Thursday, May 28, 2015


Headline 1: But, I'd Need A Total Web Site Overhaul
So, I'm chatting with an editor friend online last night, and she tells me the following:
Friend: "Dagmar makes $45/hour for that, but I don't know what she charges for the spanking movies."
Me: "Dagmar edits the kinds of stuff we do? But, what's this other thing? There are actually instructional movies on how to spank your child?"
Friend: "No. They are not instructional movies on how to spank your child."
Me: "Ah."
Friend: "I don't know how much she charges for those services."
Me: "Right. More, I guess."
Friend: "Probably."
Me: "I dunno. Diversification is good, but I'd really need to redo my Web site."
Friend: "Agreed."

Headline #2: Lily Gets Emotional
Lily used to be the reigning Mexican Rat Queen of her tiny village. While she is a very sweet little dog, she has a tough undercurrent and a teardrop tattoo on her face serves as a reminder of her rough days as a street dog. Sometimes, I catch a dreamy look in her eye that tells me she is reliving the days of romping and pouncing and chomping, romping and pouncing and chomping. Of course, to truly connect with her roots she would also need to relive the days of getting beaten and having her hips broken, but I'm pretty sure her memory is merciful and selective because she adores people and she passionately loathes rodents. It is as if Lily is Charles Bronson and a rodent killed her whole family and danced on the prone corpses while forcing Lily to play the harmonica.

Rodents: They make Lily very, very emotional and it has been a very, very emotional day.

"Squeeeee!" wailed the vole that Lily had pinned down with one paw beneath the fence gate. Lord, it was a chubby, pitiful little vole. Covered in flop sweat, spritzing urine about like a lawn sprinkler, it looked a little like John Candy with a silky gray pelt and very poor eyesight. "Squeee!" "Lilllleeeeee!" I hollered, sprinting across the back yard in my bare feet (ouch ouch ouch not toughened up yet ouch). I really did not want to see her kill the vole. "Gnnrrr grnnnnr-roo-roo" Lily moaned, slithering her entire upper body under the fence and trying to secure the vole with an anaconda vice--or perhaps it was a chickenwing camel clutch or a stretch plum? I couldn't tell in the heat of the moment.

I hit the dirt, throwing first a cobra clutch and then a shoulder claw at Lily, accompanied by a series of low, growly "Noooooos," to little avail. "You've seen worse on the Discovery channel," she grunted. "This vole has disrepected you," she pleaded, insinuating even more of her body under the gate. As I tackled her mid-section--which happened to be oozing slinkylike along the dirt--she cast a disgusted glance back at me. The teardrop tattoo on her face glinted in the sun.

To sum up: I saved the vole, and Lily has spent the morning silently rebuking me with her large, brown eyes and looking for weaknesses in the fence to exploit.

Headline: Google Rabbit Holes
I'm a googler, and I'm the first to admit that I am a bit of a "problem googler." First, I'm looking up some research article for work and then, without even realizing it, my fingers are typing in some bizarre combination of search terms. Who knows what it will be? The name of an ex-boyfriend? A supplier of small, colored glass jars--because I have suddenly convinced myself that I need an assortment of small, colored glass jars? An author's name? GWAH! Could be anything. Could be everything. That, of course, is the beauty of the google. Yesterday, for example, I was typing in "digital divide for low-income families" which suddenly turned into "small, colored glass jars" which suddenly turned into "removing scratches from wooden floors" which suddenly turned into "vintage sundresses" which suddenly turned into "The Haphazard Gourmet." You see? Even before I typed in "Haphazard Gourmet" it was all very haphazard. That is the google. Deliciously, seductively haphazard--even when you think you are being very purposeful.

So, here is my Google rabbit hole of yesterday. I typed in the name of this book that I bought at a public library book sale many years ago and reread once each year:
It is a very, very winning book. Written in the early 1960s, the author was kind of the ultimate bon vivant Playboy guy. He had about six wives or something, he loved food and wine of all kinds, and I imagine that he had an impressive hi fi system for the time and possibly one of those love chambers where you push a button, the lights dim, and the leopard-print bed falls out of the wall (y'know, prototype Austin Powers stuff). The book contains a lot of entertaining anecdotes and really good recipes--although his prose demonstrates an alarming penchant for Hormel products or perhaps a Hormel sponsorship of some kind--written in a very breezy voice. Celebrity names fountain about through the book. Here's the beginning of a typical anecdote, "So, as I was rushing onto the plane to Istanbul, Bill Holden pushed past me, his arms loaded with caviar." Jackie Gleason's giant appetites for food and booze are also featured.

