Sunday, June 29, 2008

JIGGLEVISION (20th Anniversary)

Why, it's Jigglevision!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sombrillllllllllllllla Forest!

About a month ago, the Cake posted a photo of a cocktail parasol that captured my imagination. Briefly, it made me think longingly of a colorful, potent cocktail. But then, my thoughts spiraled off in a predictably circuitous fashion to this book I loved when I was a kid-- "Miss Happiness and Miss Flower" by Rumer Godden. The dolls in the book had little cocktail umbrellas for parasols. The first book below is the original cover artwork, which I prefer to the most recent version's cover--somehow the dark blue, shadowy overtones put me in mind of the evil ventriloquist's dummy/midget episode of Dr. Who:

So, I loved the book (in the back it had instructions for making a Japanese doll house with little sliding walls and a garden that I always kind of hoped I'd get smart enough to make--never happened), and the little umbrella made me think of that book, and it also made me think of this calendar I had. I have never cut the pictures out of a calendar once the year is over--NEVER. Except with this one. So, let me use the following conversation to sum up:
Sparkle: "Is there any way to make paper kinda waterproof?"
Friend: "Well, you can use polyurethane."
Sparkle: "Isn't that the stuff that makes you swoon when you use it? Anything less strong?"
Friend: "Well, you could try lacquer."
Sparkle: "Yeah?"
Friend: "You could get lacquer that you spray on."
Sparkle: "OOH!"
Friend: "Why are you asking about this?"
Sparkle: "Oh, just because."
Friend: "Your mysterious little projects make me nervous."
Sparkle: "Ah, well."
Friend: "What are you doing?"
Sparkle: "Nothing in particular, really. Why would it make you nervous?"
Friend: "Remember when I went outside that once and you'd covered my truck with dinosaurs and egyptian figures on magnets?"
Sparkle: "Sure. What about it?"

The thing is. I like to have little projects. Stupid ones, usually. And I usually don't like to talk about them until they're done.

So, to sum up further (which I know does not count as summing up at all): Today, I have a Sombrilla Forest in my front yard. I've got my cocktail parasols (or sombrilllllllllllllas as it says on the package, and I like that so they're sombrillllllllllllas) all spray-lacquered and drying and ready to deploy. I'm not positive how they'll be deployed--possibly in the flowerboxes and maybe as a mobile for a friend. We'll see how much time I have to fool around before I have to get back to work. So. Here's the Sombrilllllllla Forest, and let a smile be your sombrillllllllllla today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

House Porn!

