Monday, October 31, 2005


It would be an inspirational story even if I didn't love football.

In February, Pro-Bowl linebacker and three-time SuperBowl champion Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke shortly after returning to Boston from Hawaii. He couldn't see. His left side was numb and he had trouble walking. He was 32.

Fast forward 8 months. Fully recovered, Tedy Bruschi returned to pro football in front of a sellout crowd, all sporting signs of support. He could have played a down or two, then rested his body and mind. No one would have blamed him. The one overriding aspect of his period on the "Physically Unable to Perform" list was complete and total support by everyone. His bosses, his teammates, his family, his fans. No one wanted a guy like Tedy to suffer, no matter what it did to Our Team.

See, Tedy is one of the good guys. Not just a good football player, but a great one. Not just a good leader, but the kind of guy who demonstrates by example, builds you up when you need it, and lets you know when you screwed up in a way that doesn't tear you down. He has supreme confidence in his ability and his teammates, and that infuses them with confidence in themselves. He's the kind of guy who celebrates a great play not with some show-offy little skit or chest-thumping look-at-me move, but with a shit-eating grin and a hug for whoever's closest to him. You can't be a football fan and not love Tedy Bruschi.

So, despite all the articles leading up to last night's game cautioning that he can't fix everything that ails the New England Patriots, ESPN went to every break with "A Hero Can Save Us" over a vignette of his tackles. And despite the fact that he just started practicing with the team two weeks ago, he played the entire game, not just on defense (which was on the field 40 of 60 minutes of playing time) but on special teams. He logged 7 tackles--some guys don't do that even when they've been playing solid football for eight weeks.

He didn't fix the team. He's an inside linebacker. He can't give the secondary more experience and strength, help the rookie offensive linemen make their blocks, or shore up the running game. But he is the heart and soul of the defense, as is oft-repeated, and he provided just enough spark, just enough passion, to make the rest of the team stop figuratively wandering in confusion and do their jobs. Despite Buffalo's dominance of the clock, the yardage, and the field, the Patriots still came away winners the way they used to--by doing what had to be done, just in time.

We love you, Tedy.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mind and Prejudice

I don't care for the tighty-whities-above-the-pants look, but mm-mm-mm-mm-MM.

I've always had a soft spot for LL Cool J. Maybe because when rap was first becoming big, he was soft-spoken, articulate, and intelligent.

Now, he's just hot.

No, just kidding. He is, but he's also still soft-spoken, articulate, and intelligent. And a damned fine actor.

So a long time ago, like three years or something, I saw this trailer in the theater for a movie called Mindhunters. It starred LL, of course (or does he go by J?), but also Val Kilmer and Christian Slater, and I love them. And that actress from Minority Report and Cold Case whose name I can never remember, and I like her. And another actress I see very rarely but like a lot. And Johnny Lee Miller, whose name I've never known and who's British but I've only seen play an American. (Why are they so good at American accents and we're so bad at British ones?)

The movie was a psychological thriller about FBI agents on a training mission and one of them is a killer. Not an unusual plot, but it looked good. But then it got shelved for years, and either released and yanked very quickly, or sent straight to DVD. I watched it last night, and I really don't get why.

It's not as gory as something like, say, Saw, but it had its share of gruesomeness. It wasn't as scary as the old George C. Scott film The Changeling or even The Sixth Sense, but it was scary enough to make me wish I'd watched it first. I lay in my basement, alone, in the dark, wondering what the hell I'd been thinking. Then I turned on the light.

I was disappointed by who got killed when, but it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the film. The suspense was tight, and the whodoneit so good I never figured it out who it was. Even when the killer was "revealed," it still wasn't obvious which of the two, then three, then two survivors was the culprit. And the methods of killing were really clever.

Oh, and though LL Cool J never takes off his shirt, he does wear one that's really tight and sleeveless, and he jumps on a table during a fight scene. Very hot.


In an effort to get Firefly faster, we had a Netflix marathon last night and sent the disks back today. (Firefly is on a short wait and I keep getting all these other flicks instead.)

So I watched two very different movies last night once my kids were done with Stuart Little. I took out the two DVDs, flipped them around a little, and put one blind into my DVD player. It turned out to be Bride and Prejudice, the Ghurinder Chadha movie co-starring Naveen Andrews, Sayid from LOST. Which wasn't why I rented it. I liked Ghurinder's first movie, Bend it Like Beckham, and my friend had recommended this one.

