Monday, April 30, 2007

Be Obscene, Baby, and Not Heard

Fashion matters. Oh, yes, it does. Because it can tell us interesting and often disturbing things about our culture and society.

Take, for instance, the rise of something I like to call Porno Chic. How can you tell if you’re buying into the trend? Parents, take a look at your young daughters. Do you see:

A. Hoo-ha grazing shorty skirts?
B. Belly revealing tube tops?
C. Sucky-sealed blue jeans slung way down low to six-shooter level?

Next, have you yourself become convinced that a new pair of D-cup tits is exactly what your young miss needs to boost her self esteem for her Sweet 16th?

Answer yes to any or all of those questions and you’ve become pornofied, my friend. Corralled out of guilt or ignorance or just downright pure and simple laziness into molding your daughters into commodities for consumption and your sons into their tongue-lolling consumers.

You don’t think that’s happening?

Hmmm. Consider über porn queen Jenna Jameson. This is a woman whose self esteem is so smashed to bits she has dedicated her life to allowing the penetration of every orifice of her body by all manner of objects animate and inanimate. For public viewing. In a recent US Weekly interview Jameson asserted that her recent weight loss to near skeletal levels isn't due to an eating disorder because, you know, like, as a role model for young women she's all about promoting a healthy body image. The interviewer didn’t bat an eyelash. Which leads me to believe that it’s not just Jameson’s self esteem that’s smashed. There, right there, on the floor. Somewhere among those million little pieces are our values, people.

Parents, please. Don’t buy into the trend. Tell your sons and daughters that porn is really all about consumption, and not really at all about sex. That, like McDonald’s, it’s big, big business, elevated to a level of 50 Billion Sold simply because it works as a quick, greasy fix when both money and time is tight. For adults. Not for growing minds and bodies.

Because if you don't help nip this trashy trend in the bud, I can tell you it will not bode well for any of us. Already the ready-to-wear industry seems poised to divide itself into two warring camps: the Kinder-Whore chic of Wet Seal and Charlotte Russe on the one side, and its dumpified, red-headed stepchild backlash on the other:


Sunday, April 29, 2007

A New Bite the Apple Feature

Just what you want on a Sunday, I'm sure: a directive. But, I gotta make a few birthday phone calls (it seems almost every member of my family has a birthday that falls somewhere between mid April and mid May), then run the Ivan, then get ready for a fun-filled day with my father and niece. I'm bloggin' lazy this weekend . . .

So I'm introducing a new blog feature I call:


In a sentence. A paragraph. A short-short story. A poem. A haiku. I don't care. Just use it. Then post it in the comments section to prove to me and others just how nimble a manipulator of the English language you are.

Ready? Okay.

The word for today is:

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sugar Rush

I have such wonderful friends. I really, really do. They take time out in the middle of the week from their busy schedules to drop by mi casa for cake and chit chat. They bring wine. And Doritos and queso. And they eat my cupcakes and say nice things about them and tell me that, au contraire, and despite the fact that I have been eating cupcakes and frosting all week, my ass is oh so NOT the size of a dump truck. Little liars. But I'll take 'em. Wish the others had been there as well, but I DO live rather far out.

This is COWW girl Doris Rose contemplating the utter deliciousness of my cupcakes:

The COWW girls also brought gifts.

Like this Moon Magnet that COWW girl E! made all by herself. She is so ultra crafty. I am so glad. Because I am not. But I can be a professional appreciator. I can't quite get a good photo of this one, but trust me, it's really, really gorgeous.

COWW girl Doris Rose brought me some delightful, cheery mums. I love mums. All flowers in the daisy family, really. They're just so optimistic. Oh, and all her back copies of Entertainment Weekly so that I would have plenty of crap reading for the weekend.

COWW girl Wicked Thistle brought me blingy beads to hang on my Black Jesus and this:

We all agreed that this is definitely a . . . birka veil? 'Cause, Lord honey, if you're going to take the matrimonial plunge, just cover up that face and pray it all goes well. I made everyone put the birka veil on. COWW girl E!'s expression was the least resigned. I think she looks very lovely and wistful in this photo, as if she's thinking of the man of her dreams and how he may be dreamy now but just wait a few months after he takes over one of the bathrooms.

All in all, a good time was had by all. Or, as COWW girl Wicked Thistle, smart ass that she is, would say:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Come On Party People, Put Your Hands in the Air

Today it’s my birthday. To help me celebrate, a few of my COWW girl friends (remind me to tell you about them sometime) are dropping by this afternoon to help me ingest a mess (mess being the operative word, here) of cupcakes I made last night. I’m sure there will be wine. And also cheese; there always has to be cheese. But mostly, the afternoon will be about the cupcakes.


A. I love to bake.

B. I am compelled to prove, if to no one but myself, that contrary to certain output, mini chocolate cakes baked at 7,500 feet in the chihuahuan desert can actually be moist and scrumptious. And if they aren’t, I expect my COWWgirls to be true friends and lie to me. Because it’s my birthday.

Unfortunately, S.B. is missing in action. He’s on a job site doing all sorts of Important Things to ensure the Free World As We Know It will be able to wake up tomorrow morning and run their hairdryers. I swear, I'm impressed all over again whenever I stop to think just how imperative he is to the well-run machine that is the Greater Scheme of Things. But I do suspect that he's thinking of me.

And of just how tres chic I look in his birthday present:

What? I can believe what I want. It's my birthday.

At any rate, this day I plan, once again, to be the girl with the most cake. And some day, you will ache like I ache. Because, like me, you will have insisted on eating the entire gosh darn thing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Tyranny of Tresses

If I ever get rich, you know what I'm going to splurge on? Not a chef, because I like to cook. Certainly not a housekeeper, that would make me bonkers. And most certainly not a personal shopper, because, where would the fun be in that? No, the one thing I would immediately go out and spend some big bucks on is a personal hairdresser.

