Monday, March 30, 2009

Disturb the Universe

April is National Poetry Month. This month, answer J. Alfred Prufrock's question, "Do I dare disturb the universe?" with a HELL, YEAH! Read something wonderful! Carry a poem in your pocket on April 30! Write one! Enter a poetry contest! Sign up to receive a poem a day at Check out this Flickr group of poetry in strange places.

Haunt. Run. Breathe. Try. Gain. Fail. Recover. Pause. Submerge. Relish. Try.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oscar and Me

Was I disappointed? Of course. I didn't want to leave the party Friday night, probably the coolest I'll ever get a chance to blunder into.

Waitstaff passed yummies. The carnival colors of Speed Racer flashed before a flotilla of comfy couches in the screening room. In the gym, Matrixy patterns fashioned out of drilled holes streamed down the wood panel walls in a somehow friendly and gym-appropriate way. A cowboy boot piƱata waited patiently for the bat. Four, count 'em, four real live Oscars (best editing, best sound, best effects and best sound effects editing - hmm, that sounds a little like a snake eating its tail, doesn't it?) stood on a shelf.

Yeah. I KNOW. I am not making this up.

You know that feeling of walking into a room and feeling like an impostor? I didn't have that, really. I saw Bound when it first came out, and loved it. Randy is an old school buddy of the host.

(Gotta admit - I don't know what cracked me up more, the fact that the other cool tchotchkes, the toy sized movie monsters and cars and robot squids and cartoony figures that surrounded the gold statues actually held Mia and Nora's attention longer or the fact that Mia said, "Mommy held a real one of those," and Daddy got to correct her, "those are real too.")

I didn't want to leave the party.

There was cake.

But even though our kind hosts had supplied babysitters, ping pong, Twister and bean bag toss, even though there were tons of happy kids running around and parents sipping and chatting while they nonchalantly ignored the gold men on the shelf, we're not a family made that way.

Nora fell in the gym and hit her head and wanted to go to the doctor. I made an ice pack out a plastic baggie from the caterer and some ice from the bartender, but she didn't want it, just wanted to see Dr. Ocean (that's her version of Olsen) and his funny pirate watch. Mia was red-faced and over-excited too, bobbing from room to room, not making eye contact when I reminded her to walk, not run. When she burst into tears because she couldn't get the Wii controller to work, I was getting frustrated and it was time to go home. It would be half an hour after bedtime by the time we got home if we left now.

Sometimes when my children are inconsolable, it's my mothering that feels like the job of an imposter.

Just that morning, another mom had reminded me, "You want to be drinking coffee with the moms in the other room, but we have to be a little more vigilant. Our kids need a little more help." I needed to remind myself of this on the drive home.

And I know that if we'd hired a babysitter and made it a date night, I would have looked at the other kids having fun and wished Mia and Nora could have come to play, and to see all this too.

This is the way they display Oscars at the mall, not at private parties. Behind glass or with a little cord attaching the unawarded statue to the lectern so the hoi-polloi lining up to get their pictures taken won't do something silly. The one pictured here, by the way, is Clark Gable's Best Actor for 1934's It Happened One Night, the actor's only win.

Spotting this guy last month on the way to buy some sneakers was a bit of a sock in the jaw since this was the movie that started my long and intense pre-teen love affair with Gable. IHON also won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress to Claudette Colbert. In 1996, Stephen Spielberg bought Gable's Oscar statue at a Christie's auction and returned it to the Academy for safekeeping.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Half of Life is Just Showing Up

is what I was telling myself Saturday night, still slightly nauseated at the shocking sight of my angrily inflamed hips ("lacy and symmetrical" is how the doctor described the rrrhash, which could sound rather nice I suppose if you're not the one wearing it ON YOUR ASS) and just slightly tempted to crash on the inviting bed, but I would not not not miss the chance to see friends old and new and I am not one to refuse an invitation, especially when it comes from the always pleasantly unpredictable Virginia and Dad agrees to be with the kids.

