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by Karen Fayeth

A Tip of the Cap

How does one eulogize a legend? I’m certainly not qualified, but my sincerity, hopefully, will win the day.

Over the weekend Major League Baseball lost a Hall of Famer, and it’s given me quite a few moments to pause and reflect.

Lon Simmons didn’t play the game but is as integral to the sport as any home run champion.

Simmons started out calling San Francisco 49er games in 1957 and then also began calling games for the San Francisco Giants with longtime partner Russ Hodges in 1958. This was just after the Giants had moved west from New York.

Lon’s deep resonant voice is iconic in its own right as is his very dry sense of humor. So dry that occasionally athletes and other broadcasters didn’t quite get it when he’d lay down a quip. In my opinion that sometimes led to awkward encounters, but Simmons was so affable that he could always save the moment.

Any baseball broadcaster worth a damn also has a signature homerun call, and I believe Simmons’ call is the foundation for any good call you hear today.

It went something like this *crack of the bat* “…that ball is way back, way back….tell it good-bye!” and he said with a rising inflection that built the tension, made you clutch the steering wheel in your car, hug a loved one or just squinch down waiting for the payoff. Then yesss! Tell it goodbye! Now that’s iconic.

In the early 2000’s Lon was still broadcasting pretty regularly for the Giants. I have a confession to make, back then I was starting to get pretty frustrated with Simmons. He was of course legendary but his game calling had lost a step. Perhaps it was the impatience of youth, but I used to turn it off if he was calling the game and listen a different way. Sad but true.

When he retired from the Giants broadcasting, I was relieved. I believed then as I do now that it was time. There are other legends, Jon Miller among them, ready to carry on the legacy that Lon Simmons began.

Over the last decade or so, Lon could often be seen at the ballpark and we’d always give him a hero’s welcome. Retirement seemed to suit him and when he’d come on the air, I was a lot more forgiving of his slow style and sometimes awkward pauses.

There is not a doubt in my mind that Mr. Simmons deserved his Ford C Frick award and his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

His voice, his storytelling, his homerun call, they are all a part of the fabric of the game that I love so much.

So on this second day of the 2015 Major League Baseball season and the first day of the San Francisco Giants season, I salute Lon Simmons for his service, for his style and for bringing baseball to life for me with his voice and his words.

I tip my cap to a great man. May he rest in peace.




Russ Hodges (l) and Lon Simmons (r)




Image found here




It’s Only Right

On Sunday morning I woke up lazy and calm and satisfyingly rested. The temps outside were too chilly to rise from my cocoon, so instead I lolled in bed with The Good Man and the Feline. TGM and I talked over Sunday morning things, as couples will do, holding hands, talking quietly, and laughing.

After a while I said I was going to get up because I was hungry.

“What are you having?” TGM asked.

“Hmm, probably a bagel,” I replied, thinking of the mediocre but passable bagels we had procured the day before.

“What are you going to put on the bagel?” he asked. Food is a thing with us. We both love to eat and sometimes the story leading up to the nosh is just as important as the nosh.

It was as if he was asking me to tell him a story. A naughty, naughty story of bagels and cream cheese and toppings that would make us both suck the air in through our teeth and nod approvingly.

I thought a bit, adjusting my legs under the comforter, stretching my calves and toes in the anticipation of being upright.

“Probably just some cream cheese,” I said, staring my lactose intolerance square in the eye and refusing to blink.

“And tomatoes?” he asked,

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

“And capers?”

“Umm…”

At my hesitation he gave me a look somewhere between “you are an alien” and “you shot my dog”. He was crinkly browed and taken aback.

“I don’t think I like capers as much as you do,” I said.

The frown intensified. No words were said. Only this ever-deepening sadness and disbelief.

“It’s not that I don’t like capers. I do. Just not as much as you. I don’t always want them on my bagel.”

His frown deepened further and his head drew back like he was trying to put me in better focus. Like he was wondering to himself who this person was that he thought he knew. Like he was thinking, “I really should have gotten that pre-nup back when I had the chance because no way in hell would I have gone through with it if I had known she wasn’t going to have capers on her bagel on a lazy Sunday morning in December 2013.”

I shrugged. He shook his head and then I exited the bed. I paused on the way to the kitchen to take my morning vitamins and The Good Man went on ahead of me and began toasting two bagels.

He set out a variety of fixings and when the bagels were just a slight crispy brown around the edges, he said, “Your bagel is ready.”

When I accepted my bagel, I schmeared it with cream cheese and I lightly salted it and I added tomato slices. And then I put capers on my bagel because it was the right thing to do. The right thing the sake of another beautiful day in a long and happy marriage with a wonderful man.

He was right, the capers were delicious. In the world of food, I may reign supreme on all things green chile, but I should know better than to question the handsome boy from Brooklyn on the ways and means of eating a bagel.

Even a mediocre bagel nibbled on a frosty Sunday morning in Northern California.








Image found here.




The Turtle And The Hare

I’ve mentioned several times in these pages that during the course of my life, I spent quite a few years in the company of a blues musician. By spending a little time with him, I also spent time around a lot of different blues musicians.

Men and women with a deep vein of soul and history and rhythm.

When you are around blues people, you hear a lot of stories. Telling stories is pretty much the foundation of being able to play the blues. As a storyteller in my own right, I used to soak in these stories, letting them enter my pores and fill my soul and tap my DNA on the shoulder and ask it to dance.

The stories are in me. Not all of them are true. Few of them are pretty.

All of this is a long winded lead up to a particular story I have in mind.

It goes something like this:

Back in the 1950’s in a small suburb of Dallas, Texas, two talented brothers grew up together.

Both had music in their bones and talent for playing the guitar. The world knows a little bit more about Stevie Ray Vaughan because of his breathtaking musical style and early death, but Jimmie Vaughan has also seen a fair bit of success with his music.

If you listen to each of their music, you can hear their very different styles. Stevie’s music was intense, complicated and at times frenetic. Jimmie likes to play a bit slower and wider and easier.

Legend has it that back in the day in Oak Cliff, Texas both boys not only liked guitars but they liked cars.

Stevie, unsurprisingly, liked real fast hot shit cars that he could jump in and race around town. Stevie used to vex the local police who couldn’t slow him down.

Jimmie on the other hand liked to cruise. He liked big, heavily finned, tuck and roll upholstered, Buick with a “smile” kind of cars. He’d put his girlfriend beside him on the bench seat and slowly roll through town, vexing the local police who wanted him to speed up.

I think of this story pretty frequently in relation to my own roll through life. My approach is more Jimmie than Stevie, though I admire the hell out of Stevie.

Perhaps this owes to the slow “land of mañana” pace of where I grew up. We don’t move with alacrity in New Mexico and tend to be suspicious of those who do. When I still lived in the state and traveled to San Francisco or Boston for work, I was always comforted to come home, get off the plane, and visually see how slow people moved. Then I would match my pace to theirs and know I was home.

There is a great comfort in moving at a calm pace.

I find, however, that is not how the world thinks one should move.

Let’s take for example, New York City. In New York, you are supposed to walk fast. Very fast. Head straight, eyes forward, and walk.

Despite how much I love Manhattan, I have one hell of a time keeping up. The Good Man was born in Brooklyn so moving at that pace comes natural. It does not come natural for me. I prefer to toddle along close to the buildings with the elderly and infirm and let the people pass me by on the outside of the sidewalk.

I am the person that New Yorkers yell at for walking too slow.

This all came back to mind this past week. It is New York Fashion week and I follow Nina Garcia, Marie Claire magazine’s Creative Director, on various social networking sites.

She has been posting photos from all of the various designer shows and I have been lapping them up like at kitten at a bowl of milk.

