Some explanation of the title of my blog is in order. Squirt is a feral tomcat who figured out the cat door. I think he’s been tortured (his tail is a mess) so he avoids people. But he likes the food, a particular pillow on the couch (I’ve had to cover the couch to protect it), and being around the house. We can’t touch him but he watches wistfully as we pet our cats. I think he wants affection but doesn’t know how to trust. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking; he’s probably thinking I’d make a good meal. I think I’d prefer not to die when Squirt’s around. Anyway, I feel sorry for him, except when he spraypaints our house with urine, and I admire his adaptability. I’ll work on gaining his trust until I can cut his fuzzy little nuts off. Until then, I’ll keep my ammonia bottle and kneepads handy for clean-ups. The Daily Squirt will try to reflect my impression of the cat himself. Cautious, adaptable, amusing…and sometimes it’ll stink on ice. Keep your ammonia bottle and kneepads handy.

Did I forget to mention that I’m a struggling writer with a novel, First Year, and a memoir, Greetings from Casa Cesspool to my credit? Read more about my work at my website, http://www.bagmlit.com.

FB cover snip 3

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Greetings from Casa Cesspoole

It’s that time of year again–I’m marketing a seasonal book! Ho ho ho.


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Something Rotten at the AhmansonI

I spent yesterday morning prepping my kitchen woodwork for painting and running errands–and I was exhausted. I only worked for four hours but you’d think I’d been digging ditches for a week. I used to spend six hours a day doing house building–but I was younger. I have to build up a tolerance for hard work. Or get younger. One or the other. I made salad and sandwiches for lunch and then took the afternoon off so I’d stay away for the play.

Gordon and I stopped at Kendall’s for our pre-show treat. I startled the bartender by declaring, “No soup for me! Tonight I’m in a mood for mussels.” I loved the mussels, white wine, and bread. We played a so-so game of Jeopardy then crossed the street to admire the decorations in Grand Park. I was surprised to see where the county had moved the tree. It’s been outside the Dorothy Chandler ever since I’ve been going to the Music Center–and that’s almost forty years. I guess they had more space to work with because there were lots more decorations. And they make a nice picture in front of City Hall.

I may have enjoyed the mussels but they didn’t enjoy me. I burped garlic throughout the show. I appreciated Something Rotten anyway. It’s a send-up of Shakespearean times with a playwright trying to come up with a new idea to compete with Shakespeare. He comes up with the idea of a musical and hilarity ensues. Actually, it really does. The play is clever and funny–and blessedly non-political. It’s intelligently silly. And it’s fun to identify all the themes from hit musicals interspersed throughout. I think even Gordon laughed out loud and I usually think it’s a good show if he stays awake. The cast were all excellent. It’s a holiday treat. Go see it.

I’m still burping mussels. I guess it’s back to soup for me.

Lots of lights. Merry Christmas from Los Angeles.

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On Sexual Harassment

I don’t know anyone my age who hasn’t been harassed. My first experience was in college. I was trying to work at the college radio station–me and all the guys. They had the walls plastered with Playboy pinups. I got a little disgusted–actually, a lot disgusted–so I brought in that Cosmo spread of Burt Reynolds–you know, the two page spread of a naked Burt with one hand–and a staple–coyly covering up his genitals. I taped my Burt pic up with the women and you’d have thought I’d set fire to the place. How dare I! Didn’t I know that was disrespectful to men? I just looked at all the yammering males and said, “Seriously!? Look at what you’ve taped to the walls!” Apparently that was alright. Boys will be boys, after all. The teacher in charge of personnel refused to let me even apply for the licensing test. He was going to “show that Barbara Schnell. Who did she think she was?” I didn’t want to work in radio anyway, thank God. I wish I could remember that little pissant’s name. I’d show him who Barbara Schnell is.

The next time was when I was a senior in college. I was working as a bartender at the Pheasant Lounge. It was about midnight on a quiet Saturday when the owner came in, drunk as a lord. He trapped me in the back when I was putting a tray of glasses in the dishwasher. I wasn’t too surprised; he trapped most of the other women I worked with. They usually ended up crying; I don’t know if it went any further. It was the usual “screw or you’re fired” situation. Well, I’m not a crier. I threw a glass at the old fool and stormed out. I was supposed to close up that night. He had to do it himself. Being drunk, that must have been a challenge. But that’s what happens when you threaten to fire someone if they don’t put out. “Screw or walk” loses its force when the victim chooses to walk.