There are tasks for which I have quite an infinite amount of patience. Perusing the shoe tables at Dillard's weighing the respective merits of peep toe pumps versus sling back kitten heels. Reading Enlightenment philosophers for clues on how to rule the universe. Baking tray after tray of cupcakes. Working with dogs. But I have about 1.5 seconds of patience for anything that has to do with my hair. I am just so not invested in it. Hell, I even begrudge it the time I spend in the shower washing and conditioning.

About three times a year (what do you guys go more like six?) I manage to haul my ass over to my hairdresser, who does the whole tsk-tsk girl thing with me before expertly scrambling for the power dye and shears. Snip snip blow blow spritz spritz, in a few tortuous hours (during which I am at least able to catch up on some crap reading) I am once again possessed of a perfectly coiffed, perfectly colored head of hair. All day long – and much of the next in fact if I don't wash it – I just thrill myself silly with how super duper magazine cover ready my hair looks.

Until I wash it. Doesn't matter if I memorize every single move my stylist makes with his brush and blower I am never able to mimic his mastery. And truth be told, I wouldn't want to if I could, it just takes so much damn time. So what do I do? I spend the next three months pulling everything back into a ponytail and leaving it at that. So by the time I get back to the salon, it's that tsk-tsk shit all over again.

You know the only haircut I ever loved that loved me back? This one:

I should really give up hope that I will ever, ever be able to make long hair work for me and just go back to my roots.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Boy Bling

This is what happens when little boys grow up. Or, rather, little boys who spend their little boyhood pushing around toy tanks and pick ups, growling vroom vroom in their mock-assertive little boy voices, while all around them little girls patiently wonder why the little boys couldn't for once put down the trucks so everyone could go play shopping. Or doctor.

Some of us big girls are still wondering.

That's S.B.'s beloved Dodge Ram pick up truck. Nicknamed, Big Red. In the ten years he's owned it, he's lifted it twice. While I cannot pretend to understand exactly what that means, I think it basically has something to do with attaching and/or welding some kind of doohicky thingamajig to the vehicle's suspension, then outfitting it with some waaaaaay big tires, thereby raising the vehicle off the ground to such an extent that the resulting driving experience is like trying to maneuver a washing machine on training wheels.

Regardless, you should hear the compliments S.B. gets on his truck. Boys, er, men who would otherwise be rendered mute as door knobs at the prospect of having to compliment a woman on her new shoes or haircut suddenly wax near Shakespearean when in the presence of Big Red.

I know for a fact that if S.B. were made King of the Universe tomorrow his first proclamation would be to lift every single vehicle in existence. Not even Hondas or Vespas would escape. As it stands now, the man can't look at an automobile without calculating its maximum tire size or how high he could hoist it up. A couple times over the years he has even suggested we lift my vehicle. Hell, he would have lifted the Corvette if we'd had it long enough. Thankfully, the dogs ate it.

Like a starlet working a Botox addiction, S.B. just keeps working on Big Red. Until he gets it right. Readers, I give you, courtesy an entire business devoted exclusively to just this kind of thing, S.B.'s latest plans for Big Red. He figures it should all be finalized sometime mid summer:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Let's Talk About the Earth, Baby

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a day late. I just couldn't face it yesterday, what with the general air of self-satisfied smugness oozing from all those environmentalists' chemical-free pores.

This is what I got to say:

1. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. So far hominids have been here, what, 3.5 million? Do the math. The difference is akin to the affect a pin prick to your pinkey has on the millions of nerve cells in your entire body. The earth was here long before we were. It will be here long after we are gone. We can blast it all we want, but, like the cockroach and dandelion, it will not die back entirely. Until it is ready. Then, it will simply burn itself out. And if you can stop that, well, you must be God.

2. The earth is not static. It is fluid, flexible, ever changing. Hundreds of thousands of species over the eons have gone extinct with no help from us whatsoever. Well, you say, that was Mother Nature working. But isn't Man part of Mother Nature? Were we not created out of the same evolutionary forces? Who made us the sole blight?

3. So does that mean we have license to party like it's 1999 and crap all over our home? Uh, no.

4. But, tell me, who is to blame for our current polluted, denuded, over-cooked predicament? The BIG CORPORATIONS backed by the UNFEELING REPUBLICANS who blithely refuse to be the pusher man for alternative fuels? Uh, no. If you don't think Al Gore et al are just as beholden to their own economic interests as the republicans are to big oil, then I've got some land in a former Nevada test site I'd like to sell you.

5. So who is responsible for our current predicament? We are – that's you plus me. The little guy who packs a powerful punch, whose demand creates the supply. We want to live in 5,000 square foot Taco Bell mansions in the middle of nowhere instead of moving back to the cities and learning to get along with our brethren. We want to breed with abandon. We want to drive our big cars and travel the globe. We want to purchase stuff.

6. Is this right or is this wrong? To me, it's neither. Because I do not believe it is ethical to legislate lifestyle choices or subjugate individual civil liberties in favor of the greater good.

7. Why? Because I do not believe there is a greater good. Again, we face a problem of definition here. Who gets to decide what that good is? Hundreds of people over the ages have tried, not just to define it, but to also put it into practice. Let's trip lightly through a short list of those busy little bees, shall we?

Louis XIV
Catherine the Great
Pol Pot
Kim Jong-il
George W. Bush

You can put that in your pipe, take it to a public park, and smoke it. Well, uh, okay, so you can't. But you can go clean up your own yard.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

When Bad Art Happens to Good People

My mother loved this painting until the day she died. And, not long after the day she died, I inherited it. Because no one else in the family wanted to be saddled with the thing. I knew, just knew, that even through the near overwhelming fog of his grief, my step dad was nonetheless quite calmly ticking down the days when he could safely call me up and say, "Your mother loved that painting so much and I know she would want you to have it. So, uh, how soon can you bring the truck and come pick it up?"

