Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sister, your slip is showing.

Last weekend, I went to brunch with Muffin Uptown, my ex-husband, and my wife-in-law. It was mostly just an excuse for everyone to spend a little time with MU before she embarks on her big LA adventure.

We don't exactly hang out, but we've spent a goodly amount of time together in the interest of parenting this (now grown up) child. We all went to the parent-teacher conferences, the music recitals, graduations, and art shows. They've come to my house for Christmas, and I've been to theirs for Thanksgiving. We've eaten out together. We collaboratively celebrate her birthday. We have a lot in common.

And we are very, very, civilized people.

Driving back from the restaurant, her dad was telling me of their plans to remodel their ten-year-old kitchen. The plan is to knock out a wall and extend the cooking area into the space that is now the garage. Their kitchen is already the size of a football field.

So I said, "Oh-my-gawd, Vickie! It's going to be HUGE!"

Muffin Uptown put her face into her hands. Then she looked up and shrugged at her stepmother, who held up her hands like, "What can you do?"

"What?" I said. "What?"

Then it hit me. My ex-husband's wife's name is Jackie. Vickie was the name of wife number two.

photo, Vintage Pulchritude.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ease yourself back into the grind.

Here's just the thing for that first day back at work after a three-day weekend. It's called Music Catch, and it's my favorite sort of game: no guns, no apparent skill or strategy required, lovely soundtrack, and lots of positive feedback.

I've sacrificed hours of personal time to be sure this game meets the high standards I know you expect in your own procrastination activities. Now that it's properly vetted, knock yerself out.

Go for the yellow and purple shapes; stay away from the red.

And in case you're wondering, the music is Before Dawn by Isaac Shepard. E-mail me if you can't live without the link for the free music download.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The city of angels plus one.

Muffin Uptown is headed to LA.

She's only there for a couple months--just long enough to complete a 300 hour internship. This internship is all that stands between her and a future as professional grad student.

Talk to her dad, though, and you might think she were headed for Mogadishu. He's scared to pieces.

It's hard not to worry. It's not a paying gig, and who knows if she has enough money? She has an apartment, but no furniture. She's 22, but she looks 16. Weirdos, Bloods and Crips, and actors live in LA. What about the LA Freeway? Earthquakes? Paula Abdul?

All kinds of things could happen.

But if he thinks it through, I suspect MU's dad might find that his biggest fear is really the same one that wakes me up at night--that this may be just the first step of many that will take her further and further away from us.

And it is. If we've done our part right, it has to be.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yes. Lovin' that three-day weekend.

I'm celebrating a three-day weekend by learning the fishstick--which is THE dance move to do, if doing a dance move is on your list for the holiday.

via Chris Glass as proposed by You Look Nice Today.

Dance Move: The Fishstick from Jenna Fox on Vimeo.

Seriously, everybody's doin' it.

By the way, it's the happy one-year anniversary for Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

At the Idol party.

After the third aging pop singer showed up on stage, Muffin Uptown remarked how cool it would be to see American Idol get RickRolled.

All I could think about for the rest of the program was, "That really would be cool." And then I got all excited, expecting it at any moment.

She ruined the whole thing for me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Not missing; just really, really late.

I've been having some difficulty showing up in two places at once this week. I can't get it together enough to write you a new post, but I can share this clip.

After finding it on Saturday, I was happy all day. So happy Wednesday.

Doesn't he know that all that key jangling is gonna wake up Grandfather Clock?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Geezer fun.

The jigsaw puzzle.

It's hard to me for imagine an activity better suited for the Retirement Home.

Other than stooping to retrieve the occasional fallen piece from the floor, there's no physical activity involved, and therefore, no real reason to have to ratchet up the oxygen feed. As a matter of fact, it is entirely acceptable to just sit and stare at an unassembled puzzle for hours on end.

Any activity that includes sitting and staring must have been invented just for me. As far as I'm concerned, economy of movement is key when choosing a new leisurely pursuit.

And, unlike a crossword puzzle, which might increase my vocabulary, or a Suduku designed to improve logical thinking, there don't seem to be any particular intellectual benefits to jigsaw puzzle solving.

Which is also fine by me.

So that's where I've been lately--ignoring all forms of self-improvement, neglecting my writing and eschewing physical exercise--parked in front of a partially completed picture of black and white milk cows making their way back to the barn by way of a rustic covered bridge.

Completely lost in spots and udders.

For the text of James Merrill's Lost in Translation, a puzzle hidden in a poem about a puzzle, click here.

Photo by Arvydas.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Here's to the fulfillment of a life's ambition.

"When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been here. It's a wonderful life and I love it."

