Friday, November 30, 2007

No mo NoBloPoMo.

You've no doubt had your bellyfull of hearing about NoBloPoMo, the organized effort by tons and tons of bloggers to post every single day for the month of November. I'm sure at least one or two bloggers out there were able to eek out at least one post devoted to the subject of having to write every day--very much like what I am doing now. Meta-metaposting, if you will.

No stranger to self-promotion, I am contributing a copy of our stupendous new Christmas book to the booty being given away to those who stuck it out.

This being the last day of the month of November, I am now free to resume my regular posting schedule of Monday through Friday--with the occasional, I-can't-wait-to-tell-it making a weekend appearance.

Which is a very good thing. Because as it turns out, I am perfectly capable of posting something for 30 straight days, but I can only be funny for 22 of them.

If you would like to have your very own copy of this most extraordinary Christmas book, but forgot to blog every day this month, you can order it here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh sure. It's all fun and games until someone pokes out an eye.

Last night--whether by accident or design--my cat came in close and poked me in my brain (via one of my nose-holes) with a whisker.

The pain was indescribable.

Thus far, that has been the high point of my week. I sincerely hope things pick up soon.

I'm thinking of letting her do it again.

photo, Kate Hayter.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can I help you find something?

I've been checking in with the stat counter a little more than usual lately, watching and waiting for the magic moment when the counter hit 10,000. What I discovered while doing so has me more than a little disconcerted.

Before I go any further, though, let me first assure you that I don't know who you are. I don't know where you live or your email address or what you are wearing. I am able to tell, however, what search engine and string you used (if you searched me out), and in what city your IP address is located.

And so it is that I happened to discover that a great many of the people (not just one or two, mind you, but lots and lots) who come to my site by happenstance do so after performing one of two searches. It turns out that the two most popular search strings used by people who visit my site are A three legged dog walks into a saloon, and I really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree.

And then there was that one hit from someone who had searched for Jennifer Love Hewitt's can. I'm guessing he was more than a little disappointed in finding me here, instead.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

delete. delete. oops. delete.

I spent some time Sunday morning watching Merlin Mann's Google presentation about Inbox Zero.

First of all, let me just come clean and tell you that I have no idea who this guy is. I'm not even going to pretend to be cool on this one. I'm guessing that he's some sort of ├╝ber geek who knows everything there is to know about something. Maybe when the Google Training Department was casting around for someone to come in for their weekly Tuesday morning PowerPoint, they said, "Hey, call that Merlin guy. He knows stuff."

Anyway, for those of you who aren't already aware, Inbox Zero is Mann's revolutionary idea that our email inboxes should be just for junk we haven't read yet.

On the face of it, this concept would seem to be a fairly obvious one. Except that it's not. Everybody's got crap in there that they either (a) don't know what to do with, (b) would really rather not do with, or (c) just don't have time to do with. Mostly, they just open the email, read it, and then go on to the next.

Me, I'm mainly looking for a variation on one of two messages:

(1) I'm mailing you the money I owe you

(2) This is a reminder that you forgot to do something that will result in either someone's death or the possible repossession of your automobile.

The rest of it, as far as I'm concerned, is just noise--my mom wanting to know if I've heard from my brother; my brother telling me he can't get hold of my mom; my boss wanting to know if my email to her contained a typo or if was I really 25 days late with a project; Muffin Uptown sending me ridiculous kitteh pictures.

But I watched Mann's presentation anyway, and he has a lot of good, if strictly common sense ideas about handling the glut of information streaming into our inbox everyday. To give the guy credit--he was quick to point that nothing he was proposing would ever be confused with rocket science. And a little common sense is good, especially when you're talking about the largest, most complex information system in the universe.

But still.

I'd feel a whole lot better about almost everything if I knew that the Google people already pretty much knew what to do with the junk in their inboxes.

Monday, November 26, 2007


My 10,000th reader was someone sitting in Tucson Arizona who landed here--either by accident or design--at precisely 3:12 on Saturday afternoon. I wish that person had entered the giveaway. How cool would that be?

As promised, every entry went into the hat and the lovely and talented Muffin Uptown reached in her hand and pulled out a winner. She was fairly heartbroken for those whose names weren't chosen. I was too, a little.

Congratulations to Kayla in Austin, Texas. Your box o' stuff is on its way. Be sure and let me know if you love it.

I received some very nice emails from those of you who entered. I liked that part a lot. You can do that some more, if you like--even when I'm not giving stuff away.

Thanks everyone, for reading. 10,000 times.

photo by Daniel.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You are here.

My friend Tawana called to find out the status of the 10,000 visitor giveaway.

"You know what you should do," she said, "You should research it and let everyone know who sent in the entry from farthest away."

