A two-fer for you this week. I just returned from a family trip to Florida's amusement parks, and shot these pics in an airport on the way home; which airport I could not say, as there were several, and I was still buzzed from butterbeer.
I find humor in stores which are named with a single pretentious generic noun, much like the store in this previous post and this one. This shop is one of those purveyors of shi-shi little soaps, but I had hoped, on first glance, it was a supply shop for hobbyists who lathe.
I know. Too much to ask of airport retail.
I love the profoundly vague slogan in this hotel ad. May I suggest my own alternative:
Like most Americans, I like to read the dictionary for fun. It is cheaper than online poker and more educational than fly fishing, unless you count life lessons. I have never been happy with the dictionary's definitions, however. So I have "improved" the definitions myself for these (actual) words:
absconce: to take off with someone's wall fixtures
bactericide: what happens when germs get melancholy
cella: folksy way of saying "cello"
damnification: the frustrating inability to find the focus setting you want on a microscope
debel: a teen girl who rebels at her coming-out party
dehort: de most important parta de body besides de brain
eclaircise: my kind of aerobics!
egestion: what a digital stomach does
emmew: what French cats say
estival: a carnival after people have gotten the f out
famulus: stylish; see also: "awesob"
felloe: another word for "guye"
fissicostate: a school whose football team you have never heard of
gabbro: a guy who talks too much
gauffer: a small tunnel-dwelling, limousine-driving mammal
geloscopy: an annual checkup of your pudding
hamshackle: a really run-down pig
herbose: the inability to shut up about one's garden
iamatology: the study of where you are at
idempotent: not exactly something you should shout from the rooftops
ignotism: hypnotism for stupid people
impest: the most imp
jetavator: the quickest way to the penthouse
judogi: what sleeps at the foot of ju bed
juglandaceous: much less sexy than it sounds
kakorrhaphiophobia: fear of kakorrhaphios.
lavadero: a cowboy with a hand washing compulsion
logogriph: a giant mythical flying swoosh
magpiety: subscribing to religious publications just for show
manometer: for taking the measure of a man
nunnation: the degree to which a Catholic school education sinks in
narcohypnia: I don't know, but it sounds like fun
obambulate: to walk like the president
oecist: a person who is rabidly, unapologetically against o's
pettifogger: someone who has not yet gotten deeply into fogging
pistology: the study of being really mad
rood: too impolite to spell things properly
shivaree: what you get when you spend too much time in the cold
sinistrorse: what the Headless Horseman rides
tachyscope: a scope which wears white after Labor Day
tentation: that feeling you get while camping that a nap would be nicer than a hike
Well, look at that. I am only up to my t's but out of time. I guess I will have to leave u to z for another day.
Maybe she would have squealed with victory as her angry birds successfully brought ruin to those pigs on her iPod. Maybe she would have been a "Belieber." Maybe been mortified by a bad hair day. Maybe this fall, as a freshman in high school, she would have developed a crush on a cute sophomore.
But she died in the second plane to hit the World Trade Center 10 years ago, at the age of four, so she will never do any of those things.
Her name was Juliana, and her mom was taking her to California to visit Disneyland for the first time.
Back in the horrible days following the attacks, her name jumped out at me from the newspaper, from among the hundreds of profiles of the 9/11 dead. Her middle name was Valentine, it said. She was four years old.
That's when my blood ran cold. My own daughter was four years old.
The thought kept echoing in my head—they killed a four year old. And they reportedly yelled how great god was while they did it.
I like to imagine what god was yelling back right about then.
It is hard to hold 2,977 people in your heart at once. That is why, on 9/11, Juliana represents them all to me. Every 9/11 I pull up Juliana's picture, and I imagine what her life might have been like now.
One life is an entire world, and its absence, while unfelt by most of us, has monumental repercussions. I can't help but think there is a teenager out there somewhere right now, maybe in Juliana's native Connecticut, who would have married her some day, but won't; will never even know her name.
Her grandchildren, whom Juliana would have spoiled with ice cream before dinner or with too much birthday money, will never exist. The concerto she might have written, the cure she might have discovered, the thousands of students she might have taught; these will not be.
They say an assassin's bullet never changed the course of history. The course, the ultimate arc, maybe not. But down here inside history, where you and I live, a life gone is a whole world gone.
So I celebrate Juliana's world today, and my daughter's. I see in my girl, in her playful sense of humor and growing adolescent maturity, in her raging passion for social media, the Juliana who will never be.
Not only were both girls four when the attacks occurred, both born in 1997, I recently discovered they were born one mere day apart. Juliana arrived one day earlier.