And so wonderful it turned out to be, sitting on a lichen covered stump that Virginia scavenged from the lot across the street before the giant condo went up, sipping her sweet potato soup out of teacup and swapping old clothes with V and company (no, I'm not contagious; it's an allergic reaction to antibiotics) in her secret garden, a bricked back patio that used to be Randy's and mine back when the trees were not grown so tall and enclosing. Although she no longer gets the sun that baked these bricks and my flower pots, there's still a friendly neighbor to the south who peeks his head over the fence and offers friendly drunken advice. Oh I do love the city. Maybe Avondale is the new Humboldt Park - I could hear a band practicing across the street as I left with my bags of new/old clothes, including my first black leather skirt(!) and a pair of Bobby Conn's silver jeans with embroidered snake for purely sentimental reasons.

Then on to meet Gillian Marchenko, finally in person in Roscoe Village after months of loving her blog and posts to CMB. She earned a Victory for All Moms by getting carded at the door and turned out to be lovely and fun and wicked funny.

I'm so glad I went.

The bed was calling today, too, after a restless night (I'm sorry for the ongoing catalog of aches; I know I'll be getting my mojo back soon when my daily walks resume) and waking with a headache that turned into the feeling of a hand gripping half my skull and left eye socket by mid afternoon.

But. We accomplished so much today - Mia drew pictures of a strawberry, a grapefruit, an apple tree, an amazingly well-shaped pear and a potato, then we filled tiny clay pots with potting soil and buried the fruit seeds and a quarter of a potato. Eleanor helped water and I took photos, hoping this might eventually turn into next month's Kindergarten Science Fair project.

I got Mia off to school safe and sound, though a little late cause we had a "Montessori lunch" together at home (that means I broke out the placemats and we spent extra time chatting about how nice it was to eat together) and then Nora and I went on to get the car vacuumed (drive-through dinner tonight took us nearly back to square one) and fetch a bag of canned goods for the food drive at school before I dropped her off too.

... (It's getting late and I'm losing my point...)

At the video store tonight the guy said, "We ask you to bring it back around 6:00 the night it's due" and then he laughed when I asked him if I could bring it back any earlier cause we were probably busy at six. And Randy came home early. And my headache is all gone.

And this made me laugh really hard AND it was preceded by the thrilling sight of one of Randy's rockin' commercials - although Suave had been replaced with mascara when I returned to it tonight.

My point - it was a show-up kind of day that turned into something really nice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Family Funnies

Randy was headed out on his way to work when I stopped him and pointed to the label of his t-shirt under his chin. "The mean kids will make fun of you." "Backwards and inside out?" he laughed.

Nora's name for the elaborate landscape of tiny plastic ponies, stuffed animals, princess dolls, their furniture, cars, garages and accessories that she has arranged on the floor of her bedroom? The World of Happiness.

One day last week I dropped Mia's lunchbag from the armful of KidCrap I was hauling in from the car after school and it stayed outside on the deck all night. The next day I noticed it, now with two little holes, gnawed right through the plastic zipper. I delayed telling Mia about it until we were actually in front of the display of BPA- and lead-free bento boxes at Healthy Green Goods. Was she disappointed? Of course. But not because she was sad that her old butterfly bag was ruined. She just wanted to see the mouse holes.

Randy was walking around all day feeling the beginnings of a blister on his heel. He checked his shoe and found nothing. It wasn't until he got home and took off his sock that he found the culprit - a sticky-backed googly eye.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I woke up Saturday morning covered in pink spots, today they've clustered on the (ahem) more generous parts of my body and turned an angry shade of red. I changed all the bedding in all the bedroom, but the rash (I like to say it with a French accent like Collette in Ratatouille - "You have a rrhash?") seemed more internally formed - like the itching was a kind of burning along my nerve endings, not an external irritant. The doc on the phone (not my regular doctor, nor the doctor - again, not my own - who prescribed me Amoxicillin for the strep throat I believe I picked up in my daughter's doctor's office - got all that?) said it was probably an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. Now the repulsion I had to choking down the pills for the last nine days made sense. Now I'm sleeping a lot and drinking detox tea and feeling poisoned. Oh Western medicine, you let me down again. How right the nurse had sounded when she suggested warm salt water gargles - "It will kill all the bacteria down in your throat and ease the pain."

With all this complaining, I do now feel the need to share with you "Anatomy of a Scare" from the March 2 Newsweek. Sharon Begley's well-researched history of the supposed autism-vaccine link concludes with this indictment:

"It is bad enough that the vaccine-autism scare has undermined one of the greatest successes of preventative medicine and terrified many new parents. Most tragic of all, it has diverted attention and millions of dollars away from finding the true causes and treatments of a cruel disease."

