Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 in review


many thanks to all of you who stopped by for a read or a comment and took a seat at the sydney opera house with me this year. best, beth

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

nun the wiser



one of my favorite christmas eve memories, was when my aunt, a catholic nun, mother superior of her order, came to town for the holidays. she came over early, to chat and hang out at my place. the rest of the family was running late, so for some reason, my daughters and i decided to keep her busy by playing a holiday game of ‘quarter bounce.’ open-minded, liberal nun that she is, she asked the rules and played right along with us. she actually did quite well, and we secretly wondered if she might have played once or twice before. 











later, when the whole family arrived, we decided to play ‘would you rather?.’ imagine our joy and endless laughter, (including hers), when the card she drew asked, ‘would you rather – a) have no breasts but saucer-sized nipples  -or- b) huge breasts and no nipples? could there have been anyone better in the family to have drawn that card?! sometimes the universe just lines up perfectly and offers you an unexpected and joyous gift. she chose the huge breasts option, by the way. 


Life must be lived as play. – Plato



the holiday show must go on!



baby b performs a live version of ‘jingle bells’ on her new stand-up mike, only to encounter a lot of action/distraction in the audience and soon realizes that her agent has booked her into a ‘garden level’ holiday party room and she is playing to a tough crowd.

while singing, she is competing for attention with: a big screen tv airing a holiday film, baby j grabbing the mike and trying to eat it when she is stops to adjust her sound system (she is also her own roadie), cousin baby v, stepping in and clapping in the middle of her song, checking to see if she can have a go at the mike, a neighbor baby audience member tipping over and toddling by into the circus tent behind her, baby r jumping around near the couch on the lounge level, as her discounted obstructed view ticket has placed her behind a pole and a massive gift box, and most everyone else who has had a glass or two of a delicious holiday beverage.  baby b however, takes it all in, is unfazed, and continues on with the show.

“Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles, and the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. Your decision to be, have and do something out of the ordinary entails facing difficulties and challenges that are out of the ordinary as well. Sometimes your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay with it longer than anyone else.”  Brian Tracy


There’s real drama in performing live. You never know how it’s going to be.  – Kevin Costner





the games people (try to) play




If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger. – Frank Lloyd Wright


technology has never been my strong suit, to put it mildly. oh, i can open up my laptop with the best of them, and use my cell phone, and text, and email, and write, and listen to music, and even use my electric toothbrush, but when it comes to video games, i realize i am in a totally a one-sided dysfunctional relationship. i consider myself ‘on a need to know and desperate to use level of understanding’ as far as technology goes anyway, and the games really push the envelope. won’t take my word for it? need a bit of evidence? here a just a few examples:


Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born. – Alan Kay

years ago, i was super hyped-up when ‘pong’ came out, one of the very first home video games. i found myself so excited on my first turn playing it, that i snapped the joystick right off of its base. all these years later, my brother is still holding a bit of grudge about this incident, as the game was his dream come true, and my parents also snapped, and said they were not replacing it since ‘we’ broke it so quickly.


when one my daughters was quite young, she told me, (as i was trying to share a mother-daughter quality bonding time with her, by playing video games) – ‘mom, i’m not trying to be mean, but it’s not really fun playing these games with you. it’s kind of boring actually, because you’re sort of slow, and you don’t know the shortcuts and your guys always get killed so fast and you have low points and then you are out and i always win.’  


flash forward to more recent times, apparently i have not made a lot of progress in this area.  i played wii tennis against my son in law, and hit him with my hand held thing. hard. by accident. once again, i was a very enthusiastic player. i felt like i was really on the court. soon after, the ‘tapping’ incident, it flew out of my hand and hit and broke something in the room. i was ‘asked’ to wear the wristband to protect us all after that. 


I play the the Wii without the wrist strap, thug life. – Unknown quote

for my birthday this year, i put ‘one hour of random tech support, (of my choosing), without judgement, snottiness, mocking laughter, or a crabby voice’, on my birthday wish list. coincidentally, all three of my daughters individually decided this was not humanly possible for them, as the conditions i requested were absolutely un-doable. they each said they would rather get me anything else on my list.  


my new strategy is to stay one step ahead of the grand babies, as i can sometimes take them in the games at this point, though one is soon to be six years old, so my short reign may quickly come to an end. i’ve decided that i can cross ‘gamer’ or ‘video designer’ off of my list of potential next careers. but – give me a good game of twister and i will show you who’s boss. and perhaps even do so, without judgement or snottiness or mocking laughter, or a crabby voice, though there is no guarantee. 

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. – Albert Einstein





laying it all out on the table



 on one of my thrice-weekly visits to the library, while milling around the film area, (one of my favorite things to do), i turned, and what should pop out, but the spine of a film sitting quietly on a shelf of random dvd’s, calling out to me with a movie title i simply could not resist – “Ping-Pong!’

my friend’s reaction was, ‘really? you’re kidding, right?’ au contraire, mon ami! i could not believe my good luck! i had absolutely no idea what this would be, but knew i had hit the jackpot and had to check it out and watch it right away, before anyone else discovered this gem, lest i be relegated to the wait list, anxiously awaiting my chance to see it. (turns out i was the only one who was quite this excited about it, so no real worries there)

weighing in at an easy 70 minutes long, ’ping pong’ is a 2012 british documentary, about the greatest event in the sport officially known as ‘table tennis.’ in this film, the director and crew follow eight players from 5 countries, (with 703 years between them), as they prepare and compete in the ‘over 80s world championships of table tennis’, in outer mongolia.

