Today I stopped by the OOGCP for a latte and a moist piece of banana chocolate chip bread. It is a reasonable indulgence. The bread has a very distinctive flavor, and I have been trying to figure out exactly what the ingredient is that I am tasting. As I was walking and sipping and eating the bread, it came to me: BARN HAY. Yes, the bread actually tasted like barn hay, that hay that is somewhat green and musty and dusty, familiar to anyone raised in or around a barn. And just to answer the inevitable, NO, I am not nor was ever in the habit of actually eating hay, but sometimes when you walk into a barn, that hay smell is so overwhelming that you feel like you are tasting it. I know it doesn’t seem like hay-laced banana chocolate chip bread sounds yummy, but it kinda is. I like weird food anyway, and I like things that remind me of another things, and this took me way way back.

Barns were normal to me growing up in rural Wisconsin. Everyone had a barn, or at least, a shed or outbuilding. So much of the state was still agricultural then, and I went to school with the children of dairy farmers, corn farmers, pig farmers, all that. All those kids were damn used to discipline and hard work, getting up before school while it was still dark to help out with farm chores, unlike me who did jack shit around the house and complained bitterly when even asked to do the dishes. Spoiled baby. I would have been better off made to do stuff.

From the time I was born until I was nine, I lived right next to a dairy farm. The family who lived there were very nice to me and my family; they were an older couple with teen and adult kids. The wife’s spinster sister also lived with them. Alma and Ilma, I could never get those straight. Alma, Ilma, Oprah, Uma. The wife, Alma I think, sewed me a lovely stuffed lambie when I was born, sewed me flannel pj’s for Christmas, flowery dresses for summer. She baked wonderful brownies and apple pies fresh from their orchard, and always sent some over to us. The husband was kind, and would take me around the barn to pet the Guernsey cows and would sometimes even sit me on the back of what seemed to be the tallest dark brown shiny horse, and would take the reins and walk him ever-so-slowly around the property with me smiling as big as a little pony-mad girl could smile. They had lots of pretty fluffy barn cats and kittens to play with and a nice old dog who liked to sit in the cool grass of the front yard, shaded by a huge leafy elm tree.

When winter came, we would bring our little plastic sleds over to the farm to the one barn that had a steep concrete entrance, and slide down the ice until we dumped over into a field. We’d gather up crabapples that had fallen to the ground, half rotted, and whip them at each other, and at passing fast cars if we were very brave and ready to run like hell. The fall I was four, the farmer called our house and asked if I could come over to have my picture taken next to one of his giant pumpkins for the local newspaper. I remember thinking I must be pretty important to be called over, in my little slate blue winter jacket with the very very pointed hood with white furry trim, very important indeed. But this feeling of pride was not evident in the photograph; I think I just looked like, “oh, a pumpkin, wow.” Sorry, Farmer, that I did not show off your produce more enthusiastically. My preschool bad.

This all sounds very sweet and bucolic and warm and safe, doesn’t it? It was, for the most part, but I also learned an very early lesson from our farm neighbors that people are often very different than you might guess, and that there are stories you would rather really not know. The kind farmer and his generous wife were also militaristic Christians; members of the John Birch Society and the Posse Comitatus. Let me give you a little background on the latter organization, based out of Appleton, Wisconsin from http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/orgs/american/adl/paranoia-as-patriotism/posse-comitatus.html:

“The Posse Comitatus is an intermittently active, loosely organized group of "Christian Identity" activists dedicated to survivalism, vigilantism, and anti-government agitation. Following the pseudo-religious tenets of the "Identity" movement, Posse members typically proclaim Jews to be the "synagogue of Satan," blacks and other people of color to be subhuman "mud races," and Northern European whites to be the "Chosen People" of Biblical prophecy. The name of the group translates from Latin to mean "power of the county," and the Posse believes that all governmental power is rooted at the county, not Federal, level.

Because Posse members believe that the Federal government is controlled by "enemies" - often meaning Jews - they resist paying taxes, as well as other duties of law abiding citizenship. Some members of the group have even refused to apply for driver's licenses, because this would imply submission to an "illegitimate, subversive" authority. Elements of the Posse's ideology, most notably its fierce hostility to Federal authority are echoed among today's militias.”

Our neighbors kept giving my mom and dad their hate literature, which of course I found and read, and said WHAT IS THIS???? It was vile, horrible stuff, celebrating the death of Martin Luther King Jr. even. I asked my mother why they had this in our house, and if she thought it was true, and although a rather staunch Republican, she told me she thought it was all pretty crazy, but that she had to be polite and neighborly.

It was impossible for me to reconcile, how such nice people could be so filled with rage and hate and ignorance. What did any of their kindness mean, in the end?

Answer: nothing.

Eventually, they sold the farm and moved Up North where other like-minded lunatics huddled. I moved away to an even-stupider town with even fewer people but more corn and swampland. I still have my lambie, and sometimes I hold it and think about it, a comforting gift given to a little brand-new baby home from the hospital. A little Northern European white baby.

As is standard here, I move from banana bread to Christian survivalists in warp speed.


For all that I rhapsodize here regarding spontaneity and freedom and GO and such, it seems that in reality, I am a PLANNER. I hate being a planner. I don't even like the word "goal," unless it is like the soccer announcer dude who goes "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!' when his team scores. That is cool. No, I don't like organization, planning, detail, set-in-stone sorts of things, no sirree. But I have children, and randomness often does not help them. Children need order and consistency and predictability.

SNORE. Oh, let me whine. Sometimes I tire of being a large grey rock. A rock that manages an appointment calendar from Hell and cannot jet off to Monaco with Snidely Whiplash or some other slimy cad or pack the kids in the Partridge Family bus and go around the country singing for quarters and Big Bite bags of Cheetos.

Being a modern-day mother often seems to be some kind of scary administrative job. Children have schedules now. WHY, WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I think the only things my mom had to keep in mind were: 1. feed and water child; 2. enforce sleep on child; 3. take child once a year to doctor and twice a year to dentist; 4. enforce school on child (which meant just making sure I got on and off the schoolbus). That was it. I was expected to amuse and educate myself otherwise, and not get in trouble. Lucky My Mom.

But, as I need not elaborate on too much because you know what I am saying here, everything is different now. Openness and spontaneity and free time is measured and scheduled along with everything else, including:

-- playdates
-- doctor/dentist/orthodontist/haircuts/therapist/voodoo practitioner
-- lessons (music, sports, drama, art, debate, etiquette, even ETIQUETTE I tell you)
-- playing of sports and music and making of art and drama and such
-- endless endless endless homework
-- outside meals and entertainment
-- before and after school care
-- testing, prep for testing, going over test results, rolling eyes over testing
-- vacations and summer camps

Do I have to play? I guess I think I do. If I didn't do these things, my children would be socially isolated feral children, pasty and grunty, lunging at food items and belching in front of the elderly, and would confuse Florida with Kansas. The natural forum of doing is gone; there is no neighborhood scene, no having kids run around and meet others and learn games and and social skills from that. They need more than the sucking vortex that are video games and TV, they need to see and do other things in the world. And it is me and only me that makes it all happen for them. Sigh. Having to register for summer camp six months in advance BLOWS. Planning out everything makes me feel like my very LIFE FORCE is being pulled from my chest. But if I don't, opportunities pass, nothing is done, time passes by, and there we are.

Privileged and caged at the same time, we all are. I wish I knew a better way. Perhaps a move to a remote hamlet in the Alps would solve my dilemma. We'd all just eat sausage and drink bier and whittle and chat up the goat herder down the path. Provided we didn't have an internet connection, of course.


Fundraising, Modern Style! Go Geoff!

"Do you believe in helping in my bizarre but hopefully entertaining quest to reunite the Kinks - and to capture it on film? Or do you simply want to get your name on the thank you section as the credits of a film scroll down the screen? Here's your chance. We've been filming my quest for almost year. We've filmed Sting, Zooey Deschanel, Brian Wilson, Paul Weller, Robyn Hitchcock, among others. But we need about $5,000 to finish filming and editing in the next few weeks. Anything helps! $2, $5, anything. And for $200, you'll be listed in the credits. Here's a clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mosQ3dp0pUY You can paypal me at: gedgers@mac.com And thanks!"




My survey today of DSW Shoe Warehouse:

1. Too friggin' high
2. Too flat.
3. Not enough arch support.
4. Butt ugly.
5. Why, God, why?
6. Quirky and overly cute.
7. Dull enough for the dead.
8. Looked like a flattened rat.
9. Ho shoes.
10. Would give me a heel blister within an hour.
11. How, really, can anyone walk in those? What if you were being chased by a dog or a Jehovah's Witness?
12. Damn, nice skinny mirrors they have here, though, I look great! -Ish!
13. I need a pedicure.
14. There's a reason most of these are discounted.
15. All the guys are sitting bored on a couch except for the Mexican guy, who is helping his girlfriend pick out the highest ho shoes. This is too much information for me.
16. Why are the staff asking me if I need help? All the stock is sitting right there. They aren't going to pull the box out and put the shoes on my feet. Perhaps they would buy the shoes for me? Bah.
17. Does every shoe have an owner who will love it? Or are there shoes that go unloved and unwanted? Do they go to the Island of Unwanted Footwear?
18. I don't like toe cleavage shoes.
19. I don't think I can get away with wearing slippers outside. Too old. Alzheimer's look for me.
20. I am picky.

