Category Archives: Awesomeness

A Spy Like Me

Last night, I looked through a catalog of action movies, and I noticed something interesting. There must have been a couple hundred movies listed, and in that, I found four where there was a heroine instead of a hero. Including Barbarella.

You see,  I was trying to come up with how many movies I knew of about spies, in particular, which starred women, rather than men. I had tried to list them earlier in the day and had about for titles, out of the hundreds of spy movies out there– and I don’t mean spy movies with women in them. Shit, that’s almost all of them. I mean spy movies with a female headliner.

I remember, of course, the TV classic remake,  Avengers, but Emma Peel is part of a duo with John Steed. There was  Mr. And Mrs. Smith, but again, Angelina headlined with Brad. The French La Femme Nikita and Brigit Fonda’s remake from the early 90s, about a woman shanghaied into working as a spy against her will. Feds was about two women, but they were federal, not international (and technically, they were just students, not actual agents). And, of course, there’s always my girl, Black Widow… Oh, wait.

Where the hell are my lady spies?!?! Continue reading A Spy Like Me

To The Greener Grass People

I remember the first time I asked someone if they loved living in Los Angeles. My favorite film professor asked me what I thought of living here. I gushed for a moment: “I love the freedom and the cine-freaks everywhere. I love the Oscars– although not how they block traffic at my apartment. But the weather is awesome! I love… just… all of it. Do you like living here, sir?”

“No,” he said flatly. He then launched into a spicy tirade about traffic, overcrowding and shallow people– and that last bit was, I have to say, rather ironic coming from him. But I digress. I was floored. For the first time ever, this man, who walked on water in my world, was flat-out wrong. He made his living working in/with the film industry, for heaven’s sake! He lived in a film-lover’s Mecca! How could he not…?

I floated back to the rest of my life, solid in the knowledge that I had gotten the bonus points everyone gets just for visiting during Office Hours. He now knew my name (OMG! He knows my name!) and knew that I loved LA. I felt like I had made some social faux-pas for saying I that last bit and hoped he chalked it up to the enamoured passion of those fresh-faced kids with the stars in their eyes. Still, priorities: I would get the credit I needed to ace the class, so I was good. The moment was set aside. For a bit.

But the thing was, this happened more than once. I mean, only the one time with my favorite professor, but over the years, I have heard so many people bitching and moaning about living here. Oh, the traffic! Oh, the people!

It became a puzzle that I’d pull out every so often. Like a Rubic’s Cube, I’d poke at it for a few minutes, twist it around, and then put it back on its shelf, because I still hadn’t solved it. Why would anyone– especially someone single– be living in a town they hated?

I have a little bit more perspective now than I did back then. I now know that sometimes Life takes us in unexpected directions, that sometimes we end up in places we’d never have imagined ourselves otherwise. There are considerations: financial, emotional, familial, communal. And sometimes, we get stuck. I’ve been stuck before; I get it. And most of all, moving is scary terrifying, not to mention a pain in the tuchas. In all of my travels, over and over, I kept hearing the phrase, “Leave my [family / friends / lover / job / favorite museum / poker group / whatever] behind? I could never do that.”

And that’s another thing! Stop saying that. Stop saying you could never. If you were violently sick everytime you ate a bagel, you could give up bagels. You might not like it, but you could do it. If someone you love to the moon and back were miserable Doing The Thing, you’d find a way for them around Doing The Thing. If you were offered a million dollars a year to live in Alaska, you’d… have to think about it really hard. (It’s cold up there, but then again, with a million dollars you could buy a lot of space heaters.) People make difficult decisions all the time, and usually, it’s because they feel they have to.

Where was I? Right. Moving. You could do it if you felt you had to.

Yes, traffic in Los Angeles sucks the big one, but it’s the same in Atlanta and Chicago, and it’s worse in San Francisco. And don’t even get me started on driving/parking in Manhattan. If you want the benefits of living in a big city, you’re gonna be dealing with traffic, just like everybody else.

Yes, there are shallow people in Los Angeles. I mean, you know, they congregate here in a much greater concentration than anywhere else that I can think of, because they all think they’re going to be the next producer/director/star. But really, every great city has its shadow side–that one bit that all the inhabitants kinda grin sheepishly with a shrug when you point it out. But the flip-side of L.A.’s shallowness is that this city is engrossed with beauty, and as such, there is beauty everywhere, both man made and natural– and often in the same person. Hello!