Tawana has a marketing background, and it totally freaks her out that 10% of MJ readers live in countries other than the US. I am less freaked than perplexed--I wouldn't exactly classify this mess as universal. Yet, in the last 30 days, I've offended readers in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Canada, the UK, France, the Russian Federation, Albania, and South Africa.

But, as I explained to Tawana, this isn't exactly like the high school reunion. One of the features of the interweb is that there is no farthest away. Mostly, it all comes down to who has to walk the most steps to get to their machine.

So, if you had to schlep into the neighboring village to use the library's communal computer to read my blog, please drop me a line and let me know.

I could scrounge up another prize for that.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yeah, it's pathetic.

See this guy? See how delectably yummy he is? Know what's even better than a guy who is this adorable?

An adorable guy who is really, really smart.

Know what's even better than that? An adorable, really smart guy who is in love with the skinny, kind-of-pot-bellied, obviously-refused-to-wear-her-retainer-in-high-school ugly duckling of the lab.

Oh, man.

And yes, I do understand that this is an (unbelievably attractive) actor who plays a character on TV. I do understand that there is no real (tortured and confused) Sara Sidle love interest who left him broken and alone for no good reason other than a ghost from her past that just isn't happy unless it's mucking up my one good hour of television each week.

Oh, CBS. Have a heart.

Friday, November 23, 2007

All bent out of shape. In a good way.

I always hesitate to do this kind of post because:

(1) Everyone else in the whole wide web world will have already seen and heard of it already, and in posting it, I will forevermore prove that I am not only NOT one of the cool kids, I am a cool kid wannabe who is also a day late.

(2) Someone (and I think we all know who) will be cross with me for neglecting to write an original, side-splittingly funny story she can email to all her friends, thereby proving that she is one of the cool kids.

Nevertheless, post it I will, because this guy cracks me up.

See his wired-up work on his site. There were so many great ones, I almost couldn't choose. Wait. I'm still not sure...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One final (no, really--I mean it this time, I've milked it for all it's worth) observation about the holiday meal preparations.

Although I only recounted the details of one, in reality, this year's prep for Thanksgiving required more trips to the grocery store. The rest were so scary, though, that I can't bring myself to talk about them.

Let's just say that there are a lot of people hanging out at the market this time of year, that most of those are hell-bent on getting what they came for, and leave it at that.

You and I both know, however, that Thanksgiving is not the only turkey-buying holiday of the year.

Which has led me to resolve that, with one small stipulation, old Ebenezer Scrooge can be as cross to me as he wants, all year long. He can be miserly with the coal and keep the office poorly lit. He can make fun of the way I dress. He can just be, really, pretty much as snarky as he wants to be--just so long as when the time comes for me to have to start thinking about going to town to buy a Christmas Turkey--that old poop is leaning out his upstairs window in his dressing gown and bribing a knobby-kneed kid to fetch a bird directly to my house.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You only thought I'd said my peace about poultry.

Despite the siren call of other, more interesting things--despite having heard the mermaids singing, each to each--despite wishing with all my might for another, any other option, I did find my way to the grocery store, where I stood for the better part of half an hour, planted squarely and immovably in front of the frozen bird bin.

Positioned as I was in the center of the aisle, in the center of the bin, I could feel more than I could see the other shoppers' ire as they were forced to part for me like the Red Sea. Yet there I stayed. I had to choose a turkey; my extended family's Thanksgiving happiness depended upon me.

But which one? They were all so large. If I weren't planning to eat it, I could have positioned any one of them in the foyer at home to frighten away intruders. I held my hand out over the vast, frozen expanse of poultry, waiting for some nudge from my so-often-caught-napping feminine intuition. What I needed was a sign. Or a divining rod.

I needed to call somebody.

Call one: My mother. Even though she lives on the other side of the continental US, smack dab in the middle of the New Mexican desert, she was sitting at that moment, I knew, waiting to hear from me. Because this is what mothers do.

Come to think of it, she wasn't answering my call at turkey-choosing time last year, either.

Call two: My trusted friend Tawana. Under ordinary circumstances--say, if I needed a plan to avoid being killed and eaten at work, or if I needed to know what hand beat a full house, Tawana would be relatively close to the top of the call list. Previous experience, however, has shown that like me, she has forgotten most of what she used to know of the homemaking arts. She will advise me, instead to call Carol. Unfortunately, Carol was also not taking my call.

Don't any of these people care if they have a bird to eat on Thursday?

I stole a glance at the woman standing nearest me. She seemed capable enough. She was feeding somebody with some measure of success; there was a child with her who didn't look too neglected.

"How much bird would you say I needed to feed 11-to-15 people?" I asked.

She looked at me with that certainty that all young mothers seem to have. I used to be one, though, and I recognize this particular act. Pretend you know what you're doing so the children won't stage a coup and overthrow you for someone more sympathetic to their cause.

