Friday, July 31, 2009

Coming attractions.

I haven't been to the movies on Friday night in ages. Back when us meant people under 25 and them meant everyone else, though, I spent the end of every week in a darkened movie theater. Even though phrases like "in ages" are a dead giveaway that I'm long past 25--for me, Friday night will always feel like movie night.

That's why it's so cool that today, The Observer's Very Short List sent me a link to IFC's list of 50 Greatest Trailers of All Time. Included for each entry is a video of the trailer, along with a little background information.

From IFC:

There are many ways to measure a trailer's quality, from the persuasiveness of its salesmanship to the cleverness of its copywriting. Ultimately, we decided that the best trailers are those that most effectively combine art and commerce, and that sell and entertain with equal skill. Some of the previews on our list are for classic films, but many are for mediocrities. Some are for absolutely bombs. That speaks to the magic of the trailers. You could argue that these clips play to our basest instincts in order to convince us to see movies that aren't always good. But considered from another perspective, trailers provide a version of cinema that's essentially utopian, in which every film is perfect, if only for two and a half minutes.

I love a good movie trailer, almost as much as I love a good movie. So tonight, I'm going to be working my way through the list--in honor of all those Friday nights of my past.

I don't know yet what I'm going to do to honor the before-movie pizza and after-movie wrestling match.

Wanna see trailers for movies you haven't seen yet? Try iTunes Movie Trailers site.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bust your windows.

I'm so excited about seeing my dentist again this morning that I can't get my act together enough to blog original content. Fortunately for me, there are still a few people who haven't yet seen this preview clip from Fox's new series, Glee (and released earlier this week).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wow, look at you!

It's one of the world's great many imponderables: how a great day can be resurrected from the ashes of painful humiliation, a tragic loss, or romantic catastrophe. You can salvage a day sabotaged by a spiteful boss, savage children, or rampant economic recession.

There are surprisingly few situations, really, that can't be turned around for the better--whether by hook, crook, or pluckiness. But, as I've said before--nothing good ever happened on a bad hair day.

Enter Ben Brown, who has great hair. His new blog, Must Share Hair solicits and publishes pics of your hair in all its manifest glory:

"To document and promote real people with real hair for the amusement and inspiration of the whole world!"

Just when I think I've seen all the most wondrous bits of the Internet! I didn't realize it before now, but I've been waiting for this site my whole kinky-headed life.

I don't know about you, but I can't count the number of times I've looked into the mirror, struck dumb by either disaster or wonder, and thought to myself, "I just wish somebody could see this mess." And there's nothing quite so frustrating as having a really, really good hair day without a single place to go or person to show yourself to.

Once again, the Internet saves the day. Even on those days when nobody should have to look at you.

via Laughingsquid twitter feed.

Related: Turn me loose.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The princess, the pea, and the three bears' beds.

I haven't had a good night's sleep since July 7.

That's 23 nights, and there's just no accounting for it.

My mother, who was in charge of beds at the luxury family condo compound, purchased top of the line mattresses and linens for everyone. Sleeping here should be just like sleeping at the Westin.

I've tried each and every one of them. I don't know if they are all too tall (they are), or too hard or too soft (they don't seem to be), or if they are just not mine, but none of them is just right.

So in the morning, I'm going home.

Before I wear a hole in the couch.

Related: Repose? Are you kidding?, A Prayer for Bedtime, and Creature comforts. Cause it's always something.

Illustrations, Charles Robinson, The Big Book of Fairy Tales, 1911, via SurLaLune Fairy Tales. I'm not sure why his Goldilocks appears to be a wizened old woman, but in this case, it seems appropriate.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cause you're never gonna see 14 again.

I spent the entire fall and winter of 1974 locked in my room with a borrowed guitar and the three chords my friend Carol Dunham had taught me to play. I sat for hours in the center of my bed, laboriously positioning my fingers on the fretboard to make first a G chord, and then a C.

All my bags are packed...

(G chord. C chord.)

I'm ready to go...

(G chord. C chord.)

I'm standing here...

(G chord. C chord.)

Outside your door..

(G chord. C chord.)

I hate to wake you up to say...

(G chord. C chord.)


(D chord.)

My mother still cannot abide that song.*

I learned every other chord I know with the help of a Mel Bay chord chart--evidence that there is truly nothing more powerful than the persistence of a fourteen year old girl.

If you were too busy at the disco roller rink or babysitting or hanging out at the mall, you may think you missed your chance to be a girl guitar player. But that's not necessarily so.

