torsdag, november 30, 2006

Serves Me Right

I indulge in McDonald's rarely outside of roadtrips. On my recent drive back to Minnesota from Chicago, I attempted to continue this crap-laden tradition but was denied my cheeseburger and fries.

And I was denied it by McDonald's. Specifically: by an employee with a rather imposing sense of time.

I don't recall what town this was. Baraboo, I think. The Baraboo - Lake Delton exit from I-94. Near there. It was by the Great Wolf Lodge and the Kalahari Resort, both being Dells-oriented joints with massive indoor/outdoor waterpark wings.

So I pull up to the drive-thru speaker. The frontage road and drive-thru lane sort of converge, so I waved one driver into the lane, but he was at the speaker only a moment before driving off. I pull up. It's 10:59. The girl says, "Welcome to McDonald's, may I take your breakfast order?"

I'm a bit flummoxed by this. "Can I not order a cheeseburger?"

She says, apparently not joking, "Sir, we don't serve lunch for another minute."


"All right," I say.


I add, "I guess...I...don't have anything to order."

Cheerfully, she says, "Okay! Have a nice day, sir."

And away we go!

onsdag, november 29, 2006


A bit of the North Shore (Minnesota's North Shore, that is), as photographed by my brother, the tK.

Jana noted at her blog yesterday that she considered the blog Overheard in Minneapolis a guilty pleasure. (There are various blogs like it.) True enough.

As such, here's an overheard bit I scratched into my notebook the last time I was at The Happy Gnome in my neighborhood. Three men drinking at the bar:

Man 1:
You know what my daughter said to me? "What do you do for a living?" You know what I told her? "I make a living being falsely sincere."

Man 2: That's the truth.

They all laughed.

Man 1: Wait. You know what she said? Perfectly sarcastic: "Nice." She's seven. That's her mother. That's not me. I guarentee it. I'm getting divorced. She's going to divorce me. I'm just dead in the water."

Man 2 or 3: D.O.A.

Man 2 or 3: D.O.A.!

They toast. An appropriate silence descends.

tirsdag, november 28, 2006

Property Matters

I've never felt I'd be a good one to own property, though this feeling is, admittedly, tied to the current debt I can't necessarily handle and the knowledge that I'll be well in my 40s, I suspect, by the time I can. By that point, scraping out gutters will hold little charm, I'm sure.

Indeed, the prospect of taking on more debt is loaded with trepidation for both me and any idiot creditor, even imaginary ones.

But I'm comfortable with a life spent renting space. I'm probably too comfortable with it. I really do like my current situation, though I'd prefer a slightly larger apartment, and preferably one that has survived time more successfully than this one. The state of the floors, especially around the radiators where the wood is soft from water-damage and gibbering mice, and the off-kilter window frames makes this seems at times like the Keith Richards of apartments. It's got stories and character, but it's more than a bit craggy...and prone to falling out of coconut trees.

This reminds me: As kids my brother and I and a friend wrote dadaist detective stories starring...crap. What was his name? Joe Shoe, I think. Shoe, of course, as in gumshoe. Joe was pursued by a gang of KKKlansmen in plaid getups...plaid because Joe, while infiltrating one of their meetings, inadvertently dumped a bottle of chemicals into their industrial washing machine. Joe's apartment was, for much of the series of one-page, single-spaced stories on the lam. I don't recall why his apartment took off. It just did.

And riffing on Steven Wright, we wrote in the theft of all his possessions, and their replacement by the thieves with exact duplicates.

(And THAT reminds me of the Far Side frame with the trenchcoat thugs moving a couch and setting crooked a picture on the wall as the lead thug intimidates the owner of the house with the line, "Next time it won't be just your furniture we rearrange.")

Back to property: Still, over the Thanksgiving weekend I had one of those moments of property longing as I sat out on my parents' newish backyard porch in the unexpectedly warm (50s) weather and read the final pages of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome: the suicide attempt in the sleigh. Ha! I'd started the novella two weeks ago, at least two weeks ago, and had left the last three or four chapters in the lurch, which seems awfully lazy given that it's a 95-page story or so.

It had been such a pleasant week. Restful. Even productive for work. A wonderful dinner on Thanksgiving. Grand time with family. And that moment reading outdoors with the quiet of the field and creek behind the house. At night one could see stars.

On the Friday we watched A Child's Christmas in Wales.

Sentimental, ja, but the good sort.

Speaking of Faces

As reported at the BBC, the French face transplant, one year later.

And wouldn't you know it? They are ramping up this story on Days of Our Lives. Philip Kiriakis currently sits in front of a fire in a secret room of his father Victor's mansion. (Victor is played by John Aniston, father of Jennifer Aniston.) A fire crackles before him. The light plays upon his bandaged face. A doctor known for his radically progressive techniques has been called to the house. Victor tells him he needs to give his son a face transplant. Only this doctor can perform the surgery.