Most horrifying to me is the reality that frightened and poorly-informed parents are putting their children at risk by denying or delaying childhood vaccinations. Begley writes, "The number of measles cases in the United States reached 131 in 2008, the highest in decades. Last month five children in Minnesota became infected with Hib. Four developed serious complications; the fifth child died."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Premio Dardos!

The lovely and wonderful Gillian Marchenko at Pocket Lint and Expecting Evangeline has bestowed We All Fall Down with a Premio Dardos Award! Thank you, thank you!

“Premio Dardos" means "prize darts" in Italian. The Premier Dardos Award is given for "recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. The award was created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers and showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

Acceptance carries these stipulations:

Step 1. Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

Step 2. Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

Step 3. Answer the following questions on your own blog, replacing one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, and adding one more question of your own.

1) What are you wearing right now? Lime and blue crinkly cardigan, khaki crinkly long skirt, grey leggings

2) What is your biggest fear? Can't go there. Read my last Chicago Moms Blog post and you'll see I can take fears a little too far.

3) Do you nap a lot? Not as much as I'd like. Today, for 20 minutes before our dr. appointment, parked, with four year old doing the same in the back seat.

4) Who is the last person you hugged? Six year old Mia because she cleaned up the playroom.

5) What websites to you visit when you go online? Chicago Moms Blog and the writers' personal blogs, LOL cats, Catherine Newman on Tuesdays when she posts a new recipe, Sexy People (it's not what you think), Cake Wrecks

6) What was the last item you bought? Omoxycillin prescription for my strep throat, new toothbrushes for the girls.

7) What are you reading? John Updike's Couples. Recommended by Carrie Kirby. I was bored by the wife-swapping, but thrilled by the luminous prose:

...He had grown to love this house, its rectangular low rooms, its baseboards and chair rails molded and beaded by hand, the slender mullions of the windows whose older panes were flecked with oblong bubbles and tinged with lavender, the swept worn brick of the fireplace hearths like entryways into a sooty upward core of time... He loved how this house welcomed into itself in every season lemony flecked rhomboids of sun whose slow sliding revolved it with the day like the cabin of a ship on a curving course.

8) If you could go to the Oscars, who would you want to sit next to? A chatty man nominated for best costume design who had previously won and was up against a sure-fire winner so he was totally relaxed about the whole thing and only wanted to make catty and cooing comments about the stars' outfits.

9) Has a celebrity’s hair cut ever influenced your own hairstyle? Jean Seburg's boy cut in Breathless. Loved having short short hair with all its emphasis on the eyes, hated the awkward growing out period.

10) What is one skill you wish you had, but don’t: Ice skating?

11) What was the last movie you watched? Space Chimps. For the fifth time. I'm a stay at home mom. I have no life.

12) What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to you? My husband's father had a temporary ministry in Kansas at the same time Randy and his long-term girlfriend broke up. Randy was merely a cute co-worker I had a major crush on at the time, but since he was driving from Chicago to Kansas to visit his father over Easter, I had a golden opportunity to share a ride. Sparks, love, eventually children ensued.

13) If you had a whole day to yourself; no work, commitments or interruptions what would you do? I would sleep late - but only 8:30 or so cause I don't want to squander a precious minute of free time. Oatmeal breakfast with nuts and dried apricots that magically appears on the immaculate table. Read the Op/Ed page and the comics in the Trib. Go for a vigorous walk to the lake. Come home to shower and early lunch (I know, I just ate. But I took a long time exfoliating and my blood sugar gets all wacky when I work out.) Avocado, tomato and cream cheese sandwich on whole wheat. Write until the late afternoon. Twitter, Facebook and AOL have all gone fishing so I have no distractions and produce pages of cogent and beautiful prose. Change my clothes into something fabulous. Effortless public transportation to meet friends at bar for drinks, play/movie/concert/art opening, Dear Husband meets us for dinner and drives me, pleasantly tipsy, home to sneak a peek at my sleeping angels and bed.

14) Is there a major goal you have that you haven’t yet achieved? To publish my book.