I guess I’d been bothered to one extent or another on every job I’ve had. You learn quickly to talk your way out of ugly situations. Unfortunately, I’d gotten so used to being accosted that I didn’t trust any man at all. I remember a senior partner at a law firm I worked for offered to take me out for a drink after I’d performed some service above and beyond my job description (not sexual!). I tried to get out of it but he said he wanted to thank me. There didn’t seem to be any graceful out of it so I accepted. He took me to his tailor’s Friday night happy hour for selected clients. I had a glass of wine and argued with all the other attorneys (heavy hitters in the city). One guy asked me if I was one of the new associates and I told him I was just a peon. He said he was glad; he’d hate to have to argue against me in court. When my lawyer buddy gave me a ride home I was tensed up, waiting for the pass. He didn’t try to touch me. He said he’d come from a poor background, the Southside of Chicago, and I shouldn’t let the lack of money or family stop me. He offered to sponsor my entry into Bolt at Berkeley. I didn’t even process what he said until later. I was just eager to get out of the car without a hassle. But what a comment on how women were treated. A mentor couldn’t help out a promising candidate without her expecting a quid pro quo. I appreciated the offer but I didn’t take him up on it. I didn’t want to be a lawyer anyway.

I did want to become an actress. That’s why I’d come to California. I remember a producer asking me to dinner to discuss casting (before I got married). We had a nice chat over dinner then he asked me if I had an apartment. I said, “Yes.” He suggested we go to my apartment to discuss the part further. I said, “No.” That ended that. At least I got dinner.

I shot quite a few commercials when I was chubby–worked all the time and nobody bothered me; I was a comic. But after I got married Gordon gave me the time to figure out diet and exercise; I lost 42 pounds. I’m told I was gorgeous. All I knew was that I was skinny for the first time in twenty years and got to buy a whole new wardrobe. And I quit working. I was told skinny women weren’t funny. I replied, “Have you talked to Goldie Hawn lately?” Most casting directors, the women anyway, did their best for me. I’d make it to the callback, things would be going great. I remember goofing around, getting laughs, and I said, “Blame that on my husband.” Silence. One guy said, “You’re married?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Happily?” I said, “Most of the time.” And I never heard from them again. At least no one tried to fondle me. I just didn’t get hired.

I did get fondled when I took an improve class at the Groundlings. I got the bad luck of getting a short, dumpy woman of Asian ancestry for a teacher. And for some reason she hated my guts. She kept partnering me with a goofball who I think came from a showbiz family. The first time he grabbed my ass, I was startled but I thought it could have been a mistake. The second time he did it I figured out it was no mistake; he meant to do it. And the teacher knew it was happening. She enjoyed my discomfort. Then third time she partnered me with him I called him out. We were in front of the class and I pointed my finger at him and declared, “If you touch my ass one more time I’m going to break your f**king arm. Do you understand what I’m telling you?” He stammered that he did and I said, “Then let’s do this.” The teacher just blinked and I glared right back at her. It’s not just men who victimize women; other bitchy women play the game too. I was puzzled as to why the kid thought he could get away with that behavior. I honestly think he had a crush on me. Did he think debasing me would attract me to him? And I can’t guess at the motivation of the teacher. She told me I didn’t pass and would have to take the class again and I told her I’d consider it. Hah! Like I was interested in the Groundlings after that–although she was probably right not to send me further up the ladder. It’s a group performance and you need people of like tastes. I thought the Groundlings humor was sophomoric–I’ve never really liked PeeWee Herman, their star alum–so I wouldn’t’ve fit in at all. But it wasn’t a total waste. I educated one young man. And some other guys in the class later came up and told me never to change. I think they were amused my forthrightness.

So apparently you can stand up for yourself and be admired or you can submit and work. That’s not acting, that’s prostitution. Not interested. I never worried about getting acting jobs anyway. I found other, better ways of making money. And now I’m writing. Nobody gets to grab at you when you’re on your own couch. But I feel sorry for young women. They seem to have to go along to get along and that’s infuriating. That’s what we fought against 45 years ago. It seems worse now than it ever was.

