A Texas Tradition

When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all
And bathed every vein in liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has with his sweet breath,
Filled again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and leaves, and the young sun,
His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run,
And many little birds make melody,
That sleep through the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage )
Then folks do long to go on pilgrimage.

Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales

April is that time of year, in most places, where “spring fever” erupts. This can take many forms – here in Texas, where football is king, we have “spring football”. This is where local teams, in between all that fol-de-rol of soccer, tennis and track events, head out for some gridiron practice in the good weather , running their drills and getting their line-up for fall sorted out before the serious “bidness” of game-playing begins in August.

Spring is also of course, long associated with romance, but I prefer to think of it as the time to firm up one’s summer vacation plans. True, most serious travelers made those vacation deposits, camp registrations, resort reservations, etc, back in January. But now is the time to look at your schedule, see if you have any gaps, and tweak it just a little. (I like to throw a quickie trip to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels into the mix, if I’ve got a few assorted days with no real major trip planned. It’s refreshing, and a big steak dinner at the Grist Mill in nearby Gruene is just the ticket after a day spent sloshing through the water rides. New Orleans isn't bad either, for a last minute visit, a three day weekend....)

April in Texas, as in many parts of the world, is also one of the most beautiful seasons, (in Texas, we really only have two seasons, “more hot”, and “less hot”. Some folks call it “dry” and “wet”, especially if you live down Houston way, or “brown” and “green” , if you live out in west Texas.), when all the flowers bloom. The month starts, in the DFW area ( for south Texas, all dates get shifted back a month, to March, sometimes earlier) , with the azaleas along Turtle Creek Blvd giving a fine show in vivid hot pink or white blossoming bushes. It is a lovely thing to walk along the well-groomed paths and admire the views of laughing children, picnicking families, necking couples, and, of course, the flowers.

In the northern DFW ‘burbs, such as Denton, they keep trying to schedule a local Redbud Festival for when the redbuds (a small little under-canopy tree, with spectacular early spring hot pink buds) actually bloom, with very little success. As long as I have lived here, the festival is either too early or too late to catch the blooms. The dates for said festival seem to be scheduled by civic leaders a year or more in advance, and there is never a revision based on actual current climate predictions. If we had a warm winter, the redbuds bloom early. If we have a freakish March snow storm, they bloom late. The festival planners keep changing the date, moving back and forth and round and round the calendar, chasing the elusive redbud blooms, who decide to show their colors all over the place - sometimes in early March, or late March, or early April – to no avail. They can never get the festival lined up right with the trees. Darn that global warming!

Of course, as any native Texan will tell you, the real show here in this state is the bluebonnets. They bloom fairly regularly, year after year, the first two weeks in April. A little earlier down south, a little later in the panhandle. But if you are coming from New York or Germany or anywhere from out of state to see them, don’t plan a trip in June or July or any nonesuch (as some of my in-laws once did, ignoring my advice) expecting to see bluebonnets. It just won’t happen. (If you are any kind of Yankee or foreigner at all, I’d avoid Texas at all costs, from July –Sept. Even June is pushing it unless you like really hot weather. My poor sister-in-law once came in 1998, the 2nd hottest summer on record, when we went something like 70 days in a row over 100 degrees, armed with a suitcase full of turtlenecks, and nearly passed out from the heat. But I digress.)

It is difficult to explain to folks what a field of bluebonnets in full bloom looks like. Blue flowers, you say ? So what ! Yet there is something so enticing about them. You feel, when you come across some by the side of the road, like Dorothy, the Tin Man , and the Scarecrow when they saw all those poppies on the way to Oz. You want to romp through them, roll in them, frolic.

I must note here, though, that since bluebonnets are the Official State Flower of Texas, it is forbidden to trample or harm them in any way. It is especially forbidden to pick them. If you feel you absolutely need some, go to a garden shop; they’ve usually got a few little pots for all you suckers. Like all wild things, they don’t last a minute once picked, anyways, but instantly wither and die. If you want to grow your own, the time to plant them is in the fall. They prefer sunny, well drained hillsides, and if you fuss at all over them, they won’t bloom. Benign neglect is best. For heaven sakes, don’t make the fatal error of mowing your weeds in late winter – that thatchy looking patch is just full of baby bluebonnets, waiting to spring forth.

