Monday, December 29, 2008

Baby names rejected by Bristol Palin

1. John
2. Lancer McSweeney
3. Quartz
4. Orange
5. Tina-Fey
6. Jason Bourne
7. Barak
8. Ranch
9. Palin
10. Ballot

Welcome to the world, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston!
We promise to lose interest in you and Grammy Sarah fairly soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

News from the book bin

I had gone to the book bin (which the readership recalls is at the town dump) hoping to score some interesting source material to make my Christmas cards out of, and wondered into a Xanadu-like store of TV Guides.

Boxes and boxes of TV Guides. Some were so large and so packed that I couldn't even move them.

I once came across a store of National Geographics like this, and completely on impulse filled a crate with them. Geos have no real resale value, despite how many grandparents have filled their attics with them. The libraries do save them, they do have research value, and the ads themselves are highly entertaining. I sorted through my find, passed on a few issues that may have had interest to friends and actually took the rest right back to the bin. This was not a treasure trove.

An entire year of 1984 Geos -- boxed -- on eBay is valued at about $6.00.

This issue of TV Guide, featuring Mrs Van Halen, is priced at $8.00 on eBay, and $12 in the Official Collectors' Guide.
And there I was literally hip deep in potential cash.

Again, I had no plan. But I know these things about the book bin:
1 - things don't "keep"
2 - the dump is open only 7 hours one day a week, and I can't always make it there

So I didn't know what I would do with such a catch, but I expected I would think of it later and regret not having gotten them. I chose one box I could lift and carry, inspired by Valerie resting on top of it, and got out of there before anyone noticed.

I would prefer to sell them as a lot, because I don't have a lot of time (and too much obsessive tendency) to try listing each issue on its own. But I do want to get a sense of what the combined value is of what is in there. I haven't even counted them. If my 5th grade math is correct (and there is little evidence of that on most days) there are nine stacks of about 10 issues in that box, though there may be more. Call it 100 for now -- 150 if the stacks are deeper than I am imagining them.

The leading dealer in Guides offers no info on buying my stash. They offer instead, "....send a S.A.S.E., email, or call on the telephone. If there is no answer, leave a message on the answering machine and your call will be returned." Quaint. Bet there are Geos in that house too.

I have made no move yet. File it under my inability to follow-through on things. I once spent a summer pricing and cataloging my comic collection, then couldn't bear to part with them. I know I won't go that far, but if I can find a single buyer (preferably one I don't have mail this giant box to) I will gladly unload it for full profit.

By the way, I didn't find anything for the Christmas cards. I went another way, and was pleased with the outcome. I was tempted to transform the Guides, but I have seen enough Antiques Roadshow to know better.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oy vey Maria

True Story:
"Playboy magazine has issued its formal apology for publishing controversial cover featuring model Maria Florencia Onori posing nude as Virgin Mary in its Mexican edition. The cover shows the model standing in front of a stained glass window with scantly clad in a white cloth, which had created rows among Catholics. " ( is responsible for this translation)

This story fascinated me from the start, and the more layers I peeled, the more I was reduced to an Amy Poehler/Seth Meyers style, "Really."

Here is how my brain unravelled on this story:

There's a Playboy Mexico?
I couldn't imagine that porn needed translating. Maybe it is just for the articles.

From Playboy Enterprises: "Today, locally produced editions of Playboy are published in 24 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine, and Venezuela. " Way to go in the former soviet states, Christie.

Christie Hefner is still CEO for Dad's empire, but not for much longer. She is 56; he is 82. I am queasy.

"Pure" coincidence?
Raul Sayrols, publisher of Playboy Mexico said,"The image is not and never was intended to portray the Virgin of Guadalupe or any other religious figure. The intent was to reflect a Renaissance-like mood on the cover."
{{blink. blink.}}

Sure. that could happen. I see how people would just see what they want.

Ethics, morals, and comparative theology
Catholic authorities were shocked and offended, they said. Keep your porn off Our Lady, they said. Circulation of Playboy Mexico is 100,000, according to Playboy. Mexican Catholic members is 7 million, which of course excludes children, who can not buy porn. Now let me tell you an obscure fact I found about the rules of pornography in Mexico: " Mexico only one bare breast is allowed per page."