The doctor undoes the bandages but we, the viewers, do not see the mangled face. (Phillip has now lost half a leg in Iraq and been severely burned on his face in Afghanistan. He's becoming like Salinger's "Laughing Man," it seems.) We see the pile of bandages.

As Chloe came away well from the acid burns to her face, I'm sure Phillip will return as a cuter actor. Stay tuned, friends.

Psychological Soundtrack

Only four songs on my iTunes are noted as having been played 100 times:

"Auto Rock" - Mogwai (143)
"Shine a Light" - Wolf Parade (127)
"I Luv the Valley, OH!!" - Xiu Xiu (112)
"Obstacles" - Interpol (105)

Next on the list: "Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday (98) and "100,000 Fireflies" by The Magnetic Fields (94).

mandag, november 27, 2006


Let us give pause and note that All My Children is incorporating a transgender character.

I love this turn of events. (Or is that turn of event, seeing as I'm noting only one storyline turn?) It's almost enough to make AMC part of my day's white noise. Almost.

Did they kidnap a writer from Passions? and lock him in a cabin in Colorado? and force him to write? And did they break his legs when he tried to escape?

If you're thinking, "Still not interested in reading about the AMC character," let me add this juicy teaser: The character's name is, no joke, Zarf.


That's just deadly. Did they not recall Snarf from the Thundercats?

onsdag, november 22, 2006

No Country For Old Men

I feel a bit like a nesting doll in reverse, like I've thrown aside this larger outer shell for a previous version of myself. One in which I read things with a rather fierce eye on form in novels.

In that former life, I rarely finished books. I've gone back to only a few of them to read their endings. Time and again, I read until I felt I'd taken from a book the tricks and truth of its writing--the writer within, not the person but the creative drive and the center of that story's universe: intellectual/artistic voyeurism.

And then with that energy I'd return to my notepads and printed sheets and vagrant scraps--an endless sea in search of a shore--and I'd write. All hours. All stories. Nothing found completion.

But that was years ago. I've calmed much since and my writing has improved.

No Country For Old Men

Maybe it's because I am determined to send things out and publish now. Maybe it's because I'm watching All-Story and One-Story with something of a childish desperation. Reject or accept the stories, friends, but make up your mind. Just put me out of one sort of misery. That's all.

I shouldn't read McCarthy in this environment, but maybe that's why I do. Maybe it's been that wait and finding within a strange sort of confidence in the recent work, a notion that maybe I've made, as we sometimes say, the turn. The work has turned. Maybe that's what leads me here to all this rambling, though my long rambling record of evidence suggests it's just another case of my brain turning over in its sleep and these thoughts are just the heat that escapes.

Maybe that's what had steered me back to reading Cormac McCarthy, someone I wouldn't read other than for form...though in No Country For Old Men he's certainly having a great time with the thriller genre.

The thriller genre is a gas, indeed. I don't dislike thrillers at all. I wish more dramatic writers (literary writers) read them. They could learn more than a few things, just as thriller authors could learn from higher literature.

Back Into Form, Sort Of

I don't know why we have the brief, italicized, first-person chapter openings from the sheriff. They go on too long and make me think back to Hemingway's In Our Time, which uses a similar anecdotal device and to a similarly less-affecting-than-intended result. I guess with McCarthy I feel it makes the thriller too slick, for we have first-person narration that seems to be overhearing our third person narration.

He seems to respond to it, but to be somewhat unaware of it too. Is this to be a conversation (or argument) with god? Is this a third person narrator (independent of the writer) who has at his tools the first and third person accounts and is trying to be clever about mixing them?

The book would be deadly boring, certainly, if it was all first person. And if it was all third it might be as exhausting as Child of God, or at least lead some of us to say, "Cormac, buddy, we have all been here together before. Have you forgotten what happened in Eastern Tennessee?"

Or is this structure to suggest the whole goddamn book is the fantasy of the sheriff? his black fantasy of how things must have unfolded? That would be fine with me. The man's just fillin' in the pieces for himself. I just don't know why the narrative would try to hide that.

I don't know, man. It's a bleak book. A breathless read. It's good, but it's tiring. By page 150 (of 300) I wondered how he could scrape along for another 150, seeing as he'd just about killed off everyone the book had introduced. (The novel reads like a countrified Scarface.) I said to my dad, "There are only two people left to kill here unless we introduce more characters." Soon enough, one of those two was bumped off.

Yes, McCarthy has his fun. And he makes it fun. I won't deny that. And he's probably smart about how he makes it fun: dialogue. The further in one wades the more dialogue one encounters. And it's quick dialogue. Too glossy. But then it strikes with a line too powerful to be part of anything unless it's up to its eyeballs in a great deal of over-stylized banter.

You can't try for the fences on every sentence. You have to give us a break. You have to give us many of them when you write so many lines to stand out like that.

