American Horror Story: Coven/Season 3, Episode 3

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Where to begin???

Let’s start with the weird slanted “Batman” camera angles.     What was that all about?

And secondly, wasn’t this, the third installment of this third season ripe with  naughties?

We begin in Misty Day’s bayou boudoir.  She’s the Stevie Nicks wanna be witch who’s a wiz at necromancy.    And for those of you wondering what’s the connection between Misty  and Stevie?   Well, I seem to remember reading somewhere that  La Nicks believes she is a reincarnated witch…or something like that.  Her hit song, “Rhiannon” is supposedly about a Welsh witch….or Danish….Huguenot, maybe?    I can’t remember.  But not only is the banged, curly-haired  look a full on copy, but the twirling around with the lace scarf poised at mid-body is vintage Stevie.  Plus, almost every time Misty is on-screen, a Nicks song plays.     Something tells me we’ll be hearing a lot from the “Rumors”  album this season.

Anyway, Misty is playing nurse maid to Kyle, the Human Quilt/Golem that Madison and Zoey witched and stitched back together in the morgue last week.   Her elixir is that good ol’ “loosiana’ swamp mud,  where magic and mudbugs  thrive, and is capable of healing all his body part attachment  stitches to eventually  resemble mere cat scratches.  Virtually scar free.    Now, he still can’t talk and just sits there, zombie- like.    Zoey arrives at Misty’s and takes Kyle with her, much to Misty’s dismay.   They’re heading to Kyle’s home, where sheThe-Replacements paid his Mama a sympathy visit  earlier and knows  that  she’s   just   a missin’ her boy somethin’ fierce.    Mom is   played by the talented, but currently paunchy Mare Winningham, who can dress down to crack pipe smoking white trash level better than any actress currently in Tinsel Town.       Zoey takes Kyle to the porch, knocks on the door and runs to hide behind a tree to witness the reunion.   Since Kyle is still unsteady on someone else’s feet , he loses his balance and does a header into the center pane of the glass paneled front door.     Mama answers it , rejoicing that her baby is back.  He stumbles in her arms.

She welcomes him in and life resumes as normal.   She doesn’t even seem to mind that he hasn’t uttered a word since he arrived.

He takes a shower, but Mom throws  opens the curtain to offer him a towel, stares down at his silent manliness and creepily admits she can tell his body is ‘different’.        In the next scene, they’re in his bed together and

BOOM,  THERE IT IS!!!!!

Incest.

Just when you thought last season was as weird as it could possibly get—-naaaaaaaah.    But wait, it gets even worse.

Or better, if these are the kinds of things that get you through the night.

Onward…

patti-lupone-denis-ohareThe girls are on the shool’s second floor balcony and the spy some fresh meat below.   A  handsome lad sans shirt is in  the yard next door.   He and his very  buttoned up mother played by Patti Lupone, who I swear is wearing almost the  exact same blue striped the dress worn by  Bobbi Mohan Culp ( half of the untalented   duo  that teaches music at Altadena Middle School  in that bobbi mohannow famous skit on Saturday Night Live).  The  pair has just moved to the neighborhood.   Mom senses evil and can because she’s a hard-core Christian.       Madison, the former child actress coke whore  witch, likes what she sees in Sonny Boy, so she and Addie from Season One (can’t remember her character name) bake a cake and decide to be neighborly by taking it next door to  welcome the new fam to the block.    One thing leads to another and Mama Neighbor  announces she and Sonny are about to head to  their weekly Bible Study which  enrages Madison and a fight ensues.   Words are exchanged a knife mysteriously sails across the room and gets lodged in the wall,  thanks to Madison’s witchery, which was previously limited to Carrie-like telekinesis.   Mom orders them out of the house but not before Madison mentally sets ablaze the absolutely hideous dark velveteen living room  curtains.     Seems fire starting and a discerning decorating style are two talents she didn’t know she had.

Fiona (Jessica Lange) has a confrontation with Mama Neighbor who’s LIVID   that these tarts are even breathing and she informs Fiona  of Madison’s fiery exit.   The reigning Witch Supreme  senses that  something is happening, within the Coven and within herself.  She feels weak and earlier,  while seeking yet another face lift,  is told by the surgeon that  she has inoperable cancer with maybe  one year to live.

So, witches aren’t immortal.  They apparently die in ways beyond drowning and burning at the stake.

Fiona is dying and part of the reason why is…….Madison.    

As we learned earlier in this episode in a flashback scene from 1971,  Fiona was ascending to her position as witch Supreme in her nubile 20′s,  just  as the current Witch Supreme (played by Christine Ebersol)  was dying.     Diabetes, high blood pressure, anal warts, you name it.     But instead of waiting to assume the position in the natural process of succession by natural  death,   power-mad Fiona speeds up the process by greedily cutting the throat of the reigning Witch Supreme and becomes head honchette  way too early in her career.   She’s too immature,  too vain, too mean—all the things that a good Witch Supreme aren’t supposed to be.      So  now all these years later, she starting to feel she’s being usurped, the same way her predecessor did, thank you, Madison.

More on that in a bit.

Meanwhile, back at Incest Manor,  after seducing her boy yet again, Mama calls Zoey , telling her Kyle isn’t dead, but very much alive, but also very different.   Zoey  heads over.     In the meantime, Mom goes to Kyle’s room and says she knows its time to give up her control over him and end their taboo relationship–but not without one more romp.   So, she rubs up against him, he gets angry and screams NO!!!!! , then grabs a nearby Emmy that neither will win in 2014 and beats her head in, leaving her lying in a bloody heap on the floor.      Zoey will find the corpse later, entitling Mare Winningham to a one episode  SAG credit.    She’ll discover an equally  bloody Kyle standing in a darkened  kitchen later on.

Cordelia, Fiona’s daughter and the school’s headmistress, is told by her doctor that not only is she not pregnant, she never will be.   So a forlorn and desperate  witchC goes  to the Ninth Ward hair salon that we  were introduced to last week and meets with its owner,angela-bassett-ahs-coven   Marie “Voodoo” Laveau, played by the stunning, Angela  Basset.  She’s  in a backroom, sitting one leg over the arm of her thrown, surrounding by witchy things and playing solitaire on her Ipad with a tragically gorgeous set of French tips..    Cordelia knows of  a very powerful fertility spell that only Laveau can perform and is willing to shell out 50 grand for the honors.   It is, as the Voodoo Queen explains, very involved.      Then, we’re  treated to a  foreshadowing  ritual scene.