She leaned in to whisper, and this part is true, I swear--she glanced about, first. "I never know, either," she said. "I always just buy the biggest one." She shrugged. "But at least we always have enough."

But I was well aware that the bigger the turkey, the more disgusting that whole naked bird wrestling ballet would be on Thanksgiving morning. So I did the only thing, really, left to me to do.

I wheeled my cart back to the deli section and after a quick confab with the woman behind the counter, carried my already-fully-cooked, no-giblets-inserted, guaranteed-to-feed-the-whole-crowd, just-pop-it-into-the-oven-at-7am bird to the checkout line.

And it was worth every penny.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh my. What's that you're wearing? You smell good enough to eat.

I lost a lot of time to the world wide wonder this weekend. It was one of those strange couple of days where a trip to the keyboard to look something up turned into first a YouTube marathon, then a scouring of the news for something interesting to blog about, and finally, a bit of half-hearted interweb window shopping.

All of it designed, of course, by my murky subconscious in an obvious bid to postpone a trip to the grocery store.

This convoluted and not so very interesting windup serves as preamble to the following revelation: Apparently, a great many women out there aspire to smell like their food.

I don't mind so much a light spritz of lemon verbena. I have on occasion, been intrigued by the smell of cucumber, pear, or pea. That's not really the kind of food I'm talking about.

You can trip over to your computer right this minute and order body wash, lotion, and performed spray in Caramel Apple, Dreamsicle, Cinnamon Bun, Sugar Cookie, Cupcake, or Birthday Cake (I've no idea what the difference between the latter two might be--perhaps it's the sprinkles). There's also Chocolate Mousse and Banana and Coconut Creme Pie.

All this kitchen perfumery is no doubt the result of a study published a few years back demonstrating that men are particularly attracted to the smell of food. Pumpkin pie, if I remember correctly, was the big winner. So, in the intervening years, loads of manufacturers and retailers have figured out a way to get the smell of the oven squeezed into a bottle or spray.

And hundreds of thousands of women haven't yet worked out that their new signature scent may be attracting him because subconsciously, he associates their fragrance with his mother.

Or the cafeteria lady.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wonder of wonders.

In 1981, when video killed the radio star and MTV made it possible to see my favorite singers and musicians perform one right after the other on my very own television station, I remember thinking that it was truly a wondrous time to be young, and how fortunate I was that someone, somewhere, had invented this wonderful thing just for me.

And in the predawn hours of a Sunday morning in 2007, when I lost an incalculable amount of time between this and this, I thought, "Wow. It's truly wondrous that I'm still here. I'm so glad someone, somewhere, invented this wonderful thing just for me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm guessing I'll be asked to bring mashed potatoes next year.

Some time this weekend I will drive to the grocery store (if I can still find it), and after some painful mental mathematical calculations--during which I will frown and harrumph and cause consternation to my fellow shoppers--I will decide upon and purchase a bird large enough to feed 11-to-15 people. This rock-hard frozen hunk of poultry--roughly the size of a small child--will be my one and only contribution to next week's Thanksgiving day eat-a-thon. It will very probably be the most difficult thing I undertake this month.

And I won't be doing anything complicated. I won't be smoking my turkey for 14 hours over slow burning embers or deep frying it in a vat of molten oil. I won't be casting runes and uttering incantations to cause it to rise again with a flesh-eating urge to marauder the surrounding villages. I won't be prepping it to run for president. I'm just going to rub a little butter on its pink and naked breast, sprinkle some salt and pepper on top of that, and pop it into the oven. In theory, it should be the easiest dish on the menu.

But first, I have to get all those extra turkey parts out of there.

Here's how it's gone down in years' past. Muffin Uptown begrudgingly rouses from slumber at the crack of dawn. Sleepy-eyed and bed-headed, she holds the bird by its cold, stubby little armpits, while I--rubber gloved and stern of face, go spelunking for giblets.

"Are you hurrying?" she asks.

This produces in me a momentous surge of motherly love and I assure her that I am indeed proceeding as quickly as possible, but that I will try and step it up as much as possible, just for her--my one and only worth-while contribution to the betterment of the human race.

After several moments of acking and cawing and the likely use of some extra-special, expensive, holiday curse words, I emerge victorious from the recesses of the carcass, giblets and neck in hand. Together, we wrestle the bird into a browning bag, throw it into the oven, have a jigger of tequila apiece, and return to bed.

This year though, mindful as I am about the importance of family holiday traditions, I just can't get that excited about sticking my hand up in there. I just don't want to do it anymore.

So I've decided that the main course of our holiday meal this year will either have tong marks all over its insides or come to the table with something other than stuffing in its cavity. I guess we'll just have to wait for the dinner bell to see which.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When the evening train goes by.