So you see? Everything I find ill about the book is what makes it seem to work. That's what bothers me. It bothers me as Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianist arrogance bothers me. (My recollection is that Bentham felt one could not make a decision that wasn't actually utilitarian. That's like being called defensive. What the fuck can you do then?)

Can the novel's faults or annoying points make it work? I don't know if that's too clever. It probably is.

I do know that a murder that takes place about 50 pages from the end just made me angry and sad about the writing, about the whole conception of the story. It was tough for me after that point to finish. But I slogged through the final 50, and I feel all right for it.

Maybe It's This

All that dialogue seems like a writer's escapism, like a way not to write. I read Nick Hornby's High Fidelity once, or I read much of it. Then I saw the film and it was as if the actors were just reading straight from the text. That book became, like Annie Proulx's Accordian Crimes, a window stop. I didn't even close the window during storms. I let the water come in and soak the pages.

But in No Country For Old Men, the story is just too damn dark, even though the read is really swift. There's something to all that dialogue I'm trying to puzzle out.

It's this: the further in you wander, the more you lose your senses. Maybe that's the point: the desensitized world. The old sheriff hits upon that matter more than a few times: the loss of manners, growing drug use, the problems in school shifting from cheating and apathy to arson, rape, and weapons concerns, etc.

In this novel, you pretty much lose all your senses, save for sound. All you have are the voices of characters surrounded by an absolute shitstorm. All you're given are voices trying to connect. Those voices carry the truth, and they carry hope, and they carry with them tidings from hell.

Regardless, they are voices that emerge from darkness.

Raisin Cain

Why aren't raisins called shrivlins or deflatins?

And what ever happened to the Post vs. Kellogg's raisin bran debate? I miss the old ads. I miss many old ad jingles, I think...but one's memory is rosy, I suppose. It just seems that once upon a time ad jingles were more palatable. For example, the old "I'm a Pepper! He's a Pepper! She's a Pepper!" Dr. Pepper jingle. It'll never be a wedding song, sure, but it was lightyears better than that bastard version Garth Brooks put out. That awful racket probably aired during the Super Bowl. I just remember the country hotties walking with hip spirit through that ghost town, and then there's Garth, shit-eatin', Dr. Pepper-swiggin' grin. There's a man on a fiddle. They jam.


tirsdag, november 21, 2006


Justin Morneau--Minnesota's favorite bat-wielding Canadian--has won the American League MVP award.

Woo!!! Go Twins!

We Are Who We Know We Are

My uncle, mother, and two of the Dalton kids growing up in Chicago, circa 1950.

Things are as usual back here in Illinois. There are more tvs and computers, it seems, than the last time I visited. There are always more computers and televisions. We've at least a box of tissue in every room, though that has nothing to do with television. We aren't a crying-at-dramas kind of family. At least, not as a family. If we're going to get weepy, we tend to do it on our own.

The Cubs and Bears are the headline news. The school system's concerns about math education come second...or third.

In the evening, we watch mysteries. (Last night my dad and I watched the first two episodes of the old six-episode Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy series. Alec Guinness's portrayal of Smiley is aces.) In the evening, we read. Pops is reading Zadie Smith's most recent novel (On Beauty) and Michael Perry's Truck. Umberto Eco and Dylan Thomas have also queued up on his reading stand.

Mums is reading Graham Swift's Waterland.

Grams has just finished part three of Moberg's four-novel cycle of Swedish immigrants.

And I'm reading Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men, a violent and breathless ode to declarative sentences and the obliteration of punctuation. I think I'll soon have something more to say, but only a bit more. I'm 100 pages or so shy of the ending, which means that I'll finish tonight unless he takes to 8 pt font and double-justified margins, a la WG Sebald. I don't foresee that happening.

Oh, but it isn't all gunplay, intrigue and immigrant toil around here. A DVD copy of A Child's Christmas in Wales sits on the desk downstairs. (It's about time we've replaced the decrepit VCR tape from that old PBS broadcast!) Seems targeted perfectly for a Thanksgiving night viewing.

The comforts of home.

My Spidey Sense

I made hot cholocate the night I returned. I'd brought the Ghiradelli canister. So there I was in the kitchen looking up at the pans above the stove and the chocolate in my thoughts. I was pleased to see another nice pot had been added to their cookware: a high-walled sauce pan. Perfect.

I removed it from the hook, set it on the stove with a bit of heat, added my milk and chocolate powder, turned up the heat, and hey: cob webs.


I'd turned to grab a stirring spoon and when I turned back, I noticed a billowy wisp of cobweb on one side of the pot.

I stared at the cholocate, which in its ill-mixed state had formed bubbles atop the milk.

In my own apartment, this probably would have brought about my gag reflex. Perhaps it would have keyed off a midnight cleaning binge. Here at home, though, I just looked over my shoulder, not that anyone in the house would have cared.

I eyed the chocolate again.