You can learn chords with the help of your iPhone (or iTouch) via Curious Brain's free TouchChord Application:

* Practice chords on a 1:1 virtual fretboard, with strings and fret dimensions like those of a real guitar. Develop the muscle memory to play these chords on a real guitar.

* Learn chords hand-picked by an expert guitarist, within sequences that help you combine chords for jamming, writing, and inspiration.

* See a skilled guitarist's hand on each chord, so you know exactly how to hold your hand comfortably on the guitar neck.

* Zoom out on each chord to quickly understand where to put your hand on the fretboard.

* Tap the info button to learn about each sequence, and for inspiration, watch a pro play it.

* Hear a high-quality audio recording of each chord.

TouchChords Free has four sequences. E Blues (blues in the key of E), Meow Power (indie-type chords), Little Hands (for kids with hands too small to span the guitar neck) and my favorite: Doobalicious--"laid-back, smooth, and funky 70's style."

See the Demo Video and download the app here.

*Leaving on a Jet Plane, John Denver and Kenneth Browder, 1967.

via SwissMiss Twitter feed.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I went to see my beautiful dentist yesterday. I always enjoy our summer appointments; when he's tanned, my dentist really gets his Shaun Cassidy on.

Before I could see him, though, I had to sit through having my teeth cleaned. I enjoy having clean teeth, but the process makes me crotchety. Fortunately, my hygienist totally gets me. Over the years, we've worked it out; she doesn't hurt me, and I don't bite her.

I didn't get to see my usual hygienist, though, because she was on vacation. Instead, I had to see the young upstart one. I've had to deal with her before.

I hate it when young people don't defer to me. I did my time humoring old people. Now it's my turn. Every now and then, though, I run across a young person who just doesn't know her place.

I was gonna keep it cool, though, because--contrary as I found her to be--she was about to have at my teeth with a pointy metal tool. And she looked to be the type who might bite back.

"So," she said, "you didn't get an x-ray last time you were in?"

"No, I did."

"Um, nnnooo. Not last time."

"But I did," I said. "I remember it."

She just shook her head.

"I'm sure I did," I said.

"No. I'd have it here." She waved the folder in my direction. Such certainty! Like nobody ever misfiled anything.

"But I remember having it," I said. How on earth was I going to win this argument in the face of such obstinacy?

Just then, the receptionist stepped in to return my insurance card. "I didn't charge you for an x-ray," she said.

"You didn't? Are you sure? Are you positive? Because I remember getting an x-ray."

In fact, I remembered everything about it. I remembered the vibration and little brrr sound the machine made while taking the image. I remembered that the room had been cold, and even remembered counting to myself for what seemed forever--holding my breath and waiting for it to be over so she would release the mechanism.

Uh oh.

I was remembering my mammogram.

No wonder she didn't have it in the folder.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Until just the other day, when I thought about tattoos at all, I pretty much figured that people fell into one of two camps: those who had them and those who did not.

As it turns out, it's a little more complicated than that.

Times have changed. When I was a girl, had I brought home a boy with a tattoo, I would probably have forfeited my right to bring home any boy at all for a very long time. You can be sure that none of my girlfriends had tattoos (one of us was grounded for having gotten her ears pierced without permission). In my experience, only middle-aged men with military backgrounds sported tattoos.

But these days, practically everybody has something tattooed somewhere.

Enough people are tattooed now that--as far as I'm concerned--the stigma is gone. I am far less apt to condemn someone wearing a tattoo than I am to judge someone sporting a particularly foolish fashion choice.

People who have tattoos might encourage you to get a tattoo of your own. They might tell you that a tattoo is a form of self-expression, and that you should choose whether or not to tattoo based on your feelings and where you are in life. You should choose a tattoo design based on your personal taste; the most important person to please is yourself.

As it turns out, nothing invites ridicule so quickly among people with tattoos as do other people with lame tattoos. That tattoo may make you "out-there" as far as your friends and family are concerned, but it may also label you as doofus-y to the tattooed masses. In other words, even the people who defy social mores have social constructs.

Oh, the irony.

image via Clayton Cubitt.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

There's news, and I'm afraid it's bad.

I've been tormenting myself over the fact that I haven't been able to accomplish everything I've wanted to each day.