So, I typed in "Haphazard Gourmet," and instantly I found out that the author not only had a million wives he had a million children. Three of his daughters--Cupcake, Eddie, and Pleasant--now write a blog. So, I googled around madly checking out their blog, checking them out, and finding out that Pleasant--a belly dancer--was huge in the LA punk world, is a singer, a writer, an actress, and a kind of burlesque tootsie lass, which led me to delve into more google rabbit holes and to ultimately wash up on the shores of Amazon and punk rock blogs.

To sum up: Type the words "digital divide for low-income families" into the google and you will end up at the doorstep of a burlesque tootsie. Guaranteed.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Rosicrucians: Extinct...or ARE they?!

I bet strange things DO happen here, on top of this fine gentleman's head. I mean, there Mr. Eyebrows' disembodied melon is, sailing through time and space, gliding in and out of black holes. It makes sense that strange things are happening...
1) This ad is from a 1943 Popular Mechanics. So: The Rosicrucians: Extinct...or ARE they?

2) RIGHT! NOT extinct. And, I need you to go visit San Jose and scope them out for me because they have an intriguing Egyptian Museum and Planetarium, a boss-looking Research Library in an Egyptian-looking building, and a Council of Solace (which must have distress-fighting superheros).

3) I'd check it out for ya, but I don't want my head to turn out like Mr. Eyebrows. Not that it would. Just sayin'.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I Been Thinkin' (and that's always dangerous)

1) I was drinking this stuff called "Vitamin Water" today. I'm pretty sure it's nicely packaged and hyped Kool-Aid, but let's draw a gentle veil over that part. It's supposed to have "Dragonfruit" in it. HUH. Immediately, I was suspicious. Ain't no such thing. Ever had a "dragonfruit jelly" and peanut butter sandwich? How about dragonfruit pie? Dragonfruit leather? Yes, well. I was wrong. There is such a thing as dragonfruit ( It's unclear whether it also breathes fire, kills knights, and flies through the sky. Perhaps I should add that to the wikipedia article in case it might be true.

2) I have decided that elderly people are never deaf. They fake deafness because they are old, they get bored with conversations easily and want to change the topic quickly, and they are damnably sick and tired of listening to other people. They've spent 80 years listening, and now it's their frickin' turn to talk. So, you get:

You: "Lovely day, isn't it?"
Nice Elderly Person: "My elbow hurts."
You: "Oh, sorry to hear about that. What happened to it?"
Nice Elderly Person: "John McCain? Now that you bring him up, I want to tell you that he reminds me of my Uncle Timmy. Uncle Timmy was a forest ranger and he blazed some mighty trails across our national parks."
You: "WOW! That's really interesting, what parks did he work in?"
Nice Elderly Person: "I have a chillblain."
You: (In soft little voice): "He worked in Chillblain National Park?"
Nice Elderly Person: "What the heck are you talking about? There's no Chillblain National Park!"

See what I mean? I tell you this as a warning. Do NOT mutter around elderly people who are "deaf."

3) I been readin'. I been readin' a whole lot of stuff for work. In fact, I used a whole ream of paper printing stuff out in a day. This might be a record for me. Then, I was too tired to go out and buy more paper and started looking disconsolately about for something else I could use. Finding: There is really nothing that can substitute for paper. Even if it is "paper-ish," such as toilet paper or paper towels. Nothin' doin'. Anyway, to be edu-ma-cat-tion-al, here are some excerpts and titles of some of the articles in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's journal, "Amber Waves." Enjoy.

a. "Today's hog sector bears little resemblance to the one that existed 15 years ago."
Ed. Note: Why? Did it grow a beard?

b. "Traditional Food Retailers Bite Back with Differentiation Strategies"
Ed. Note: The person who wrote this has been waiting a lifetime to use that line.

c. "Five of the top 10 mango-producing countries are ineligible to export to the United States."
Ed. Note: Forget the mangos, jack, I want me some dragon fruit!

d. "Why Has Japan's Orange Market Declined?"
Ed. Note: I dunno. What did you ask it to do?

e. "Whey, Once a Marginal Byproduct, Comes Into Its Own"
Ed. Note: FINALLY! May each and every Marginal Byproduct be warmed by the sun of popular acclaim.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Extinct Occupation...Or IS it?

This week, I read the following paragraph in my book: "The Avenant Building is on Olive near Sixth and has a black-and-white rubber sidewalk out in front. The elevator girls wear gray silk Russian blouses and the kind of flop-over berets artists used to wear to keep the paint out of their hair. The Doreme Cosmetic Company..." Well, never mind about the Doreme Cosmetic Company.