It’s someone’s back yard, illuminated by a large fire.   Cordelia is dressed in a red negligee bearing in her hands–as per instructed–a Mason jar filled with her husband’s (and I quote) “baby gravy”.   It’s then put directly on the fire.    This is happening as painted- faced drummers are drumming and women are gyrating to the beat.    Marie is dancing hypnotically too and eats a hot Roma Tomatoes,  straight off the grill or so it seemed from my vantage point.    I enjoyed this part because of the costume design.    Marie and the whole lot of voo-dooers were  dressed in these fabulous white Vera Wang cotton outfits, with stunning turquoise necklaces and what have you.    LOVED IT!!!!

Well,  once the jar o’guy gak  starts to boil, Cordelia lies down  on  the ground and pulls up her gown, exposing a bare, but somewhat pixilated mons pubis,  while a goat with graffiti written all over it is held above her.   It’s neck is slashed and there she is, writhing around on the now scarlet  earth, while  rubbing her nasty bits with the blood.

Or rather, that’s how it WOULD have gone down , but Marie refuses to help Cordelia because she knows that she’s Fiona’s daughter and she hates Fiona and feels a witchy turf war is about to begin.   Plus, she hates Fiona and knows she’s harboring something.

Or someone.

If you remember, Fiona unearthed the  buried, but very much alive  early 1800′s New Orleans socialite and sadist , Madame Delphine Lalaurie (again,  lovely last name) and is now holding her hostage  at the school.   Fiona is dying (literally) to know what it is that has given her eternal life.   Delphine knows only its something that Marie Laveau had given her in retaliation for killing Laveau’s then boyfriend,  Sebastian, the House Boy  for sexing up one of the Lalaurie daughters.   Delphine takes him to the murderous  basement en Le Maison Lalaurie,  ties him up and kills him while  making him where this odd black cow head mask thing.

You see, Delphine is a product of her early American environment and a racist (she tortured and killed every slave she ever owned) and in one scene we see her watching an Obama speech on the TV or as she calls it “that magic box”.    Well, Delphine is appalled that a “Negro” is president.    As she sits there thinking, “there goes the neighborhood”, Fiona walks in and announces that because she hasn’t yet learned all she can from Delphine (played by Oscar winner, Kathy Bates who’s contract probably runs the full season anyway)  so for the   foreseeable future, she’s  the new maid.   ahs e covenThis means serving meals to the students, one of which is Queenie ( portrayed by Oscar nominee, Giborey Sibide), the school’s token African-American  witch who loves love, but hates whitey crackers as much as Delphine  hates darkies.      So, Delphine finally reckons with her  fate as a servant and is in the kitchen with Queenie who learns that she’s the infamous Madame Lalaurie, re-purposed by Fiona.     So as they converse about history and Peach Cobbler,   Delphine catches a shadowy glimpse of something just outside the kitchen window.   She looks out.

Good lord, its Sebastian, the House Boy now as this  Minotaur- like creature;   bovine head, man’s body, snorting, hooves….the whole nine yards.     Delphine is terrified,  convinced he’s back for revenge.      Queenie tells her to hide, she’ll  care of the situation.

She confronts Sebastian in the back yard and then remembers the story that Delphine had told her about the reasons behind his murder .   Queenie thinks this cow man is just misunderstood and craving lovin’ as she does, so what does one do when confronting an angry, vengeful  Minotaur in the backyard of a Garden District Greco Roman manse on a foggy spring night?    You hike up your skirt and  and start  to diddle yourself , which is exactly what Queenie does.     Sebastian is watching thisy and like any horny creature in Roman mythology, he positions himself behind her.      Just  when we think the shock of mother/son incest will be replaced by partial bestiality, he puts a hoof over her face……and the damn thing goes to commercial.

In the meantime, a very jealous Fiona takes Madison to a pool hall and they drink a lot.    She keeps seeing herself in the young witch and you can just tell there’s an assload of jealousy building up.  They go back to the school where Fiona tells Madison she knows she’s the next Witch Supreme and should kill her as she did the Witch Supreme she replaced back in the sixties.   Fiona gives her the same knife, there’s a struggle, Madison doesn’t want to kill or be the new Witch Supreme and  thank you O.J., Fiona slits her throat.   Intentionally.  The young witch falls dead on the floor.    Really?  Emma Roberts’character Madison killed off in the third episode????   Her agent must suck!      

Fiona it seems, will remain  the Witch Supreme.

This pleases her.  She ain’t going nowhere.   She starts to feel her power and life being restored as Madison lies there, oozing life.     She doesn’t care.

Fiona makes this clear by closing out the show with this bit of pithy dialog:  “This coven doesn’t need a new Supreme, just a new rug”.  

Yeah, baby.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY III: Coven Episodes 1 & 2

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Let me describe in my own words, what I think of season three of the AHS saga so far:    style over substance.

I can take that one step further by admitting I fell asleep twenty minutes into this past Wednesday episode.

While still better than last season’s bouillabaisse of silly badness (Nazis, aliens, zombies, serial killers, sadistic nuns, Anne Frank, homosexual rehab sessions, demonic possession,  microcephaly, evil Santas, caning,  murder, suicides, asylums and more gore than any politician named Al) I still find it in dire need of ……in need of….well, I’m not quite sure.

But with just two episodes in, I’ll give it till Halloween to win me over.  I am nothing if not fair.

It’s got a great premise:   it’s all about black magic and witches in the witchiest city of all–New Orleans.   And acting wise, its got major star power.  Jessica Lange is back, this time as the Witch Supreme.   Sarah Paulsen returns (she was Lana the Lesbian Reporter last year.   Taiisa Farmiga is back.  She was Violet of the Bad Attitude in season I.  This go round she’s a witch, with a killer vagina.

Literally.    More on that in a bit.

Evan Peters returns.  He played Tate in season one and an accused wife killer last season.  In reality, wifey had been inducted by aliens in episode I and returned later just in time for the season ended. I don’t know.  Season II was largely forgettable.    This time, Evan plays a Tulane frat rat named Kyle, with a fairly decent portrayal of an Orleanian diphthong,  BUT….he dies in a horrific bus accident in the first episode.     But like Frankenstein’s monster, he’s returning for more action.    As we learned in episode II, this was a horrible, horrible accident.    He was terribly dismembered, as was the rest of the occupants.     They were in a rented party bus hightailing it away from a mixer at the Frat House after gang banging Madison, an actress witch with telekinetic powers (played by Emma Roberts, daughter of Eric and niece to Aunt Julia).  When  revived from the Roofie  she’d been given, Madison ran  out to the street and willed the bus to crash, killing all the rapists, including Kyle who never touched  her.    In fact,  he was the only who attempted to stop the assault and was dragged on board the bus prior to the escape to keep him from ratting out his randy brothers.