And with an Addam's Family-like acceptance, I just brushed the web aside with a napkin and got to stirring the milk. Hell, I'd probably eat a chocolate covered spider.

Again, the comforts of home.

fredag, november 17, 2006

Jeans Scene

The secret to happiness? Easy: Read this random fug.

..."So if Keisha can't escape the prison of these trousers, at lease she can smell like she sleeps on a dessert cart."

This fashion review is just gorgeous. (Big thanks to Lollie for linking to this blog from hers!)


I'm not going to write anything very interesting here. I'm too sleepy for that. I woke much too early after a dream in which I was driving through a snowstorm. I was nearing a turn on a city street when some young people exiting a bar gleefully ran in front of my car.


This weekend I return to Chicago and the build-up to Thanksgiving. This is, by far, the best day of the year. Must remember to pick up some Minnesota creamery butter for the stuffing....


This weekend we have a celebration at my corner, Selby and Western, for the opening of Garrison Keillor's bookshop, Common Good Books. Coffee from Nina's, soup from Zander's, and a string quartet. Yay for Cathedral Hill!


Speaking of books, I've been watching Wonder Boys again. This is the second viewing I've given it, the first having been back when it first appeared on DVD. (Five years ago? Yet another case of me not fact-checking.) I love two things about it: one, I think it is a wonderful film about writing (as is the Swimming Pool, despite it's immensely frustrating ending); two, it unfolds quite a bit more like a book.

My brain is still firing up the engines this morning, so I can't quite find the words to explain this, or maybe I can't because it's about writing and I rely so much on a feeling for that rather than on a clear explanation. But moments that feel very writerly to me are moments like when Michael Douglas drops Tobey Maguire with his family, only to go "rescue" Tobey from his home later that evening. Films tend to avoid such clever sloppiness. Why drop the character off if all you're going to do is go slump on your couch and shrug and immediately leave to pick up the bastard when another character says, "Why'd you do that?" That's life, mna.

A dead dog might still wind up in the bed, but in a film that might happen through malice or a hammy catharsis or a series of events so ridiculous as to border on slapsick. Here, though, it's all very patient. Quite plain, really. It threatens to bore.

The scenes wander as in a book, not as in a film.

I wonder whether the book is any good, though. I've never read Chabon and I tend to dislike novels about writing and, in particular, academia. (Jesus. Have any of you ever finished Russo's Straight Man? I've tried, three times no less, to get through that book. No deal, man. I just don't want to read about department meetings. I don't care how funny you're making them. I spent enough time in university politics to not find them at all funny.) But my distaste for most of those stories is rooted in, I think, a feeling that a writer is probably out of ideas if he's writing about his immediate writing and teaching life. Unless you're trying to teach something, you probably shouldn't write about that.


Finally, I love this passage from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? This is the book that the film Blade Runner was based on. In the scene, Rick Deckard and his wife, Iran, are downloading their moods for the day via their mood organ, a machine that seems to have a neurochemical-altering effect to prepare them for certain types of days. Keep in mind this was written in 1968:

"My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression," Iran said.

"What? Why did you schedule that?" It defeated the whole purpose of the mood organ. "I didn't even know you could set it for that," he said gloomily.

"I was sitting here one afternoon," Iran said, "and nautrally I had turned on 'Buster Friendly and His Friendly Friends,'...And I heard the building, this building; I heard the--" She gestured.

"Empty apartments," Rick said.

"...and I sat down at my mood organ and I experimented. And I finally found a setting for despair. ...So I put it on my schedule for twice a month."

..."But a mood like that," Rick said, "...Despair like that, about total reality, is self-perpetuating."


torsdag, november 16, 2006

Kyoto Oh-No

And the world wanted us to sign the Kyoto Protocol? Fools. America's massively inefficient, grotesque industrial operations are, according to this article, not just the cause of global warming, but its solution.

We are the Coppertone. We're the vaporous awning.

Jesus H. Ted Danson Christ.


We're better off without

Knowing the odds

Signing up for that credit card simply to get a free t-shirt

South Carolina

Survivor: East Saint Louis

Def Leppard

Knowing what the Banker would have offered had we just had the courage to open one more case, in which event it would have been Case 22, Howie

Remastering Clive Barker's oeuvre

Frozen Porksicles

tirsdag, november 14, 2006

The Dead Pool

Based on catching sight of John Goodman while turning away from the abysmal Studio 60, I have to say, he's ripe to be included in the 2007 dead pools.

(What's with me and odds right now?)

I know Hollywood loves meta-shows and meta-films, but Studio 60 and the rest will never be more revealing or entertaing than the original Muppet Show.

Who Wants to Resurrect a Career?

NBC broke out the defib pads on the primetime game show with Deal or No Deal after a welcomed lull in the genre. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? had blossomed for a spell, buoyed by the spastic, sinus-challenged Regis, but a swarm of far crappier shows (for example, The Chair and The Weakest Link) extinguished the market's flame.