Maybe it’s that L.A. is an acquired taste. When you first come, all you see is cars and gray. And the Hollywood sign. It can be a little depressing. (Except for the Hollywood sign.) Actually, there’s a lot that can be crazy-making about this place. Perhaps it’s only a place you can love if you grew up here– and have no doubts that while my parents did not raise me in California, this is definitely where I Grew Up. But after a while, you can see past the gray to the mountains beyond. There’s a survivalist’s grace in the native vegetation. (YES, we have plants that grow out here natively.) And there’s a chillaxed attitude among even the most high-strung inhabitants, which eventually even the transplants adopt. (Or they leave.)

I still think the weather is gorgeous, although all the recent climate changes have me concerned for the effects we are experiencing here. (Really, more rain would be nice. If any of you have an In to get us any extra, we’d really appreciate it!) We have growing seasons all year long. Like, outdoors! You can get almost everything you need for your Thanksgiving Feast at a locals-only farmer’s market! Christmas and New Year’s too! (Except for the requisite can of cranberry sauce, because the stuff from the farmer’s market doesn’t have the ridges from the side of the can.)

And citrus trees are in everyone’s back yards, so you can have lemons, limes (helloooo, margaritas!), oranges, and grapefruits any time you want. And avocados: they’re dirt cheap here! Although I’m still hard-pressed to understand why anyone would want an avocado. Or a grapefruit. Still, if you like ’em, they’re everwhere here.

Los Angeles is a leading city when it comes to protecting the environment, because we have to be. Have you seen photos of this city in the 80s? And the pace is somehow slower for a big city. If you’re late to work because of traffic, everyone shrugs it off (because they only got in two minutes before you), and life goes on. People stroll down the street– if they’re walking at all. (It’s hard to live here without a car–not impossible, but certainly challenging.) But there’s no hustle. And I mean that in both senses of the word– pedestrians take their time AND there are very few pickpockets, because barely anyone actually uses sidewalks.

And as a cine-freak, you can see any kind of movie you want on the Big Screen. Last year, Honey and I went to see Raiders of the Lost Arc at the Egyptian Theater– a classic movie palace decked out in the gold-trimmed elegance people only dreamed of in the 30s. (Similar opportunities happen pretty much every weekend all over the city.) And there was Indy, in all his cinematic glory. It was so fascinating to see him larger than life once more. For one thing, I never realized how truly of-the-seventies that movie is!

Seriously, this town rocks. If there were one thing I’d change, you know what that would be? Oh, Genie Of The Lamp, my one wish is that the people that bitch about living here would go back to their greener grass. The world needs happy people, and I’m tired of the whiners bringing their psychic grime to my city. Besides, if they all left, that would fix our traffic issue.


Photo by ME!

The Week of Hosting: The Plan Was To Have French Toast

It started with an email. But then, it usually does anymore, doesn’t it? Have I mentioned I hate the phone? Because I hate the phone. I would much rather email. If not that, then I’d rather text. But if this shit is just going to take too long to type, I’ll move the phone. But I hate the phone, because nine times out of ten, I can’t understand what people are saying. Skype is generally a much better experience, because I can use two ears. Where the hell was I? Email. Yes

We miss you! it said. Come over, it said. “I want French Toast!” I said. And thus, the Henson Brunch was born. The funny thing is, I think this one was on the books before cinnamon rolls or pie were even a blip on my mental screen, but you know, busy people are busy, so it took us quite a few weeks to find a time that was mutually agreeable. And then Cinnamon Rolls and Pie popped up around it, and all of a sudden, Honey and I were facing an epic Week of Hosting. Continue reading The Week of Hosting: The Plan Was To Have French Toast

The Week of Hosting: The Plan Was to Have Pie

Honey has a friend/former-co-worker– let’s call her Belle– who just got a job at a new company. Also a promotion. Also, she is now directly on her desired career path. This is a fantastic news! The unfortunate part is that she moved to Los Angeles less than a year ago, and all of her family is out of state. Anyone who has ever moved to LA knows just exactly how much of a bitch it is to make friends out here. The place is so spread out. There’s so much to do. And everyone already HAS friends. Angeleno-transplants know this pain. While I know Belle has a couple of friends through work, I wasn’t sure if she had any on the outside yet– you know, someone local to help her raise a glass in celebration of her successes.

