Actress Ann B. Davis, known by millions 1970's children as Alice Nelson, died today at the age of 88. The "B" stood for Bradford. I never knew that.
Nelson suffered a fall in her bathroom yesterday and whacked the shit out of her head. The whack resulted in a subdural hematoma, and sadly she never regained consciousness.
Originally from Schenectady NY, Nelson planned on a career in medicine but somehow or other went the acting route, her "big break in Hollywood came when she won the role of Charmaine "Schultzy" Schultz, the secretary on the 1950s sitcom 'The Bob Cummings Show,'" according to Imdb.
But it was her role as housekeeper Alice Nelson on The Brady Bunch (1969-1974) that catapulted her to stardom, and likely would have killed her acting career had she not chosen to devote the remainder of her life to the Episcopal Church. Though she did find time between tent revivals or snake kissing or whatever the Episcopalians are into, to appear in several Brady Bunch reunion shows and some commercials for Shake n Bake and Swiffer
Nelson is the second "main" Brady character to pass, the first being Robert Reed in 1992. Allan "Sam the Butcher" Melvin died in 2008, but can we really refer to him as a "main" character? I don't think so, no offence, Sam.
Sadly, because this show was such a huge part of my life, I've often wondered who will be the first Brady kid to pass away. I do not look forward to the day I must write of that celebrity death.
I'm sitting here at the Britannia Arms, known to locals as The Brit. I'm surrounded by rabid soccer fans, known to locals as middle-aged frat boys and foreigners, who are celebrating the victory of Real Madrid over Faux Madrid in the UEFA Champions League game. I believe UEFA stands for Under Extreme Facial Anxiety, based on the looks on many of my fellow patrons. It's a game folks, relax.
So why am I here in downtown San Jose on a Saturday afternoon when I could be at home cleaning the house or some other mind-numbing domestic chore? Because I'm PARENTING. The girl is currently gallivanting with the other weirdos "comfortable in their skin" at FanimeCon, and I've got another five hours or so left to kill until I might be able to tear her away. I was drawn to the Brit because as I was walking down Santa Clara Ave, I heard the ROAR of a crowd go up like a lion had just taken the head of some Christian. Good times!
"What is the commotion?" I said to myself. "I must investigate. Perhaps there's a bar fight, or some drunken college girl is stripping up on the bar."
Alas, it was only "sports." Rah.
Not one who is easily dismayed, I joined my fellow revelers at the bar to cheer on the day's sporting event. Just as I was getting comfortable, the clock ran out, Real Madrid was victorious, and the fans began to depart, leaving me nearly alone at the bar. It's just as well. Pulling out the laptop and my book likely would have resulted in an atomic wedgie had the real men stuck around.
And having wasted enough time on you, I will now enjoy my book. I hope I don't dreamily sigh too loudly. It is a romance novel after all.
I've been pestered by more than one person (yes, it's true) about my lack of blogging as of late, to which I say, "shut up."
But seriously folks, I do miss it. Perhaps I just haven't felt like "sharing" myself, exposing myself to the taunts and ridicule of "the public." Perhaps I've been working on a novel and haven't had time to "waste" on "blogging." Perhaps I "don't let my scabs heal" and "can't reach all the parts of my body" and "frighten children." Be that as it may, I'm back, at least for today.
So I enrolled in an online, short story writing class at DVC earlier in the year. It's been many years since I've taken a creative writing class, and I remember little to nothing about what I may have learned. I question how much I did learn as I was never the most "ambitious" of students, doing basically just what I needed to do to pass and graduate. But lo and behold, 26-years later I actually found myself interested in the "how-to's" of fiction writing.
Then I dropped out.
Oh, I stuck it out for a couple of months, but honestly it became a pain in the ass. We were expected to post X number of comments on other people's work, much of which was painful. Then the teacher created work groups in which we were supposed to sort of workshop stuff, but of the 6 people in my group, only two seemed to have talent and something constructive to say. The rest sucked so why would I want their advice? Oh, and the teacher was pretty much useless. She'd pop in every once in awhile to post a comment, but for the most part she was "professor in absentia." What's the point of taking a class when the "professional" is never contributing to your education, but instead leaving it to a bunch of hacks like myself? So there you go.
The girl just graduated high school last weekend. Very proud of her. She's off to college in the fall. Can you say "student loans?" So we've had that going on.
What else....I'm still reading a lot. Yup. More Andre Dubus, "We Don't Live Here Anymore." Also rented the movie version from the library last weekend. It sucked. Yawn fest. Oh, and I'm getting fatter. Today is the first day I'm trying to go "grain free." The pounds should melt off any second now.
Well, I guess that's enough for the first day back. Stay tuned. Or don't. I don't really "care."
I love discovering an author whose work excites me enough to seek out the rest of what he's written.
At the office there is a room labeled the Wellness Room, or perhaps it's the Well Room. Regardless, in this room there is a couch and a rolling rack of books; books that I assume have been donated/discarded by fellow employees.
I discovered this room a week or two into the new job, and I discovered many years ago that I cannot pass a rack of books (hello Half Price Books) without stopping to scan the titles for something of interest. I took a couple of books (Ash Wednesday, by Ethan Hawke the only one currently coming to mind) and they were OK; not horrible, not terribly exciting; books that, rather than being added to my bookshelf, would instead be added to my swap list on Paperback Swap.
But on my second or third visit I found a book of short stories titled Adultery and other choices, by Andre Dubus. I'm a fan of the short story; not only from a genre stand point, but as a frustrated writer I can actually envision myself completing short stories, while a novel just seems far too overwhelming. I won't say I loved it, but it was interesting. I'd never heard of Dubus and I enjoyed his writing style and his characters enough to do some research to see what else he'd written.
