Sonja Henie won more medals Olympic and World titles than any other ladies’ figure skater to date. According to Wikipedia, “Henie is credited with being the first figure skater to adopt the short skirt costume, wear white boots, and make use of dance choreography. Her innovative skating techniques and glamorous demeanor transformed the sport permanently and confirmed its acceptance as a legitimate sport in the Winter Olympics.” Summing it up, she was the first lady to glide around on ice, leap into the air wearing a darling little skirt, do one revolution midair, and land on one foot skating backward in a balletic arabesque. It was the stuff of legends. And if she could have seen Nathan ‘Quad’ Chen skate his freeform recently, she probably wouldn’t have believed her eyes. Six quadruple turns in one program. It was hard for me to believe and I am no Sonja Henie. To spill all, Ms. Henie was born into a wealthy Norwegian family and became famous during Hitler’s rise to power. There has been controversy over her acceptance of him during the war, but she denied most accusations and donated pots of money to the Norwegian Relief Fund once she came to America. There is no doubt she had a checkered political past, but she was and is the mother of figure skating, as we know it today. If you get a chance, see Sun Valley Serenade, a film she made in 1941 with John Payne. Not only do you see her skate, you can watch her ski. And the movie is a hoot!
And I’m here to tell you it’s a little like a ride at Disneyland, a 45-minute wait, five-minute ride, but not nearly as much fun. At this point, it takes two people to drive a self-driven car, one to sit behind the wheel and the other in the passenger seat, staring at a monitor to key in the route on a keyboard. Driver two has to pay attention to any variable that might get thrown at the little darling. Like a pedestrian or stray dog wandering nearby. As a ‘level-three’ car, it doesn’t do u-turns yet. The person behind the wheel has to do that. However, it does go forward, albeit at 19-miles an hour. I’m not sure if it backs up. We never saw that. But it will stop at stop signs. Where we live there aren’t any stoplights, which is a good thing, because it doesn’t do stop lights, either. But it is very cute, and if you need to feel smug about your own driving ability, this is the car for you to investigate. It seems like all the things a driver automatically does has to be keyed into the computer. Apparently, we are able to do a gazillion things at one time, even the worst driver among us, but it’s all in the future for these little self-driven love bugs. Altho, despair not. If you are under 40, the reliable self-driven car, which is ‘level-four’ and capable of city driving, might just be in your future. As I am somewhat older, it probably isn’t in mine. And it’s just as well. I prefer Disneyland.
And I know it will be a big hit because it uses the word ‘girl‘ three times. Actually, it might be three times a hit. According to various articles and studies, any title that has the word girl in it speaks to female readers. It also seems to mean that the protagonist (the girl) is probably going to make it to the end of the book alive if the writer is a woman. If the writer is a man, all bets are off. Here are just a few successful books with the word ‘girl’ in the title – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory; The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella; The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson; The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. And there are many more. Just ask the Great God Google about it. I’m not sure what started this phenomenon, maybe Hans Christian Anderson with The Little Match Girl. But it doesn’t make any difference, I’m on to it now. I’m going to have a best seller! But maybe I need to have an adverb or adjective in the title, as well. What do you think of these? Garbage Girl, A Sanitation Worker Reveals All; Gobbledygook Girl, Social Media Made Easy; The Girl in the Gazebo. The last one’s actually not too bad. Hmmmm.
There is a method to my madness. My two cats get three types of treats. Yes, they are spoiled, but let’s move beyond that. Yulie has learned through the years to jump up on their counter, and point to the treat he wants with his nose. Problem solved. But it is Ellie that concerns me. When I put treats down on the floor for her (she can’t jump up onto the counter; too tubby), Ellie turns her back on me and just sits, waiting. I have to put all three treats down before she turns around and chooses one. Sure, she does eat the other selections, but maybe it’s more of an afterthought? Anyway, it occurred to me that if I teach her to call out the treats by name, it could save me a lot of trouble. I started with the brand, Greenies. My reasoning was ‘Temptations’ is a hard a word to say right off the bat. And the word ‘Party Mix’? Forget it. And after all, she is a cat. She needs time to work into this. Every day for about three months, I shook the bags with the treats in them and she came running. Then I repeated the word “Greenies’ again and again. So far, nothing. So I STILL have to put all three down for her to select the one she wants. And then she eats the rest! I mean, really? How dumb can she be?
Tuesday night I had the delight, honor, and good sense to go to Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park for the debut of a new book, The Amorous Heart. There, author Marilyn Yalom, scholar, writer, feminist and all-around-good-gal, was being interviewed by Theresa Donovan Brown, an award winning author of fiction and non-fiction. And another all-around-good-gal. It was a bright evening of entertainment, and the sharing of knowledge, history, comradery, laughs and spirit. Ms. Yalom is my kinda feminist, a woman who studies, observes, reports, enlightens, and enthusiastically supports women without beating up or denigrating men. It can be done. After all, a lot of men are all-around-good-guys. On another note, Ms. Yalom is a mighty fine writer. She imparts her point of view with the assuredness of a writer who not only knows her stuff, but how to put it down on paper with wit, style, clarity, and – dare I say it? – HEART.