I may not have a figure for fashion, but I love it. I love seeing how textiles and stitches and notions come together to create something fantastic or ugly or offbeat. Yes, I dig it!

So a couple of days ago, Ms. Garcia posted a photo of a sign she saw backstage at the Michael Kors Spring show. Oh my, I am a huge fan of Mr. Kors.

Here is the photo:





I read the words and my heart sank a little. I am happily romantic, strong and my own version of gorgeous.

But I don’t walk fast and with energy.

I would love to kill them with chic, but instead I must maintain my killer sense of humor.

For some reason, this really got under my skin and whispered to those demons in my head who heckled me and said that if I can’t walk fast and with energy, I am a nobody. They said I don’t measure up, don’t belong, don’t matter because I can’t keep up.

And that’s when I remembered the story about the Vaughan brothers.

I don’t need to race up and down the streets of New York. There are plenty of people who have that covered. I want to cruise the Manhattan blocks and tip my head upward to wonder at the buildings and smile and give my lungs room to breathe.

Slow though I walk, I always get where I’m going. Pink cheeked, a little sweaty and smiling.

Perhaps I am taking this hand written sign a little too close to heart. I’m sure this was simply a note of encouragement for the models walking the runway, reminding them to keep it peppy and light.

Perhaps it just hit me on a bad day when the demons were a little closer to the open door than I would like. I let them out to play awhile, really let them run, then I whistled and corralled them back into the pen.

And I remembered that a strong, courageous New Mexican doesn’t have to walk fast unless she wants to. That is true both when walking the Bosque or NYC’s Broadway.


A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.

–Coco Chanel


Thankfully, I am both.

–Karen Fayeth





Photo from the Instagram feed of Nina Garcia. All rights belong to her.




Met A Childhood Friend

Was sorting through all of the photos from my recent trip to New York when I found a set that I wanted to share. In fact I’d meant to share this a couple weeks back but I just got lost in the back-to-the-real-world on top of the hectic pace of the hellidays.

One of the days that The Good Man and I were in New York, I requested the chance to spend a few hours in the New York Public Library as I was still rap-tap-tapping away at my NaNoWriMo.

The Good Man indulged me and I had some time to sit in the Great Room and write, which was both fun and inspiring and is something I will never forget. The Good Man went exploring as I worked because there is much to see in that amazing library.

That was when The Good Man stumbled across something interesting. It turns out that in the basement of the NYPL, there is a children’s books section, and in that area there is a display case containing several stuffed animals, but not just any stuffed animals.

In the case are the original stuffed friends that were the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh. These toys belonged to Christopher Robin Milne, the author’s son.

The toys were brought to the United States in 1947 and remained with the publisher of A.A. Milne’s books, which then donated the stuffed animals to the New York Public Library in 1987.

In this photo, from left to right, is Lottie the Otter who shows up in a more modern Winnie the Pooh book sanctioned by the Milne estate. Then we have Tigger, Kanga in the back, the small Piglet, then Eeyore and finally on the far right, the man himself Winnie-the-Pooh.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


Turns out the stuffed bear was bought at Harrods in London as a present for Christopher Robin’s first birthday.

It also seems that this stuffed bear is named Edward. Who knew that ol’ Winnie-the-Pooh was really a very posh Brit bear? I did not.




This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


This Winnie-the-Pooh looks much different from the Disney-i-fied version that we all are used to. This Mr. Pooh has very kind eyes and a pettable nose.

But still no pants.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


I was pretty excited after seeing the original Pooh gang. It was like meeting a group of celebrities.

As a writer it was pretty cool to see how inspiration can turn into a rich and beloved story.

Combined with a marathon writing session and then seeing Charles Dickens’ pen and inkwell, it was quite a happy literary day for this little ol’ writer.




All photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




The Great White Way

So here I find myself at Friday, the end of the first long work week after my return from a fantastic vacation.

