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Showing posts from 2010

Holiday Cards; a Retrospective

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Every now and then I feel I've accomplished something of note: writing a pithy blog entry for instance, performing for an audience who's clung to my every word, even cooking a mean pot of red beans and rice can make me giddy with pride. My list isn't terribly long, in fact some of my talents have waned over the years (these days I swim more like a geriatric manatee than the sleek porpoise of yore.) But I have recently acquired a later life skill which I would like to share with you. I have developed, if I do say so myself, an eye for constructing a heckuva good Hanukkah/Christmas/Winter Solstice/Kwanzaa/ Boxing Day/New Year's/and any other end of the year celebration you can think of holiday card.
All year long I keep an eye out for a unique opportunity that just might be a photo op for a possible kick ass card. And if no picture presents itself, well then, the Foster-Shepperds will not be representin' and mailboxes will be less full that year.
From four years ago...

Shake the Waffle

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On this, my son's eighth birthday, I made waffles. One would think I planned waffles as a special birthday breakfast. (When I was a kid my mother's birthday breakfast for us was oatmeal with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, sprinkled with brown sugar. Absolute heaven.) But no, the idea behind waffles had nothing to do with "birthday breakfast," it was born out of necessity. We are going out of town for the holidays and I'm trying to make do without going to the market. We have no milk, no eggs, no bacon, no oatmeal and for that matter, no vanilla ice cream. And so, the only breakfast staples I could think of that didn't require any of the above were waffles and that frostbitten package of sausage links stuck to the back of the freezer, purchased in aught eight.
I did have my concerns. For some unfathomable reason my children have professed a dislike for waffles. I know, how can they not like waffles? If I had my way as a kid, I would have eaten them t…

Soldiers and Bullies

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Michael's nephew, Chucky, went to war. He served our country faithfully, rounded out his tour of duty and when he came home he was different. Friends and family noticed the change immediately. Chucky was more withdrawn and depressed. And there was something else...a quiet desperation, which I believe you can see in this photo. Look into his eyes. It's as if he wore a mask to cover the suffering within.
Michael's family used the tools they had at their disposal to help Chucky. His sister took him to the VA Hospital to get him psychological care, but since Chucky refused to admit himself the VA couldn't help. His parents tried to get Chucky to embrace religion, his mother is a Jehovah's Witness, his father Baptist, but it turned out getting on his knees and praying couldn't help either.
Sebastian loved his older cousin, and at the family reunion four years ago, the only person Chucky could comfortably relate to was my then four year old son. Interacting with Sebast…

White Bias or Snow Black?

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Last month on Anderson Cooper 360, the suave, silver fox news hunk introduced a pilot study helmed by CNN called "Kids on Race." Black and white children from two different age groups were shown the above picture and asked questions like, "Which is the good child?" "Which is the ugly child?" "Which child do adults like?"
This was based on an experiment administered in the forties. Instead of the cartoon rainbow coalition shown above, however, children chose between black and white baby dolls, the findings of which were used in the landmark case, Brown vs. Board of Education. Sadly, although perhaps not surprisingly, sixty-three percent of black kids wanted to play with the white doll rather than the one they themselves resembled.

In the Obama era it was hoped that the findings of the newly administered test wouldn't show such white bias. That our country's first African American president would raise self-esteem among black kids and awaren…

The Light of Day

Late August, I was in the Bay Area for my dad's birthday. While there, I kept hearing about aunts, uncles and friends of the family who weren't faring well. The list seemed overwhelming: cancer, a couple of strokes, heart palpitations, a semi-vegetative state and while boarding a plane one family friend somehow managed to slip between the gangway and the airplane's door, falling to the tarmac below. Still alive, but paralyzed.
*** Sunday morning, the kids ran into our bedroom screaming. (Michael insists it was 5:30. I tend to think it was 6:30. Daylights Savings Time really messes with your head and can cause family squabbles in the retelling of stories.) Whatever the time, the kids yelled, "There's a dead raccoon. There's a dead raccoon." This is not surprising at our house. Cosmo, our half husky/half possible wolf, is a card carrying critter killer. Doesn't matter if it's a bird, rat, opossum, squirrel, skunk or even house cat, any varmint that en…

Strike My Fancy

A cozy moment between my four year old daughter and my ex-drag queen husband.
MAXIE: Daddy, do boys wear makeup?
MICHAEL: Yes, some boys do.
MAXIE: I bet that makes them feel fancy.
MICHAEL: I bet it does.
MAXIE: Daddy, I like fancy boys.
MICHAEL: So do I, sweetheart. So do I.

Aloha Passion

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Now that I'm back in the throes of monitoring school homework, packing lunch boxes and driving to and from numerous extracurricular activities, it's hard to believe that not six weeks ago I was sipping mai tais poolside on the beautiful island of Maui.
You know how folks develop that special place they go to unwind? Well, Hawaii is that place for me. The second the plane's wheels scrape rubber on the tarmac I feel transformed. I've come home. You see, I was born in Honolulu, just like Barack Obama and Bette Midler. (And like Barack Obama and Bette Midler, I too can show you a valid birth certificate.)
And even though I only lived there the first nine months of my life, the islands feel familiar. The fragrant Hawaiian breeze is mother's milk, the loamy earth and brilliant colors my pablum.

That doesn't mean our special getaway wasn't without incident. I somehow managed to get both sinus and ear infections, Maxie got a bladder infection, Sebastian, five stitche…

It's a Pickle

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My mother sent Michael a yodelling pickle. That's right, a yodelling pickle...

