Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Growing Girl

Someone reminded me recently that, amidst all these posts about the holidays, and the disappoinment of humanity, and all the other rants, that it might be nice to check in and see how The Roslynator is doing.

In a nutshell? She's fan-fucking-tastic! I sort of shiver when I look back at the last Rozzle post, where I bitched about how loud she cries and basically wondered when it would all end. And, true to the promises of parents FAR more experienced than has (for the most part) ended. Our newly-minted 5-month old is an absolute joy to be around, crying/whining gently when she's tired or occasionally getting pissy with a toy, but otherwise is the World's Best Baby. (Certainly no offense to Her Bad Mother, or Madtown Mama, or Feral Mom, or all the OTHER folks out there who think that THEIR babies are the best. They are, too!)

Some highlights of the past few weeks, in no particular order:

1) She has really learned how to play, and looks forward to playtime with obvious enthusiasm. In fact, she quite literally got bored with the toys she's had since birth, prompting Miss Tessmacher and I to make a pre-Yule shopping trip over Thanksgiving weekend to get Roz some fill-in-the-gap toys until she's buried in gifts from The Grandparents. She's ga-ga for all the dangly things on her Baby Einstein playmat (not our purchase, but heaven help us, she loves it!), Mr. Bun is a fun new addition with his crinkly ears and Happy-Apple-chiming torso (remember the Happy Apple???), and she still loves Mr. Moon.

2) She's eating! I mean, not just drinking from the tit...actual honest-to-goodness EATING. It became apparent to us that she was ready to try something other than breastmilk when she - literally! - tore the wine glass from my hand and proceeded to try to help herself (see Example A). She didn't get any down, but we've moved to giving her sips of water from a glass, and bananas for breakfast and avocado(e)s at dinner weren't far behind. Just tonight I boiled a sweet potato(e) and she snarked down a healthy portion. The bad news? Yep, you parents guessed it: we're starting to get actual SHIT in the diapers, as opposed to a relatively harmless (and odorless!) mustard paste.

3) Vaccinations suck. She had her big 4-month dose yesterday (we're a little late), and those trusting eyes of hers filled with tears when the first needle hit. She zonked out for quite awhile when we got home, but today she's running her first low-grade fever and is generally whimpery and not her usual self. I discovered that it isn't all that vulgar to use a rectal thermometer: y'know, before you actually USE one, you think you have to jam 5-6 inches of the thing up her poop-chute (or at least, that's what I thought). Turns out, it's a LOT easier than that. At 100.8˚F, the nurse wasn't even worried when we called; she said that a fever is VERY common (her emphasis) after the shots, and to keep giving Roz her Tylenol.

4) Sleeping through the night RULES! Roslyn first pulled this one on us a few weeks ago, and she has been steadily impressing us with repeat performances. It's certainly not EVERY night, but lately it has been more nights than not. We put her down between 6:30 and 7:00, and she gets Tess up to eat at 6:15 the next can almost set your clock by her. THEN, most importantly, she goes BACK to sleep for an hour or more, which is nice since Tess & I are on winter break and we can "sleep in" until almost 8:00 some mornings!

So, in all, this whole "having a baby" thing is pretty fuckin' neato. I think we'll keep her! If I don't post again until after the holidays, please: be well, and enjoy time together. And, while you're at it, ponder this: what ARE the twelve days of Christmas, anyway? 'Cause think about it: you've got Christmas and Christmas Eve, New Year's and New Year's eve...THEN what? Okay, okay, Boxing Day, that's five...oh, and of course there's two Saturdays and two Sundays in there, that makes nine...where do you get TWELVE?!?


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Nocturnal Meanderings and Musings

Just got back from a chilly walk to the video store. It's a nice walk - maybe 1.5 miles round-trip - and it's one that Miss Tessmacher and I have made a hundred times or more since we moved to St. Johns. Tonight was a solo walk, as it has been on this weekend for several years now. She's up in Traverse City, playing with the symphony there for their annual holiday extravaganza. I stayed behind - without the babe, so it's lonely - to get my end-of-semester grading done. Toward the end of the day I get a little burned out, so I make this trip to the video store and rent all sorts of high-octane action/adventure crap that she has no real desire to see. On these walks, I get to free-associate in my mind, which is the heart and soul of the creator's journey. Here are some of my musings of the evening:

• The cold air feels so great in my lungs. It's chilly tonight - in the teens - and I was gulping in great breaths that pure air. Makes a person feel glad to be alive.

• Lots of folks have their holiday lights up. This is probably a topic more appropirate for Classy, Tacky or Stupid, but I'm always amazed at some of the ways people express their seasonal mood. I loathe the inflatable balloon-things - especially the sunglasses-wearing Santa on a Harley - but many people have fairly classy decorations. One of my favourites was a house that was for sale this summer, a kind of run-down older home that was listed for around $70k. Some lucky family snatched it off the market, and when I walked by tonight there's a big cheery tree in the front picture window. The house got some love for the season...I like that.