Sparkle: "So, I'm not sure where or when I'll be able to buy a place, but I'm still kinda looking."
Ellen: "I thought it was going to be an island?"
Sparkle: "Yeah, islands are cool. But, they're a bit pricey. I think my whole 'buy an island' idea popped into my head because of that stuff we were doing at work back then. Remember how it was? Buying an island really seemed like a good idea."
Ellen: "Well, it would have been a good idea to be on an island back then."
Sparkle: "Yep."
Ellen: "So, are you looking and stuff?"
Sparkle: "I don't really have the time right now. But, from time to time I do like to sort of, y'know, look around and see what money buys in different places."
Ellen: "Uh-oh."
Sparkle: "What?"
Ellen: "You get those little real estate booklets?"
Sparkle: "May-be."
Ellen: "My husband does that."
Sparkle: "Ooh, really? Does he look online, too? Because there are lots and lots of Web sites, and-"
Ellen: "I know. Believe me, I know."
Sparkle: "Ellen? Does your husband have a little 'house porn' problem like me?"
Ellen (sighs): "Yes. Yes, he does."
Sparkle: "So, he sits in front of the computer, and all of a sudden he's shouting, 'HEY! HONEY! Look what $35,000 will buy us in MISSOURI!"?
Ellen: "Pretty much."
Sparkle: "Well, Ellen, $35,000 WILL buy you quite a lot of house in Missouri!"
Ellen (a little shouty): "I don't WANT to live in Missouri! I keep telling my husband that! WhatamIgonna DO in Missouri?"
Sparkle: "I don't know. It's the "Show Me" state, isn't it?"
Ellen (grunts).
Sparkle: "Well, look. You're always popping kids out. If you don't like Missouri, how cool would it be to get the Knights of Columbus hall in Kansas I saw for sale recently? Lots of space in case you decide to pop out a couple more kids, and you should see the size of the bathrooms. Like, you know--they're facility bathrooms. REALLY big. No waiting in line! Lots of urinals!"
Ellen: "We have girls."
Sparkle: "Built in 1899, the Knights of Columbus Hall costs $25,700 and is mostly structurally sound!"
Ellen: "No."
Sparkle: "Hey! I bet your husband would LOVE this Web site I go to! Why don't I send it to him? It has the Knights of Columbus Hall, and that church in Pennsylvania that the elderly parishioners have been trying to sell for two years--that one's a heartbreaker. People stole some of the--what is it? copper?--but they say the building itself is mostly structurally sound!"
Ellen: "BLARGH!"
Wabash, Indiana, $68,000, "Architectural flourishes abound!" Wow! They abound!
Newcastle, Texas, $93,000, "The bank still contains the marble teller counter and walk-in vault with inner safe and safety deposit boxes. Also contains small living quarters downstairs." (Wow! A vault!)
Salisbury, North Carolina, $19,000 "The Tickle Williams House is located within a National Register Historic District and rehab work can qualify for the state rehabilitation tax credit." ("Tickle Williams"?!)
Brazil, Indiana, $85,000, Neoclassicial commercial building...Parapet stabilization completed 12/2005. Parapet stabilization COMPLETE! (No idea what that means, but it sounds like a good idea.)
Lexington, Missouri, $72,900, "This property is located in Lexington, Missouri, a friendly Missouri River town with a rich history that includes Russell, Majors and Waddell's outfitting of the Santa Fe Trail; the 1852 Steamboat Saluda disaster; and the 1861 Battle of the Hemp Bales" THE 1861 BATTLE OF THE HEMP BALES!Spring Hill, North Carolina, $35,000, "“Nehucky Farm,” "The modest interior includes four fireplaces, wood floors, and several original light fixtures. Although several auxiliary farm buildings are gone, those remaining—a brick silo, two pack houses, a chicken coop and smokehouse—provide a revealing look at lifestyle that is quickly changing..." I would fill the silo with candy! (Okay, maybe not.) And, last but not least:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, $35,000, First German United Evangelical Church with 4 large murals of Jesus, painted by the second Pastor of the church, Reverend W. K. Geese, in the early part of the 20th century! ("Mo-om! The jesuses are watching me again! Make them stop!")
Zoning is R1AH, meaning single family residential, but still can be used as a church.
3,400 sq ft lot, with similarly sized adjoining lots on either side, which might be available from their respective owners. Please contact them directly.
6,000 sq ft total floor space
2,500 sq ft Sanctuary
2,500 sq ft Social Hall with stage
1,000 sq ft sub-basement with kitchen and dumb waiter
Exterior entrances to all 3 levels
2 baths with sink and commode only. No showers or tubs.
19 stained glass windows
6 stained glass ceiling lights
Twenty three oak pews, 12' long
Oak altar
Oak pulpit
Marble baptismal font
36" bronze functional church bell
Boiler was functional through this past winter, now winterized.
All utilities except electricity were shut off this summer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin

George Carlin was my favorite comedian. The first time I heard this routine I was lying in bed late at night, listening to the radio very quietly because I was supposed to be asleep. I thought it was the funniest thing ever--particularly because of the different voices he used when discussing baseball and football.

What a very smart guy and what a very cool guy.

"Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park! Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.

In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs--what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups--"Who's up? Are you up? I'm not up! He's up!"

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...can't see the game, don't know if there is a game going on; mud on the field...can't read the uniforms, can't read the yard markers, the struggle will continue!
In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play. "I can't go out! It's raining out!"