So we decided that she needed a proper celebration. But due to timing restrictions on both her part and ours, we realized that it would be easiest for everyone involved for us to get together in the middle of the week, rather than on a weekend. Which meant Planning. Continue reading The Week of Hosting: The Plan Was to Have Pie

The Week of Hosting: The Plan Was To Work on Friday

The wolves-in-law have come and gone.  We are lucky that they live on the same coast as us. (My dad and Darling live in Florida, so it’s much more challenging, both financially and logistically, to get out there to see them.) Even though this visit was short, it was a lot of fun!

Wolf-Mama and Five drove down the coast over the week before, taking care of business as needed, and visiting with friends and loved ones. The plan was that they’d hit LA on Friday, and go visit one of Wolf’s former students, while Honey and I recuperated from a long week at work. Then we’d hang out all day Saturday and Easter Sunday, which also happened to be Wolf’s birthday, and then Monday morning Honey and I would head back to work, and the Wolf Pack would head back up the coast to their home.

Usually, I’m pretty on top of my calendar. By January 1st, I’ve already marked off all of the work holidays for the year. This year has been different, for some reason. I’m just not… motivated, I guess.

So it came as a complete and utter shock to me that I had Good Friday off. (Really? Of all the random holidays… Really? I mean, um, thank you!) Good Friday, it turns out, is the Friday before Easter, and as we’ve discussed, Easter happened to fall on Wolf’s birthday this year. By the time we had figured out that our day off was a day they’d be here, Wolf had already made plans with her student. Which meant that Honey and I actually had an extra day to clean the house rest up from a long-ish week’s work.

That was the plan.

Continue reading The Week of Hosting: The Plan Was To Work on Friday

Six Life Lessons I Got From RuPaul’s Drag Race

I’m not sure what it is about RuPaul’s Drag Race that I love so much. I’m about as far from being a fashionista as you can get. Geeky tee-shirts and jeans are more my style. But here I am, binge-watching the most fabulous drag queens serving realness, throwing shade, and wearing the most ridiculous outfits anyone can imagine. AND I LOVE IT.
And you know, when I talk to the girls on the screen– I mean, c’mon. If anyone can hear me calling across the distances of time and space, it would be these Glamazons. But yeah, when I’m talking to them  through the screen, there are a couple of things I find myself shouting season after season, and the weird thing is, that with just a little twerk tweak here and there, the same things apply to me as I learn more and more about how to survive in the “real world” jungle.

Continue reading Six Life Lessons I Got From RuPaul’s Drag Race

Adventures in Games

For those not in the know (at this point, how could you NOT be???), my husband designs card games. He has been at it for a couple of years as an amateur, and recently designed a game so fun, so family-friendly, and so awesome that his publisher couldn’t turn him away.

In short, his first game was published at the beginning of this year. It’s called Spy Guys, and I consider it a cross between Memory and Gin Rummy, only with cuter artwork. My mother would have loved it. Hell, *I* love it, and not just because Honey designed it. He, however, never describes it as a cross between Memory and Gin Rummy, probably because he was never so consistently trampled by his mother at playing Gin Rummy as a child, because his mother is a Wolf, not a Card Shark. But that’s not why I was telling you this.

Every time we play-tested Spy Guys it was SO HARD to put the game away. “Let’s play it one more time, just to be sure.” We have introduced this game to all of our friends, and the Hensons loved it so much, we sent a pre-production copy home with them, whereupon Eldest Daughter, Age Eight taught it to her grandparents. We even took it to a friend’s game day, where no one else knew Honey yet; where when I mentioned playing it, everyone rolled their eyes. Oh, you think you’re a game designer, do you? And even all of them wanted to play “just one more time.” Because it’s fun! But that’s not why I’m telling you this.

Last weekend was Orc-Con. It’s a local gaming convention, here in Los Angeles. (Yeah, I didn’t know there was such a thing, either, until I met Honey.) There are all these rooms for different kinds of games: video games, board games, card games, miniatures games, war games, role playing games (a game-form of storytelling), live action role playing games (same as the latter, only in costume), collectibles games. For these rooms, the publishers and designers take different tables and time slots so that people can come learn about and/or just play their games tournament style. So there’s a slot for Dice Masters, and a slot for Heroclix, and a slot for … I don’t know… Uno. You sign up for what game you want to play, and at the appointed time, you try to trounce your fellow gamers, and there are often prizes for the winners.