One bare breast...? Where have I heard that before?

We've already seen Mary naked

plenty. So whay are we shocked by this cover? This does not suggest that I think Mary should be depicted in Playboy. I don't think women should be depicted in Playboy, but since they are, let's take this at face value. Can the image of Mary actually be seen as....shocking, much less erotic?

I think all new parents have been in this scene.
Is there a man who wants pleasure, can't get it, and would like it to come from an image of La Virgen? Oh, probably, best not to know.

This might have something to do with it
Now that's a coincidence, I am sure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Single girls have taco night too

Miss Bender knows how you young marrieds operate: with your theme dinners, and chore charts, and your coveted taco nights. She wants you to know, before you get thinking Cozier Than Thou, that single girls have taco night too.

But it isn't as easy.

You already know the drudgery of the prep work, especially if you want a decent taco, what with the tomatoes, the onions, the yadda yadaa... And it seems sort of stupid to chop half a cup of onion so you can sprinkle 7 diced pieces into your taco shells. But it isn't taco night without it, is it?

Imagine how long it takes 1 person to use up even a pint of sour cream.

The Taco Kit is designed to work against the single girl. TWELVE shells? Are you kidding me? I can't possibly eat all those before they go wrong (and a taco shell goes a special kind of wrong that actually has a smell). Ortega has worked out some kind of resealable box -- excuse me, website worthy Freshness Pack -- which is not really resealable. But to be fair, the website doesn't claim that it is either. I just fell for it.

Crispy or Soft? Discuss. To me, I am 70s enough to have been taught that tacos are crispy and burritos are soft -- which was not based in truth, I think. Here's something you'll never click about that. Why don't we ever call it Burrito Night? My workmates will tell you I'll eat just about anything wrapped in a soft tortilla, but can you imagine setting up a Taco fixin's bar in your workplace?

Reminds me of Molly Ringwald pulling that sushi set-up out of her bag in the library.

But there I go again, trying to turn my workplace into a John Hughes movie.

I've got my 12 taco shells, my full pound of meat, my painstakingly diced toppings... how many tacos can a person eat, anyway? In my prime (and by that, I mean 6th grade, when there were 3 other people to split the taco box) I could take 6. Or maybe that was just a personal best one night. Or maybe it was just a fantasy... I don't really remember anymore. Nowadays, it's really 2. I want 3, but that's a mistake. Like onion rings.

And isn't that too much trouble for 2 tacos? I would have to eat tacos 6 days in a row. Please do not suggest going out for tacos. I live in New England. If I find a decent Mexican (or even generic Latino Norte) restaurant, I am ordering the mole. Here's a recipe requiring 25 ingredients and 8 hours of work.

Fish tacos? Please. I like fish, and I like tacos. I am not going to mix them. This goes double for
Thai Chicken pizza
Tomato Smoothie
Cucumber Soup "Nothing says summer like cold cucumber soup." Yuh-hunh... "Mango-rita" does pretty well.

The video is for Jen. It never fails to make her laugh.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekend plans?

The good news for you is that I should have plenty of opportunity to post new material.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Be portable

Life lessons learned from homelessness.

I wanted to find you a good dramatic photo from Friday morning. But the beat does go on. Now Sunday, things are looking up.

So here's the update, because you don't want to wait until this thing is over to hear my story. I don't know when that will be.

Thursday night:

1.Two days of rain.
2.Freezing temperatures.
3.High winds.
4.Woodsy environs.
5.Thickly Settled.

Result: One mumma-la-hummina mess.

So the power is out, but the Mill still hums -- figuratively and literally. I took 2 calls with Dubrovnik Friday morning, and waited to see if the power came back on. It is too laugh. After a storm, I have little way of knowing whether it is safe to leave the neighborhood, because all news is Boston news, and the neighborhood has private plow service.

But I had too much to do to sit around reading magazines, which was all I had left without a modem. So I left.

117 was mostly cleared, except for one hanging wire which is still there, and blocked by a cone, which you can see if it is daylight. Down the Mill, all business is as usual.