Believe me, I did not go quietly. I first called everyone in the family to see if they wanted it. No one took me up on the offer. Even my cousin Claudia, who adored my mother beyond belief, warned me when I called to say I was sending her some of mommy's beloved books, "But don't you dare send me that Huey!"

How the painting came to become such a disdained part of my family goes like this:

When I was but an innocent toddler, we lived for a while in one of several rental cabins located on a rambling piece of Northern New Mexico property owned by the writer William Eastlake and his painter wife, Martha. Being artists, they liked to be surrounded by other artists. Their other cabin was rented to an up and coming young painter by the name of Kirk Huey. He and my family naturally struck up an acquaintanceship.

One day, my dad said to my mother, "This guy is really good. I think we should take some of our savings and buy one of his paintings." My mother asked which one. My father replied that they were all equally good. She could pick whatever she liked.

I don't remember much about what happened when my father got home that night, but I knew he was mad at my mother about something. Years later he would tell me, "Of all the great work that kid produced, your mother had to go and pick the one piece of shit in the bunch."

It's a mystery to me as well, why a woman of such usually impeccable taste was drawn to such an obviously tasteless piece of art. I asked her about it once. She got a certain look on her face. You know, like the ones co-dependent mothers get when faced with the fact that their son is a good-for-nothing juvenile delinquent. "Yes, your honor, I know he killed seventy five people with a blow torch, but he was always such a sweet boy growing up."

So Let Embers Be in My Wake (yes, that's what it's called) now hangs in the bedroom. It's the only place in the house with a wall large enough to accommodate its size. I still hate the thing, but somehow it seems to fit in this space. While the rest of our house is bright and light-filled, the bedroom is much more dim, almost cave-like. Perhaps that's why it has slowly evolved into a showcase for all my other not quite so shiny/happy art.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I Heart M.A.C.

Today, I am swimming in the shallow end of my gene pool.

Just look at this color. It's M.A.C.'s Kid Orange and it's so juicy and jaunty that I believe I might have to break my own fashion rule against matchy-matchy, and paint my fingernails as well.

M.A.C. has crazy fun with color. They're like Crayola, only for adults.

Also for adults-only is their pun on shape and form. I giggle every time I uncap a tube of their lipstick.

Go on. You know you want to say it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Freaky Genetics Part Deaux

Blame wickedthistle for this blog. She asked an innocent enough question: tell me some stuff about yourself that I don't know. Obeying her command, I jotted down a couple things and then as I finished, had another ah-hah moment about my family's gene pool.

At the shallow end of the pool: My extravagant, devil-may-care, playboy grandfather. A man who, according to my father, spent money like water on the best of everything, including – get this – pair after pair of handmade Italian shoes. In this photo, taken at Christmas, I'll bet grandpop is thinking that surely, one of his presents must be shoes.

At the deep end of the pool: my nose-to-the-grindstone grandmother who did what she had to do to raise her kids after granddad's death. Shrewd, sensible, she had a keen eye for a good bargain and a lifelong thirst to save her pennies. And she was a peerless housekeeper and cook. I bet she's thinking about all the cooking she has to do today and if it would be more sensible to use the every day china or bring out the good stuff.

Of course, I am more than the sum of these long-gone-to-dust personalities. My mother and father wielded their own weird influences, and then there's stuff that is mine and mine alone. But threads of familial commonality – whether they tug, bind, or strangle – always fascinate me.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sugar Mama

For the past couple days up in the hills, I’ve heard it. That sound. A top note rising above the cacophony of springtime birdsong, asserting itself through plaintive mourning dove coos, crisp chickadee cheeps, and pissy jaybird squawks. The half trill, half buzz that signals the arrival each spring of the micro-mini jet fighter of the bird world, the broad-tailed hummingbird.

I've tried to ignore it. But this morning in the yard, one flew right up to me, hovered mid air in front of my face, fixed its little hummingbird eyes on mine, and chirped what I can only assume is the hummingbird-speak equivalent of, “Where’s my damn breakfast, woman?”

Good Lord, is it mid April already? Time to clean Sam’s Club out of sugar.

And if the broad tails are here, that means the black chinned hummers are sure to follow. For about three months, both will live peaceably in my back yard. They’ll drink my sugar water silly, of course, and occasionally, the females will get a little sassy with each other, but by and large they'll share the feeder and the flowers in perfect harmony.

It all goes to hell in August with the arrival of the Rufous. Glinting like flashes of liquid copper, these hyper aggressive little buggers storm onto the scene looking to push everybody around. Suddenly, my back yard is no longer Snow White's happy little haven for all critters great and small. Suddenly, it's a noisy, perilous war zone in which the world's smallest birds jockey with the ferocity of velociraptors for control over feeder, bush, and lawn. Even the humans aren't safe. I can't count the number of times one of the little fuckers has buzzed my head en route to a dog-fight.

Then, suddenly, they’re gone. Off to their winter homes in Mexico leaving in their wake an exhausted but relieved set of mammals. A month or so later, the broad-tailed and black-chinned head that way as well. Hasta, hummer dudes. Finally, a reprieve from the relentless work of refilling feeders and dodging needle-billed whirligigs.

But I'm putting the cart before the horse here. Hummer season has just begun, and I have to get myself in the kitchen and cook.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I recently received a call from a man who is a devoted fan of my father's art. He remembers this painting from an exhibition many years ago and apparently has kept the memory of it all this time, waiting until he felt he had enough money to buy it. It's called Patsy and the Bridge and it's one of my favorite paintings of my father's. I told the man that I am now Patsy's owner and unfortunately, she's not for sale.

But I understand how he feels.

