The Peanut Gallery

posted 04.23.05

When I was a kid and I got snarky, my father would say, "I think we've heard just about enough from the Peanut Gallery."

Well, I was never sure he had...

In that spirit, I'm going to test drive a new Seen function! Comments! You've probably seen them on other blog sites - I have, and I thought - "How interesting... It's almost like... dialogue. How very quaint."

I'm a retro kind of gal when the mood strikes me, so let's give it a go (all four of us). Here's how it'll work. There will be a link, called, originally enough, "Add comments" at the end of a Seen posting (like the one down below, only it will be live, this one is for illustrative purposes only...). Click it, and you will be wisked off to a form. Fill the pertinent bits of the form in, and type yer comment, then click the "Post Comments" button. You'll be magically transported to a page where your very own comment will appear... From there, you can view the Comments page to see other comments, or go take a nap after your long journey.

Happy travels!

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Fuzzy teeth

I'm eating stewed rhubarb. Yes, it's true. It's the time of year when it's a respectable sort of thing to be caught doing. I can't say that it's altogether the right thing to eat after sauteed catfish with a caper lemon sauce - but I'm doin' it anyhow. Living on the edge - as per usual.

And now my teeth feel kinda fuzzy. Odd feeling, that. Get it when I eat spinach too. Blech.

Awkward moments

Sitting on my lonesome in a cafe, working out my latest highly detailed plan for world domination, I looked up to find someone I recognized parked directly opposite me. She wasn't sitting at my table, she was sitting at the next table over, facing me. The room we were in was practically empty - she couldn't have missed me unless she was completely and utterly distracted.

Now, I don't know this woman, not well, I'd only had a round-about introduction, but we knew each other by sight well enough. I sat thinking... this is rather odd. She sat eating her lunch - not looking up, not looking anywhere but down at her food - directly across from me, in a practically empty room... And I thought... not only is the room practically empty, but she had to walk across it, past several empty tables, and over to this corner to where I'm sitting, to park there...

This kind of shy was new on me. And as engrossed as I was in my detailed plan for world domination, I couldn't ignore the feeling that this woman seemed to want to make some kind of connection. She couldn't get herself all of the way there though - just up to the threshold, but not over it. My heart went out to her.

I'm not much of one to strike up casual conversations over detailed plans for world domination, but I figured if this woman got as far as parking herself in front of my face, I'd do the rest. And so I opened my mouth and let what passes for light conversation drip out. Depending on my mood, I can keep this kind of thing moving along, even hit something like a stride - if the person I'm conversing with struggles along with me. We didn't get much further than the drip stage...

I figured that was okay though, we were friendly and all and that's a good thing. And I had a few logistics in my plan to work out, so I got back to that. We parted amicably enough, did the "I'll see you around." thing as I left.

You know, it's possible this woman wasn't interested in chatting at all... It's possible she sat in front of me thinking that if she did, I might not say anything to her - whereas, if she sat somewhere else, I'd have wandered over and chatted her up... An interesting, yet flawed, strategy.

I can really enjoy a light chat with a stranger, even when I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room, waiting. Like I was the other day when I was waiting for Ume (who was getting her stomach checked out - poor thing had a cold, and then a stomach bug). This old guy offered me a cough drop (from among several that he had in a tissue that he'd had tucked in his pocket...). I declined and offered him a chocolate. He declined, and we chuckled over it - in that way you do... We were friends after that, and as Ume and I left, he wished us luck, and told us to root for the Sox - who were playing that night against the Yankees. <insert whatever sound you feel appropriate here>

These days people would rather chat into cell phones than to the person standing right in front of them. Just last week I saw a mother and child walking down the street, the kid was about three, maybe four, and was talking on a cell phone. The mother walked along, keeping an eye on her charge, with a doting sort of look.

The whole cell phone thing puts a different spin on Timothy Leary's "turn on, tune in, drop out" concept. We're all dropping out of society into our own little worlds, passing each other like ghosts in a fog of noise and light. We're not connecting outward, but turning inward - which might go a ways in explaining why our culture has become so narcissistic, completely self-absorbed.

One of my favorite manifestations of this is Hollywood films where it's clear that the writers are so taken with themselves, that it's embarrassing. "Adaptation" was a good example - "The Anniversary Party" is also a case in point. Nothing makes me snooze quite as quickly as films like this. If you're going to tell me a story about your navel, it had better be at least half as interesting as my encounter with the curiously shy, but courageous woman in the cafeteria - or I'm tuning you out. Click.

