About Oona

     So there she is. I carried this picture of The Big Blonde around in my wallet for years and even laminated it; thus the crinkles and reflections. She’s standing at the top of our steep hillside driveway at the house in Hollywood and below her is the vacant lot now filled with a house supposedly worth some three million dollars and inhabited by a TV star on some offshoot of Star Trek and her husband, the head of a company that books theaters all over the country at tremendous profits.

     That smile. There’s a summer sun warmth to Oona’s smile, a big encompassing expanse of pleasure in other people. She’s the most sociable and social person I’ve ever met.  She’ll walk into parties full of sullen Entertainment Types and beam at them: “I don’t know anyone here!” brightly and launch that smile at all the people she suddenly knows. She can talk bikes with bikers and science with sciencers.  One year at the TED conference, I found her surrounded by at least ten entrepreneurs and scientists, each falling over the other to engage her and the smile in their projects and dreams and schemes. There are guys on movie sets all over Hollywood who bring her pictures of their kids and their cars and their dogs.

     We used to talk on the phone for hours, before we fell in love.

     It’s not some whacky smile, that smile.  Look at her eyes.  She’s looking at you, she’s wondering where she fits with you.

     She’s in her twenties here in this laminated world, early Seventies of the Late Lamented Twentieth of Centuries. I took this picture, so she’s looking at me, wondering where she fits with me.  Over thirty-five years later, it’s turned out to be some fit. We figure we’ve only spent three nights apart in all that time, due to a couple of work problems in the Eighties of the …(yeah, yeah, yeah.)  We’ve never had kids, just kind of adopted stray relatives here and there.  We spend a lot of time together, more than most couples do, I think.

     We are each other’s kid, she and I.

     Lately we’ve started watching King of the Hill which is a cartoon series originally on Fox but now replayed on the Adult Swim program block on Cartoon Network.  We’re hardcore adult swimmers, our favorites being Aqua Teen Hunger Force, 12 Oz Mouse, Squidbillies and Family Guy, the Venture Bros. and their ilk, and we never watched King of the Hill, thinking it to be just the usual: either Rougenecks making fun of us or us making fun of Rougenecks.  We were wrong.  It’s strangely in the middle of all our favorites, the episodes beautifully written and occupying a kind of reality of place and reality of real missing in the more absurd denizens of the Cartoon Sump. Anyway, when we’re taking a shower in the morning, or eating breakfast, we’ll quiz each other on who woke up when and watched what episode of what at any given time of the night.  We’ll recount episodes to each other as if we were Jane Austen and – oh, I don’t know – Nathaniel Hawthorne recalling books we’d read.

     We’re readers, she and I. So this addiction to TV animation and it’s wonderful voices and artists is like our mutual lifelong addiction to reading.  One of the things we used to talk about on the phone, just before we fell in love, was Vanity Fair.

     She’s not Becky Sharp, it turns out, but her view of life is as full as Thackeray’s, as sociable and as wise and as detailed.  Maybe there’s something in the smile that works as a writer ought to work, something that bridges art and not art. Maybe she’s looking to see how the word fits with her, how she can work her way into its heart, as she is in mine.

     Spring in the Northwest.  We’re planting now and my friend James loaned me his tractor for a week and I dug a new thirty by forty pond and we’re starting to landscape it.  We bought another hundred native trees and plants to grow alongside the hundred we bought last year which are leafing out now. Aspens and Cottonwoods and Pacific Rhododendrons and Mock Orange and Oceanspray and Cedars and Willows and all, all growing now and shooting up.  Temperatures rose into the sixties last week and sun was here and there.

    Its year thirty-seven for me and the Big Blonde. My birthday is Opening Day and hers is the World Series. Nothing much has really changed in all those years, not with us.

103 thoughts on “About Oona

  1. Len~ The Mary MacGregor chestnut certainly sounds promising- I hope you have time to work it up, as right now I am up to my eyeballs with “Haul Along the Watchtower,” my story of being raised Jehovah’s Witness. Even the nude guy who called us “the dumbest people on Earth” didn’t phase us. Hey, what’s your address?