There are some train tracks running through town about a quarter mile from the back of my house. The train doesn't rattle your teeth or make the pictures leap and buck on the wall when it goes by. It won't wake you from a sound sleep. But it's close enough that you know it's there when it does. You may even say, "There goes the train," if there happens to be a lull in conversation.

This isn't a unique arrangement. There aren't many places you can live in this part of the country without sharing at least a passing acquaintance with the railway system. It's one of those things you learn to ignore--like the sound of heavy traffic if you live close to the interstate highway or the comings and goings of aircraft if your house is near the airport. On an unusually warm November day though, when all the windows are open to try and catch enough fresh air to last until late March or early April, you'll hear the train when it passes. And as categories of noise go, it's not bad at all.

Now that I've traveled on one, the trains sound differently to me. They used to have that lonesome whistle Hank Williams wrote about. Now, though, the trains sound to me like the places they're going, and the hundreds of tiny little towns they're passing through to get there. I can sit on my stoop and listen to all those places as they pass me on by, traveling just a little better than 60 miles an hour, right there behind my house.

Yup. Way better than living by the airport.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Can I get a witness?

48 hours after moving into a new cottage at the assisted living center, Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's husband of 55 years--who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease--has found a new love. This just confirms one of my many long-held pet theories.

Me and Sandra are soul sisters.

Although my second husband (arguably) did not suffer from a brain disease, he did forget that as a married person, he was not allowed to date.

O'Connor's husband's worsening illness was one of the reasons she cited for choosing to retire from her position as the very first female United States Supreme Court Justice. Ever.

Their son says that the new girlfriend has really improved his dad's attitude about having to move into the center. "...Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn't complaining," he said.

Well, yeah.

Now that I think of it, Second Husband's mood was also greatly improved.

See? Soul sisters. I rest my case.

photo, Claudia Meyer

On a wing and a prayer.

Only one extremely late podcast, three potentially explosive projects, a ream of administrative paper to be pushed, and one person who wants to have me killed stand in the way of me and several days of very well-deserved time off. If it's at all possible, I plan to see it through to the bitter end.

Tune in later in the day to see how it all turns out. I promise a real post before the day is out.

For those of you who like a new post with your morning coffee, there's a new post from late in the day yesterday, below.

Photo, David Falconer, from the FIRST oil crisis (1974)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Funny Attempts to Withdraw from Public Eye

Sighted leaving her west village brownstone on Thursday, the elusive Funny was noncommittal about her next appearance in Mundane Jane's blog.

"You know, I'm tired. There's no reason why I have to be the star of the show every damn day. Why can't Frankly Quite Touching take a shift every now and then? She's in the union. Or Slightly Humorous--what about her? She's every bit as capable as me. And listen, if you've seen her wardrobe, you know she could really use the work."

Pressed further for a commitment, Funny acknowledged that she anticipated a return to the blog no later than week's end. She really hoped, she said, to be finished grading papers and back to normal by then.

"I've just not been myself lately," she explained. "Even when everything is going right, being Funny is not as easy as most people think. But when you're grading essay papers night after night--believe-you-me, the job gets a lot harder. "

"Just wait until I'm finished with those papers and then I can be Funny again," she said. "But right now--well, it's just not possible to laugh in the face of this much suffering."

You just look lucky to me.

We're getting close, but there's still time to send me an email for your chance to win the fabulous prize package (upgraded from the previously promised singular prize--since, as you may remember, I sometimes encounter difficulty when forced to choose between two or more items).

As soon as we get the 10,000th visitor, I'll be drawing a name out of the hat.

photo, Sanja Gjenero.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Caught without a cocktail wiener or pineapple tidbit. Yet again.

I have to show up at the office today with something that other people will want to eat.

Every year I vow to be ready at potluck time, and every year I'm caught unprepared and poorly armed.

I have in my kitchen right now: 3 single servings of frozen vegetarian lasagna, a box of saltine crackers, 4 bags of microwave popcorn, 13 cans of tomato sauce (?), a bottle of gin, 64 canned Diet Cokes, and beer.

I don't suppose anybody has a recipe I can use to turn any of that into something that looks like real food?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A ride on the wild side.

It might surprise you to know that I spend a substantial part of each day zipping through the wilderness. I know, I know--I work in the big city in a big city glass building and I have a big city job, but those jacked-up people on I-40 scare the holy crap out of me. The way I look at it, if I want to get all pissed off and mean, I can stay at the office and be paid for my trouble.

So I usually take the quieter, more sedate route to and from work--via a series of highways that snake through three counties and several sleepy bedroom communities (which is what we call those tiny little towns that make one want to die of having nothing to do).