• My mind was wandering around looking for new song lyrics, and I revisited a line from some movie Tess & I saw several years ago. The line that I liked was "all we have is who we are to each other." It struck me as particularly expressive, and I came up with several good verses and a chorus as well. If I only played the guitar...alas, I guess GarageBand will have to do.

• There's a small antique store 2 blocks east of us; it's just a bunch of junk that some old lady keeps in her house. You have to ring her doorbell, and she lets you in to look around. I know this because my mom & I stopped there on an antique trek across the state, maybe 10 years ago. You can see my house from there, the (classy) white miniature lights outlining the front porch, and it always gives me little goosebumps to think about the fact that I stopped there all those years ago, just a couple hundred yards from my future home...

• People are friendly in this town. I passed several solo walkers like myself, as well as one family pushing a stroller along the snow-covered sidewalks, and without fail these people always greeted me with a friendly word and well-wishes. It's nice...strangers taking the time to bestow good cosmic karma on their fellow townsfolk.

Peace, all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Whatever Happened To Fay Wray?

"Whatever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate, satin-draped frame...
As it clung to her thigh, how I cry-hy-hyyyy...
'Cause I wanted to be dressed just the sa-haaammme..."

Perhaps a blog about actresses old enough to be my grandmother or GREAT-grandmother isn't necessarily your idea of "absolute pleasure," but I've been thinking about screen-babes of yore lately. This comes mostly from the new fascination Miss Tessmacher and I have with watching our old movies. I gave her a Gene Kelly DVD set on her birthday, and I've learned all over again how MAGNIFICENT it is to watch him dance. Fred Astaire is great, but when I watch Kelly I just want to laugh with joy. (Actually, I typically find myself literally doing just that!) But anyway, with the holidays here we've also recently watched Holiday Inn and It's A Wonderful Life, and through these viewings I'm realizing that I have a "thing" for screen hotties of yesteryear.

I suppose Hollywood crushes are anything but unique. Spend enough time drinking with good friends (could you EVER spend "enough time" doing that?!?) and eventually someone will bring up the concept of The List. "Who's on your List?" someone will ask, and the answers start to fly. The List, as far as I can tell, is made up of those movie stars you'd like to fuck and feel comfortable announcing in front of your wife/partner/significant other because, frankly, there's not a hope in hell of the opportunity ever presenting itself. "Drew Barrymore? Oh, HELL yeah, she'd be on my list!!" These kinds of prophetic announcements never seem to sit right with me, even though of course I've contributed my own list on occasion.'re just supposed to ignore the fact that your partner has a sort of not-so-secret-anymore list of people he/she'd genuinely like to shag? So, yeah, I'm always a little uncomfortable with that kind of thing. Plus, it seems like even though the listER gets older, the folks ON the list ("listees?") stay the same just-barely-legal age. "Hayden Panettierre? OH yeah!" Um...dude, she's young enough to be your DAUGHTER! Ew.

So, while I will play the game if pressed (Drew Barrymore, Sandra Bullock, Zooey Deschanel, Gabrielle Anwar and Claire Danes, okay?), I'd rather present the much safer screen scorchers from decades past. 'Cause, y'know, they're safe...and DEAD. Here, then, are the movie women who move me:

Mary Pickford (1892-1979): Technically America's FIRST "sweetheart," the Canadian-born silent movie actress was among Hollywood's first royalty, sharing equal screen time with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Buster Keaton. IMDb claimes that she "retired" in 1934 after making 236 movies, but I suspect she simply couldn't - or wouldn't - make the switch to talkies. Check her out in Tess of the Storm Country.

Katherine Hepburn (1907-2003): The daughter of fiercely liberal parents (both fought for women's suffrage), Kate was pure Hollywood royalty. When I think of the glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age, Kate's is the face I see. One legend has it that a male producer once saw her walking the studio lot wearing pants; when he told her he didn't want to see her in pants on the lot again, she said "Okay, Mac!" and doffed them then & there, walking away in her skivvies. The Philadelphia Story comes to mind for many people, but I rather like the loonyness of Bringing Up Baby.

Fay Wray (1907-2004): Frank N. Furter may have wanted to dress like her, but that's not the first thing that comes to mind when I see THIS photo. grrrOOOOWWWlll! Often cast as a blonde, I think her true brunette looks are as scorching as any lingerie model you might see today. I have to remember to stay away from recent photos of her, as I never EVER want to be reminded that she got old! She appeared on TV throughout the '50s and '60s, but I still think your best bet is 1933's King Kong.

Paulette Goddard (1910-1990): Probably best known now - if at all - as one of Charlie Chaplin's innumerable young wives, Paulette had had several uncredited roles at the dawn of the talkie era before Chaz cast her in the anachronistically-silent Modern Times. She had a prolific career throughout the '40s and '50s, but cel for cel I'd seek her out in the Chaplin masterpiece.