Perhaps that's why a cost-conscious NBC went obscure with their choice of a host on Deal or No Deal: Howie Mandel. Who could have called that one? His name wasn't even billed on the initial commercials, nor were we given a good look at him. We see the arrival of a gaudy new spectacle hosted by some Freddie Kruger-ish bald guy in a sharp suit.

The show took off. Howie's name was reborn in pop culture.

Now NBC is trying to build momentum behind a rather unthrilling show called 1 vs. 100.

The network took a similar approach to choosing a host: go for recognition, but on the cheap. POOF!! Bob Saget of Full House fame has returned from the dead.

This begs the question: Who will be dragged from the grave next? The Minnesota Indian Casino odds:

Dave Coulier, 5 – 1. Immigration is a touchy issue right now, but this Canadian is no stranger to millions of American homes. Like Saget, he’s a Full House alum, having played quipping goofball Uncle Joey. This puts him in pretty cozy company with the networks. And in a rather conservative America, the stable family-sitcom background makes him a safe choice. Plus, he may possess what we might call an all-important sense of tasteless edginess. Consider: Saget and Mandel share a rather awkward, outdated, borderline harassing sense of humor with women, which is why models and beauty pageant winners are placed on their shows. Does Coulier fit this mode? Probably. One, he’s always got extra baggage at the beltline. Male pattern fatness (MPF), you might say. Not too much, but just enough to indicate some lack of restraint. Also, the Internet rumor mill suggests that he’s the man being skewered by Alannis Morrisette in her 1995 hit “You Oughta Know.” (Note for those who know the lyrics: Do not sit in front of Coulier at the theater!) If this is true, it makes him the clear front-runner. He’s got the total package: a recognized but currently forgotten persona, a family show background, the ability to jest persistently—Hell, an entire show might be built around that “Cut! It! Out!” one-liner and scissor gesture he’s used since his Out of Control days on Nickelodeon—and the possibility of a publicly acceptable dark side.

Marc Price, 8 – 1. Here’s the real money bet, the profit potential for the savvy, serious bettor. Price played Skippy throughout the series run of Family Ties. Having played a side character, though, he’s pretty much been left behind by pop culture, though he’s certainly tried to lift himself out of Skippy’s image. He’s had a standup career, which is to say he’s done standup, including self-denigrating “I was Skippy, damn it!” humor during the 1990s on MTV’s Half-Hour Comedy Hour and most recently on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He’s likable, and like many nerdy—or nerdy-seeming—people, he may harbor that requisite awkwardness with women.

Jason Alexander, 16 – 1. He’s got plenty of star power, and he certainly had more presence as a character on Seinfeld than Price’s Skippy on Family Ties, but Alexander has failed more than once to return. Also, his disastrous series of KFC commercials were totally mailed in. Yes, he’s desperate to remain in pop culture, and he’ll be given his chances. He’s a figure people like. But he’s so very Costanza—that Seinfeld shadow is on him, as Kramer might say, like stink on a monkey—and, again, he’s flopped in other opportunities. His odds are decent, but don’t overbet.

Steve Martin, 50 – 1. It’s highly unlikely that Martin will ever leave his film opportunities for a television gig, but he’s got the family background (Father of the Bride, Cheaper By the Dozen), crassness (The Jerk and his old standup routine), and huge star power. He’s no stranger to taking the easy money, but he does it in way that people don’t mind. He’s funny but subtle enough (these days) to be regarded as smart. He could be a Regis-like figure: a big name who steps out and launches a show, then departs when it’s clear it’s going to come off the rails.

Dennis Miller, 75 – 1. True, these odds seem a little kind, but Miller has been surprisingly able to find steady work. He’s all over the map in his political positions and references, but he’s likably unlikable, recognizable, and darkly jovial. Against him: he’s unlikably likable, we know what he’s done, and behind his humor one senses not only self-loathing but real disdain for his audience and the entertainment industry.

Yakov Smirnoff, 100 – 1
. No joke: Smirnoff is still going. What a country! He has worked steadily in Branson, Missouri—and I mean as a performer—and his Web site issues a warning about explosive laughter that may result from his dynamite Russian comedy. (This is supported by a graphic of a clueless Yakov holding a stick of dynamite and hawing as it explodes.) He’s the true steeplechase candidate. Big hurdles stand before him: one, he’s annoying by design. Two, after 20+ years of that bronchial-shattering, hard-on-the-listener jackass laugh, I question who, including Smirnoff, wants to accept the risk. Third, Vegas and Branson, while thriving, are generally locations where performers go to pasture and seed. We accept that they are there, but we accept them only if we go to them. Finally, immigrant yucks are palatable only in controlled doses: Balky on Perfect Strangers, Fez on That ‘70s Show, etc. Believe me, the Borat schtick has been more than enough for quite some time.