The point is: Elevator girls! Elevator boys! Elevator men and women! My immediate gut reaction: Operating an elevator is no longer a lucrative career and is, in fact, an Extinct Occupation! Here is the smiley and pleasant looking Johada Estrada, member of Local 14 (photo courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library). She must have been the last of her kind, right? So long, Johada, so long...WAIT JUST A HOT, COTTON-PICKIN' MINUTE!!!

Bobby Oak is a Cuckoo Clock!

There's this older man who, for the last couple of years has driven by me and warned me of various things. Constantly. He is the Warning Older Man of Doom. Examples:

1) I am walking Lily along the street. I hear a car slow beside me. It is the older man, and he says "You HAVE to be CAREFUL on THIS road." I nod solemnly, smile appreciatively, he drives away, I keep walking. This has happened 12 times.
2) I am walking Lily in the woods near the farm. We meet the older man driving along the road that winds through the farm. He rolls down his window and says "You HAVE to be CAREFUL in THESE woods. I come here to watch the coyotes." I nod solemnly, smile appreciatively, he drives away, I keep walking...rapidly. This has happened twice. When I ask the farmer about the coyotes, he says, "What coyotes?"
3) I am shoveling snow. I hear a car slow beside me. It is the older man, and he says "You HAVE to be CAREFUL shoveling snow. People DIE from that." I nod solemnly, smile appreciatively, he drives away. I keep shoveling snow. This has happened once.

Frankly, he spooks me a little but I've gotten used to our little warning/nodding routine over time.

Anyway, last week, I was walking Lily and my mind was full of this report I was writing. I'd been up since 3:00 a.m. and I was composing stuff in my head as I walked (it wasn't good stuff, I was having a hard time writing the report). I heard a car slow beside me. It was the older man and for the 13th time he said, "You HAVE to be CAREFUL on THIS road," and this time he parked his car in the middle of the road and waited for an answer.

My head was full of the report. I rallied. "Yes!" I cried, "Everybody drives very fast on this road!" And that's about all I had to say. Except he wasn't done. "Everybody except ME," he replied. And, he waited for my answer. Parked in the middle of the road that everybody drives very fast on (except him). Waiting.

Quickly, I struggled for something else to say...something complimentary. "Good for you!" "Thank you for that!" "I sure do appreciate that!" and "Bless your heart!" (for some reason) all flitted through my mind along with the first few lines of the report that I'd been trying to work through.

So, let's recap the convo and see what actually came out of my mouth.

Warning Older Man of Doom: "You HAVE to be CAREFUL on THIS road."
Me: "Yes! Everybody drives very fast on this road!"
Warning Older Man of Doom: "Everybody except ME."
Me: "That's because we love you!"

Yes: Which makes no sense no matter how you dice it. Full-on disconnect between brain and tongue. The older man just nodded knowingly and drove off. I really wish he had stayed parked there in the middle of the road for just a couple more super-dangerous seconds so I could have had a chance to edit my blurt-out. Instead, he peeled off and I was left muttering, "That is to say...I mean, I mean, I mean..."

I was very embarrassed. My tongue gets tied like that every once in awhile when I'm thinking deeply about something else. I tried to think of a couple of silver linings like, "Maybe he's deaf!" and "Maybe he didn't hear me!" and "Oh, good. Now he won't warn me about stuff, he'll warn people about me--the girl with strange syntax who has declared her love for him!"

Once again, my elderly neighbor next door has solved the problem for me, however. I was talking to him this weekend. I found myself blurting out, "Who the heck is that guy in the big white vehicle who I see on the road all the time? He keeps warning me about stuff. What's that all about?"

He looked up at me, nodded slowly, and said: "That's Bobby Oak. Bobby Oak is a cuckoo clock.*"

I peppered him with follow-up questions, "How? How is Bobby Oak a cuckoo clock! C'mon! Tell me!" But, all he would do is say that Bobby Oak is a cuckoo clock.

So, all is cool. Bobby Oak is a cuckoo clock. This cancels out the embarrassment of my blurt-out moment. And, for the record, my neighbor categorizes people in the following way: a son of a bitch (male), a sketch (male), a hot shit (male), a hot ticket (female). "Cuckoo clock" was a new one and it's not good. You don't want to be called a cuckoo clock by my elderly neighbor. He is not a demonstrative man, but he made a slightly disapproving squinchy face when he said it. Not good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Welcome to May 2015!

