Friday, May 30, 2008

Egocentric Highlights from London

It was great fun chatting up this guard at Number Ten Downing Street (home to the Prime Minister). He spoke frankly of his world views and that included his country and mine. I was respectful of course, especially given the machine gun in his hands. Quite a few people felt like talking about our presidential candidates, which always took me by surprise. Apart from Gordon Brown, he of the unruly thatch of hair, I don't know any of their other politicians.

Earlier in the day when walking by the same place, I had inquired of these fellows where exactly Number Ten was. They gave a look amongst each other as if I had three heads. "Just there," one of them said, but I think what he really meant was "Just there, stupid." That's okay--I'm sure they hear every dumb remark and I was happy to give them another one.

It's very humbling being a foreigner. You don't understand the traffic signs, you don't know which way to stick tickets in, or why there are mashed peas in with your fish and chips.

Now if you want to talk grandeur and sheer august imposing wonderfulness, here is Parliament. Yoicks. I could stare at it without end. I have always thought that pictures of things without people in them are boring, so that is why I have inserted myself in so many. On second thought, it's a bit egocentric, I fear. Becky and Parliament. Becky and a chap at the pub. Becky and anything else--hmmm. We'll see.

So anyway, dear reader, my companion and I went into Parliament. We were given green tickets and ushered to a cordoned-off spot where we were welcome to wait 45 minutes to hear some debate. We had thought we could get in with our tickets and then wander about gawking, but they weren't having that. So we made a premature departure.
I wonder what they would have debated. If you've ever seen the House of Commons on the telly, you know how rudely they yell at one another. I suppose we could have done that.WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING? TELL US SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T MAKE US LAUGH!

This is the famous Eye. It is a giant Ferris Wheel that goes around over the top of London and I guess you can see everything from there. Several attempts were made to get me on it, but all were rebuffed.

Then of course there is the Princess Diana/Dodi Fayed shrine in Harrod's. I had heard of this, but it is even more surreal when you stand there at the bottom of what they call the Egyptian Staircase or the Egyptian Stairwell or something like that. The escalator runs up and down while a live opera singer serenades all with gorgeous love arias. A bit much after ten years? But I suppose a father's love is to be forgiven (Dad owns Harrod's).

The Chelsea Flower Show was a bit of a bust in my view. Can you see the throngs going into infinite space? This does not attract me. Also, I'm not much of a gardener and I don't know what I thought I was going to see. Something like the Rose Parade, maybe, with flowers doing things flowers aren't supposed to do. OH LOOK, A REFRIGERATOR MADE ENTIRELY FROM MARIGOLDS!!! My girlfriend and I walked the perimeter of the event and then bailed. Kind of a waste, but I'd rather sit staring at Big Ben.

Quite by accident, we encountered a thrilling parade by the queen's guards, who were out practicing for her birthday next week. We got very close to them and I took eight million pix, this being one of my favorites. Two very important looking guards standing outside Parliament were consulting with one another as I walked by later. I listened as hard as I could and I heard one say in a dignified voice, "I normally shave every day." Good going, bro!!

More to come later when I'm not so jet-lagged. It's always nice to get home. Well, sort of. I do like my American cup of coffee.
A bientot

Saturday, May 24, 2008

update from London

I keep trying to think of different words instead of grand. Imposing? August? Inspiring?

Grand is best.

Yesterday I got delightfully lost and ended up at Buckingham Palace. I knew the queen was resting so I didn't bother her.

I had a lengthy chat with a guard holding a machine gun in front of Number Ten Downing Street and have a pic with him, which I will post when I get back. Revealing!!

What I love the best is that about every ten feet you see another wonderful, fabulous, Oh I really mean grand, THING, whatever the thing is. Number Ten, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Parliament (I went in).

Must run. Off to the Courtauld Institute, darling, to see the Impressionists.
Button Example!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Off in the head as always, but off to merrie olde....

Through the miracle of Blogger pre-scheduling, I have arranged for this post to go up at the exact moment my plane will lift off from Logan Airport. I'll have a chardonnay! No, I'm supposed to sleep so that the five hour time difference won't incapacitate me. HAH!!!! Bring me that wine!

Here is my hotel.

It's on the banks of the Thames. We have a balcony room just across from Parliament!!! I plan to sit out there and yell my votes across. NAY! I SAID NAY ON THAT! CAN'T YOU HEAR ME? GORDON BROWN NEEDS A HAIRCUT!

I may need to do the Wicked Witch imitation out there, just so they know.