It has long been a Texas tradition to take a weekend drive, somewhere along the hiways and byways of central Texas, to look at the bluebonnets. Popular routes are often jam-packed during the key viewing weekends of early April. Signs pop up out of nowhere, directing one here or there. Little towns have festivals and sell souvenirs. Itinerant artists with varying degrees of skill set up easels by the side of the road, hoping someone wanting a memento will buy their art. A whole industry of bluebonnet themed coffee mugs, dish towels, key chains and ash trays are de rigueur here . Families feel they simply must take their little children and/ or pets out to a good-looking patch of bluebonnets, prop them up in the flowers, and snap their photos. A photo of Jr , wallowing in the bluebonnets is just the perfect thing to put on a coffee mug for grandma’s Mother’s Day gift. It just gets harder and harder to do, the older Jr gets. A cute 3 year old is fairly cooperative for at least 5 minutes, especially if ice cream is promised as a reward for cute poses. Two surly teenagers can’t be bought for love nor money.

My Simpsons Avatar

.......because everyone should have one !


Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

by Marisha Pessl

My teacher book club (as opposed to my neighborhood book club) read this book recently, and of all the books we've read in awhile, this one generated the most buzz. Folks either loved it or hated it, but we all had strong opinions. The general consensus , after much heated debate , was :


1)Quirky, original writing style. Alternately very refreshing, and after awhile, somewhat annoying. Some members of my book club actually looked up all the many annotated references used in this story......and none of them were real. Save yourself the trouble. Just enjoy them for the cute, humorous comments they make, as a sort of para-textual joke.

2)Great who-dunnit , along the lines of one of those participatory murder mystery theater dinner things. Really keeps you guessing, if you can wade through the 500+ pages.....

3)Overall concept, as a book, very well done, from the drawings, made in-character by the main character, to the "Great Books" reading list that comprises the chapter headings ( along with clever parody of those books' contents) , to the pop quiz at the end, which wraps it all up.


Basic story line : Blue van Meer is the intelligent daughter of a nomadic college professor (whatever happened to tenure ? as the wife of a college prof, I did wonder how the dad manages to always get another new job ). Blue and her dad roam around America, moving from town to town, job to job, always under questionable circumstances, reminiscent of the characters in Paper Moon. As the story ambles along, one gradually figures out that all is not as it seems, there is a lot going on beneath the surface, and part of Blue's coming of age is the maturation that allows her (and the reader ) to begin to figure out the clues of her father's true occupation. Having taught in an exclusive private preppy high school, once upon a time, I can say the portrait of a similar school in this book is spot-on. A gripping page turner, there were passages that made me laugh so hard I choked.

The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife : A War Story
by Diane Ackerman

This book was given to my husband as a Christmas gift, but I snagged it from him, started reading it, and could not put it down. It is one of those rare history books that is as readable and captivating as a fictional novel . Diane Ackerman, a respected naturalist, spends a fair amount of time initially discussing zoo-keeping strategies, and " oh, by the way", segues into a fascinating tale of WWII bravery and espionage. The Warsaw zoo in the 1930's was a haven for many nearly extinct species of eastern European fauna under the leadership and care of it's keepers, Jan and Antonina Zabinski . As Hitler rises to power and Germany rolls into Poland, it becomes clear to them that the animals are not the only ones in danger. At first the Zabinski's are engrossed in trying to survive and keep as many of their animals safe as they can in a world of bombing and constant food shortages. Did you know that one of the Nazi's many schemes involved collecting rare species of animals from northern Europe - not only were they into the concept of an Aryan master race, but also wanted a master zoo of rare and exotic animal species to go with it ?

After Warsaw is occupied and the Jewish population is ensnared in the ghetto, Jan joins the resistance movement and begins smuggling as many Jewish friends and former colleagues out of the ghetto as he can. This secret trickle of escapees eventually turns into a rushing torrent of refugees, removed in bold almost crazy sleights of hand before the Nazi's very eyes. En route, the Jewish escapees find a brief safe heaven in the zoo, in the former cages of the rare animals they have now replaced , until they can be smuggled out of the city and disappear into the countryside. Some of the techniques Jan uses to do this are brilliant and mind-boggling. This is an engrossing tale that makes the daily lives of those who experienced the horrors of the Nazi regime come alive in a way not seen since "Schindler's List".