Didn't buy anything.


I bleev I have mentioned in the mass of words here that my friend Geoff Edgers of The Boston Globe is making a documentary about, around, over, under, and sideways down about my other pals, The Kinks. It is a worthy and good project, unique in its personal perspective, funny and thoughtful and informative.

The film is finishing up shooting next month, then goes for the final edit in May. But like any substantial project, it needs more than sharp editing and a good story to tell and ace direction, which is has already. It needs $$ and PROMOTION. My three children and tireless cheap jeans shopping soak up most of my available extra cash, but MAN, CAN I PROMOTE. I am the Patron Saintress of Cheering On Those Who Want To Make Good Things Happen, and I can try to help get some buzz going for the film as best I can.

If you, too, like to see a dream or two happen, like good films, like the Kinks, like Geoff and The Boston Globe, like me and what I try to do, like...well, if you like anything at all in the entire world and want to help spread the word about the film, that would be grand. Write about it in your blog, email your rock pals, your movie pals, your grandma who will say OH THAT'S NICE DEAR really loud because she can't hear for shit, join the movie's page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Do-It-Again-One-Mans-Quest-to-Reunite-the-Kinks/60772017075?ref=nf), or comment on the trailer on YouTube after you watch it:

I am Marianne, and I thank you for supporting my support of Geoff's support.


I was listening to a song by the Irish band Snow Patrol today in the car, a band I like very much, and a thought came into my head, and I decided to deliver it here to the internet, because that is what I do. Why are Irish bands so anthemic? I find this commonality in so many of them, this heart-on-the-sleeve, larger-than-life quality. I doubt that Snow Patrol would think of themselves as anthemic and might lob a pint at me for saying so, but hey. I hear it. And there is a place for the grand sweeping shared emotion in rock and roll, certainly.

Look at artists like Van Morrison and Sinead O’Connor. They are not exactly humor-filled rock party people. They are serious and want you to know it. They put everything into each performance, and do not seem to care too much if you like it or not. Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries is similar, except she uses even more vocal hiccups and gyrations in her emoting. If you put the three of them together you would have a hermaphrodite troll with huge brown eyes and scant hair who lives in a pub dumpster and rips up pictures of religious leaders while yodeling. Epic.

The Pogues are so sincere they don’t even bother with teeth. That’s hardcore.

Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats was so very filled with grandness that he started the famous rock n’ roll charity, Live Aid. Which brings us to the most anthemic, most emotional, most massively Irish band ever, U2. I must say, I did not totally see this when they first came out, for two reasons: they seemed sort of normal and happy, and I thought Bono was cute. But it was there. Even in the ringing repeated guitar sound and the near-operatic blast of Bono’s singing, it was there…”two hearrrrrrts, beat as onnnnnnne, two hearrrttsss…” Bono did not care one tiny bit about looking like a prat. He just put everything out on the table. Quickly thereafter, Jesus further entered their scene and U2’s music got even more grand and pleading. I suppose if you are trying to get the attention and favor of God, you should be all damn sincere or, like Santa, God will smite you with coal and send you to Hell with the Welsh and Tom Jones. I believe Bach would agree. But he was not Irish, and does not belong in this essay.

But what is it about the Irish in particular? What makes them more dramatic and sincere? Is it Irish beer? Is it rainier there? Is it the Protestant v. Catholic nonsense? Do the Irish just go around all day emoting and prosthelyzing, hugging and hitting people? I do not know. I have never been there, and although have an Irish background, I may be too snarky to pass Irish muster. That is more of a Brit thing, and let’s not even get into the weirdness of the Scots. Jeez.

Ah! But maybe that is it! The Irish are the anti-British, open versus closed, sincere versus sarcastic, blowsy and grand versus self-effacing and fakely modest. If I had more than 30 minutes to write this, I would just keep going with those, but I don’t. Do continue on your own free time.

Irock people, I salute you today. Good god, you all made it out of Ireland for one, and for two, you make some very interesting and thought-provoking music that is enjoyed by millions all over the world. Keep emoting, you big babies, I love you.

I watched this on my 19th birthday.

U2 -- "I Will Follow" and "Twilight" on The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder


Today I got totally lost in doing a completely crazy cover version of Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks" and didn't get here until LATE IN THE DAY. If you would like to hear it, click on the myspace link OVER TO THE SIDE DOWN THERE. I had more fun doing it than anyone should have, rightfully.

What extra I bring tonight is this lovely young singer, just 17, from Australia of Italian parents. I LOVE this song and her voice, she is just gorgeous, and I hope she totally kicks ASS here in the U.S.

I just love music. I really so do.

Gabriella Cilmi, "Sweet About Me"


Today I saw the new cover of People magazine. Actress Valerie Bertinelli is on the cover, looking great in a bikini (http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20267734,00.html). I applaud her, and relate a bit as well. She is a couple years older than I am, the same height, and definitely a few pounds lighter now. In the last couple of years she has lost 50 lbs., I have lost 60. She did her deal on the Jenny Craig diet and walking, but had to seriously up the exercise and cut another 500 calories from her daily intake for the bikini shoot. I walk/run on the treadmill, do some hand weights, a few squats and lunges and other comedic-looking warm-ups, and drink a lot of coffee. It’s just plain hard work, and harder to do now at midlife for sure. I don’t have any illusions whatsoever about ever wearing a bikini again; frankly, I always looked crappy in them and will leave them contentedly to others. But I have been hovering around the idea of pushing harder on exercise to get the last stubborn pounds off and to tone up some more. I really like the feeling of having a strong healthy body, without completely obsessing on it and becoming a bizarre obnoxious over-focused gym rat. It also gives me a good excuse to BUY MORE CLOTHES.

Bertinelli will probably get as much flack for her People-kini as kudos, because that is the nature of celebrity – no one gets universal praise. Some will say she is too old, too skinny, not skinny enough, whatever. As a photographer, I can see what they did with reflected lighting to smooth out her skin and flatten curves and bumps, and there is little doubt that the picture has been gone over with Photoshop, although I would have to peer at it to figure out what was likely done, and I ain’t doing that. I kind of hope they didn’t do too much, but I understand why they do what they do – the better Valerie looks, the more magazines they sell. It’s business. But the photo also sets up the AW! response from us regular wimmins. What, she has no pores, no sagging skin, no turkey neck, no stretch marks, no cellulite or scars or anything to show that her body is not that of a 19-year-old? It’s sort of disappointing that whatever her reality is, it cannot be shown. But again, I get it, and it does not take away the good thing she has done at all. It is more a comment about what is expected now for anyone on public display. She is a beautiful woman, and was when she was a teenager on “One Day At A Time,” when she was 50 pounds heavier, and now.

I am sure that the Jenny Craig people are peeing their pants in joy as are the publishers of People, and Eddie Van Halen is kicking his own ass. Hard.

The Castaways -- "Liar Liar" from the movie "It's A Bikini World"


I was talking with a friend the other day about dreams. Not sleepy dreams, but hopes, desires, etc. It is her desire, her dream, to someday write something, show something in the commonality and humanity of people's wishes for themselves. A worthy and interesting idea, I thought, and we talked further about how that might play out, how you would take that information and make broader connections from it beyond the plainly personal.

Because I am tangential like a mental Mexican Jumping Bean, I got to thinking about how people are always thinking ahead about to things they want, things they want to accomplish or survive or change. What always comes into the equation of hope is the reality of Settling. Obviously, nobody gets everything they want, and nobody should. I say that not because I necessarily can justify that statement completely. Maybe there is someone who should get absolutely everything they want because they are deserving and not a huge bag of waste products. I say it because I think I should say it, that it is common sense to think that having everything you desire makes you lazy and spoiled, complacent and entitled. Probably. But what if you are some kind of unknown Catholic saint and all you hope for is world peace, blankets for the poor, and a Snickers bar? Hmm? If the saint got everything, would he or she become a jerk? Would that person all of sudden want a fancy and unusually-flavored cheesecake from some precious bakery in Manhattan? Or just maybe want to start a soup kitchen for eyeless orphans? I don't know.

See what I mean about the Mexican Jumping Bean thing?

Settling. Making do. Dealing with what ya got. For whatever reason, those words irritate me somehow. They should not. Settling and dealing is just the way things are; sometimes this is the only option, at least for awhile. I guess I just think that settling, the whole idea of taking less than you wanted, is a soul-sucking way of life, and in so many cases is done way too quickly and for all the wrong reasons. People stop listening to their gut, they go for whatever they think the world expects of them, and they stop looking for their dreams. This is tragic to me, truly tragic. I cannot imagine going through life without at least a few of your dreams becoming reality.

Of course, there is that reality line for everyone. If you are the pallid and jiggly 35-year-old Bruno Basement playing Halo3 and pwning 11-year-olds on the internet all night after work, your idea that you will leave the basement for no less than Heidi Klum because that is your standard, well, get a mini-fridge in the basement, I say. Bruno ain't getting Heidi, but even for him, if he tidied up and was able to have an outdoor conversation that was not completely peppered with warfare terms, he might find a very acceptable woman to hang out with. She may not be a supermodel -- well, ok, she WILL NOT be one -- but she might have the prettiest eyes and a decent butt and would think gaming is way cool and could make killer nachos.

