I Heart Lena Dunham

Yes, I realize I’m a couple of years behind the Girls bandwagon. I’m making up for that now with a new cable provider and 3 free months of HBO and Showtime.

So here’s what I knew about Girls…….sort of a millenial’s version of Sex and the City. I knew Lena Dunham created it and stars in it. Like Curb Your Enthusiasm, it’s somewhat of an acquired taste.

I never felt like I could relate to the characters on Sex and the City, with their ridiculous lifestyles. I don’t walk 8 miles a day in 6 inch heels, or spend a month’s rent on a dress. (Trivia question – when is the last time I wore a dress?) But at least they had jobs, and went after some decent men. John Corbett. Need I say more?

Hanna Horvath, the main Girls character played by Lena Dunham, is a self-absorbed aspiring writer who has been living off her parents in the two years since college until they cut her off. Her boyfriend (Adam) also has no job, but he lives off $800/month from his grandmother. He’s some kind of metal artist and is into degrading sex play. He’s no Big.

The sidekicks are Shoshanna, a complete dipshit played by Zosia Mamet, whose acting contract apparently specifies she take a hit of helium before every performance, so she sounds as much like Minnie Mouse as possible. Jessa is the utterly pretentious, world traveler with a British accent who fancies herself a free spirit. Marnie is the beautiful girl with a great boyfriend she takes for granted. She’s pretty boring.

And yet…..Lena Dunham will grow on you. There’s at least one gem in every episode which kept me hooked. At one point she gets a job for a brief while, then has a falling out with her boss (he’s a groper) and threatens to rally the other women in the office to sue him. He laughs at that and points out she doesn’t even have the wherewithal to get to work at 10 a.m. Plus there’s no “Sue” app on her phone.

In one episode she has a falling out with her roommate, a former boyfriend who has since come out of the closet. “I knew I made a mistake trying to repurpose you” into a friend. In another episode she references the Marriage Industrial Complex, which is a phrase she stole from me.

You may know she takes her clothes off every chance she gets. She does not have a Hollywood body and shows it all the time anyway. I say good for her. It’s nice to see thighs I recognize up there on screen. 🙂

I finally decide I could relate to Hanna when she revealed she would do something she ordinarily wouldn’t just because it would make a good story. In her case, she was going to have sex with her boss. That’s not for me…I would maybe go ice fishing and then write about it, but same concept. She wants everything to be about her – who doesn’t? I once had a boyfriend accuse me of being thoughtless and selfish, come to think of it. And of course the pale white cellulite on display just cinches the deal. Lena’s my new muse.

PS – Check out Tiny Furniture, the 2010 Lena wrote and directed. It’s clearly a precursor to Girls, complete with the main character walking around without pants, quitting a job after a few days, and having sex in a pipe in an abandoned Brooklyn courtyard. At least in Sex and the City they had beds.

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Ballin’ in Reno

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I’m now fully inculcated into the world of girls’ volleyball, thanks to my 16 year old niece Madeleine who plays on a club team (Inferno) with Bay Area Blast. The director started this volleyball club because he didn’t like some behaviors he saw in other clubs: coaches yelling at players, parents yelling at coaches and refs. Some parents are delusional about their daughter’s abilities and chances for scholarship. One mom was asked not to come to matches after she yelled at the coach and started arguing with the ref (strictly not allowed).

Obviously all parents think their children are the best player on the team. Teams that aren’t playing keep score and act as line judges (or “down ref” I believe) and keep the score. It’s not at all uncommon for them to fail to add a point, or to give it to the wrong team, but you can bet the eagle-eyed parents yell up a storm when that happens.

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Each event brings a different sort of drama. At one meet, it was discovered that one net was set at the boys’ regulation height, which was higher than the girls height. At another meet, a team of  BOYS played. They were younger than the girls although taller. Apparently their season had ended but they needed practice or something. Many complaints were lodged, to no avail.

The girls teams have a lot of camaraderie, with cheers before the game and organized whooping after a point. During the down time, while hanging around in the staging area, they all lie down on a fleece blanket and heap on top of each other like a bunch of kittens. This, of course, while texting and otherwise engaged with their cell phones.

My mother (aka the team grandmother), who still plays volleyball with her cronies every Friday night, is on hand to explain the rules as needed. The girls were all yelling out “Free!” at one point and she asked me if I knew what a Free Ball was. “Mom, we’re in public,” I said nervously, glancing around to see who might have heard her. It turns out “Free Ball” is when the other team is not spiking the ball when returning it, so you know you don’t have to be prepared to defend a spike. This is not the same as “Freeballin’” or “Going Commando” as I explained to her. She didn’t need my explanation since when not playing volleyball she watches both Seinfeld and Friends.

