Prince Harry (naked!)


Last week, Prince Harry displayed the royal weiner to some bachelorette-party girls in Las Vegas while playing billiards.



What fun!



I love the British royals. British history is a lot more fun than American history, because you can attach it to personalities: noble William the Conqueror, imperial Henry II, military Edward I, too-many-kids Edward III, etc., etc. It’s history that you can map as a family tree.



But let’s face it, it’s all about sex: who married who, who had whose bastards, who was gay, etc., etc. I mean, I know the name of Henry II’s mistress! And Edward II’s (two) boyfriends! And a couple of Henry VIII’s mistresses! So who are we kidding here?



Prince Harry is not my type. He is gingery and skinny, and he inherited most of the worst qualities from both his parents: Diana’s fairness and Charles’s clunky features. Seeing him naked does not charge up my batteries, or blow up my skirt.



Also, he will probably never be more than a prince. Wills and Kate are almost certainly destined to be K. and Q., and Kate will almost certainly produce a few kiddoes.



But I give Prince Harry credit for showing the meat-and-two-vegetables. He’s following in the footsteps of a long and noble line of ancestors.



Bully for Prince Harry!



Neil Armstrong


Neil Armstrong, the quietest celebrity in modern memory, died last weekend at 82. He was a household name, but a very private man, I knew him through books about the space program, especially “Carrying the Fire,” the wonderful autobiographical / historical book written by Apollo 13 crew member Michael Collins.



You can tell in photos how guarded Armstrong was; even when smiling, there’s a sort of veil over his eyes.  In my favorite photo (at the head of this article), taken by one of his Apollo 11 crewmates, Armstrong actually looks exhilarated, and open, and exhausted, and happy.



I’d ask if you remember that evening in July 1969 when Armstrong first stepped onto the moon’s surface, but I remind myself that many of you are too young for that; it would be like you asking me if I remembered when the Confederates started firing on Fort Sumter.



But I remember it. We’d just come home from a day trip to my Grandma Boitano’s house. I was twelve years old. I remember sitting in our living room in the twilight, watching the spectacle on television – a man on the moon! – and then getting up to look out the picture window at the moon (which I remember as being maybe six days old, a little less than first quarter). I remember thinking: There are human beings up there right now.



And I got a little shiver.



Memory is tricky. I go online now, and check myself. What was the phase of the moon on July 20, 1969?


Six days after new.



I actually remembered my childhood accurately.






Armstrong’s family has asked that, “next time you see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”



I think that’s lovely.



And we have to keep the moon in its place, after all, as the following clip (featuring Tina Fey and Buzz Aldrin) demonstrates:





Rest in peace, Neil.


Blog extra: Hurricane Isaac


Just a quickie between regular posts.



The above illustration is a weathermap of Hurricane Isaac’s projected path up through the Gulf of Mexico.



Gay conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan opined that Isaac was definitely not a Republican hurricane, since it resembled a large purple penis surrounded by a rainbow halo.



This was pretty hilarious, until I read another comment today, from a woman blogger, sayiing that it looks much more like a uterus than a penis.



Either way, it works for me. 


Finding a new (alternate) fragrance


I keep a bottle of cologne in the office, for emergencies. I had an emergency the other day: I had a doctor’s appointment (my doctor’s office is right across the street from my office), and I forgot to put on cologne that morning.



I don’t want to offend my doctor, do I?



My emergency cologne is L’Occitane’s “Eau des Vanilliers,” which is a not-very-good follow-up to their original “Vanille.” “Vanille” smelled like natural vanilla extract, and brought back memories of Christmas baking sessions. “Eau des Vanilliers” is harsher, and smells (to me) like vanilla mixed with butane.



But I am shocked at how much people like it.



“You smell good,” Apollonia said that day. “Better than usual, anyway.”



Toby sniffed at it and smiled. “It’s very ladylike,” he said.



I’ve written before about smelling like food. It is a surefire way to make friends; people love you if you smell like anything edible. (Creepy, isn’t it?) And I don’t mind smelling ladylike. I remember a study some years ago in which men were asked what scents they preferred, and they all said things like musk and cedar, but when they were actually asked to evaluate scents, they preferred the same floral scents that women preferred.


So there.



My preferred scent is “L’Occitan,” by L’Occitane. (Yes, I know.) It is lavender, with cedar, and burnt wood, and nutmeg, and black pepper. It is dark and interesting.