Bruno misses out. Stupid, stupid Bruno.

It is a tough time to think about career and monetary dreams. For now, many people will have to settle, hang in there with what they have until other kinds of opportunities can arise from this economic sinkhole. But it is important to still be thinking about what you would like, and how you want to get there, whether it is more schooling, an entire change of career, maybe even finding a way to drink coffee all day and write words. Heh. I am just so damn passionate about people trying to live up to what they can do, what is in them, the best of what they bring to the planet. Imagine if more people decided that settling was maybe not their bag, and they began to find better fits for themselves in the world. Everything would change. It is quite a powerful thing.

It is a difficult line to walk, between doing what you have to do and doing what you want to do, not to mention the idea of doing what you need to do. Do most people even know themselves well enough to know what they need, and what they can do?

DO NOT SETTLE until you know in your heart you have found the right place. Be honest. Be brave. Go forth and stuff. Keep trying. I will cheerlead for you all the way.


Mr11: I am left brain.

Me: Oh? Did you study about this at school today or something?

Mr11: Yes, and let me tell you why I am left brain.

Me: OK.

Mr11: I am not very emotional, so I am left.

MissSix: Obviously, I am right.

Me: Ha ha ha!

Mr11: And when I make a decision, I stick to it, and it's either one thing or another, not a bunch of things.

Me: No shades of grey, huh?

Mr11: Nope.

MissSix: I have like three or four shades of grey in my art box. Mostly they are pencils. I don't have a left brain.

Me: Yes, you do, everyone does, and everyone uses right and left, but sometimes it is said that your personality seems to favor the attributes of one side or the other. The brain is a very complex thing, and we are still learning so much about it.

Mr11: It's like, when I am in a forest I look at one tree and not the whole thing, but the right brain people see the whole big forest.

Me: So you are a detail guy.

Mr11: Well, not if I have to write something down.

MissSix: I like eels.



Today we had to collect Mr10 from a sleepover, in a town about 20 miles away. Afterwards heading home through the usual fetid architecture, Shell stations, McDonald's, and teriyaki joints, we spotted a bookstore, unfamiliar to us all, and decided to pull over and check it out. I love to veer, to do the spontaneous, go adventuring, and a new bookstore is just nerd paradise for me anyway. It was also a near-certainty they would have a coffee bar too, so that just doubles the fun.

It was a surprisingly large place with a very good selection. I found several art books for MissSix, then wandered over the the music, photography, essay, travel, and writing sections for myself. As usual, as always, I have this dual response: excitement and curiosity over ALL THESE GREAT COOL BOOOOOOOOOKS and sadness that, realistically, there is no way in the world I will ever be able to read anywhere near the books I want to. It actually sort of hurts me. I want to KNOW what everyone is saying, learn stuff, enjoy the way other people put together their thoughts and words. Half the time it seems the best I can do is keep up with my own writing and read a few magazines sitting at the hair salon. Sigh.

So many books. So many. I think I would enjoy doing a book, although I don't know if there is any real point to it. It would just go in the pile of SO MANY BOOKS. But, still, it would be a fun accomplishment. I just like doing stuff.

There was actually a bit of a mall attached to this bookstore, and a Big Band was playing in the tiny small food court to a few tables of people and one white-haired couple dancing the World's Slowest Jitterbug. They were nice and loud, and pretty good, too. It reminded me of my dad. He would have enjoyed it. As it turned out, they were a bunch of Microsoft guys that just liked to get together and play. Heh. Jazz Band nerds all grown up. Well, good for them I say. They are also Doing Stuff.

The veer off the road was a good thing, a new place to go back to, some smiles over music and books, and yes, a good latte for the road.


"Don't let anyone ever take from you, your goodness."

Kim Fowley, Underground Garage, 3/21/09



Today I found out that my flight was altered by a full day, and I will be arriving back from a trip around 9PM on the same night I have tickets to go see the band X, a long-time favorite of mine. You tell me: 3000 mile flight that may or may not be on time, wait for luggage, drive home and put my son to bed, get re-dressed and drive to the club in Seattle, is that gonna happen? It's hard to imagine. Shiiiiiittt. I might as well give the tickets away now.

It's not very easy for me to get to shows and there are so many that I would like to see, and so many I miss. This one hurts particularly. PLUS now I have to fly out of here on my birthday. Watch for a pissy post that day, folks.

Ah, well. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, out of my hands, so that is that. I'll go punch a pillow or a squirrel or something.

A small consolation was being able to watch two live video feeds from SXSW today, one from KEXP and the other sponsored by Little Steven's Underground Garage. I saw PJ Harvey and John Parish do an impressive set. The highlight for me was a new song, which will be released this month, called "Leaving California." PJ sang at the upper reaches of her voice, which is a very brave thing to do live as that can easily collapse, but she did an amazing job. Well, she seems a very bold sort anyway. I also got to see Andrew Bird play, a very unique sound he has, and very good live. The High Dials started a little shaky but got it all together and did a good set, and now I am watching Outrageous Cherry, another cool band from UG. Damn, these dudes all look older than me, sweet! Rock on, bald grey men!

Anyway, thank you so much KEXP and Little Steven for providing this. I could not go to SXSW, but I could enjoy some of the great music live anyway, and that is really nice. Someone out there really appreciates it, and that someone is ME. Still to come tonight: Magic Christian, The Breakers, The Urges, Cocktail Slippers, The Woggles, The Shys, The Chesterfield Kings, and Arc Angels. If I can stay up late enough to see the Chesterfields, I can see Greg Prevost, whom I used to correspond with a zillion years ago about music and Kinks tapes. He's hanging in there, and so will I in my way, as best I can.

The Chesterfield Kings -- "I Don't Understand"


(from The View, Oconomowoc (WI.) Junior High School, Spring 1975)

Yawn. Man, the weather is nice. Today would be a good day to get a suntan. But I guess rocks can't get a tan. Being a rock is very boring. But it does have some good points. I mean like who else gets to lounge on the beach every day? Nobody. If I could only reach the water. It looks so nice and cold and blue. I am broiling. What torture.I'm just a few feet from where it laps up and then falls down. But I can't move!

I heard footsteps. Sigh. Just another family come to have fun at the beach. A little blond-haired boy was collecting stones. All of a sudden, I was picked up. The boy ran over to his mom, who was lying on a beach blanket.

"Mommy, look at all the rocks I found," he cried.

"Well, Jamie, I'm afraid we can't take all of those back to the city," his mom said. "Perhaps you can throw away a few."


He took me and the others right by the sea. Plunk, plunk, plop. Three rocks went in. I was one of them. Down, down, down I went. I landed on a nice soft sandy bottom. To make a long story short, I am having a great time. The two other rocks are Harry and Abbey. We are the best of friends. Man, this is the life.


To: Expensive Blonde Haired, Smartly-Put Together Woman In Black Driving A New Black Mercedes Who Not Only Nearly Ran Over My Teen Son And I In The Crosswalk Today, But Then Looked Super Pissed Off That We Were In The Middle Of The Road Walking To Begin With,And Motioned For Us To Hurry The F Up

From: Me

Yes, Ma'am, that was me who gave you the High Holy Stink Eye with the Continued Head Turn Stare Down. You had the nerve to glare back at me.

If I had not had to provide a good role-model for my child and all, this is what I would have done:

-- stopped dead cold in the crosswalk

-- tied my shoe while yawning

-- motioned for you to roll down your window

-- when you did, I would have said loudly enough for all the other people who saw what you did to hear, HEY BITCH! LATE FOR YOUR BOTOX PARTY?

-- I also would have spit on your car and swore at you.

Don't mess with Mama, creep.


I was so saddened to hear that actress Natasha Richardson died today. She suffered a closed-head injury during a beginner’s ski lesson at a Canadian resort. Initially after falling she was thought to be fine, but later in the day complained of head pain, and rapidly declined.

I particularly feel for victims of head injury. I am a veteran of several concussions, all occurring over a short time span, one from a fall on a ski hill. I was a horribly inexperienced skier, didn’t have the skills to be skiing as fast as I was, swerved to avoid a group of people, and in what must have been quite a spectacular mess, caught one of my own skis to the head, knocking me out stone cold. I remember the ski patrol taking me down the hill in the ambu-toboggan, and asking me all kinds of questions, trying to assess my awareness, short- and long-term memory, before the ambulance got there. It’s so odd that I still remember one of the questions, which was “When was Abraham Lincoln’s assassination?” (April 15, 1865, if you have forgotten).

I am profoundly grateful that none of my accidents were serious, but I am very aware that they could have been, and that I either have the skull of Homer Simpson or just am extremely fortunate. I am also now aware, as there has been so much more research into the effects of concussion and brain injury since then, that all my injuries surely had some effect, likely still affecting me today. It is a strange and sad thought.

I never went skiing again after that fall at age 14. If I somehow ever go again, you can be damn sure that I will be wearing a helmet. Having lived in Colorado for 15 years, I know this for a fact: skiers die every year, plenty of them of all ages and abilities, from head injuries sustained on the slopes, usually from hitting a tree or having another skier run into them. Most very likely would have survived if they had been wearing ski helmets.