Taiisa Farmiga’s character Zoe, fell for Kyle earlier at the party.  Because Madison killed her boyfriend in the crash,  she promises to do Zoe a solid, so they  break into  the morgue and found the section where the dead frat boys were kept on ice and realized that the victims had all been terribly dismembered in the accident.   So, like an old fashion quilting party, they decide to create the perfect boyfriend, using the best parts of each victim. Kyle’s head, someone’s bitching torso, another guy’s arms, legs, hands, etc. and  and other parts I’m sure and they sew all the bits and pieces together, while performing  an ‘incant’ over him and voila!    Kyle is slice once again—-Uncoordinated and mono syllabic as hell, but alive.

Mary Shelley would be proud.

And Addie is back.    Jamie Brewer, the Texas actress with Down Syndrome is back this season playing Nan, a witch with incredibly well honed psychic powers.  Hats  off to the writers and producers for allowing this actress to just portray your basic witch with all knowing abilities. No mention of her “handicap” in terms of this role.  Nicely played, Hollwyood.   Dennis O’hare was Burned Guy is season one.     He’s back this year as Spalding,  the school’s mute butler/man servant/factotum with long, stringy  Edgar Winter-ish hair.

Lilly Rabe returns.    She was Mrs. Montgomery is season one, the possessed nun last year and this go round, she’s a witch with the powers of necromancy.    She brings the dead back to life.   A re-animator, if you will.    Lilly has always been one of my AHS stable of actors.     She’s spunky.    Plus, her mother was none other than the late,  great  Jill Clayburgh.    A talented

actress who’s star rose and fell in the late seventies, early 80′s.    Back then she was most ubiquitous.  In every movie, or so it seemed, paired up on theater marquees with Burt Reynolds and other A-listers of the era.    Her stock fell in the early 90′s.   Yes, she had the gall to age and well, Hollywood frowns on natural body processes. Her last film was “Bridesmaids” in which she played Kristin Wiig’s mother.    She died from a lengthy bout with cancer shortly after the film wrapped.

Kathy Bates joins the cast this year who plays New Orleans socialite Madame LaLaurie (love the last name, by the way),  a very real New Orleans character who back in the early 1800′s, treated her slaves and servants with a form of sadism that would make Dr.  Mengele cringe.   I like La Bates in most roles and hope she can pull this off.

Angela Bassett is given a co-starring role as well.  She comes on board as Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Apparently, Voodoo and witchcraft are like big rival union bosses in the magic underworld of New Orleans, so we can expect lots of story lines about pins stuck in dolls vs. bubbling cauldrons.

Speaking of Bassett, she has never looked better.   She’s absolutely stunning in this role.    The woman’s skin is incredible.   Still beautiful.

Gabourey  Sidibe rounds out the cast as Queenie.    Remember her from the movie, “Precious”?    She too is a witch,  and her powers involve being a human Voodoo doll.   She can shove her arm into a frying pan filled with breaded shrimp just a bubblin’ away and she wouldn’t feel a thing—but her intended victim would.   His arm would–out of the blue–turn beet red and blister up.   Next thing you know, it’s goodbye arm, hello charred cinder stick.       As for the others, Zoe kills during the act of mating.    Nan is psychic,   Madison has telekinetic powers (you know, like Carrie)  and Cordelia (Sarah Paulsen) is the school’s Headmistress.   She’s a witch too but so far, her only power seems to be having a green thumb.  She’s a bad ass gardener. We’ve yet to see her mojo. Cordelia is also the daughter of Fiona (Jessica Lange), the witch Supreme, who possesses all the powers combined, including some pretty bad ass saliva.

Queenie is a direct linear descendant of Tituba, the slave girl was the very first person in Salem to be accused of consorting with the devil.    She was arrested and jailed for her crimes, but never convicted.    After she was released from prison after squealing on several other young girls in the community who were tried and executed (read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible or watch a few episodes of “Bewitched” circa 1972…the season which they learn son Adam also has powers) everyone lost track of old Tituba.    It was never really discerned if she was actuslly practicing witch or not, but I think every time the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots have a bad season, the answer becomes clearer.   Payback’s a bitch.

In fact, all the young sorcereses have connections to the first American witches in Salem circa the late 1600′s.   After the first few were executed, the sourcing witches remained anonymous as best they could before seeking the safety of asylum in New Orleans. Behavioral problems forced the families of these young women to end them to a very special private boarding school in New Orleans.  It’s like a Hogwartz for girls to help them use their powers wisely and to perpetuate witches and witchcraft for posterity. Seems like in being born a witch was an abortion stimulus in the world of Coven:  Season III.   Self-hating witches  wanted the buck to stop with them so they either elected not to procreate in the first place or aborted the babies before being born, named Tabitha and given the chance to turn a toy horse into Thomas Edison, thus forcing daddy Darren to convince a potential  client AND boss man, Larry Tate that their firm,  McMann and Tate had their best  advertising interests at heart and should be given the account.

Lilly Rabe’s  character, Mist Day,  will eventually join the girls at the school.   Just for bringing a pigeon back to life in the middle of some uber religious strychnine drinking service outdoors, she was  burned by her fellow church members.  Guess she did a number on herself lilly and mombecause she was popped up and surprised Zoe after she piled Mr. Piecemeal Kyle into the car  to escape the morgue.    They had to because shortly after Kyle came back to life, he and Zoe were  discovered in the morgue by an employee.  A fight ensues with grunting and screaming and bing, bang boom,  Zombie Kyle suddenly becomes a murderer facing 20 to life.

But Misty Day can  bring Khim back to life where he’s able to speak and walk and the best part of all?    If he and Zoe decide to date, sex will be a breeze because he’s already dead!!!

In other AHS Season III news, Madame Lalaurie kills a slave who happens to be a boyfriend of Marie Laveau, so with the help of a lynch mob of current and former slaves,  she drugs Lalaurie with a potion that gives her eternal life.   She’s then wrapped in chains, placed in a coffin and buried alive  on the Lalaurie estate.   She lived through wars, racism Katrina and Huey long!!!

Back to present day…

On a field trip with the young witches, Fiona (Jessica Lange)  takes them on a tour of the notoriously haunted Lalaurie House.   Nan looks down psychically under some bricks and realizes there’s a casket buried below.     Fiona, who’s obsessed with eternal life and beauty, realizes it must be Madame Lalaurie down there somewhere.    She hires some guys to exhume the coffin and when it’s opened, out plops a very alive, but very dirty Madame Lalaurie.    Fiona wants to know what her secret for eternal life is.  So she kidnaps Lalaurie, takes her back to the school and ties her up and gags her.    I’m not sure why this is important to Fiona.  In the opening sequence of episode I, you can see her in the crowd at a witch’s execution in 1692 Salem.     I’m no  Pythagoras,  but wouldn’t that make her something like…..321 years old this year????  She still looks pretty good to me.

