Showing posts from 2011

2011 Life in Review

I hope the year's end finds you healthy and happy. We were among the luckiest families on earth in 2011. We had a warm place to sleep and a job that paid the bills. Our son Max is taller and heavier than he was last year; all good news. Relaxing on a field trip. Basketball The happiest time - redecorating the house. Max is thriving because Misa keeps him going every day. She makes a gourmet lunch for him, which is nearly too pretty to eat. Misa also began teaching Zumba dance this year, after a long time of study. She puts a great deal of care into her preparation. Max and I are proud of her. I often think about life as a series of choices. There are good and bad choices, like a light switch flipping on or off. Clearly that understanding is primitive and incomplete. More often success or failure depend on what we do after we make a big decision. I do feel lucky to have married Misa, but she makes that decision good by taking care of

Farewell, Christopher Hitchens

A great man has left us. Before I offer my meager thoughts about his life and work, I want to share his closing comments in a debate on religion, given at the Prestonwood Christian Academy in Dallas, Texas. Hitchens is addressing his opponent, mathematician and philosopher William Dembski, and the audience of students. Hitchens's speech is so important to me, I post in video and text also. One YouTube commenter described this passage as: " Some of the best few minutes of human speech ever uttered." I'll close on the implied question that Bill [Dembski] asked me earlier. "Why wouldn't you accept this wonderful offer? Why wouldn't you want to meet Shakespeare?" for example. I don't know if you really think that when you die you can be corporeally reassembled, and have conversations with authors from previous epochs. It's not necessary that you believe that in Christian theology, and I have to say it sounds like a complete fai

Modern Icons: Girls and Hair

I don't understand women. You can put that on a long list of things I don't "get": skateboarding, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, String Theory, and the allure of NASCAR racing. I want to understand women, however. Well I want to understand them well enough to keep them around.  One of the thousand things about women that baffle me is the vicious abuse of their hair. I went to art school with a tall, pretty young woman who wore luscious hair down past her waist. Most of us experimented with our looks during that time, and Miss Wonder Hair decided to shave her head bald. I never knew why she did this, or if the result satisfied her. Her action shocked me, nonetheless. I felt like I'd just watched her flush diamonds down a toilet.  Later I worked with another woman with exceptionally beautiful hair. Because of—boredom? self-hatred?—she started coloring, cutting, and waving it. After two full years and many hundreds of dollars, her hair reached a ki

Modern Icons: September Vogue 2011

Every year I am drawn to the September issue of Vogue , even though it comes later—and to fewer outlets—each fall. I like to observe the soaring twists of glamour. The original meaning of glamour has been watered down in my mind. It's a noun, meaning magic spell. Glamour is not natural. It is anti-ordinary. September Vogue has some articles; none of them interested me, and the issue is all about the ads anyway.  The photograph above is a dramatic example of the fight against nature which glamour requires. If you look closely at the model's eyes, you'll notice her pupils are enormous. It is highly unlikely that this effect was achieved naturally. To do so, the image might be shot in darkness, then over-exposed. It is more likely the photographer put dilation drops in her eyes, or fell back on the magic of PhotoShop. In the "Clothes No One Will Ever Wear" genre, we get a circus trainer in the woods. Everyone wants to know what to wear when you're struck b

Cafe du Nord and The Fabulous Juan

Everything must end. Meanwhile, we must amuse ourselves. —Voltaire During the late 1990s I went to Cafe du Nord almost every Sunday night to swing dance. The Cafe operates in the basement of San Francisco's Swedish American Hall on Market Street, near Castro. It was a comfortable scene for an aging guy like me, because the music and fashion were "retro." I already looked "retro" every day, so I didn't need to do anything different to fit in. I discovered the place on a date with a young communist girl. She spent most of the evening dancing with her girlfriends, and I never asked her out again, but I liked the environment and returned by myself. At 8PM we had a dance lesson in East Coast Swing, which goes with the Big Band Sound of the 1930s and 40s. At nine there was usually a live music act. Lee PressOn and the Nails were perennial favorites. Dancing presented a unique opportunity for me to touch women I didn't know, without getting arrested. I