I liked it. Some of the musical numbers were too cheesy or too boring, but not enough to ruin the film. The first major Bollywood-style number was excellent. Beautiful, exciting, blood-pumping, amusing, fun.

All the actors were great, and even the ones I thought were a bit cliché ended up being more complex than I expected. And Martin Henderson made my "temporarily obsessed" so Perfect Opposites was added to my Netflix queue and I'm looking forward to Flyboys next year, though I know nothing about the movie. :)

Different actors make my obsession list for different reasons, but more often than not it has to do with the eyes. As William Darcy, Henderson infuses his gaze with that look of longing that makes a heart melt--and makes you want him to look at you.

The only thing I hated about B&P was no kissing! They teased it and teased it and I'd think, "HERE we go!" and then he'd kiss her forehead or they'd hug. So frustrating

I'll post about the next movie separately because it deserves a photo.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Signs of the Times

I know this is cheating, but I'm overdue for a blog entry (what else is new?) and have no time to create an exclusive. So here's something my father-in-law sent me that should be pasted to my front door or something:


1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
Never did that, but I am running out of memory for all the passwords I have to remember.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
My preferred version is FreeCell

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
Um, more than that, probably.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
All the time!!!

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.
E-mail has made me keep in touch with family and friends I haven't seen for 10 years or more.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.
Hell, yeah!

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.
And not just the commercials!

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go to get it.
I live in fear of being unreachable. Don't know how my mother did it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.
Well, I WOULD, if I drank coffee. It is definitely the first thing I do when I get to work.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )
Okay, I'm not doing that yet, but I do try to use emoticons in person.

12. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.
Or who will read it on my blog.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.
Wait, there wasn't?

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list.

AND NOW U R LAUGHING at yourself.
Yes, except as a writer, I never abbreviate you and are or anything else. That's one "innovation" I don't care for.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It's Happening Again

I have many obsessions. I prefer to call them Passions, and they are all healthy. They do no damage to me or anyone else.

But every so often, I get this other obsession going. An obsession to watch movies. I love movies, as you may have guessed by all the posts on here about them. And I do watch a lot, both on DVD and in the theater. But this transcends my usual interest. I watched The Wedding Date from Netflix last night, and then PPV'd Fever Pitch. Tonight, I'm going to see Serenity again, which is (sadly) already in the crappy $2 theater.

I never go to the $2 theater.

I have this feeling of desperation about it, and then melancholy when the movie is over. It reminded me that I've felt this way before. And then I realized why, and I marveled once again at what an odd, creative, messed up thing the human spirit is.

Three years ago at this time, my mother was cheerfully going through what she called a "health crisis." She'd been battling a cough for a couple of months (which was actually over a year). She could feel a swelling in her liver. Certain herbal-type things she tried seemed to be helping, but then it would get worse again.

I was sure she had lung cancer. She'd been a smoker almost my whole life. She'd battled breast cancer 15 years before, and then gone through western-medicine-induced hell that turned her off the medical profession forever. Her reconstructive surgery led to problem after problem after problem, and she was never completely healthy again. She had a period of mental health problems so severe you wouldn't even believe she'd been functioning, and had come through it all. But she was not an easy mother to deal with, so I decided she couldn't have lung cancer, she was going to be around to make me miserable until she was 92.

She had no insurance and a very minimal income, and medical bills she was still paying for a broken pelvis (slipped in the snow) and osteomyelitis (bone infection) in her jaw from an abscessed tooth the year before. That's why she had avoided seeking medical treatment for this "nagging cough." At Thanksgiving my brother and I convinced her to go to the hospital while they were visiting me. It was a horrible, horrible day, filled with shouting and recrimination, all the negative feelings we'd all had for years pouring out of us. She walked out of the ER when they took too long to se her, so I made her promise she'd go to a doctor when she got home.

Two months later, she died in her sleep on my brother's birthday, alone in her bed, of metastatic breast cancer that had invaded her liver, bone, and colon.

During those two months between diagnosis and death, she deteriorated very quickly. She wanted desperately to live, to see her granddaughters, who she loved so, so much, grow up and be the women she recognized the potential in them to be. She wanted to develop a relationship with my sister-in-law and watch her and my brother raise a family. But all she could do was struggle through each day, getting her lungs drained with a pump and try to forget the pain.

She did the last by watching movies. One videotape after another from the library, old movies, new movies, happy movies, sad movies, hopeful movies, exciting movies, nostalgic movies... anything and everything, as long as it didn't deal with death.