I’m a little tired, a little stressed, a little melancholy. A week ago today The Good Man and I were walking the High Line in Chelsea and feeling relaxed and happy.

Today I’m sitting at a desk feeling anything but relaxed and happy.

And so to curate the memories from my time off just a little while longer, I’ve decided to write a review column.

While in New York, The Good Man and I took in three Broadway shows. Below are my reviews of the three shows, presented in the chronological order in which they were viewed.

And away we go:


The Anarchist

The Good Man and I arrived in New York in the early evening on Saturday and so we simply had some good food and slept. Sunday we started exploring, and late in the afternoon, decided to hop over to the TKTS booth to see what sort of Broadway tickets we might scare up.

Most of the shows were already sold out, but The Anarchist still had seats available. The show was still in previews and the opening wasn’t until the following Saturday. The play was written and directed by David Mamet, he of the Glengarry Glen Ross fame and a well known and well respected playwright.

In addition, the play starred Patti LuPone and Debra Winger, two notably amazing actors.

Basically, we reasoned to ourselves, a new Mamet play with two amazing performers should, by all accounts, be worth seeing.

So we plunked down the cash and went to the show.

I knew going in that any Mamet show was going to have a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. Oh dear god. I had no idea what was in store for me.

Here I’ll borrow someone else‘s words to set the background:

The play is set in a prison. LuPone is Cathy, an anarchist who had shot police officers and has been in prison for 35 years. Winger’s role, as Ann, is less clear. She is probably a prison psychiatrist. Ann asks questions and Cathy answers, philosophizing about religion, the meaning of life and redemption.

Naturally, Cathy wants out. She wants to see her father before he dies and argues that she has served her time.

Ann keeps asking her where one of her accomplices is, and Cathy says she does not know. Ann asks her about redemption and about being born a Jew who has been reborn a Christian in prison. They talk about it and then talk some more.

The show began as most Mamet works do, right in the middle of the conversation. You as an audience member have no context. You just gotta run, hop on and don’t ask too many questions.

The freight train sped along for just seventy minutes then abruptly stopped.

We in the audience applauded because the performers did the best they could with the material.

Then when we stopped clapping, we all looked at each other like “what the hell just happened?”

My biggest fear at that moment was that The Good Man was going to turn to me and say “wasn’t that great!?!?!”

He did not.

Afterwards, over an egg cream, we talked about the show. At first I felt really disappointed in the whole thing, then I got a little mad.

Mr. Mamet has always been massively self-indulgent in his works, but this went beyond the pale. And that he forced two fine actors to rattle through his haphazard script is pretty much a crime.

Basically, this whole thing left a really bad taste in my mouth. Isn’t Broadway supposed to be the best of live theatre?

(A final note: Just this week, in the wake of the official opening on December 1, the show has received awful reviews and will close December 16th after just 17 regular performances. Seems it wasn’t only The Good Man and I that were put off the show.)




Image from backstage.com



Nice Work If You Can Get It


Two days after the disaster on 45th street, The Good Man and I dove back into the fray.

We visited the TKTS booth again and this time picked up tickets to the show Nice Work If You Can Get It.

This combined two happy elements for us. The book is inspired by some of the works of PG Wodehouse, he of Jeeves and Wooster fame and author of hundreds of hilariously funny books, and the music and lyrics of Gershwin.

Oh, and it stars Matthew Broderick.

As an aside, as we were stepping up to the ticket taker at the very doors of the theatre, he said to me “hang on a moment” and from behind the door came Mr. Broderick’s wife, Sarah Jessica Parker. She was extraordinarily nice to everyone, thanked the man taking tickets, said excuse me to us and made her way out. She must have stopped by for a quick pre-show “break a leg” to the hubby.

As she walked away, The Good Man commented, “wow, she’s really cute in person” and I totally agreed. She is actually quite adorable in real life and very sweet. I think the camera does her little justice, actually.