It's a lovely drive, and only one mile longer than the more "direct" route via the US Interstate Highway System. I drive over Wye Mountain and through its seasonal daffodil fields, and down the middle of a tiny burg called Bigelow, which smells just like 1977 to me. There's a sunflower farm, a donkey ranch, two horse stables, and enough reckless turtles to feed every gourmand in France. And, as Material World Girl has already pointed out, for 25 seconds in the Fall, the foliage will come awfully damn close to taking your breath away.

Sometimes, though, the drive to work is so relaxing that I check out. I may be writing copy or jane jargon in my head, and when I come to, I realize that I've missed a turn and am in a town I don't recognize. I understand that this can be problematic in the big city--take a wrong turn at the wrong time, and you're in real danger of taking a stray bullet or getting your car jacked at a stoplight.

One should not automatically assume, however, that the bucolic South is a safe place for tourists. Or, for that matter, its native daughters. I grew up in the South, but nothing turns my blood colder than a Dixie flag at half mast, a pickup truck with three rifles in the overhead rack, or a pack of marauding coon dogs with no visible supervision. There's no real reassurance either (blessed or otherwise) to be found in the fact that there's a ramshackle Jesus Saves church just a scant mile up the road.

When I've managed to lose myself that deeply into the forests of Oz, I make time getting me and my little orange, feminist-carrying car back to civilization as quickly as I can.

If I have to take out a couple sawmillers and a mule or two to do it, so be it.

photo, John Nyberg.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Working for the man.

Well, that's just silly. I work for the woman. Okay, there's a man or two thrown in there so we have somebody to stomp on the spiders, but mostly, ain't nobody here but us chickens.

There are sooo many more difficult and trying ways to make a living than being a busy and important publishing professional. I get that. In fact, I would hazard to say that there are plenty of people who would gladly knock me in the head to have my job.

Just in case you're one of those people, I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the highlights from a day in the life of a busy and important publishing professional.

8:10am Arrive at the office 5 minutes before the first I-can't-miss-this-because-they-rescheduled-it-to-accommodate-my-schedule meeting of the day. Note and ignore the blinking voicemail message light and the Your-Email-Box-is-Full notification on my computer. Make coffee and scrounge through stinky refrigerator while it brews.

8:15 Attend the first meeting of the day, the weekly Director's Meeting. These meetings are held so everyone has all the information ever available to anyone anyplace ever. The information exchanged in these meetings make it possible for each of us to capably perform our jobs over the next five days. I miss much of the important information shared in this meeting due to the distraction of full bladder.

9:00 Return to desk, braving gauntlet of irate instructional writers in urgent need of copy approval. Promise writers I will look at and mark on urgent instructional copy. Silently vow to ignore promise in favor of tasks I must complete for people who are higher than I on the food chain.

Remember that I am a tiny bit afraid of one of the writers. Mark all over her instructional copy, adding hand-drawn smiley face to my notes.

9:25 Walk four and a half miles to the Art department to steal one of their donuts.

9:30 Attend second urgent meeting of the day. Say the wrong thing. Return to desk by way of the Art department to steal leftover Halloween candy.

10:30 Listen to voice mail messages. Delete. Delete. Delete.

Ignore email messages.

Receive voicemail from boss asking about specific email message.

10:45 Read email messages.

12:00 Have baked potato covered in rice and noodles and cheese brought in for lunch. Accidently get cheese sauce on layout. Circle offending stain and make notation for Art department, "Will this be visible in hi-res? Pls Fix."

1:30 Sleep through third important meeting of the day due to having ingested carbo-loaded lunch and the fact that (inexplicably) no one in the meeting is willing to rub my stomach.

3:00 Send writer on trumped-up errand to Design department so I can rifle through her cube in search of secret pal chocolate candy.

4:00 Review publication schedule. Cry.

4:15 Read Material World Blog. Surf the world wide wonder in search of clever things to publish.

5:00 Gather the four hours of real work I didn't do to take home to complete.

photo, Geri-Jean Blanchard.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

The weatherman didn't say a word about a front coming through today, so when I first tumbled out of bed this morning, my first thought was, "Why does my head hurt so?"

That was before I remembered all the wine.

There was a small gathering of friends at my house last night. About twice a year, we like to schlep our musical instruments and bad judgement to someone's house, nom down some chips and dip, and play through our oh-my-God-I-forgot-all-about-that-song repertoire. It's great fun, provided you aren't the author of the words and/or music of the tunes we're mangling.

But that was last night. Today, I have to make some money. On the to-do list, working on some of the introductory copy for my company's great new Christmas book, which is scheduled to go to press in February.

So, next year--when you get your copy of the new Christmas book--as you're admiring the soul-stirring pictures and reading the heart-warming opening pages, you'll know that the author of some of that beautifully-written copy penned it while all hanged over, cotton-mouthed, and miserable.