It's always difficult to deal with a parent's death, and all that's associated with it. I consider myself a very introspective person, though, and I'm well aware of all the threads, good and bad, that built our relationship. I recognize where I was a bad daughter, and what fault lay on her. I also recognize that we did the best we could, and though I could have done more, the most important thing was that we loved each other, and knew it.

Because I don't think I have any buried emotions relating to my mother or her death, it surprises me every year to have this desperate obsession sneak up on me. Last year it got pretty intense as Thanksgiving neared, driving me to watch movies constantly, not understanding why I was so driven until the holiday was nearly upon us, and I realized what it had come to represent for me. Last year, when I gained that understanding, the obsession died.

I hope that happens this year, too.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

EasyScan, I Think I Love You

I live in central Pennsylvania, which means...not very big. Or innovative. Or full of choice, especially in our grocery stores. For example, I cannot find the mint version of Dove ice cream ANYWHERE.

When I went to Dallas two years ago, we shopped in their Whole Foods market with my brother. Essentially, a giant grocery store with amazing choices. Tremendous produce. Eighteen different kinds of sausages. Pluots, jicama, fruit you've never heard of. Bulk nuts. Homemade tortillas you could eat warm as you walked around the store.

In central PA, we get apples. Four kinds. Maybe eight, at harvest time. And Blue Diamond almonds. Plain only.

So we got a new store this week. There's this mall that decided they had no foot traffic because it was an INDOOR mall, rather than because they have uninteresting, expensive stores and are one mile from a bigger mall that has Old Navy and Annie's Pretzels. So they renovated, moved all their stores to outside storefronts, added some better stores, and razed their old Montgomery Ward and Food Court to create this new Super Giant Food Store (yes, the grocery stores around here are named Giant).

We went today. And yes, they have a great variety of produce. Lots of bulk items. A little café I might enjoy later, and a day care for kids 3-9. No Dove ice cream, but you can't have everything.

The very best part of this new store is the EasyScan. All the local stores now have self-scanning stations. You fill up your cart, go to the register, scan and bag your items, and pay. It's quick and efficient and I get things done MY way. Well, this new store has an even BETTER way. You get to carry around a hand-held scanner in a special holster on the handle of the cart. There's a bag hanger on the cart, and they gave us a free denim bag that hangs between the sides of the cart, which is environmental as well as convenient. You select your spaghetti sauce, scan the bar code, and put it in the bag. Weigh your yellow tomatoes, print a label, scan it, and bag 'em. At the end, you download your data into the cashier stand, pay, and go, without having to remove your items from the cart again. It's freakin' awesome!

I never thought I'd be excited about going to the grocery store again. LOL


There are some things I just don't get about Hollywood.

Kingdom of Heaven opened at number one with $20 million and was considered a massive failure. It was, of course, a very expensive film to make and took a couple of years to do it.

Last weekend, Wallace and Gromit opened at number one with $16 million and was considered a massive success. Despite having taken 5 years and extremely intensive, backbreaking work to make.

Scarlett Johannsen is clearly from the don't-move-your-your-face-so-you-don't-get-wrinkles school of acting. She is the same person in every film I've ever seen her in, but she gets nominated for an Oscar and lauded in every mention of her work.

But Orlando Bloom, who has as subtly expressive a face as a chocolate lab puppy, is called passive and weak.

There are some great actors who melt into every role they play. Brendan Gleeson is a master, and one of the few true talents out there. Many other great actors convey emotion and present their lines sincerely, yet no matter how ugly or odd you make them look, they are never not themselves. Mel Gibson is a perfect example of this.

It's not really Hollywood I'm annoyed with. It's the critical media. I never used to read reviews of movies. I saw a trailer, and if it looked good, I went. But the deeper I got into being a writer, the more fascinated I also became with how movies are made. The more I identified with the creative and collaborative process by the screenwriter, director, actors, and editor. I subscribe to People and Entertainment Weekly now, mainly because of this interest. I also subscribe to Time, which often does movie reviews. And the Internet gives us access to reviewers all over the country, most of whom used to have a miniscule fraction of their current potential audience.

So, I used to watch a movie, like or dislike it, and be happy. Now, I have added this anger-filled relationship with the critics. If it watch a movie they loved, 99% of the time I don't even kind of like it. If I liked a movie they hated, I am annoyed at all the reasons they're wrong.