Books to Read for Summer

Books to Read for Summer
.......because the title, "summer reading", sounds too much like work !
When I'm lounging around on those lazy summer days, I like to read my way down a stack of books that never quite gets depleted , because I keep finding new ones to add to it !

Many of my favorite books over the years have come from the Man Booker Prize list, a literary award given in Britain ( similar to our Pulitzer) . When I am casting about for something new and good to read, I often find it here :


I highly recommend :

Life of Pi
The God of Small Things- one of my fave books of all time
Heat and Dust
The English Patient ( novel is much better than the movie )
Remains of the Day

Many of these authors have written other books which did not win this particular prize , but are noteworthy all on their own , and worth your perusal . The runners-up list is also of note.
What am I getting ready to read ? Amsterdam, by the author of Atonement, Ian McEwan. Will keep you posted.

Dinosaurs,the Anti-Christ, and other Urban Myths

It is no secret that I am an aficionado of books, book stores, reading, literature, author talks, English teachers, librarians, literacy, and all related things.


Many friends have asked me what I think about Amazon.com's Kindle, it's newest gizmo designed to replace books ,"coming soon to a future near you". The Kindle ( and other devices, of similar type, made by a variety of companies) is a sort of electronic book, a small hand-held screen computer-type doodad about the size of an ACTUAL BOOK, which downloads like a wireless computer or cell phone, the text of books that you pay for from the host website. The Luddite in me shudders at the thought, thinks of it as one of the " seven signs" that we are living near The End of Days - so much of the joy of reading , for me, is the feel , smell, appearance and experience of an actual book made of paper, sometimes with illustrations, whose pages you turn by hand. I fear it is the Antichrist. The frugal zealot in me wonders at how much all this is going to cost : the Kindle is currently selling on amazon.com for $399.00. How much will downloads be ? Somewhere from $1.99 ( self help books that are 5 years out of vogue) to $15.99 ( hot best sellers?) , I guess. Then there are the batteries required to run the thing, numerous adapters for when the batteries don't work or you travel out of the country, probably a subscription to some wireless service for the transmission of the download......I read all the material I could find on this thing. At first, I was worried that you would have to pay for each download, (i.e. each time you want to read something ) but the literature on this product says you can download numerous things, and store them all. Ok, so add in the cost of some sort of monthly subscription plan, like Netflix ( would you like one or two downloads per month ? ) plus some sort of storage device to "save" all those books. I know, from having sons ( and their constant need to purchase complete new video game systems , with consoles, games, and accouterments, every two years, b/c XBOX or playstation has a " new and improved " model out on the market) , that this gizmo will probably not last forever, but become obsolete and need to be replaced every few years. S don't think of these as " fixed" costs, by any means.


The little wheels in the hamster cage of my mind started turning , and I thought, well, it might be useful, for some situations : I could download all the books I want, when I travel, and instead of having to fill half my suitcase with books, I could just take this one thing. You can adjust the font size as you read it, so it would be handy for my aging baby-boomer failing eyesight. I've been looking for a books-on-tape type thing for my father, who is in a nursing home, and can't see at all.......if this gizmo could read it aloud to him or me, that would make it even better.


But the capitalist in me really likes owning things, esp books ......I have book cases in every room of my house, lots and lots of them, even in the kitchen and bathrooms. I have more books in my house than most small town libraries, and I like it that way. I stand to inherit even more when all my relatives finally kick the bucket. In Texas, that is often an anomaly, people are far more likely to collect those little figurines with the big sad eyes, than books. I've been collecting them all my life. Mining the depths of my bookcases ( which are double and triple stacked, by subject ) is like an archaeological excavation through my life : you come upon strands of things I read at various points in my life, and sometimes, want to read again. Friends Who Just Don't Get It come over and say things like, "you know, you could sell all these at that half priced bookstore on the square". What they don't know is that I am a frequent flier at that shop, living in a two college town, that place is a gold mine. They hand select what they will buy and nothing in there is junk. Neighborhood estate sales are another treasure trove. When all the old professors in this town die, their books are often unappreciated by their heirs. Wonderful things, first editions and out of print gems, get sucked up by people like me, who love books. The really cheap part of me likes to pay for a book once, own it forever, and read it again and again, loan it out, get it back, perpetuate the " I only paid for it once". The practical part of me knows from experience that you can cram a book into your backpack, hitch-hike through the Negev dessert, read that book in the middle of nowhere, without a dime or shekel in your pocket, and continue that way for months or years. No matter how broke you may be at this moment - the day before payday, or sitting out from the job market to contemplate one's navel, the books you own are there for you, waiting till you are ready to open them up and read them,again and again. No batteries, no Internet, required.