Of course, there are less harmless indicators of our culture's inability to look outward. Iraq is a good example. Looking at the magazine stands in the grocery store, you'd never know that we were at war, that tens of thousands of people had been killed in the last two years - no, it's all the usual springtime diet article crap.

Have you noticed? I'm rambling... So I'm going to hop off and find some stranger to harass. I dare you to do the same. Start at least one conversation with a total stranger this week. I double dare ya.

Reader comments...

Strangers and conversations...don't get me started! Then I feel at times they perceive me a monster; someone to be avoided. I, raised in Kansas, friendly and charming, I. Why, when I offer a simple smile, nod, and "Good Morning", must they turn away, ignore, and pass? I am paranoid, my partner says. I am not unattractive, I say. I am not scary, though a fairly obvious lesbian. I am open and welcoming, always, and especially with strangers. I sometimes force the issue..."Good Morning!". No response. "Or...not!", I retort, loudly enough for them to hear. Passive aggressive, yes, but somehow it makes me feel vindicated. I dare myself often to confront, converse, and speak with total strangers. It's a lesson to be learned, friends. Give it a try sometime. Enrich yourself!
Rene' <>
Melbourne, FL USA - 05/12/2005

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Principles of pleasure

posted 04.10.05

You too can listen to the melodious strains of "The Pleasure Principal" by Lesbians on Ecstasy...

I've been writing a story about a principal of an elementary school... and ya know... this is the kind of thing that would send Marjorie straight into catatonic shock.

Can't say I ever went in for the warden/principal/naughty girl fantasy... Though I did once get sent to the principal's office in high school... the Vice Principal that is - the disciplinarian (we had so much call for discipline at our school that we had two VPs).

I was an innocent bystander, caught in a group roundup. It happened between classes, I was walking into the room, when a teacher from a neighboring class took exception to the behavior of the students in my general vicinity. We were marched off to the VPs office. I was beside myself, to have been thrown in with such a pedestrian, scruffy lot of adolescent mischief making pranksters. We sat in silence in the ante-chamber of doom, the others shooting me apologetic glances - they knew I belonged in a criminal class far beyond the noise and rough-housing that had lead to our unceremonious march to Ms. Bellicose's office.

An even deeper, apprehensive silence fell over our motley band when Ms. Bellicose herself entered, and looked us over. She did a double-take of the group, her eyes scanning back and landing on me. She growled, "Brulee, what are you doing in here?"

Before that moment, I'd never spoken to her - and had no clue that she knew who I was, much less knew my name. But, being an articulate and suave criminal (I'd seen the movies), I responded like a seasoned pro - I shrugged.

She shook her head, and jerked her thumb over her shoulder. "Get out of here, go back to class."

I glanced at the others, stood, and walked out.

I entered a classroom where everyone knew that I'd been hauled off with the aforementioned bunch of low-level criminals (also classmates), and released before them - because the authorities could never make anything stick to me... Oh, and I was a straight A student, who, apparently, was so absolutely squeaky-clean that even the sight of me in the principal's office confused her to the point of laxity (I could have thrown that eraser that hit that teacher in the hallway - I've got a decent arm).

I must admit that my short trip to the principal's office was a revelation. Previous to being sent to Ms. Bellicose's office, I'd studiously avoided her (given my criminal bent and all), and thought, given the size of the school - that she'd have no idea who I was... What I learned from that experience was that A: the authorities were on to my game, and B: I'd have to go even deeper undercover to maintain my secret identity as a relentless rabble rouser... maybe ditch a few of those A's on my report card...

My campaign was successful, I finished my stint as a high school student without further run-ins with the authorities. I passed directly under their radar. Some people in high school worry that no one will notice them - I didn't care much who noticed me, as long as they left me alone while they were at it. This was unfortunate, I may have met a few more people that I might have liked - had I given them the chance. As it was, I didn't care for cliques, and I wasn't interested in being popular - I just wanted to get the hell out of adolescence and not waste too much time dealing with brainless twits while I was about it.

I remember having things that I was eager to get on with - but for the life of me, I can't remember what they were. At the time, they seemed rather pressing... I suppose it could have had something to do with it feeling next to impossible to be gay and in high school. We didn't have anything like a gay/straight alliance, the closest anyone came to a conversation about homosexuality in a classroom was a visiting poet who made a nasty comment about lesbians. Sigh. Sad wretch - his wife had probably just left him for a woman (I wouldn't have blamed her...). I carefully added his name to my extensive "enemy for life" list (doesn't every adolescent have one?). Incidents like this probably contributed to the impulse to flee...