I had assumed that once I no longer had to punch a clock, there would be no end to the number of tasks to which I could put "paid." I could write long, insightful blogs that would make my readers laugh themselves into exhaustion. I could dive into those craft projects I've been planning since Christmas break. I could sew throw pillows for the condo and hang pictures there (really, the whole place could use a paint job, too). I had even hoped to hem that pair of white linen slacks I bought 45 days ago.

I have done none of these things.

Each night, before I go to bed, I catalog the things I want to do the following day. When bedtime rolls around again and I have done not a single thing on my list, I have two separate but related thoughts:

"Oh my gosh, is that the time?"

followed immediately by


All of which has led me to conclude the sad, sad truth: no matter how much time you have, you never have enough time. Also, it takes a long time to read all the junk on the internet.

Related: Role models and Friday night lights (out). Cause I've always been no damned good.

Image, Bobbins and Bombshells.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A change in plans.

It's almost noon, and time to acknowledge that it's not going to happen for me today. If you've been waiting on me, it's not happening for you, either.

The people next door are renovating--hammering, drilling, sawing things into bits--which somewhat negates the peace and quiet aspect of the luxury family condo compound.

So I'm going to do some craft-y stuff. Since some of you don't have that option, might I suggest an hour of Bunni?

From the BunniWiki: Bunni, how we first met is a flash game about adventure in the land of Bunni, where players can discover cute bunnies, scary monsters, and get quests from fellow bunnies, other creatures, and even from ghosts. Through the simple but beautiful world of Bunni, players are free to play as they like, whatever if they want to accomplish quests, collecting army of creatures, or even decorate the world of Bunni. Bunni was developed by Andre Spierings and Daniel Cook. On 09 June 2009, Bunni released on for public.

I played it for a good while on Sunday, and can recommend it as a way to lose some time. Just a quick note, though, from the Things to Know, Do, and Avoid page of the BunniWiki:

For the love of god, if you bomb a deer make sure you don't bomb everything else!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ukes for everybody.

I bought my third ukulele this week.

According to NPR, ukulele sales are way up. Surprising, if you happen to know that instrument sales overall are down 20%. But if you flop around on the Internet much, you might not be so surprised after all. The uke, it seems, is everywhere.

I have been (at times) a tortured banjo player, a mediocre guitar player, and a passable vocalist. But I can hold my own on the ukulele. Anybody can--because there's no such thing as a bad ukulele player.*

They are inexpensive (you can get a good soprano ukulele for less than $50), easy to learn, and are tiny enough to carry in most handbags. The only instrument easier to get into is the kazoo--but take it from me--the kazoo is just going to make your lips tickle and irritate the people around you.

And let's face it--you don't get this with the kazoo.

via Ukulelehunt, who has a ukulele vid for every taste.

More nice ukulele videos here and here.

*Granted, some are less bad than others.

Image, Southcoasting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Link love.

Back in the day, when you went to work at a new place, you were pretty well at everyone's mercy. You knew what they wanted you to know, when they wanted you to know it, and most of the time, you were damned glad for the opportunity.

These days, if you want to know something about something, it's easy enough to just meander over to the internet machine.

Which is how I came to be reading the blogs of my co-workers.

If you work at a bank, you might also have bloggers in your midst--but chances are, they aren't of the same caliber as the bloggers who make their living teaching other people how to write. I'm sorry; it's hard to hear, I know, but there you go.

Which is to say, I would read these blogs even if I didn't know the people who were writing them. It's time to add some of them to my sidebar linkedness, but as you know, only reviewed sites go on the blogroll. That's the policy.

She doesn't know it yet, but Monda over at No Telling is about to be my new best friend. When the new semester starts, I'll be moving into the office next door to hers (not my idea, but one I got behind right away, since there's a window involved), and she is--believe it or not--one of those people who is as entertaining in person as she can be on the page. Her blog is a mix of politics, current events, nostalgia, her take on writing and the teaching of writing, book reviews, and tell-your-mama-I-said-hey Southern culture.

So landing on her page can feel a bit like walking the carnival midway; she's a three-column blogger, and there's a lot to see. She's prolific--maintaining three other blogs in addition to No Telling. Who knew there would be so much worth saying about vintage typewriters? (There is, as it turns out.)

It's the left hand column, though, that keeps me coming back.