* * * * * *

Different , but related topic :




Bookstores have almost gone the way of the dinosaurs. Yes , I confess I am an amazon.com addict, b/c I can find such a great breadth and depth there, and it's cheap. But who has the expertise to recommend something to me ? My local independent book-seller, that's who. So I routinely buy things from the little indies I come across, just to throw them a bone now and then. I know their days are numbered, we are living in the sunset of the Raj when it comes to that great movement called literacy that began in the 1450's when Gutenberg got the idea of using movable type to print a book. So I found this nifty website called BookSense.com, where you can type in your state or someplace you are visiting, and find all the independent books sellers still hanging on by their fingernails. Lucky folks who live in New York have many options......those of us living in north Texas, much fewer. That about sums it up.


Here are the listings for all of Texas . Know of some that have been left out ? Send me an email, and let me know. My faves are hi-lited in red.

Banquet of Books

603 FM 2093, Fredericksburg, TX 78624(830)997-5073http://www.banquet-of-books.com/Specialty: Children

Banquet of Books offers a feast for young readers, from very young children to older teens. We provide expert personal service to help customers find just the right selection. We support the efforts of parents and teachers to help children grow into eager, competent and discerning readers and people of character.

Barron's Books, Inc.
405 West Loop 281, Longview, TX 75605(903)663-2060http://www.giftsbybarrons.com/

Blue Willow Bookshop
14532 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079(281)497-8675http://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

A neighborhood bookshop for West Houston and beyond. Our family invites your family to stop in and talk about great books with other readers. Stay for our programs or to play a lively round of our latest favorite game. Located in the Energy Corridor, we are the American gateway for our international customers. Welcome!

Body Mind & Soul Books

4344 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77027(713)993-0550http://www.bmshouston.com/Specialty: Mind/Body/Spirit

Welcome to Body Mind & Soul, a music, gift & bookstore that makes a positive difference. We are devoted to helping you create inner peace, serenity and ultimately - a better you. Our goal is to heal the body, illuminate the mind and lift the spirit.

Book People

603 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78703(512)472-5050http://www.bookpeople.com/

General interest bookstore with large gift selection. An Austin locally owned business since 1970. We support local business.


5501 North Lamar Blvd #A105, Austin, TX 78751(512)472-2785http://www.ebookwoman.com/Specialty: Feminist

Texas' only women's bookstore- celebrating our 30th year. Open 7 days a week.

Brazos Bookstore, Inc.
2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77005-1451(713)523-0701http://www.brazosbookstore.com/

Brazos is Texas' preeminent bookstore for literature, art, and architecture. Our reading series presents poets and writers from the Americas, UK and Asia; signed books are available prepaid. Readings schedule on request.

Front Street Books

121 East Holland Avenue, Alpine, TX 79830-4731(432)837-3360http://www.fsbooks.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

Located in scenic Big Bend Country,Texas; a growing inventory of new, used & antiquarian books. Emphasis on regional, natural, and Texas history, children’s, literature & areas of interest to university community, retirees & tourists.

Front Street Books #2

105 Highway 90 West, Marathon, TX 79842(915)386-4249http://www.fsbooks.com/

Located in scenic Big Bend Country,Texas; new & used books. Emphasis on regional, natural, and Texana</<>FONT> history and titles of interest to tourists.

Katy Budget Books

2450 Fry Road, Houston, TX 77084(281)578-7770http://www.katybooks.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

Huge inventory of new and used books. We stock books on every subject you can imagine and more. Our children's, romance, and mystery sections are beyond compare. Science-Fiction and non-fiction inventory is amazing. Incredibly low prices.