The first thing I discovered was that he died in 1999, which blows. Dubus is the second contemporary writer I've discovered after his death, Larry Brown being the other. Dubus was hit by a car on a Massachusetts highway in 1986. He'd stopped to help some stranded motorists and ended up getting creamed for his trouble. No, that's not what killed him. A bum heart eventually did him in. But the accident left him confined to a wheelchair, with one leg amputated above the knee and the other leg useless.
As I said, Adultery and other choices was OK. I've since read In the Bedroom and Meditations from a Moveable Chair, both of which I enjoyed more. A devout Catholic, Meditations is a collection of essays in which Dubus discusses his life post-accident, how he's dealt with being, as he calls it, a cripple, his faith in God and the craft of writing. Two other books by Dubus are currently en route through the PBS, The Last Worthless Evening and Dancing After Hours.
Dubus wrote a story call The Killing, which was the basis for the movie In the Bedroom. I've never heard of it, but I guess it was good enough to garner a few Oscar nods. The movie We Don't Live Here Anymore (also new to me) was based on two of Dubus's short stories, We Don't Live Here Anymore and Adultery.
If you're interested, below is Dubus's complete bibliography.
The girl and I were in Portland this past weekend, visiting Pam, Vicki and the University of Portland.
It rained. Surprise. Probably a good thing as it gave the girl a taste of life in Portland.
We visited U of P Saturday morning. I enjoyed it, but the tour itself was difficult due to the rain and my inability to hear our two young tour guides. I had to keep pushing my way to the front of the group in order to hear. It's a very small school. There are only about 3,800 students. Average class size is 23, but range anywhere from 15 to 35.
There are five "schools;" Arts/science, business administration, nursing, education and engineering
Freshmen are required to live on campus their first year
All classes are taught by professors
There is no "Greek" system, as it goes against the idea of "community," though I think the real reason is because they're full of douchebags
The girl seemed somewhat indifferent. She liked it, but it didn't seem to speak to her, to whisper the words "you belong here." So we'll see. They've waived her application fee, and the sooner you apply the sooner you hear about merit scholarships and the like, so we'll continue on down the road and see where it goes.
(The girl and dad on campus)
Yea, so after the educational portion of our visit we went on to do a few other things. First stop was lunch at Little Big Burger. As the name implies, the burgers are a wee bit on the smallish side, but tasty as all get out. And the fries? Fried in truffle oil. Oh baby but they's good.
(them at LBB)
After lunch we tooled into downtown and paid a visit to Powell's, one of the most awesome bookstores on the planet. I could have spent the rest of the day amongst the stacks, but we only stayed for an hour and a half. I found a couple of teacher books that Lisa wanted and then spent the rest of the time drifting around the fiction section. I had an armload of books but decided to only buy three; Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollak, When we talk about Raymond Carver, interviews by Sam Halpert, and a first edition, signed copy of Another Day in Paradise by the late Eddie Little. I actually already have copy of ADIP, but $4.95 for a signed first edition? It was a steal that I could not resist.
From Powell's we headed across one of Portland's five bridges en route to the Bagdad Theater for the 5:15 showing of World War Z. For those of you unfamiliar with the brothers McMenamins, they are considered "two of the pioneers of the Northwest microbrew and historic hotels industries." The Bagdad is one of their theater pubs and we dined on pizza and what not while watching Brad Pitt battle zombies. Pretty awesome.
(swiped from Google images)
We actually were pretty beat after our day, and all turned in early. Sunday morning we made a late breakfast and then hit Voodoo Donuts for a "second breakfast" on our way to the airport.
(Waiting on line at Voodoo)
(The girl got a shirt and a donut. I just got a donut. But the "voodoo man" was tasty)
And that's it. Thank you for coming along on our trip to Portland. And thanks to Pam and Vicki for their hospitality.
So here's a picture Lisa took of the Mt. Diablo fire, a local conflagration that firefighters have been battling since September 8. The most recent reports indicate that the fire has burned about 3,500 acres and is 45% contained. For many more photos check out Claycord.com.
As another local man of words recently wrote, this brings back exciting childhood memories of the last big blaze on Mt. Diablo, or as I like to refer to it, Firestorm '77.
Twin lightening strikes on August 2, 1977 begat a blaze that destroyed 6,000 acres and had our neighborhood on edge for several days, watching nervously in fear that the fire would jump to Mt. Zion, a smaller mountain range at whose base our neigborhood huddled.
I recall various neighbors with folding chairs establishing a "base camp" on our front lawn, which offered a great view of the smoldering mountain. In my memory, adults sat outside most of the night keeping tabs on the advancing flames. I also remember seeing a few suitcases sitting in the entry hall of our home, presumably packed with essentials, but mostly photos, home movies and other irreplaceble items, lest we were forced to beat a hasty retreat. I remember a family friend, maybe 6 years older than me, who knew the mountain and volunteered to help in some way, perhaps as a guide or maybe a volunteer firefighter. I don't recall. I'll have to ask him next time we speak.
Naturally, this was an exciting few days for an 11-year old boy, getting to stay up later than usual, hanging about in the shadows outside the circle of adults who sat speculating in hushed voices, excited by the danger of it all. We neighborhood kids roamed the summer street, discussing the fire and what we'd do if it jumped the line, almost hoping that it would.
Reports are coming in that, after 13-years of marriage, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are "evaluating" their relationship.
Married since 2000, the couple has seen each other through several crisis moments; Douglas' bout with cancer, Z-J's bi-polar battles, Douglas' turn as Liberace in Behind the Candelabra. The list goes on.
In any event, neither "has moved to file for divorce or a legal separation, and a source close to the couple calls their separate "a break."