Miss Richardson was 45.


Wherever I go, whether it is driving around doing errands or walking down the street or sitting at an airport, there is a part of my periphery that is gathering impressions. It can be the way the light is surrounding a tree, a young boy sitting in a red car playing with his seat belt, how all new babies' cries are unique in tone but the same in what they ask for...these little microbursts of some kind of reality, saved. Sometimes, I take something right away and make something from it here. Sometimes I pull something out of the dusty memory banks to help me best describe something else I want to convey. But most things I suspect are taken in and soon lost, or I lose the ability to access them purposefully.

Every so often, something I have randomly seen sticks with me and persists and nags at me until I stop and think about it some more. This morning I had to take the two little ones to school. It was, as usual, chilly and wet, with the sun just coming up. After I dropped them off, I stopped off at the OOGCP for a latte, tired and probably with that Bedraggled Mom look, inexplicably modified by my MTV t-shirt. I didn't stay; the coffee was not to be sipped, it was to be downed for function. As I got back in the car and headed up the hill towards home in a long line of commuters, I glanced to my right. There was a lone man at the bus stop, standing and staring far into the distance. It was hard to tell how old he was -- maybe early to mid-30s -- with longish messy brown hair, something of a beard, tall,handsome. His clothes were baggy and haphazard, looking like perhaps they had not been washed in awhile,maybe put on day after day from where he put them on the floor, like it didn't matter.

It was the look on his face that struck me, and stuck with me all of today. It wasn't until I was listening to the radio later on, listened to the words of this song, and something went, oh man, that is it. That's what is going on with the man at the bus stop, staring past the cars, past the fire station, past the houses, past the line of fir trees, past the clouds into nothing. Call me crazy, and you can if you want, but my gut tells me in that one or two seconds I saw him as I drove past, I felt it. No, this isn't Psychic Friends Hotline and I am no Miss Cleo. But when you train yourself to see and feel every day, all day, sometimes you hook into someone else's world, even for one second. Go figure.

Radiohead -- "Planet Telex"

You can force it but it will not come
You can taste it but it will not form
You can crush it but it's always here
You can crush it but it's always near
Chasing you home saying
Everything is broken
Everyone is broken

You can force it but it will stay stung
You can crush it as dry as a bone
You can walk it home straight from school
You can kiss it, you can break all the rules
All the rules...
Everything is broken
Everyone is broken

Everyone is, everyone is broken
Everyone is, everything is broken

Why can't you forget?
Why can't you forget?
Why can't you forget?


I think I must have a bit of the luck o’ the Irish; after all, I have a good chunk o’ Irish in my ancestry, I enjoy corned beef, and I find Bono attractive if overly sincere. I have that bit of Leprechaun to me, hopefully not the creepy greedy trollish aspects, but that mischievousness perhaps and the ability to sometimes find opportunity where others may pass it by.

I think when most people think of “luck,” they imagine a winner at the roulette wheel or Powerball, or someone who simply seems to go through life getting all the breaks and perks. Luck, fate, chance, whatever you wish to term it, that something that everyone wishes they had more of, or even any to begin with. There are lucky and unlucky people, but the reasons for that are far less capricious than you would think.

So, what is luck, anyway? Well, good fortune, good things, good health, whatever you would consider the riches in life, monetary, social, something that brings you happiness and satisfaction, or helps you on the way to getting there. It’s a door opening for you, oportunidad de la ventana, but whatever it is, it never really affects only you. Luck is always connected somehow, either immediately or eventually, to others. “Connection,” a word I flog often here on the blog, is key key key. The connections you make in life figure hugely into your ability to have good things come into your world.

Hah! I’m not full of crap either, check this out:


Yes, I know CNN pulled this from an article on friggin’ OPRAH.com, but try to ignore that and pay attention to the core of what the article is about: “lucky” people are able to make connections to others in all kinds of different ways and situations, and they are ready to see, develop, and take positive advantage of chances and choices.

It sounds simple. It is, and it isn’t. There’s some prep work involved in being lucky. The first step is deciding that you actually really do want to be happy and have good things happen to you. Do not scoff here and say, “Well, Marianne, of course everyone wants to be happy you dingbat, wtf are you blathering on about?” “Ah,” I will answer you, “but that is NOT TRUE.”

Think of all the people you know who have whined and moaned and sighed ALL THEIR LIVES about what terrible luck they have had in life, how everyone else gets more of a break, how nothing is fair. Psst – they are getting something out of this whole “I’m a pissy loser who blames everyone else for my problems” identity. Making a genuine change in attitude and behavior is too painful, too hard, so they default to “Some people have all the luck.” Is it so hard to see that with that kind of attitude, you cannot even begin to identify what good things are or could be, and that others might not exactly want to connect with and help some sour sop of a person?

You have to have a different kind of mindset, a strength to be able to be open to the world and part of it, to have an awareness of everything around you, a hopefulness and willingness to just GET OUT THERE and see what can happen. And, critically, you have to feel like you deserve good things, and that you are a good person, and that you can take good care of anything special entrusted to you. So many people are compelled one way or another to bite the hand that feeds them, break their toys, close the curtains on the sun, destroy the perfect bodies they were born with, push the good away. So, so many. Good luck may fall upon them in one way or another, but they will find a way to turn it bad. Sometimes the road does indeed rise up to meet you, but more often you just have to climb up the hill, and that takes effort, persistence, and character.

So, on this St. Patrick’s Day, think for a moment about luck and the delicious idea that you do not have to wait around for it – you can actually create it. This is not a license to take off work today, get drunk on green beer, and lose your paycheck at the casino. Much.

Lene Lovich – “Lucky Number”


Yes, I did. It was not about a lucky man who made the grade, though. It was about the folding of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper (get it? folding newspaper? A HAW HAW HAW), the last print edition to appear tomorrow. But did I read it holding said paper, or any paper, in my hands? No. I read it here:


And that makes me part of the demographic that is killing print media. And I thought I would be the last person to BE THAT GUY, too, but I am.

I came from a reading family, and that included all of us reading the morning paper without fail every single day. It was a ritual, silent and expected. No one really discussed the news items; as a matter of fact, it was considered rude to interrupt anyone whilst they were perusing the daily. It was all sort of serious. Like my parents, I became compelled to read the paper in order, which meant as the paper came delivered by section: Front Section, with world and national news and editorials; Local Section, which could be anything from the latest from Milwaukee's Mayor Maier (no better government name, if you ask me)to the Farm Report; Arts & Entertainment, with the fascinating TV listings for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and UNAFFILIATED (that was the one with wrestling and Speed Racer cartoons); Sports, which I generally glossed over unless they had Olympic coverage or mentioned my hometown; and The Green Sheet, which had the comics, more entertainment stories and humorous news, puzzles, crosswords, whatever, and YES, it was actually GREEN. The Green Sheet was of course my favorite piece of the paper, being a kid and all. When I finished reading the paper, I would put it all back together, in order, and I felt good. I knew more than I did before. And was there no more glorious feeling then going outside and grabbing the delicious fat Sunday paper from the front stoop? I say nay.

When the Milwaukee Journal years later stopped printing The Green Sheet in green, but still called it The Green Sheet, I was upset. WTF is that? Oh, well.

So, as I grew up I kept my paper habit, wherever I went. If I was traveling, I would have to find a morning paper somehow, someway, or I would feel weird, sort of naked in a way. As I moved around the country over the years, one of the first things I would do in settling up my perma-household would be to subscribe to the local paper: The Arizona Republic, The Chicago Tribune,The Denver Post, and finally, The Seattle Times.

It is hard to say what happened exactly then, but slowly I started putting off reading the paper until later in the day, and then I started missing days, and then I noticed the papers piling up, never opened, going straight to the recycle bin. It made me feel awful somehow. I still really loved reading a paper, but like so many others, my time was being fractured by more information and entertainment options than ever before...most of which were found on the DEVIL INTERNET.


So, after more than 40 years of reading a print paper, I ended up canceling The Seattle Times, and yes, I still feel very crappy about it. I understand very well the cost, the unique content that leaves when a newspaper is shut down, not to mention losing the voices of many talented and dedicated journalists. I may have no smeary black newsprint on my hands anymore, but I know I am missing the depth of investigative reporting, the boldness of the daily columnist, the unintentional hilarity of the small-town crime log, the incredible photojournalism, and so much more. I traded that for poorly-written and sensationalist headlines from CNN.com, so crappy that sometimes I can't even bear to read that.

Sigh. I know, I know.

From the KIRO piece:
While the P-I's Web site ensures it a continued presence in the Seattle news market, it will likely be a pared-down version of its former self -- operating with a skeleton staff and a heavy reliance on blogs and links to other news outlets.

Good god, I hope they aren't going to rely on this blog. Unless they want to hear about coffee, cheap jeans, and what's up with the Hollywoods. Hmm. HMMMMM.

More papers are going to go down like this, the times they have changed, and it is a business reality. My strong hope is that the rich journalistic content will return here on the internet, where all things seem to end up. Instead of z-grade news soundbytes with annoying ad-filled streaming videos, maybe we could see the work of excellent writers and photographers doing what they do best, illuminating our world, helping us to make sense of it, allowing us to connect to meaningful things going on around us. It will take a brave Editor-In-Chief and some serious budgeting of resources, but there are those of us who are here now who love to see that and who would support it.