Then there’s a scene from episode II that pits old rivals Marie Laveau and Fiona exchanging words on a battle field that that comes in the form of a black hair salon in the Ninth Ward.     Fiona goes there, perhaps seeking a process, and perhaps, seeking chance encounter with her old nemesis, Marie Laveau, who just happens to look great in cornrows AND also owns the shop.

I’m leaving out a lot and this review is rambling.  My apologies.

In closing,  I’m not in love with season III.   Not yet, anyway.    I’ll give it a few more episodes,  but it better hurry and congeal into a solid form of entertainment.    I don’t think I’m asking for much.   I’m just a viewer who likes a cohesive script.  I hate Swiss Cheese story lines, those with gaping holes that lack logic. Especially the ones that are never addressed.  In season I, we never learned why Murder House had become Murder House and why dying on property guaranteed your ghostly return.    In season II, we never knew the reason why the Nazi doctor created the zombie creatures that lived in the woods behind the asylum or the relevance of the aliens being in the story line or why they abducted hot chicks only to return them pregnant before the season ender.

Wait…that might actually be fully explainable.

This  year,  I’d like to see less of Fiona’s version of Krav Maga.   When pissed or threatened, she can body slam people by teleporting them against the wall. Not impressed. I want more intrigue.   And more magic that makes sense.    Thank God for special affects.   If we are to witness magic performed in Coven, I for one, am most grateful that  special effects have improved   since the days of flying ash trays courtesy of very visible fishing lines in the days of  “Bewitched”.

We shall see what the coming weeks will bring and I will continue to bring to you my take on the latest episodes of the newest season of American Horror Story.      But if the producers and writers really want to make me happy, insert a character like Aunt Clara from Bewitched.   You know, an older, kind hearted, but eccentric witch who’s magic has run a foul, a victim of her years.    Well kids, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get my wish.  I have a feeling that perennial AHS actress, Francis Conroy (she was milk-eyed Moira the Older maid in season I and the black winged Angel of Death in season II)  will fill that bill.     She had a brief part in the first episode when she (in a carrot orange wig wearing Dark Shadows chic) was in the scene when Zoe was taken by black-suited Albino thugs in RayBans and forced into admission at Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in New Orleans,  set at a lovely, very large, all-white Greek Revival home adjacent to the tracks of the St. Charles line, who’s front gate some friends and I tee-tee’d near, one very drunken night while partying in the Garden District of New Orleans.

A streetcar named Pissoir.

Indeed.

Yes, I’ve Heard You

I’ve received the comments,   the emails…..the carrier pigieons’ messages with the smidges of bird doodie on the corners .

Why am I not blogging as much, you ask.

Well, kids for starters, I don’t love blogging like I used to.   It takes a great amount of time and neediness to keep a good, compelling blog good and compelling and current.    I am either fresh out of the desire or just plain too lazy to make the effort.   The spirit is gone.   So is the need for a “they like me…they really like me” pay off.     The reward now, is no longer  needing  the reward.

You see, when I started this effort in mid 2007,  I was a bankrupt soul.     Broke, sad, lonely, emotionally corrupt , needy, terribly insecure. I was very angry, bitter and so goddamn vulnerable.

I latched on to the blogosphere and liked it for a while.   It filled several voids, especially at a time was I was unemployed, had no where to go and no clue as to where to find it.   But I did something I normally don’t do…I joined something.   Or rather, I aligned myself with a faction from the seedy, squirrely, nerdy blog underworld, which distinguished itself with with misplaced narcissism and  daily pseudo-intellectual battles  with rival blogs or those that include  different ideologies.  Different is another word for wrong with these folks. And they are quick to defend their positions, right or wrong. And they are fierce. No one is picking on them in this cyber playground.

Picture if you will, a gangly pack of socially awkward, knit-trousered, pocket-protected four -eyed lads and lassies,  all vying for  readership, links back to their sites  and the attention of  some nebulous female blogger who with the help of a 40 year old thesaurus,  uses logorrhea  to seduce to the word- starved masses.    Word play is foreplay to these folks.      Use “ennui” correctly in a sentence and you’ve got three male bloggers,  two women and one as of yet gender unknown,  all vying for your undying love.

And uh….by the way, the photo  used in the profile belonging to that  ‘hot blogger of the month” who’s claim to fame is growing armpit hair in support for non-unionized garment workers in Latvia,  well that pic is  from 64 pounds ago, not to mention the fact that it was taken circa 1983.    Call me Sherlock, but the funked up Flock of Seagulls haircut was something of a clue.

But, who am I to talk. I was once one of the blogging ambitious.  I wrote about things I pretended to adore. I’d claim to love opera and express rabid fandom for Puccini and Verdi, all the while thinking this was actually  the name of a new lunch combo at ‘The Olive Garden”.     There is incredible pretentiousness among bloggers.   I was just as bad, just  guilty.  But that was before I gave myself a little New Age permission to be arrogant within reason. I have since realized the error of my ways.

There are many bloggers who think what they have to say merits a broadcast. That it should extend beyond print.     So, they start podcasts.    I abhor these things.     THINK:   Do it yourself Pirate radio stations on your computer with no edge, just ego.   I hated listening to them and I hated being on them.  I agreed to panel on a few and always pretended smack dab in the middle of my segment,  that my line dropped.    I’d just hang up and never explain what happened.  And after a while of searching for their own explanations—- the damned dirty ape phone or spotty Texas cell service —they finally figured I wasn’t interested.     I was never asked to return as a guest, either.

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Yeah…..

This blog brought me some joy, it’s also brought me a lot of misery.    I thought having it and maintaining it and playing the blogging game with others would  embolden me, make me stronger.   Nah….it just proved how porous and vulnerable my resolve actually was.     And sometimes, vulnerability isn’t such a bad thing.     But in battle, its everything.

Iv’e cut back on my Facebooking. I got tired of the maintenance and hearing  about everyone else’s perfect children and wonderful spouses,   about  perfect trips to exotic ports of call, and new homes and new haircuts and latest photos of these people and their uber fabulous lives  that really don’t exist beyond the borders of the computer screen in front of them.  I mean hey,  if you’re happy, right on, live to tell the tale,  but can you also please keep some of it to yourself?

I sound bitter, right?    I’m not.    Everyone should have a chance to sample public adulation, but like everything else, that too eventually gets old.     And right now this blogger feels her age, this blogs looks its age.    We’re tired.   So please note that  I appreciate your inquiries, but I’m just following the government’s lead and shutting down, slowly, surely and eventually, we will shut this bitch down completely.       Georgie H. sang it best.