After the star sighting, we found out seats. As the curtain went up, both The Good Man and I had very high expectations for the show.

Very, very high expectations.

And not only were these skyscraper high expectations met, but also blown right past. (< - terrible grammar, and yet I don't care) Set in Prohibition era New York, the show had a zany story line that roughly centers around a rich guy on the eve of his third marriage who, stumbling home sauced after his bachelor party, bumps into a sassy bootlegging girl, and is a bit taken with her. Through a series of funny events, the bootleggers end up hiding their gin in the basement of the rich man's Long Island home ("I never go there"). When the man and his new wacky wife show up to honeymoon at the same home, they end up surprising the bootleggers. Lots of singing, tons of dancing and a lot of hilarity ensues. The cast is amazingly talented and the show just flowed beautifully from start to finish. Mr. Broderick really can do anything, can't he? Sing, dance, act, theater, television, movies. All of it. And while Mr. Broderick was the most well known actor in the cast, really Kelli O'Hara is the star of the show. She is luminous and definitely enchanting. Hell, by the end of the show I was ready to marry her! What a great show and what a great way to regain my trust in the quality of the shows on Broadway.




Image from Entertainment Weekly

And finally…


War Horse

We had seen War Horse here in San Francisco and it really resonated with me on a very deep level.

In fact, The Good Man and I had been talking for a long time about a trip to New York, and it was my desire to see War Horse on Broadway that became the motivating factor.

I didn’t want no TKTS who knows what seats we’ll get scenario. I insisted The Good Man buy tickets early and get the best seats he could.

Oh boy did he. Second row. From start to finish we were right in the middle of the action.

Since New York’s Lincoln Center has a pretty big stage, the production was a little different than in San Francisco and in many ways the performance was far better.

Whereas when I saw the show at The Curran in San Francisco, we sat quite a bit back and I was very into the storyline of the horses, meaning I stared at them the whole time and the actors were secondary.

Being so up close this time, the puppet horses simply integrated into the scenes and I was all up in the middle of the characters and their story. Being able to see facial expressions and quite literally sit in the middle of the action was a profoundly different experience.

As with the last time, I was completely engaged in every moment of the show and when “the big sad part” came along I did again cry my eyes out, but it was so much more real this second time. When the lights came up I had dried up my eyes, then immediately started crying again. Then I stifled it and went to the restroom to clean up. And so I cried again.

All of this crying occurred even knowing what was going to happen and when. And knowing how the situation resolved itself.

There is really something about the crucial scene when Joey, our lead horse, is caught in the barb wire on the battlefield that about does me in. I should probably hire a qualified therapist and figure that out. It just demolishes me. (and that’s good theatre, folks!)

As The Good Man hugged me while I wailed like a baby, I said to him, “I don’t think I can do this again.”

My goal after seeing the show in San Francisco was to see it again in New York, then see it a final time in London. But have mercy, I don’t think I can go through that again.

What an amazing show. For anyone reading this who may say, “Oh, just watch the movie” I say no. Absolutely not. The magic of this show is the amazing puppetry of the animals. This play is the story of World War I told from the view of a horse which makes it groundbreaking. It’s the puppetry of the horses that makes it exceptional, and there is no way a movie using real horses can even come close.

Whew, just thinking about it again gets the tears burning at the sides of my eyes. It is just so profoundly good.

Our original plan after the show was to go to Rockefeller Center to watch the tree lighting. No way that was going to happen as I was a soppy mess, so we tucked into a family run pizza joint and noshed and kibitzed with the owner and watched the lighting on TV.

Yeah, pretty much among the top five most amazing days of my life.




Image from performingarts.about.com


Ok, well there you have it. What I wouldn’t give to have the kind of time and money to go back to New York and see every single show on Broadway. I’d love every single ding dang minute of it.

Well that’s that, and my lunch hour is over. Back to the salt mines.

Oh, I see I have eight new emails from the Boss Man. How fun.



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