Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Othello in Griffith Park July 18, 2010

I love Shakespeare in the park, especially free Shakespeare in the park.  It’s one of the perks of summer, almost (but not quite) counterbalancing this nasty heat.  On Friday night, we we saw Othello in Griffith Park, put on by the Independent Shakespeare Company.  ISC used to perform in Barnsdall Park — we saw them perform Twelfth Night two years ago and enjoyed it alot.  Now they’ve moved to Griffith Park, which is a lovely venue once you find it.  (Griffith Park is huge, and if you don’t know where you’re going, as I don’t, it’s easy to drive along endlessly.)  The advantage of Griffith Park is that it’s large, so it’s easy to find someplace to sit with a good view of the stage.  It’s casual, so you can eat your picnic during the performance if you happen to be late (because you’re driving endlessly through Griffith Park).  Be forewarned that there’s no seating so bring your blanket or chairs.

I’m no theater critic, but I enjoyed the production very much.  The set was simple, as were the costumes.  No resetting in modern times or dumbing down to appeal to contemporary audiences.  Just Othello, straight up.   There was laughter at Shakespeare’s jokes at the beginning, but by the final tragic scenes, you could hear a pin drop.  The audience was fully engaged.

ISC is performing Much Ado About Nothing in August.  I’ll definitely be there, but will leave much earlier to get there so I don’t get lost again!


Sustainable Shopping and Star Sighting April 26, 2010

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland,Food — wendy @ 12:26 pm

Life is a series of trade-offs, a fact of which I am acutely aware every time I go grocery shopping.  It always seems that I’m trading off between being green, cost, and convenience.  Do I buy produce at the farmers’ market or the supermarket?  What’s in season or what my kids will actually eat?  Grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, free-range chicken?  And the non-PC question, pre-packaged chips for lunches (can’t just grab a few chips as a between-meal snack) vs. packing chips into reusable “Tupperware-like” containers (they never fit very well).  And don’t say not to buy chips – I have no problem giving my kids reasonable-sized portions of chips if the rest of their lunch is healthy.

In response to reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food,” and seeing the movie Food, Inc., I decided to do all my shopping at the farmers’ market and Trader Joe’s this week.  (Full disclosure – I had already bought toilet paper, chips, bread, and coffee at Costco the day before, so I had some of the essentials covered.) 

I am lucky enough to have a farmers’ market within walking distance of my house every Sunday morning.  I am also lucky enough to live in Southern California, where we have farmers’ markets all year long.  I love going to the farmers’ market.  I always run into people I know – it reaffirms my sense of community.  Although to be honest, I run into people I know at the supermarket and Trader Joe’s too, I just feel more sanctimonious about it at the farmers’ market. 

Michael Pollan tells us to shake hands with the person who grows our food.  You can only do that at the farmers’ market.  I know I’m buying local, the produce is grown in a sustainable manner, and most importantly, it tastes much better than supermarket produce.  There’s no packaging, and I bring my own bags so I don’t even have to use their plastic bags.  It’s a lovely and healthy way to spend a Sunday morning.

The problem is that it takes a long time.  Even when I have a list, I have to figure out which farmer sells what.  Which of the many strawberry stands should I buy from?  Does the farmer selling lettuce have tarragon?  Should I get my onions here or from the next guy?  It’s time consuming.  And this is just to buy produce.  If I’m lucky, I can buy the rest of my groceries at Trader Joe’s (which thankfully, is right by the farmers’ market) but sometimes I still have to go to the supermarket too.

So on the trade-off scale, the farmers’ market wins in terms of greenness and quality but loses on the convenience factor, if convenience is measured by time spent on food shopping.  But I think it’s worth it for now.  Gandhi says, “be the change you want to see,” or something along those lines.  Even if my buying sustainable produce won’t change the world, it’s a step in the right direction.  And personally, I’m not helping to support the type of farming that I don’t want to see.  (Although I just couldn’t do the $7 a pound grass-fed ground beef.  Considered it but couldn’t.  Just felt wrong.  It’s ground beef, for goodness sake!)