I also carry images of paintings loved and lost – and some never to be attained at any price. One is an abstract landscape by a local artist/gallery owner that I have been wanting to buy for years. It's expensive. Although, I'm sure if you add up the cost of all the shoes I've purchased over the past twenty years, we'd probably come up with the price of this painting. Still, somehow, I've never been able to plunk down that amount of cash all at once.

The other image is Salvador Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper. I was in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. about fifteen years ago, when I was going down a stairwell to the lower level and there it was. High up on the wall in front of me. A strange place to put it, I thought at first, but looking back, maybe not. It wasn't so much the painting's beauty, nor it's fine craftsmanship, that stopped me in my tracks, although it was certainly both beautiful and finely crafted.

But so is an Eames chair. A Jonathan Adler vase. A Murano glass ashtray. No, the difference between art and craft is that by necessity craft must be both beautiful and functional. But with great art, beauty and functionality are beside the point. Great art enters a realm where craft can never go. It hits you in the gut with its storytelling power, the ability to say something about the human experience in all its forms – sacred and profane, mundane and exalted.

Think about all the great art you've ever seen. Does it make you wonder about who you are? About who we are?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oral Weaponry

Ever since I was a teenager, dentists and oral hygienists have tsk-tsked themselves to near death over the state of my badly malocclused bite and crooked teeth. Finally, last March, sick to death myself of their yapping – and half believing as well their admonishments that if left untreated, said malocclusion and crooked bite would come back to haunt me in the form of gum disease, jaw pain, and possible tooth loss – I took the plunge, emptied the Shoe Fund, and got braces.

The process has been about as joyful as sticking needles in my eyes.

We won't mention the pain. Or that friends and relatives who haven't seen me in a while think I'm anorexic, never mind the fact that I haven't lost a single pound since this process began. What's happening is, the braces cause my lips and the lower facial skin surrounding them to stretch just so over all that metal so that I end up looking not like my former round-cheeked, cheery self but, rather, like Skeletor's cocaine-addled stupormodel cousin, Stanislava.

No, no, no, no, I have to tell people, I am eating. I mean, are you kidding me? Not even the removal of all four of my wisdom teeth at once prevented me from doing that. If I have to crush it with my elbows and snort it through my nostrils, believe me, I'll figure out a way to get it into my stomach.

So, yes, the entire process has sucked some major ass.

Until today. Today I discovered that I can do something that none of y'all unbraced people can do. And that is, make out of my mouth a totally cool, dead on accurate, super stealthy slingshot. See this tiny little rubber band and the way it links the Wilson Appliance along my upper molars with my bottom back teeth?

By day, this works to retard the movement of my front teeth so that my molars shift into position to create the Perfect Bite. By night, when un-attached from the back hook and instead stretched out to its full length and then released, it becomes quite an effective weapon of mass irritation. Like a spit ball, only with more sting. Finally, some fun.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rare Restraint

As a desert rat, born and raised in the Great American Southwest, you would think I'd long for the green growth and riot of color that define less arid, more lush, even tropical climes. Sure, okay. I always enjoy my visits to South Louisiana, Georgia, the Caribbean, the Eiffel section of Germany where my mother's family lives. Where everything is indeed remarkably, impressively green and fulsome and splendid. But it all gets to be a bit much for me eventually.

Eventually, I begin to long for the desert.

Coming from someone like me for whom too much gorgeousness is never enough, it may seem a little odd that I actually prefer the muted browns and greens and grays of the desert landscape. But there's beauty in all this Spartan restraint of growth. Because desert exuberance, when it comes, is such a terrific surprise.

Like this morning, walking the dogs in the hills. Seemingly overnight, once bare ground has been transformed into a colorful carpet of these tiny, delicate flowers I think are called snakeweed.

And then later, going to feed the birds, I noticed these happy little creatures had managed to assert themselves in just the last day or so. No matter Friday's snowstorm and below freezing temps, there they are. Cheery and cheeky at the same time. You go, little tulips. Make my day and yours.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lions and Tigers & Bears, Oh My

You know, I think we're living in one of the most superstitious eras of any since the Dark Ages. Despite all our technology and scientific advancements we simply refuse to take a rational approach to any aspect of our lives. Instead, we want reality veiled. Reason dulled. Logic obfuscated. We want to believe in fairy tales rather than what's right in front of our faces. We don't want to think. We want answers pulled out of magician's hats.

And don't we just love our myths and cherish our hysterias? Don't we just believe the most ding dang gawd awfully stupid shit? My favorite? That the enemy is everywhere, lurking. Even in the eyes of an innocent dog.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Scent and Sensibility

I'm a sucker for certain scents. Flowers, fresh fruit, linen off the clothes line, pine trees after rain, baking bread, sweaty guys. And, naturally, perfume. Anything in the citrus/floral family. On occasion, maybe a well-crafted spicy oriental. But for goodness sake, no patchouli. I'm sorry, but patchouli always makes me think of unwashed hippies trying to get by until their next encounter with running water.

I have had many, many perfumes in my life, starting with my discovery, as a very young girl, of 4711's brisk lemony sting. Lufthansa used to pass out handi-wipes soaked in the stuff on their transatlantic flights. My family made the journey from NYC to Frankfurt every summer for years and I hoarded those packets like a squirrel hoards nuts before winter's first snow. After that, I could count on a bottle tucked in between the marzipan and chocolates sent by my Oma each year at Christmas until her death twelve years ago. Today, I buy my own.

After 4711, there was Jean Nate – even MORE lemony! – and then even MORE of Revlon's classic 1970s drugstore perfumes: Charlie, Enjoli, Jontue – a veritable French whorehouse of scent. Then when I was 16, my boss bought me my first-ever grown up perfume, Ralph Lauren's Lauren. Desperately in love with the man, for one short moment I considered it a token of his similar affections. But, alas. His garden gate swung most decidedly the other way. He was simply helping me develop a sense of fashion. I still have the bottle, though. All I need to do to bring back the memory of those prickly, hot-cheeked years is uncap the bottle and whiff.

