Monthly Archives: November 2010

“Once I wanted to be the greatest.”

My mom used to have her own business.  She monogrammed names and logos and anything else you wanted onto shirts, flags, baseball hats.  A big chunk of her business came from bowling leagues.  She’d sit down at her sewing machine with a stack of bowling shirts and spools of thread and stitch all the names: Joe, Roger, Barbara.

I’m writing a one-man play right now.  Sometimes when I’m writing I put on music.  Usually it helps distract my mind so that I just focus instead of thinking too hard.  Though sometimes it just distracts me.

Just now I got distracted because a song I didn’t recognize came on by a singer I did recognize.  Then the music video intrigued me.  It features three and a half minutes of middle aged and older women bowling.  They all take it seriously.  They all look so focused.  And then they all react to their performances, in simple but captivatingly honest ways. 

Probably if I saw that video without Cat Power’s voice behind it, it wouldn’t have struck me as much.  But it became so profound-seeming to me when paired with lyrics like this:

Once I wanted to be the greatest
Two fists of solid rock
With brains that could explain
Any feeling

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

A debate has been going on in the YouTube comments under this video about the meaning of the song and the meaning of the older women bowling. One person writes, “Memories of better days and nights. Each of the women in this video could fill hours and years talking about how good and bad life had been, and for some, still is – okay. Cat Power… She brings me to tears for so much we all dreamed about, and where those dreams end.”

Another user says, “The fact that the bowlers are elderly or not in the greatest of shape doesn’t negate their desire for perfection – a strike. It’s almost graceful and ballerina-like – how they step up and try to the best of their ability to match the perfect form. Watch the attempt, the hoping, and disappointment.”

Of course, then there’s this reaction, from a user named “zestytoaster”:

youre all wrong.

the point of the video is that it’s funny to watch old people bowl

Perhaps you’re right, zestytoaster. Perhaps you’re right.

I do need a job…

This Craigslist post has left me completely confounded.  They’re looking for people to work full-time December 1st-23rd to create one-of-a-kind toys for children in need.  If selected for the job, they will pay for you to fly to Alaska where you will stay in Santa’s Village in Northpole, Alaska, be paid $25/hr, and “be back with your families just in time for Christmas!”

Sounds like the premise of a low-budget slasher film.  But they do promise I’ll be back with my family in time for Christmas…  (I guess Santa’s workshop isn’t looking for anyone who celebrates any of the other holidays, such as Hanukkah Dec. 1st-9th.)

Also confusing is that this opportunity is listed as a “Sarah Palin Economic Initiative.”  It’s so ridiculous that I’m afraid it might be for real.  Does anyone know anything about this?  Is Sarah Palin funding a bizarre toy workshop in Northpole, Alaska?

The official website ( also looks suspect.  The free apartments in the “dream village” offer these amenities:

• Fireplace

• Queen sized bed

• Flat screen television

• Full kitchen

• Full bathroom

• Meals included and provided daily

Also, “Aside from the luxurious sleeping quarters, we have put together a modern holiday lodge that truly exemplifies the spirit of Christmas. The main lodge contains a heated indoor swimming pool and whirlpool, as well as a sauna. There is a large gathering room where we encourage all of our employees to relax and mingle on nights and weekends. The gathering room contains a large beautifully decorated Christmas tree and a lovely fireplace. We also have a full concierge and a coffee bar with complimentary beverages for all of our guests.”


Note: I was going to put a photo of Sarah Palin at the top of this post, but when I got to Google Images, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Also, this quote from the site does sound an awful lot like Palin rhetoric: “We need to have hope because we can, and will, rise up once again and reclaim our status as a financially stable, independent and respected country.”

Oh, screw it.  Let’s look at her!

Santa's helper?


In order to express our sense of reality, we must use some kind of symbol: words or notes or shades of paint or television pictures or sculpted forms.  None of those symbols or images can ever completely satisfy us because they can never be any more than what they are–a fragment of a reflection of what we feel reality to be.

I really love that quote.  It gives such a sense of importance to creativity.  To everything we create–even creating a conversation.

Oh.  You know who that quote is from?  Mister Rogers. 

I’ve been working on a project related to Mister Rogers for a few weeks.  And it’s incredible.  I went into the project not knowing all that much about him, aside from his sweaters and his songs and his puppets.  The more I learn about him, the more daunted I am in some ways.  Because now I have such respect for him.  And now I feel such a responsibility to do a truly good job on the project.

I tripped crossing the street earlier.  The laces on my hiking boots got snagged and I started to go down.  I was carrying my laptop and books and a piece of Celeste Pizza for One.  I came so close to falling, but then somehow I recovered.  My laces had come undone, so I had to stop and retie them.  As I did I looked around to see if anyone was looking at me, but no one was. 

It was a welcome thing, though.  I’d been so lost in thought.  As always.  So I was grateful to be jolted to the present moment.  Sometimes days go by so quickly and I don’t even remember living pieces of them.

Back to the Mister Rogers quote.  In this moment, I relate to the sense of reality expressed in this song: