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The Betty Blog

January - June, 2006

The Betty Blog


Special Note: Scroll down and see the entries below. The most recent is the first you'll see, and the earlier ones are on down. You are welcome to reply by e-mail to:

The Betty Blog Anthem: "There's No Letter Better Than B" performed by The Dixie Chicks.

"Characters" mentioned in multiple entries: Miss Louise, Betty's mom now deceased; Liz, daughter; John, son-in-law; Audrey, first partner & Liz's other mommy; Tonda, second partner; Sherrye Garrett, colleague, business partner & friend; Margie Adam, singer/songwriter; Barb Rush, longtime friend and co-founder of the "Party Women"; "Tha Girls," Dixie Chicks: Emily Robinson, Martie Mcguire, Natalie Maines; Mary Juanita, childhood best friend; Ed Brownson, tech consultant & confidant; Kathleen McGuire & Tha Guys, Artistic Directory/Conductor San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and the 200 guys who do what she tells them; David Perry, PR guru; Miss Frances & Louie-the-Great, attack cats guarding this site.

                                                                     (Photos 1 & 3: Cynthia Lee Katona)

June 24-25, 2006 – Pride Weekend

What a Week It Was! . . . What a Weekend!
“Oh, Oh, Oh!” By the Way . . . I Feel Like a Woman . . . Again!

Danny was finishing the style as only he can and Xar Salon was rockin’ with sounds of “ . . . Oh, oh, oh . . . really go wild-yeah doin’ it in style . . . “ (Need to get that inflection in there!)

“Who is that?” I asked, coming out from under the bag over my head . . . typical nerd-part, really. One of those extended moments that last forever when I catch up with the rest of the world . . . upon hearing something so familiar, but not having a clue who or what it is. Shania!

@ Pride Week began with a bang Tuesday evening listening to Donna Sachet and friends at Kimpton Hotel’s Pride Party at the Starlite Ballroom atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Riding the elevator, Ann Biderman and Kit Kennedy and I chatted with none other than Harry Denton himself who welcomed us most graciously.

Tuesday evening, our software system came alive recording a flood of new subscribers to Betty’s List with the posting on of San Francisco Chronicle reporter Pat Yollin’s story “Betty Knows It All and Tells Everybody,” accompanied by photos by Chris Stewart.

@ Wednesday’s scene was The Commonwealth Club’s LGBT Forum panel discussion with Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark and . . . you guessed it . . . me.  Craig was witty and serious at the same time, thoughtful and spontaneous and I fell in love with him on the spot.  What an honor to be paired with him and chair/moderator John E. Lazar. Truly a moment . . . I haven’t had in a while . . . not with two men, anyway! Frisky, aren't I?

@ Thursday evening found me on the way downtown for the annual SF Pride Committee Press Party and then on to join a packed house at MECCA for our Pride Week Ladies Night. Good pal Melanie Walker arrived on her annual cross-country jaunt from Kentucky, and went into action meeting lots of attractive women, or as she would put it ‘cute girls!”

@ Friday night Women on A Roll founder Andrea Meyerson and friends from LA joined our crowd for Page Hodel’s Girl Pride. Thousands packed The Sound Factory and yes, we . . . danced, danced, danced!

@ Saturday began with the annual Pride Brunch hosted by Gary Virginia and Donna Sachet. Then to the Castro Theater for Frameline30’s screening of Andrea’s “Laughing Matters . . . More.” After a pause at that popular Castro watering hole, The Café, we moved on down the road to Dolores and 18th for the Dyke March’s roaring start. Made it just in time to find Cousin Irene Hendrick and watch the bikes. Then off to Metro City Bar for an appearance on Queer Channel radio’s Pink Saturday live broadcast. Change clothes and away to the elegant Marine’s Memorial Club for Joy Seltzer’s return of Puttin' on The Ritz. Congratulations to Joy and Mary Ann Hatland! Wow . . . !  Well, I can’t forget to mention the stop that followed at Tommy Joint, the quintessential SF late night dive.

@ Sunday brunch and to the parade start for a day of videography and more dancing. Stopped in at Mr. David Perry’s office in the Flood Building, ramped it up on to City Hall for the Jennifer Beals Press Conference with Mayor Gavin, followed by the Pink Magazine Party . . . not to mention watching Veronica Klaus and Betty with none other than L-Word creator Ilene Chaiken joining us in the press pit.

Big congratulations to the SF Pride Committee, executive director Lindsey Jones and board president Joey Cain. Music was like so a big part of it, in the end even as it did begin, singing, “Oh, oh, oh!”  . . .

The best thing about being a woman
Is the prerogative to have a little fun (fun, fun)

Oh, oh, oh, go totally crazy-forget I'm a lady
Men's shirts-short skirts
Oh, oh, oh, really go wild-yeah, doin' it in style
Oh, oh, oh, get in the action-feel the attraction
Color my hair-do what I dare
Oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free-yeah, to feel the way I feel
Man! I feel like a woman!

@ Jeezzzzzzzzzz!  What a blast was Pride 2006. . . and I did mention it?  . . .  “I feel like a woman” . . . again, “Oh, oh, oh!” Too silly!?!

See Karen's video of our weekend, San Francisco Pride 2006, on Check out the Pride-related albums in our Photo Gallery.

Those girls in the photo below seem to be saying what I've been:  "I feel like a woman!"

                                                                    (Photo by Karen, Special to Betty's List)

Added by BettyS @ 4:15 AM

June 21, 2006

Good Friends Sometimes Like to See Me Squirm . . .
. . . Today I Blog about Dueling Photographers

So, Karen had asked me if I planned to write about what it was like having her photojournalist colleague Chris Stewart from the Chronicle shadowing us at MECCA Ladies Night . . . armed with his camera.

How’d it feel? I was alternately timid, shy and self-conscious before finally relaxing. From there it was all about being flattered, pampered, adored, giddy and at some point . . . well, you know, enough-already-with-da-camera.

All those insecure things come up like “I wonder is the hair okay?” “. . . the make-up?” or “. . . can you tell I’ve been at the gym?” or “ . . . do I look like a chubette?” or “. . . is it okay to be having a good time at the bar?” or “. . . maybe I really should have scheduled the botox before this photo shoot.”

As much as I’ve been the center of attention at events for. . . well,  truthfully . . . for years and years, when a camera comes out, there’s still that sense of anxiety and trepidation . . . until it dissipates into a place of “Oh hell, it is what it is!” or as Harvey in “La Cage” or Gloria in her hit song would say, "I am what I am . . . I am my own special creation!"

Chris Stewart is a very sweet man for a straight one . . . even tempting . . . well, maybe not. But he is truly a gentleman and spent hours with me, first capturing images of my desk . . . which reporter Pat Yollin described as having two computers, three televisions and two cats that come and go . . . and then shooting a number of us having a fun time at MECCA Ladies Night where we assured him he was indeed welcome.

I have always had the sense working with professionals doing their photography that if you just kiss enough toads, there’s bound to be a good one in there somewhere. Chris got it right away when I told him that. Now that they don't have to worry about film anymore, seems like more frogs and more.

Equally amusing during the MECCA photo shoot, though, was watching Karen taking photos . . . of Chris taking photos . . . of us. Like that play within a play thing. Karen is a veteran photog for SJ Merc and they all eventually come to know each other from hanging out on site at assignments. 

What's more, Karen is nothing short of mischievous and so had a great time being the second shot in the pair of dueling photographers at our scene . . . not to mention her antics prompting table laughter for the shots entered in our new Photo Gallery album about Grace's  birthday.

@ Reporter Pat Yollin's Chronicle story about Betty's List, my impression, is way chock full of details . . . she did pack them in . . . and almost every one is true, correct, right-on 99.9% . . . about the gay thing and the southern thing and the staying-up-late-at-night thing. Of course, I'm thrilled to see Miss Frances and Louie-The-Great in the news. She truly did have a recorder going while we talked. {Pat has a memory of steel because she didn't even use the recorded version when she wrote the story!}

@ Miss Louise would surely note the transitive verb usage “to blog” in the title of this entry. She would have smiled to see that Pat wrote about the cats and chuckled that Culkin School got mentioned too, and of course, Pop's having been a Southern Baptist deacon.


(Photos by Karen T. Borchers,  Speical to Betty's List)

Added by BettyS @ 4:15 AM

June 19, 2006

It’s Pride Week in the Castro & It’s Also Juneteenth . . . or
Who Knew Aretha Franklin Would Be on My Mind!

R * E * S * P * E * C * T . . . that’s what I hope to have as Pride Week 2006 arrives at my door. That’s what I wish for our entire community.

@ We were in a conversation the other evening at MECCA Ladies Night. One of those deep talks that happen after the place has already officially closed.

I confessed, in the late hour, to one time when I make a mistake. I didn’t respect someone else and I didn’t respect myself. What to do with things you would but could not change in life?

Study it with a sober mind and in the light of day. Talk with wise women . . . and men. Learn the lesson. Make amends. Move on with wisdom gained . . . 

The conversation wasn't over then, and here come I to write of it. I cannot remove that mistake no more than I can change the color of my skin (someone said that previously) nor the parents to whom I was born. Cannot unring the bell. Accept the lesson and being the better for it, be thankful and move on, equipped and informed.

Being human’s not so easy, nor is learning to admit I'm fallible and face the question what to do going forward.  Having found the strength to own a mistake and even talk about it . . . this is the first day of the rest of your life . . . just in time for a renewed commitment to myself, to another and to others.

@ Today I add the word “Respect” to my short list of most important words. It goes there with “Appropriate” and “Resiliency.”

Today I wish for me and all Pride celebrants the capacity to embrace “Respect” and recognize that what we do has implications for lives beyond our own. 

@ What’s Aretha got to do with it? Memories of where and when I’ve heard and seen her sing?

One time she performed on a live stage at Libertyland Park in Memphis. Liz was three, a gorgeous child, sitting on my shoulders wearing deely boppers . . . (as we've done since and hopefully will once more) hands held high in the night air. Along with Lady Soul, the audience sang "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and in that word, gained a life lesson . . . if only one can hear. "Respect" . . . from this day forward.

@ So, even as the Monday of Pride Week finds her way in my neighborhood, I’m reminded this is also Juneteenth. Do you know what that means and why it's relevant to Gay Pride?

                                                                           (Stock Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 12:45 AM

June 8, 2006

Sometimes This Is a MetaBlog . . . Sometimes It's Not!
or . . . I Have No Doubt Miss Louise Would Have Approved

She would have been 90 years old today. We would talk about the eight parts of speech, how to conjugate verbs . . . today, I blog; yesterday, I blogged; tomorrow, I shall have blogged . . . you know the drill . . . and transformational generative grammar too.

Those rules were among our key conversation topics riding down the road toward the Jitney Jungle grocery store. I blame and thank Miss Louise for my nerd-part.

Son John, whom Miss Louise would have loved had she known him, sent me some homework yesterday. She would have loved him for many reasons, not the least of which is his nerd-part. Happy birthday to her!

I'm passing it on to you, the homework, that is. Study your vocabulary and the metalanguage of blogland at this LINK.

(Photo by Karen T. Borchers, Special to Betty's List)

Added by BettyS @ 2:45 AM

May 30, 2006

The Betty Blog Gets It's Anthem . . . or
Dixie Chicks on Sesame Street

Who cares if they were really singing to Big Bird? No one here does, so have a listen to them singing "There's No Letter Better Than B"! Okay, enuf already about them . . .

Added by BettyS @ 12:15 AM

May 29, 2006 – Memorial Day

Time Magazine Says Natalie Was Born Middle Finger First . . . or
I Have Never Used the Phrase “Eye Candy” to Describe Anyone

How dare this blog speak on Memorial Day of those three unpatriotic, anti-war women who thumb their noses at the country music industry and their country music fans? Ever heard them sing "The Star Spangled Banner"? Or maybe you saw them at the 2003 SuperBowl?

Yesterday somebody said to me, in reference to the ‘Tha Girls,’ “You must have a crush on one of them.” It was the type of statement that’s actually a question.

I wasn’t sure how to reply, or what to admit. So, my lame response was, “Yes, all three of them . . .”  Well, true confession . . . naaaaaaah. Won’t say that, but what I will say is that I could listen (or watch) them for hours and sometimes do . . .

@ Today I struck pay dirt coming upon a web site you may be interested in if you, too, get a kick out of these three young women who are being called such things as talented, controversial and radical. The radical label is a big joke, I think, and those who read this blog would probably agree.

The impression that I was radical, growing up in Mississippi, seemed real, but I learned quickly after leaving that I could not out radical the radicals . . . sort of like not being able to out butch a real butch.

One of my favorite things about them is the semantics (my view of it, anyway) of the group’s name. First, Texas isn’t “Dixie” and “Dixie” has been loaded up with major negative connotations. Plus, “Chicks” isn’t exactly “pc” as a term of reference for women. But, the name uses both words, and the three women comprising the group are way atypical of both folks from Dixie and those who would likely say women are chicks.

@ So, what’s this web site I’ve been all over today? It’s called Chicks Rock! Chicks Rule! and there’s a video section that includes just about every clip you can imagine from 1999 forward. A treasure house for a fan like me.

Of course there are many sites with interesting Chicks-related content, and there are currently at least two “official” ones:

* Dixie Chicks  

* Dixie Chicks @ MSN 

Okay, here’s a true confession. I was totally oblivious to The Dixie Chicks, even though Liz had tried to bring them to my attention numerous times, until Natalie’s big insult to George Bush at their 2003 London Concert. The relevant question, I believe, is not how many fans they lost over “The Incident,” but how many devoted fans like me did they gain? Then, I found out that these young women are accomplished musicians in addition to being outspoken and progressive . . .  Who owns the label progressive, anyway?

@ So, you may have already read The New York Times article “The Dixie Chicks: America Catches Up With Them” published, May 21, 2006, and you may know already that they were included in Time Magazine’s “The Time 100” for 2006 includes them and you may have already seen the cover of Time’s May 29, 2006 edition, and.

And, finally, you may have already heard the new album “Taking The Long Road,” but if not, you can do so without buying it on the site. Check it out . . . can I say it? . . . Chick it out?! Now who’s ready to make nice?

(ABC News / Good Morning America Photo)


May 26, 2006

I Think I Might Be A Drag Queen . . . or
Yet Another Self-Study Revealed: Gender & Myself

One time I had a girlfriend who said she would like to dress me up as a drag queen and go down to the Castro on Halloween. I was amused.

Tonight, I’m not . . . amused, that is. Well, maybe. But even if not amused by the thought of me in the Castro at Halloween, I think it's true that I may be one. I am one, a drag queen, in the sense of Kennedy’s famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a 'Berliner'"). What’s more, I may be one in view of how I walk on this planet, at least some-of-the-time.

@ The concept of gender has captivated me. Pre-coming out, “butch,” for sure, was what I thought I’d turn out to be . . . only to discover how butch I wasn’t when the real ones got a hold of my skirt tail . . . or at least, they tried.

Somewhere along the way, I found out about the politicized bru-ha-ha and hullabaloo among feminists over the use of “butch” and “femme” and other such labels. That debate, along with a few other choice items on a short list, solidified my thinking that some of those feminists, if not most, needed to go take a rest.

@ I came to understand gender fluidity before the concept had words to express it . . . after a big break-up. I found my identify shifting dramatically from “preppy butch intellectual” to a new “femme fatale,” only to switch back some years later.

Fluidity, I found, didn't happen only over a span of years. It was happening, for me, all the time . . . year-by-year, or maybe day-by-day, or maybe hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute. Actually, second-by-second . . . all-the-time. Then, bam! . . . Start a new relationship and here goes the adventure of discovering how division-of-labor plays out this time.

@ This week a remarkable ceremony was held in my neighborhood. A street renaming ceremony officially changed the label on one block of 16th Street, near its intersection with Market and Noe, to José Sarria Court. I am sure that many San Franciscians, in fact, many of my neighbors, don't know who José Sarria is or what the "Court" is that he founded . . . I should say "she founded" in her role as Absolute Empress 1, the Widow Norton, Mother Jose.

Many don’t know much about drag queens, even right here where they thrive, and even some drag queens are clueless about the contributions drag queens have made over the decades to the story of gay and lesbian people. Some drag queens in my neighborhood have never paused for the least moment to consider the psychology or the gender politics of drag . . . as they are just very busy doing it.

Likewise, many who are not drag queens don't have a clue about the gender politics and gender identity issues manifest in the doing of drag. Is this getting a bit 'heady' or what?

@ My internet search, in attempt to attain a fuller understanding of José Sarria's story, came upon some unusual spots. No surprise. But the best overview I've seen is verbiage that no doubt originated on Wikipedia, but now resides on something called . Yes, it was the Drag Queen section there that stopped me in my tracks.

Now, I thought I knew as much as there was to know about drag (because I have thought about it quite a lot), . . . but there on that site, I found more. I hope you’ll go and see for yourself the subcategories addressed: Genres, Drag Queens and Venues, Terminology, Drag and Transgender, Opinions and Famous Drag Queens. Here, again, is the LINK. Much more can be found on the site of the International Foundation for Gender Education.

(Since Wiki content is always evolving, for preservation purposes, here's the current Wikipedia definition:  A bio queen is a biologically female performance artist who performs in female drag (clothing) at drag shows. In other words, a bio queen is a woman who dresses and acts like a  drag queen. Bio queens often appear alongside drag kings at lesbian drag shows.)

So, what’s troubling me? You will truly have to go there, read the sections and think - with an open mind -  about the ideologies embedded in the definitions and explanations. Troubling is the wrong word for how I feel about the passages there and the information conveyed. Fascinating is probably the right one, because for me, it is that . . . indeed.

What is troubling, though, is that even now, I believe there remains much misunderstanding and even distain of drag among so many in the larger LGBT community.

@ Where the meaning of all this hits home for me, resides in two separate passages. One, the explanation of “bio-queen” in the Genres section. The other is a sentence found in the Opinions section: “Many gender theorists see drag as a subversion of gender roles.” With the gender roles thought in mind, read the "bio queen" part and think about drag as "subversion." It is, and I am.

Today, I am thankful to have experienced my “butch / femme” delimma. My gender disphoria. I am thankful to have discovered my drag self and my trans self, too. I am thankful to live in a place that feels utopian on most days, even as it falls short on others. Self awareness is a blessing, and that blessing is also a curse.

In the end, aren’t we all drag queens, of sorts . . . at least on some days . . . some-of-the- time? I think so, and as José Sarria has sung so often to the tune of My Country 'Tis of Thee, I shall say, "God bless us nellie queens!" Add to that what Tiny Tim would say and it goes: God bless us nellie queens, one and all . . .

                                                                                              (Photos: Multiple Sources)

Added by BettyS @ 1:00 AM   

May 14, 2006

Getting Dressed Up for the Last Episode . . .
All Those Things We Did There, Once Upon a Time!

Ann McCoy said on moving day a year ago, when she saw my West Wing baseball cap, “Now you are all dressed up!” Tonight I put on my headphones, turned the iTunes controls to “repeat one” and played the theme song over and over and over.

I want to say something meaningful about my soon-to-be-history favorite TV show. No words will come, however . . .  but the music does. It's not rational, but there is humor to be found in this sadness.

You know that 50 seconds of opening music when its time to run around turning off the lights, finding the sound control and just the right chair. The White House front, the cast photos and names, Marine One landing, the press room . . .

Snare drums roll, cymbals crash, tympani pound for just 50 seconds, complete with flourishes of multiple brass, winds, strings and a power driven xylophone . . . all up-lifting to crescendo. . . Oh, how familiar are those strains urging me to hurry up and settle in with these inside-the-Beltway friends known so well.

Stockard Channing (First Lady Abby Bartlet, MD)
Dulé Hill (Charlie Young)
Allison Janney (Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg)
Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn)
Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler)
John Spencer (Leo McGarry)
Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman)
Janel Moloney (Donna Moss)
Martin Sheen (President Jed Bartlet)

After years of hearing the song, I recently went off web shopping to discover these creations of W.G. “Snuffy” Walden:

* “West Wing – Main Title” and “West Wing Suite” - I bought the Windham Hill album “Music by. . . W.G. Snuffy Walden” on, so now I can play these tunes whenever I want.

Then, I got fascinated trying to find that very funny scene with C.J. lip-syncing to “The Jackal.” Had to sign up for Napster, but found it just the same.

* “The Jackal” - Remember that episode, “The Jackal”? Everybody loves that one. So, I set-up an mp3 download account and got Ronny Jordan’s Quiet Revolution album which includes “The Jackal.

@ But there’s much more music from West Wing episodes to be found on related music lists: ( offers a searchable archive of all seasons, identifying songs heard episode by episode. This may be the definitive list.

Another gem I came upon is an episode of Charlie Rose aired not long after the close of Season 2 . . .  "at this table" with Sorkin and five of the stars. Check it out.

So rarely am I compelled to watch a TV show . . . when it happens, I’m there. With the passing of “The West Wing” into small screen history, no one knows what I’ll do with an hour per week available . . . perhaps wear my new navy blue WW logo t-shirt over to the treadmill . . . shouting distance down the street.

@ I lived in Foggy Bottom my first four months there and took the long, long escalator ride up to surface over at the Roslyn Metro Stop near Orleans House. Then Liz and I moved to the intersection of Spout Run and Lee Hightway, and a year or so later, out to a lovely federal-style townhouse near Glebe Road. Those were good days, and we met Tonda and found a new home off Nottingham Street in Arlington. Those were good years. What a bittersweet thing is nostalgia.

The Washington Monument stood tall out my window seat view, coming in on the southern approach at National . . . or landing from the north on a jet galloping like this was its last horseride over the Potomac, beyond the rapids, passing Key Bridge and the USA Today and Gannett buidlings on the right, where my office was on the 17th floor . . . once upon a time. 

I could almost reach out my window and touch those silver eliptical-shaped buildings down there. From inside the silver towers, too, we thought we could reach up and touch the planes, so we waved.

I remember riding through the DC streets thinking to myself ". . . how happy, how lucky I am to be here."  So, one has to to ask, what the heck am I doing in California for the past 11 years?  What am I doing when I could have continued important work and visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue . . . for some Presidential bill signing ceremony, First Lady's lunch or Green Room performance? All those things we did there . . . once upon a time.

                                                                            (NBC Photos)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 PM

May 8, 2006

Mother’s Day Is Fast Upon Us . . .
A Very Personal Story of Naming and Who’s Who

One of the wise women in my life suggested I write about Mother's Day. I am not quite sure what to say, other than that Hallmark invented it. Miss Louise would be 89 were she alive today . . . 89 is the age to which her mom (my grandmother) lived.

Had Miss Louise not decided on her own to have another child, I wouldn't be here . . . since Pop never wanted more than one, and that would be big brother Stan. The family lore says "she tricked him" and that's the only way I came to be, foreshadowing a long, tumultuous but vibrant father/daughter pairing.

My earliest memory of Mother’s Day is about my mom wearing a red carnation during church services, and then that carnation was a white one after “Grandma” died.

@ “Sarah Elizabeth” was my grandmother, but they called her “Bettie.” My mom was “Callie Louise,” known almost all her life as “Louise.” A true child of the 50s, my name is “Betty Louise” . . . and I’ve thought many times about having it changed to “Elizabeth.” My daughter is “Elizabeth Louise,” and I’ve always spoken of her as “Liz” . . . although she now prefers “Elizabeth.”

Who cares? I guess I do, or I wouldn’t enjoy telling about this . . . our matriarchal chain of names . . . and Liz says her daughter will be named "Callie Ann," if she has one.

@ Motherhood has never been my first calling. Liz has always referred to me as “Betty” . . . at my request . . .  since her earliest days of learning to speak. I’ve never complained about being called “Mom,” but I haven’t aspired to it either.

Motherhood . . . along with apple pie . . . is on the short list of glorified social institutions I’ve questioned since just about the time I learned to think. My take on it has always been, even before Hilary put words to it, that it takes a village . . . and I’ve almost always been just one of Liz’s moms.

Liz and I sprang into the ‘gay community’ in Memphis, TN when she was less than a year old . . . and so many wonderful friends pitched in on parenting and care-giving. At 26 with a toddler on my hip, I was the newcomer on the scene, and we both enjoyed a fabulous welcome from  womyn and men too.

Audrey (Liz's other mommy) came into our lives not long after Liz’s first birthday, so she has had not one, but two mommies for longer than childhood memory can recall. What's more, Audrey's mom, "Ginger," was like a second grandmom for Liz as well. What a wonderful woman she was!

Although It has been two decades since Audrey saw me off on my way, moving down to Washington, DC (while she stayed in New York truly waving goodbye), she has always been there for Liz. ‘Tis so until to this very day. “Aunties” have entered the picture, for sure, but there is only one “Other Mommy” . . . should that be "O'Mom."

And so, as Mother’s Day is upon us, I tip my hat to Grandma Bettie Knight, to Miss Louise and yes, to Audrey too. Motherhood being the huge topic that it is, maybe I'll say more on this, as the spirit moves . . . and I suspect it shall.

                                                                                    (Universiry of Arkansas Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 PM

April 27, 2006

Escaping "The War for Southern Independence" Is Not Easy . . .  or
Whose Name Is That on My Birthday Square?!!

Today is my birthday . . . they just keeping coming . . . like rabbits!

@ Mary and I rode our bicycles down the road to the site of General Grant’s headquarters . . .  one of our favorite playgrounds. We rode there often with compatriots and girlfriends named Claudia, Kathy, Martha Ellen, Brenda, Joanne and Lois.

After school on many days, just the two of us rode back there and climbed up on the great statue of Grant sitting atop Cincinnati, his beloved horse. We worried much during those visits over the danglings on Cincinnati’s underside and how big and anatomically correct they were . . . master sculptor Frederick C. Hibbard's handiwork.

Such was the education of us pre-adolescents, hanging out in the Vicksburg National Military Park . . . a place oft likened to Gettysburg . . . no Civil War buff shall miss, so rich are its reenactment traditions, legends, historic vistas and memorial statuary.

@ In her first grade classroom, Mrs. Beasley asked us to find our birthday and write our names there on the calendar behind her desk. On my square one name was already included: Ulysses S. Grant . . .  ‘Twas always thus, my six-year-old eyes would say, and has been such on every year’s edition sense.

In Mrs. Ratliff's fourth grade, I read his biography and heard about the day Grant road his horse through a Vickburger's antebellum house.  Any wonder no one spoke of him with affection in my hometown, more than a century later?

@ On orientation day, as I entered graduate school at Columbia University in New York, I heard Grant’s Tomb was about two blocks away.  Who’s buried there? Standing above the large granite slab covering his tomb, I said aloud, "Found you . . .after all these years, and found out too, who else's here . . . "

@ Moving into our new home in Arlington, Virginia, Liz and I were told our address would be 3000 Robert E. Lee Highway. Some ten years passed before I became acquainted with Fort Point’s role in protecting San Francisco from Confederates. Didn’t end, though, even then. This lingering trail of findings . . .  from what southern folk to this day still call "The War," the second of those words said with multiple drawling syllables.

Silver lining? Never did believe anyone who shared my birthday square could possibly be a bad guy, no matter what folks said. Probably was a first time of questioning the norm . . .  What would become an unapologetic lifetime habit . . .
                                                                                              (Photos: National Park Service)
Added by BettyS @ 3:00 AM

April 26, 2006

Gravitas Found! . . . or
Up On the Rooftop, Bloggers Pause . . .

What this “blog” thing really is still proves worrisome . . .

@ Yet another wise woman . . . she is to be found over on Noe Valley's main street rather than roaming the Berkeley Hills . . . said to me that what we are doing these days in a blog is akin to what would be . . . in pre-technology times . . .  like climbing on top of the roof and shouting what's on your mind. 

I thought about that and believe she’s got a good point.  In fact, I would suggest that the image of a climber-shouting-from-the-roof is something of a metaphor for us bloggers to consider. You who reads these passages must be the neighbor nearby wondering what’s that nut going to say today?

@ The town crier might also be an analogy. Miss Louise, my grammarian mom, was also simply masterful at teaching Medieval and Shakespearean literature . . . Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, King Lear and such. My bet is she’s toying with the idea of an assignment for her students to post their blog entries in iambic pentameter or perhaps produce a three-part theme on how today's blogger compares to the town crier of yore. 

(True story . . . one time walking back to the subway stop just after attending London's Gay Pride Day Festival, my girlfriend and I found ourselves having a chat with the official town crier dressed up in his Beefeater suit and adorned with one of the most impressive brass handbells you would ever see.  He turned down my request to ring the bell but did agree to be photographed with us . . . was quite friendly but clearly did not know what to say next after asking what brought us to London and we told about the Festival . . . somewhere I have that shot in the 1990s photo box.)

@ ‘Twas a Lamda nominated writer . . .  herself another wise woman . . .  who proved the source recently of unexpected praise in the highest for these passages:

“You’ve managed to achieve gravitas in a blog . . .” 

“Gravitas”! . . . What a word! . . .  A word I’ve heard used most in West Wing dialogue to describe the doin's between Toby, Leo and Jed. You must know we are down to the last three episodes now . . . read about it at this LINK.

So, off I went on an Internet search to see what I could see:

Wikipedia says:
Gravitas is a Latin noun that, as a modern loanword, conveys a sense of substance or depth of personality.
In an ancient Roman context, the word gravitas communicated a sense of dignity, seriousness, and duty. Gravitas is one of the several virtues that Ancient Roman society expected men to possess, along with pietas and dignitas.

@ I am so moved . . . and today  I blog, yesterday I blogged, in days passed I have blogged . . .  Thank you, once more, to the wise women in this life!

                                                                                                                  (Multiple sources)
Added by BettyS @ 5:30 AM

April 17, 2006

A Quake Sounds Like a Thunderstorm . . .
. . . But, Be Sure to Smile for the Camera, Girls!

Having peered through virtual photo archives, perused online exhibits, listened to podcasts and viewed documentaries, here come I . . . there's no escaping calls to keep one’s sense of humor . . . if you are serious and truly intend to survive disaster.

On the eve of the Great ’06 Quake’s Centennial . . . it seems everyone (and her cousin too) . . . is marking this little occasion . . .  but, how to treat ‘it’ in the slippery genre now called ‘blog’? A little multi-sensory treat might do.

@ Sound? Care to hear for yourself? Try these links on the US Geological Survey’s site (Quicktime needed):  Multiple Quakes or Listen for Fun.

@ Touch?’s podcast recommends a visit to the Exploratorium’s quake room where its possible to sit on the simulators for a good fanny shake.

@ Taste? Just has to be about breakfast . . . the waffles and stewed rubarb, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, biscuits, bacon and coffee served at The St. Francis Hotel during the interlude before the fire . . . not to mention the so-called “Ham & Eggs Fire” launched by an unsuspecting cook in Hayes Valley trying to toss up a post-quake, home-cooked morning repast.

@ Smell?  The dust of crumbling buildings covered the dead horses and more dead horses killed in the street still hitched to wagons . . . and for four days following, hours and hours of smoke, smoke and more smoke . . . then the stench of decay and failed sanitation.

@ Sight?  Tryout Lick Observatory’s recreation of the ’06 seismic record.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) offers the chance to view current seismic drum recorder data from collecting stations . . . Tamalpais Peak, Pinole Ridge, San Bruno Mt., Stanford Telescope and so many more

@ Image?  Pick one from among the multitude, that’s your assignment. Having considered thousands, I could only find my way back to Arnold Genthe's image I've seen so many times before . . . the one with two women posing for the camera, while on-lookers view the burning city beyond. Probably viewed from Twin Peaks or maybe Kite Hill, either, too close to home . . . the vantage point and the smiling-for-the-camera too. Combine the irony with humanness of the vanity. I own it. My neighborhood thrives in it, the humanness-plus-vanity, that is!

Related Photo Gallery:  Images of Women - 1906 SF Earthquake

                                                                                                    (Photo: SFMOMA)

Added by BettyS @ 4:30 AM

April 13, 2006

More Wise Words to Live By
Or . . .  If at First You Don’t Succeed, Grab the Rebound!

How many times have I taken a shot at the goal and missed? How many times have I stopped to rethink the goal? How many times have I stayed the path when the going gets tough and testing?

My lesson in the meaning of the word “resilient” (in its adjectival form) or “resiliency” (in its noun substantive) . . . began while looking around the walls of the visitor's center at the Women's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, that small town beyond the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.  (Have you ever asked a New Yorker where “upstate” begins? They are dumbfounded, but are guaranteed to smile when you then ask “ . . . at the top of the Bronx?”)

This time, my life lesson came by way of a wise woman who never lived above the fountain in the Berkeley Hills (see previous entry 4/9/06). She was, however, a citizen of the world and someone who belongs to us all.

On that wall in Seneca Falls hung a quotation . . .  there, on a small multi-colored silk-screened quilted block tapestry. I was to be . . . and still am . . . both haunted and informed by this simple, elegant wisdom:

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

My second encounter with ER came via Blanche Weisen Cooke’s first tome of her three-part biography: Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume One. Through Cooke’s recounting, I learned of ER’s unacknowledged love for “Hick” (AP reporter Lorena Hickok) whom she first met during Hick’s days in the White House press core.  Talk about loving someone and not admitting it . . .

My third encounter with ER came in the vicinity of New Orleans’ Jackson Square in 1993 while attending a national PFLAG Convention. Gazing at me from the easel of a Memphis-based artist whom I’d known more than a decade prior 'twas none other than the "First Lady of the World" herself.

Sher Stewart’s watercolor “Eleanor,” destined then to return with me to Noe Valley, has adorned my room next to that quilted block ever sense, bearing witness and lending fortitude.

How many times have I taken a shot at a goal and missed? Begs the question:  How many times have I reconsidered the goal only to find I'm fortunate to have missed! Or, in other words, what was I thinking? Lo and behold . . . 'tis the unanswered prayer.

How many times have ER's words guided me to remain in the game?
Even so, grab the rebound!   . . .

                                                                    (Photo: Billy Ray, The Vicksburg Post)

Added by BettyS @ 5:30 AM

April 9, 2006

Lessons from Beyond the Fountain . . . or
What’s Your Most Powerful Word in the English Language?

A wise woman lives over there in the East Bay Berkeley Hills, up passed Marin Circle’s restored Bear Fountain. For seven of my eleven years here, I studied with her regularly.

We studied many an hour, she and I . . . long and hard . . . and I am the beneficiary of wisdom she passed on. I am the beneficiary of her “tools” not known to me before.

@ My colleague and friend Kate and I recently were deep in conversation. One of that wise woman’s teachings popped in my mind, so I went on to explain. 

This particular teaching or tool has to do with how one installs an internal guidance system using the word “appropriate.” 

What’s appropriate? How does one decide? How does context lend meaning to the answer? What’s the role of intuition in that knowing?

How deeply within must one look to find her truth in meaning of the word? What means thus for how one lives? For love? For taking action or not, and the making of decisions, however tough be they to make?

Need say more? Look deep, deep within.  Sit with this word a week or so. You'll see henceforth how it informs.

@ Then, just yesterday Kate arrives in the midst of preparations for her family visit back to England.  “I’ve met a girl,” she declares emphatically. “So, tell me more,” I say. “This one is good,” she says. “How do you know?” asked I.

“She’s appropriate for me! An appropriate partner!” Kate pronounced in her finest British accent and proceeded to tell all the reasons why. “Good for you!” was my response, to which she said, “I should have known ‘this’ a long time ago.”

What to do with “appropriate” now . . . now that it is yours too? Just sit, yes, sit deeply . . . quietly.  No more.  Simple to install. A guidance system that will not fail, as you no longer can allow. A power, a responsibility comes with knowing, with understanding.

Thank you, Wise Woman in the Berkeley Hills, and thank you, Kate, for giving yet another special moment and knowing smile.

                                                                                        (Photo by Rich Reader)

Added by BettyS @ 11:45 PM

April 4, 2006

Spring Forward, Fall Back -
Perhaps Love Creeps Up When You Least Expect It

Tonight . . . is crawling through the wee hours and my clock’s trying to admit that Daylight Saving Time is real.  I’m reminded, interestingly, that a feeling of love can happen most any time . . . to any of us humans . . . really . . . even if we don't particularly want it to.

This is a tough subject, for sure, when one has been through ups and downs of the heart, as I have . . . no pun intended . . . really. But it creeps up when you don’t expect it, like tonight on the treadmill . . . and I don’t know what to do with it when it’s there. 

And talk about parsing sentences, one can make a career of trying to parse one's own self . . .  What was that about an unexamained life not worth living, Socrates?

Not everyone in my world understands why I love John Denver’s music and that’s just . . . well . . .  just okay. I don’t mind. Tonight on that treadmill, I was listening to “Perhaps Love,” . . . the version sung by John with Placido Domingo.  It's way up there on my list of favorite love songs. 

Now, I can’t play this music on my computer keyboard for you, but I can leave the words . . . and I can give this link to the version, hokey though it may be.  Hell, . . . the whole song’s hokey, but, I don’t care. At least, not tonight I don't care.  The meaning’s in the metaphors and the memories and hopes and dreams this music brings . . . so there.  Here's to being an old sap once in a while!

Perhaps Love
By John Denver
Perhaps love is like a resting place, a shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort, it is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble when you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window, perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer, it wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself and don't know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Love to some is like a cloud, to some as strong as steel
For some a way of living, for some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on and some say letting go
And some say love is everything, and some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the ocean, full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it's cold outside, or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever, and all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

And some say love is holding on and some say letting go
And some say love is everything, and some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the mountains, full of conflict, full of change
Like a fire when it's cold outside, or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever, and all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

                                                                        (Photo: Hearts in San Francisco Project)

Added by BettyS @ 2:45 AM

March 24, 2006

I Blog, I Blogged, I Have Blogged! . . . or
What Happened in One Half of 525,600 Minutes?

Mayor Ed Koch was in office during the years I lived in New York City, and he was famous for walking around the streets stopping folks and asking, “How’m I doin’?”

Maybe that’s what this is about . . . but the conversation is between Miss Louise and me.  I think . . . that Miss Louise would be pleased with the stats so far, even if she still didn’t like the word “blog” . . . as was alluded to in entries for 9/24/05 and 9/28/05. 

It’s a fact that Miss Louise taught me English grammar and how to conjugate verbs and parse sentences; thus, the title above and the structure of this compound complex sentence, chock full of what’s called ellipsis, anaphora and cataphora. Don’t even consider debating the point.

So, The Betty Blog reaches it’s 1/2 year point, and here are the stats, . . . so far as I’ve been able to ascertain, prior to today:

Words:  27,453
Characters: 123,464
Lines: 2,166
Paragraphs: 605
Average Monthly Unique Visitors: 570
Pages to Print: 56
Graphics/Photos: 83
Links: More than 500
Dates of Entry: 56
Name mentioned most frequently:  Liz or Elizabeth (35)
Links to Web Cams: 24
Links to College Football Songs: 16
Most Frequent Entry Topics: Holidays
2nd Most Frequent Entry Topic: The Dixie Chicks

@ I’ve loved the song “Seasons of Love” from Rent for a long time and used it at volunteer appreciation events to acknowledge group accomplishments over the span of a year.  The song talks about 525,600 minutes "in the year of a life," so this would indicate the numbers above are related to what happened during a span of some 262,800 minutes.

I do not expect to keep up this pace. Maybe so if I were still 18, playing basketball and Miss Louise were still sitting up in the stands liked she used to watching my hook shots. But then, come to think about it, I suspect Miss Louise probably is . . .  Now then, 'tis back to the treadmill for me . . .  Yes, Liz, that's really me . . .