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end--might have extra innings. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Expressions and Signs

Occasionally, I see old photos of myself and I realize that I have had the exact same set of expressions for a very, very, very long time. Let me translate this one for you: (1) Are you putting me on and/or pulling my leg? (2) I am going to make a screwed-up face because I know that someone is taking my picture. (3) I see the man behind the curtain and I am paying attention to him. (4) The emperor wears no clothes. I don't do it on purpose; my face does this on its own. It is a wonder it has not frozen like this. Or, maybe it has frozen like this and my eyes are slewed across my face and my mouth is squinched up and I can't even tell.
Back in November, I did a post about hobos because they fascinate me. What I'm thinking today, 'though, is that hobo signs would be very useful off-road, as well as on-road.
Wouldn't it be great if n'eer do well nogoodniks sported a "Get Out Fast" or "Keep Away" symbol? It would save time, money, agita, social diseases! Or, maybe you go for a job interview and the place seems okay until, out of the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of a "Don't Go This Way" symbol on the wall next to a gigantic conference room. At that point, you still have time to flee when you find out they have daily staff retreats with trust exercises and sharing circles.

What extreme awesomeness would be wrought if a "Hold Your Tongue" symbol flashed in mid-air during some conversations? And, I really like the thought of an "At Crossroads Go This Way" sign popping up when I'm wrestling with life's most gristly and grisly decisions.
My favorite symbol is the "Don't Give Up" sign. I would like to see one on a magazine rack in an endless line at the supermarket. Or, sitting in your car, you look up and one appears on a 2-second green, 10-minute red stop light when traffic is backed up and you have an appointment.

Seriously, I wish I could put this sign in a spot where each person who needs it would see it. One problem--who the heck would know what it meant without this handy hobo sign cheat sheet? Clearly, the sensible thing to do* is to get my sorta niece's tagger boyfriend to make me a stencil with the symbol and the words Don't Give Up. I'm way too old to be a graffiti artist (how much are the fines, does anyone know--can I do time?), but I must say that I'm taken with this thought. Planting seeds of hope. Like Johnny Appleseed, but more like Jeannie Felonspray. That is all. Have a severely awesome day filled with profound awesomeness.**

*Okay. Maybe not clearly sensible.
**I have no idea why I'm talking like this, and I'm sure that it will pass. Hopefully, my written expression won't freeze this way.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Call The Uh-Oh Squad

Uh-Oh #1
Last night, Lily saw a UNICORN in the back yard. Okay. It was not a unicorn. It was a deer. Yet, it might as well have been a UNICORN because she has never seen a deer before. And it was in her back yard. Let me clarify: The UNIDEER was in LILY'S BACK YARD.

Perhaps you will understand when I tell you that Lily became emotional. She has a complex thing that she does when confronted with foreign wildlife. She growls a little, throwing in a bit of barking, and wags her tail enthusiastically. Now, that makes me want to say to her, "Lily? Girl? You're sending mixed messages." Don't you think? But, I leave it to her good judgment.

Usually, she needs to drink quite a bit of water after being emotional. Tank up. Wet her whistle. Then she lies down and takes a nap. If she has recently seen a, for example, UNIDEER, she tends to have flashbacks in which her little legs pump along dream-running, the smell of dream-unideer fills her nostrils, and she lurches her upper body up off the floor mid-snore (Lily snores), looks around wildly, and lets out a half-choked sob. "Well, good morning, sunshine," I say, meeting her startled eyes, "Good girl, Lily." And, she slumps back down on the floor in a "meant to do that" kind of way, heaves a deep sigh, and is off to snore land again.

I am pretty sure Lily's head will blow off her small, silky body if she ever sees an elephant. I'm hoping one won't turn up in the back yard.

