Saturday, February 27, 2010

RATZ the movie

 purse rat

For my birthday I thought I'd do something fun, or if not fun, at least distracting. So here, presented for the first time is "RATZ the Movie," starring Luna and Malka. If you're rat-adverse, or rat-challenged, then DO NOT VIEW THIS VIDEO. Mean rats like these are not for the squeamish. But if you've been around domesticated rats before, then these guys are pretty funny. Luna is the albino one and Malka (with the Jewish name) is the fat brown dumbo. I hope the Jewish Defense League doesn't come after me for calling my rat a Jewish fat dumbo. That's just who she is. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010



Occasionally, my friend Lu and I meet at a local coffee house to do a little drawing and painting. We bring our watercolors and brushes, paper and pencils, and we sit, absorbed in our task. It's a very relaxing, focused kind of activity that pleases us, although we don't do it very often. (Doing something pleasant in L.A. takes time and gas, you know.)

The other day we met at Intelligentsia at Sunset Junction, where the barristers take their coffee-making seriously. Long lines of Silverlake hipsters form to buy expensive coffees and everyone seems to be attached to one thing or another. Lu pointed out one young man tethered to his ipod thusly, seemingly entranced by what he heard. 

As we paint we catch up on things, life, loves, work, etc. If you saw us, you might think we were sisters— sisters who don't need to pay strict attention to get every nuance of the conversation. We've known each other forever; as a result, we know what's coming, what's needed, what's best left unsaid.

Lu has a real sister, though, a sister whom she sees as often as is possible when one is busy and lives in another city. That she struggles with this relationship is no surprise, as I've done with my brother, as siblings do. As for my surrogate sister and I, we have the usual empathies and envies—happiness at the other's good fortune, sorrows when things go south—but without the ties of familial blood or obligation. Some would say, a relationship similar to being siblings... but better.

Lu at Intelligentsia


Talking about happiness, last Saturday night Lu's husband Lloyd had an opening at the Cardwell Jimmerson Gallery in Culver City. It was a grand affair with family and old friends gathering around to admire his work.  

Lloyd and niece Sarah looking at the work

It was fun to see how the crowd interacted with the architectural installation scattered across the floor. Here's Sarah's gold boots framed by a towering angle.

In addition to his seventies work, Lloyd had a few new pieces tucked in the back. When I first heard the cooing of so many "ooohs" and "aaahs," I thought there must be a baby back there, or at least a chihuahua. 

But no, it was a big beautiful felt chapeau! Congrats Lloyd! The show runs until March 27.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tom Longboat and my grandfather

A few nights ago my husband and I watched the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. I thought they were spectacular. Confession: I'm half Canadian; my mom was born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, and truthfully, I felt a surge of pride seeing all those red maple leaf flags and wheat field projections.

The small town of Brantford, where my mother, her five brothers and parents lived, is just northwest of the Six Nations Reserve. Back in the early 1900s, an Onodaga Indian named Tom Longboat lived on the Ohsweeken reservation there. Longboat was a tall, lanky fellow, known for being the fastest kid on the rez; he starting out chasing cows and ending up winning the "Around the Bay Road Race" in Hamilton, Ont. in 1906, at the age of nineteen.

Tom Longboat

In 1907, he began training at the West End YMCA in Hamilton, the closest big city to Brantford, where my grandfather Joseph Noble hung out. My grandfather loved the "Y," played basketball and ran track (he even snuck my grandmother Eva Noble into the "Y" for shvitz baths late at night). He was known as an accomplished athlete, winning an impressive number of trophies, like the one below for basketball.

Joseph Noble, first athlete from left, the little guy in black sneakers

According to my Uncle Cecil, his father (my grandfather) crossed paths with Longboat at the "Y," where they raced against each other on a short meter track. My grandfather was fast, but not fast enough to beat Longboat, who went on to win the Boston Marathon in 1907 and represent Canada in the Olympics—the first native to do so—at the Fourth Olympiad in London, England in the summer of '08. When I was in Ottawa for a family reunion a few years ago, I visited the offices of the Canadian Olympic Assoc. where I riffled through files, and came across Longboat's name among twenty-two competitors. There were two presiding officials and seven categories that year: Athletics, Wrestling, Fencing, Shooting, Clay Pigeon, Cycling, and Swimming and Diving.

Longboat followed a "hard, easy and recovery day" mode of training, but sports promoters and the press considered him "lazy." Today, long distance racers follow this model. Too bad for Tom Longboat. As an Indian alone in a competitive field, he was taken advantage of, sold off to different trainers-promoters, and eventually quit running. His last job was on a garbage truck in Toronto. He retired to the Sixth Nations Reserve, where he died in 1949.

