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.
Friday, November 30, 2007
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
I'm thinking of letting her do it again.
photo, Kate Hayter.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
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.
(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.
photo, Eduardo Arenas.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
"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
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, CBS. Have a heart.
Friday, November 23, 2007
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.
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.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I needed to call somebody.
And it was worth every penny.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
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.
photo, hey cupcake!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
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
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
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.
Now that I think of it, Second Husband's mood was also greatly improved.
See? Soul sisters. I rest my case.
photo, Claudia Meyer
Photo, David Falconer, from the FIRST oil crisis (1974)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
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.
As soon as we get the 10,000th visitor, I'll be drawing a name out of the hat.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Every year I vow to be ready at potluck time, and every year I'm caught unprepared and poorly armed.
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
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
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.
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.
photo, Geri-Jean Blanchard.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
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
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
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
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.
So I did.
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
Fortunately, Dave Walker feels no such compunctions:
Thanks to Jess at How About Orange for the idea.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
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."
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
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
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.
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.