But you can’t wear the same thing every day.



I went to the fragrance kiosk in the Providence Place Mall a few weeks ago, and I asked the stupidest possible question: “What do you recommend?”



Naturally the salesman brought out lots of mid-price and high-price stuff. Some were okay. One had – I kid you not – no smell at all; I tried it twice and couldn’t detect anything. (Maybe my nose is configured incorrectly.) Finally I settled on a high-end Paco Rabanne scent, in a perfectly lovely bottle, with notes of grapefruit and rose and blood orange. (I didn’t get these from the salesman; I looked them up in later.)



It is a nice change from my other scent, and makes a pleasant alternative.



Then I discover from Tab (my coworker) and Al (my student assistant) that they don’t even wear something every day!



See, I assume that I stink, and that I need assistance in this area.



I will continue to assume this, until I am sure that it’s not true.



So if you smell pepper / nutmeg / burnt wood, or blood oranges /grapefruit / rose,  in your vicinity anytime soon, you can be reasonable sure that it’s me.


The Darlingtonia preserve


In 2005, on one of our trips to the Pacific Northwest, Partner and I were running up and down the Oregon coast: Lincoln City, Yachats, Florence. 



On our way to Florence I noticed an odd sign pointing to a DARLINGTONIA PRESERVE.  The name rang a very faint bell, but I couldn’t quite place it, and I suggested that we stop.



I am so glad we did.



It is a small park which serves as a natural preserve for a rare local plant, the Darlingtonia californica, aka the cobra lily.



Darlingtonia is a carnivorous plant resembling the pitcher plant.  Its body is a cup of water, topped by a cobra-like hood.  Insects blunder inside and fall into the water to drown; the hood helps keeps them inside if they try to escape.



Once they’re dead, Darlingtonia californica eats them up, slowly, by dissolving them and absorbing their delicious little bodies.



Bloodthirsty, I know. But the plants were gorgeous, and you have never seen so many together in one place in your life.  They were shining bright green in the fitful Oregon summer sunlight, hundreds of them in their damp little peat bog, humming to themselves, waiting for the little buggies to arrive for lunch.



Plants are remarkable.  We animals have always had an advantage over plants, seemingly; we move faster, anyway. But plants are sneaky and malevolent. Some are poisonous, like nightshade and datura and pokeweed. Some sting and burn, like nettles and poison ivy. Some are beautiful and dangerous, like the foxglove. Some can gash the hell out of you, like the cholla cactus. Some of them can poison the ground beneath themselves, so that nothing else can grow (many conifers do this).



But all of them, just like Darlingtonia californica, are beautiful in the sunshine.



Senior discount


The other evening, after one of my old-ladyish treadmill workouts at the Boston Sports Club, I went over to the Eastside Marketplace next door to buy  a rotisserie chicken and a couple of tomatoes. I was still glowing with perspiration from my quasi-workout, and I thought I looked terribly buff and macho.



Imagine my surprise when the checkout girl gave me the senior discount without even asking me for my ID!



This was one of those landmark occasions. Remember the first time you didn’t get carded in a bar? Remember your 21st birthday, or your 30th, or your 40th? This was kind of like that, but slightly more funereal.



Evidently I look old. I employ a lot of college students, and I have come to accept that I am usually older than their parents. (I have also come to accept that I have been working at the university longer than my student employees have been alive. I get a kind of perverse kick out of it, and I think so do they.)



But “senior discount.” Just think about that.



And the cashier didn’t even ask me



To be fair: it was Tuesday, which is “senior discount night” at Eastside Marketplace. The old trout behind me in line had to be at least a hundred and fifty years old. The checker (who looked maybe twenty) made the simple assumption that we were both there to take advantage of the “senior discount.”



And who doesn’t love a discount?



So, on the upside: I saved fifty cents on my rotisserie chicken and hothouse tomatoes.



On the other hand: people look at me and think “He’s old.”



Oh dear dear dear.



For Sunday: the Scissor Sisters sing “Let’s Have a Kiki”


Information first: a “kiki” can be a chat, or a gossip session, or an impromptu party.



Now (not suitable for work! Not suitable for small children!): here’s the Scissor Sisters telling you: “Let’s Have a Kiki!”



(Seriously: this song has changed my life. I’m singing it all the time. It cheers me up tremendously. I hope it does the same for you.)





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