    Gunner Droppby

  2. Mark–

    If the tune didn’t make me retch, I might be able to work on it. Maybe I’ll just have to work on an adaptation of the old play featuring Broderick Crawford and Judy Holliday, Porn Yesterday.

    I. Dunn Mayledya

  3. Passionate and endearing reflections on your wonderful years with Oona. Congratulations on 37! Deborah and I are right up there with you, 35 yrs next February. She and I met because of our mutual interest in The Firesign Theatre. Love and laughter; an excellent combination.

  4. Hi Phil,

    Apologies for using this forum thread to post a non-related message… I couldn’t find another place to do so. If you read the Seattle Time Obits, then you already know about Thornton Edward Luttrell III. I never met him, but he was 20 when we died of an aneurysm. The only reason I mention it to you, is that it was listed in the obit that he loved repeating Nick Danger 3rd Eye quotes. Looks like he was a huge fan. There’s a guest book at http://www.legacy.com, should you be inclined to leave a note.


  5. Hope this summer has turned out to be better than the economy and camping with the “O’s” in the desserted desert.

    Maybe something not so serious as the economic downturn, being our recession made radio show that gathered the people around their sets, as history repeat itself, over and over, again.

  6. The weather’s wet and the economy not far behind. ‘ Just have to take a drive, via the virtual brain, left lobe and put things back in retro cruise control. . . . . Now, when was it? When they dropped ‘The Naked Lunch.’ hard bound and fully clothed . . .??

    The way things are going, that “free-food card” sounds pretty good about now. Maybe I’m not digging deep enough. The result of a drive, one flat on left portion of brain, stuck by the side of the road, impaired.


    I polished up and I’m wearing
    My bible belt and a new pair of Crocs
    It’s got a Gutenberg buckle
    And my shoes are
    The color of lox

    True I’m putting more time in
    Lately on the way that I look
    And I’m making real sure that
    I’m consumed and deep in a book
    And it’s a postmodern classic
    Misunderstood and
    Felonious Monked
    Overlooked and neglected
    A hint of must
    From my Grandfather’s trunk

    I’ve been letting my hair grow
    Using product to give it some shape
    And there’s a spot on my chin where
    These days my razor refuses to scrape
    True my wife has divorced me
    But there’s no reason not to feel good
    The universe is unfolding
    Probably the way that it should

    I polished up and I’m wearing
    This bible belt and a new pair of Crocs
    My profile’s up and it’s ready
    Should I go with or without these socks?
    e-Harmony makes it happen
    Won’t be alone for more than a day
    I’ll just sort through my contacts
    Right after I kneel down and I pray

    I polished up and I’m wearing
    My bible belt and a new pair of Crocs
    It’s got a Gutenberg buckle
    And my shoes are
    The color of lox
    I’ll charm her with my free-food-card
    She can eat right out of the box.

    Charlie Whitemuscles
    July, 2009

  8. Mama geel wire wrapped and hair extended. Resting cheerfully on her Liberty Dock piling. Celebrating birth of grand baby girl, Luna Marciel Vega on July 11th in Vitoria, Brazil.

  9. Oops, another one of thise dark clouds hanging over head. Does it ever change or do they just get darker all the time?

  10. translation:

    thise = this these

    clouds = area occupied in the frontal lobe

    time = the next things on the list

  11. Dana~ Congratulations to you and your Brazilian boon! Those aren’t bicycle spokes on mama geel are they?

    Sarah Bellum

  12. Please sing this to yourself, silently, with a heavy Cockney accent just as though you are about to open in your local regional theater production of “My Fair Lady.” Give it to them- you know they want it.

    music by Too-Tan Guy; lyrics by Mark Trail

    I’m getting busy in the mornin’!
    Ding dong! My balls are gonna shine.
    Pull out the butt plug!
    Take an ED drug!
    And get me to the verge on time!

    I gotta be there in the mornin’,
    Worked up and standin’ in me prime.
    Girl, come and kiss me;
    Show how you’ll assist me.
    And get me to the verge on time!