You could live in this Mill for days before anyone noticed. maybe weeks, depending on how stealthy you were. And if I were 25, I might have, but I am not. I called in my people right away.

Miss Minchin of the Finishing School, lives locally, and gave me shelter for the first 2 nights. Kit is coming in for 2 more -- and as long as I need, she says. I went back to the house today to clear the fridge, drain the last of the water, and pack a bigger bag.

Here's what I know about myself in natural disasters: I do not stand in the ankle deep water (or whatever - just a flashback, nothing more) and play the hero. I carry as much as I can to sustain myself as long as I can, and I hit the road. So this is my advice on being portable, self-contained, and humble when you need your basic needs met:

Dress Simply
1 pair shoes, 2 sweaters or fleeces, and all the turtlenecks you can fit in the bag. Underwear and socks for a week, just in a case, but do laundry whenever an opportunity is presented. 1 pair jeans, 1 pair pants you can get used to at work for as long as you have to (see laundry, above). Warm jammies. You can always throw the covers off, but if you're going to be sleeping cold, you might as well go home.

Pack your own toys
When you are pad-crashing, try to be self-sustaining. A couple of books (in case one is bad), your latest magazines, a DVD or two. I have the added benefit of a box of Christmas cards needs doin'.

Try not to be a layabout
If you can get out into the world, do it: movies, the mall, museums. They don't care how long you stay in the public library as long as you stay awake. If you have keys to the office, well it's a place to be. No one says you have to work.

If you are stuck in the house, be entertaining. Houseguests who need to be entertained are a total drag. My suitcase always contains deck of cards and a travel Scrabble. well...Now. See... Savannah inland squall 2008. Oh, I see I left that part of our adventure out of the post, didn't I?

Give up your quirky routines
Whatever they are. Just free yourself of the stress of trying to fit them in. This can actually be liberating, and you may discover some of them were habits you just hadn't broken. Be in the journey. Get through the day. This is in fact how most of human civilization lives.

Accept offers of help
Seriously. It all evens out eventually.

As you review applications for new friends, consider where they live. Honestly, if all of you live in the same disaster-ridden town, no one is getting out of this alive.

Heart-warming snapshots of the aftermath (none of which I have actual snapshots of, because why would you need your phone to take a photo?)
  • A generator rumbling in the front yard of a house where 6 cars are packed in a driveway
  • 10 orange Asplundh cherry-pickers in convoy headed west on Rt 2
  • A breakfast line at the local diner rather than at McDonald's or Bickford's.
  • A pickup truck at the pump filling 4 gas cans

  • More updates later. Thanks to everyone who has checked in. All is well here, and the weather is working in favor of our pipes.

      Monday, December 8, 2008

      It came from the scrapbooking aisle

      I spend more time in Michael's art supply than you might expect. When I lived in the city, I could go to the art school neighborhood stores, like Pearl, Mass Art, Charette and affect that air of disaffected artist, sizing up the Exacto knives as if I knew what I was looking for.

      But I live in the suburbs now. And it is Michael's or nothing, except the world's most depressing Wal-Mart in W. Boylston, which looks like it ate the Ben Franklin that may have stood there before it. So it's Michael's.

      What I enjoy about Michael's is not the way it is categorized (though that is very pleasing); it is the way that Michael's patrons are categorized too. Like those people who look like their dogs, craft people tend to look like their craft. And they rarely mix.
      Ever think... What if you liked your Harley but didn't like denim or leather?
      What if you collected crystals but also cigars?
      What if you were a Republican Unitarian?

      How does it happen that people with similar hobbies have to be so similar in every other way? We noticed the morning after spinning our own glass beads that the people in the bead aisle tended to be Deadhead types, tall and skinny with an affected Native air, long drop earrings and a Lori Metcalf expression.

      Yes, you do. her.

      But 2 aisles over, where the doll parts are {{shuddderrr}}, the shoppers are apple-shaped, wear their glasses on a chain, beige sneakers, and Alfred Dunner pants.

      Yes you do. these.The men in Michael's are very interesting. They cluster in woodworking/dollhouse furniture, sometimes in paints and canvas. There are always a few with a wife in the "current holiday" area or in artificial plant material, and they never seem cranky about it. I imagine they built the shadow boxes for the family angel collection. The men together are in wedding favors and ribbons. That's not a slur. You go to a Michael's and tell me I am wrong.