Perhaps that is why, when her lovely, small face shone up at me from that newspaper in 2001, I felt such a chill. She could just as easily have been mine.
And so I honor her memory every 9/11, for all the victims, and I always will.
This year, especially, please accept these words as my own little personal Juliana Valentine.
Scrambling to find four seats together for my family on the boat to Catalina, I saw a young woman typing intensely on a laptop. "Would you mind sliding over one so we can all sit together?" I asked her.
"Ai yi yi," she replied, irritated, but she complied. I thanked her, marveling that people actually say that outside of cartoons.
I somehow missed my junior high class trip to the island, so I was excited. It is not every day you get to see tourists in their natural habitat, or a place where so much sunscreen is evaporating at such a rate it becomes weather.
First we took the glass-bottom boat tour because, really, who does not want to see fish at foot level? Then we strolled the main street and, due to the saggy style with which teenage boys wear swim trunks, saw more crack than in 20 plumber house calls.
We popped in and out of the many cute shops along the strip, my favorite being one touting its "original American fish art." I wondered idly how many dupes fall for those cheap European fish art knock-offs.
We wanted to get a sense of the nature the island had to offer, so we snagged the back row in a packed tour bus up into the mountains. I had disregarded the brochure's warning that the road would be "bumpy" and "winding" until I was swerving around views of deadly thousand-foot drop-offs while bouncing six inches off my seat.
We did see two bison on a hilltop, though, and a cactus.
Approaching a turn coming back down the mountain, the driver, for comedy's sake, held her hands straight up in the air and asked "Anybody want to take the short cut?" A little girl screamed, genuinely frightened, and I felt sorry for her until I realized her voice was coming from my throat.
Heading back to our boat in the evening, I saw a restaurant advertising bison burgers, and my wife joked that maybe patrons get to choose which bison they want up on the hilltop. Like you do in restaurants with live lobsters. I was briefly annoyed that she was coming up with better material than I was.
But pulling out of Avalon, I stood on the breezy aft deck watching the rows of anchored sailboats recede, and like something out of a movie, three dolphins suddenly dived out of the water, playing in our boat's wake. I went for my camera, but they were gone.
Ai yi yi, they were lovely, though.
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If your email is automatically set to not show images, turn images on now. Otherwise you will miss out on the following photographic embellishments to the above column:
In the boat terminal in Long Beach, a graphic depiction of our vessel was emblazoned on a sculpture of a bald eagle. I think this is the artistic pinnacle one achieves once one has mastered painting cats on rocks.
Yes, what you want in your gut before an hour-long boat ride is a 1/3 pound hot dog in a pretzel bun. But I am not you.
Those of us who grew up in the 20th Century never got the flying cars we were promised would arrive in the 21st, but at least feline aerodynamics are on pace.
They make you shoot this picture as soon as you arrive in Avalon. Check the Internet. There are already 5,000,000,000 of these in existence. If you refuse, they paint your likeness on the breast of an eagle sculpture. Just take the picture.
I do not know who Babs was, but I thank her for providing our family with the alliterative phrase of the day, "dinghy dock." On the pier, there was even a sign, "This is not a dinghy dock," which brought me more enjoyment than should be possible from a sign. I wondered if it was some sort of nautical nod to Magritte's famous painting.
You do not see this gentleman in the tourist brochures for the island.
The entrance to the cylindrical, red-roofed casino building shown earlier is decorated with several beautiful murals created before PG-13.
The bison is an iconic animal on Catalina, because back in the 1920's a silent film crew brought over a dozen or so for a movie and they got loose. Now they number in the hundreds and roam free in the island's rural countryside. Thus this sculptural homage to the hardy bison. At least I think it's an homage. The bison might disagree.
The history books will tell you that the million-strong herds of American bison were destroyed by 19th Century hunters. Lies! The bison were actually decimated by a little-known malady known as "pepperoni butt."
Sorry, Charlie, you're not getting in here either.
I think this is where Hemingway wrote his little-known novella, "Jello Shots With Leticia."
Seen from our tour bus on the mountain, the drama continues (this time outside the bus) as a shirtless hiker approaches a pair of bison for a photo opp. Moments later, a sheriff drove up and advised him to not get killed.
Coming back down the mountain, we were met by this sarcasm-proof vista.
Like the bison, the bald eagle is an iconic symbol on the island because many actually live in the inland. They are thus artistically depicted all over the place. Just not here.
You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave without dropping at least three bills on souvenir refrigerator magnets.
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Please leave a comment below by clicking on "Comments." Have you been to Catalina? Did you buy authentic America fish art?