My next favorite perfume I also discovered in an airport, in the duty free kiosk at JFK enroute to Europe during my senior year. It was Balenciaga's Michelle, one of the most perfectly gorgeous scents ever and one which, unfortunately, has long been discontinued. I don't know why. None of Balenciaga's perfumes in my opinion even come close. Not even Le Dix, that cunning little homage to - or is it rip off of? - Chanel's No. 5.

After exhausting my last precious bottle of Michelle, I settled into an affable, five year relationship with Chloe. I'm surprised I didn't stick with it, it's so wearable and pretty. But then came the Divorce, and as a newly swinging single, I felt like I needed something more exotic. Something that broad casted "I'm available!", like a big neon sign singed onto my forehead. Only smellier. Enter Givenchy's Amarige. A whopper of a floral, heavily laden with peach, plum, mimosa, and melon, a friend called it, "Sex in a bottle." I quit wearing it after I met S.B.

I've been in a perfume slump ever since, flitting from scent to scent, trying in vain to find something even half as captivating as Michelle or Amarige. I weaned myself off Amarige with another Givenchy, the spicy floral Ysatis and then bounced to the ever-reliable and much-more-my style Eau De Givenchy. L'Eau D'Issey did it for me for a while as well. Then one day, it didn't. I discovered an almost near perfect tuberose scent by makeup artist Sonia Kashuk and wore that for a couple years. Then one day, I spritzed it on and, whoa, it no longer smelled subtle and sweet, just cheap and tarty. At the beginning of the year, I talked a Dillard's sales girl out of a half dozen free samples of Juicy Couture's new perfume. It boasts a watermelon base – pure genius. But on me, not so much.

Right now, I'm holding out hope for Clinique's Happy Heart, a fresh, sunny floral with hints of melon. But in a very un-Juicy-like way.

And the other day, during a visit to the Body Shop, I bought a tub of their new pink grapefruit body butter. Yum. Maybe what I need these days is to smell less exotic and mysterious and more like . . . breakfast.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Snow Day

What does a heavy snow mean to those of us who work at home? Absolutely nothing . . .

Except it usually ends up making us feel lazy and dreary and uninspired. I don't feel like doing any work whatsoever today. What I want to do instead is watch crap television and eat Cheetos. But not the hard, crunchy kind. The soft, puffy kind that bursts so satisfyingly against the roof of the mouth and coats the lips with that delightful orange haze like a chemical stain that takes days to wash off.

Yeah. I'm really craving some Cheetos.

So, eat Cheetos while you work, you may be thinking.

Believe me, I've tried. Can't be done.

Try it. Put a bag of Cheetos next to you at the computer. Take one out and put it in your mouth. Now, look at your fingers. No way you're going to type with that Cheeto residue clinging to them, right? So, you're either going to have to lick your fingers, which only temporarily takes care of the problem because do that a few more times and all you're doing is re-applying said residue, OR you're going to have to use a napkin. Which is not as easy as it sounds because it takes two hands to use a napkin and that means you have to stop typing entirely.

See how unproductive all this is? Pluck Cheeto from bag, shove in mouth, pause from work, wipe hands, and begin the process all over again. You're eating a heck of a lot of Cheetos but you're producing squat.

Today's lesson? It's just not possible to eat Cheetos and work at the same time. Especially if it's snowing outside.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lust for Life

Goodness gracious, but I adore Iggy Pop. He's the king of the punk rockers. He golfs. And you for damn sure won't catch him strutting his bad-ass, eye-linered self down no Zac Posen runway.

Go buy the Stooges's new album NOW.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Father is a Dago. My Mother Was a Kraut. So Sue Me.

We have laws in this country against libel and slander, against using the spoken or written word to make a false statement of fact that impugns a person's reputation or tramples a civil right. And rightly so.

But what about laws against bad taste? Insensitivity? Can we hold people accountable for being big dumb-ass ignoramus bigots?

And if we do, what cultured, educated, sensible tribunal gets to decide for the rest of us what is too insensitive, too distasteful, too bigoted? What kind of line do they draw and just where along it do they place words of hate, bigotry, and bad taste? And as our lexicon shifts and shimmies along with the ripples in culture and class, how often must this esteemed tribunal meet to weigh degree, compare magnitude, reassign blame?

Certainly, words carry weight. They can be as light as a champagne bubble and just as discerning or they can trample combat-booted along pristine carpet, depositing as they go the distasteful dregs of a history, culture, and society gone bad to the bone. But can we legislate against this? Can we assign retribution to insult even if that insult is the most egregious known to man?

I honestly do not know.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Smoke 'em if You Got 'em

Last night 60 Minutes did a feature on Rick Berman, aka Dr. Evil, a Washington lobbyist and lawyer who is known for battling the organizations and agencies that want to whip us all into a life of complete and utter boredom. No ciggies. No booze. No transfats. No – horrors! – fried oysters. No sugar coated breakfast cereals or oooey, gooey creamy treats in lieu of a balanced meal. No sex, drugs or rock and roll. Never mind that we're all adults and should be left alone to make up our own minds about how to treat our own bodies. Oh noooooooo . . . we must all be saved from ourselves. We must all jog for the master race.

Now, there are things I just don't do. I don't do drugs. I don't drink alcohol as if life is one big fat Spring Break. And although I miss it like a long-gone inappropriate lover, I no longer smoke cigarettes (RIP Camel Lights). I run, bike, swim, hike, and try to eat right. I drink lots of H2O. I exfoiliate my pores. But would I suggest that anyone else follow suit? Hey, you wanna treat your body like a garbage dump, that your own biddness and no one should regulate anything unless your decisions impinge on the rights of others. Ergo, I am in favor of rules and regulations against forcing the citizenry at large to bleed from their very veins in order to patch up our recalcitrant rovers. See how that works? You get to do what you want. But you're responsible for the consequences.