While it would be nice to end this blog posting with the quote from Gandhi, I must recount my farmers’ market star sighting.  This is LA, after all.  I saw Jane Lynch.  Yes, Jane Lynch who plays Sue Sylvester in Glee and who has also been in The Forty Year Old Virgin, Julie and Julia, Talladega Nights, Best in Show, and lots of other stuff.  I never recognize anyone, but she’s six feet tall and I love her.  Also I made my daughter do reconnaissance to make sure.  So now I really love the farmers’ market!  Although I did see Richard Dreyfuss in Ralph’s and he even took my cart by mistake….


Thoroughly Modern Millie March 13, 2010

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 6:08 pm

Last night I saw the most amazing production of Thoroughly Modern Millie — put on by my daughter’s middle school.

Granted, we live in LA, land of the entertainment industry.  So we have parents that are professional set designers, kids that take singing and acting lessons, and maybe show biz is in everyone’s blood.  Nonetheless, this is an urban public school, and the production was directed by someone fresh out of college with music direction by the school’s music teachers.

The two female leads had incredible voices.  It’s hard to believe they’re only in middle school.  The big production numbers were well choreographed and amazingly danced.  The score was entirely played by the middle school orchestra.

Of course I’m biased, being a proud parent.  But it wasn’t just me.  Everyone was gushing during intermission, even jaded adolescents.  A radio announcer who was not a parent of a performer saw the show and raved about it on the radio.

The whole experience was a good one for the kids.  They had to audition, had call-backs, and had endless rehearsals after school and on weekends.  They learned lines, songs, and dance choreography, and the orchestra learned the entire score.  The director treated them like professionals, not like kids, and they responded in kind.  The energy among the kids when I would do pick up after rehearsal was high, with kids singing, dancing, and gossiping.

The kids’ creative energy and enthusiasm showed in their performances.  They had three performances, one better than the next.  I can’t wait to see what musical they’ll put on next year!


Exciting Day in Wendyland February 25, 2010

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 4:19 pm

Wendy, of Wendy’s Word fame, shook Bill Clinton’s hand yesterday.  Yes, that’s the excitement of the day, that I shook hands with former president Bill Clinton.

The Governor held an obesity summit at The California Endowment, which featured Bill Clinton as a speaker.  Despite my numerous blog entries on food, he neglected to invite me.  But as luck would have it, I was scheduled to speak to a group of nurses the same morning, also at The California Endowment, and my conference room overlooked the courtyard that Clinton had to walk through to get to his meeting.

There was considerable excitement about this potential star sighting.  And it was all for Bill Clinton.  The governor was there too, but no one really cared about him.  And our governor is only ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, major superstar.  He only got passing interest, as in, “oh yeah, and did you see Arnold walk in?”

This was not a group of lefty politicos I was with.  This was a diverse group of nurses, from varying ethnic backgrounds.  But they all had Bill-mania.  I don’t think it was just because he’s famous because as I said, they weren’t interested in Schwarzenegger or Maria Shriver.  I can’t imagine that they were all committed Democrats either.  I think it’s because Bill Clinton projects an empathy that people can relate to.  Either that, or they thought he was hot.  (yes, I did overhear that.)

When Clinton crossed that courtyard to get to his meeting, everyone in my meeting rushed to the window and waved.  Clinton waved back!  Yes, this man is a master politician, but boy, he’s good.  It was hard to get my audience back after that but I managed to get through the rest of the presentation. 

Clinton’s meeting ended when my meeting was on lunch break and as soon as we saw the first people filtering out of that meeting, we went outside to get a good look.  We waited and waited, the Secret Service scanning us the whole time.  Finally, the man came out.  My group of nurses started yelling and waving, and Clinton started walking straight toward us. 