these athletes and their stories are extraordinary, each one over 80, each a happy eccentric, survivors of various life events, a tenacious bunch, who refuse to give up on life, and each with their own motivation for this visit to china, the birthplace of table tennis.

a brief snapshot of them:

les (89) – a living legend, was a sickly child who survived to become a weight lifter who still lifts, a former raf flyer, and the 7-time world champion. wears short shorts, and loves watching hours of old film of table tennis matches.

terry (81) – the reigning world champion, survived a collapsed lung, heart problems, prostate, bone, and kidney cancers. he has just found out that his cancer has returned and has been given one week to live. says, ‘it’s mind over body.’

dorothy (100), the oldest competitor ever, still drives, a mega celebrity in her own right, has been to the world championships 11 times, and has been given advice for this trip by her doctor ‘not to have unprotected sex and no iv drug use’. sent off by her whole australian town. says, ‘i feel like a pop star and i will give it everything i’ve got.’

rune (85), has 27 medals, and is a 3-time silver medalist. she is training by running every day and says, ‘i must go, this is my last chance to get the gold.’

sun (80), the inner mogolian current champion, once retired, he didn’t want to sit home all day, so he took up the sport. indulges in a combination of old ginseng roots, herbs, vitamins, rice wine, beer, and cigarettes to keep himself feeling alive, and smiles a lot. says,‘i’ve been looking forward to this competition for years’

lisa (85), a newcomer at the sport, survived wwII as an austrian in the french underground, married to a pistol champion many years her junior, has a medal room with 30 silver and 120 gold medals, and is determined to become the world champion. says, ‘my style is as irregular as my driving’, ’it’s not how hard you hit it, it’s where you put it,’ and ‘if i die at the table, it’s what i want.’

inge (89), used table tennis to train her way out of the dementia ward she committed herself to, survived a series of small strokes after becoming a widow, doing it to ‘retrain her brain,’ could not even pick up a ball at first, says,’now i can forget my sickness.’

ursula (89), the reigning women’s champion, going there to defend her title, has heart problems and can only walk 14 steps at a time, she has a press agent and reads her own headlines and clippings, says,‘young people are shitting themselves, i beat everyone.’

as they all assemble and finally arrive in china, their british guide gives them a bit of practical advice that will cover most any situation,’if people bother you, just tell them to ‘bugger off’ and i’ll try to find the chinese word for that.’

this is the real thing. they are at the 15th world table tennis championships. with 51 countries represented, in 5 stadiums, and over 2,000 competitors, they are here in mongolia, in spirit, in body, and in mind. there is an opening ceremony, and flags, and families, and coaches, and judges, and autographs, and fans, and followers, and bruises, and inhalers, and muscle pulls.

they work their way through the preliminary rounds, the eliminations, the knockouts, the semis, and at last, the match points of the finals. there is sabotage, (stolen ‘bats’), drama, medical issues, and even trash-talking, (‘I don’t care how good she is, she can’t move!’, ‘ your mother gave you the wrong milk, that’s why you are fat!’, and, ‘i can get this old girl!.’)

they each give it their all with various levels of success. win or lose, what they have in common, is their sense of fair play and a shared philosophy about it all -‘i’ve played for many years, so i’ve learned how to win and how to lose. tomorrow is another day.’ – ‘losing is an honor. i’m glad i came. i learned from them all.’

6 months later:  you’ll have to watch to see what’s happened. someone says, ‘i will play again, if i am still alive.’ 

this incredible movie, about a group of extraordinary people, who consider themselves ordinary, shows the unbreakable strength of the human spirit and the power of living a life true to oneself.

Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway. – Webb Chiles 

 image credit: banyak films

la,la,la,la,la……. (not fa, la,la,la).



went to see this movie. waited outside for my friend to arrive.



just then, a loud group of people came out, and one said to the others,

‘i cannot believe that ____________ happened! he ____________! and _______!’


i could not believe they didn’t think about the other people sharing their space, waiting to go in and see the film and wanting all of the roller coaster ups and downs and surprises that came with it. they had revealed the ending of the movie to us. all i wanted was to take back that moment and block my ears and just say, ‘la,la,la,la,la,la,la………..’

Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us. – Boris Pasternak



a little something to warm you on this dark and stormy solstice day



my children, friends, family, co-workers, and visitors of all kinds, know that i love my coffee. new, old, freshly ground, from a bag, from a tin, just dripped, just perked, re-heated, from all corners of the world, as well as the local coffee shop, gas station, or grocery.

when i make my own pot of coffee, i love it strong, black, with a bit of cream. i love to heat what’s left, in the microwave, or on the stove, over and over, until it’s all gone. it gets stronger and thicker and more potent with time. my daughters have taken to calling it my ‘chernobyl blend,’ my version of ‘turkish prison coffee.’ at least i know i could survive most any coffee, most anywhere i may find myself, be it a prison, a truck stop, or at home in my own cottage kitchen. and that’s a life skill.

here’s wishing you a hot cup of coffee, however you most like it, wherever you may be, on this, the shortest day of the year. and if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by my cottage in the morning, for a cup of my own special blend. we’ll share a pot, and toast to the beginning of a return to the long and brighter days of sun. happy winter solstice!

                                      If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.  –Abraham Lincoln


indoor recess – carnival of the animals


Imagebetween the dinos, the lions, and the kinders, i didn’t stand a chance. and i had a ball. 

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato