It's all about bouncing back

Friday, May 23, 2008

Got yer goat

Please meet a key critter in my life: Robin. He is a miniature goat and lives with his partner Batman at the edge of Madeline's woods, on the south side. His hobbies include munching blackberry bramble, long walks on the beach and butting heads with Batman (which is actually adorable and in no way as gay as it sounds).

Everyone seems to think that goats are difficult and stubborn -- but not true in this case. Robin is sweet, funny and loyal as a puppy. All around great company.

The Maron Proops Experiment

The "Success Lottery" reminded me that that last time I was in Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to catch an episode of the Maron Proops experiment at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater. Seems that they are still doing it from time to time, so if you get a chance to catch it, go. Nothing fancy, but it's a very relaxed and giggly evening. As Proops described it on his site: "Two top satirists or just bitter middle age hacks....You decide. The Maron/Proops Experiment: Chat, jokes, bickering."

Free fresh-baked sample below! One to a customer please:

The Success Lottery

I'm a huge fan of meritocracy. So it's always disappointing to realize what a huge role luck plays in success. I used to see it constantly in my law practice. Brilliant, hard-working attorneys were stunted in their climb up the ladder because they weren't born into a social circle that brought big-name clients into the firm. So they had to watch silently as the well-connected but intellectually klutzy advanced ahead of them. I'm sure Al Gore feels their pain.

It always seems most glaring, however, in the world of entertainment. There is no logic or justice in a world that showers wealth and opportunity on Dane Cook while leaving honest, thoughtful comics like Marc Maron to struggle in (relative) obscurity. There isn't much we can do to fix it, I suppose, other than continue to tell each other when we see work that is impressive -- and yet somehow overlooked. When I find it, I'll share it here.

Since I mentioned Maron, he is probably an excellent example to start with. When he was younger, his material was fun, sexy and well-structured -- somewhat political with fun stories of youth and exploration thrown in for good measure. Entertaining, but not challenging. As he has gotten older, however, (and, to be completely fair, sober),his material has involved more self examination - and that's when I was most impressed. It takes insight and honesty to make aging and sobriety humorous; but he succeeds gracefully. He was at Giggles last month discussing how to move your life forward to Plan B after age 40. Insanely funny. He's at the top of his game, IMHO.

If you want to check out some of it yourself, here are some of my favorite clips -- and you can find more at

Edited to add fun bit from a recent interview in LA Weekly: "More so than most comedians walking a fine line of self-realization through self-deprecation, Maron has been treating his gigs as therapy, with lacerating romance requiems and fourth-wall destroyers that seem to have a lot in common with your run-of-the-mill emo bands hell-bent on sharing their catharsis.

Fortunately, Maron doesn't see it that way.

"It's not that therapeutic. I'm still not entirely well," he says. "Entertaining is subjective. I have always been entertaining to some people. The more 'therapeutic' sets have been the most entertaining to people who were/are wrestling with the same monsters as I am. These are common monsters that need to be taken out for a walk. Those who want to walk their monsters dig these sets and need the entertaining deeply."

So maybe I can understand why his work doesn't necessarily appeal to everyone. :-)

"In most cases, the only difference between depression and disappointment is your level of commitment." M. Maron.

A Little Late Night Reading

So a good friend of mine recommended this book to me recently and I'll admit that it looks like a fun read. (The full title, if you can't see it, is "Daring Wives: Insight Into Women's Desires for Extramarital Affairs") But, seriously, how does one simply plop this onto the nightstand alongside the marital bed without further explanation? ("Oh this? Just some research I'm doing for a project at work." Or perhaps: "It's the next title in our girl's book club list!") This much I know: I'm certainly not going to hide in the closet to read it just so I can join in the more lively conversations at the next preschool parents' meeting.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More from the Comedy Week in Review

Mike and I went to see Robin Williams in Seattle last week at the Showbox downtown (the one near the market). First point: great club -- cozy, attractive and works well in a cabaret set up (packed house, but everyone had a good seat). Also, I was also glad to see that in a town that sports only one venue dedicated solely to comedy (and that place named "Giggles", sadly) the right name can have them lining up around the block. I sometimes think Seattle is a tad laugh-deprived; but it may be that I'm still spoiled from my years in LA where decent live comedy is available on tap 24-7.

The tour was titled "Working on Material" and, in keeping with the theme, Williams was donating all of the proceeds from the gig to charity. After reading all that, we came in with low expectations -- the chance to see a great talent, but perhaps not at the top of his game. Nothing could be further from the truth -- he was masterful. He has the energy level and memory of a man half his age with the focus, precision, timing and material of a top-level skilled professional. It's so impressive to see someone not only still working at his age, but seriously killing -- perhaps even better than he once was because of his maturity. Now, it seems, he can reflect on life with more distance and experience and it shows.

If he brings "Working" to your town, go -- you won't regret it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

MILFs Not a Myth

Have you seen this new survey of young mothers who are getting action on the side? According to this fairly large internet survey (self -reporting, but still a significant sample size, IMHO), more then 34% of mothers with children are having (or recently had) an extramarital affair.

Interesting. Evidently, the figures are skewed in my world because, frankly, if you were to talk to the moms in my neighborhood, workplace, preschool coop and elsewhere, I think you'd quickly find that 34% is waaaaay too low a number. My therapist (not surprisingly -- also the island gossip) would seem to agree.

So seriously -- when did my little small town turn into a John Updike novel? Far be it for me to judge good decent people seeking out a bit of additional warmth, attention and romance in their lives (or, frankly, just some quick action) but it's getting weird out there in suburb-land. More likely, it has always been a bit weird and everyone has just been trying to ignore it.

Which brings me to my real question: why does everyone still act so surprised?

Backyard Bambi

This little fawn was born in our backyard last Spring. We have been watching him grow up since then and it has been amazing. The picture of him laying in the grass is how we first spotted him -- barely visible, his eyes still closed. His mother had left him in the tall grass for protection and it's a great scheme -- you can totally understand why fawns are born with those cute spots -- he literally blends right into the forest floor. The next picture shows his first steps after Mom came back and reached up to nurse. Since then, we have seen him learn to walk, run and bound through the woods. Did you know that happy deer actually bounce -- lifting all four hooves off the ground at once? Amazing to see. A few months later, the spots began to fade. A few months after that, he started to grow antlers. By the end of this Spring (so any day now?) I suspect he will be ready to sire a fawn of his own. Truly incredible to watch all of that from our back window -- out of the corner of my eye while supervising Tinker Toy clean-up and trying to listen to Countdown.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Foley Funny at 40?

Went to see the Kids in the Hall reunion show last night at the WaMu Theater in downtown Seattle. To answer the first and most obvious question: yes, still funny; and, yes, still cute. It was good to see them coming back at this stage of life -- middle-aged and slightly tubby -- but refusing to give up their energy -- still swimming in their love of the absurd. The Kathies on crystal meth? Yes. Thank you. I needed that.

Never give up, guys.