In honor of Mr. Berman's No Guts No Glory approach to life, I hereby declare today 100 Percent PC-Free Day. If you got 'em, smoke 'em. Fry 'em up. Drink 'em down. Flip your automatic seatbelt the bird and speed unfettered and over the limit to the nearest 7-11 and pick up a chubby six pack of Diet Coke and some Ding Dongs. Stuff 'em all down your gullet tonight while watching "'mer'can Idol" and then fling boogers at the screen when Sanjaya comes on.

Live hard. Die free. Just don't make me pay for it.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bunny Hop

Our house was built on a two-acre parcel in a rural neighborhood. The majority of this property, therefore, is undeveloped. It is also a sloping piece, which prevents any kind of farming or livestock-keeping activity. In other words, it's awfully pretty and affords us a great deal of privacy, but it is essentially useless.

Still, that didn't stop the original owners from optimistically carving out for themselves at least some small semblance of civilized yard. How they did it, I don't know. Must have been some mighty intrepid landscaper, the guy who was able to amend this soil enough (with jackhammer? dynamite?) to sustain one dwarf apple tree, a half dozen fussy rose bushes, two buddelia, a set of greedy-ass Japanese iris, which despite my best efforts to deliberately kill off still somehow manage to optimistically send out a few blooms each spring, a monster of a lavender bush, one pink pom-pom-puffed flowering almond, and, I'm ashamed to say, a rather large strip of lush green lawn. And lush only because, unlike my actions regarding those silly iris, I do everything in my power to nurture, reseed, fertilize, water, and otherwise keep alive at all costs. If on any given morning from late March to end of May my neighbors emerge from their homes to hear a kind of low, desperate-sounding keening that's half prayer and half cuss-out, that would be me regarding my lawn. What is S.B. doing all the while? He's shaking his head and laughing himself silly. The boy's from South Louisiana. He's had his fill of lawn.

But I do it all for the bunnies. Each day in the late afternoon, early spring to late fall, here they come. From burrows God only knows how far and how wide, little buds of cotton white tails bobbing merrily, noses twitching eagerly, ears perked at the ready to discern the slimmest threat to the task at hand (the dogs have long given up the chase and are instead, fast asleep on their beds in the living room), the bunnies gather on my lawn to eat.

Only my lawn is not mainly a source of nutrition for the merry little critters. Oh no. It's also a hot bed of bunny courtship. If you wait long enough, you'll see it. All of a sudden and with no warning that I can discern, one of the bunnies will position itself in front of another bunny, fling itself up into the air a foot or two, make a 180 degree turn, and land behind the other bunny. The other bunny will then turn around, rear up on its hind legs, and biff the other bunny in the nose with a swift, boxing-like motion of its two front paws. Then the two bunnies will commence to chasing each other furiously around the lawn, pausing only to repeat the whole jumping/spinning/biffing sequence two or three more times.

When I first witnessed this bizarre behavior, I did what I always do when puzzled by something. I Googled it. According to several sites, including, this display is the bunny equivalent of, "Hey babe, what's your sign?" At the end of which, the bunnies supposedly run off together someplace private and commence with, well, you know. Funny bunny business. But I've never seen this happen. What I have seen is that usually, after two or three of these courtship dances, one of the bunnies turns tail and completely ignores the other bunny, choosing instead to ingest the tender green shoots of my lawn. Most likely this is the female bunny. All that courtshipping has simply given her a bunny headache. Then again, I suppose it could also be the male bunny, if it also happens to be bunny football season.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Fashion Masters

I feel for men when it comes to fashion. Women have so many more options in that department. Guys, well, they have suits and khakis with button downs for work, tees and jeans and maybe a polo shirt or two for casual Fridays and the weekends. But unless they're gay or extremely metro-confident, average Joes rarely blaze their trails off the beaten path into the world of alternative pattern, color, and cut.

Except, for some reason, in golf. I'll admit it. I watch golf in part because I love the fashion. Sure, it used to be strictly grins and giggles. After all, where else but on the golf course could one watch this many grown men try to pull off this much pastel polyester? But over the past decade things have changed. Golf clothing manufacturers have really kept up with the times, venturing off into the more sophisticated wicking properties of PowerDry Mesh, Coolmax, and Supplex nylon. Not only that, they've taken up the banner of stylish fit and color with surprising elan.

Conditions at Augusta National are making for a tough Masters this year. Players are plodding along like a parade of elephants with only one or two barely clinging to below par scores. But if the play is clunky, the outfits, at least, are fabulous.

Just look at what the past couple days have wrought:

1. The normally frumpy Phil Mickelson looking almost dashing in a lime green cashmere sweater and crisp navy slacks.

2. Australian hottie Adam Scott kicking it up a few more notches in an argyle Burberry half zip sweater and slim black pants.

3. Shingo Katayma strutting his stuff in a white Nike cowboy hat and flashy, Vegas-style belt buckle. (The Japanese, you gotta love 'em. They take to fashion with the determined aplomb of NYC socialites at a sample sale.)

4. Golf fashion plate extraordinaire, and my hero, Tiger Woods, rocking the ultimate power color, shocking hot pink.

As temps plunged back down into the fifties during today's play, the players outfitted themselves in more restful ensembles. Lots of beige and camel, woodsy greens and chocolate browns. But, here and there, a burst of pumpkin orange, a flash of lipstick red, a hint of aqua green.

