollywood starmaker machine finds ways to diss them and get them to lose weight, then hawk their new size five as spokesmodels for Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.  Jennifer Hudson is the latest example of this model.

With a new supporting role in the Showtime series The Big C, maybe Gabby will stay strong–one can hold out hope.

Illustrating Absurdity…

24 02 2010

The Guvenator and former President Bubba are joining forces today to combat the great plague of our time: Obesity.

Illustrating Absurdity

Chicken crossing by Peter Griffin

From the Los Angeles Times article:

“The governor, a former bodybuilder who has long advocated healthy living and exercise, will join with health professionals, educators and others to discuss ways California can combat obesity and promote physical fitness.”

So an inept tax-and-spend Governor who has run California into the ground is joining forces with an ex-President whose libido and lies almost cost him the Presidency to talk about “action that can be done to promote a healthier California for all.”  This is a matter high on the list of priorities for most Californians–right up there with unemployment and job creation.  This is why food pantries from Los Angeles to Long Beach are daily running out of stock, and homeless dinner programs are ballooning with non-homeless men, women, and children who just need a free meal.

Will the last common-sense elected official to leave please turn the lights out?

LA Obesity summit will feature Schwarzennegger and Clinton.

Illustrating Absurdity

18 02 2010
Illustrating Absurdity

Chicken crossing by Peter Griffin

Los Angeles and the entire state of California is on implode.  Yet, our city government is setting up a task force to combat “hunger” and “obesity,” because government is expert at these things and best at combating such a problem… Food Politics in L.A.-hungry for change.

In the meantime, Moody’s has downgraded the city’s credit to “negative” because of the $212-million budget deficit that Smilin’ Tony, our 11% mayor,  has failed to correct…  City’s credit outlook downgraded to ‘negative’.

Finally, a Plus-Sized Role Model in the form of… A Model!

5 10 2006

So, apparently fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier decided to spice up the debate over Madrid’s ban on sized-zero models, by allowing a size 20 model to display his lingerie on the catwalk. A big chick in lingerie? Now there’s a role model I can relate to! Let’s hope this isn’t just a token gesture, and the other rag hags will follow suit.

Even the model’s name—Velvet D’Amour—screams voluptuous. She weighed in (big pun intended!) on the whole skinny vs. fat model thing: “If you tell me somebody’s too thin, if you tell me somebody’s too fat, you’re still being prejudiced. The point is diversity.”[1]

Society loves the word diversity when it comes to ethnicity, neighborhood cultural balance, or workplace skill sets; but applied to weight? Heaven forbid! If we allowed diversity in terms of how much people weighed, what would happen to Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers? Not to mention the insurance companies who are racking up millions on gastric bypass surgery.

But Velvet’s debut is a whisper of hope that somebody is finally getting it. Plus-sized doesn’t have to mean sexless or unhealthy, and having a large woman represented in a manner other than the punch line is refreshing.

Of course, the comments attached to the Daily Mail article that announced this phenomenon offered cheers, but also disgust. The disgusted comments were the usual form of tripe: overweight is unhealthy, any extreme is bad—especially this extreme, how ugly and uncomfortable Velvet looked, and on, and on.

Haters—all of them. I say that the rest of the world is finally getting equal time. Here’s to the big girls! (and guys). Velvet, thanks for representin’.

[1] The Sydney Morning Herald Online. “Gaultier’s largesse reply to skinny debate.”
Patty Huntington 10.04.2006. (

The Hollywood Weight Spate

14 07 2006

I was watching the CNN and Insider news feeds on Yahoo! this morning. The first one read: “Chubby Actors Charm Hollywood.” It appears that flabby men are now the IT boys. I noticed in this news flash that there was nothing about chubby actresses charming Hollywood—I guess that age-old double standard still holds true: men can look as jacked-up as they want (fat, balding, fleshy, you name it!), and still be sexy, but women must be thin and beautiful at all times. The reporters put an “average man” spin on it, but I don’t consider Jack Black, Kevin James (“King of Queens”), Vince Vaughn or Tom Hanks, average. They get paid millions of dollars to be thin or fat, according to whatever role they’re playing, and because they make millions, they can get any chick (fat or skinny) that they want! It will be noteworthy when I see a news feed headline that reads: “Monique is New Leading Lady—Big Girls Wow the Big Screen!”

I went on to the next feed, “ThinSpiration,” about how teens are looking to Hollywood starlets to gauge weight acceptance and how thin they should be. Scratching my head, I asked, Why? Grown women who want to look like pre-pubescent boys are not an accurate gauge for pre-pubescent girls—and if I was the mother of one, I’d tell her so! Then the next feed asked the question, “Are Actresses Too Thin?” To which my response was, “Duh?!.” This feed talked about certain starlets like Kiera Knightly and Kate Bosworth who have been accused of being anorexic, but deny it. Are they supposed to say, “Oh yes, I live off of soup, and purge twice a day—but it’s all for my career, dahling!”

So I pondered this weight spate reporting as I drove to my sedentary job. Fat actors are IN, but actresses still have to be skinny, unless the role calls for weight gain. Renee Zellweger and Charlize Theron, notwithstanding, there are very few ladies who want to pack on the pounds for that, hence the number of movies where actors and actresses are now donning fat suits—just kill me now. But, if you’re an actress, and you’re too skinny, then you’re criticized for being a poor role model to young women. It appears that these actresses not only struggle with anorexia, but schizophrenia as well! You truly couldn’t pay me enough to go through that.

Hollywood role models for Zaftig girls are few and far between, and it seems the powers that be want to keep it that way. I’m sure the green lighters think, “Who wants to make it with a fat chick? I don’t.” Boy, are they wrong, and it would be nice if they hopped on the Clue Bus. Being a plus-sized babe myself, I’ve had my share of rejections, but also acceptance and desire for being big and beautiful, and I know more than a few women who are never lacking a man or men, despite their dress size. But let the silver screen, network and cable tell it, this is not the case. Save for Bridgette Jones, true love only happens to size-zero women. The few plus-size role models we do have are either tough-talkers or laugh factories. There was Camryn Manheim, then Star Jones—but she gave up her fat crown (along with her sanity) when she got married. I even think Camryn might have dropped some weight after having Milo, but I haven’t been interested enough to delve into this observation. Years ago, Hollywood was touting Sara Rue (of the now cancelled, “Less Than Perfect”) as the plus-sized role model for being the lead in a hit TV-series and actually clocking in at, gasp! A size 10! Then she decided to take a feather from Star Jones’ cap, and lost weight. Now she looks like the rest of her too skinny peers, and can share in the anorexia/schizophrenia that marks their existence.

So all we have left are Rosie O’Donnell (yawn), Delta Burke (who doesn’t have much of a screen career to speak of), Monique (you go girl!—gettin’ there, but still mainly a laugh factory), and Liz Taylor?! Do kill me now!

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