Oh, and KIROTV.com, you spelled "Intelligencer" wrong in the FIRST SENTENCE of your article. JFC.


I am an inherently nostalgic remembrancing sentimentalist. I cannot help this; I was born this way. Even as diapered pundit, I pined for yesterday's content, even if it was only some really good baked macaroni-and-cheese or my outgrown plaid tennis shoes. I have issues with loss, although for no reasons I can particularly figure. Perhaps it is some kind of satisfaction issue, the idea that past can be so easily idealized and the future so filled with dreams. Poor old The Present. It always gets shafted. No one appreciates it, no one lives in it, no one takes full advantage of it, or even recognizes it before it becomes The Past. I try to be more mindful of this, although it takes some very directed effort on my part. It is just so much easier to wade in the richness of days gone by.

But, because I have a pretty good memory and I often like to fight with myself for fun, I can also bash nostalgia on its silvery head too. It's just too easy to become Abe Simpson. So, in the spirit of honoring The Present, here is a list of Things I Do Not Miss From My Past:

-- Blatant, in-your-face racial and gender discrimination. Not that it has all gone away, not by a long shot, BUT, oh my you youngsters out there just would not believe how things were. ALL women and ALL minorities were treated like less thans. In college, I did a presentation analyzing how women were portrayed in television commercials of the 50s and 60s, and that was one scary view. The flip of this was the 70s/80s concept of the Superwoman, the "having it all" girl who could "bring home the bacon, put it in a pan, fry it up, and never never never let you forget you're a man." Yeah, great -- work your ass off for STILL less money than said man, cook dinner, clean up, take care of the kids, and then be all sexy. Yippee. Maybe someday everyone can just be human. That would be cool.

-- Daily political assassinations. Or so it seemed.

-- The constant reported misery of war. Oh. Wait.

-- No cell phones. Cell phones are a really good idea. Safety and such you know.

-- Incredibly inane sitcoms. Oh. Wait.

-- No Roe v. Wade. Argue the right to privacy or the validity of the judgment or the advancements in care for preemies or whatever, it comes down to this: if you do not have control over your body and what happens to it, you are less of a human.

-- Zero safety equipment in cars other than crappy lap belts. Even the bumpers were useless. Pretty chrome, though.

-- Teachers could hit kids in school. Not just the nuns, either.

-- Disco.

-- Really thick glasses.

-- The draft.

-- Sanitary napkin belts and Kotex the size of a mattress.

-- Flypaper.

-- Hearing nostalgic stories about the Depression and The War.

There's more, but I should be Presenting on this sunny day, so I will leave you with that. Building Perspective Along The Way, And Frying It Up In A Blog.

"Enjoli" commercial, 1970s



I might not go so far as to say I am a shopaholic, but I clearly have been on a bit of a jag. Oh, it is so fun, and I am not going to debtor's prison or anything, so it's fine. Really.

Today I went into the hip-n-gritty Capitol Hill section of Seattle. Everyone was dressed like me; that is, like a weirdo rockstar/hipster and/or homeless. I felt comfortable. If I lived in Seattle proper instead of Seattle-ish, I would probably get even paler and more unbearably cool, so maybe it is good I am stuck in a mild-mannered suburb.

Ate at a tiny restaurant called Table 219, which was filled with good-looking quirky people with scarves and odd shoes and hats and similar flair items. I had on a weird gothy coat, a scarf, AND my sparkly silver shoes, so I think I won the battle of the trendfailers. Anyway, I had a very yummy ham-brie-apple omelet with grilled toast and fat crunchy potato chunks and tasty coffee. Afterwards, we walked down to Urban Outfitters so I could do a survey of items. MissSix transfixed herself with a book featuring incredibly cool cupcakes that I would never have the patience nor artistry to make while I combed the store. Lots of like stuff, but nothing I was compelled to purchase. I have to REALLY like something to pay retail. Huh.

After another fuel up with a weird tasting Thai iced tea, we headed back over the 520 bridge towards home, but I was still in shop mode so then it was deep into strip mall land to the Marshall's. I never fail to find something good at this store, and there are always strange and unusual people there who talk loudly about things.

I did well, oh hell yes I did, because I found THREE Free People items. This makes me giddy. CHECK IT OUT:

-- pearl grey hoodie with a blue satin #6 on the front: $168.00 retail, I PAID $29.99

-- poppy tissue-thin cardigan: $88.00 retail, I PAID $19.99

-- charcoal black sweatpants with a hot pink ribbon tie: $98.00 retail, I PAID $14.99

JOY. I tells ya, when I can get my favorite clothes for those prices, you might as well tell me I won the Pulitzer. Well, not really, but this is as good as I can get for now. A cool black Vera Wang PJ set, a cute white shrug, an orange camisole, a soft chunky orange-and-brown knit scarf, and some school clothes for MissSix rounded out the purchases, just over 200 bucks. Not bad, not bad at all.

Once again, the fitting room proved the Conversation Pit, as we had a family of Canadian women loudly trying on many pieces of clothing:

Mother: I have two sizes of jeans in my closet, the ten pounds off and the ten pounds on ones.

Daughter #1: Oh, I know! And all these jeans fit differently, no matter what the size says! It's so frustrating! Look at these True Religions. These are a 9, but I'm going to try an 11. I have a 9 in them at home, but I hear there are all different cuts according to style, even in the same company! I looked it up on the internet.

Mother: Yes! I don't know why they do that.

Daughter #2: These are a 7.

Mother: Oh, those look great. You should definitely get them.

Daughter #1: I hate you! I used to wear a 7.

Daughter #2: Well, you could if you stopped eating off my plate.

Daughter #1: YOU WERE DONE!

Daughter #2: No I wasn't! I never said I was done! I was going to finish the fries!

Mother: GIRLS...

Grandma: Does anyone know where the restroom is?

Mother: Mom, I will take you as soon as I am done here.

Grandma: Hmph.

They all ended up standing behind me in the checkout line, and a fashionable bunch they were, with blown-out hair and expensive shoes and big chunky purses too. Please enjoy our weak dollar, Canadian women, and our delicious French fries.

I could have kept on going to Nordstrom Rack, but ended my jag there. You have to save some thrills for another day.


I fall to my knees
and look to the sky
Who will save rock and roll?

Murray The K is not here today
so who will save rock and roll?

Every protest singer
every guitar slinger
every punk rock sinner sells his soul

My generation is not the salvation
so who will save rock and roll

I saw The Stooges,
covered with bruises
who will save rock and roll?

every mercenary
three chord revolutionaries
choose your side and choose it well

June 1st, 67 something died
and went to heaven
I wish Sgt Pepper
never taught the band to play

my generation
is not the salvation
so who will save,
who will save
tell me who will save
rock and...... roll

The Dictators, "Who Will Save Rock And Roll?"

Someone already did.

Not to give him a complex or anything, but it's Jack White. Hardest working man in showbiz? Maybe, but maybe he's just hit his stride, right place right time, and has so many new ideas that sometimes you want to just say, "HEY! SAVE SOME FRIGGIN PIE FOR THE REST OF US, ASS!" Nah, I don't mean it. He should have, like, at least 60% of the pie. Beyonce don't need no mo pie.

It was a total miracle that The White Stripes were able to achieve commercial success. It would have been more likely, despite and maybe because of their rawness and innovation and sheer nerve, that they would have sunk into indie obscurity like so many others. But maybe Jack White is a force of nature, maybe he wanted it all more, and maybe enough people wanted him to have it, too.

See how busy he's been? In the last ten years:

--The White Stripes

--The Raconteurs

--The Dead Weather (all three bands ongoing, by the way)

-- played with/produced Mark Ronson, Alicia Keys, Beck, Loretta Lynn, Electric Six, Soledad Brothers, Whirlwind Heat, The Muldoons, The Greenhornes, and probably a pile more I don't know about

-- acted in several films

-- dated an A-list actress and married a supermodel, and produced two children.

Whether you like his music or not, you've got to appreciate the guy's work ethic, and that he knows how to bring out the musical best in others, AND that it is so obvious how much he loves music. Thanks, Jack, for not doing better at the upholstery business back in Detroit.

The White Stripes, "Hotel Yorba"

The Raconteurs -- "Steady As She Goes"

The Dead Weather -- "Are Friends Electric"


It was a nice sunny day, I've been cranking faster than usual on the laundry, and had no kid pickup duty today, so I gave myself a GO to spend the afternoon at TJ Maxx and Target. For some, this would be a miserable waste of their precious hours, but for me it is sheer heaven. Quietly and peacefully combing the racks for cool, new, cheap clothes relaxes and cheers me like a Valium and a glass of wine did for the protagonist in the Rolling Stones' "Mother's Little Helper." It is also easier on the system and does not produce unintentional coma.

A large smile was produced by me in the fitting room, as I dared to try on a size down in jeans again. Now this size I have not seen in so long I am not exactly sure when I dared to pick it up last. The 80s, for sure. They fit! But I didn't care for the heaviness of the fabric, and I did not purchase them, even though I would have liked to just to stare at the tag. Now granted, they were tight, but button + zipper closed without having to lie down or puncturing the bladder = WIN. It was nice.