Which, of course, they're not. It's all opinion. Amanda loving my book doesn't invalidate Rachel being bored by it. So my loving Elizabethtown doesn't invalidate Leah Rozen hating it. But it's not going to stop me from being annoyed.

The reviews of this movie have been mixed. A good number of people have liked Orlando Bloom's performance, and mostly liked the movie, too. But things even they didn't like are the same things the haters didn't like, too. And they're the same things I loved.

Many comments have said the film lacked focus. That it dealt with the career loss and the father loss and the falling in love and the reconnecting with family and the discovery of the country all in the same film, and it shouldn't have.

I thought all of that just made the movie REAL. How many of us have to deal with one thing at a time? For example, this week I had a major bad situation at work combined with a difficult task at work, but also had some other things successfully resolve. During all this, on Monday I spent some time feeling like a bad mom because a particular decision feels wrong no matter which way I go, and a proud mom because of the progress my kids are making and their successes on the soccer field. I got a rejection of a book I love, but also had a really exciting moment about the book I'm currently working on. Love doesn't find us when nothing else is happening. And when the big stuff is taking priority (Drew Baylor mediating the disposal of his father's remains), the small stuff doesn't stop (his cousin having trouble with his son).

I admit I may have identified with the character and what he faced more than many people do. A little over two years ago, my mother died. I was just a little older than Drew Baylor (in the film). The oldest child. Conflicted about our relationship and all the ways it couldn't change now. When he approached his father in the coffin, I inevitably recalled how my mother's mouth had been sewn crooked, how she looked fretful even in a complete absence of expression, how hard her skull was when I kissed her forehead. I sobbed heavily at that part of the movie, and when Drew had his catharsis on the way home.

Some reviewers found Susan Sarandon's tribute and the trip across the country dull. I found them both incredibly emotional, and it makes me wonder how well those reviewers connect with anything but their own words.

The part I thought would be the worst, Kirsten Dunst, was. But even "worst" is relative. Her accent was totally inconsistent (while Orlando's never sounded British). I liked her better without the fake accent--Paula Deen's rich, loving tones made Dunst's sound strident and harsh. But she conveyed a painful need without crossing into desperation, and her best moments were quiet ones. She definitely had chemistry with Orlando, which is also obvious in their promo opps.

The movie is definitely worth seeing, for anyone who has faced failure or dealt with loss or who knows they will, someday, and doesn't do their damndest to avoid those feelings. There's a lot of humor, but mostly a big feeling of comfort and satisfaction that accompany most Cameron Crowe films. All who worked on the movie should feel proud of their end result.

No matter what the critics think.

The Joy of Creation

I love how my writing mind works.

I’m what’s known as a seat-of-the-pants writer. I don’t plan very far ahead. I like playing reader as I write, discovering the story as it’s revealed. And sometimes, it comes together so well, I just know my subconscious knows where I’m going, even if my working brain doesn’t. When I discover that I’ve already planted the seeds for a revelation that I just came up with, I get the feeling of joy and pride that makes writing my dream job.

It just happened. I didn’t know what this character’s thing was, and it’s too early to reveal it. I just figured it out, and when I did, I realized the heroine had gotten that wrong—which will seriously shake her very necessary belief in herself. Her getting that wrong, so very wrong, is why he didn’t believe in her abilities, until later. When she uses them really well, and discovers this truth, which fits so well with the thing that I can’t even believe it.

I know that makes no sense at all. But it gives the same feeling of satisfaction as finding that stupid last piece of sky for a 1000-piece puzzle, or finding the last 42 cents in a major reconciliation, or nailing the client’s needs even better than they could have themselves.

It’s what makes me happy for anyone with a career, and sad for whoever just has a job.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Why NOT Me?

There's been a lot in the media lately about people in situations that make them ask the inevitable question, "why me?" A little closer to home, too. I have a very ill relative who's the sweetest boy in the world, and he suffers nearly every day. Then there are the hurricane victims, people losing spouses and children and siblings in the war, the earthquake never ends. There is a constant stream of tragedy that fully justifies the question, "why me?" to those who suffer it.

I made a vow a long time ago not to ask that question. I admit to asking it a lot when I was young, growing up in a single parent household with little money and a mother who worked so incredibly hard, through increasingly more challenging health problems. But I'm not unique. There's no reason to expect, or even to hope, my life will be rosy until I die. Life isn't a smooth glide. It's Frogger. If you're lucky, you'll handle the highway with aplomb and strength. If you're not, a semi will zoom out of the left screen and flatten you. All you can do is start over and try again.