I’m not saying goodbye right now. I’ll continue to write, just fewer posts.

Soon I will,  as I have for the past two years,  produce those weekly signature   recaps of American Horror Story which sees Season Three premiering on FX this week.  I will from time to time, continue to use this forum to admit what others won’t—that Molly Ringwald’s prom dress from the movie, “Pretty In Pink” was atrocious.    That  Tina Fey’s once very bright and shiny apple has lust some of its luster recently  and while  Michael J. Fox’s new show on NBC is well done, watching him act in the throes of his Parkinson’s is uncomfortable.  Sorry , it is for me, but it’s not enough to  get me to change the channel.    This is something with which I must contend.    He has to Ttry live with Parkinson’s every day.      I should be able to watch him deal with it, and work in spite of it,   for a mere 23 minutes (minus the commercials) per week.

Well kids, it’s been a slice.

 

Vulnerability

Apparently, there’s a new movement afoot.    It’s all about the wonders of being vulnerable and in order for the world to continue on its axis, we must all be live and breathe in the suits we wear, purchased at the Vulnerability Shop at the nearest mall.

I don’t get it.

I’ve lived 54 years on this Big Blue glass cat’s eye and I always thought vulnerability was one of the worst words anyone could think, write, utter, use an an adjective to describe a levy, a military position or a person.

Vulnerability means a breach…a breach means weakness and weakness is just a hop, skip and a jump away from full on catastrophe.

Nope, says Dr. Brené Brown, the latest avant thinker on the Oprah Winfrey Shelf Of Iconography.   She’s been a frequent  guest on O’s channel and can be seen  on several different Super Soul Sunday segments.    She’s a human Pez dispenser of tweetable quotes that delight Oprah and sates her audience of the wisdom starved.  brene

As for Brown, she’s a Texas girl, I think.    At least her accent is persuasive.   I do know for a fact that she has Lone Star roots.  She was educated  at the Universities of Texas and Houston, respectively.   She’s a professor of Social Work  at U of H, but I have a feeling that she’ll have her own show on OWN soon.   Oprah has a big ol’ girl crush on this chick.  I’ve seen that look in Oprah’s eye before.   Last time it glistened that way , Dr. Phil’s career was was born.

Anyway, Brown is obviously a clever gal who is likeable once you realize the platform on which she speaks.    She’s also  one of the few scholars around who researches, writes and lectures on the subjects of shame, authenticity and of course,  vulnerability.

Now, here’s the deal with all this:  I actually think I can better understand the psycho/social/political ramifications of the human genome project on  Aloite Muslims who eat pork platters during Ramadan, than comprehend this stuff.

But Brown is growing on me.  According to her curriculum vitae,  has spent more than a decade studying connection – specifically authenticity, belonging, and shame, and the affect these powerful emotions have on the way we live, love, parent, work and build relationships.

Easy enough to comprehend, but why is it hitting me in the forehead and circling there like errant electrons?

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”

― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Yeah, right and all, but how is this mindset any different from that of any other professor cum New Age human guilt remover?

Well, when I did a little digging, I realized that Brown isn’t trying to remove shame from our lengthy lifetime library catalogs of failure.   She wants us to embrace it.     She claims guilt is good and one helluva motivator to ‘stay on track’ because it’s in direct correlation with our behavior.    And providing we’re not sociopaths, we know that guilt rears its little head when we compare something we’ve done—or not done—with our personal values.      Thrill stealing,  eating two pounds of Amedei  truffles in thirty minutes,  cheating on a test,  philandering…. any good Catholic or Jew will tell you  the list of guilt ridden examples is endless.    The deal is, the discomfort it causes can, if we let it,  result in positive changes, namely in how we see ourselves and others.

Brown goes further to explain that there are huge differences between classic guilt and that good oil’ get down dirty shame which she insists is a totally separate emotion.

But wHat’s the difference?

She cites this example:    ” If you made a mistake that really hurt someone’s feelings, would you be willing to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake”?    If you’re experiencing guilt, the answer is yes: “I made a mistake.” Shame, on the other hand, is “I’m sorry. I am a mistake.” Shame doesn’t just sound different than guilt; it feels different. Once we understand this distinction, guilt can even make us feel more positively about ourselves, because it points to the gap between what we did and who we are—and, thankfully, we can change what we do.”

Okay, but wouldn’t we have to be fairly evolved to separate the emotional wheat from the condemning  chaff as soon as its presented to us?

In Laurieland yes—in Brené Brown’s very researched world, no.

She also writes about perfectionism which she claims isn’t at all about  achievement, but rather a   belief that if we live perfectly, look and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame of ourselves and others. But the word perfect is an aberration.

I grew up in a world that was based on  on performance,  the focus was on the outer Laurie and how that reflected on my parents.    Grades, manners, sports, how I dressed,  cheerleading, gymnastics, being popular at school,  being loved by my teachers who because of the small town I called home, had also taught my sisters, most of my cousins, aunts, uncles and my mother and father.     I sought praise from my parents, but that was for naught.  They were withholding, at least to my face.   I’d hear  from other people how proud they were.    I guess they didn’t want to play favorites or fill my head with ego.     So, I went to great lengths to hear I was talented, smart, funny from anyone with a pulse. I didn’t care that my friendships  should have clued me in to the fact that I was a good friend in returned,   that my good  grades reflected my intellect and drive…that a display case filled with ribbons and awards indicated my talents.       I needed a constant flow of emotional recompense from outside sources.

But the reality is I’m hardly alone in this sad pup tent.   I know tens of people, especially around my age who grew up this way and consequently chose careers that were performance based.     I learned early on how rewarding it was to be able to make people laugh.       And I did laugh clown laugh posterthis by going for the laugh regardless of the price.    And make no mistake, there was always a price  in one way or another.    I grew up with this self imposed bounty  on my head.      In  the end, everyone applauded but me.     THINK:   Lon Chaney’s Tito in the 1928 silent flick, “Laugh Clown, Laugh”.      The resulting rush of emotion rush was too short lived.    You can’t give a starving Biafran child a few bread crumbs every other day and expect her to be sustained.

The one positive in all this is that   I have learned we evolve from the guilt/shame continuous loop, that plays in our heads. Think of an old flame.     At one time the loss of this person could make you wail like a banshee.    Years later, when you think of him or her,  IF you ever think of him or her, you feel no emotion at all.     You’re over it.   To me, that’s more of a definition of evolution than anything Darwin could present.   In this day an age, it’s all about the emotional  evolution.       I think we all have our personal thoughts on the on the subject that we humans once had  webbed toes, gills, scales and  communicated with the monosyllabic “Ugh”; that subject has grown tired and boring.      Besides, I’m fairly sure Charles Bronson was the missing link.  Call me crazy.    