I'm guessing it will have the same effect on you. Even if you didn't keep your treasures in a Roi-Tan box or wear abandoned locust shells on your shirt (and yes, I guess there may be some of you above the Mason-Dixon Line who did not), there's a lot to admire about the writing in What This Country Needs Is A Cheap Cigar Box:

In late August I always had a fine collection of locust shells carefully picked from tree bark, screened doors, and other scratchy, irregular places. These were particularly prone to crushing in, say, the back pocket of your jeans, so a sturdy cigar box was essential. My neighborhood friends and I would travel in rangy packs like out-of-season Easter egg hunters, some of us with empty mayonnaise jars but most of us with cigar boxes. We could kill entire afternoons looking for locust shells and sticking their hooked little empty feet to our clothes and hair. After scaring my mother with them at dinner, they were always carefully placed back in the King Edwards box and spent the night under my bed.

I don't know what those kids with the mayonnaise jars did. Those were for lightning-bugs anyway.

I knew this girl, I'm almost sure of it.

Her writing takes me back, true--but there's more to this piece than mere nostalgia. Any writer will tell you that it's easy enough to write 500 or so words remembering when--not so easy to find a 21st-century hook to hang them on. I never get the feeling that she's just meandering down memory lane. The point--once she gets to it--is well worth the tip. She's funny, too--especially when handing their hats to that day's celebrity/politician/village idiot. And when she writes about her daughter and her perfect grandson, she gets me right (chest pound) here.

And that's not easy to do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On the rocks.

I've decided to spend the rest of the month at the deluxe family condo getaway. My mother was here all of July, and my brother and Super Tara were here a couple weeks ago. I was still working then, but I did have the opportunity to come up and harrass everyone on the weekends.

It was on one of those weekends that my brother returned from a trip to the store with a monstrous, bright blue, 34-ounce, insulated mug called a Bubba Keg.

I hated it on sight.

I've never been a fan of the oversized drink container, insulated or no. I can't debate it with you; I don't know why. Something about them just screams glutteny to me. Maybe if I were gearing up to hike the Appalacian Trail,or launching my hot air balloon toward the equator, or if I had just captured an escaped boa constrictor and needed something in which to transplant it safely back to the zoo, you might be able to convince me to consider the practicality of such an item.

Then again, maybe not. My prejudices run pretty deep.

I must have curled my lip at it. Maybe, as Tawana says, I let my "church face hang out." Either way, despite my having said nary a word about it, my brother knew that something about his new Bubba Keg offended my sensabilities.

And brothers, as you know, love that kind of thing.

He carried it into the kitchen, washed it out, and filled it to the brim with ice and diet soda.

And then he shook it at me all day long.

"Hear that?" (shakeshakeshake) "Still has ice."

"Hold on." (shakeshakeshake) "I needa drink."

"Hey Sis!" (shakeshakeshake) "Thirsty?"

He shook it at me over cards and over chip and dip. He shook it at me as we watched TV. He was still shaking it at me as I drove away. A week later, my mother packed up and drove back to New Mexico, and a few days after that, my brother and Super Tara lassoed and packed up their little chicken-nugget-hiding Chihuahua and headed back to Tennessee.

They left cool vacation food I probably wouldn't buy--Dove's Ice Cream Bars and imported beer and a freezer full of steaks and buffalo wings. Mom planted flowers and landscaped the walkway down to the lake. I've been here four days, now--long enough to see that it really is a great place to get away from it all. Private. Quiet. Much bigger than it was when everyone was here at the same time.

The cat watches the birds and the squirrels and the neighbors. I sit and write on the back deck until the afternoon heat drives me indoors. There are naps to be had, and books to read. I have almost everything I need. In fact, it's pretty much perfect.

Well, it is now. Yesterday, I went to the store and bought a monstrous, olive green, 34-ounce, insulated mug called a Bubba Keg.

Hear that? (shakeshakeshake) Still has ice.

Photo, Auguste Léon, Guests on the lawn at Kahn's cliff-top house in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, England, August 1913, courtesy of BBC, © Musée Albert Kahn. Via Telegraph UK.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The best thing is to wear pantyhose under a short skirt, I think. And you can always take off the skirt and use it as a cape.

Oh, happy day! HBO's production of Grey Gardens, staring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie Beal, is being released on DVD today!

I hope the 23 of you out there who haven't already seen the original documentary will do so, though, before sitting down to watch Sister Barrymore live up to the family name. You can rent them both for a double feature.

I'm also pretty excited about the complete first season of Thirtysomething, finally out on DVD August 25th. I know, I know--Faludi doesn't approve. And even though it could cost me my NOW card, I just can't help myself, dammit. (Oh Melissa--you quirky, single-earring-wearing mess--I've missed you.)