                                                        (Photo: Billy Ray, The Vicksburg Post)

Added by BettyS @ 12:15 AM

March 22, 2006

Who Gives a Hoot About Stylebooks Anyway?
. . . For All the Word Lovers in This Life

NLGJA and GLADD are both to be commended, I say (loudly), for making a point of paying attention to the words journalists use to talk about us. NLGJA actually has it’s own stylebook supplement on lgbt terminology in both English and Spanish.

Then there’s the AP Stylebook. What’s that? Oh, nothing short of a biblical reference for media types . . .  The evolution of guidelines on LGBT-related usage dates back more than two decades . . .

GLADD informs us:

“In the previous edition of the AP Stylebook (2005), the entry for gay read as follows:

   gay Acceptable as popular synonym for both male and female homosexuals (n. and adj.), although it is generally associated with males, while lesbian is the more common term for female homosexuals. Avoid references to gay, homosexual or alternative "lifestyle."

The updated 2006 entry reads:

    gay Used to describe men and women attracted to the same sex, though lesbian is the more common term for women. Preferred over homosexual except in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity.

    Include sexual orientation only when it is pertinent to a story, and avoid references to "sexual preference" or to a gay or alternative "lifestyle."

The 2006 edition also relocates the sex changes entry under the more accurate and inclusive term transgender. The transsexuals entry, which used to direct readers to the entry for sex changes, now also points to transgender:

    transgender  Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

    If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”

There’s more, and you can read the entire release, dated 3/13/06, with the headline: GLAAD Applauds Updated Associated Press Stylebook Entries.

Also, there's a fascinating and comprehensive History of LGBT-related AP Stylebook Updates on GLAAD’s site. Plus, they’ve included for background: Resource: New York Times, Washington Post LGBT-Related Style Guidelines.

This stuff is big fun for us media watchers . . . although some would ask "Who gives a hoot?"  I do, for one. Watching the drama unfold in stylebooks of AP, NYT and other metro dailies big enuf to have their own has been an interest for some 25 years  . . . Well, you say, it's time to take a rest . . . and go dancing!

(AP’s MidSouth Bureau in Memphis was located in the office next door to mine at The Commercial Appeal in 1981. That’s when I began to truly realize what the heck AP was and who cared. A year or so later, I had my very first look at an lgbt-usage sheet in Long Island Newsday’s stylebook in 1982. The rest is . . . history.)


Added by BettyS @ 6:15 AM

March 17, 2006

Erin Go What?  . . . and Begorragh!

Three or four sets of ancestors back, my mom’s family were Anglican Brits when they came to oversee Senator L.Q.C. Lamar's plantation. Pop’s were Irish, of whom it has been said, "They probably lost their Catholicism in the backwaters of Mississippi . . . and went to church the only place they could."

Later generations grew up southern . . .  Southern Baptist, specifically, back before anyone ever heard of a Christian fundamentalist.  So, what did you say was all that about bombs in Northern Ireland?

Pop did claim to be “a red-headed Irishman,” even after his hair had gone gray. He liked to sing and make folks laugh. Catholics, on the other hand, were our cross-town sports rivals at that school where they all dressed alike. The drinking habit was something to hide. Freckles came along with red hair. None of us had ever heard of green beer or a pub crawl. The phrase "black Irish" was . . . confusing.

At one point, I realized I knew more about Jewish heritage than Irish. I was . . . well,  just southern.

Say what? 

Search words: “The Irish are known for . . .

- Literature and music, but not for graphic arts
- Their ability to have a good time
- Their strong opinions on politics and pubs
- Being very intuitive in all social situations
- Their gift of gab and spinning of yarns
- Having a thick skin and a good sense of humor
- Their large breakfasts called “frys”
- Their leprechauns, delightful sayings, green shamrocks and . . potatoes
- Their way with words, and to be sure, nothing inspires them more than the day devoted to their own patron saint
- Their sense of fun, their casual attitude and their sense of tradition. They're irresistible
- The taboo against the eating of seal because seals are thought to be re-incarnated relatives
- Their storytelling, beers on tap like Harp and Guinness, rousing games of darts and pool, lively Celtic music and tasty Irish dishes
- Their friendliness and their ability to make any visitor welcome
- Great writers like Joyce, Yeats and Beckett
- Their storytelling tradition
- Their sense of humor
- Their generosity and hospitality
- Their writing skills, and now they will be known for their skill with electronics
- Their eloquence and “the gift of the gab”
- Their intelligence
- Their great taste for liquor
- Luck and the saying “the luck of the Irish”
- Their red hair, shamrocks, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, St. Patrick’s Day, feisty attitudes
- Flaming tempers
- Their eloquence on many subjects, and cursing is one of them . . . no one does it better
- Their sense of faith
- Meals that stick to the ribs
- Many wonderful gifts to the Western world, such as Guinness beer, Irish whiskey and Boxty dishes
- Their hospitality but are also stereotyped by their temper
- The Irish are known for their warm hospitality, outrageous wit, and brilliant art of conversation
- Their obstinate and gruff demeanor
-Their blarney, but even they find it difficult to brag
- The magic of their words
- Three drinks: Guinness, Irish Whiskey and Poteen
- Wool clothing such as tweed caps and beautiful handmade sweaters
- Their vivid and colorful stories
- Their temper and their love of drink
- Their whiskey booms, cordials stay hot beer
- Soul, welcome, witty servers and good craic, the sharp wit
- Going beyond the call of duty
- Their tale-telling and sometimes embellishing the truth
- Fine crystal
- Waking the dead, many traditional blessings
- Their love of life
- Being fun-loving people to help get through the bad times as well
- Their sociability
- Their humor and having a good time
- Their easy-going tempers and their respect for authority
- Their wit and imagination, qualities reflected in dance
- Their festive wakes to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed on
- Their understatement and unflappability
- Their folklore and superstition
- Their drinking and wonderful funeral bashes

No wonder my initials are “B.S.”

Added by BettyS @ 7:30 AM

March 14, 2006

Barb Wore Pokka Dots on the Dance Floor . . .
On Two of Nature’s Finer States of Being

When you have an old friend, or should I say . . . a “friend-of- longstanding,” there’s just something special there.

@ I often enjoy dancing  . . .  just dancing, with or without a dance partner, and sometimes this happens out on the floor at Page Hodel’s monthly tea dance called Respect.  Respect for Women on the 2nd Sunday of each month.  A place where I feel safe to dance. 

This past Sunday at Respect, my pal Barb Rush, with whom I am celebrating the 20th year of our friendship, was there . . . wearing a great looking black, buttoned-down shirt with large blue, green and yellow pokka dots . . . and a red bandanna around her neck. 

(A variant spelling is "polka dots," but both are in common usage.)

Now, the idea of Barb in pokka dots was not new, as I had actually seen the shirt before.  Yet it is so infrequently she's wearing them, it stuck me this must be a ‘special’ day.

I would think nothing of seeing someone . . . say, Dolly Parton,  . . . wearing pokka dots. Barb, however, is the un-Dolly type, . . . although I know she probably believes in Dollywood and wishes Dolly's 2006 nominated song “Travlin’ Thru” had won the Oscar.

So, it was from the dance floor that I saw her when Barb and the three others arrived at Rouge where Respect is held. They had come to have a good time.  Without the slightest sign of hesitation, though, she waved her arm and took me into the group and their circle to dance some more . . .

A nice thing, I thought  . . .  to invite someone without a dance partner to join right in. It truly was a ‘special’ moment for me . . . but, I hear, this sort of "everyone-join-in" occurs at Respect every month . . .  far more frequently than Barb wears pokka dots. And, I became aware I would write this blog about two ‘special’ things I sensed then were going on.

First, is having a safe place to dance your heart out, alone or with someone.  Second, is a celebration of friendship in general in our community, but in particular, those 20 years shared with Barb . . . all the memories and all of those too who have listened to us tell our tales.

In the end, I admit, it does not matter to me what she wears . . .  though it's true I do enjoy that keen sense of humor playing itself out in attire . . . a shirt or hat, a flashing pin or rainbow lights or Halloween something she has come up with one more time.  It’s all good . . . and cosmic too . . .


                                                                                         (NASA Photos - Hubble Telescope)

Added by BettyS @ 3:30 AM

March 11, 2006

"Tha Girls" Are Back!

Summer 2006 will see the Dixie Chicks beginning a new worldwide tour with the launch of their forthcoming album entitled “Taking the Long Way.”  (Release date: May 23, 2006)

The song below is the Chicks' autobiographical statement in response to the bru-ha-ha over Natalie’s comment about George W. Bush during a London concert in March, 2003 . . . this reported in the news release dated March 10, 2006.

(To hear a sample from Not Ready to Make Nice, use the "Related Media" link to audio on the right side of the page in the Fairview Observer's story 'Chicks not through with country radio yet.')

Not Ready to Make Nice
Words & Music by Emily Robinson, Martie Mcguire, Natalie Maines and Dan Wilson
Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

That’s their song.  All on the album are co-written by the the Dixie Chicks and produced by Rick Rubin.

It’s going to be a fun ride . . . because . . . yes, they’re back!

                                                                                    (Dixie Chicks Album Cover)

Added by BettyS @ 11:50 PM

March 7, 2006

Is Life More Than the Sum of Its Parts?

And, What the Hell . . . Am I Doing Writing About This? 

Good questions. Maybe because I wanted so badly for Felicity Huffman to win. Maybe because it’s now post Academy Awards. Maybe because it's in the stars . . .

Some weeks ago, I received a call from a publicist in Hollywood asking if we might be willing to help promote the soundtrack for the movie Transamerica.

“What is Betty’s List?” she asked . . .   I explained that, but did not tell her this story.

@ Twice in my life I have been touched by the remarkable experience of having a very close relationship with a woman who didn’t tell me she was one. Was what? A real life Bree. A woman who lives the character played by Felicity in Transamerica.

But remember one thing, please. I am writing about my life.  Not theirs.  Not hers.

In each instance, when I found out, it just didn’t matter. Not one damn bit. The deep love I felt remained solid and my admiration grew. Okay, that has to be qualified. It mattered that I knew of the pain and difficulty she had known, still did know then and continues to know now.  Not that I could ever truly understand it, but I gained an awareness that it was there.

But remember, this commentary is about my life.  Not hers. Not theirs.

It mattered because, in each case, I was charged with the responsibility of making sure that no one else knew. It mattered because the pain resulting from that impossible assignment affected the integrity of the relationship in ways beyond my control. In the end, I suppose, I found out in a convoluted way just how much my own life could be affected by pain resulting from the state of being trans and the mesh of complications.

Also, it mattered because some who know me asked what it was like; and further, it mattered when they laughed and said I was the last to know.

I do not have a solution. If I could wave away the interpersonal craziness that exists . . . even here in our own LGBT community . . . as a result of gender choices, I would. But I can’t.  Some things I must accept, like it or not.  Some things change slowly over time.  Some never will. There is always hope.

@ In these few rambling and oblique comments, I am taking the risk of speaking just a little bit about one of the most difficult conundrums I have faced in my entire life on this planet, and I don't like it.  I don’t like that Felicity Huffman didn’t win. I don't like the way it turned out in either case. I don't like that I can't do much of anything about either situation other than write these words.

But, I can promise this: I will keep cheering . . .  and cheering . . . and cheering for my trans friends, the ones I’m in touch with and the ones I’m not . . . for Bree, the character  . . . and for the woman who so courageously portrayed her in the film.  She did win my heart . . . just as did those two women whom I loved in real life.

I will also keep cheering for me. Why? Because in each case, even though things got too complicated to make sense, I did my best. I did not give up. No matter what. I will keep cheering for me because through these experiences, I have gained an understanding of my own gender identify's fluidity and how it evolves over time.

Finally, I will keep cheering for all transwomen and transmen and those who aren't there yet. For those who haven't figured it out yet. For those who say they are post-trans because they have lived longer in the second chapter of their lives than in the first.

Yes, I will keep cheering for them. And for me too. No matter what.

                                                                                                (Transamerica Photo)
Added by BettyS @ 1:30 AM

February 21, 2006

Happy Philately . . . and, Olympics or Bust!

Well, not really. Maybe it should be “The Olympic Bust!”

Time to blog and the only thing I can think about tonight is the 400-umpteen hours of mediocre programming on my three screens coming from NBC during the two weeks of the 2006 Games in Torino. Well, make that Turin.

Okay, it’s not really about the coverage. Where’s this coming from?  Probably it’s that I’m not very positive about USCO (United States Olympic Committee) and haven’t been since 1999.

Why? For more than 10 years, I worked with some excellent members of the UCSO staff developing education programs that were disseminated by newspapers throughout the US and in other nations.  With initial discussions dating back to 1989, Dr. Sherrye Garrett and I developed instructional materials for Games in Albertville (1992), Lillehammer (1994), Atlanta (1996), Nagano (1998) and Sydney (2000).

We went to Colorado Springs more than once.  I was flying low and fast, as anyone who knows what's there would understand. Had lunch with athletes in their training center cafeteria. Sherrye and I saw some very large swimming pools and gymnastics training rooms. Loved the gift shoppe and the statuary along the walkways of the Visitors Center.

Then came the scandals that preceded Salt Lake City. USOC’s governing Board brought in a new president, who immediately canned the entire Education Department, affecting the lives of some who had devoted as many as 20 years to the Olympic movement and Team USA.

I was not happy about it then, and I’m not now. 

Ironic that my Google search this evening . . . looking for the numerical designation of the Federal Law regulating use of the Olympic symbols and language . . . took me directly . . . I do mean “directly” . . .  to a page overviewing the 1987 Supreme Court decision entitled “San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Inc, et al. v United States Olympic Committee et al.

Yep, that’s the ruling on June 25th of that year that the “Gay Olympic Games” could not include the word “Olympic.” The case was argued by Mary C. Dunlap whose photo adorns, as we speak . . . as I write, our web site’s homepage announcing the 2006 Mary C. Dunlap Lecture on Sex, Gender & Social Justice.

My guess is that lots of Betty’s List subscribers know about that case because it was so close to home, literally and figuratively.

What I was looking for was this: “Amateur Sports Act of 1978, 36 U.S.C. 371-396” and it’s relevant because how it is interpreted affects the use of the word Olympics and the ring symbols on our web site’s link to coverage of the Games.

One of my mentors taught me something, however. She explained that one thing UCSO can’t regulate is our wish to show off the U.S. Postal Service’s lovely stamp issued to commemorate the 2006 Games. (Now, indeed, not everyone I know loves USPS, but that's another story . . . )

We show the stamp graphic for educational purposes. Thus, you’ll find that stamp on our home page this week as our illustration of where to click for the link to NBC’s official 2006 Olympic web site where there is lots more educational information.

That’s it! No more to say. Happy philately to all, and to all a good night!

                                                                        (U.S. Postal Service Illustration)

Added by BettyS @ 1:30 AM

February 14, 2006

It’s Okay-To-Be-Ha . . .
Single Again, on Valentines Day!

A professor I once knew said he was one of the original members of the popular 60s rock band called Paul Revere & The Raiders. He also got my attention by telling a story about what often happens when you mispronounce the name of the place where you are.

The college town where I met him was located in Oktibbeha (ok-TIB-uh-hah) County, Mississippi. There are more than a few place names in my home state derived from words in the language of the Choctaw Native American Indians.

It seems this new-in-town professor had created much merriment among the locals by saying the county name as Okay-To-Be-Ha, and thinking the chief of the tribe must have been trying to tell a visitor that it is Okay-To-Be-Here.

I’ve not been able to verify his claim to rock band fame, but his story has stayed with me and comes again this Valentines Day . . . when I find myself . . .  still single?  . . . in the Castro?  . . . on Valentines Day?

You bet! Not everyone in my neighborhood is rushing around passionately trying to exercise their rights to same-sex marriage. There are some of us, in fact, who just won’t settle until Ms. or Mr. Right comes along, if he or she ever does  . . .

 . . . and some who actually wish that the future of our Civil Rights didn’t rest on how this issue falls off the fence . . .  although many won't admit it in public, so strong is the peer pressure (1) to want to be in a couple, and (2) to want to participate in an outdated non-secular institution (my words) and have it sanctioned by the state . . .

I've heard all the arguments about equal access, but I'll never truly understand why my commitment and belief in long-term monogamous relationships is somehow questioned if I don't want to call it marriage.

Now, how do you recognize her or him when the right one comes along? They say you will “just know.” But, I don’t know about that either. I’ve been totally convinced more than once that I “just knew” she had arrived only to find out how deeply into "ir-reality" I could be.

In the final assessment, I don't believe finding connection is about running around trying to find Mr. or Ms. Right . . . looking for her or him in 'all the wrong places' with no context other than a cocktail.  And, no, I cannot say I never tried.

It’s about just letting things be, and knowing they are as they are suppose to be. It's about enjoying being with yourself and all the things you love to do and be and the good friends who share triumphs, joys and sadness when they come. It's about participating in community and thereby attaining context and hope of an actual relationship that dares to be healthy. It's about recognizing that a good friendship just might be most valuable relationship of all.

Have I made mistakes? Some I cannot change and always will regret. Have I learned anything along the way? One would only hope, yet what I do with that knowledge remains to be seen.

These are my thoughts and secrets of being . . . of being Okay-To-Be-Ha on Valentines Day and on every day, no matter what the calendar says.

                                                                                            (Pompidou Center Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 PM

February 9, 2006

Can This Blog Speak on Controversial Topics?

“Take your ginkgo pill!” That’s what my daughter says to me when she wants to make fun.  She also thinks that I shouldn’t put those controversial cartoons on this site. I’m still thinking about this.  . . . But, she says that the reason she doesn’t want me to put something controversial up is not to censor. It's because she doesn’t want the Betty's List web site to be attacked and go down.

I’m still thinking about this. Our webmaster explains that there are various ways a site can be attacked and he doesn’t have time to deal with it if it happens. I agree with that. I don’t either. But, I also have a commitment not to live my life in fear. That's why I marched to Take Back the Night.

There is no good or easy answer to this discussion. Like there is none to all the questions raised by violence over cartoons that depict religious figures in a manner some find objectionable. What is good about this, however, is that it evokes a totally fascinating discussion and also, that we are having that discussion . . . globally.

Meanwhile, two big thumbs down to those who use these cartoons as an excuse for violence, no matter where in the world they are or of what ethnicity.

How did I feel about it when the Brooklyn Museum exhibited the “Piss Christ” and “The Holy Virgin Mary” made with elephant dung? I enjoyed the story and could not have given a tinker’s damn about the art, what it's made of or what it depicts.  Still, I did enjoy the story and the ensuing discussion.

Now ask, how would I feel about it if an ancient goddess artifact were spray painted with graffiti? I can make no excuses for any form of violence, even the death penalty. I can make no excuses for deliberate attacks on works of art or violence as a result of art.  Are cartoons published in a newspaper art? If they are in the editorial section, are they art or are they editorial content? Both?

The New York Times says it won’t 'show' those cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and calls that a 'reasonable' editorial decision. There’s a site called Times Watch that devotes itself to “Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times.” See what they have to say.  Big fun, as the Californians would say.

 ABC News, I hear, did show them. The McNeil Report on PBS included a segment with several editors who made sensible points in all directions:

-  How can you truly inform readers about a cartoon without showing it?
- These cartoons were fairly easy to describe in words, so there was no need to publish the images which would be deemed objectionable by some readers.
- Editors withhold images and words everyday that they determine would be objectionable to some of their readers.
- In view of the level of violence going on in this case, the words alone do not explain well enough what the upset is about.
- In view of the level of violence, if the objectionable elements were words rather than images, the words would probably have been published.

I asked webmaster John if he had seen the cartoons. He said yes, so I asked where. He said, "They're everywhere!" He's right. Just do a Google search using the words "Muhammad" and "cartoons." Click on Google's "Images" option, and there you have it, or should I say, there you have them.

So, as of this writing, The Betty Blog is taking what I consider to be a lame approach. What’s that? Giving the LINK to them on somebody else’s site.  Here’s another LINK with even more.  Michelle Malkin certainly is a journalist worth knowiing about.

Meanwhile, as a First Amendment advocate of longstanding, I’m still thinking about this.  I do know I will buy something Danish very soon. Maybe a copy of a Danish newspaper would be a good idea.