The emotional spelunking is all we have left.

This is what Brown does, in essence.   She feels if you ask yourself  “How can I improve?” , that’s a form of perfectionism that  keeps  focus elsewhere.      It basically means you’re asking yourself or anyone listening and willing to opine,  “What will they think?”     It’s all part of that perfectionism bugaboo which in the long run, always hampers success and allows entré to a  whole slew of vices and mind screwing negatives.

Like vulnerability.

Ah…okay,   I think I’m getting this, especially when I realize that an earthquake is the planet’s way of letting off steam,   that a hole in a darkened cave  lets light in….and air.     That a castle without its impervious moat and drawbridge and vassals on the rooftops  at the ready with vats of boiling oil ready to spill on marauders who dare get close to the walls,   well…maybe that’s not the best analogy.   But those who breech the castle aren’t always the bad guys.    Sometimes, a battering ram is the only way to enter…

Or exit.

So then, the question beckons:  is imperfection the  only perfect thing we know for sure??

And this intriguing point forces me to think.   We don’t do enough editing or Photoshopping  of  our thoughts.   In fact, we should Air Brush the shit out of them, not for the sake of  rearranging or completely morphing  bad memories into something more palatable, but for the character  these life lessons can build.    Kennedyesque as this might sound,   we sometimes have to do what’s uncomfortable, because it’s the right thing to do.

CASE IN POINT:  

While in college, I was broke.   Couldn’t  even afford the the 15 cent packages of  ramen, the collegiate food staple.   I called my mother, crying, begging for money, embarrassed by  my underemployment and damned tired of the all consuming, relentless classes that were keeping me impoverished.   I was tired, burned out and feeling desperate on many levels.     I asked for cash and she told me no.   Flat out refused to give me a dime. I don’t remember her offering a reason why she refused to help.  She may have given one, but I was too hurt and overwhelmed by feelings of maternal betrayal to have heard a word.     She became the Queen Bitch in my eyes, cruel and heartless.

So, I begrudgingly realized that it was all up to me.  I  came to terms with the reality that I simply had to do survive on my own by doing more in some areas and not as much in others.    I had  to work more hours, study harder, party less, save more by any means legally necessary. For me, that meant collecting aluminum cans along the highway and stomaching the honks and cat calls from passersby.  I had to hock jewelry, I considered  surrogacy for barren couples, for a price,  thought about being  a guinea pig for outlandish medical experiments and getting involved in black market organ harvesting. I didn’t have to do anything unsavory…. I didn’t shrivel up and die.  I learned a great deal about my mother’s wisdom and a lot about myself.

Her response left me vulnerable and that  vulnerability forced to me to go to places I wouldn’t ordinarily go.      And there was absolutely nothing wrong with that, though it took me decades to realize what she did, had actually been a favor. I realized that a little  struggle often  builds character.  Hell, as the late Viktor Frankl who was held for years in a Nazi concentration camp and survived could attest, a lot of struggle can completely alter  perspective and often times, that  turns out to be a good thing—if we allow it to be.    It’s our choice, really.      If misery moves in, we have to decide how to treat it as the roommate from hell.

I still find myself in vulnerable states from time to time,  but that’s only because fear drives it into my life and parks in a red zone with time expired on the meter.     I have a better understanding of the cause and affect of  what vulnerability is...and isn’t....and that’s forcing me to rethink the entire process of rethinking.   I now get it.  Vulnerability is risk…and risk is worth it.    Closed doors, open windows.   Failure often breeds success.      A break up leads to an even more profound relationship.   Maybe we don’t realize any of this  at first, I mean, it’s hard to feel anything beyond the immediate   rage, pain and disappointment , but eventually clarity comes.

It’s like the ironic symbolism involved in removing a blindfold over our eyes after days of being forced to wear one in a room that’s very well lit.     The contrasting brightness  makes you wince, turn your head,  put your hands go up to your the eyes to replace the darkness that you once pleaded to escape, but going back to what’s familiar and dark sure beats the ocular pain and struggle involved in the the readjustment process.  Ma Nature made the eye resilient.    Its very make-up allows us to get used to either the bright sunlight or faded light, after  a while.      And the best thing about being blindfolded–if there is an upside?  If we’re ever kept from the light again,  if we learn from the experience, at least we’ll know what to expect and how to make necessary adjustments if the darkness is prolonged or  when brightness returns.”

And somehow, the light always does.

 

 

REFERENCES:    http://brenebrown.com/

The University of Texas: Forty Very Acrid Acres

Yes, I know.   Six generations of fruit flies have come and gone since I last posted a fresh, new blog.    I have no excuses, nothing much has inspired my digits to glide across my keyboard lately.    And in an effort to curb the codpendence blogging can create, I vowed to myself that that’s exactly what I’d do—-publish something ONLY if I felt moved.

Well, after last night’s humiliating Longhorn loss to Ole Miss, I had a movement alright.    And  the color of it just happens  to be  newest hue in the Crayola box of 64:   Mack Brown.

Look people, I’m a faithful Texas fan.    I’ve been through the years of feast and the years of famine, but lately UT football has been terribly frustrating and ironic….not unlike a bulimic trying to maintain an impossible binge/purge a habit while living in Sub- Saharan Africa.     And this sentiment has been bubbling to the core ever since the Longhorns won the National Championship in 2005.   After that, things went downhill.   We’re talking eight years of demonstrating frustration and eating humble pie.    Now, I know what it’s like to have been an Aggie for a while there.

In all my years of being a devout Orange Blood, I have never, even allowed the possibility of this thought to enter my gray matter.   Loyalty is the very core of  fandom.

But….

I hope Texas never wins another game this season.

There, I said it.

And I said it because this is the only way the puppet master withing university brass will fire Texas head coach, Mack Brown.  He’s been at the helm of the UT program for 16 years.  Several were good years indeed. He helped us get to the Rose Bowl for the very first time.  We played Michigan and won thanks to the golden toe of young field goal kicker, Dusty Mangum who put it between the uprights in the final seconds of the game.   We returned a year later   to beat USC for the national championship.     A few years later, we played Alabama for the National Championship.      We took home the silver medal in that contest.      Even so, it was a good run for Brown;  was being the operative word.

There was, I feel, a great deal hinging on the outcome of the Longhorn’s third game of the season.  In the first contest,  they beat a community college who’s name escaped me.  Then in game two, they lost to BYU.     Last night, after showing some initial promise in terms of field command, they went into the locker room at halftime and reemerged sub par.   The Kennedy’s playing flag football at the Vineyard compound at Thanksgiving could have beaten Texas.