My current favorite clothing line is Free People, and when I found one of their shirts on the rack at TJ, I went YOINK! and put in my cart, a cute, soft, and very very very thin purple and pink baseball type shirt with a wide neck. When I went to try it on, it became clear perhaps why it had made it from retail $78.00 at Nordstrom to $16.99 here. Oh, dear. It was so sheer and so thin that when I went to put it on, it had the very unflattering effect of making me look like a purple lump of braunschweiger. It was disturbing but I did get some humor out of its awfulness.

I passed on three pairs of gladiator sandals. I want em, but dammit the soles were so flat I would just be like FLAP FLAP FLAP and this would spoil the coolness of them. Most shoes are very very ugly.

I bought a sundress today. I am almost positive that the last time I had a sundress was when I was about six. I will probably wear a shirt under it or a sweater over it because I think women my age do not need to flap their damn arms all around. Or that arm blarb right by the armpit. No one needs to see that. I don't want my serious guns to intimidate anyone, anyway.

There was a British woman in the TJ dressing room that was asking the fitting room girl what she thought of all her outfits she was trying on. Now, if you are the employee, what on earth do you do in this situation? Are you totally truthful? There is just no way. I could be truthful, if the woman had looked me in the eye and said, "This is critical. Pull no punches. If it is bad, tell me and tell me why." But otherwise, I think I would have just picked out the nice things to say about each outfit [i.e. OH WHAT A LOVELY COLOR FOR SPRING! IT MAKES YOUR EYES LOOK...OPEN.] and omitted the not-so-flattering details [YOUR BREASTS LOOK LIKE TWO 15-POUND BOWLING BALLS IN THAT DRESS, AND NOT IN ANY KIND OF GOOD WAY, AND YOUR BACKFAT IS ROLLING OVER THE EDGE SO FAR THAT IT LOOKS LIKE A SCARF.] I'd make a great stylist, but my clients would have to have balls. And I don't mean that they should be men, although they could be. I would go to any lengths to find things to make them look great, but they would have to listen to me and not cry when I would say, "MICHELLE OBAMA, THAT DRESS LOOKS LIKE CURTAINS FROM 1961. THE COLOR FLATTERS ONLY THE DEAD. CHANGE!" Heh.

I had fun today.


"Delaney!! Delaaaaneeeeeey!! Over here!!"

Delaney Morris, 14 years old and newly-Disney-Channel-hot, crossed over the red carpet to where the fans were waiting behind a heavy golden rope. The crowd let out a collective squeal of delight, their hands held high with cell phone cameras taking her picture as she shook hands with people, signed autograph books and a stuffed animal and one girl's arm with a black Sharpie.

"I love you, Delaney!" "Delaney, you are so beautiful! "Oh my god, it's Delaney!" "Delaney! Look here!" "We love your show, honey!"

She beamed, feeling a little teetery on the 5" heels the stylist had put her in. The Emmys were a huge big deal, at least all the fuss surrounding what she wore and who she went with and her makeup and what she would say made it seem so to her. She wasn't even nominated for anything or presenting, just there with her co-star, the even-hotter Zane Thomas. It was very exciting.

As she made her way down the line of fans, Delaney glanced up and saw the face of a woman with red hair, in her late 30s or 40s, looked like a nice mom-type, plain and normal. The woman smiled a tight grin at her and spoke.

"You are a disgusting little whore, Delaney."

As Delaney's face registered the sting of the shock of the words, the woman kept her smile and gaze, and seemed satisfied. Rattled, Delaney excused herself from the line, and walked back to Zane, further back on the carpet. Flashes from cameras, voices, people with wires and microphones and tuxedos and swishing dresses, swirling, hot.

"What's up, Koo-Koo? Your smile is gone."

Delaney pulled on his black jacket sleeve and spoke quietly into his ear. "Zane, this woman over there called me a whore!"

He pulled back, looked at Delaney, glanced over at the crowd, and laughed. Delaney's face fell further. He looked down at her, and softened. "Aw, kid, come on now. Does she know you?"


"Do you know her?"


"Does it really matter to you what some strange woman says?"

Delaney sadly pursed her pretty pink glossed lips, and thought. "No, I guess not. But why would she say something like that to me? Why?"

Zane laughed again, and said as he left her to walk over to the fans, "Watch!" Another squeal went up from the crowd, longer and louder, more flashes firing.

"Zane! Zane! Zane! I LOVE YOU!!!!" "Zane, can you smile for me?" "Zane, oh god it's you right here!" "You are SO GORGEOUS!" "Zane, KISS ME!"

Zane smiled his bright perfect smile and worked the crowd beautifully, a seasoned pro at 19.


As he heard the shout from a guy in the back, Zane turned to Delaney from the crowd and let out a loud laugh. He shouted back at her, and grabbed the golden rope with his hand and shook it. "See, Delaney? THIS is why!" He turned to wave and smile at the crowd, then walked back to her side.

Delaney sighed, and looked around her. "Is it always going to be like that?"



Their manager, a stout and feisty Jewish woman with expensive glasses, motioned the pair to begin moving towards the theater entrance. Zane grabbed Delaney's hand and they walked slowly in a fat fancy line, with all these others on this side of the rope.

"Delaney, you grew up in Julian? The town famous for apple pie?"


Zane laughed again and smiled at her. "Oh, Koo-Koo. It'll be OK. It will."

She looked up at her handsome friend again and smiled back. "Thanks, Zane," and squeezed his hand as the doors opened, and a rush of cool air brushed past them.


It seems for many people school gym class was an early stage of high drama, one way or another, because everyone seems to have a “glory days” story or some sad tale of humiliation at the hands of an evil, testosterone-filled Physical Education instructor, like the formidable Miss Thunder Thighs from my junior high. But talk of her and her flimsy nylon short-shorts barely containing her massive barrel-shaped and cellulite-ridden upper legs will have to wait for another day. Today I tell the story of The Rope.

This was when I was much younger, maybe a couple of years after the “Billie” phase, so I would’ve been 8 or 9 years old, somewhere heading towards pre-pubescent pudge, probably. Once a month, we would get free play in the gym where everyone would whoop and holler and haul out the four-wheeled flat wooden square scooters, jump ropes, medicine balls, whatever was stored underneath the stage in the gym was OK to use. Today, the climbing rope was also lowered, hung from the dark brown rafters of the gym, a gold bell to ring in ascendant victory mounted next to the top of the rope. In my memory, the gym seemed as big as an arena, and the rope as tall as a 50-foot fir tree. I am sure that the reality was far more modest in scope. Everything seemed vast and wide and open then, my house a mansion, my acre yard an endless green field.

After some time running around and zooming the scooters at warp speed into the walls, a group of us gathered around the rope. Few in our class had mastered it, outside of a few spider monkey children. I couldn’t figure out how it was so effortless for them! Did gravity have no effect on them? Did they know some magic secret to climbing? They, boys of course, scooted up, hand over hand, legs pushing and propelling, and would ring the bell and skittered back down again, to cheers and applause from the gym teacher and the rest of the kids.

But, for most of us, still young to climb something like that, it was a Sisyphus-like struggle: you’d at best get about a quarter to halfway up, and would have to come back down, arms not strong enough to keep going. In fact, most of the girls could barely hang on to the rope for more than a few seconds at the bottom, giggling and letting go soon after. A few of the boys other than the wily monkeys would struggle, red-faced in determination, and sometimes they would make it to the top. The gym teacher would always have to remind everyone, “DON’T SLIDE DOWN THE ROPE! GO SLOWLY!” but of course there were plenty of beet-red rope burn victims from the fat wrapped hemp demon.

I, compulsively competitive, watched as my classmates took turns at the rope, other kids holding the bottom of the rope to steady it for whomever was climbing. I wanted to ring the stupid bell so badly, so badly that I almost felt like crying or yelling. I wanted it. But I too had never gone farther than halfway up, my shaking arms and fatigued muscles just not able to go on. I could not even really figure out what to do with my legs, they just felt useless and heavy.

Stupid rope.


After watching one of the big sturdy crew-cutted farm boys grunt and groan and pull himself to the top, the bell clanging and echoing as he bashed it, everyone yelling out in enthusiastic support, something in me geared up. After he descended, grim-faced, I walked over to the rope and put a hand on it, and gave it the stink-eye. There was NO REASON why I could not do this. If anyone else here could, I could. Enough. My turn now.

I jumped up high, and grabbed on, my friends holding the swinging end of the rope. I did not look up nor down. I was just going to climb, and I watched my hands grip, one after the other, and I pretended I was a machine, made to climb, unstoppable.

The first half was not so bad; I got there faster and easier than I ever had before. But then the same old feeling came, the pull towards the ground, the urge to drop my arms down and hang loosely so the tension would stop. I clung there for a minute, and I closed my eyes. People were saying things but all I heard was a mess of sound, with no words coming through, just noise.

Keep going. Pull up. Pull up. Pull uuuuuuuup.

Oh, god, it was so hard. My arms were shimmying, my hands were sweating, I was holding on for dear life now. There was no way. I didn’t know what to do. I was so far up, and the floor was so far down.