15) Where did you meet your spouse? At work. For me, it was like at first sight, for him, I had to do some flirting.

16) What is something that those in blogland might not know about you? I'm short-waisted?

17) What states and countries have you visited as an adult? States: California, Colorado, DC, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, New Hampshire, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, drive-bys: Chicago to Florida by way of the Natchez Trace, Florida to New York off the interstates, New York to Chicago. Countries: England, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, France, Monaco, Italy, Russia, the Ukraine, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Bahamas, Mexico, Canada.

18) What do you do to relieve stress? Curse, hug my daughters, read, write, blog, go for walks, watch good TV, date night with my husband.

19) If you could change one physical trait about you what would it be? Give me the cardio-vascular system of a marathoner.

20) In what room in history would you have liked to be a fly on the wall? I love hearing how other people answer this question, so I added it, but I don't have a very exciting answer. Independence Hall, during the machinations, negotiations and speeches before the Declaration was signed?

I’m passing this award on to:

Susan at Two Kinds of People
Anne at Sippy Cup Nation
Sue at Close to the Sun
Rachel at Be Love Now
Lisa Romeo
Sally at Queen of the Playground

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Hopefulness

Every once in a Sunday, the little girl who lives next door sets up a pink card table and chair in her front yard next to the sidewalk. If we happen to glance out the window and see her, the girls will squeal and run for the dish of change on Randy's desk. "Sam! Sam!" they yell as they run outside in their socks to buy some homemade trail mix.

Last weekend, Sam had dried Turkish apricots, smoked almonds, Triscuits that tasted like bacon (do they come in Bacon flavor?) and pretzels piled in coffee filters. She mixed up a little combo for each of the girls and they carefully carried them home in their floppy paper bowls. I'm loving the apricots and wondering if Sam ever sits out there without any customers coming. She doesn't ring our doorbell or her own bell, as the knife-sharpener does as he walks by. She just sits and waits, patiently.

And. My niece Maggie, who just completed her pre-med degree, is in South Africa for the spring, working with AIDS orphans. You can read her blog about the amazing experience here. Seeing her smiling face as she hugs the sweet children makes my heart swell.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rough Week

Abandoned cupola.

Mia's finger was so infected she needed a prescription of antibiotics. Puffy red and white and numb. But she was brave when the doc manipulated it, distracted by the popsicle.

Nora's throat hurt, then she woke late in the night with an uncontrollable cough. Just like the old baby days with croup, I carried her into the bathroom in the dark and we sat in the steam until she had quieted.

The steam is thanks to the new hot water heater, one of the final ticks off the list of house renovations I have no right to feel anything but grateful for, but I am so tired of strangers clumping around our dirty laundry and unwashed breakfast dishes, I just want my house back.

Nora turned out to have strep throat and I do too. Antibiotics all around!

We finally got out of the house today - the girls with Dad to the Wagner Farm, then late in the afternoon when they persisted in silliness, with me to the Purple Park on bikes. We've always called it the Purple Park because of the folk art house right next door, painted a lovely shade of lilac with a dark pink trim. Endlessly interesting, the garden was a rotating art show, with birdhouses, funny signs, glass globes, wire and wood animals, gnomes and other treasures tucked away behind gorgeous stands of bridal wreath, wysteria and hydrangea. In the front yard was a purple painted post with arrows pointing in four directions giving the mileage to the local coffee house, to towns in Ireland and Italy, to Grandma's house.

We rounded the corner in the alley and I saw first that the trailer was gone. It had been a tiny and neat little Airstream adorned with a painted cowgirl and the name "Lil Rambler" spelled out in rope. In its place was a pile of rough boards, some of the pulled down fence. Beyond it was the denuded garden and the shocking sight of the Purple House, now painted an anonymous cream. Worst of all, we stepped into the yard to check on the koi pond and found it full of debris and an abandoned rake, the orange fish floating on their backs.

The girls thankfully didn't share my horror, just saying, "Someone littered!" When Mia saw my tears she offered a hug and it helped a little.