Now let me pause and say that I am well aware that working the rope line is a basic element of politics and it doesn’t mean Clinton actually cares about us if he walks over to shake our hands.  But it was exciting nonetheless.  He worked the line, and several of the nurses gave him a hug instead of a handshake, which he readily accepted.  I didn’t want to seem like a sycophant, but hey, how many opportunities will I have to shake hands with a president?  So I stuck my hand out and was a recipient of the hand over hand work-the-rope-line handshake.  And guess what?  Knowing that it’s standard politics doesn’t make it any less thrilling. 

Clinton left, I went back to my business.  I shook hands with a president!


Wendy’s Word Goes Lowbrow – Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights November 29, 2009

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 5:01 pm

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I settled down to a Will Ferrell extravaganza — a double feature of Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights.  I’ve seen – and loved – both movies before, and the second time might even have been better than the first. 

In Blades of Glory, Will Ferrell and Jon Heder (Napolean Dynamite) play rival figure skaters who have to skate together in the pairs competition in order to win the gold medal in the world figure skating championship.  Amy Pohler and her husband play the cutthroat rival skating team, and Jenna Fischer (The Office) plays their sweet sister who falls for Jon Heder’s character.   Craig T. Nelson is great as the guys’ skating coach.

In Talladega Nights, Ferrell plays champion racecar driver Ricky Bobby.  Yes, this is a silly movie, but there are so many quotable lines and great performances.  John C. Reilly, who is fantastic in everything he’s been in, plays Ricky Bobby’s dumb best friend and fellow racecar driver, Sacha Baron Cohen plays a gay, French racecar driver who challenges Ricky Bobby’s championship status,  Jane Lynch (in everything, but my current favorite of her roles is Sue Sylvester in Glee) as Ricky Bobby’s tough but God-fearing mother, Gary Cole as Ricky Bobby’s deadbeat dad, Leslie Bibb as Bobby’s sexy and ruthless wife, and Amy Adams as the “sexy behind the glasses and frumpy hairstyle” assistant.

Both movies are immature, inappropriate for children (although my children and niece love them!) and raunchy, but they’re hilarious.  Or maybe my taste is suspect!


H1N1, The Public Health Message November 20, 2009

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 5:11 pm

The other day, I heard that the Centers for Disease Control was looking for influential mommy bloggers to spread the word about getting the H1N1 vaccine.  Since I fulfill 1 1/2 of the criteria (I’m a blogger and a mommy, although not really a “mommy blogger.” Influential? hmm…..influential is very close to influenza, isn’t it?), I thought I’d give it a go.  More to the point, I work for the public health department, so I have the inside scoop.

In short, get the H1N1 vaccine if you’re in one of the priority groups.  Priority groups include pregnant women, kids age 6 months – 24 years old, caregivers of babies under 6 months old, health care workers, and people aged 25-64 with chronic conditions such as asthma or compromised immune systems.

The vaccine is safe.  It’s made in the same way as all other flu vaccine.  If this strain of the virus had been discovered earlier, it probably would have been included in the seasonal flu vaccine, rendering this discussion moot.  The shot version of the vaccine does not contain live virus, while the nasal vaccine contains live virus that is weakened and won’t give you the flu.  There is also H1N1 vaccine without thimerisol for those of you who might be concerned about that.

It’s true that the flu has not been that severe, and that most people who have gotten it have recovered easily, just like other flus.  Most who have been hospitalized or died have had an underlying condition.  However, it’s best to take precautions.  The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.

If you do get the flu, stay home!  That’s my highly professional public health advice.  Of course, you should be taking care of yourself so you get better fast, but more importantly, stay home to avoid passing germs to others.  One of my public health colleagues says that the best treatment for H1N1 is “tylenol and tivo.”  Lots of rest, liquids, and crappy TV.

Other good ways to prevent passing germs is to cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve (the crook of your elbow – tell your kids it’s the Dracula move) and above all, wash your hands frequently.  And stay away from others who are sick.  Unlike me, who climbed into bed with my sick daughter to comfort her.  And I wonder why I didn’t get sympathy from my husband when I caught her cold!