Ho, ho, ho, y'all.

photo, Rodolfo Clix

Thanks John and Holly Ruth, Ian and Talley, Paulette and Fred, Deborah and David, Hannah and FJohn!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where did all these people come from?

It may not mean anything to you, but I'm fairly excited about the fact that I am rapidly approaching 10,000 visitors.

I wanna share the love. On the day the counter hits 10,000, I will be drawing a name from the hat to send one of you a really cool prize. (You'll just have to trust in my already-demonstrated excellent taste to reassure yourself that the prize will be something you would love to have.)

Email me with your contact info at, to be included in the drawing. Send as many entries as you like, every one will go into the bag. I promise not to use your email address to spam you, send you boring newsletters, or to sell your name to nefarious telemarketers. But you have to email to be included. If I already knew who you were--well, that would be just creepy, wouldn't it?

Hurry and send your email--we're almost there!

photo detail,
John Nyberg.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Beware ill-tempered, menopausal women.

Tawana called last night to complain about something she'd heard on the news. She was all worked up. I don't know why she does this. Daniel Schorr and Nina Totenberg don't care that she's in a tiff; if Hillary Clinton notices when Tawana's in a mood, she doesn't show it. And the House and Senate? Well, let's just say that they don't seem very responsive to her feelings, either.

So, bless her heart, she called me. But I was no help--I was still stewing in bad juices of my own and just wanted to sleep through some television.

She was bent out of shape because her favorite candidate did something stupid, giving the press an excuse to focus--one more time--on something besides the issues. So she wanted to talk it out with me.

But I've got my own crap to deal with. I'm so tired of having to enter into negotiations with the paper product dispensers in my office that I'm about one double-ply's breadth away from sending the next one skidding down the hall and out into the parking lot. That's the kind of mood you bring home with you, you know?

I'm just about ready for Tawana to recognize that I've got problems, too.

Not everything is about the election of the next leader of the free world.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Another mystery solved.

Every Friday night I come home from work, fall into the nearest vacant chair, and sleep my way through the Friday night prime time television lineup.

Because her show is broadcast during one of my favorite times to take advantage of the impromptu, come-as-you-are nap, I have to make a special effort later in the weekend to catch Jennifer Love Hewitt in Ghost Whisperer. Yup. I TiVo it every single week. Word.

Please don't ask me to explain why; I'm just not sure that I can. But one of the most fascinating things about this show, in my estimation, is the amount of attention paid to Jennifer Love Hewitt's bosom. In fact, a friend who recently stopped watching the show told me that the reason she quit watching was because she was beginning to feel like the actual stars of the show were Love Hewitt's breasts.

They are certainly the most perfectly featured breasts on television today. "Oh, wait--did you say that this next scene would involve my running from the deserted house in fear? Then I think I should wear my white penior and negligee set ala Angelique Collins. Hold on a sec."

I've spent the last thirty years loudly condemning the objectification of women's bodies. I haven't given Victoria's Secret any of my money in decades. I have a NOW card. And yet--I can't stop watching this show.

There is an actual reason Jennifer Love Hewitt's abundant cleavage so often upstages every actor in the frame. It turns out that Love Hewitt--like the rest of us--is hyper aware of those other less-than-perfect parts of her body. So what's the best way to make sure no one notices your flaws? Find a way to draw their attention elsewhere.

I'm guessing she doesn't have any cute scarves.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The trouble with tribbles and college students.

Last night I discovered that of the 25 freshman college students in my Comp II class, not a single one was familiar with "The Trouble with Tribbles." As for the circumstances that led to my discovering this shortcoming on their part--let's just say that it was pertinent to the English-y conversation at hand and leave it at that.

There's a row of blue bristles on my toothbrush to let me know when to buy another one, and the moisturizing strip on my fancy-smancy razor changes color when it's time to cash in some bonds and buy replacement blades. Everybody already knows that I sometimes have problems remembering where I live and how to get there. My purse is littered with cryptic notes that I can no longer remember enough about to decipher what it is, exactly, they were supposed to remind me to do.

So how on earth can I be expected to know when one of my cultural references expires?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A groovy kind of love.

I'm not sure how I missed it, but Muffin Uptown's Boy tells me that Mr. Garrison Keillor was recently forced to take out a restraining order against a particularly rabid fan. Apparently, the fan in question was so enamored of Keillor that she just couldn't quit him.

Here's the Reader's Digest version of the AP story: A 43-year-old Georgia woman attended a live performance of the Prairie Home Companion Radio Show and fell so completely and foolishly in love that she began emailing and telephoning Keillor. He reports that her communications were "disturbing, unintelligible and rambling," and in one, she "graphically described making love to me."

Okay. Ew.

(I don't want to be unkind, but do these people really expect anyone to believe that this woman fell in love with Garrison Keillor AFTER she saw him in person? Sure, he's got those dulcet tones and all that, and he's a real genius with a pen, but seriously. Have you seen him?)