Midsummer Books

2309 Mechanic, Galveston, TX 77550(409)765-5930

Murder By The Book
2342 Bissonnet</<>FONT> Street, Houston, TX 77005-1512(713)524-8597http://www.murderbooks.com/Specialty: Mystery

Mystery/suspense, thriller & detective fiction. New/used, hardback/paperback, out-of-print/first editions. Author signings. Store magazine available by subscription. James Lee Burke. Limited editions. Puzzles, calendars, party games, bookbags</<>FONT>.

Read All About It
305 South Main, Suite 400, Boerne</<>FONT>, TX 78006(830)249-7323Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

New and Used books, Collectible First Editions, Hats, Puppets, Special Orders, Giftcards</<>FONT>, Out of Print Searches, Direct-to-Home Service. Since 1995.

The Bookworm

3245 Main Street, Suite 225, Frisco, TX 75034(972)712-1455http://www.friscobookworm.com/

The Bookworm is a family owned and operated independent bookstore for all ages and interests. We provide an intimate, intelligent, and interesting bookstore environment. The fireplace with seating and coffee cart encourages you to relax, spend time a

The Red Balloon

5009 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209(210)826-5087http://thetwig.booksense.com/Specialty: ChildrenAccepts</<>FONT> Book Sense Gift Cards

The Twig Book Shop and Red Balloon Children's books are independent, full-service stores which have served San Antonio and South Texas since the early 1970's. We offer reader advice, special orders, out-of-print searches, gift wrap & shipping.

The Storybook Garden

260 South Texas Boulevard, Weslaco</<>FONT>, TX 78596(956)968-7323http://www.thestorybookgarden.com/Specialty: Children

This independently owned children's bookshop, located in Weslaco</<>FONT>, TX, offers the finest in children's literature, gifts & toys. Join us for our weekly story & craft hour each Saturday at 11am & 2pm. Call 956-968-READ for more information.

The Twig Book Shop

5005 Broadway Street, San Antonio, TX 78209-5707(210)826-6411http://thetwig.booksense.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

Full service family bookstore with extensive selection of children's books and literature of Texas and the Southwest. Special orders, out of print searches and mailing service available.

Viva Bookstore at Mini Mansions
8407 Broadway Street, San Antonio, TX 78209-1129(210)826-1143http://www.vivabooks.com/Specialty: Religious

Viva! Bookstore supplies books on religion, theology, philosophy and spirituality. VIVA! also features an extensive children's section & one of only 3 dept. in the U.S. dedicated to Celtic Spirituality.


Tramps Like Us Relive Glory Days While Dancing in the Dark

I was going to title this piece "Old Farts Attend Rock Concert" , but the hubster said that was just too depressing. Yet all too true ; as we were parking and walking in to this, our first rock concert in nearly 25 years ( not counting a Keane concert we went to about 2 years ago, which was at Nokia Center, which looks like a theater on the inside, and the audience was way too well behaved to feel like an actual rock concert , with folks tamely sitting in their seats applauding - those Brits !) , I couldn't help but notice that 80% of all the folks parking their BMW's, Lexuses and Escalades next to our Scion xb were 40 years old or older. The remaining 20% of attendees were clearly the teen aged children of the other 80%.
This well - heeled crowd ( not sure if the Boss drew such an upscale group because we are all old now, and making more than we did 25 years ago, or because at nearly $100 a pop for the cheap seats, all his working and middle class fans stayed home that night) chose one of two strategies , in terms of attire, to see Springsteen at AA Center in Dallas this warm spring night. A few, like my dear hubbie, chose to wear something they once owned or wore back in the late 80's, to get into the spirit of things. I tried very hard not to be embarrassed as my spousal unit came out of the bedroom, ready to roll in an acid washed jean jacket, pale jeans, and a surfer t-shirt that had seen better days. (I thought I'd thrown all those outfits out ! He must have found the bound-for-Goodwill-bag, in the back of the closet, and taken back all those clothes of his that had been consigned to leave our home.) Most of us, however, either threw all those golden oldies out, or have , like me, gained a few pounds in the intervening years , and just dressed in our ordinary everyday clothes. Expensive haircuts, shoes, and handbags belied the fact that we were once hippies, full of contempt for The Man, and all those material things that He stood for.
Going to a rock concert is so exciting, and yet many, I am sure, had doubts they could handle it at midlife - like myself. Sure, I've been to dozens of them in my youth. Once spent an entire day at TexJam, frying myself all day on the field at the Cotton Bowl, painting baby oil on my skin and drinking Southern Comfort while listening to Aerosmith, Van Halen, Blue Oyster Cult, and Hart. Spent the early 80' s at a variety of new wave and punk concerts - Ramones, Gary Numan, the Judys, B-52's, the GoGo's, Eurythmics. Also a big jazz fan, and have been known to frequent smokey dark dives listening to BB King, Muddy Waters, both of the Marsalis' brothers. I've been to several Springsteen concerts, as well, back in college days , when the Boss was young and nubile, before he became all "swole" and buff. The entire week before this particular event, I'd been angsting about it to my co-workers, trying to figure out how late I'd be out, if I'd need a day off from work to recover. (It was on a Sunday night , and I did .) Long gone are the days when one could attend a rock concert, dance in the aisles the entire time, go to an all night diner afterwards to discuss it all with friends, drive to Galveston to watch the sun come up , and still attend classes/work the next day. Those were the days.
Let it be noted that I had to beg, plead, harass and threaten hubby dear to even buy the tickets to see Springsteen on his stop through Dallas. I finally convinced him to do it as a bday treat for himself. Yet while we were there, hubby leaned over to me, gave me a big hug , and said, "I'm glad you made me do this." Those moments are rare, and I treasured it.
The Boss was known in the old days for giving awesome value for the money- 3 hour concerts without break were common. Even now, at the age of 58, he sang for over 2 1/2 hours non-stop. Towards the end, he was a little hoarse, but who wouldn't be. Some of the members of the E-street band looked a bit pooped. The review in the Dallas Morning News said, to paraphrase, he showed us once again why he's the Boss. The energy was there, the excitement, the joy of the old familiar tunes mixed with music from his latest album. Nearly all the 15,000 seats in the AA center ( where the Mavs and the Stars play) were sold out, and about 1000 stalwart fans stood the entire time in " the pit". ( Real test of loyalty, considering how enfeebled we all are, how many folks were there in walkers, wheelchairs. God bless us baby boomers......will we still be going to rock concerts when we're 80?) The cutest thing was a play on one of his oldest shticks.......Springsteen always finds some buxom hottie to bring up on stage when he sings "Dancing in the Dark". (That was how Courtney Cox got her start.) But this time, the arms reaching up to him from the front row of the pit belonged to a gaggle of 9 year olds, brought to the concert by their moms. So for his traditional bring-an-audience-member-up-to-dance-with -him manoeuvre, he invited one of the 9 year olds. As she clambered up, so did all her little friends. Suddenly Bruce was like the Pied Piper, leading a conga line of a dozen little girls, laughing and dancing. It was all too cute - I felt myself get a little verklempt. My how rock concerts have changed.
As the magical evening wound up, all the 40 somethings waved their cell phones in the dark when the Boss sang "Badlands" and "Born to Run" . This being the non-smoking equivalent of waving your lighter, to show approval and solidarity. I was surrounded by frantically dancing folks, who like me, would all need a couple of Advil the next day to recover......except for 2 kids, about the age of my sons, sitting a few seats down. They were boredly playing video games on their cell phones.


Don't Let Me Down

Pretend, for a moment, that this song is not about a girl, but is instead a fan's plea to their favorite artist / band not to give up their artisic integrity :

Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down

I'm in love for the first time
Don't you know it's going to last
It's a love that lasts forever
It's a love that has no past

Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down

And from the first time that she really done me
Ooh she done me. She done me good
I guess nobody ever really done me
Ooh she done me She done me
She done me good

Don't let me down, John, Paul, George and Ringo
Don't let me down.

Look guys, I know you and your wives need the money. It’s been years since you’ve had a real hit, and lord knows Sir Paul’s most recent divorce is costing him big time. Paul and Ringo, Yoko and Olivia, you're not getting any younger. Social security isn't going to be enough. If I were you, I’d be tempted to sell out, too. But one of the things that gave you guys such integrety, such a loyal following, such street cred in the first place, was that the Beatles were against the man. Playfully contemptuous of society, mocking it all while raking it in. You might have done a commercial bit now and then, but always in good taste. Sure you guys all made millions, billions, who knows. John was right when he said you had more influence on earth than Jesus Christ - for a moment. That was - years ago. What have you done , lately ?
For awhile ,there were all those rumors about Michael Jackson owning rights to all the songs, and the urban myth debunking web site snopes.com explains that it is mostly true :

After reading this, I can understand the reasoning behind it. Part of me thinks, right on! Laugh all the way to the bank. I know it costs a pretty penny for the upkeep on all those houses, and the Dakota, too. But the other part of me, a die hard loyal fan, also thinks, c’mon, a Target commercial ? Where's the style, the artistic expression- what would Ravi Shankar think ?