There are two things the top brass at Texas don’t like:  losing and the colors maroon and white.    Texas, love it or hate it, is a very wealthy school.   It’s coffers  perennially  beat out  other Texas Universities hands down and is the third wealthiest in the country behind the Thurston Howell the Third schools, such as Harvard and Yale, respectively.   The UT system’s endowment totals more than $17 billion, and check this out:  the school only receives 20% of its budget from the state, and that support has dropped steadily since 2009, leading to student walkouts to protest the budget cuts.

So, where does it get its money?    A couple of places:   There’s the University  The Permanent University Fund (PUF) which is a Sovereign Wealth Fund provided by the state to  fund public higher education within Texas.   It started out as funds received from the least of grasslands owned by the state and then came Spindletop and big oil.   Need I say more?     A portion of the returns  are annually directed towards the Available University Fund (AUF), which distributes the funds according to provisions set forth by the Texas Constitution of 1876, subsequent   amendments made since then, and the board of regents of the all powerful  University of Texas  System and their counterparts at Texas A&M.   The PUF provides extra funds, above monies from tax revenues, to both collegiate systems  which collectively have approximately 50 percent of state public university students. But while this fund was established to fund public universities, no  other schools in the state are allowed to dip their feet into this ever flowing font of green.   However, in 1984, university systems such as those at Texas Tech, North Texas State and others were given access to   the Higher Education Assistance Fund, essentially oil and natural gas crumbs.   Adding any other university system  or individual institutions to the Permanent University Fund would require an amendment to the Texas Constitution and since the majority of the Legislature consists of Aggie and Texas alumni, that ain’t gonna happen.

UT also operates on endowments…BIG ENDOWMENTS from deep pocketed alumni, who say prayers to St. Darrel of Royal every morning.    And then there’s the licensing of merchandise.  For the eighth straight year, Texas tops all other schools in terms of selling Longhorn merchandise and this is on going despite several abysmal football seasons.   People love the burnt orange and apparently, this little logo:

Image

Bevo, as it turns out is quite marketable as bovine goes.

And then there’s the hand gesture:

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It’s cool.   It kinda looks like the horns on a steer of that particular breed.   Rockers love it, but not for team loyalty and let’s be honest,  hands down it beats all the other Johnny Come lately team hand signs that came afterwards.

So, burnt orange means   green in Austin.      But while Longhorn caps, shirts, golf clubs, Christmas ornaments, insurance policies and , prosthetic limbs continue to fly off the shelves, I would think endowments from the Mega Bucked, would falter. If I were giving multi-million dollar donations to keep the Laurie Kendrick Endowment for the Endowed to stay afloat, I would most certainly want some bang for my buck.

Like winning football games if I may be so shallow.

The powers that be at Texas love Mack Brown and they have for the last 16 seasons which have been uglier than pretty.  After losing to BYU more than a week ago, Brown fired his defensive coach 24 hours after the second game of the season, something he said he’d never do.    It was if the Longhorns were trying to lose.    I witnessed more blown tackles on that field, than on a post game Sunday night in San Francisco’s Castro District.

And during last night’s debacle, the team looked like uncoordinated flying squirrels.   Leaping and lunging for tackles only to fall short.   They stood up  with mouths full of turf and little else.  As for receivers?   They can’t even catch subtle nuance.

All of this was etched on  Brown’s face.  I noticed it in pics taken before the game.     It was care-worn in that way.  His expression was like “I’d rather be in Damascus”.     He’s aged ‘presidentially”.     You know, as presidents do during extended times of crisis.  As Nixon did during the Checkers speech….and Watergate.    As Carter did during the Iranian embassy crisis.   As Clinton did after Lewinsky, as Bush did after 9/11…as Obama has done since taking office.      He looked bad before the game.  I can only imagine the facial pallor afterwards.   Mack, I beg you…do what Deloss Dodds and that other head honcho   guy won’t do.    It’s called ‘ the right thing”  and you’d accomplish that by abdicating.   Help return some gravitas to UT by hanging up your head coach’s whistle and head set.

NickSabanOr better yet, hand it all over to Nick Saban.   He’s perfect for Texas and I’ll tell you why.   It’s early in the season, but I’d lay odds that he’ll lead the Tide to their fourth (maybe fifth–sorry, not a fan) consecutive BCS title.    Every winning streak ends. It happens.   Ask Oklahoma.     And when it happens to Bama…and it will, do you think those spoiled fans, now so used to winning season after season,  would let Saban survive when its all over??     Highly doubtful he wouldn’t be tarred and feathered beyond one losing  season.

And every losing streak must end, too.  And it will for Texas.     Saban could be key to that.     And why not?      For Coach Nick, it’s a classic case of ‘been there/done that’.   By coming to Texas, he could possibly earn as much ten to 12 million per year, making him the highest paid coach in college football history and trust me, UT can afford that salary  and  then some.   That’s two days production on some UT owned oil wells in South Texas.w    He’d have the chance to do what coaches love to do:  take over a struggling program and rebuild it.   Shine it up pretty to its original Southwest Conference luster.  He may love the Alabama regents, the team…he may even love the state, but the man is human.   Team Saban will always come first.   Nothing against Nickie for that.   It’s all part of today’s survival skills.  In the new millennium, that means making money.   Fiscal promotions are perfectly acceptable exit strategies.    Besides, college coaches are gridiron bohemians, they move a  lot, they have to  command respect in a variety of team colors.   Very few coaches ever have Paterno-like staying power and let’s be honest, even that storied history  was no match after being Sanduskeyed as all of Penn State was.

So Saban, head west.   Come to Austin.     Keep Mack around if you must.   Use him to recruit.   He’s good at that and over the years, he has helped lure many talented blue chippers to the Forty Acres in the heart of Austin.    The problem is  he just forgets how to use them effectively once they sign their commitment contracts.

If that road is not taken,   well, then my beloved Longhorns,  you just keep on playing swinging statues out on the field.   Get tossed around like salad…and not the good kind.    Continue to drop passes.   Give up yards.   Penalize yourself into negative rushing.   Depend on field goals to do what rubbery passing arms and greasy catching hands can’t do.   If you must fail with Mack holding the reigns, then please do so with epic intent.   Be the best at being the worst.  Prove your point with more marks in the Lost Column.   And just remember, lost games means lost revenue.   Sadly, that just  might be the only real reality check at Texas.