Unfortunately, none of this has yet to affect the Masters' long-suffering caddies. While everyone else gets to trot around in oh-so-casual chic, these poor folks are forced into shapeless pairs of over-sized white cotton coveralls, which lend them the disturbingly disheveled air of escapees from a redneck mental institution. How much trouble could it possibly be to outfit them instead in some understated khaki pants and white button downs? After all, if Tiger's silky pink polo isn't a challenge to the National's Dead White Guy ethic, what could it hurt, moving the caddies just a wee bit fashion forward?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Spring Fling Part Deaux

You may not hear from me for a couple days.

1. I have a buttload of work to do.
2. The Masters is on.
3. I'll be busy sending psychic signals to Tiger Woods because,
4. The Masters is on.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Big Love

Several things to know about S.B.

1. He's very, very funny. Really. Yesterday afternoon I found him emptying all the trashcans in the house in preparation for this morning's pick up by our good buddies L. Mora. "I like to think ahead," he said to me. Then he paused and grinned. "I wish I could say that I think ahead like I was playing chess. But I think it's more like I'm playing Tic Tac Toe."

2. He pays attention. After twelve years together, he fully understands that there are two women living inside of me: Martha Stewart (all about the clean) and Sophia Loren (all about the bling). So for Christmas this year I received one of those cone-shaped Dust Devil hand vacs and a very blingy Swiss timepiece that has been known on occasion to distract me terribly from the current task at hand – including driving – if the sun hits it just right. But officer, look at how it sparkles!

3. Which goes along with the fact that S.B. just tickles himself pink looking for the perfect gift for people. A couple weeks ago, he sent a good friend of his who lives in Florida a pair of flip flops with a bottle opener in the sole. And just yesterday, after emptying the trash, he was thumbing through a Sunglasses Hut flier that must have come with the day's mail. "I was going to throw this away but then I saw these," he said, pointing to one of the pages. "They are so you." Now, not once have I ever mentioned to S.B. my secret desire for ridiculously over-sized tortoiseshell D&G sunglasses but somehow, damn, the man just knows. Even when you are sure he doesn't, he knows. The first present he ever gave me was a pair of blue canvas, down-stuffed Carhart coveralls, (you know, the kind Alaskan mechanics wear?), which he excitedly told me were, "Triple insulated and perfect for when you're out plowing snow." Uh, huh. But I think S.B. knew something about me even then. Because I still have those coveralls and they are perfect for plowing snow. And I think they'll go perfectly with a pair of D&G tortoiseshell sunglasses, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I Heart Macintosh

Macintosh was the first computer I ever worked on. About twenty or so years ago, I was employed by a small copy/print company that was the first in the city to purchase the Mac Plus and its desktop publishing system software. Remember that little postage stamp-sized screen? And how 1 MB of Ram was, like, so COOL? Remember how, with PageMaker and all, the heavens parted and we designers cast off our Exacto knives and rubber cement and went joyfully skipping out into the light, our design and copy paste-up duties suddenly melded into ONE?

I quit working in the industry about ten years ago. In fact, I can barely comprehend the leaps and bounds that have been made in desktop publishing (do they even call it that now?) since then, all due to Apple. But, with the exception of a brief period in my life that is best not spoken of, I have continued to own Macs.

Today, I have two – a four year old iMac that does everything I need it to do except order out Chinese for lunch, and a Mac Pro laptop that is perfect except for the fact that it only comes in black and white. I do SO miss that bright Macintosh turquoise . . .

Why do I love Mac so much? Besides its beyond amazing user-friendliness and design cool? Because it's so ding dang reliable. No lie, my Mac has never, ever freaked out on me. Not through its own fault, anyway.

About a month ago, I was updating some software, when, upon restarting my machine, my computer wouldn't boot up. I called the Macintosh help line, gave them $50 over the phone and after an hour going back and forth with some dude who sounded like he was fresh from Kindergarten (Mac may rock, but their troubleshooting service most certainly DOES NOT!), I gave up and called Phill.

Without going into the exact details here of who Phill is and how I know him and all he has done for a living regarding Macintosh, suffice it to say Phill is one of perhaps only a handful of people in the universe who knows everything there is to know about Macintosh, inside out and backwards.

A couple hours later, Phill arrived on the scene like Superman at a robbery – ready to kick ass and take names and get me back up and running so I could spend the rest of my Sunday cruising celebrity gossip sites. I made him some coffee and removed myself to the living room so as to let his genius work in peace.

A half hour later, Phill ambled out of my office, scratching his head and mumbling to himself. Apparently, my computer recognized neither his start up software nor his external drive. Phill stumped? My stomach did a little flip. "But you can, you know, mess around some more and figure it out, right?"

Phill scratched his head and took a long, thoughtful sip of his coffee. "Uh, yeah. Maybe. I've never seen this happen before."

An hour later Phill was still stumped. By this time, I was in full on panic mode and permanently installed just beyond his left shoulder, staring at the blank gray screen of my Mac, silently willing it to scroll through its start up duties and emit that simple little "dong" that means all is right with the world.

"It's so ironic," I said, "All I was doing was updating Norton Utilities."

Phill whipped around and looked at me, "What did you say?" I told him again. You know, to check for viruses and all. S.B. is always doing it on his computer.

"But S.B. has a P.C.," said Phill. "You do not have to worry about viruses with Mac."

Apparently, for some reason known only to God and computer geeks, Norton Utilities really messes with Macs in this way. Repeat: it is a Norton, not a Mac, problem.

Not that I needed to know why. All I needed to know was, Phill knew immediately what to do and within another hour, I was back up and running. Dong.

I feel terrible about what I did. And even more terrible for losing faith in my Mac. After all, these computers were designed so that computer illiterate dorks like me simply had to plug in and plug away, not have a degree in Computer Science just to type a letter. I should trust that everything I need for a hassle free computer existence is already inside my machine. It is beautiful, no matter what the PC people say.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Cousin Bill is So Going to Get us Fired from the Family

Look closely at the child on the left in this photo. See the look of utter distress and sheer panic on her face? That’s me. That look is because the child on the right, my cousin Bill, has just finished repeatedly bashing me over the head with a hair brush. See the expression on his face? Tells you just about all you need to know about cousin Bill, really.

Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic. Bill actually did grow up to be a much nicer person that this picture implies. So nice in fact, that despite us having spent much of our lives 3,000 miles apart from each other, thirty or so years after the dreaded hairbrush incident we did manage to develop a rather amiable friendship. We discovered that we are very much alike, with similar tastes in music, films, food, and weather. We even share the same politics, making us the only two members of our family as far as we know who tip the scales into libertarian/anarchic. Genetics in action are a mighty freaky thing.

But, not everyone in the family has DNA quite in sync with ours. Yesterday one of our aunties sent us yet another pro-Bush email. She’s been doing this for years. Usually, I just hit the delete button and leave it at that. Yesterday, for some reason, I didn’t. An hour or so later, I received a cc from Bill, who had decided to break his silence on this one with a terse but respectful reply to said auntie, elucidating why missives of this sort got on his every last nerve. Bill can take a lot of flack for his odd-man-out stances, so I decided to lend him some support with a reply of my own.

As we all know, the problem with email communication is that it doesn’t allow for nuance, so it’s often easy to both misunderstand and be misunderstood. Not in this case. What I expected in return from my aunt was a polite note stating that obviously we disagree on this particular subject and she would therefore refrain from sending me these types of correspondence in the future. Which is all I really wanted. What I received instead was quite a hot-headed little diatribe, accusing me of “spewing” garbage just like all the other “academic” nincompoops who are ruining this country. Which prompted me to send her back yet another email again respectfully clarifying my position. Which resulted in her telling me she had nothing further to say to me.

You know, I love my auntie. She’s bright and funny and well-meaning and I wish I saw more of her. About all we do is exchange long letters at the holidays and on occasion call each other up. Which is why I kind of wish I’d just kept my mouth shut. Then again, jeezus, she’s the one who’s been invading my in-box for years with this kind of stuff. Years. And the worst kind of overly simplistic, patriotic, rah-rah tripe that makes me blush to think anyone buys into it, much less my charming, smart, witty auntie.

Which brings me back to Bill. Thirty years later, and the dude is still hitting people over the head. Only at this point, some of them unfortunately do deserve it.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Why Blog?

Is this a small, insignificant thing you do? It was suggested to me yesterday, that it is.

Shocked at the strange tone of irritation in which this pronouncement was made, I could only fumble ineffectual words of explanation.

I have since thought a lot about this. I have never believed that any process of learning is small or insignificant. Certainly, we don't have time to do it all, learn it all, see it all. But when it comes to our work, to our vocation or recreation, no task that pushes the boundaries of learning – even of comfort – is insignificant.

The process of discovery is three-stepped. Doesn't matter if we want to paint a house or a Picasso, whistle Dixie or compose a symphony, plumb the depths of the human psyche or a fence line, the pattern is pretty much the same:

1. We figure out what it is we want to do – "I Want"
2. We learn how to do it – "I Can"
3. We test our skill by putting it out there – "I Do"

Just try dodging any of those steps and see what happens. It's like trying to sit on a chair with no legs.

For those who are already writers, blogging is certainly important. It provides another forum for the work, whether that be political commentary, film reviews, or plain old-fashioned essay writing. Blogging also provides writers a valuable forum AWAY from the work, a means to do something totally different, to experiment with form and tone, hell, just to bitch and moan about the whole process, if need be.

But blogging is most significant for those who WANT to write. The centuries are filled with countless writers scribbling away in obscurity, their words never seeing the light of day. Blogging, which is just another form of publishing, allows those words to come out of the dark and into the light. It doesn't matter if the work is any good or not. What matters is writing – the Want and Can – and then inviting friends, family, and ultimately strangers to read what's been written – the Do. Sure, no matter what the task, the Do is the biggest risk. But without it, you're just scribbling away in the dark, unseen, unheard, unlived.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

I No Longer Heart Bill Maher

Let me start first by saying that it is not my intention to discuss politics in this blog. While I am by no means disinterested in the subject – in fact I am deeply political – I have enough savvy friends and family with whom to discuss the issues.

But I just have to say a great big ol' "Shame on You" to Bill Maher. For a supposed libertarian, he sure didn't do Ron Paul any favors on this past Friday's "Real Time." For once, a limited gub'ment candidate who doesn't believe that Washington has any business in either our bedrooms or our pocketbooks is given airtime, and what did Maher do? He pandered to the lowest common denominator of thinker and made Paul look like a bigot.

To make his point about the evils of bloated government, Paul brought up the Civil War, stating point blank that he believes it was wrong. NOT because he didn't feel slavery should end, but because, in fact, the slavery issue was just an obfuscation of Lincoln and Co's real intentions: to once and for all smash State's Rights and consolidate power in a centralized United States government. Hmmm . . . when have we experienced that before? Our leaders telling us one thing so that they can get away with another?

Maher knew that Paul was right. But what did our pithy, libertarian host say in response? "Well I for one am glad the Civil War happened because it ended slavery." Ugh.

And what an ironic comment. One form of servitude ended so that another could begin. We're in the mess we're in today because the Federal government has outgrown its underpants. In fact, it doesn't look so much like a government than a bunch of fat-fisted little thugs run amok in a candy store. Over the past seven years, President Bush and his lackeys have snatched for themselves an unprecedented amount of power, with nary a check and balance in sight. Those democrats who now hold the majority in Congress? Heads. Buried. Sand. Limp-willed little fuckers.

And, hey, Maher? You know that sucking sound you hear? Those are your values going down the drain, along with your tax dollars and civil liberties.