The tournaments are often at high schools; one was at the Mare Island Sports Complex in Vallejo, CA. Mare Island was at one time a thriving Naval Base, but is now just an residences and non-military industrial businesses. Building after building had nothing but broken windows. The whole area looks like the setting for some Tom Cruise post-apocalypic movie. Zombies would not be unexpected.

This past weekend my whole family went to Reno, Nevada, to see the Far Western volleyball tournament. For those unfamiliar with Nevada, the state allows gambling (and brothels). As soon as you cross the border from another state, every establishment has some kind of gambling machine, video poker, keno, whatever, in every spare corner. I don’t frequent men’s rooms but I imagine they are designed so you can manage your business with one hand and play video poker with the other.

Anyway, the Far West was three days of volleyball with over 100 teams. My Dad handled the requisite old guy comments. Noting the tiny spandex shorts the girls wore, he said “Hell, if they wore longer shorts they wouldn’t have to spend the whole game tugging at them.” Or when the server bounced the ball a bunch of times before serving, “It’s not a damn basketball. Quit dribbling it and serve!”

Reno, by the way, is a dump. Outside of the smoky casinos are people wandering the streets drinking out of paper bags. Inside the casinos, it was food buffet 24/7. That’s for the quantity eaters, not quality. As my sister said, “Good luck finding a nutrient in this town.” Although Madeleine did find a dish with tofu in it – go figure.

We stayed at the Sands Regency Hotel and Casino, along with a bunch of people in town for a bowling tournament AND a bingo event. There’s no confusing those crowds with say, a fitness convention. The Sands Regency was at one time considered luxurious (when brass and chrome were the height of home décor) and is now kind of run-down. And if you’re hoping to see Playboy bunny type waitresses in skimpy outfits and stiletto heels, look elsewhere. Here the outfits were short, but no managerial requirement to display cleavage. And flat shoes were allowed, as long as they were black to match the tights. Nobody made any effort to wear sexy shoes. We’re talking gardening clogs. Grandma loafers. Lesbian sandals.

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I did find the indie part of town; Recycled Records, non-chain coffee shops, Junkee (repurposed furniture, clothes, antiques). In keeping with their hipster credentials, I didn’t recognize any of the music. One song was, to the best of my descriptive abilities, French hip-hop.

The rest of the state is well represented at Cabela’s, a huge outdoor sporting goods store located just out of town. The NRA will sign you up for membership in the parking lot. J

If the Soviets had only waited…

I’ve been watching “The Americans” on FX, an action/drama about Soviet sleeper spies embedded in the US. It’s set in the early 80’s and the married couple with children have been in the US for 15 years, working at a travel agency while conducting undercover operations for the KGB. The wife (Keri Russell) is still fully committed to the cause, but her husband wouldn’t mind defecting. He points out that the electricity always works and the food is great in the U.S. It’s a great place!

 So, they sneak around with their old technology – giant tape recorders, wigs and mustaches that were last seen on “The Dating Game”; reading the classified ads in newspapers for contact from their handler. Apparently their aim is to crush the U.S. without starting World War 3. It all seems so quaint now that Russia isn’t a global superpower, but they were the major enemy in Reagan’s day.

 If only they knew then what we know now: the secret to destroying America is reality television. If someone (Ryan Seacrest? Mark Burnett?) created a show that combined the Amish AND the Gypsies, I would never leave the house. Throw in a visit from the Kardashian sisters and my head would explode. I can proudly say I’ve never watched a Bachelor or Bachelorette show, and I DO think that makes me superior. Still, we all have our addictions in this genre and they could easily be manipulated to bring American productivity to a standstill. Those who actually make it to work can’t get anything done since they are compelled to discuss how surprising it is that Merlin got unshunned. He needed a unanimous vote and he got it! And what about Honey Boo Boo and the Girl Scout Cookie brouhaha? Don’t even start us on the Shahs of Sunset with GG waving the knife around.

 Maybe Robert Kardashian was a Soviet plant, and now his daughters are doing what years of communism couldn’t’?

Open Letter to the New Pope: Enough with “Bachelor” Priests

Now seems like a good time for the Catholic Church to make some changes, what with Benedict retiring. Might I suggest they join the 21st century and allow priests to get married again? Yes, again. Celibacy wasn’t a requirement for priests until the 12th century. The church instituted the requirement in order to that property remained within the Church and was not inherited by a priest’s children. (Sons, presumably.) Today the church claims the reason for celibacy is so that the priest is devoted only to God. I think we can all agree that’s not working.

 Most religions allow, in fact encourage their clergy to marry, and have children. Go forth and multiply, and all that.  They don’t seem to have as MANY pedophiles in their ranks as the Catholic Church does. If priests can marry, those who are drawn to the calling for spiritual reasons can still become priests, and they can enjoy a regular home life. Those who are drawn to the priesthood because society will not expect them to have mature adult relationships, but instead gives them unfettered access to lots of children…..well, they can stay home and watch game shows instead. Time for the Catholic Church to stop enabling them.