I never knew these neighbors of ours, I just enjoyed their garden from outside the whimsical fence. I can't shake the brutality of the change, enacted by thoughtless hands, thinking only of resale.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's Looking Like the Murmur Album Cover Around Here

That's the autumn clematis I left hanging by the garage for the "winter interest." Spring cleaning time is on the way! Can't wait. I've got big plans, big plans for the patch of straggly ivy under the cherry tree.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Longest Day of the Year

is when your husband is in California at his friend's memorial and the buckets of rain never let up all day even when the sun comes out for a few minutes in the late afternoon, yet denies us a rainbow.

Never mind the clocks, they are immaterial to little children who can't tell time except by the absence of Daddy who will kiss Mia's swollen infected finger and even distract Nora from her fifth viewing of a ridiculous movie starring vegetables, but that will be later.

Most of the day, outside the peace of a long family nap in the late afternoon, is spent in aimless play, making Rorschach butterflies with glitter paint one hour, some agitating computer play another. A neighborhood girl comes for a couple of hours around lunch to give the girls an audience for the imaginary scripts they act out with their stuffed animals.

The girls make up lists of their fears. Mia: the dark, pirates, meat, trying new foods and peas. For Nora, the dark, bats and bombs.

I read a few pages of John Updike's Couples (the sixties era suburban swingers are as familiar as Martians), fold laundry and clean out the bathroom drawers, listening to the rain and thinking about yesterday when we drove into the city to a public access TV studio near Greektown for the Chic-a-Go-Go dance show taping. The girls were reluctant down the anonymous gray hallway of the cable station, of course, but intrigued when we turned the corner to a soundstage full of music and costumed dancers under the bright lights.

"I want to dance," said Nora so I put some angel wings and a tiara on her and she climbed on the carpeted riser in front and went to town. Mia's a little more shy so we sit behind the cameras and watch the king in a gold coat, the sun-glassed pharaoh and lithe girls in sequins dancing with abandon while the featured band, White Mystery, lipsynchs to their danciest track. The band is a brother and sister team with matching mops of red corkscrew curls. She's got an electric guitar hooked up to nothing and he jumps off the riser and wiggles around with his manically jingly tambourine but nothing's scary for the girls.

Perhaps I should have put a little more fear of the technology in the girls because Nora wanders around in front of the camera like a Saturday Night Live character while the sweet host Miss Mia is swapping jokes with Ratso the Rat puppet.

Ratso: Knock knock!

Miss Mia and the crowd: Who's there?

Ratso: Lettuce leaf!

Miss Mia and the crowd and us: Lettuce leaf who?

Ratso: Lettuce leaf the jokes to the professionals!

Ratso: Knock knock!

Miss Mia and the crowd: Who's there?

Ratso: Turnip!

Miss Mia and the crowd: Turnip who?

Ratso: Turnip the music, we want to dance!

And so they do, but this time Mia wants to put on her Princess Jasmine costume and shake her booty to "Panama" while Nora buries her head in my lap and sucks her thumb.

There's no sign of Julie Augie and Claudia (turns out they left a little before we arrived) nor my old college friend who's playing bass for Soft Targets. I'm okay with it, the day is for the girls and my nostalgia is even milder than my curiosity.

We slip away before the El Train dance and head over to Alliance Bakery in the rain for some cake ogling and good luck horseshoe cookies.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grieving Eric

This is the video that Randy cut for Eric Peterson's memorial.

I needed to see this. It's helping me grieve.

Losing our friend has all felt so unreal and out of the blue that news of his death was like a bad joke from Eric's comedy routine, or a sick prank he was pulling.

He was here vital and young one day and gone the next. We'll never know what happened.

Randy pulled out boxes and boxes of high school photos from the basement while he was prepping for the video. Eric looked so funny and shiny and alive, all we could do was laugh. It was so unreal.

But the video made it all come home and I finally sobbed, watching it. Not a bad thing. Just the right thing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Idol Picks - Top 36, Group 3

A mild show last night that left the impression of two or three adults blowing away the remaining crowd of pretty children. Lil Rounds, of course, must advance. Confidence, poise, pipes, graciousness. "Thank you so much! Opportunity of a lifetime," the mother of four gushed, putting the evening in perspective.

Why oh why did the producers lower the applicant age to 16 a couple of years ago? The high school kids are way out of their league against mom Felicia Barton, who sang Alicia Keys' "No One" really well.

My other pick is obviously Scott Macintyre, whose compellingly heroic story can distract us from his pretty good voice. We all know half the battle is in your head and when good-natured and sight-impaired Scotty gets behind his familiar piano, he might get into a groove that helps us forget his disability and hear his music.