Jim Henson

powered by ODEO

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Susan Cheever loves her for that. And so do I.

You see this picture of Senator Clinton? If you lived under a rock and didn't know who she was, you might think that she was a middle-aged business woman, taking care of business.

She's well-groomed, if slightly gray. She's wearing her glasses (the better to see you with, my dear), and she doesn't seem to be all that into smiling pretty for the camera.

This is because she's wearing her thinking face.

Which is not a bad expression to see on the President of the United States, in case you've forgotten.

Susan Cheever's Why I Love Hillary as heard on All Things Considered Wednesday.

Ms. Cheever probably has a thinking face, too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What you've been seeing on I-40 (that is, if you weren't too engrossed in that phone call).

On the way to work one day last week I watched as the driver in front of me tossed a bit of crumpled paper out the window and onto the side of I-40. Although I've seen litter on the side of the road, I haven't actually witnessed it landing there since I was a child.

Most people who feel they just can't live with that piece of trash in their car one more moment are a bit more surreptitious about the whole thing. And it's a shame, too. Because something wonderful has happened to the interstate highway.

They've broken out all over in wildflowers.

It's part of the State Highway Department's efforts to beautify my daily drive by maintaining existing wildflower populations and planting new ones.

And I--for one--really appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


There are a lot of parts of me that I miss, now that they've gone.

Like my waist. I miss that. It was lovely.

My ovaries are making for the door now, too--and that's okay, I guess. I was finished with them anyway. If I have any regrets about that particular parting, it's that they're being so damned sneaky about it--like I can't tell that they're trying to put a fork in it and beat it. I wish they would just get their hat and get on with it already. Who needs a long, drawn-out good-bye?

But my ego-boundary? I needed that.

As it turns out, it's really important to be able to tell where I leave off and someone else begins--otherwise, every awful thing that happens to my next door neighbor may as well happen to me. Without the ability to differentiate between me and thee, I'm a mess.

Which is why it's so common these days to sail around the corner in the grocery store and run ashore of a weeping, middle aged woman standing in the freezer section. No doubt something in the heat-and-eat case set me off.

It took all of two StoryCorps episodes to teach me to avoid listening to that particular show, but lots of stories on NPR seem innocuous until they twist your heart out. Standing ovations make me cry. Veteran's Day parades break my heart, and I'm not known as a great patriot. I don't even know any veterans. John Lennon's music on the radio hurts me. Last year, Kelli Pickler and her grandpa nearly landed me in therapy.

So do me a favor. If you see me sobbing in the crunchy and delicious drive-through taco lane, just look away. There's no real reason to make it into a big, hairy deal. And hey--don't feel like you have to share with me the story of dropping your toast, butter side down, on the floor at breakfast this morning.

There's only so much I can take.

photo, Piotr Ciuchta.

Monday, May 12, 2008

For every hipster wanna-be.

Learn How to Speak Hip. Del Close and John Brent, 1959, Mercury Records.

Click on the album cover to listen.

Spring is here. Go outside. Do something.

Converted from vinyl to digital by Skeyelab Music.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

For Mother's Day--The Mom Song.

If that sounds like your mom, maybe you should her this e-card.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sexual anarchy.

On today's date in 1960, the FDA announced it would approve Enovid 10 mg for contraceptive use.

It would not be available to married women in all states until Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 and not available to unmarried women in all states until Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972.

In 1975, country singer Loretta Lynn released this song. It rose to number 5 on the country charts, despite its (then) scandalous subject matter.

I am astounded that it all unfolded in my lifetime.

But sadly, not so terribly surprised by these ridiculous people, who don't believe that oral contraception should be available to young girls and unmarried women.

Edit: And then there are the Duggars, announcing today their 18th pregnancy. (I don't think I had sex 18 times with either husband.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Live Nude Bugs!

Isabella Rossellini, I love you. Your accent. Your self-assurance. Your smarts.

You are splendid.

And you know some really interesting things about insects.

Ms. Rossellini's project Green Porno examines the birds-and-bees aspect of the lowly creepy-crawler. This set of very, very short films about the sex lives of very, very small creatures was produced especially for the very, very small screen.

And you'll get a huge kick out of it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Helpful things.

I recently spent some time cleaning up and organizing my Google Bookmarks. And, just like cleaning out the closet--I found all kinds of things I'd forgotten I had. I don't know about you, but when I have more stuff than I know what to do with, I give some of it away:

1. Don't oversleep, even when you're away from home with a DIY cell phone amplifier.

2. Fall asleep before the closing credits? Find out how it ended on Ruined Endings.

3. Maybe you need an audio book for your vacation travels. iTunes has em, but they can be difficult to find. Instead, browse and download from a large listing of free MP3 recordings at Open Culture. Also worth exploring on this site, their Ideas and Culture podcast downloads.