 Plus, isn’t there a worldwide shortage of men joining the priesthood? Wouldn’t this ameliorate that trend?

 Feel free to forward this to the Vatican.

Nazis on the Moon?

Yes, the Nazis set up a secret base the dark side of the moon in 1945, where they developed new technology for conquering the world when the return to earth in 2018. This according to Iron Sky, a comedy/sci-fi movie available on Netflix. I don’t think Dain knew what it was about when he clicked on it; he just knew he hadn’t seen it before. The US sent an astronaut (African-American) to the moon and he was captured by the Nazis and brought back to earth to help them locate more cool “phone computers” to use in their mission. The Nazi moon base is all grey and grim, with everybody speaking German and stiff-arm saluting all over the place. A young German maiden who looks like 19 year old Farrah Fawcett is taken with the dark-skinned astronaut, so she smuggles herself aboard the ship going back to earth.

 Did I mention the Nazis turned the Black man into an Aryan? And he ends up raving on the streets of NYC about moon Nazis? Oh, and the U.S. President is a woman, who wears red and is made up to look like Sarah Palin.  Her right hand woman (not sure she if she is VP or what) looks just like Catherine Zeta-Jones, and divides her time between romancing Klaus, the future fuhrer whom she finds manly and sexy, and attacking the invading Nazi ships from the space station George W. Bush.

 I won’t reveal the ending, in case any of you have this in your queue. I will say, it’s hard to keep a Nazi girl on the dark side of the moon once she’s seen Times Square 🙂

The winner is: Lance Armstrong’s legal team

The real winners in this Lance Armstrong situation are Lance’s lawyers. I can only imagine how much money they made suing people, and now they’ll have to defend him from the lawsuits of people wanting their money back, etc. Do they feel shitty today? I hope so.

I have to agree with most viewers who felt that Lance was self-serving and insincere in his interview. He is sorry only that he got caught. And he wants to somehow take the high road, admit his wrongdoings without fingering anyone else. It didn’t work like that for anyone else, so why should it work like that for him? Everyone else got called in to testify and had to answer questions about who provided the drugs, etc. He wants to just say “I doped” without being a rat. That’s part of coming clean. That’s part of why others got a 6 month suspension and he got a lifetime ban, or “death penalty” as he called it. Maybe he’s right that his sentence is unfair, in that regard. IF he cooperates completely with the investigating agencies, I would support them reducing his ban.

Others who doped didn’t seek to destroy everyone around them, like Lance did. If you crossed him, you were ostracized, vilified, and sued. He was relentless and vicious. It’s like being a witness to an organized crime hit: your life would never be the same. All people did was tell the truth, often under oath and under subpoena, and he considered them enemies . Some of them got actual DEATH threats. Lance Armstrong had such power and influence in the cycling world (not to mention deep pockets for pursuing lawsuits) that he severely curtailed, if not full-out destroyed, many people’s abilities to work in their chosen fields. Frankie Andreu. Emma O’Reilly. Greg LeMond. Mike Anderson, his former mechanic, who moved to New Zealand when Austin became inhospitable.

Lance lost a lot of money when his sponsors pulled out, but he still has a LOT of money. He should calculate how much income he cost these “enemies” and pay it to them. Set up college funds for their kids, which they would have been better able to do on their own. Pay it to them with a statement that he wronged them and that they are NOT liars (or prostitutes, or crazy  -whatever slur he spread). Obviously that’s not the smart legal strategy, to admit wrongdoing and slander. But these people deserve to have their reputations cleared, and deserve compensation for his decimating their earning potential.

Read my novella and win a $25 iTunes gift card!

Hi all,

I’ve uploaded Driving Force, my entire young adult novella. If you read it and post some feedback it will enter you into a raffle (I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner) for a $25 iTunes gift card. I had this snazzy widget all lined up to handle this but then I found out you couldn’t use it on WordPress. Bummer!

Anyway, the novella is about 50 pages printed, but it is fairly large font……just to let you know how long it is.

Here’s what it’s about:

16 year old Jeremy Anton just wants to drive……but that’s illegal in California until age 20. He tries to change this and inadvertently touches off an international storm that threatens to destroy his small town.

How to enter: Read the novella and post feedback after any of the chapters. Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Did you not like it? Why? Did you want to see more of any characters? What was your favorite scene or character? Or least favorite? Did anything confuse you or leave you wondering? Thank you for reading!!

(The novella is posted chapter by chapter under the above heading “Driving Force.”)

P.S. Raffle winner will be chosen and posted on 1/1/13. Completing the poll below won’t enter you in the raffle since it doesn’t identify who you are. But complete it anyway if you can!