But the real story for me tonight is about numbers.

In both of the last two weeks, the third place contestant was male, leaving us with the possibility that tonight could follow the same pattern (Is the idea of Ju'not Joyner or Jorge Nunez advancing any less surprising than Kris Allen's dark horse win last week? Even Allen looked shocked.) In that case, the Wild Card Round would be all women! Boo hoo, no second chance for my Anoop or Matt Girard! No chance of a surprise appearance by Danny Gokey's friend Jamar Rogers!

But let's think positive and give tonight to Lil, Felicia and Scott so I can make my co-ed dream list of call-backs to the Wild Card Round:

Anoop, who is the only non-advancer I want to see from Group 1. (Judges, producers, please, don't feel you need to select an equal number from each group!)
Matt Girard who will probably sing "Georgia on My Mind" but I half hope he doesn't.
Jesse Langsmith of the red hair and "Bette David Eyes."
Mishavonna Henson and Jasmine Murray, even though at 18 and 16 respectively, they are polished, but lacking the depth of the singing young parents we've seen. Hmm... maybe this topic is worth a Chicago Moms Blog post....
Megan Joy Corkrey, of the clear skin and "Girl, Put Your Records On."
maybe Taylor Vaifanua, if she promises to sing a different song than last night.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Appreciate All the Writing Advice I Can Get

My latest post, "Ready to Be Surprised" on Chicago Moms Blog likens the last weeks of winter to those of a pregnancy when the thrill has gone temporarily AWOL.

Some recent writing advice:

From my friend Susan and a recent Off Campus Writers' Workshop workshop:

If a segment can stand on its own, it probably should be cut.

Sue explains, "Beautifully written passages that stand on their own without reallymoving the story forward often need to be axed from the manuscript. These are the hardest cuts to make because they seem to flow organically and we tend to fall in love with them. Playwright Robert Koon's suggestion was that if a passage can stand completely on its own, it is probably not integral enough to the forward motion of the story to stay."

From Poynter Online, via my friend Michelle:

Start your story as near to the end as possible. This little tidbit is pretty powerful when you think about it.

From Michael Wiegers, the hot silver-haired executive editor of Copper Canyon Press who presented at AWP:

Sit down and write three descriptions of your book, one in 15 words, one in 100 and one in 500 words. Wiegers said his writers hate to do this, but it's a necessary and useful marketing tool.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Eric Peterson 1965-2009

Randy figures he met Eric when they were about six. Probably at the Lincoln, Nebraska Presbyterian church where Randy's dad was minister and where both he and Eric would be acolytes, wearing long robes, carrying candles and cracking each other up. Here's a picture of them on our wedding day, Eric on the left, Randy with the beer and the ohmygodohmygodohmygod face.

Eric's most recent career, post-stand-up-comedy, had been the Branding and Creative Director for a marking firm in Bangkok and Tokyo. He was in Phnom Penh last week to help preside over the launch of a new mobile service from a Cambodian telecommunications company when he died suddenly.

I didn't know that naming products was an actual career before I met Eric. I always described him as the man who was responsible for Pert Plus and the Savana minivan (get it? sa-VAN-a? Spacious as the African savanna? Clever, eh?) But Eric was so much more.

Gentle with friends, but wickedly funny too. Bigger than life. Big-hearted. As our wedding present, Eric planned a big surprise during the party the night before. He made a wooden rectangular frame on wheels, filled it with wet cement, then passed out dozens of disposable flash cameras to the crowd. Randy and I knelt on red velvet cushions and made our handprints in the cement as the cameras flashed, just like stars at Grauman's Chinese Theater. If you know how much I love old Hollywood (and showing off), you'll get an idea how happy this moment was.

Memorials are being planned in Lincoln and San Francisco.

Later. The San Francisco memorial and celebration will be Saturday, March 7, from 1-4 at the Uptown Bar, 200 Capp Street, one of Eric's favorite hangouts.

A comedy roast will take place at Bangkomedy, Saturday, March 7 at 8:00, Aura Rooftop Bar and Restaurant, 3rd floor, Bangkok.

You can see Randy's tribute video here.

Condolences for the family can be left at