Uh-Oh #2
This will shock you, but Sparkle Plenty is not my real name. Yet, I've grown rather fond of it, and I am sometimes tempted to make it permanent. Mostly, I dig the jolly nicknames. "Yo, Sparks!" "Party over at Sparklah's house!" Very pleasing, I must say. Of course, "Sparky" is also a possibility--a bit too much like a plucky little puppy to be much fun as a nickname, but a possibility that must be considered. Here's what's holding me back, in addition to the actual hard work of changing credit cards and bank accounts and god knows what:

1) Won't people expect me to be eternally sparkly? I'm reasonably sparkly on a day to day basis, but it would be a real pain in the tuchus to have people call me on not being sparkly. "Uh, that wasn't such a sparkly thing to say, Sparkle." "Well, you can have plenty of THIS, mister!"
Follow-Up Thought: On the other hand, if I'm having a bad day and someone says "You're not being so sparkly" I could always reply in a gravelly voice: "It's Sparky, doll. I'm an electrician" or "It's Spark, doll, I'm a pyromaniac."
2) My senior citizen aunt: Does she really need to deal with more nonsense in her lifetime? I think not.
Follow-Up Thought: On the other hand, I personally have never created any nonsense for her and, given that she's an outlaw, she might really enjoy it.
3) My sister and my friend M: Would both laugh their asses off. Now, that's not such a bad thing, that's a good thing--I live to make them laugh. But, I imagine they would be "slow adopters" of the new name, if at all. No. I wrong them. First they'd laugh--or, first they'd cry, then they'd laugh...however that works--but then I think they'd adapt.
Follow-Up Thought: Does a follow-up thought count if it's the same as the first thought?
4) My clients. How to explain the new name to my clients, with whom I already occasionally use a business name as an identifier? For a one-person operation, this would mean a significant amount of re-rebranding.
Follow-Up Thought: Given the fact that I come up with names for their businesses and projects, they really shouldn't give a whiz. If I feel like I need to be more professional, I could always call myself "Sparkle Plenty, Inc."
5) The paper towel company--would they sue?
Follow-Up Thought: What the heck kind of a name is "Sparkle" for a paper towel, anyway? Wouldn't "Absorby" be a better name?
6) The Dick Tracy people--would they sue?
Follow-Up Thought: Oh, bring it, Prune Face. Briiiiiiiing iiiiiiiiit.
7) Isn't there a rapper named Sparkle--wouldn't she sue?
Follow-Up Thought: Yes, there is a musical artist named Sparkle who--based upon a YouTube comment--should "bump the haters and keep it moving." I've decided to pop the band Tina Sparkle up in my YouTube video spot, 'though. This is a catchy little song.

Okay. I think I'm safe. I talked myself out of it. But, now I think I'm subtly trying to change the dog's name as a way of getting the name-change thing out of my system. I've noticed that I've been calling her "Yily" from time to time...At least she doesn't have any credit cards to change and the unideer won't give a hoof.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Update and Who?

It is with a clear, featherlight conscience that I tell you that yesterday I walked up the hill and reclaimed the errant bag of poo. Strangely, someone had kind of tucked it into a stone wall. As a decoration to enhance the multi-million dollar housing development known as "Rustic Acres"? As a practical joke? Some kind of Errant Bag of Poo-Worshipping Cult at work? I do not know. I do, however, know that I'm all evened up karma wise. As I walked up toward the poo bag stashing spot, a large plastic bag tucked under my arm to scoop the poop bag, I looked down and noticed that the lettering on the bag had bled blue all over my bugsprayed arm. Yes, I had a navy blue forearm. It was a darker blue than the faded, circa 1940s-looking tattoos you see on the forearms of elderly men. It. Was. Blue. Briefly, I wondered if I could translate this into some lucrative circus sideshow work. This dream later washed away with the aid of soap and a cloth.

So, who's going to be Obama's running mate?
1) Bill Richardson
2) Hillary Clinton
3) John Edwards (????)
4) Howard Dean (???)
5) Christopher Dodd (???)
6) Dal LaMagna...TWEEZERMANtm?! (oh, yes please and hey--REMEMBER SKETCHCAST?!)
7) Martin Sheen (I jest, but he does have president hair and he is a fine actor, so if he has to eat sheep eyeballs at a formal dinner or something I bet he can pretend he likes them)
8) Ed McMahon (possibly looking for low-key work, has proved himself as second banana)

So, who's going to be McCain's running mate?
1) Ron Paul (but, doesn't he say he's still in the race?)
2) Michael Jesus Archangel?
3) Haley Barbour?
4) Newt Gingrich?
5) John Sununu
6) Joseph Lieberman
7) Condi? (I like to say "Condi" like Aunt Bee said "Andy" on the "Andy Griffith Show"--try it, you'll like it)
8) Mitt "You Are No Jed Clampitt" Romney?