I think the "why me"s take energy away from coping. It's hard enough to face the reality of a dying parent or a healthy parent who makes your life miserable, or an injured child, or the loss of a job or home. There's no checklist of sins that make us targets, no micromanaging of our lives. There's just life, and how we handle it. My plan is to handle it without worrying about the whys.

I hope I haven't just jinxed myself. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Jack didn't cry!

I thought Lost was really good last night. I like the slower, meatier shows that delve more into the characters than just give us big action or big revelation or big question. I like them all.

Ana Lucia kicks ass! Love that chick already, but mostly love that little smile she gave when Sawyer said he'd kill her. It kept her from being unsympathetic. She's a perfect counterpoint to Kate's softness. She's tough, too, but in a totally different way. She's driven by fear. Ana Lucia is driven by courage.

Poor Sawyer. All that bluster, with nothing to back it up. He really needs something for that shoulder, though. It was uuuu-gly.

I dreamt about Lost all night, too. In my dream, I realized Jack DID cry at one point in the show. I'm pretty sure that was just the dream, though.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Catching Up on My Indulgences

I went a while without posting my thoughts on any of the movies, books, and TV shows in which I've indulged lately, so I thought I'd remedy that.

I'll start with books, because I generally don't like to voice my opinions of them. I'm too sensitive, for obvious reasons, of the author's feelings. I glance around at my fiction detritus, and of 21 books lying on my floor, 8 of them I didn't finish. Some I didn't get past the first couple of chapters. Three are authors I've read before and either loved or really enjoyed. I feel bad when I don't like the newest ones. But at least I bought the books! They got their royalties.

Of the ones I did enjoy, Cherry Adair's latest was a great one. I don't remember the title. I sent it to my sister-in-law, hoping to pick up a new dedicated reader for Ms. Adair. I also really liked Dirty Little Secrets. I'm not sure I'll read the sequel, because it's set in a world that I want to avoid. But I probably will, because the characters are so well-drawn and the story was so well-told.

I found Devil's Bargain by Rachel Caine to hold my attention, as well. Though I sometimes felt the author liked her secondary character (and probably future heroine) more than she liked DB's heroine, the action was gripping, and the paranormal premise really cool.

She's on the Money was way better than Stef Feagen's first Pink book, Show Her the Money, which was delightful already. By far the best Bombshell I've read recently was The Contestant, by Stephanie Doyle.

On to TV. The new season is a bit over a month old, and things are shaking out. Shaking hard at Fox, who ditched Head Cases after only two episodes. Poor Chris O'Donnell. Anyway, I don't watch Fox, unless I am forced to by virtue of my New England Patriots playing an NFC team. Here's my lineup this season:

Kitchen Confidential - Chosen because it stars Bradley Cooper, who played Will on Alias (have I ever mentioned he was my favorite character?). It makes me laugh, but I wouldn't miss the show if they canceled it. Bradley, yes, very much so. The show, eh. I think it's much better than all of the fat-dumb-guy-with-hot-wife sitcoms, which means its days are numbered.

Prison Break - The promos caught my eye because they featured Dominic Purcell, who starred in the low-rated but very smart and intriguing John Doe a few years ago. He chooses well, because this is another very smart and intriguing show. It's not episodic, which I love, and has a new twist every week. The only bad part is the ex-girlfriend/attorney who has one facial expression and annoys me more each Monday.

Okay, I lied. I just realized those are both Fox shows. Doh. They got me. Dammit.

LOST - They're doing some new things this season. Like showing the same scenes from different perspectives. Bringing in a LOT of new people. Mixing up the relationships by bringing together people who weren't usually in such proximity before. I'm still loving every minute of it. I just wish they'd tell us how Locke got in the damned wheelchair.

Alias - Don't EVEN try to talk to me about Vaughn's death. He's not dead. Jack extracted him because as long as he was alive, he was in danger, and Sydney was in danger, and even bigger, their baby was in danger. If they'd left him full of holes next to the train, my denial would be harder to maintain. But he survived that. And the doctor who was doing chest compressions was bending his elbows and bouncing his body, not stiff-arming Vaughn's chest. It was all for show. No, it was NOT bad acting. It was for show.

Numb3rs - I usually don't go in for procedurals. But this one has some neat stuff. Two hot guys (four, if you count Don's FBI team). More smartness. It's very intriguing how they manage to get math into the story every week. It does make me laugh, though, that the same FBI team investigates stalkers, murderers, and jewel thieves. Doesn't seem likely. But maybe the LA bureau is understaffed.