Dana Carvey, 125 – 1
. I’d like to limit this response to his George Bush impression: “Not gonn’ happen.” But he’s constantly fighting to get back into the spotlight, has proved remarkably formidable against our common efforts to stop it, and he’s got network connections.

Martin Short, 125 – 1. Oh, lord. These odds probably ought to be more like 35 – 1, but we can’t bring ourselves to admit that. If his Jiminy Glick character can make it to Broadway (Guh?), Short can pull this off. But with all those annoying characters in his repertoire, he’s as much a liability as Carvey. The two are really quite interchangeable.

Joe Piscopo, 150 – 1. We really ought not waste time on this, but we’re sure someone will want to post cash on the matter. We’ll take it. However, the wise bettor will recognize that rampant impressions and self-indicting coke-addict humor is the sort of thing one cannot come back from. But he’s welcome to Law & Order appearances, as is anyone willing to work for booze (I'm talking to you, Liza!).

Gallagher – 200 – 1. While putting a sledgehammer to chilled produce is less wasteful for a network than, say, giving cash to contestants, it’s just stupid, even if one of those melons is stuffed with a million dollars. Hey, wait a minute.

George Carlin, 225 – 1
. Only Dick Cheney can drop the f-bomb so frequently and maintain some support in middle America.

Chevy Chase, 500 – 1
. Forget it.

mandag, november 13, 2006

A Rose Is A Rose ...

To judge by the smell along Western Avenue between Selby and Marshall, a truck loaded with freshly diced white onions overturned while I was in Nina's having my coffee. Ugh.

Emergency tactics: I've lit seven tea candles and one large one with a "rain forest" or "fresh rain" scent, something like that.

That is all.

Eat Pizza, Get Healthy

Damn. I had a decent post (I thought) to publish this morning but will have to finish it tonight. Alas, I have this for you:

On Web MD's commercials, they use the sign-off slogan, "Better information. Better Health. Web MD."

On commercials for Papa John's pizza, they use the sign-off slogan, "Better ingredients. Better pizza. Papa John's."

I use neither business, but their slogans echo in my head. I keep confusing them.

søndag, november 12, 2006


I hadn't known that eunuchs were still part of world culture. I should have, but I didn't. They'd even occurred to me recently, though only in a silly thought of a company called Eunuch Security. Highly-trained personal body guards, sans testicles.

In India, intimidating, singing eunuchs are being used to collect taxes. Huh.

fredag, november 10, 2006


Things that delight me:

1. Deee-Lite's 1990 World Clique album. Still. Bootsy! I even have the tape. Still.

2. The photo of Elizabeth and Alanna. Or Alanna and Elizabeth. I can't tell them apart just yet. (Note: These are not my children.)

3. Luis and Fancy have fallen something like a mile down a wooden-walled shaft on Passions. They are, right this moment, falling. Again. They manage to hook a rope around something. The rope breaks. They fall. Fancy falls from a ledge. Luis jumps into thin air, catches up with her (Guh?), and manages to stop their descent. They fall again. (Metaphor for love?) I suspect they'll soon pass from the crust into the mantle. What's on tv where YOU work? CNN? Professional training videos? Suckers.

Recommended Reading

Again too nutso to post anything today, so I defer to what's going on elsewhere, and wisely so:

Over at the Sugarboots, some Halloween pics have been posted in today's entry. Bootney in bear costume. Precious. Also, c has posted her latest shoe pics. If you got a fetish with Marc Jacobs footwear, these pics are best viewed alone.

torsdag, november 09, 2006

Busy Signal

Too much to have done last night and too much to do this morning to blog...but I do wonder why so many people are incapable of ordering a pizza around a group, as if openly declaring you want a large pepperoni and mushroom is the dropping of one's gastronomical pants. Everyone knows your junk.


I have always had trouble picking out the lyrics to "Bette Davis Eyes." I still hear the word "bathtub" in there where this lyric list uses "better." But I can't help but smile with the way Kim Carnes delivers the words, "She's ferocious...."

onsdag, november 08, 2006

Banana Scare

So I've been buying "organic" bananas. Consistently, they have thicker skins. It scares me to think that the more chemically treated bananas have thinner skins. Ew.


I'm so terrible at following tv shows, but I'm determined to keep up with 24 this year. I'll make that my program. Maybe.

No More Politics, Please

Yay for Nancy Pelosi and the Dems for taking control of the House!! Let's hope they don't devour themselves as they did after 1992 when that Congress fell on its face and led to the 1994 Republican Revolution.

I sat up way too late watching election results come in, but I did not hear the Minnesota results until this morning. I'm stunned to find that Timilquetoast Pawlenty is still the governor...especially after the gigantic victory Klobuchar scored for the Dems in the US Sentate. (Mark Kennedy, you Bush toady, you robotic, unblinking schoolboy, take that! Your time in Congress was welcomed only for the moment in Farenheit 9/11 when Michael Moore asks if you'd send your kids to Iraq. Your offended look and the quick edit away from that confrontation was, I believe, where Moore won the Palm d'Or at Cannes.)