Well, that's the extent of my imagination in this area.

May your Wednesday be full of good surprises.

Bonus Question of Day: What is poultry seasoning and does anyone use it in anything?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


So, I'm supposed to be working this morning and/or taking care of vital life-related errand stuff. To blow out all the cobwebs and prepare to focus, I got up bright and early, cleaned up the kitchen, weed-whacked the yard until the battery ran out (okay, maybe the weed whacker isn't perfect, but I STILL like it!), poured myself a nice, big cup of coffee, and sat down at the computer with several documents open, ready to go. I flexed my hands, preparing the muscles of my freakishly small fingers to fly across the keyboard and make me some much-needed moola.

Then I got up, went out on the back deck, stuck a plastic dinosaur on the hummingbird feeder, and started taking photographs of it. As I have noted, I am VERY bad at catching the perfect picture. However, I did get a quick shot of a hummingbird (visible on the left side of the feeder, studiously bent to its task of sipping nectar) with the dinosaur.* It pleased me for no particularly good reason. And, somehow having done that will make it easier to do my work today.

Here are some other photographs I took this morning, with brief explanatory captions hither and yon.

Two of my four front windowboxes. I had a vision of the windowboxes packed with lots and lots of pretty plants and colored glass bottles. As you will see, I haven't quite realized my vision. But, it's a start!
Butterfly slumming in the dirt: It had really pretty blue markings on its wings which I, of course, was unable to capture.
Last week, I was walking Lily back from an exciting walk in which we viewed a smushed frog and a smushed snake in which she did not roll and I saw these baskets sitting outside the farm up the road from me. They were with the recycling stuff and some worn-out equipment. They were out with the trash! My eyes gleamed. "Maybe I'll just take one, I thought," and I ended up taking all eight. As you might imagine, it was tricky to hold on to Lily, the baskets, and Lily's bag of poop.

I feel very guilty to admit that I left the bag of poop hidden behind a tree in front of an extremely multi-million dollar housing development called "Rustic Acres" or something. There used to be a farm there, as well as the one that is still across the street, and I must admit that somewhere not so deep inside I wish a farm was still there. I promised myself that I'd scoot right up the road and reclaim Lily's poop bag. I have yet to do so. I promise I will. I will do it today. I always scoop and never leave it behind. Just this once. In front of the multi-million dollar housing development known as "Rustic Acres."

Uh, yes. Anyway, here are the baskets. I scrubbed them out very well, and yesterday and today I applied Thompson's water seal so I can use them as plant podiums outside and/or whatnot. My particular favorite is the tiger stripey looking one towards the far right. (Look, I KNOW this is boring stuff, it's just either this or write about my work right now and trust me--nooooooobody wants that.)
*When I was working in the yard yesterday, I wrote a tight series of 4 dinosaur-related posts in my head. No, it does not really count that they are merely head-posts and not posted-posts. Yet, I must say that they flowed well and demonstrated a certain pleasing sinew of plot and character.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday is Stuff Day!

Yesterday, I gave Lily a nice bath with the green dog shampoo that smells like mountain meadows and piney forests and put some flea and tick stuff on her that smells like eucalyptus and orange peel. Thereafter, I took every possible opportunity of enthusiastically sniffing her fur and telling her how nice she smelled. Today, I brought her out front with me as I gardened and discovered her rolling around on top of a fully intact yet fully dead mouse. It was inconvenient (and icky, I might add). There has been no further sniffing, although I imagine she smells like dead mice shrouded in eucalyptus and orange peel buried in a mountain meadow outside a piney forest.