Movies are starting to get better. We're past the mediocre teen-bait and into some meatier stuff. There are several I'll see on DVD (or have seen on DVD) and a few on the big screen.

Crash - I tend to be really disappointed by critically acclaimed indies, but this one was every bit as good as the reviews said. The writer and director did not play it at all safe. No political correctness here. They addressed racism from all perspectives, exploring why people are the way they are, and why it's so hard not to be. And looked at race not just in a black/white world, but as it affects Hispanics and Persians, too.

Just Like Heaven - This is not your average ghost movie, nor your average romantic comedy. Ruffalo shows once again why he's such a great romantic lead, when he's so far from classically handsome. He's an amazing actor who had great chemistry with Reese Witherspoon, one of my favorite actresses. There was one moment that was predictable and I hated it, but it ended up okay after that.

A History of Violence - This movie was SO not what it appeared to be. At first, I found it awkward and forced and then anticlimactic and dull. And THEN. Wow. Viggo Mortensen is amazing. Maria Bello I like, and she made me not like her so much. That was a good thing. The second half of the movie made you look at the first half in a totally new way. And William Hurt was hilarious.

And, finally (if you cared enough to read this far), Serenity. I was not a Firefly fan. I wanted to be, but it just didn't grab me, for some reason. I think they yanked it too soon. But I'm going to give it another try on DVD. Serenity's plot was tightly written, the characters very emotional and made so you cared about each and every one of them. It was a true action ensemble, a throwback to the golden days of action films, before they became all about solitary heroes and one-line zingers. There's constant humor in this movie, as well as fear, suspense, mystery, sorrow, horror, and, yes, heroism. But heroism spread across the entire crew, not just one man. It was very satisfying, and I look forward to seeing it again.

Next up, a movie I've been waiting for forever (they pushed back the release date at least twice). Elizabethtown.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Oh Brother

I tried to post this twice last night, but whenever I went to upload a photo, it locked up my system and I lost the post. Therefore, no photo. Maybe later.
I recorded Oprah today. It's been years since I watched the show, but Sarah Jessica Parker was on to talk about bargain shopping and I wanted...

What? Orlando Bloom was on the show, too? I had no idea!

Okay, okay, I taped it for Orlando, even though she asked the same damned questions every interviewer asks and he gave the same damned answers he always has to give, and his longish pirate hair stuck out over his right ear.

But this is not about Orlando. Not directly. He was talking about being raised by two strong women, his mother and his sister, and he sounded very much like my brother. Then, Matthew Fox came on and said "It's all good," and my brother says that all the time. So I got sentimental and sappy and decided to post here about my brother. I have no doubt he knows how I feel about him, but he's overdue for some public recognition.

Andy talks a lot about my influence on him growing up, but the truth is, he was a touchstone for me. When he worshipped me and asked for an extra lollipop to give me later, I knew I was doing well. If he shot hyphenated profanity at me in six-word strings, it was a sure bet I'd overdone it with the bossiness. And when he was proud, I knew I'd done something right.

My relationship with him affects how I view my own kids' sibling rivalry. I think knowing how they feel helps me know when to ignore it, when to moderate, and when to punish.

My oldest is only 10, so there are about, oh...20 years before she starts dating (according to Daddy, anyway). But thanks to my brother, I know what I want in a boyfriend for her. Someone who is self-aware without being self-centered. Who will worship her without being blind to her flaws. Who will respect her and her boundaries, even while challenging her to new heights. I know this, because I see it in my brother, and it's all good.

Love you, Andy.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Random Thought of the Day

I’m getting over a chest cold and I’m at that point where my throat occasionally spasms and throws me into a coughing fit. Caused problems in the PTO meeting last night.

Anyway, I just had one of those “fits,” and used a mentho-lyptus cough drop to soothe it. And thought about how they figured out that eucalyptus had such properties.

That made me think about how all remedies were “natural” and that the best healers knew exactly which herb to brew into a tea to cure certain ailments, and which to make into a poultice, and so on.

That made me wonder about the earliest herbalists and how they knew these things.

Can you imagine the trial and error?

“Don’t take that more than twice a day. It killed my little brother. Cured his open sores, though.”

“Here, come sit over here by this bucket. Let’s see how much of this I have to give you before it makes you vomit.”

Sign posted in town square:

“Wanted: Individuals with no family, no obligations, willing to risk life, limb, and sanity to test healing potions. Good benefits.”