And  when the  Longhorn merchandise sales falls behind that of Slippery Rock, when fans no longer buy tickets to the games and refuse to watch the contests on TV, leaving the networks desperately trying to find sponsors, when new building endowments are replaced by  paltry cashier’s checks to purchase  lean- to’s at Mart-O-Rama, remember the glory days when the winning was easy and the money flowed.    When strategy ruled.   And an offense was something beyond that which was listed on  a crime  blotter.

And uh, speaking of,  Mr. UT  Athletic Director, what’s with  all the criminal news issues coming out of Austin regarding team members in recent years?  With all the accusations of rape, drugs usage, DWI’s, attempted murder and other assorted acts of mayhem, I suggest  you might want to follow Patty Hearst’s lead and replace Defensive coach Manny Diaz who you fired after the BYU loss, with renowned defense attorney, F. Lee Bailey.    How about Robert Shapiro? Clarence Darrow’s great grandson?   Matlock?????

prison-uniformBook ‘em, Horns,  as the old joke goes.       What the hell, they already look decent in orange.

Sixteen Hallowed Acres 9/11/13

Originally posted on Laurie Kendrick:

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PREFACE: I wrote the following blog post on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks last year. I wanted to pay tribute to the seminal anniversary by digging deep in order to answer questions I had developed over the previous ten years. This isn’t about conspiracy theories or any of that buffoonery; just all that transpired in the seconds, weeks…months and years after 19 religious zealots hijacked four American-owned planes and by slamming three of them into two buildings, and one in a field in rural Pennsylvania, killed just under three thousand people.

In past 12 years, I’ve learned what happened; how it happened; the order of events. I even know more about jihad than I ever wanted to. We all know what happened, why it happened and and how hatred and the skewed ideology that perpetrated it. But there’s still much to learn about that fateful day, such…

View original 6,480 more words

A Friday Night At The Burger Despot

I currently enjoy being of  a certain age when the impetus to go out and see and be seen is no longer alive or kicking in my system.   I look forward to quiet weekends.     I have all I need:  my beloved cat, my dog and an iPad and I keep fingers crossed for good weather,not for gardening or because I have something to do outside.  No, I like cloudless days because means stellar satellite reception.    Any combination of those things plus a lack of noise,  make for a delightful evening in Laurieland.  laurieland

Now, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional rip in my personal space/time continuum.   My balance is thrown off from time to time and I welcome it, especially when I’m called upon to babysit my four-year old great-niece, Emily, when her parents, who are in their early 30′s will on occasion, give in to that youthful need to go out on a Saturday night.  She is no bother at all and I love having her as a guest.

She’s a typical Kendrick–lovely platinum blond hair that won’t see a L’Oreal box of Lightest Blonde (Shade 9A) to keep it looking  that way for at least 14 more years.     She has big blue eyes and a smattering of freckles–cute as a button.   Smart too.   I’ve already gotten her fixation started with tornadoes.    Yes, she too is fascinated  by nature’s terrorists.  I plan on introducing her to paramecium over the Fourth of July weekend.

Her favorite thing to do when she visits me  is to eat yogurt and then go to Burger Czar, in that order.    There’s a play ground there.  She’s like every child;  going there to combine play with eating a kid’s meal consisting of chicken strips, a Sprite and some lame ass prize  is like Mecca to them.

Usually, the  fast food place isn’t that crowded on Friday nights but it was on this particular evening.    There were five young boys already playing on the plastic Jungle Gym with its slide, netting to climb, tubes to crawl through and conjunctivitis to contract.     She had more guts than I did at her age.  She walked right up to the contraption and started playing.  Soon, she was fully involved in the boys’ game which combined tag and hide and seek.     They got along well, except for one tyke who I feel sure has an undiagnosed issue somewhere within the Autism Spectrum.     I’m no specialist in the field of childhood behavior, but I know different when I see it and every time Emily approached this boy, he shouted “NO!!!”, as loud as he could while holding his hand in her face, palm up.  Then he’d run away.    He didn’t do it to the boys, just with Emily.        I watched this scene repeat several times.   It was like he’d taken some kind of a kiddie self-defense classes or had one of those Bean Sprout/sugar-free moms who give their kids time out  when bad behavior rears its head.   She also restricts access to certain TV shows, monitors use on the computer and stresses the importance of ‘their own space”.      Sure, all these things are vital.   I would imagine my life would be quite different had I understood the relevance of imposing my own spatial restrictions.

But I didn’t,  so this was rather odd behavior to me, especially for a child.

Emily wasn’t phased by it all.    She looked him over then promptly overlooked it him.   It didn’t affect her playtime.    Take the possibility of autism or Asperger’s out of the scenario and  Emily didn’t care if he was different in look or actions.   She was there to have fun;  she shared the kids’ motto:  join in if you want, but if you do, be prepared to laugh and play.     “Just say no” will come in handy right around their Freshmen year of High School.

She was a joy to watch.  Laughing with the other kids who made up a delightful ethnic salad.     Two white kids, two Hispanics, Mr.  No and Emily.   None  of the kids did seemed to even notice.   It wasn’t about the amount of melanin in the skin–or the lack thereof, as was the case with the two pale-skinned Lebensborners.   They played with kids, as kids, untarnished by the race and gender issues of their elders.    Fun was the order of the day.     As long as you could play, you were welcome to join in.    Kinda like life.

I loved watching it all unfold amid the smell of grease and feet.    You see, shoes are verboten in the play area.    odors aside, Emily was a  delight; strong and happy,  independent yet she played well with others.  She was, “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (Gym)!!

When it was time to leave Burger Shah,  all the kids said goodbye to each other.    We went back to my house to look for snails in my front garden.   They’re very large here in Texas this spring.   This past weekend,  I found a two single incher making dinner out of a Caladium.

Like any good hostess, I keep candy in a dish in my foyer.   York Peppermint Patties are the current culinaire du jour  and Emily LOVES these things.  She grabbed one as she went out the front door to go snail hunting.     It wasn’t long before we found ( in Emily’s words), several mommy snails, daddy snails and baby snails.      I watched her pick up a tiny one to examine it.    She was holding a mint in one hand, exploring the slimy underbelly of a snail in the other one.

“She’s so smart”, I said to myself.   “Further proof of those wonderfully superior Kendrick genes!   She’ll go far in this world.”

I went back to my search for more daddy snails, when I heard her give out this combination scream and laugh.     I turned around to  see if she was okay and she was making a face.  Apparently, she absent-mindedly put the snail in her mouth in stead of the mint pattie.      She spit it out, informing me even though she didn’t bite down on it, it did indeed, “taste like doodoo”.     I did nothing but laugh along with her.   At four she was too young to understand an escargot  joke.

She ate the mint,  we continued our snail hunt and I uttered to myself a familiar, but now slightly modified rhetorical,  “Further proof of those Kendrick genes.”