Welcome to May 2015! Sure, May is known for Maypoles and such. But, let me help orient you to several other key highlights of this super-spectacular month:

1) Hooray! May is National Brain Tumor Awareness Month. By the laws and traditions of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, this means that it is time to take a brain tumor out to lunch, buy it flowers, and/or send it candy. It is not appropriate to express awareness by giving gold or diamond jewelry to a brain tumor. That's "fawning"--not "awareness."

2) May 12 is International Nurses Day. Do NOT celebrate nurses within the U.S. on this day. Furthermore, if a U.S. nurse attempts to give you soup or medication on this day, demand to see an International Nurse. (Sometimes U.S. nurses pretend to be International Nurses by adopting fake accents--do not let them fool you.)

3) May 15 marks the beginning of Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month. Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month extends through June 15. WHA? First: Why is Tourette Syndrome encroaching upon Brain Tumor's turf? There's going to be a rumble between the Tourette and Tumor gangs! Second: How can I be aware of both things from May 15-May 31? I can only be aware of one health-related thing at a time. Third: Why must Tourette Syndrome get the butt end of the month? Okay, this is all too troubling. I have to move on.

4) May is National Moving Month, in recognition of "the official start of the household goods industry's peak moving season." In celebration, I suggest you pick up an object, any object, in front of you and move it five inches. If you like, you can just spin your cursor around in little circles. That counts. Enjoy the small, yet vital role you are playing in celebrating the household goods industry's peak moving season.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Extinct Product?

Mary and Peggy here are not advertising nylon stockings, lipstick, deodorant, powder, menthol cigarettes, hair curlers, "foundation garments," mouthwash, toothpaste, "skin food" (aka cold cream aka moisturizer), shoes, or lunchmeat. Mary and Peggy are advertising CARBON PAPER.
When I first found this ad in one of my Popular Mechanics, it almost made me weep. I mean: Carbon paper?! "Plenty," I said to myself I said, "THERE'S a dinosaur product if ever there was one. It's GOT to be extinct!" Suddenly, for the first time in a very long time, I wanted carbon paper. I wanted carbon paper deeply and acutely. Maybe I wanted it even more because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to buy any? Well, I was wrong. Carbon paper is still being manufactured--albeit in a small way--and on store shelves. Here is more than you want and need to know:
1) One lil' company in Canada still manufactures carbon paper.
3) A couple of small companies in the U.S. make carbon paper, but "Swintec" is the only one I can find info about (they sell it to prisons in 44 states).

Who USES carbon paper? Apparently cops, prisoners, artists, carbon paper fanciers, tattoo artists, and "Tree Guy" on the Staples website, who says: "Carbon paper is an anachronism to many, but I still use it to make copies of my proposals that I provide clients when meeting with them about tree work. One piece of carbon paper will last me for as many as 40-50 proposals! Pretty good, when one piece only costs 15 cents!" I agree, "Tree Guy"! That's pretty good.

Who ELSE uses carbon paper? Yep: Me. I'm a-gonna go out to Staples and buy me a fat old ream of it tomorrow. Then I'm going to smell it (yeah--I don't know why I want to smell it, either, but I do--it must have some smell that I've forgotten...I imagine I'll end up with a black nose). Then I'll find some use for it. There might be some carbon paper experimentation on the horizon. If you need a piece, just let me know. I'll be glad to sell you a piece for a buck (overhead...cost of living...finder's fee...).

Can You Hear Me Now?

Sparkle: "I dropped my cell phone in the bathtub today. It did not benefit from this treatment."
Friend: "As a technology professional, I can give you the following advice: Don't do that."

How To Write Telegrams Properly by Nelson E. Ross

Dagmar and Drew Draft A Telegram On Their Modern Word-Making Machine
Nelson E. Ross: "Naturally, there is a right way and a wrong way of wording telegrams."


Nelson E. Ross: "The right way is economical, the wrong way, wasteful."

Sure, okay!

Nelson E. Ross: "If the telegram is packed full of unnecessary words--words which might be omitted without impairing the sense of the message--the sender has been guilty of economic waste."

Schmeh. You just wasted 12 words in an attempt to clarify the term "unnecessary words." You, sir, YOU cannot teach me how to write a telegram. TRANSMISSION ENDED

Monday, May 4, 2015

Maybe Don't Try This At Home...ME? Build a 5-Room Concrete Block HOUSE?!

ME? I could build this 5-room concrete block house (complete for less than $3650) MYSELF??? Oh, man. I so very much doubt it. Popular Mechanics gets me every time...It's their clever use of exclamation points: "Beat the High Cost of Home Owning! No Experience Needed! Follow Book and Plans! Save Thousands of Dollars!" The Exclamation Points Make Me Feel Invincible! It's like the biggest bestest pep talk for someone who has trouble performing basic measurement tasks! They think I could actually Follow Book and Plans! (Note: This house is an excellent weapon in the war against termites...)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Don't Fear the Reaper...Fear Angry Snowplow Guy!