You say “ good buy”, and I say “ hello”
Hello, good buy
I don’t know why you say “good buy”
I say hello. Hello-o-o.

Clever play on words, smart use of your legacy , or just plain tacky ? I know this much is true, while I admit to being occasionally hypnotized by the images in those commercials, they are kind of like watching an acid trip; neither the music nor the image makes me want to shop there.


A Fairy Tale , pt I

Once Upon A Time ,

a mom from a small town in the middle of America decided to take her children to Paris for spring break.

Her friends and co - workers, for this was middle class town, felt such ideas were outlandish, bizarre, that this was the wildest thing they had ever heard of. The general response to the question, "What are you doing for spring break ? " , was supposed to take one of the following forms :

a)going to South Padre Island or maybe Cancun

b)working in my yard, around the house some

c)not much

d)visiting my in-laws , ugh !

One poor inquirer actually looked at this brave stalwart mom as if she'd lost her mind. For you see, her children, the very ones she was planning to take with her, were.......( da-da-DA-dum ) teenagers.

Now, the mom in this story knew there would be some silly behaviors, foolin' around, not taking things too seriously. Children need down time, they need to balance adventure with familiarity and a structured routine. With the generous and indefatigable help of these children's godfather, they cleverly arranged for these children to stay in a small , charming apartment in the Montemarte area of Paris.

This apartment was just down the street from a picturesque little store , one that was featured in the movie "Amalie". The mother and her children developed the rather hard to give up habit of popping in to the local bakery every morning, for pastries, which they brought back to the apartment and ate while getting dressed and ready for the day's adventures.

Their godfather excitedly, and with great patience, took them all over the wonderful "City of Lights" and gave them lessons on history, art, culture, cuisine , and French language.

A Fairy Tale, pt II

France during mid-March is generally in the mid-40's and 50's, with alternating periods of rain and sunshine. The crisp fresh air was a welcome respite from the hot muggy air of home. Our little band of adventurers were not the only ones to take advantage of Paris' charms in early spring......thousands of American high school kids had the same idea, and were everywhere.

The mom and her kids walked all over Paris , seeing the sights. (One the mom's famous jokes has always been that her greatest weight-loss plan is to go to Paris, and eat all she wants , and come home 5 pounds thinner. She calls this the "Uncle Bill walks you to death weight loss plan." )

These lucky kids got to visit museums and gardens - here, walking up to the Louvre , from the Tuilleries.

When they got tired of all that walking, there was always a nice little cafe nearby to sit down and have a cup of coffee.

Every time she comes to Paris, the mom feels it is important to make a homage to the ( reconstructed, it must be noted for purists ) famous hangout of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, the Murphys, Gertrude Stein, and all the other famous American writers and ex patriots.

Buying berets proved not only to be a great souvenir choice, but practical too - warm, lightweight, crushable, and water- repellent.

While posing for all the classic tourist photos, it is important to remember to have a little fun, too.

A Fairy Tale , pt III

It was not all work, however . A day at EuroDisney Paris proved to be a welcome respite from all that high-falutin' cultah. In contrast to its American counterpart, it was refreshingly uncrowded, and everyone got to ride their favorite rides several times .

Many delicious gourmet meals were sampled. One of the kid-pleasers was a fondu restaurant.

The grown-ups tried to balance fun and education....here in the courtyard of Musee de Moyen Age, also known as the Cluny. It is a medieval chateau built over a site with ancient Roman baths. The Cluny is most famous for its unicorn tapestries.

No matter where you go in Paris, Uncle Bill has some fascinating and informative little tidbits to share with you.

This boat ride down the Seine, timed to coincide with twilight , was beautiful, but everyone was very cold.

All in all, it was a wonderful week . So much fun, we are tempted to do it all again, someday.......