When that didn't win him over, she sent him a petrified alligator foot and some dead beetles, which everybody knows are commonly acknowledged symbols of affection down there in Georgia. In her defense, the woman stated that Keillor misinterpreted her emails, calls, and gifts. She loves Keillor all right, but she claims that it isn't at all physical. She's a happily married woman with five children.

"It's transcendental love, that's all" she said. "Between a writer and a reader."

I get that.

photo, Dan Meyer

Monday, November 5, 2007

No, really--I walked into a door. Really. Alright, alright already, it was a wall--but the door was in on it.

I sat around all weekend long waiting for somebody I know to do something funny, so I could poke fun at them and shame them in front of our friends. Tawana has been strangely silent, so I'm fairly certain that she's hiding something from me. For that matter, Muffin Uptown won't make eye-contact, and my mother has departed for parts unknown. So as usual, I have to do everything myself.

So here's what happened. Last night, some time during the threes, I got up from bed to use the facilities. I didn't really wake up for it--there was no need, really, since I knew the route by heart. I could do it with my eyes closed.

So I did.

I navigate my house with my eyes closed all the time. Without glasses, I'm blind as a baby hamster, anyway, so what's the diff?

Blind is one thing; stupid is a whole nother matter. Yes, I misplace several IQ points in that place between awake and asleep. But apparently, those are the very points I need in order to remember the lay of the land. As I left the bathroom to take the twelve what-I-thought-were-relatively-harmless steps between there and the bed, I turned one micro-second too soon and busted my brain bucket all over the bathroom wall.

The pictures on said wall rattled in their frames and the cat dove under the bed. I said, "Oomph! What the *!@&! was that?" and groped my way back to bed. It wasn't until the morning light revealed actual blood on my forehead that I became concerned.

Muffin Uptown, my long term-house guest, was oblivious to the whole thing. "What's all over your head?" she asked, when I finally stumbled out of the bedroom this morning.

And it's nice of her to ask, I suppose, but surely one of the perks of having someone else here--other than the fact that I can no longer watch TV in my underwear--must be so that there will be someone to attest to my final moments. "She cursed at the television and then, just--you know, sort of fell over."

What if I had actually damaged my dome in the middle of the night, stumbling around my darkened house like a drunk coming off an 8-day binge? What if, once I had gone back to bed, the cerebral hemotomas came and got me? No one would know until the CSIs had come, the rubber gloves snapped and the q-tips swabbed. There might even have been rumors of foul play, lists compiled of people I'd wronged who might like to see me come to harm.

Which means that not a single one of you is safe. I'd say it behooves each and every one of you to be sure that I don't do myself undue damage while stumbling around my house after midnight. Something could happen to me, you know.

You might want to work up a phone tree. This is going to be a really big job.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cartoons for the weary blogger.

It's true that I have my very own artist-in-residence, but she's very high-falootin' when it comes to giving permission for reprints of her work (translation: I can only use her stuff when I can gain unauthorized access to her computer).

Fortunately, Dave Walker feels no such compunctions:

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Thanks to Jess at How About Orange for the idea.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NaBloPoMo 07.

Do you remember that little rant I had a few short days ago? The one where I bemoaned the fact that I didn't have enough time to do all the things I had committed to and so was drawing straws for what and who would be tossed out to sea?

What do you suppose turned out to be the solution to my problem?

Why, I signed on for more stuff.

Here's how it all went down. (You will see how I am not really at fault.)

I stumbled across this group of bloggers who had all committed to blog every day (including the weekends) for the month of November. And a little voice in the back of my mind said, "You want to do that."

I already blog every day through the week; what's a couple more days between friends?

So I emailed my friend, Material World Girl. "Do you want to do this with me?" I asked. I was really kind of counting on her being reasonable about the whole thing. I expected her to ask, "Whatareyou, crazy?" Turns out, I don't know her as well as I'd thought.

So, that's why you can be looking forward to some weekend posts from me this month. At least I know it will make Tawana happy.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ugly Shoes.

On the night of my first date with Muffin Uptown's dad, he wore a pair of shoes that frightened me so much that had my better nature not won out, MU might not exist today.

They were brown, smooth-sided loafers with tan mock-crock uppers and long, twisty black tassels. Obviously, whatever else he had planned for our date together, the evening would definitely include strangers snickering into their hats at his unfortunate choice of footwear. What I wanted most in the world after seeing those shoes was to step back into my apartment, quietly close the door, and see what was on TV.

What I did instead was tell myself that ugly shoes were only ugly shoes, and not an indication of the owner's character. Surely, everyone has at least one pair of really ugly shoes? When we married four years later, I secretly gave the shoes to Goodwill. I'm fairly certain that they have them still.