How ugly was all this? I can't think of any better example of blind partisan support than Minnesota's 6th sending that psycho-conservative Michelle Bachman to Congress. Really, 6th. I know that Wetterling was not the best candidate, and she got pretty scary there at the end (with ample creep support from the DCCC commercial machine), but Bachman? Really? She's Tammy Faye with better make-up sense. She's our Katharine Harris (who even Florida came to regret, thank god). She's an unwitting advocate of the Vagina Dentata. C'mon, 6th. Knock it off.

Virginia makes me tense.

tirsdag, november 07, 2006

Take Your Incompetence To Work Day

First, something that doesn't make me mad. Something that makes me beam: the MFA Blog from Carbondale.

One of the teaching poets at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale has established a blog to post the goings-on and accomplishments of my alma mater program and its writers. And, man: Classes of 1999/2000, let's get off our asses! We were the launch classes, yet we're getting stomped by the '02 - '05s. Wither the crafty veterans?

As they say in South Dakota (a real place!), "It's gravel time." Punks.


Now something that makes me furious:

Only politicians could argue that they are the answer to the quagmire they've created. Hence, the Bush Administration's argument that one should vote Republican on Tuesday. Republicans may have laid a big steaming turd across the earth, but they've got a plan to scooop it up, hey? (Does Halliburton make shovels?) Assholes.

How many other professionals could argue themselves as the cure for their errors? Priests and clerics.

But we may as well all try it. Killed a series of important deals for your corporation? Keep your job, buddy. Here's a cube with a window view. Harrassed a co-worker? Have a promotion. (Actually, that wasn't far from the truth at my former employer's office. Sleeping with higher-ups was a remarkably effective, though monstrously unimaginative, form of advance.) Spilled a pot of coffee on a patron? Here's a larger tip.

It's election Tuesday, America. It's Take Your Incompetence To Work Day!


Is my super-cute mother the problem with America? Here she is, plotting her potential and devasting comebacks in Chicago.

Finally, over at Lorie Stories, she wondered whether the deflating lack of Halloween spirit, if not outright rudeness, among the kids in her neighborhood was a reality or just an impression she'd developed as "a crotchety old lady." (Only someone in their 20s would dare insist she was crotchety and old. Total giveaway, Lorie!)

I feel this too, though I wouldn't describe myself as crotchety...primarily because my northern heart is unsure about using publicly any word that contains the word "crotch."

I don't think we're wrong about all this manners stuff. Maybe it really was the Cold War holding us together? Fear has that power. Jesus. We used to get "detentions" in school. Kids would cry about it. There was shame in it. Within a year of me leaving high school, detentions as we'd known them were apparently discontinued because they were considered psychologically cruel. To assign them was to risk a mental health lawsuit from the child's parent(s).

I'm not advocating spanking or anything like that. I just think we created a monster in getting way too sensitive about everything.

Lord. I recall being afraid of sixth graders when I was in fifth grade. By the time I was a high school senior, 10 year olds would ride past us on their bikes and give us the finger and shout out things far more crude than we were saying to one another.

There was this one little bastard too. I can still picture him. He was born to be a jag. He always had a giant bandage over one eye beneath his Messy Marvin glasses. And he had a bowl cut dome of straw hair. (Did he HAVE an eye beneath that patch? Why didn't they ever give him a patch? for Christ's sake!? Maybe that was why he was such a shit.) He'd ride past, finger blazing, and cry out, "You ass-fucking faggots have whore mamas!!"

Knowing my mom, who has on more than one occasion given me the finger, and who once said "When you came home" when I caught her drinking alcohol and asked when she'd started that, she probably would have told the kid, "If my son wants to have gay sex, he can have gay sex!"

So maybe it isn't the children. Maybe my mother is the problem.

(Mums, I know you're reading this. Please make sure Gram is not!)

Yes, I played the Mario Brothers games. I would still play them. I'm a puss. I listen to twee rock. I like Scandinavian and Japanese things. I have Swedish trivets. Fucking trivets!

I never even had to consider Grand Theft Auto, man. It wasn't even on the cultural map.

mandag, november 06, 2006

What's in Your Oven?

I have a gorgeous mixer, but I've used it almost exclusively for bread and pizza doughs over the last few years. I've made cheesecake, but all in all I never make desserts.

This weekend, I decided I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies.

So I acquired my supplies at the store, being sure to buy the extra big bag of Tollhouse Semi-Sweet chips so I'd have a nice cache of chocolate for the rest of the week, and set to making them. I was totally psyched about this. The music was playing--old Trainspotting soundtrack--and the dough was taking shape. I thought, "I'll just bake 'em right away. Why refrigerate the dough?"

I take out the large pans that live in the oven. They are warm from the residual heat of the gas. I turn the dial to 375. The pilot light goes out.