4. Maybe you've been sitting there wondering what in the world the rest of the world is sitting there wondering about. Google has Hot Trends app that lets you see "what's on the public's collective mind" at any given date or time. Updated hourly.

5. Catalog, organize, and show off your books online, read reviews (or write your own), get a peek at the books most often cataloged, see who has the largest libraries (and what books make up those libraries) at Library Thing. Just the thing for you super organized, list-loving, reader types. (Note: The first 200 are free; $10/year or $25/life after that.)

6. Or maybe you don't think you have enough stuff to read already. If you are worried that you're missing the premier of everyone's favorite new magazine, keep up with the newest rags hitting the stands each month at Mr. Magazine.

7. Perhaps the only thing worse than having a song stuck in your head is having one playing on continuous loop for which you only partially remember the lyrics:

My baby something-something-something,
He something nine till five and then
He something-something-something-something
to find me waitin' for him.

Search any portion of the lyrics on Ultimate '80s Songs to find out the title, the rest of the lyrics, the recording artist, and on which albums the song can be found. Sorry, they only have songs from the 1980s. Turns out that's the only kind of song I know.

8. Have the perfect sampler sentiment but alas, no pattern? Make a charted design in cross-stitch or back stitch by simply selecting a font and entering your text. Automatic chart generator at StitchPoint lets you choose your favorite of six fonts. Perfect for those extra fancy, holiday curse words that are so hard to find in the stores.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

I didn't, really. But this remains--for me--one of the best opening lines of any novel ever written.

I've read Du Maurier's Rebecca (and seen the movie, which begins the same way) so many times, that it's impossible any more for me to tell if I love it so much because it's a great line, or because I'm happily anticipating the story that follows.

Perhaps because Rebecca ranks in my top five favorite reads of all time, I long ago hunted down and read Du Maurier's other works. And me being, well--me, I have over the years freely and generously given my opinion of her work to those who asked and those who did not.

So maybe you can imagine my dismay late Saturday night after the conclusion of TCM's The Essentials (Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and The Scapegoat), to learn from Robert Osborne that I have been mispronouncing my favorite author's name.

For years.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Posting about it now, before the damn thing shows up in her mailbox.

My mother is not going to be very happy with me come Mother's Day.

But that's not entirely my fault.

I purchased a gift for her a couple weeks ago that I was convinced was absolutely perfect. Muffin Uptown agreed. We were really excited about it; we spent hours scouring the intertubes to find just the perfect variation. For the first time in decades, shopping for Mother's Day did not have me in a spin.

And then I had a couple conversations with her that convinced me we had chosen very probably the lamest gift possible. So there I was, once again shopping at the last minute. I needed to find another gift that communicated how much I appreciated my mom, and it had to be good enough to make up for the wrong gift that was already on its way to her.

It didn't work out quite as I had hoped.

Finding her something new to wear was too difficult. I have a fairly hard time finding clothing for myself that doesn't make me look as though I were dressed for Bette Davis' part in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane." I just don't think my mother, who is mumble-mumble (no point in making her even more irritated with me) years older than I, would appreciate a short sleeved jacket and cuffed short combo, or a silk giraffe print halter dress. With matching hat.

Many times, I've given her a nice new handbag for her birthday or for Mother's day. I don't know when it happened, but if you've had occasion to price a new handbag lately you know that a new purse these days could literally put you out on the street. It's a scandal. A Kooba Nelli brown leather handbag retails for approximately $635.00. It's expensive, it's ugly, and it's not big enough to live in. Aren't we killing cows every second of every day to keep up with our insatiable beef craving? That being the case, I don't understand why a nice leather handbag should cost almost as much as an entire cow.

I expect I'll get all sorts of emails and comments with clever and affordable suggestions, NOW, when it's really too late. But please--don't suggest that I click over to Etsy for a clever little tote made of Day of the Dead hand-printed fabric or sewn together from two place mats. Even if I were the one making it--my mom is not going to be into carrying a bag made of table linen.

So it looks like Mom's getting the not-so-perfect gift, a Hallmark card, and this blog post.

My poor mother--who sacrificed and went without and sat up into the wee hours of the morning waiting for us to come home after breaking curfew and worried about our grades and our complexions and our dating choices--my poor, darling, long-suffering mother is going to shuffle to the mailbox and back later this week, open the disappointing gift I've chosen, hang her head, and weep.

Sorry, Mom.

Image, Banana Republic.