    If I am dancin’,
    Stainin’ the floor.
    If I am whistlin’,
    Then whewt me out the door!

    For I’m gettin’ busy in the mornin’.
    Ding dong! My balls are gonna chime.
    Straight up a rumpus,
    But don’t lose the compass,
    And get me to the verge on time!

    If I am flyin’,
    Then shoot me down.
    If I am wooin’,
    She’s gotta be off the ground!

    Feather and tar me;
    Birdnest and bar me;
    But get me to the verge,
    Get me to the verge
    For God’s sake, get me to the verge on time!

    Drug me or jail me,
    Stamp me and mail me.
    But get me to the verge…

    Get him to the verge…
    For God’s sake, get him to the verge on time!

    [musical interlude]

    Girl, come and kiss ‘im;
    Show how you’ll assist ‘im.
    But get him to the verge on time!

    [musical interlude]

    I’m gettin’ busy in the mornin’.
    Ding dong! My balls are gonna shine…

    Hail and salute him,
    Then haul off and boot him;
    And get him to the verge,
    Get him to the verge!
    For God’s sake, get him to the verge on time!

    Sgt. Yolk

  13. I got that forty-five hundred dollars, on the O-b clunker plan. I traded in my brother, who has never gotten any good gas mileage, except when eating hot peppers.

  14. The Great O-b needs one of those desert revelations, where that mysterious figure walks up to you, out of a distant mirage. I don’t know if Jim Morrison could straighten him out, or maybe, confuse, but in a good way, . . I think?

  15. Very few pollinators this year- my sunflowers have hardly any bees on them. On a related note, while I am feeling old, I have yet to be physically attracted to any great-grandmothers.

    Gene E. Ologist

  16. This recession / depression isn’t what it is all cracked up to be, having never been this depressed before. Wonder when there will be a change, after the water tasted funny . . .

  17. What’s this all about,

    The Berg moving to Whidbey ???

    The only one left is to import ‘The Proc’

    The Great North-West Firesign Migration,

    “Pull them wagons in a circle, partner!”

  18. Next month is Labor Day,
    the one day America goes back to work,
    only sweating all the other days until the next one.

    That’s America, buddy!
    Just remember —
    Abraham Lincoln didn’t die in vain,
    he died in Washington, D. C.!

  19. I got nude to answer the door for the Jehovah’s Witnesses again today. I just wanted an excuse to say, “It’s Yahweh or the highway.” I love saying that.

    Dormer Openender

  20. So, Summer concludes and Winter hides in the shadows, holding hardship and bitter frost in its store, for all that wait.

  21. Big weekend coming up. The wife has been consanantly after me about this, so on Saturday evening we are going to renew our vowels. Word.

    Abdullah Love Hubby

  22. Started in 1958. Of course in those days we called it “dear diary.” It had the cutest little fully functional lock on the front but I was never comfortable with the pink satin. Glad to get a demim one in ’63.

    Rowdy Doveit

  23. The same thing happens in my neighborhood – people with cans of blue spraypaint wander around writing “Hey you guise I just heard about this really kewl website” on the back of the prop shop, or “I like 2 baerback check out my webcam” on the wall outside the limo service. They piss me off, because their links are always broken.

    No longer 105 in Burbank, but air quality still stinko.

    2Hot Guy

  24. Started interacting with spam in 2003. Of course in those days we called it “junk heisting.” We used to get all hotted up on smoke lung and spray things on Max Baer’s back. Seems to work as good as the protestant ethic. Hope that fire goes out soon of its own hybrid accord.


  25. I got faced on Facebook and twitted on Twitter.
    This online networking is making me bitter.
    MySpace was invaded, my LinkedIn was outed;
    I finally signed off and virtually pouted.
    Not never no how was I ever a quitter
    Until I encountered both Facebook and Twitter.

    Watt A. Luddite

  26. Oh good, it’s poetry Friday… just like the olden days. Len, don’t let that tech stuff get you alienated or you won’t be able to get government health insurance. I am inspired today by a woman equestrian swimmer that I saw at the health club. There were no horses in the pool but I just know.