I'll wait until I've seen it again before recommending it to all you young whippersnappers. Who knows? Yuppy angst might not be that compelling, all these years later.

Meanwhile, the poor Echo Boomers are still waiting for Daria, which is rumored to be released on DVD sometime in 2010. Yeah, that's how they keep you on the line--rumors of release. Hang in there, kids. 18 years will fly by before you know it.

Hear Fresh Air's Terry Gross interview Barrymore about becoming Little Edie here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm sorry. Could you repeat that?

While discussing his new book, Beowulf on the Beach, author Jack Murnighan confessed to NPR's Liane Hansen that he believes it better to read one book twice, than to read two different books. He feels that the read is richer, the second time around.

I'd been thinking about this exact thing, and had a tentative plan to talk about it here. I was just letting it stew until a plan of approach presented itself to me. Thank you, Jack Murnighan.

English majors are all about reading the same books over and over again. Although I did read all the books my university said I needed to read in order to be an educated person (and to understand Woody Allen's jokes) I can't offer up so much as a synopsis to prove that I did. In fact, many of the subjects on which I consider myself to be something of an expert (the monstrous feminine, gothic literature, the Peculiar Institution) are subjects that experience has taught me to avoid in conversation:

Me: You know, Stoker's Dracula is frightening only because the vampire is feminine in nature.

Fred: Really? How so?

Me: Ummm. Well, ummm.

If you happen to suffer from mooshy brains, as I obviously do, reading the same book over again might not have been the original plan. Maybe you've forgotten that you'd read this particular title, or maybe the publisher changed the cover design when the book crossed over into paperback. When this happens to me (and it happens a lot), I just keep reading. Chances are, I don't remember enough about the book to give anything away. The down side of this is that if you're another English major, and you want me to deconstruct with you, you'll have to let me re-read and then catch me before the experience expires.

(I don't know what my brain bucket is protecting, but I think we can rule out how-to-get-there-from-here, my PIN, and anything I learned in college. Maybe I'm carrying around old CSI storylines, up there.)

On nights when I'm too tired and stupid to read myself to sleep, I like listening to books on CD. It wasn't long before I realized that I liked listening to the same ones--over and over. Whether I'm listening to David Sedaris (that's a line from the audio version of his story Six to Eight Black Men in the blog title, and it's probably only hilarious to me because I have heard him deliver it in exactly the same way 211 times), or Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, what I hear depends--in large part--on what I'm listening for.

It's not just because I can't remember my own address that every book is a new experience--regardless of whether or not I've read it before. It's because books are dynamic; they change, depending on who is reading them, and where in life that who happens to be standing. (Read Tan's Joy Luck Club as a twenty-year-old single woman and then again after you've had a daughter.)

So, yeah, it's great that Murnighan is encouraging us to re-read. But do me a favor? When you get to the part he suggests that you skip, give it a look-see. You never know--the part that speaks directly to you might be right there, waiting for you to come along. And you'll never know if you skip it.

My top 5 list of books worth reading over and over again:

Morrison's Song of Solomon
Allende's The House of the Spirits
Irving's The World According to GARP
King's The Shining
McMurtry's Lonesome Dove

See any Joyce on this list? No. No, you don't.

You can read an excerpt of Beowulf on the Beach over on Murnighan's site. I really wish he had asked me about this book's cover design, though. It's awful.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

When doves cry.

Doves, chicks--same diff.

Blogger John Glenn Taylor is really dedicated to his craft. For his sorta-regular feature, Panels 66, he unearths 66 comic panels devoted to a particular subject. His Why Chicks Cry--culled from old romance comics--made a big netsplash.

So he came up with last week's companion piece: Ladies, Beware.

Just a little something for Sunday morning. Since I'm trying to get back into everyone's good graces, and all.

Via Muffin Uptown.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I like the way she doesn't say anything until she interrupts to say that she plans to say something later.

Tomorrow, I will color my hair, paint my toenails, and in general make the world (or the part of it that happens to be looking at me) a better place.

Today, though, I'm gonna buy a new uke, write some blog posts for you people, and read a book. There might be nappage.

Have a nice weekend everybody. See you on Monday. For reals.

Image, Carl Anderson's Henry (July 1947), via Easily Mussed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If she can make it there...

Okay world.

Be kind to my kid.

Try to remember that she is somebody's big deal.

Seriously. Be nice.

Image, Muffin Uptown. From back before anybody ever thought of a Muffin in NYC.