I looked up. There was the bell, hanging there shining, waiting, about a yard away from where I clung to the rope, terrified. Everyone was yelling at me, but I couldn’t tell if they were angry, or scared, or happy.



One last mighty push up from who knows where, as fast as I could before sense and physics took over for good. Up up up up up up up UP. Now within reach. Just. Almost. Within. Reach.



I reached up with my right hand, and two fingertips brushed the very bottom of the bell, and it made a small but bright “Ding!” Yes! Yes! Yes! Damn, I did it!! But I had extended out too far, and in reaching up, my left hand lost its hold on the rope and I started to slide, fast, my right hand now uselessly trying to help stop my pathetic trajectory downwards. Ahhhh! BURN BURN BURN BURN! Pain shot through my hands and forearms and legs, and I did the instinctual.

I let go.

I don’t know how high I was up when I fell off the rope, but I remember looking down and seeing everyone looking up at me, with big o-shaped mouths, and I remember for just the smallest fraction of a second, feeling like I was flying and that maybe I would just somehow magically swoop up and take a spin around the perimeter of the gym ceiling. That would be cool.

The next thing I remember is black. Just seeing nothing but black with sort of dull grey sparkles, and that I couldn’t breathe, the wind knocked out of me from the hard hit to the floor. My luck being what it is, that day the cute perky enthusiastic young student gym teacher from UW forgot to put the blue mat under the rope. When I opened my eyes, all I could see were faces and the lights from the ceiling. The freaked out young teacher was talking to me, but I didn’t have the breath to answer her.

Eventually, the kids were sent back to the classroom, and the principal and the school nurse came in. I vaguely remember my head aching really badly, and someone helping me to sit up. The next thing I recall was a bright white light. Not from me dying, no, not yet folks,just from my mom opening the gym doors coming in to get me, and the sunlight from the hallway windows streaming in for a moment. I walked out with her, very slowly, and we went to the doctor’s.

Outside of some excellent bumps and bruises and some wicked red rope burns, I was OK. I never climbed that rope again, or any rope ever again for that matter, but sometimes when I went into the gym I would look up at that bell, squinting. I got you, you damn metal bastard. I got you.


I may not have a fish, but I have a guitar. Oh, yes, yes I do.


HAHAHAH! Oh, man. Life is so funny, how things turn out, the things that make an impression.

When I was in first grade, I saw the movie "Billie" starring Patty Duke. It had been on the big screen a few years previously, and finally made its way to TV, and to me. Oh mah goodness, I thought it was the best thing I had ever seen. The basic plot of this lighter-than-air movie told the story of Billie, a teenage social misfit and tomboy who, with the help of a rock n' roll beat in her head, smoked everyone on the running track.

MY SISTAH! Oh, I BELIEVED this movie, I did! I was absolutely POSITIVE that her beat-propelled feet were real. I understood what she was saying and feeling about music, how it was in you and could just FIRE you up. I decided that I would put her legacy into action. I was going to be special.

In first grade, gym class consisted of little other than free play and Duck Duck Goose, but I was going to take it seriously from now on. I found a little red-and-white Carter's short set from home, brought it into school on the next gym day, and announced to the teacher that I needed to change into my "gym clothes" for class. Well, I can only imagine what she really thought -- probably some combination of OH JESUS WHAT DRAMA NOW and AW CUTE -- but she let me go to the girls' bathroom and change, of course the only first grader to do so. I strode out onto the gym floor, filled with strutting confidence that I had "The Beat" and would be better, faster, and stronger than anyone else at 4 Square, Simon Says, or kickball. Rock and roll would not, could not let me down. It was TRUTH and ALL. My red Keds sneakers would be like flying flames on the floor.

I remember trying so hard to "hear" this magic beat in my head, the one that would make these athletic feats as easy as pie, the secret of my success known to no one but me. Oh, I tried and I tried and concentrated and furrowed my little brow and BELIEVED SO HARD. There was a beat, probably just the one I had heard in the movie, and I put my best effort in. I did this without fail for WEEKS, changing into my little outfit, thinking of drums, and changing back into my school clothes, uncatchable, winning.

But one day, the unthinkable happened during Dodgeball. Wily and focused, beat-fueled, clothes-proud, I had been the winner weeks in a row. And then, out of nowhere, I got a big red rubber ball to the chest. BAM!




Oh, I was crushed. The Beat had let me down. It was supposed to be fail-proof, said the movie, unless you got distracted and fell in love with a boy or something. In total shame and dejection, I sat down on the red line on the gym floor with the others, head in my hands. I couldn't believe it. I think I started crying sitting there, all Bad-Sport-like, with a hot red face and a Big Lip.

I stopped wearing the silly clothes, stopped trying to hear a beat that wasn't really mine and didn't really work, and still kicked ass at Dodgeball...most of the time.

BUT! BUT!!!!!!

The legacy of Billie LIVES!!!!!

All this time later, this far down the line,what makes me be able to run? What makes me need to go faster, keep going when I am exhausted, keep trying to go farther than I did the time before?

Well, of course. It is The Beat, translated now to the rock n' roll loaded on my iPod. It is magic. There is no other answer. I could never ever have started running or kept running without it. I can be ready to give up, and a song comes up on shuffle and I grin and all of a sudden my legs feel light, itching to go, no fatigue, no pain, and I go go go.

So, thank you, you silly movie. There was something to you all along.


A clap of thunder outside my window makes me think of this. Enjoy.

John Lee Hooker -- "Boom Boom"


“Why did I move to southern California?”

As I make my way down the boardwalk, stupidly loaded with shopping bags filled with tourist garbage for the kids, the lyrics from the Wax song go through my mind. You know, the one that had the Spike Jonez video with the guy on fire running for the bus. Single shot camera. Very disturbing, and very good. I look around. Why did any of these people move to southern California? The hard bodies and the bums and the goth runaways …maybe everyone ends up going west sometime, looking for something that ends at the ocean. Nowhere else to go then.

The sun is getting lower, late on such a winter’s day, and I decide that this little trip must include a few minutes of me staring at the Pacific, so I cut across to the beach as a bicyclist riding with no hands on the handlebars whizzes past me close enough to rustle my hair. My hands are getting sore from the bags anyway and I want to put them down and rest before trudging back to the hotel. I find a concrete wall between the boardwalk and the beach to hop up on, and I sit, dangling my legs.

The water is such a pretty color today, that seafoam green that looks exactly like a piece of sea glass I once had, some mixture of clouds and color. The waves are coming in strongly, fizzling in bright white as they reach the sand. I watch a lone surfboarder for a few minutes, but become frustrated when he never takes a wave, so I switch my view. A woman who kind of looks like me if I could get a tan is running slowly on the beach, and I smile a bit. Go go go. I squint over at the lowering sun, and stare out as far as I can. Nowhere else to go. I pull out my cell phone and take a picture. It’s times like these I wish I smoked, so I could sit here and draw on the cigarette slowly and look all pensive and cool. But I just look like another middle-aged mom, perched on a wall, from somewhere else, with yellow plastic bags from “Duke’s Surf Shop.”

It’s busy here, behind me on the boulevard and the boardwalk, and on the beach in front of me. It’s not warm out, maybe 60 at best, but people are still California-ing. A boy of about 9 or 10 walks out onto the beach some distance to my right. He is pudgy and white, with a brush-type haircut, his junk-food-and-too-much-Nintendo belly pushing far over the waistband of his swim trunks. He has no shirt on and no shoes, and I think how cold he must be, and then remember that kids really don’t care that much. He stands for awhile about 20 feet out from the waves and seems hesitant to go further. I look further back behind him, turning my head. I don’t see any family that looks to be his, but maybe they are watching him from one of the beachfront hotel rooms. Maybe they just checked in and he was eager to get to the beach.

A seagull proudly walks by me with a potato chip in its beak, taking my attention for a moment, and I grin at it. I try to grab my phone to take a picture of it, but I am too clumsy in my effort and scare it, as it now flies away with a potato chip in its beak. I think it all has some great sardonic overarching meaning, probably, but I am too tired to find it. Seagulls are such asses.

I look back again to the fat boy, and to my surprise he has walked into the water, about a foot deep. Damn, that really must be so cold. But he seems happy, running in and out as the waves break around his knees. He grabs something from the beach, some rocks or shells I suppose, and throws them into the water. They don’t go far.

A scrubby-but-cute guy in his 20s comes up to me, and I instantly get my ‘yeah, WHAT” face on, expecting him to ask for money, but instead he asks me if I know where the Imperial Chinese restaurant is. I laugh a bit and say no, sorry, I do not, and he waves and tells me, “OK. Cool. Have a good night!” with a big white smile. Down to my left, I can hear an acoustic guitar that some teenage girl is playing to a group of other teens under the pier the juts far out into the water. I think about what my kids would be doing now.

The fat kid has gotten bolder, and is now up to his chest in the water. I don’t know exactly why this bothers me, but it does. I look around again for someone who might belong to him, might tell him that it is getting a little dark out now, that the waves are too rough. Nothing. Everyone just goes by. I look at my watch. I probably have allotted enough Staring At The Ocean time now, should get going, catch some dinner and pack for the flight home tomorrow. I take out my phone again and text message my oldest son, reminding him to feed the dog.