Of course I know that it won't be anything like UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS.
But if I see Hudson ducking down into the servants' entrance, that will be my little secret.
I am also planning to seek out certain others.
If I walk through Bloomsbury Square and see Mrs. Woolf having a turn on the same block, that will also thrill me.
I don't plan to post for a week, dear reader, although it could happen.
A bientot

Monday, May 19, 2008

GCC Pick: Maggie Marr

I love a good title and this certainly is one. SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB looks like a juicy delicious read (is that like Juicy Couture?) Here's the scoop.

Maggie Marr’s first novel, Hollywood Girls Club, introduced us to four fabulous Hollywood heavyweights and best friends - Jessica, Celeste, Lydia, and Mary Anne. Now, in SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB (Crown, April 15, 2008), these high-powered women take on a new challenge-the Hollywood rumor mill. Those who fell in love with Marr’s witty writing and fast-paced plot will be eager to dive into this sequel which delves even deeper into the glamorous, treacherous Hollywood lifestyle.

Although she is one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood, Celeste is wondering how long she can maintain her success. With age creeping up and body parts sagging down, how will she maintain her “It Girl” status?
Anne, recently back in LA after a breakup in London, is helping to write Lydia’s latest movie called The Sexual Being. Of course, her bigger challenge will be avoiding her old flame, Holden Humphrey, who happens to be starring in it.

Lydia has recently started receiving mysterious notes that seem to be hinting toward a secret she’s kept buried for years. Not only that, Jessica, uber-agent to the stars and recent new mom, has just told Lydia that somebody has gotten their hands on a very compromising DVD that Celeste made with her ex-husband—how will she protect her friend (and the top earner for her production company)? Meanwhile, publicist Kiki Dee has gotten her hands on some of these secrets and is willing to do almost anything to keep her spot at the top of the Hollywood PR machine. Will the Hollywood Girls Club discover the source of the threats? Will Celeste give in to the Hollywood machine and undergo plastic surgery? Will Mary Anne and Holden find happiness with each other? And with so much going on, will Lydia’s latest movie ever be completed?

SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB is a spot-on insider’s look at an industry where those at the top of their game must do anything to keep from being brought down.

About the Author
Maggie Marr is a writer and producer for Six Mile Ridge Productions and Dahooma Productions. She began her Hollywood career as a motion picture literary agent at ICM Talent Agency in Los Angeles, where she represented writers, directors, and actors. She worked with Owen Wilson, Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, and Reese Witherspoon, and was involved in big-name projects including The Rule of Four, He's Just Not That Into You, Charlie's Angels, Austin Powers, Meet The Parents, Wedding Crashers, and Something's Gotta Give. Prior to becoming an agent, Margaret was an attorney, having received her JD from Loyola University in Chicago. She recently completed the television pilot Daughters, and is currently developing a pilot with Mandeville Productions as well as producing two films for Dahooma that begin lensing this year.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I'm awash in lists.
I'm getting ready for my trip to Eng--Eng--I can barely believe it's true--ENGLAND.
I got WalMart lists, Hannaford's lists, mall lists, you name it.
But my rhododendrons are in bloom again.
This reminds me of the old Katharine Hepburn imitation wherein "Calla lillies" are substituted for rhodies. You have to nod your head just so and go for the throaty tone.
1) Katherine Hepburn [see above]
2) John Wayne
3) Donald Duck
4) Annette Funicello
5) Buffy St. Marie
6) Margaret Hamilton as Wicked Witch of the West and Cora of Maxwell House coffee ["good to the last drop!]
7) Marlon Brando as Don Corleone
8) Rod Serling
9) Marlene Dietrich
1) I don't have polio
2) I haven't been in a car accident.
3) Still more than six months till holidays
4) Finally got Christmas needles vacuumed up
5) Get to Live the Dream all summer
1) Grass
2) Leaves
3) Dust
4) Still no relationship with Johnny Depp
becky's Profile Picture
My new book is reminding me of a snowball. It keeps getting bigger and bigger and harder to maneuver and full of sticks and twigs and debris. Soon it will be time to start slashing and burning.
1) Pentimento by Lillian Hellmann--fab fab fab. How is it possible that every single sentence is powerful? Even though I realized as I read, that I'd read it before, it was still great.
2) Underworld by Don DeLillo--masterful and again a deja vu for me. Oh shit, I've already read this. It was still good, though I confess I bailed midway through.
3) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Fascinating. Geisha are nothing like prostitutes, or hardly like anyway. The structure of the lifestyle is formal and dignified and high status, the highest being if one is selected to be the mistress of a rich (married) man. There is even a ceremony for it....nothing demeaning or secondary about it.
Soon I will be off to the Old World, dear reader. Until then, maybe I should make a list.
A bientot

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Here I am on the front steps of my childhood home in Little Rock. Many's the time I have sat here and waited for a friend to come get me or just watched the traffic go by, hoping to see this one or that one. Gosh, I take up a lot of space. I always thought I was small sitting there. The house is empty now and on my recent trip, I made my companions stop and let me do this. It felt surprisingly normal and just like always, except it was likely the last time. The cement is cracked in many places, both here and on the driveway.