      My craft relegates me to the scrapbooking aisle. And more's the pity, because scrapbookers are Haunted Child + Insane Robot. But scrapbooking supplies is where it is at. I make greeting cards -- nothing fancy or particularly artistic, but I write at least 1 letter a day and I enjoy having a one-of-a-kind card to write it on. Scrapbooking is where the blank card stock is, as well as a thousand designs of art paper, backgrounds, templates, and the bags of scrap you can buy by the pound. (oooo. ..haaaahhhh...?)

      The scrapbook gals are more gregarious than the doll ladies, though they appear to be on the same branch of the family tree. They are barrel-chested with glasses on their heads, Keds, and "dungarees." They often have teenage daughters with them, who think the whole thing is gay.

      In New England, we say "gay" to mean corny, glurgy, unforgivably middle-class, and embarrassingly, obviously, ordinary. It has nothing to do with your sexuality. Gay people are seldom gay. They have too much style. Unless they are your high school drama teacher. We realize we shouldn't say things are gay, but we can't help it. That's reta'ded.

      Things I never fail to see in the scrapbooking aisle:
      • Mother-daughter team attempting to make wedding announcements.
      • Queen of the scrapbook circle. You can tell by her t-shirt.
      • Red Hats
      • Preteen girl overwhelmed by the sticker packs - there is a theme for everything!
      • Impatient card-maker grabbing her card stock and bolting. Oh, that's me.

      Saturday, December 6, 2008

      Spinster on the loose

      This story requires some deep background, which may not enhance the telling of it, but without it, I don't know that you'll follow where I was going.

      In 1959, a real-life Sharks and Jets rivalry went wrong, and at 16, Salvador Argon became the youngest New Yorker sentenced to execution. He was known as The Capeman. The facts of his case are not the background you need, but if you want it, go here.

      40 years later, and 10 years ago, Paul Simon -- master of the high concept album -- wrote a Broadway musical called The Capeman, using the street-singing doo-wop style of the 50's barrio (see also Richie Valens). The production did not succeed. Most criticism had to do with painting Argon as the hero of the story and a martyr ... for what cause, no one could really figure.

      The New York Times said, "In the segment in which Argon, shortly after his arrest for the murders, notoriously proclaimed that his mother could watch him burn, he registers as a terrifying amalgam of confusion and contempt, an inchoate force of raw energy groping for defiant style. " [bonus points for using amalgam and inchoate in the same sentence] But critic Ben Brantley also says, "....these songs have a contemplative, sensuous elegance all their own and remain a pleasure to listen to. "

      As an album, Songs From the Capeman is infectious. It clearly follows a narrative, plays like a "rock opera," and is musically interesting in places where musicals rarely are anymore. As sung by Ruben Blades and Marc Anthony, what's not to like? Rolling Stone said, "The sociopolitical aspects of the case occasionally lead Simon and Walcott to overreach in their lyrics, especially given the musical setting – The politics of prison are a mirror of the street/The poor endure oppression, the police control the State is a far cry from I just met a girl named Maria." Word.

      In that way we loved Graceland, even when we are not always sure what we are talking about (If you'll be my bodyguard, I will be your long lost pal...) because we hadn't heard anything like it before, and because the lyrics made you want to listen and the beats wouldn't let you stop anyway.

      But The Capeman is still about gangs, and racism, and murder, and juvenile delinquents with no hope of rehabilitation, told in the sweet campfire folk-voice of the little man in the turtleneck goin' to Scarborough Fair.

      And that's what you've got to understand about this story I am telling.

      So I am in Barnes & Noble. And I recognize that what is playing overhead is "Adios Hermanos," a musically beautiful song that just happens to be about Argon's arrest and ride to the big house. It is not a family sing-along, and you probably shouldn't use it to encourage holiday shopping. We sale through the line about "the blancos and the n---r gangs," and no one in the store throws a brick. Paul Simon sings, so sweetly, "time for some f---n law and order. The electric chair, for the greasy pair..." And the shoppers continue to peruse the coffee table books.