                                                                                (Cris Ofili: The Virgin Mary)

Added by BettyS @ 2:00 AM

February 7, 2006

Broadway Dimmed Its Lights This Week . . .
Remembering Wendy Wasserstein, My Personal Thoughts

Tonight I find my moment to pause in honor of Wendy Wasserstein. Charlie Rose is playing clips from his numerous interviews with her as I compose and reminisce. Charlie has conversation with playwrights, critics and great friends of Ms. Wasserstein.  What they say gives me pause.

How I do identify with this woman, my contempory, now passed, whom I was so lucky to have met. How I'd wish to be spoken of as is she, a very wise and funny, lonely woman. Is loneliness is a sign of genius?

Do I speak of  “Ms. Wasserstein” or of “Wendy”? Well, “Wendy” she was to all.

I made the call to my colleague Dr. Sherrye Garrett to ask if she could take the lead in dreaming up the project. The result was our “Celebrate Theatre!” instructional guide. Sherrye was thrilled that year when she heard Wendy was coming to town, down from New York to appear as our speaker that May of 1990.

Wendy sat next to me at the head table for the opening dinner of our annual conference in the great ballroom at The Washington Times. (Now, who ever heard of a newspaper building with a ballroom in it? And, what were we doing at The Washington Times in the first place?)

The project Sherrye and I developed began because the League of American Theatres and Producers had realized the need to bring young people back to Broadway. Their communications executive Susan Lee asked, and Wendy agreed to speak to our audience of newspaper publishers, editors and educational services directors on the importance of literacy, good writing, the theatre and laughter in young people’s lives.  In all our lives, really.

As we chatted before she spoke that evening in the ballroom, I asked if I might pin a literacy button on Wendy’s suit jacket. Yes . . . please do . . . it was okay. I recognized that jacket tonight watching one of the interviews with Charlie Rose for the early 1990s.

If I ever met anyone who was both wise and funny, Wendy was. Before the evening was over, she had us all, an audience of 400 plus, rolling out of our chairs and around on the ballroom floor. We laughed so hard. We laughed with her because she laughed too. I'm not sure it's possible to be wise and have no sense of humor.

Once the conference closed, I could not wait to rush out and buy Wendy’s three most famous works at that time: “The Heidi Chronicles,” “Uncommon Women and Others” and “The Sisters Rosensweig.” What’s more, I could not put them down. Tonight I’m aware she’s written so much since then, so much more for me to find and read . . . from this wise contemporary of mine.

I hear she has a novel coming out posthumously entitled “The Elements of Style.” It’s way time, as the Californians would say, for me to read Wendy again. I hope my daughter reads Wendy, and my daughter's daughter and yours too.


                                          (Lincoln Center Photo - Multiple Sources)

Added by BettyS @ 2:00 AM

January 29, 2006

Gung Hay Fat Cho  . . . It’s the Year of the Dog!

The Chinese New Year celebrations meant next to nothing to me until I arrived in San Francisco. I was invited to join the SF Chronicle’s VIP section on Stockton Street during my first year here. What did I know of dancing dragons and children playing in huge drum sections?  . . .  make that 'huge-drum' and 'huge drum' sections too.

@ The small Mississippi River city where I grew up had one small grocery run by a Chinese family. My parents never went in. (No, it was not the only grocery store in town, but it was the only Chinese one.)

My first Chinese food experience came on a New Year’s Eve visit to Memphis with Liz’s father. We joined friends that evening who decided to take us out to the best Chinese restaurant in town over on Poplar Avenue.  It’s not there now.

Going inside, we felt ourselves an adventuresome quartet, and perhaps twas so being we were, oh, . . . about age 20 and college sophomores . . . venturing out into the Bible Belt city . . . that Memphis really was and is . . .  to an Asian restaurant, no less.

We were wowed by the architecture, the garden in the entryway, the private booths, the red, the flowers, the accents and faces of the staff. We were wowed by what the food looked like, just as much as by the tastes of it. We were wowed by how puzzled we felt - after the last item was cleared away and we had sampled our first fortune cookies - about where we might find a good steakhouse for the rest of dinner now that we’d finished what seemed like it was a sampling exotic appetizers, though we wouldn't have known to describe it that way.

@ Some years later during my New York days, Audrey and I made a ritual at semester's end of taking the train down to Canal Street and hopping off for an outing in Chinatown. The focal point of the outing was dinner at Ting Fu Gardens over near the intersection of Pell and Mott.

I was much impressed when Audrey’s friend Michael, a linguistics scholar, was able to translate the Cantonese characters adorning the sides of pagoda-shaped phone booths. Going inside, the restaurant wasn't a fancy one and without the Chinese-themed accents, it could have passed for a casual lunch spot down in the real Delta or the Midwest or somewhere near Modesto or Merced.

Event planners have taught me to call the decor 'tired' when there is need of rennovation. Well, Ting Fu Garden's booths in the seating area were just that. But, no matter. We were captivated watching Michael reading to us in English the entire menu written in Cantonese. After years of going there with Michael, we found out we could just ask for the menu in English, though we felt never again as appreciated by the staff. (Thanks to Audrey for this entry idea and links.)

Ting Fu Gardens is where I met and learned to love hot and sour soup with a sharp vinegar twang, and none since has come close to theirs . . .  a litmus test of sorts. After leaving NYC to live in DC, I returned to the intersection of Pell and Mott one day only to find that Ting Fu Gardens wasn’t there.

Then there was the time at some other NYC Chinatown establishment where Audrey's friend Betsy Gooch, a well-known N.O.W. leader in the NE region, introduced us to leechee nuts for dessert . . . and how we did carry on about Mr. Leechee's nuts. I still can't eat them.

@ Next important adventure with Chinese culture was during a lecture tour on media education for The Star newspaper in Petaling Jaya near Kuala Lumpur. Hosting were two lovely Chinese journalists, LeeAnn and her colleague, from the paper’s education program.

During our days off, they took me and the other American instructor to see more temples and more statues of Buddha than I ever dreamed possible. It did not escape me that this wasn't unlike how I experienced our French tour guide's determination we would make our way through the plethora of cathedrals found in Normandy. . . .  well, they really were beautiful.

Among the temples we visited was Wat Chayamangkalaram in Penang, home to the 3rd largest reclining Buddha in the world and the largest in Malaysia, measuring over 100 feet in length. I was fascinated to learn that Malaysia is a nation with three separate population groups, defined by religion:  Hindu, Islamic and Buddhism, and of the mistrust of Buddhist Chinese families who comprise the leading economic and political class.

@ Learn more about China? The passage below comes from a web site called “China The Beautiful” that's chock full of historical and cultural information. This site is so wonderful that it is overwhelming . . . and that’s a good thing. To learn about the Chinese nation and heritage, this would be a place to begin. Here’s the passage:

When is the Chinese New Year's Day in Year 2006?
-    January 29, 2006 is the first day of the Chinese New Year.
-    There are three ways to name a Chinese year:
1    By an animal (like a mascot).
     This year is known as the Year of the Dog.
     There are 12 animal names; so by this system, year names are re-cycled every 12 years.
2   By its Formal Name (Stem-Branch). 
The new year is the year of bingxu.
     In the 'Stem-Branch' system, the years are named in 60-year cycles, and the Name of the      Year is repeated every 60 years.
2006 is the 7th year in the current 60-year cycle.
3   It is Year 4703 by the Chinese calendar.
- A few Chinese astrological/zodiac websites believe this year should be considered as Year 4704 for zodiac calculations.

@ Another option is site called “The World Factbook” with sections on many nations. Included is a page of key facts about China, such as the population total estimated in 2005: 1,306,313,812. There’s so much more.

As for this being the year of the dog . . . well, speak softly . . . this site has attack cats!

                                                                                        (Wat Chayamangkalaram Photo)


                                                            (Caribbean Cultural Chinese New Year Festival Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 AM

January 19, 2006

Snowballs @ Mirror Lake . . . or,
One of Those Afternoons You Never, Never . . . Ever Forget

It was the most important thing I’ve done in a long, long time.

Audrey arrived from Memphis. Next day Liz and John came from Altoona. Our guys at City Rent-A-Car picked out a minivan for us, as they have every other time I've ever been to the Sierra Nevada . . . and we were off for a short vacation.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you not to take chains. I’d done two previous wintry-month outings into the Yosemite West vacation property area without them.  No problem. 

oi00009888888  ( . . . That was Louie crossing the keyboard only to add his comments on the blog. Afterall, this is a family story.)

This time . . . however . . . we couldn’t get up the hill.  The Four Seasons Reservations office was actually quite near . . .  But! It was a cold, dark night when we arrived and spun around, got stuck, got frustrated, then freaked before tucking our minivan tail to head back down, down, down from 5,000 ft, eight miles down into the Valley floor 2,000 ft level. Ended up staying at the Yosemite Lodge

Had a great time anyway . . . but those moments spinning on the icy roadway up near the way out to Glacier Point were pretty hairy ones.

Next day we made our way back up to the Badger Pass ski area. No problem. Stopped at ‘the big view’ near the tunnel where anyone in her right Yosemite mind, including Ansel Adams, has gone to take those famous valley floor shots, framed by El Capitan on one side, Bridal Veil Falls on the other and Clouds Rest and Half Dome way off in the background. You do know the one.

Then went on a guided tour for several hours via bus with a seasoned Yosemite staffer.  No problem.

Evening brought an intense round of the Trivial Pursuit Baby Boomer Edition, won by Liz, youngest among us. Audrey and I were amazed to see ‘the kids’ knew more answers than did we, nerds though we may be.

Next day found us at lunch in the Ahwahnee's Dining Hall, with its floor-to-ceiling views of snowflakes slithering through the ever-so-tall evergreens. What followed was for me just 'the best.' A snowy march in hiking boots down the horse trail . . . one I know well . . . just back of that historic hotel to frozen Mirror Lake at the foot of Half Dome. Not a challenging route, really, but an exciting one as I’d never been hiking with ‘the kids’ before. The ‘Wows’ they presented along the way were so worth the trip.