This might seem--on the face of it--to be a positive story about the strength of my character, even at such a young and unformed aged, and about how reasonable and fair-minded I can be when presented the opportunity.

No. That's not it.

Because here's the thing about a pair of nasty shoes: sometimes, they belong to an otherwise good and kind person who is just confused about below-the-knees fashion. At other times, though, a pair of ugly shoes really can be a reflection of what's going on inside; they are The Shoes of Dorian Gray. It is even possible, in extreme cases, to take one glance at a person's run-down shoes and know that a relationship with this person carries with it the potential for real disaster. Don't go into business with him. For God's sake don't marry him. In instances like these, you probably shouldn't even let a guy like this fiddle with the preset buttons on your radio.

So how do you tell the difference? Like I would know. My history is populated with husbands wearing bad shoes. Most of the time, I just focused on not looking at their feet. Sometimes, though, I think about asking MU's dad.

He was always sending me back into the house to change my shoes before we could go to dinner.

photo, Marjolijn van Mastrigt

Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's steal-someone-else's-content Thursday.

...cause the impromptu come-as-you-are nap window was unaccountably extended. It was either this, or a painful recounting of how Muffin Uptown and The Boy caught me in a grammar error, whereupon I overheard them decide to NOT make fun of me for it. Quite frankly, I'm never going to get over it.

Originally published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Take if from me--if A.R. had a song lyric editor, this is exactly how it went down.

Notes on "Sweet Child O' Mine," as Delivered to Axl Rose by His Editor.

Hi, Axl,

Just got your manuscript and demo for the song "Sweet Child O' (sic) Mine." I think we need to talk. As your editor, I am responsible for making your songs as cogent as possible, for helping them reach the high editorial standards your public has come to expect. With this one, I am certainly earning my keep. After several attempts to reach you by phone, I am sending along my notes. Please make appropriate fixes as soon as possible, at which point I can send them to copyediting and proofreading in time for your upcoming studio session.

She's got a smile that, it seems to me—Why equivocate? You weaken your point by framing this as a mere personal observation instead of a fact.

Reminds me of childhood memories—Redundant. You either have a memory or you're reminded of something. You're not reminded of a memory. Heavy-metal fans won't stand for such writing, my friend.

Where everything was as fresh as a bright blue sky—I asked around the office and no one is sure a blue sky is "fresh." You could have a blue sky at the end of a long, sweaty day and there would be nothing fresh about it. And she reminds you of a time when things were fresh? Fond reminiscences of freshness are no foundation for love. Fix.

Now and then when I see her face it takes me away to that special place—Again, you're weakening your own argument. Why does the sight of her face transport you only periodically? And is it just her smile or her entire face that does this to you? Because you've already said both. Consistency, Axl!

And if I stared too long, I'd probably break down and cry—Why would you do that? Because you miss the freshness you described earlier? I think the whole "fresh" thing is really tripping you up. Also, crying? Wimpy.

OK, on to the second verse.

She's got eyes of the bluest skies—See, this is just getting worse. Now her eyes are made of sky? Nice imagery, but you just got done saying her smile reminded you of memories of sky. Is this verse actually supposed to be a second draft of the first verse? Am I just confused on formatting? Help!

As if they thought of rain—Axl, eyes can't think of rain. And even if they could, which they can't, why would bluest skies think of rain? Perhaps less imagery of thinking eyes made of sky and more direct exploration of your feelings?

I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain—Well, hell. I guess in your special Axl World anything is possible. Eyes can be made of sky, ponder the weather, and exhibit pain in amounts that can be weighed.

Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place where as a child I'd hide—Delete. Fix. Do something. You'd hide in a place that reminded you of hair? Never show me such phrases again.

And pray for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by—Whew. OK, listen to me now: Thunder can't quietly do anything. It's thunder. And, more importantly, do you really want to come across as a wuss who's constantly on the verge of weeping and skittering into hair caves to escape from rain? Is this a song about love or climatic anxiety? You need to work these things out.

Finally, Axl, I think we might have had a misunderstanding regarding my previous notes. When I wrote in colored pencil "Where do we go now?" I wasn't offering that as a lyric. I was simply observing that, in narrative terms, the song needed to progress in some way. You love the girl, she's helping you work through some issues, whatever. So where do we go now? But instead of providing a satisfactory conclusion, you simply took my note and repeated it over and over again before ultimately just stating the title of the song. This is unacceptable. Don't ask us, the listeners, where we go. That's up to you as the writer! Tell us where we go now!

Again, let's try to fix these things soon and get "Sweet Child of Mine" ("My Sweet Child"?) into your fans' hands as quickly as possible. Because, frankly, if it should ever hit the street in its current form, the song would be a colossal failure.

Talk soon!
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