I’ve been musing about the Cosby trial. I remember when he was first accused. A woman who sits next to me at the Ahmanson asked if I thought it was true and I said, “Probably. He has a rep for being a hound. But I can’t take the women who are charging him seriously.” I told her that when I was acting a lot of the young women loved to go to the Playboy mansion parties where Cosby apparently had most of his encounters. They knew exactly what was going to happen at those parties and they fought to get invitations (one actress I took a class with bragged about being one of Wilt Chamberlin’s 4000). And the comment was always that you got the best drugs at those parties. It was the 80s and ‘ludes were popular. So you have to wonder if these accusations were just money grabs. Can you rape the willing? I can’t comment about the young athlete. I have no idea what happened to her. But I’m skeptical about the other charges. And I keep coming back to the women I’ve known who’ve played along for gain. I remember a casting agent telling me that he couldn’t count the times women offered him sexual favors for parts. He said they even sent him unsolicited naked pictures. So it makes you wonder… And it makes me wish those women would quit soliciting. It encourages the bastards to bother the unwilling–you know, women like me. I can’t comment on Weinstein. He has the reputation for being a jerk. Boy, is he paying for it now. But he was in a position of holding people’s future hostage. Pretty sure he deserves whatever happens to him. I also want to point out that the men with the most accusations are all butt ugly. My theory is that some cheerleader dissed ’em when they were teenagers and now they can get back at beautiful women. They should be happy with making money; that’s what nerds do. Quit torturing pretty women. They didn’t do anything to you–anyway they’re doing their damnedest to avoid you. Let them be.

Anyway, I hope the men who deserve it get what’s coming to them. And the innocent men are left alone. But how do you tell the difference? I guess you go by the evidence. If there is any. Don’t have any answers.

This picture of a feral tomcat seemed appropriate. This is Squirt. ‘Nough said.

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I just got another nudge that I haven’t been tooting my own horn lately. So I’m tooting. I’m really terrible at this. Hey! At least it’s a short toot!

It’s not porn! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JYIV9D6

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Bright Star at the Ahmanson

Gordon and I stopped at Kendall’s for our soup and wine before going upstairs to the Music Center. We got there early to get a seat but that was okay; the Dodger game was on. I had time for a second glass of wine as we all cheered on the Dodgers. Unfortunately, we had to leave in the fifth inning to go to the show but Gordon has the Dodger app on his phone so we could check the score at intermission. Always lots going on in Los Angeles.

I enjoyed the music of Bright Star, written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. It was mostly Blue Grass with some ballads thrown in. And that suited the play right down to the ground since it took place in North Caroline after WWII. Carmen Cusack reprised her Tony-nominated role of Alice Murphy; she was just wonderful. Her singing, her acting….it was nice to see a meaty part for such a talented woman. The whole cast was wonderful doing their clog dancing and country singing. The audience seemed to really appreciate the Americana. We all clapped along with the band when they played Blue Grass by themselves. I had a few problems with the book but I think I was the only one. I noticed all the men in the row in front of me surreptitiously wiping their eyes. It was moving. I never understood why the New York critics dissed it so badly; probably because it was a love song to the American South. I particularly appreciated the fact that not one negative reference about Republicans was evidenced. It was a relief to see a show without current politics. Anyway, it’s a sweet show with a talented cast. If you like Blue Grass music, or even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy it.

One interesting thing I forgot to mention that Gordon pointed out last night. The music supervisor was Peter Asher–you know, the Peter of Peter & Gordon? Apparently, when the duo broke up Mr. Asher was head of A&R for the Beatles. In 1971 he founded Peter Asher Management, representing James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, and the list (and the beat) goes on. I had no idea.