Topping it off was a snowball fight . . . well, snowball competition is more accurate, since we weren’t throwing at each other. Goal was to see who could hit the designated point atop a very large rock at the frozen water’s edge.

Without doubt, this was the most important thing I’ve done in a long, long time. No kidding.  And, a snowy thing it was. We made our way on passed Mirror Lake, following the Merced River tributary around by Happy Isles and on to Camp Curry. A winter wonderland, as intermittant snow showers . . . some heavy, some not so . . . greeted us along the way. Loved it. Played in it. Danced around. A very, very important afternoon, indeed.

Lots more to do, like gift shop, say hello to Ansel's Gallery, watch "The Spirit of Yosemite" at the Visitors Center, watch the documenary "Yosemite Firefall," chat with a Miwok basketweaver at the Museum, buy more books than you really need, trot over to Yosemite Falls . . . careful not to slip on ice.  A lot of ice.

Have you been to Yosemite lately? Try the web cam views. Join your kids, your ex, your best friend, your daughter's other mommy, your whatever into the Yosemite Association, as I did, and make a plan to go . . . back, if you’ve been before. For your own ‘Wow” moments, if you never have.




                                                                                    (Photos by John Herren)

(Added by BettyS @ 8:30 PM)

January 11, 2006

Stand By Your Band!

On the day after I downloaded from iTunes their rendition of “Stand By Your Man,” comes this headline from Media Matters for America:

Stand by your band: O'Reilly falsely claimed Dixie Chicks "have not recovered" from controversial 2003 remarks

Never dreamed I would give the time of day to Bill O’Reilly.

Background & info on the controversy in 2003:

CBS News:  "Dixie Chicks Slammed for Bush Gibe" "Chicks defiant with interview, nude cover"

Entertainment Weekly All About - Dixie Chicks

Below is my letter sent to Bill O'Reilly today:

Dear Bill O'Reilly: 

I've listened respectively to you speaking your opinions, and as a First Amendment advocate, always supported your right to say what you believe. I've even maintained that yours, regardless of how I may have disagreed with you, was an important voice on the very large and diverse spectrum of American opinion.

When you speak out in error about the Dixie Chicks, however, you have gone too far.  I personally do not care what you say, however right or wrong it may be, about politicians and public officials. But what you have said this time is about me and how I spend my dime.

Thus, I find it necessary to request that you apologize to the young women who comprise this performing group and to the fans and followers who enjoy their music, support their products and encourage them to speak their minds.

The Dixie Chicks' careers are thriving, in fact, and they have been, as a group and as individuals, talking about Natalie Maines’ comment on George Bush at a London concert in 2003 almost since the day it happened. To say otherwise is just plain wrong.

Further, I ask that you please inform your colleagues that, contrary to the recent comment made on your show, the other two members of the band, Emily Maguire and Martie Robinson, were never "mad" at Natalie and in actuality, they supported her from the outset.

Again, you are simply wrong and uninformed about the Dixie Chicks' commercial and artistic success, and in view of their youth and vitality, I suspect you are going to have the opportunity to follow their artistry, their humanitarianism and their careers for many years to come.


Dr. Betty L. Sullivan
Founder & President
Betty's List / Sullivan Communications, Inc
San Francisco


                                                                                        (Image: Multiple Sources)

Posted by BettyS @ 9:30 PM


January 7, 2006

Stumbled, Fell . . . Landed On the Hubble Space Telescope

What’s January? What’s January kind-of-thinking? Resolutions? Making plans and setting goals? Mission statements, taking stock and . . . and hopes and dreams and aspirations?

January’s out-with-old and in-with-new. Survived the holidays. Snow angels and paper snowflakes scotch-taped on frosty schoolhouse windowpanes or old houses where poor families live and hope. Ice storms, scraping windshields and slippery pavement . . .

. . .  Capricorn, Aquarius, garnets, snowdrops, carnations, tax time again . . . sales, the winter semester, football ends, basketball, Namibia summertime.  January means Golden Globes, Oscars to come and MacWorld.

@ My-very-good-therapist asked me the other day about thinking forward and thinking backward and could I think some beyond today?

The past informs, I said. The future, unknown. We’re along for the ride on an uncertain sea . . . moving through our own private Idaho tunnel to the other side.

My-very-good-therapist suggested, spend some time looking out there . . . forward in time, she said, where you've not been or even looked before.

@ Crawled out of bed and found my seat, peered into the web screen not knowing where or how or if a search might go on for hours. Landed on the Hubble Telescope site and stumbled into the heavens . . . to see and consider entire worlds and worlds of worlds not seen before. Fell quickly into considering the awe, the art, the majesty and grandeur. Humbled and inspired and renewed, a primitive spirit of adventure stirs.

Go there, hear podcasts, see the movies, videos, look at images and let your very own private jaw drop, peering into a flat screen in front of your face, out into a vast vastness beyond unknown.

Are we going, then? You and I? Am I, with you, riding a planet circled by a tiny machine called Hubble, no more than an aide to our sadly limited human sight? Dare to! Go there and realize, experience our infinitesimal smallness and inconsequence.


                                                                    (NASA Photos - Hubble Telescope Web Site)

Posted by BettyS @ 8:30 PM

January 4, 2006

In & Out  . . . side the Beltway . . . And Now-w-w-w-w, Here's Jack!

Several months ago, we met Scooter. Before that, Harriet. Today, there's Jack.

@ In: Once again, the news, much as I love it, is sick entertainment. Trying to forget that tearjerker, the too-sad-tale of un-miracles in a West Virginia coal mine, time to do a web search and find out what the fuss is all about Jack . . .

@ Out: But first . . . on all three TVs, the principals were doing what everybody does one time or another: blaming each other, the corporation and the media. How 'bout their own botched communications? Really? . . . for sending the wrong signal over to that little Baptist Church, the hold up spot for families missing 13 miners. Horrible story for messengers . . . for everyone . . .  in a senario that just that won’t hold up to sarcasm.

@ In: Among the descriptors for him from a baker’s dozen sites are those one wouldn’t think of ascribing to a nice boy from LA: beltway bandit, mobster, casino king, uber-lobbyist, the-man-who- bought-off-Washington . . . more.  But then, he’s not your typical nice boy, is he?

But, with more time, I could entertain myself reading an abundance of blue sites spouting liberal rhetoric that goes way over my head . . .  and I am one. Join the Libertarians? Never. Well, maybe.

Here's the . . .


More Madcow

Contrarian Review

Weekly Standard

Yeah, there are a hellofalot more. Then, I recall the SF cabbie spouting red state rhetoric, way over my head.

The fun never stops in that big southern town built on the Potomac swamp. No need to wonder why to stay in California. Did you hear the one about the former mayor, Marion Berry, getting robbed by his delivery boy?

The day a cop ran, piece pulled, 'round the side of my Dupont Circle 17th Street building . . .  was time to head west. Guns here too, you say, and criminals come in all shirt colors?

Well, what about Jack? He’s on stage, the show begins . . .

Our nation's capitol . . . our Internet too . . . is a scary, marvelous place.


                                                                                                (Photos: Multiple sources)

Posted by BettyS @ 11:45 PM

January 1, 2006 – New Year’s Day

Web Cams, Blow Holes & Other Important Information

Today’s a good day to take a look at that news release web master John alerted me to during the height of holiday festivities  . . . The release announces their picks for the 2005 edition (the 7th annual) of "25 Most Interesting Webcams” of the year.

The 2005 ones comprise a diverse but uneven collection, some of them fun and inspired, some déjà vu, some of them, ya jus gotta ask: "Why?"

On my screen, Graceland Cam raises a smile and reminds me of a party I hosted there back in 1994. The British Antarctic Vessel Cam speaks to the ice adventure girl in me. Pyramid Cam evokes my true tourist self.

The Tahiti Nui Travel Webcam certainly made me salivate for another trip to those awesome French Polynesian Islands. My newspaper industry business partner, Dr. Sherrye D. Garrett, and I had a great time as guests of the Tahiti Office of Tourism and Radisson Seven Seas’ Paul Gauguin. I’d go again in a minute.

Among them all, I’ll pick Live Piranha Web Cam, not because of the Piranha Cam which never opened at all, but for the “way cool” strategy behind it. From a promotion / marketing perspective, this little cam is not doubt bringing a lot of attention to Piranha Pictures, that “small but mighty”   ad agency based in Nashville. Go there, you’ll see a link to their Emmy-winning PSA “Booze It Enforcement: Kick a Bear.” Worth the trip. Fascinating strategy, I think.

@ If you missed the coverage of Times Square’s New Year’s Eve Party last night, you can take a look at the archived Times Square cam views and just about be there all over again. I'm glad Dick Clark was there as anchor of ABC's coverage.

@ Two memorable moments from New Year’s Day a year ago: (1) Visiting the Blow Hole near Po'ipu on Kauai; and (2) Touring around singing my favorite track on SFGMC’s outstanding “Oh, Happy Day” CD entitled “We’re Not Lost, We’re Here.” Sums it all up for me. Big cosmology.

Kauai's Blow Hole, or "Spouting Horn," is a natural wonder that blows spray when waves push water rushing under a lava shelf bursting through a small opening at the surface . . . some 50 feet into the air! At sunset, the spray becomes an incandescent rainbow.

Legend says the coastline there is guarded by a large lizard (mo’o) who ate anyone coming to fish or swim. A man named Liko entered the water one day, and when the lizard went after him, he swam under the lava shelf and escaped through a lava hole. When the mo’o followed him, it became stuck. The groaning sound when the spray flies through the hole at Spouting Horn is the lizard’s cry of hunger and pain, still trapped under the rocks never to escape. One report says there are really two holes at the Blow Hole, one for water and the other for sound . . .

Another story says that Kukiula Seaplume was the name of an even larger blowhole, once found near the Spouting Horn, sending water 200 feet into the air with each wave. The larger one was destroyed in the 1920s when the salt spray damaged the sugar cane growing in a nearby field.

So much for blow holes . . . especially in my neighborhood . . .  Yeah, that was a way-too-cute thing to say . . .

                                                                                                 (Antique Postcard)

Posted by BettyS @ 7:30 PM

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