Pocket Nuts and Friday Suppers

My friend was having a lousy day. Work bad. Coworkers worse. Weather foul. Outlook bleak. Winter looming. Lowdown sketchiness…lowdown dirty sketchiness on ice. Finks! Finks abounding everywhere! I said, “So did anything good happen today?” And he said, “Yeah. I found a pocket nut.” “A pocket nut?” “Yeah. This morning I ate my little bag of trail mix. And, that was the good thing for the morning. Then, this afternoon, I reached up for some reason, brushed my pocket, and I found a cashew that had fallen in there. Bonus. Pocket nut. It made my afternoon.”

Ah. The pocket nuts of life—who can do without ‘em?

Whether you’re having a lousy day or a great day, I hope you find some pocket nuts of various sorts along the way. Me? I started writing and editing stuff at 5:00 this morning. I’m in bed, I have a giant mug of coffee milk (I can mainline more coffee throughout the day if I pace myself and have a lot of milk in it), I have eaten my Thomas’sTM English muffin with peanut butter and sliced apple, and I’m doing grown-up work in pyjamas that are scandalously close to those a toddler wears. They are the best pyjamas ever—the pocket nut of nightwear. They’re leopard print, they’re all plushy, and they have giant, capacious pockets.

Let me say that again because it felt great. Caaaaaa-paaaaa-ciousssssss pockets. In women’s clothing, such pockets are as rare as minty fresh breath in a dive bar. Designers give us itty-bitty “patch pockets” or lame fake pockets. Where am I supposed to put my change, notes, small plastic dinosaurs, pens, and bonus cashews? Some of the best pockets I’ve found in women’s clothing have been in skirts and dresses from the 1940s and 1950s. They built in remarkably deep pockets on the seams—very canny, that. I don’t know why the state of the art of pockets was so much better then, but it probably has something to do with Rosie the Riveter and World War II—a brave, new era in which women beat their cupcake tins into swords and carried sprocket wrenches and enigma machines around in their pockets. Try doin’ that today. Huh!

There is nothing in my pockets right now. But, as I sit here working, my mind is roaming around a little and finding small pocket nuts of memories. We always used to go grocery shopping on Fridays when I was little. We went to the “Super Duper” which does not exist anymore and was perched next to the S&H Green Stamp store (also extinct). Sometimes, we were pretty poor—this soy extender stuff that came in a milk carton was a special guest star in hamburger and instead of milk in a carton we’d have dried milk in a box with water added to it. You immediately knew that you weren’t really eating hamburger or drinking milk in the truest sense. Unlike today’s evolved veggie burgers, soy extender had a salty, cardboardy, flat brown taste. Powdered milk tasted like a cow might have brushed past it on the way to go to the bathroom and it was just never cold enough somehow. Still, Friday was family pocket nut night.

Friday supper used to be “grinders”—sandwiches made at the Super Duper. I was sitting here and thinking about them—I can see them in the case. I can’t quite remember what was on the shelf above them, but it might have been cheese dip sold in glasses (cheese with pineapple, cheese with pimento). My sister used to wander off into the freezer section and snort the “cold smell” in the freezers (she was unwittingly getting high off something back then, wasn’t she—what…Freon?), but I was the designated grinder picker and I took my duties seriously. Just a quick snort of the freezers to keep my sister company, and then I was the go-to gal to pick out the best ones for us.

A powerful, fresh bread yeasty smell rose up through the plastic wrap, and while I hope I didn’t stand there systematically sniffing all of the grinders, I have a very vivid memory of the feeling of my nose pushing up against the plastic so I probably did. What can I say? The grinders had to smell right for me to pick 'em. Inside the long roll, the pickle slices, the green pepper strips, the rings of onion, and the pink winter tomato all kind of wilted together and smushed into the cheese and the bread and the meat and the mayo. It sounds bad, but it tasted great. So, there’s my sister—roaming around snorting the grills of the freezer cases—and me looking at the sandwiches. My grandmother and mother are rolling around with the cart scratching items off the list, and on the other side of the story two ladies at the bakery counter are bustling around slamming trays and sassing customers and getting ready to ask us about school and give us free “bismarks” (cream-filled pastries with powdered sugar on the outside). They smelled like cinnamon and cigarettes, and they were very nice to us.

That's my pocket nut of a memory for today.