There’s also a dealer room where you can buy games and fun chatchkies. There’s a flea market where you can buy used games and… weird chatchkies, and pins with funny phrases. (“Anybody want a peanut?”) There’s a library, where you can check out different games, set them up at an empty table, and then either you and your friends, or you and complete strangers who happen to wander by, can play off the clock. There’s even a Paint And Take table, where they will give you a miniature, and you can sit there and paint it and bring it home to either add to your miniatures collection/game or set it on your mantle, center stage, to show off your impressive miniature painting prowess. I made a Scottish Drummer guy (of course!), but I ran out of time, so he’s on the side of the mantle– that’s for mediocre prowess, you see. But that’s not why I’m telling you this.

For the last few years, Honey has been going to a bunch of these local conventions as a volunteer judge. There are a couple of games that are near and dear to his heart, and Honey is the kind of guy that Just Knows all the rules to his favorite games, no matter how complicated they are. He’s also fair and honest to a fault, so he’s kind of perfect for judging. This last weekend, he judged both of his regular games, and then… ran a demo of Spy Guys, which was awesome!!! We had six times the number of people show up for Spy Guys as for the other games he ran that weekend, and they were all strangers. And they all enjoyed themselves. YAAAAY!!!!

And here’s why I’m telling you all this: I forgot to take any photos. At. All.

You’ll have to trust me. It was awesome. Like Legos.

PS I might have forgotten to take any pictures, but I did pick up a 1up mushroom. Does that count?

PPS You didn’t think I’d forget the plug, did you? Pick up your own copy of Spy Guys at the Victory Point web site or on Amazon (but Honey gets a better commission if you buy straight from VP.) AND just to entice you, the game is currently for 3-6 players, but he is about to release an expansion pack featuring a two-player option, as well as some Lady Spies! Sa-WEET!


Photo by ME!

The Year of Awesome Chocolate, R’n’R, and Kick-Assery!

Are you superstitious? Mostly I’m not. Except for sometimes. According to my personality profile (and my husband), I read meanings into EVERYTHING. I’m not sure if that makes me superstitious, but apparently I read too much into things. I like it, though; it’s fun. 🙂

Anyway, last week I dubbed 2015 “The Year of Awesome Chocolate, R’n’R, and Kick-Assery!” Wanna hear about my first day in the YOACRRKA?

The first thing I did, before even waking up, was I dumped one of my pills on the floor. I have a timer set each morning to wake me up long enough to take my pill, and then with enough time before I “wake up” that I can easily get back to sleep. (Just go with me on this.) Anyway, Honey and I had to miss one of our favorite parties of the year, because both of us were sick. 🙁 Which meant that for January 1, we weren’t hung over or exhausted, so that part was kind of nice. But I didn’t wake up well for my pill alarm, and managed to drop the bouncy little thing on our hardwood floors.

I could hear it skitter away from me, hit something, and stop. Oh, GAWD, I thought. My year will be filled with losing things?

Continue reading The Year of Awesome Chocolate, R’n’R, and Kick-Assery!

Impressions of a trip to New York: A Flashmob Wedding

The wedding festivities started a day early for us. We had been invited to a henna and games party the day before; it was an opportunity for families to mingle, for out of town guests to meet each other and/or give warm hugs to old friends. And play games. 🙂

Honey and I got settled in, playing many of the games that were available. We made some lovely new friends, too, as we told short stories during Dixit, traded oil for rice in Pit, and decided whether garbage bags were invented before or after the photocopier in Timeline. (After. Who knew?) Sadly, we couldn’t bring Honey’s game that’s about to be published, but that’s because Honey left his last copy with the publisher on the day he signed. Oh, well. Continue reading Impressions of a trip to New York: A Flashmob Wedding

The Smoker

On my way back from lunch the other day, I passed a man leaning back, with one foot resting on the wall behind him. He was happily puffing away on his cigarette, and it reminded me of way back when I was a kid.

When I was a kid, we traveled a lot. There were road-trips and flights to and from the grandparents’s house, and then once we got there, there was more driving, as we went to visit various family members within a few hours’ of their home. Road trips became synonymous with the same travel games, the same travel food, and the same travel music.

It was always the same. Perhaps that would be boring to some—certainly for the kids of the iPod generation—but for me, it was comforting. I knew it would take a long time, I’d better pee when I could, and I’d be getting my fill of Little Debbie snack cakes and star crunch cookies. (And hiding the apples my mother insisted I take so it looked like I ate those, too.)

Continue reading The Smoker