Donna Reed (1921-1986): Both a smoking-hot sex symbol AND the girl next door (although next door to WHO I have no neighbor of MINE ever looked like this!) I think Donna is the precursor to somebody like Sandra Bullock. I think her '50s/'60s-era TV show was some pretty dorky stuff, and I will NEVER forgive her for playing Miss Ellie during the year Barbara Bel Geddes was gone, but her movies were pretty great. In black & white I don't think there's much better than Wonderful Life, but if you want her in color check out The Benny Goodman Story.

Grace Kelly (1929-1982): Seems like lots of people natter on & on about Marilyn Monroe, the "blonde bombshell" and all that...she never really did it for me. It's like she TRIED to be too sultry, y'know? Princess Grace, though...whew! Hottness, right there. She had the regal look and attitude that was so perfectly mated to her literal title, plus she could just walk into a room onscreen and the temperature in the theatre would rise several degrees. Like that closeup Hitchcock pulls in on her in Rear Window. Check it out...then try to figure out why Jimmy Stewart kept her at a distance.

Debbie Reynolds (born 1932): The only living person on my list, Debbie combines perky cuteness and sweet sensuality in her younger years. The older Debbie is still funny as a stitch whenever I catch her on a talk show, but it's the starry-eyed screen ingenue from Singin' in the Rain that gets me every time. Rumor has it that her first kiss EVER was when she kissed Gene Kelly on-camera...and that he promptly stuck his tongue down her throat. And him old enough to be her daddy, for heaven's sake!

So that's my list. Hollywood hotties of enough to desire, old enough to be grannies, and mostly dead. Who's on YOUR list of aged actors?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas(es) Past

Happy December! As I turn over to the last page of the Kiss calendar in my office (of COURSE I have a Kiss calendar in my office!), I thought I'd turn to cheerier thoughts than the ranting which has dominated my last few posts.

Miss Tessmacher and I have had LOADS of fun shopping for The Roslynator so far. We're trying to be good consumers, staying away from el-cheapo "Made In China" garbage and front-loading our gift registry with high-quality organic and/or fair trade stuff so that the grandparents will have lots to choose from. I've also been hard at work (ha! ME, hard at work!) using Photoshop to spice up all of those childhood pics I scanned in, and the results are usually stunning. I had no IDEA so many of those photos were as badly faded and...well, TIME-WORN as they were. Seeing them now, with saturation and color restored to proper levels, is almost like seeing entirely new pictures.

Here's a good one: Christmas 1969, at the apartment my mom had us living in:

I just LOVE the swag pole light in the corner, don't you? Interesting to see here are three possible future professions: as evidenced by the loot, my mother either intended me to be a boxer (the Bozo bop bag), a cowboy (the ride-'em horse and teensy boots), or a drummer. Hmmmm! Well, despite THIS evidence from later that morning:

I think it's pretty clear which of these occupational hazards I "stuck with." (Ha! Get it? "Stuck?" It's the past tense of STICK, you ninnies! Oh, never mind...just look at the fuckin' picture...)

I was a healthy 17 months old here, and I must say I look pretty pleased with myself. You can also see the edge of a small rocking chair Grampa built for that's still waiting at my mom's until Roz is big enough for it.

Here's another photo, probably from '70 or '71, when we lived in a rented house on Grant St. in Auburn. This house was just down the road from a future friend of mine...weird.

I like the garage/elevator in the background for my Fisher-Price peg-people, but prominently in the foreground is everybody's favourite: Dapper Dan! Along with Dressy Bessie, these were Playskool's attempt to get kids used to the various shenanigans we all go through to get dressed. Dapper Dan had shoes to tie, and buttons, snaps, buckles...all sorts of fun stuff. Presumably, Bessie came with bra hooks and garters and a red velvet lace-up bustier. (Which would explain why I played with HER in college...nudge-nudge, wink-wink!)

From a few years later, maybe '74, is a photo taken in the trailer we lived in for many years just west of Auburn:

I find it amazing that interiour decor can be so given to the whims of fashion, but stuff like holiday decorations become treasured heirlooms. That stocking hanging there? That's STILL in use every year at my mom's house. It no longer hangs off of the stereo door-pull anymore...THAT'S in the basement, and we stay in the living room to deal out the contents of our stockings, thank you!

Again from the trailer is this photo, maybe '75 or '76:

I can't tell which is my favourite: the BLACK vinyl of our couch, or the WHITE vinyl of my grandmother's go-go boots. I suspect the couch lasted longer, though: despite fashion being the fickle bitch it is, I was still using that couch & matching chair as furniture when I was a senior. In COLLEGE. Behind me is my aunt Deb...which explains why we grew up more as brother & sister. Also, take a look at the frost forming on the inside of those trailer windows. Shit, it musta been COLD in that mutha!

And lastly, from the glory years of my childhood, a photo from the big house we lived in right at 131 N. Auburn Street. I know it'll be a few years yet before Roslyn gets her first taste of action figures...but still, I'm looking forward to the day when opening a Stretch Monster gives HER the Happy Christmas Present Face.

(Nice Batman pj's.)

That's it for now. Stay warm, stay safe on icy roads...and go to hell if you're someplace warm and thinking "What's he talking about? I need to get my air conditioner fixed!" More Holiday Hijinx to come.