Although there is a vaccine shortage, demand has decreased at the clinics our department has been holding.  So now the wait is only two hours instead of four!  Just kidding – but it’s true that demand has gone down, so be persistent if you want to be vaccinated.  If you live in Los Angeles, you can find out where to get vaccinated at www.lapublichealth.org or by calling 211.


New Glasses October 20, 2009

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 8:14 pm


Getting new glasses is an ordeal.  It calls into question two things I normally take for granted, they way my face looks and my vision.

The shopping experience is the first trauma.  I went everywhere from Costco to Lenscrafters to the flagship Oliver Peoples store on Sunset Boulevard.  Everything I saw was either too dull or too bold.  And then there’s the problem of the bifocals, er, I mean progressives.  For the uninitiated, progressives are bifocals for the vain.  (a bifocal by any other name…) With progressives, I couldn’t get any frame that was too small, but with my strong prescription, I couldn’t get anything too big either.  That pretty much rules out the field.

Is it wise to bring someone with you when shopping for glasses?  Yes, if you have a friend that knows your taste and is honest with you.  I tried bringing my kids a couple times, but it was not a pleasant experience for anyone involved.  If you don’t have anyone with you, you’re at the complete mercy of the salesperson.  I don’t know that I want the look of my face for the next five years to be that strongly influenced by a salesperson.  And yet, without a fashionable friend, that’s what I was reduced to.

When I was in college, I used to get a pair of glasses, frames and lenses, at For Eyes for $40.  I’m dating myself, I know, but I kid you not.  Now, glasses cost a bloody fortune.  Which raises the stakes on making the right choice.  The lens choice requires higher education — there’s high index, super high index, super special extreme high index, not to mention the various coatings you can get.

I went to an overpriced boutique near my house and put myself in the hands of a capable salesman.  For some reason, I was liking everything I tried on that day.  Once I decided on glasses, I turned my attention to sunglasses.  Progressive or single vision?  New frames?  Go somewhere cheaper for the sunglasses, because they’re only sunglasses after all?  Against better judgement, I chose a funky Oliver Peoples frame for my sunglasses (single vision).  I say against better judgement only because I was fatigued after the long decision process for my regular glasses so I made a hasty decision.  I just wanted to see, both indoors and outdoors.  For a few minutes after leaving the shop, I was elated.  I was getting new glasses!  Then panic set in.  What if I made a horrible choice?  Why hadn’t I brought anyone with me?

And then my new glasses arrived.  They were…..different.  Every time I passed a mirror, I had to decide whether I liked them or not.  More importantly, I wondered if anyone else would like them.  I went to Costco later that day and felt so conspicuous that I wanted to ask total strangers if they liked my glasses.  Luckily, I restrained myself.  The reaction after the big reveal was mixed.  Some people at work didn’t even notice.  I took that as a good sign.  But the best reaction came from my hubby, reminding me why I married him.  All weekend, he kept looking at my face and jokingly admiring my glasses.  I have no idea if he really likes them or not, but who cares?  I’ll take what I can get!

The final trauma is that when you get a new pair of glasses, there is an adjustment period.  Put another way, your vision is all messed up.  This is especially true when getting your first pair of progressives, as these were for me.  To make matters worse, I had to get used to a pair of progressives and a pair of single vision sunglasses.  Every time I went from one to the other, my eyes had to adjust.  I’m still scrutinizing far away signs and small print to assess whether I can see.  And because neurosis is my birthright, I went back to the glasses store to make sure the prescription was right.  I mean, how would you know?  They could give you anything and you’d never know the difference.

All of this is to say that I think optometry is an imprecise science.  All those questions about which image is clearer – they all look the same to me!  And that’s what they base your prescription on!  I’m resolved to keep these glasses for the rest of my life, just to avoid this experience.  If I ever get used these glasses, that is…..

Photo on 2009-10-20 at 21.08