      Adios Hermanos feeds right into "I was Born in Puerto Rico," which is the 2nd song on this album. I know because I own it. And because I own it, I know that by Track 5, when we meet The Vampire gang, there is the chorus "Fuckin Puerto Rican mongrel punks..."

      I think there must be an intervention.

      And this is how you wake up to the fact that you are middle-aged and loose on the world -- about one bifocal-chain short of a church-lady, because you decide someone should really change the music. That you will see about getting that done. That none of that horrifies you.

      I take my chances that the B&N music section is responsible for this, and I was right. File that for your future reference. You have to walk through metal detectors to get back there (keeps out the walkers and the artificial hips) and this smooth-faced young seasonal-crew says "what can I help you with?"

      And I say (very friendly because I am here to help YOU, good citizen worker/valueless kids of today with no sense of time and place), "You know this album that's playing" (point at the ceiling. really wish I hadn't done that.) and I name it, because I am so hip I can sing along, "The Capeman?"

      He says, presenting the product close at hand next to the register, "Actually, it's this new album," (which I now discover writing this, is not so new, but would make a lovely gift for a Paul Simon fan).

      "So it's not the whole album? Because I was going to recommend that it isn't exactly appropriate to play in a store." I said that. I really truly did. But not bitchy -- notice my use of modifiers and the word 'recommendation.'

      [I picture here Fox-25's Mike Beaudet in a stand-up: "What caused this riot at a local booksellers?"]

      Salesman says, with a sort of a laugh...I guess... "Oh no, it's just this." (yes, only the words I won't spell out on my blog because I don't want to match the kind of people who search for them...)

      He's right - Adios Hermanos is the last track of the 2nd CD, but the album gets no "explicit lyrics" sticker. You'll want to keep this in mind when you have your stereo on shuffle during dinner with the in-laws, or the neighborhood watch meeting.

      I have done my duty. I can now turn my attention to dog curbing, spitting, and litter, to keep this world a safer place.

      Friday, December 5, 2008

      Finding a cohort

      Welcome to December.

      Some thoughts on National Blog Post Membership, which is self-imposed, and really... who cares, but I find now that the pressure is on to remove the banner, I don't really want to. But I can't rightfully display it anymore -- here it is Dec 5 and I haven't written a thing. or paid my condo fee. But get off my back, would you?

      I was member # 10690 of, and to my knowledge received no additional traffic as a result. I was recently tempted by Diesel to join his Blogarella network - Blogarella, daughter of Humorblogs (with thigh-high boots) but I couldn't follow through for a couple of reasons.

      First, Blogarella advertises "The best blogs in the known universe," which, even if taken poetically, was intimidating. I never felt like I could join Humorblogs since The Drawing in Room is not, strictly speaking, humorous. Perhaps it "amuses."

      But I couldn't bear the pressure of always being humorous (in spite of what my workmates say).

      Secondly, I couldn't commit to a category. And you know how I love to categorize.

      My own profile claims this is a working woman's blog, and it is that more than any other, but it is also a bachelor's blog, a general commentary, a "what's the deal with airline food" observational exploration, a weirdly creepy tribute to Jodie Foster, and the sad reminiscences of a carbon-paper woman in an MP3 world.

      Which brings us back to NaBloPoMo (known by mid-month as Nah, go blow me). This network has its own groups as well, and I thought I could find some skin there I could slip into. So I searched first "working women," etc and came up empty, though there was a group for everything else: needlecrafters, Canadian parents, brides, people named Jennifer. Queer Women of Color. There were 3 members, which goes to show you that you can slice yourself too

      Stick with a sure thing, like Bloggers who love Stale Peeps

      Each time I thought I had found it, the next page had an improvement:
      New England Bloggahs
      Massachusetts Blogs
      Southern Girls Uprooted
      INTJs blogging.
      seriously. really.
      There are only 16 of them, and I wager they don't actually read each other's work.

      I began to find affinity groups for other bloggers I know, and got distracted by just the idea of the task of telling them about it. Then my trapezius started to hurt and I decided to go to bed.

      Don't you wish you had a blog? So you wouldn't have to put up with this from me?