There I am, not sure if what I think has happened has really happened. So I run the oven while doing dishes. Ten minutes pass. I no longer smell gas, probably because I've become so accustomed to it. I check the oven. Cold. Full of gas. You can hear it hissing.

Damn damn damn.

I have a brief vision of blowing myself up. I wonder if I have a flashlight. I do not. Suddenly it occurs to me I haven't even used a baking tray since moving into this apartment (April 2004). I find my baking tray and try to put it in the oven. It doesn't fit.


The oven has yet to be relit, but I did get my cookies. I brought the dough to my sister's place on Sunday mid-day and baked while cussing at the Bears.

This morning my belly feels horribly empty and something of an existential crisis has washed over me, for I've lived almost exclusively on cookie sugar.


I don't recall whether it was on tv or radio this weekend, but I overheard some election pundit say, "For Americans, Iraq has become a four-letter word." Ummmm....

fredag, november 03, 2006

The Scar You Can't See

The inside of my right cheek...and I'm talking about my face. I totally, TOTALLY bit my cheek today why eating a Snickers. Snickers: The bar I was eating years ago when a front tooth snapped off. Dammit, Mars Corporation!

This is disgusting. It's like a cap exploded in my mouth. It's an exit wound without an entry wound. I can feel little flaps in there. Ick.


I just don't care about SNL, Studio 60, or 30 Rock (despite my coveting Tina Fey).


The world's ocean fish stocks are depleting at a rate to wipe them out in 50 years. That's really sad. And scary.


Common Good Books, co-owned by Garrison Keillor here on my block, is a cute shop. It just opened. Painted on one of the beams are the words, PRAY FOR CLARIFICATION. Indeed.

I'm rereading Ethan Frome. It is winter again. I want to read old books set in New England.

torsdag, november 02, 2006

Life Soundtrack

I'm totally stealing from Mips here. It's an iPod shuffle thing for your life's soundtrack. What do call this sort of thing? A meme? Is that right? Put it on shuffle and enter the songs that pop up for the various chapters/scenes noted below. I've added a couple music links for songs or song versions that I think are a little obscure (due to them being MySpace downloads).

May I say that while my final battle is an odd choice (probably all slow-mo with me getting my ass kicked), my closing credits rock.

But who among you is daring enough to break up with me while Duran Duran plays one of my favorites in the background? Please.

My Random Soundtrack

Opening Credits:
“Blame the English” - The Lovekevins

Waking Up: “Transmission” – Joy Division

First Day At School: “Movie Monster” – Sound Team

Falling In Love: “100,000 Fireflies” – The Magnetic Fields

Fight Song: “Get Up” – Sleater-Kinney [What are the chances? That's right: 1 in 228, the number of songs stored in my iTunes.]

Breaking Up: “New Moon on Monday” – Duran Duran

Prom: “There’s No Need To Argue” (Live) - Cranberries [Oh. That's so sweet!]

Life: “Guete Bode” – Crepesuzette Acappella

Mental Breakdown: “Clinically Dead” – Chad van Gaalen

Driving: "When We Two Parted" – Afghan Whigs

Flashback: “Rebellion (Lies)” – Arcade Fire

Getting Back Together: “Alsatian Cousin" (Live) - Morrissey

Wedding: “Tame” - Pixies

Birth of Child: “Juke Box Hero” – The HeavyWaits

Final Battle: “I Believe in You” – Sinead O’Connor

Death Scene: “Born Slippy” - Underworld [Ooo. Perfect.]

Funeral Song:
“Sparrow Parade” – Cake on Cake

End Credits:
“Tonight It’s You” – Cheap Trick

onsdag, november 01, 2006

Mother Nature Is a Serial Killer

Again low on time, so I'm posting an anecdote I left in a comment box at Snarky Girls:

It was fall. Chilly. There was a strong wind. A heron had been standing on the bank watching the hill that morning. Leaf litter rushed along around it. Eventually, it wandered up next to the pumphouse. He stayed there, stock still, while I sat in the little front room by the fire just watching this bird and writing. I'd never seen herons leave the water. I'd never seen this one move about along our shore other than late at night. He normally stayed on the island during the day and walked our shoreline between midnight and 3 a.m., stalking between the piers, while most everyone was asleep.

Hours passed. The heron stood still on the side of the pumphouse, a three-foot-high brick structure with a plywood roof fashioned crudely from two panels. (The family motto is THIS 'L DO. We've had that sign up for at least 50 years.)

Suddenly a chipmunk ran past the pumphouse, apparently not having noticed the heron, or perhaps having decided his stillness was a sign of the big bastard having just died on his feet.

No. He'd been waiting, that's all. He speared the chipmunk and flew off. All the while the little rodent squirmed. The bloody beak had gone all the way through.

I was horrified...but fascinated in an A&E documentary way. Nature is incredibly violent.
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