What is a yodelling pickle, you ask? Quite simply, a plastic pickle that stands on end, and when you push its button, it yodels. No cutesy cartoon face. No accompanying movement. Just a collection of high-pitched alpine trills from a stiff faux-vegetable. Yodel-Ay-Eee-Ooo.
And unlike the Santa who gyrates to Jingle Bell Rock, this mass-produced gewgaw is perfect for absolutely NO occasion.
What's peculiar, besides the gift itself, is the sender. My mother is not one for spontaneity, nor is she particularly fond of gag gifts. Sal is a logically-minded, no nonsense kinda gal, and a yodelling pickle would be the last thing I'd expect her to send my husband, via UPS. Especially when it's my birthday next week!! What's in store for me? A rapping kiwi?
The other, perhaps noticeably, odd thing...odd and uncomfortable...is that the damn thing looks like a green dildo. Now, I don't get into Mich…

Sebastian in Awe

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On Saturday, I was channel surfing and decided to take on the last third of Shakespeare in Love. Perhaps once and for all I could figure out if I really liked this movie or downright hated it. I can't quite put my finger on why I am so indecisive.
The film has many wonderful qualities: the historic references, Tom Stoppard's witty script, the lush art and costume design, and yet, when the film's title is mentioned in polite conversation, I cringe and regurgitate a little. Perhaps my response has to with Joseph Fiennes being prettier than Gweneth Paltrow, or Miramax's aggressive campaign to win the Oscar beating out Saving Private Ryan, or just maybe it's Geoffrey Rush's disgusting teeth. Whatever my misgivings, I decided to give it a go once again.
And immediately, I was hooked.
Sure, it's manipulative and at points cheesy, but so many of the pieces fit beautifully. And being a stage actor, I love that the central action centers around mounting the first perf…

San Francisco Girlfriends

I'm in San Francisco for my father's birthday and my sister shared with me the following story about my seven-year-old niece, Gracie.

Gracie and her good friend were enjoying a vigorous afternoon of make believe. The friend had a fairy princess doll while Gracie had a schoolgirl doll, and Gracie suggested, "Let's pretend we're walking down the street and we bump into each other. And then, let's pretend we fall in love and want to get married, but we can't because the government says it's against the law."

Dr. Laura is Bustin' Out

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Last week, Dr. Laura Schlessinger dropped the N-bomb on her radio show while giving advice to a female African American caller. Actually, dropped is the wrong word; strafed might be more apt, for to drive her self-proclaimed philosophical point home (although I could tell you neither what her point was nor to what philosophy she ascribes) she repeatedly blasted her black caller and radio listeners with N-bomb following N-bomb, making me think, perhaps incongruously, of the last image of Bonnie and Clyde.

Subsequently, Dr. Laura has announced on Larry King Live that she will quit radio. She explains, "I want to regain my First Amendment rights," whatever that's supposed to mean. According to Dr. Laura, her rights "have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don't want to debate, they want to eliminate." And so, before these treacherous groups get their diabolical way, she has decided to sign off when her contract ends at the end of the year.
I have a wee co…

Knee Jerk

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"Roger, do you take Dave to be your lawfully wedded husband..."
It's hard to believe that those words could incite such fear and hatred. That there are those who see gay marriage as the onset of the Apocalypse. In my own little world, dissolving Prop 8 actually seems the natural course of things, however the same ruling has caused others to mutilate.
At the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, to which I have never been (something else to add to the bucket list) a sculpture of two grooms atop a wedding cake was vandalized. It was part of a group show called, "Some Assembly Required: Race, Gender and Globalization." The piece was created by artist Susan Tibbles, which is just a fun name to say, for a 2008 op-ed piece in the LA Times entitled Marriage Isn't the Half of It, by Nancy D. Polikoff. The museum's publicity coordinator recounted, "The two guys were unfortunately torn off and thrown about the gallery along with some other embellishments.&…

An Improper Basis

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Yesterday's front page of the Los Angeles Times blared, "Ban on gay marriage overturned." Now, don't get me wrong, I'm elated that Prop 8 was kicked in the nads. Well, maybe not elated, more like cautious. I couldn't quite revel like the thousands of other gays and lesbians who partied hard two night ago in West Hollywood, the Castro and the Little Caesar's in Pacoima. You see, I'm having a difficult time trusting Judge Walker's landmark ruling will hold, as I've had a difficult time trusting my legal marriage will remain, well, legal...I don't care what anyone says, it will always be a marriage.
All it takes these days is some Bible thumping organization, or Target trust fund baby, or a state like Utah to throw a gazillion dollars towards the appeal and we'll be right back at square one, or maybe, square negative seventy-eight, and my kids will be bastards once again.
I know, I know, it's an ugly word, bastards. But my children'…

Glittery Crap

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Dear Store Owners and Kiosk Keepers,
I have endured brightly wrapped candy, promising explosions of sugary goodness, awaiting me and my two tykes at every grocery checkout. After exiting the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, I have suffered dragging my kids through the Pirates of the Caribbean store overstocked with overly priced and cheaply made swords, hooks and buccaneer hats. I've even pulled my children screaming from displays of Fruit Roll-Ups, Chips Ahoy and Lays Potato Chips after gymnastics and swimming. (BTW, gymnastics and swimming, why at a place of fitness do you insist on hawking sugar and empty calories to kids? Paging Michelle Obama!)
Now, this by no means, is an old practice. When I was eight my family vacationed in Hawaii, and we were in some store and I was seduced by foil-wrapped glimmer and the promise of minty goodness in the form of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum. I begged my father to buy me a pack. Because for some reason, it was very important at that particular …