Although Longboat died destitute and out of favor, Canadians remember him today as the greatest marathon runner of his time. The Tom Longboat Award, sponsored in conjunction with the University of Toronto and the Longboat Roadrunners, is given yearly to an aboriginal student long-distance runner, and the Longboat Island 10k Run is held on Toronto Island every September.
Tom Longboat, 1887-1949 


Most readers love Bill Plaschke, the sports columnist for the LA Times, I mean really love the guy. But today he stepped over my sentimentality line when he wrote "Wrapped in the flag of his family," about snow boarder and gold medalist Seth Wescott, and the American flag that means so much to his family. "In this game," Plaschke wrote, "that is the measure of a champion, the guy who can win with snow on his butt and a lump in his throat." Yuck. How do sports writers get away with this sugary drivel? Any other journalist would be handed one last cigarette and shot at dawn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February, part II

It's bad enough Feb. is my least favorite month, but to make matters worse I had to go in today to get a mammogram—three-years past due. I thought I'd take my camera along just in case there was anything interesting to see. So I headed out to my friendly Kaiser Sunset.

Even from the mat it was hard not to notice the woman in front of me, to hear her loud moans and jerky utterances, to watch as she knelt on one knee before the receptionist as if she were the Queen. The receptionist and the woman's caretaker completely ignored her odd behavior. I later found out she was autistic. So this is what adult autism looks like, I thought, quickly sending up grateful thanks to the precarious gods of health.

I'll skip over the procedure—painful but short— but I do want to know why they haven't come up with a better breast cancer detection test? It's not for lack of complaints from women who've had to endure this painful procedure every year. I'm thankful my technician was a cheerful pro at her job.

On my way out I stopped at the receptionist's desk and while we chatted I glanced at her nails. Jean says she just lets them grow and they take care of the rest at her beauty salon. I asked if they were painful, but she said they didn't hurt at all.

Outside, there was something interesting to see, a beautiful display of fruit.


If I think Feb.'s bad, for the prolific Gerald Posner, who resigned yesterday as chief investigative reporter at the Daily Beast, Feb must be absolutely agonizing, given the accusations of plagiarism thrown at him. Give a look at the conclusion Michael Roston comes to on True/Slant, re. old media reporters v. bloggers. For anyone in the journalism business, a must read.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blogger's regret and a mistake

I actually started this post a few days ago, blogging about a lesson I taught my students on "regret," but it turned out I regretted my post so I took it down, which got me thinking about my own regret about blogging. According to  Dani Shapiro's essay in the LA Times on Sunday (2/7), "writers tweet and blog and make Facebook friends in the time they used to spend writing," which if you ask me is a little behind the times (although I agree about the time suck of fb). If you're a person prone to regret like myself though, these accusations weigh heavily at night: is blogging "real" writing or just throwing sand against the windy blogosphere?

Okay enough of that. For this post on regret I was looking around for a dog to illustrate and then saw this one on Facebook, taken by my son. It immediately became my model.

Mikidos (photo by Mekko)

Mekko says of the pooch: "Here's the dog pic I shot when we were stuck in the rain for three days at the beach house in the north of the DR. They named him Mickidos because he's the second Miki after the first one died. A very calm and composed dog. The cat kept beating him up."

This following story of regret, which required Miki's mug, is from Hee Yoon, a young Korean student who dropped in on my class when I first began teaching. The assignment that night was to write about one thing you regretted in your life. In her own words:


"When I was 10-years-old, my mother brought a cutey dog which was two-years-old. My mother and I took care of her everyday. I thought my mother loved her more than me. I was really, really jealous so I decided to bother my Pobbie. One day when my mother was gone shopping I cut her hair everywhere and I put her into the refrigerator for 10 minutes."

"After that I got her out. When my mother came back I hugged mother, smiling, but I regetted my behavior in the morning. Because Pobbie died. Maybe she was shocked. That was my big mistake. Mother still doesn't know what I did...

"Later mother buried her on the really good mountain where mother cried."

Postscript: I'd be curious to know your thoughts on real writing v. blogging? (for the sake of argument, real being anything published outside the blogosphere.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February blues

My friend Jeanne said it best: "I feel like I'd just gotten used to the girls NOT being here, then I got used to them being around, NOW they're gone and I miss them so much." I couldn't have said it better. If you've been through this, you know how hard it is having your kids leave— for college, to live and work elsewhere—then come home for the holidays; you get used to them messing up the place, eating you out of house and home, bringing their wonderful, rowdy friends around (you love each one of them) and then, before you know it, they up and leave again to go back to their lives.

It's awfully empty around here.

no clothes to wash

no food to buy

no room to clean

no sink to share

Maybe I'm low because it's February. I've always struggled with this cold, dark month, even when it's not cold and dark where I live. Today it's sunny and warm, and look, a sunflower came up in the front yard after the rains...

But it's not enough to dispel these February blues. It's a good thing the month is short. Here's hoping in March the economy will pick up, people will start liking Obama and the dems again, gays and lesbians will finally gain some respect and we'll have peace in the mid-east. One can always dream— especially in February.