I still feel as though my mother and father are inside waiting for me.

That's not true of course. My father has moved to another house in another town.

Here's the old back yard, minus the statuary. My mother's gardenia bush is thriving, but not in bloom. I had hoped I might be overpowered by its fragrance one more time. But I can never remember when the darn thing blooms.

Last time I visited, we went into the house and found one of my mother's canes behind one of the doors. It was sad. This time we didn't go in.

But there were lots of happy moments in the visit too.

What could be happier than a really good margarita?

At Jose's in Hot Springs, the bar stools are saddles. Can you see them?

That's pretty happy.

Being with my daughter and niece always makes me happy.

And being with my dad makes me happy and proud. He's a great man and a smart one. You give him a subject and he knows something about it. Cumberland Gap? No sweat. Keynesian economics? Got it. Actually, he doesn't keep up with Razorback sports, so I guess that's his weak spot on Jeopardy.

More later,

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Natural State

That's what the license plate now says. It used to be Land of Opportunity, so I don't know if opportunity stopped knocking or what. I doubt it. There are still vast areas of plain old space here, though development is sprawling in other areas.

I will be returning home soon, dear reader, and I must go outside and sun myself just a little bit more. Weather delightful. Wish you were here.

A bientot

Friday, May 09, 2008


Green is delightful. It's restful, soothing, even nurturing. But which shade is best?

You've got your olive green of course, which is not a good color for most of us. It reminds me of:
Army green, GI Joe green, and its related camouflage green, also puke green, which some rude individuals have labeled my guacamole dip. A pox on them. A better fashion choice is usually:

hunter green or forest green if you prefer, although it's not the color of any forest I've ever seen. I prefer:

good old emerald green, suggestive of the Emerald Isle, which I hope to visit one day. And of course a real emerald would be nice, but I can't picture my fat finger with a giant honking gem like that on it. I think emeralds are in the category of big-ass jewelry, not my thing. Next up:

loden green, which always makes me think of "loden in your pants" and then:

kelly green, which varies by dye lot, I guess, since Google has about twenty different shades of it. And of course:

lime green, very yummy, and:

sea green, which is rather boring and has a lot of blue,and:

Oops, sorry, just a couple more. I don't like it when Bette has to step in.
pea green, which I couldn't leave out since we've all been pea green with envy, haven't we? and:

pine green and:

shamrock green

But none of these, not one, compares to the bright wonderful green that the leaves are right now.

Even my camera can't really capture it. But this shiny new green promises everything, doesn't it? Beauty when all was stark and ugly only a week ago, optimism in the face of daunting reality, and, if I may be forgiven, hope that something good is on the way.

And so, that's why I say that this week, dear reader, for me, is the best of the 52 we get.

I am traveling to Arkansas where they are well past this stage of green. I'll report when I get back.

A bientot



Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Shacked Up

I must here and now profess my allegiance to Radio Shack. They are surprisingly good in every way. First of all, you can always get someone to wait on you there and usually it's a young man of great knowledge, who wants nothing more than to share his expertise. If you ask him in a nice way, you will learn essential tricks for all your electronic doodads. Tricks like how to turn them on. This for me is key. Eliot Spitzer's wife should have gone to RS for spying devices and saved herself all the media embarrassment.

Radio Shack is not for the computergeeksnobs. Dare I say it is a store for women. I never feel a bit uncomfortable telling the young man there that I don't know what I'm doing. He smiles and loves me. We both glow.

Also their products are good. I have had a land-line cordless phone of theirs for several years and it is great, especially given the squirrel-chewed phone lines coming into my house. I bought a new phone at RS recently and I was shocked that it didn't work. I took it back there yesterday and they gave me a new one and it works fine. I didn't even have the receipt. The phone was twenty bucks. This is also key.

Okay, so just a few lingering bloopers:

Students writing about their own work spoke of "understanding what it is we are reading so we can have good reading compression skills."

"I'm not used to sighting a source."

"....especially when you take the research factory into consideration."

"I really enjoy roll-playing."
"Van Gogh pointed in insanity."

Questions asked and answered on final exam:
What is an ad hominem attack? "Using too many hominems."

What is a common error in a thesis statement? "Not using it correctly."

What is a nonsequitur? "A horse."

Use of vocabulary words:

"The flowery voyeur looked nice on with that dress."

I guess I'll end with that, dear reader and say A bientot from here in the Research Factory.