Whatever it was that motivated me to surge through adolescence, without giving it much of its due - I survived it. And have grown, and now can spend my time endlessly fascinated by the creases of my own naval.

Ooh la.

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Mindless entertainments and such

I was in need of a fix - I so needed to sit and watch some escapist trash-ola, lesbian flavored. So how annoying was it when the DVD of "Mango Kiss" we were watching started freezing, skipping and behaving poorly in general? Wicked annoying! And that was after I'd sat through half of what was becoming an increasingly embarrassing to watch movie.

"Take a deep breath each time it freezes." Ume said, concerned by my agitation.

"I just wanted a distraction! Not an opportunity to practice mindfulness meditation." I huffed.

"This is awful anyway, why don't you watch the other movie you rented?" She suggested.

"It's french! It won't be silly. But I might as well - this one bites and it froze again!"

So I watched the french film, "Amour de Femme". I know, I know, why bother with something with a title like that?

As far as I can tell,"Amour de Femme" was made for a straight audience... or maybe for a gay audience, fifteen years ago. It was more or less what you'd expect - dull, kinda airless... with a crappy sound track. It served it's purpose, nonetheless - I was distracted for an hour and a half. Mostly by Hélène Fillières, the ex-model type who plays the lead. She's not hard to watch - though the two or so emotions she displays during the film tend to wear a bit thin by the end (picky, picky me). And somehow, as nice a thought as it might be, I didn't buy her as a masseuse. (I was having trouble buying her as an actress.) But I can overlook all manner of things when I'm of a mood to. Her sidekick for the picture, Raffaella Anderson, had something of a spark...

You know, this is all Hellboy's fault. Yes, it's true. We saw "Hellboy" recently and it was such a silly ride (except for one scene that really ticked me off - the woman is watching her beloved get shredded and she has to ask some geekboy to slap her to ignite her rage?! who was that little scene written for? grow up little boys, that shit's nothing but ugly). Otherwise, it was entertainment made loud and large - lots of things blowing up, lots of silly, but well written dialogue. It raised the bar for my next escapist fix - and "Mango Kiss" and "Amour de Femme" let me down. Not to worry though, I'll recover.

Lest you're left with the impression that I'm impossible to please these days, I have enjoyed something recently... Madeleine Peyroux's CD, "Careless Love". Ooh la, la! I recommend you check it out. You can hear clips from it in this review on Fresh Air: Madeleine Peyroux's 'Careless Love'

And you can hear more clips, and an interview she did on Morning Edition: Singer Peyroux Returns with 'Careless Love'


Mz. Peyroux, from the CD booklet.
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Hot Ticket Alert

Heard an interview with Zainab Salbi - wow, what a dynamo she is! You can check out the interview, Woman for Women (The Connection, 04.01.05, audio file). And check out the Woman for Women International website. I like the sound of the organization's community-based approach. Gutsy women, making a difference - doing some great work!

From the site:

Women for Women International’s tiered program begins with direct financial and emotional support; fosters awareness and understanding of women’s rights; offers vocational skills training; and provides access to income-generation support and microcredit loans that together can help women restart their lives in ways that are independent, productive, and secure.

In the news...

The Pope, obviously. Otherwise, bits and pieces...

You've got to listen to this if you're at all interested in the data harvesting companies that traffic in and control (or lose control of) information about you and me - and enable the government, via "private" companies, to monitor your activities, regardless of your innocence or guilt:
No Place to Hide (American Radio Works, 04.05, audio file)

Lest we forget what our government is capable of when not overseen properly, let's take a peek into our history, shall we? Remember, this is NOT fiction:

Ex-Democratic Leader Joins Battle Over Judges (Reuters, 04.02.05)

Thorny issues loom for Iraq leaders (CSMonitor, 04.08.05)

Culture war hits local pharmacy (CSMonitor, 04.08.05)

Really important issue to keep track of, the chemicals we slather all over our bodies every day - good links to get more info:
Cosmetic Danger (04.05.05)

Anti-Cancer Compound in Green Tea Identified (Reuters, 03.15.05)

Gay Health Week Draws Attention To LGBT Concerns (, 03.17.05)

I was so waiting for this news - now I can tell Ume that it's medicinal!
Fend Off Dementia with Sex (Reuters, 04.07.05)

Oy, a bad joke that's getting worse:
Debris rains on vehicles in tunnel (Boston Globe, 04.06.05)

Hmm... slowly, slowly...
On the Chesapeake, Asian Oyster Stirs Debate (Reuters, 04.07.05)

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