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The Dude conducts Mozart

Gordon and I went to Disney Hall to hear an evening of Mozart. Dudamel conducted the Overture to La clemenza di Tito, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27, selections from La clemenza di Tito, Laut verkunde unsre Freude, and Ave verum corpus. . The soloist for the piano concerto was a Spaniard name Javier Peranes. He was a good-looking young fellow who made it look easy–which it wasn’t. The mezzo for the opera bits was J’Nai Bridges. Lovely voice and I really like her emerald green velvet tuxedo–very striking although personally I might have preferred a long palazzo pant instead of skinny jeans. But she made it work. Paul Appleby and Joh Keenan were the tenors and Aubrey Allicock sang bari-bass for the ode to Freemasons thing. I asked Gordon if it made his little Demolay soul go pitter-pat. He said no, that was something his dad got him into. The LA Master Chorale sang the Ave verum accompanied by the Phil and did a wonderful job. I had to kick myself to keep from humming the alto part and driving my neighbors nuts. The only Chorale member left that I ever sang with is Caroline. Everybody else seems to have aged out. Oh, we’re all getting old. Anyway, if you’re a Mozart fan this is a wonderful concert.

I have to mention that I was struck by differences in the audience this year. Or maybe I was just paying attention. The Saturday night audience is much dressier than the Thursday night bunch. Men wore suits and women wore long dresses and 6-inch heels with spangles. I saw lots of couples in their 30s. I’d heard that the Phil is a hot ticket these days but I had no idea it was this hot. Anyway, I was glad Gordon suggested we dress up a little more. The season opening gala was last Wednesday or Thursday and he thought we should look nice. So I wore a long flowered sarong skirt with a black gauze top. I even wore sandals (I can now that my ankle works). So I fit in better with the evening gowns. I’ll be happy to go back to Thursday night so I can go back to being a slob.

This is the organ at Disney Hall. They call the pipes the French Fries.

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Musings after Watching Burns’ Vietnam

I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ Vietnam and I’m just shaking my head. In 1965 I was in grade school so I never really paid much attention to what was going on. I knew things were bad when I got to college. When I was a freshman a classmate told me there would be a march on the president’s office to protest the war and did I want to come? I didn’t have anything better to do so I decided to go along to see what would happen. A TA in the English Department led the group of about 30 people. We went into the president’s office where the TA presented ‘our’ demands (don’t know what they were; I never saw them). The president was remarkably calm. He looked over the ‘demands’, said he had no influence on national policy but would be happy to forward our ‘demands’ to the appropriate elected officials. That sounded reasonable to me. Even as a freshman I knew a college president had no control over anything in Washington DC. Those of us who had chairs thanked him for his time and consideration and prepared to leave. And the TA went nuts. He started screaming that we were sheep and should show the college president that we ‘weren’t going to take it anymore’! Take what? That’s when it dawned on me that the TA probably didn’t care about the war–except for the part of him being drafted–he just felt important and we were taking his importance away from him. I just walked away. If I’d truly been a sheep I’d have followed the TA. The tantrum solution seemed just to harden the resolve of the people in favor of the war and to alienate average citizens. There had to be a better way than tearing things to bits. I’m under the impression that a lot of the country agreed with me. The antics of the Left at the Democratic Convention in Chicago guaranteed the election of Nixon. In my opinion.

But Vietnam continued to be a problem–although not for me. For the first time in my life being a girl came in handy; nobody wanted me. At least not in the draft. But I remember sitting up one night with a highschool classmate who’d just flunked out of college and lost his 2S rating. He got drafted immediately and was trying to decide whether to go into the army or go to Canada. I pointed out that if he went to Canada he couldn’t come home (that was before the Carter amnesty). And maybe he wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam; there were bases in Germany and Korea. He had to decide if the gamble was worth it. Eventually, he decided to go into the army–where they marched his little legs off and he spent six months with both legs in casts. He spent his war in Korea. The gamble paid off. But I’m bleeding for the kids who fought the war. They deserved better.

Nobody really talked about Vietnam when it was over. I didn’t find out until about 15 years ago that Gordon had a high draft number when he was in college. His best friend, Bob Kenny, had 108 when the draft lottery when up 107. Gordon said it was a long year for Bob, waiting out the lottery. A friend ‘confessed’ that he’d been Special Forces in Vietnam. He’d been in-country all by himself collecting recon. What extraordinary courage. And he never talked about being in the war because the Liberals were so awful about it. I don’t think he wanted to be called a baby-killer. And that TA from many years ago would have been first in line to call names–from safety, of course. I just weep for those magnificent young people. I wish the TA was here. I’d kick him in the nuts.

But back to the show. I believe that the US entered with the best of intentions. And paved the road to hell. Lots to learn from this.

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