    Let me be your unstable boy
    I’ll muck the horsebarn of your love
    Let me be your unstable boy
    And you can be my tortoisedove

    I want to be your unstable boy
    Equipped with knee boots and a shove
    el tool of your unstable boy
    I will clean up after you love

    When your love-horse begins to rear
    I will hold you close my dear
    Make water fresh and hay aplenty
    I’ll do it all, for just a twenty

    Let me be your unstable boy
    I’ll muck the horsebarn of your love
    Let me be your unstable boy
    And you can be my turpindove

    When your stall gets full of muck
    Just lean on me, ‘cuz what the fuck
    For this boy, no need to holler
    My tip can be a single dollar

    Oh let me be your unstable boy
    I’ll muck the horsebarn of your love
    Let me be your unstable boy
    And you can be my tortoisedove

    Barney Steeplechase

  27. Whoooa… that cummings poem just blew my mind (with dynamite!). I obviously need an education in e e. I did not know he already had this arena so much more masterfully finished out way back in 1962! Yow… I may as well go back to bed. If “Unstable Boy” stands a chance, it will have to be as a lonesome country song, rendered Bakersfield-stylie, by someone who sounds like Lefty Frizzell on a bender. Thank you sir for the education.

    Hank Snowoff

  28. I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound,
    Just the other side of Barstow Bay.
    Where all the boys are lean and girls are round.
    I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound.

    Run up on the rocky shoals of life
    Without a beer, a shotgun, or a wife.
    And I had spent my pay.
    O! I had lost my way.
    I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound.

    I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound,
    Just the other side of Barstow Bay.
    In hopes that what I once lost might be found.
    I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound.

    The grass is greener there, they say.
    There’s jobs and gals and games of cards to play.
    I’ll cast off from this pier
    And be well rid of here.
    I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound.

    I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound,
    Just the other side of Barstow Bay.
    And drift on waters far away from ground.
    I’m headed for the Bakersfield Sound.

  29. It’s starting to look like we have the makings of a concept album- maybe something along the lines of “Dusty in Memphis.” Possibly “Dirty in Bakersfield.” I can hear it now. I can still hear it. I’m down the hall but I can still hear it.

    You know how when you see someone who is very physically attractive you could possibly refer to that experience as “eye candy?” Well, my wife says that when she is acidentally required to view me sans apparel, she will from now on refer to that as “eye entree.” I need a woman who doesn’t let me get too big for my britches and when I get too big for my overalls, that is referred to as “Junior Sample Syndrome.” It is a property of physics which states that abdominal mass will always expand to the carrying capacity of the anterior pouch of loosly fitted overalls. Perhaps we can Junior Sample some tracks for a mashup on “Dirty in B’field?” I am finished thinking now.

    Have a nice day.

    Johnny Checkingaccount

  30. Great to see this blog. I bet if someone told the guys responsible for The Venture Brothers that Phil Austin was a fan, they’d be delighted. Glad to hear things are going well; the FT changed my life, and I still think there’s no better Shakespeare parody than the one you four did.

  31. World Series, Canadian Thanksgiving, Leif Ericcson, Columbus Day, John and Sean Oko Lennon, Scott Bakula and Tony Shalhoub and ME.

    Didn’t know we Giant Glowing Gasbags were honored to have something in common with OONA! (My Fire is Rising!)

    Thanks for putting me on this list, Phil! When The FST comes to CHI-town I’ll be in the front row. (When is that, again?). I didn’t get the email until 3 hours before the show about the other Phil aka Don Quixote being 5 miles away 1-2 months ago with the LAGQ, but I caught most of the podcast.

    Along with the other Don Quixote, Roy Harper (I’m on the Stormcock Forum!), The FST is my favorite great resource of talent and conscience I love promoting to others. Sorry, I’m overdue registering as an official FIREHEAD, but I only own about 15-16 of your albums, and that’s no excuse.

    Time to lay off the keyboard. I hear reindeer pooping on the roof!

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