Saturday, August 12, 2006

Popes On A Blog

Awhile back when I was blogging about how boring my life is I mentioned the Pope, and I began to wonder, in that random way my mind works, how often the Pope is mentioned on a blog. I did a search, and it turns out the answer is that he's mentioned a lot. Aside from one very funny site called Ask The Pope (which hasn't been updated in a while but is worth a peek), most of them seem to be maintained by devout folks who want to be up to date on what the Pope is doing. It sounds kind of boring if you ask me, since I imagine the Pope's day goes something like this:

4:30 a.m. Prayer
5:30 a.m. Bathe, put on robes, pointy hat, and red shoes. Make usual joke about having the feeling he's not in Kansas anymore.
6:00 a.m. Say Mass for Cardinals, all of whom are hoping he drops dead so they can become the next leader of the Catholic faith.
7:00 a.m. Eat breakfast (if it's not a fasting day); drink prune juice regardless.
7:30 a.m. Visit Little Pope's room.
8:00 a.m. Go out on balcony and wave.

You get the idea.

One blog points out that the Pope's birthday coincided with Easter this year, and then wasn't updated until late July. I guess there's not a lot of Pope News. Still, knowing the Pope is on the job, leading the faith, being the head of a teeny-tiny city-state and praying all the time is a comforting thought.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Love A Good Photo Op

I finally got around to getting the photos from my trip to Raleigh, NC developed yesterday. It didn't take me too long -- I only went in early April. I know... I am the only person in the western world who doesn't own a digital camera. It's this thing I have about "making do" when a comparatively small investment could improve my life. Don't even get me started on how long I suffered with an iron that spit rusty water on my clothing at the most innopportune times before I realized that with an investment of less than $100, I could avoid being completely stressed and harried every morning.

I blame my grandmother, who from what I can tell invented recycling. I lived with her for a short period of time in my early 20s, and I swear, everything I threw away reappeared the next day. I mean everything -- from cassette tapes and cheap costume jewelry with missing parts to socks without a mate and bras that no longer had their underwires. I have no idea what she did with the bras and the cassettes, but I can tell you that I now use old socks to dust and polish, and I save broken jewelry in case I ever start making my own jewelry and need parts. The fruit, as wiser people than I am have pointed out, never falls far from the tree.

I've fiddled with the idea of making jewelry and I've even made a couple of pieces, but the amount of jewelry I've made does not justify the number of bags of broken and out-of-style junk jewelry I have in ziploc bags in storage. The bags of jewelry, whenever I come across them, are a reminder that I have every intention of using them for creative projects that never quite get off the ground. So I've avoided investing several hundred of my hard-earned bucks in a digital camera that will quite possibly only be used on Christmas day and the rare occasions I go on vacation. Instead, I make do with a disposable camera and then curse Kodak for making it difficult for me to view my prints without loading their software onto my computer.

I was eager to see the photo that was taken at the Raleigh Renaissance Fair of me with a guy in a kilt. He was not just any guy in a kilt -- many had been viewed and rejected during the long hot day a the fair. Some were too skinny, with underdeveloped calf muscles (something I really can't stand to see on a man in a skirt), some looked too Goth for my personal taste, and some had girlfriends who looked like they might kick my ass if I requested a photo with them. This guy was perfect, and even spoke with a Scottish accent. (Okay, it was probably a fake accent, but it added that little bit of extra authenticity which made following him all over the fairgrounds -- including waiting outside the privies -- worth it.)

It was as I gazed happily at the piture of Kilt-Clad Man that I realized I seem to be developing a thing for getting my picture taken next to unusual characters, although Kilt Guy was not an unusual sight at a renaissance fair, except in his utter perfection. The photo reminded me that about a year and a half ago, I had my picture taken in Montreal next to a guy I affectionately refer to as "Popeye The Spiderman."

He was doing some kind of performance art. He had a CD player blasting eerie music and a narrative which I unfortuately could not follow because it's been a chien's age since I took French in high school. While the music and narrative were playing, he was wearing his Spidey hood and doing Spidey movements which I can only assume illustrated the story.

A couple of hours later, my friend and I caught him having a cigarette break and I asked him to have a photo taken with me. He made a move to put the ciggy out and put his Spiderman hood back on, but I managed to talk him out of it despite the fact that we couldn't understand each other at all. He said, "Oui...Le PopEYE," a phrase my friend and I used incessantly for the rest of my visit with her. I love that he did the Spidey Hand Gestures for the picture.

I'm thinking about a trip to Tucson in the foreseeable future. It depends on little details, like when I get a job and how in debt I am when that day comes. Also, I prefer to go there when it's just "hot," as opposed to "freaking hot," which it is right now.

As I think about the trip, I wonder who I can get my picture taken next to, and who I will embarass by doing so (the person who took both of these photos is a good sport and has a lively sense of humor, so she found both situations funny). The good thing about looking for the perfect photo op is that it would give my trip a certain structure and purpose. Structure and purpose are good to have, you can ask anybody -- for instance, a kindergarten teacher or the commandant of a prison. It will be fun to look for just the right person to have my picture taken with.

People of Tucson, be very afraid.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Names and Nicknames

Blame it on my effort to come up with a name for this blog. I found myself staring out the window at the bridge (hence, the whole "water view" thing), wondering why Scooter Libby still lets people call him Scooter. I mean, really. Isn't there a point where you outgrow that kind of thing? My take on it is once anyone is eligible to start calling you "Dad," a nickname like Scooter should be retired. Certainly, if some people are calling you "Grampa" while others are calling you "Chip" or "Junior" or "Skippy," it may be time to rethink.

Of course, here in Rhode Island, if you get a nickname, it's with you for life. This is mostly, I think, because Rhode Island is made up of a lot of small towns where everyone knows you from cradle to grave. Heaven help you if you get labeled "Stinky" in grade school. Your obituary will read "John (Stinky) Smith, age 90, died peacefully in his home on Friday. He is survived by his children John (Junior) Smith, Edward (Tiny) Smith, and Lucy (Goosey) Smith-Jones, seventeen grandchildren and thirty great-grandchildren." Nobody thinks this is odd, or minds that we all know who provided most of those grandchildren.

Another thing a Rhode Islander knows from the obit is that Edward was tall, or fat, or both. Big men are nicknamed "Tiny," short men are nicknamed "Stretch," fat guys are called "Slim." I don't know why this is.

I went to college with a girl who introduced herself to me by saying, "I'm Naomi, but my friends call me Nomi." I remember thinking that I didn't know what to call her because I hadn't had time to decide if I wanted to be her friend or not. In time I realized that "not" was the answer, but I had already started calling her "Nomi" just to shut her up.

I also went to college with a girl who introduced herself by saying, "I'm ____ Limoges. As in Limoges." Being a small town girl, I had no idea what the hell Limoges was or why I should be impressed. She was quick to enlighten me. It was years before I found out while reading an article on french pottery (yeah, I find the damndest things interesting, you'll see) that Limoges isn't a brand name that connotes money like, say, Du Pont. It's a region of France where pottery is made. Unrelated reading on life in the Middle Ages taught me that when the population of Europe got big enough to require the use of surnames and people started moving around to find work, it was usually the poor people who ended up with their hometown as a surname. Those with a trade became "Miller," "Potter," "Weaver," etc.

It tickles me to think of this pretentious girl unwittingly advertising her family's humble origins. It doesn't surprise me, though. She once bragged that she liked to go turkey hunting with her dad because it was fun to watch the turkeys get shot down out of the trees.

Now I know the burning question in everyone's mind is whether or not I have a nickname. I have a few, even though my parents went out of their way to give their children names that don't have automatic nicknames. My uncle calls me "Stretch," not because I'm short, but because I had a big growth spurt at age 13 (evidently, moving to California in young adulthood caused Uncle Bob to forget the Rhode Island Nicknaming Code). My siblings call me different permutations of my given name, mostly created by their children. A favorite is "Auntie Red Car," which is what one of my nephews called me before he learned to say my name. It sounds nothing like my name; I drove a red car back when he was learning to talk.

My computer and ISP both call me "Your Highness" because that is what I have them set to do. It amuses me.