As I look up again, look over at the boy one more time, I see only what I think is his head in the water. A wave comes over, covers it. I wait. I don’t see him. I peer harder. Where is he? I look around, up and down the beach, behind. Nothing. Oh, no. No.

I gather up my purse and my bags and trot over across the wide span of sand to the place where he was. It is dusk now, and I feel a rising panic. I see only the waves rolling in, some seaweed floating and bobbing. I go closer to the water, and my shoes are getting wet. I see what must have been his footprints, but I cannot tell where they go, or if they were coming or going, as the water rises and washes them out.

Did I see what I saw? Did I? Did I? I don’t know what to do! Did I just see a child drown, or was it a plant or a seal or who knows what? I keep desperately staring into the water, then turning around towards the beach and the boardwalk. I don’t see him anywhere, and I don’t see anyone looking like they are looking for him. People keep going by, unaware, maybe taking a glance at some woman with a bunch of bags looking like she lost something.

Maybe while I was texting, he finally got chilly and ran in to his hotel or something, right? Maybe my eyes are just no good. Surely someone would be looking for him by this point, getting dark? Right?

The streetlights on the boardwalk turn on as I stand uselessly staring into the surf. I turn around and slowly walk back to the boulevard, wishing I saw a lifeguard or a cop or the kid and his family, now dressed and heading out to dinner at Imperial Chinese.

I get back to my hotel, not hungry, pack my suitcase, and stare at the television far into the night, until I am exhausted enough to sleep. I have somewhere else to go.


Jens Roland is a smartypants, and I really like what he has to say in this blog about exactly why and how the music industry has gone into a death spiral:


You should read it, because it is short, to the point, and well-written, but it boils down to the very simple ideas of the mind-boggling increase in entertainment options due to the digital technology revolution, and how the old music business model simply cannot survive it. There are so many ways to listen to and/or obtain music, and my use of the word "obtain" includes both traditional purchase and file sharing. Moreover, music as an option of how to spend your entertainment time and resources is now sharing significant time with gaming and the internet. It's like when TV came to being, smashing into the time people spent listening to the radio at home. It's just so obvious -- people only have so many hours a day and so many dollars to spend on entertainment, and when you widen their options, everything takes a cut. Stupid RIAA.

So now I take off in a different direction, and wonder further: there are these tremendous entertainment options, but how do you begin to even KNOW about all of them, much less pick from them? Musicians are more able than ever before to have their songs available to the public (good god, if I have a song on the internet, anyone can), but how do I find the ones I will love? How do I find the internet sites that will make me laugh, give me the best information, show me wonderful new writers? Movies, games, TV, EVERYTHING. There is all this richness that I know I am missing. There is so much, in fact, that the old adage of the cream rising to the top can't even be true. Good things, great things, are whizzing past because I simply cannot find them fast enough.

Everyone's a content provider, everyone's a star.

There are sites that rate some things, but it just isn't enough, and ratings only go so far for me anyway. I wish I were one of those awesome people who have the ability to think ahead to what people are going to need and want in the future, but so far that has not occurred. Will it be that everyone will have some kind of content manager/metafilter, something kind of like Pandora where you plug in your music interests and it spits back a streaming playlist for you, but for all content? HMM? Because I am always late to the party on these ideas, I am sure someone has already developed this or will soon, and it will someday be standard. Entertainment options are just going to keep increasing, with more people invested in more ways to get their content noticed.

It is a very exciting time.


Another study out today about the cognitive uselessness of educational television for infants:


Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK. This is not a huge revelation, really, but I am sure that the Baby Einstein brand and their many imitators are irritated, as are parents. Does anyone really expect their baby will become smarter because they watch a 20-minute DVD with pictures of animals and puppets and a ball dropping over and over? Well, I hope not. Let us get to the real issue: there isn’t a parent alive who doesn’t need A DAMN BREAK. Listen to this Harvard tool:

"The best thing for our kids is to provide them with stimulus that we know is positive for their brain development," (pediatrician Dr. Michael) Rich said. He suggested activities like reading, singing, interacting and stacking blocks to help children.

Well, duh, sir, DUH. Parents do this naturally, over and over and over. And may I suggest that YOU do that every single day, every moment that baby is awake. And when the baby sleeps, feel free to:
Pay bills
Return phone calls/email
Clean your house
Cook with fire
Clean up the dog poop
Any other activity that precludes having a noisy small being attached to it.

Oh, are you having some difficulty getting all that done in a couple hours per day? OHHHHH. ASS.

TV is a babysitter, yes it is. Parents need babysitters. Should your baby be plopped in front of Nick Jr. every morning for five hours? No. Should you feel bad about an episode of Dora The Explorer engaging your child so you can competently argue a mistake on a bill with the idiots from Comcast while Customer Service is open? NO.

I swear.

People forget that shit just has to get done. I don’t know what the hell my parents thought I was doing, but no one was monitoring my TV intake, much less stacking blocks with me, and I’m a friggin’ genius. CALM DOWN, PEOPLE. I’m not afraid of Sesame Street, and you should not be either. I’m not really sure about the whole Bert and Ernie relationship, though.

With babies, you are pretty much just moving them from station to station: holding, rocking, baby swing, bouncy chair, car seat, free crawl/roll, front pack, back pack, wagon, stroller, crib, repeat until walking and then GATE EVERYTHING OFF. FACT: pre-TV moms pawned babies off on older kids, crabby Grandma, or left them in cribs for HOURS. This super-focus on providing children with super-enriched environments, supposedly to produce the superior child that will above-average his or her way to Harvard to do another study like this one, is just another cultural phase. It is an outgrowth of the whole “greed is good” period, where your child just becomes another measurement of your success.

Sigh. I will tell you what to do.

Love your baby. Smile at him, pick him up, hold him and tell him a joke he cannot possibly understand. Look him in the eye and ask him what he thinks about things, and pay attention to whatever his response is, seriously. Never talk down to him. Show him how things work. Let him make a mess. Have books around your house for him, and you, and let him see you reading and wonder what you are doing. Let him have some quiet discovery time to push over blocks or eat his own toes and think about that. Don’t entertain him every moment, let him figure out how to spend some time entertaining himself. And when you need to make that damn Comcast call or just sit for a moment and have a cup of coffee, plop Junior in front of the TV for a few minutes, guilt-free. He’s gonna be fine, because you are going to finish your stuff and be ready to see him with a smile and open arms again.

Common sense, moderation in everything, and exploring and respecting the wonderful and natural bond between you and the baby you brought on board.

Study THAT, Harvard, you ding dongs.


I cannot remember a time when I have personally known more people who have lost their jobs, had their hours cut, or have been told they are likely to lose their jobs within a few months. All age and income demographics, too. There is sadness, and worry, and mainly just this stunned factor, like "ohhhh...me too." I don't know very many people who have substantial savings, or who don't have significant levels of debt. That seems to be the way it has been for awhile now: get what you want NOW, pay it off sometime, then maybe save some money. Maybe.

So. Now. What.

The potential upside to all this is that maybe you have some time to think about So Now What. There seem to be so many people who are dissatisfied with their jobs, for so many reasons. Why not try to think about now doing something you feel passionate about? A CNN.com story addressed this very issue today:


I like what this woman has to say in the article:
"I've spent most of my professional life making money for other people's companies," says Laura Waldusky, who opened her own jewelry shop this month in Houston, Texas, after being unable to find a job in 2008. "Why not invest my talents in, well, myself?"

My parents, who started up their own businesses, would often say, "You will never be happy working for someone else." I don't know if that is really 100% true, but my spin on that is that you will never be happy if you feel you aren't working for you, using your talents, heart, and skills to do something you care about. It is not too much to hope for, but it does take some thought, effort, planning, luck, and reflection. If you want to be an astronaut, I AM SORRY. Just move on. Perhaps something a little more down to earth, ah ha ha ha. Oof, sorry.

If you open a business, the article goes on to say, the chances it will fail within a year are 80%. That is a daunting figure. But, realistically, there was probably a fatal flaw with the business plan, or many flaws. If you have always dreamed of opening a darling little cafe with delicate pastries and fresh flowers on the tiny tables, you should not pick a location next to the Dunlap tire shop and The Pink Kitten "gentleman's club." A hunting knife/survivalist shop is probably not going to do so well in Beverly Hills. Borrowing $50,000 to start up your bead shop from "Big Jimmy" outside of the Golden Nugget casino may end up with you filing for Medicaid and/or the Witness Protection Program. You have to find something you like, that you can do well, and that other people need or want, and then you have to find the right way to deliver it to them. Despite the terrible odds, every year folks do this, and they do succeed.

What you consider a success may have to change. The McMansion/4-car-garage/Hummer days are over, unless you are someone associated with professional sports or music with vocoder vocals. To do what you want, you will likely have to drive a Datsun, that's right, a Datsun, not even Nissan, live with roommates, your family, your wife's family, or your wife's family's roommates. You will never sleep. Your debt load will get worse before it gets better, and a week at Disneyland will have to be a weekend at the Dells. No one need know that your underwear elastic is sagging, or that you've given up your expensive 3-pack-a-day cigarette habit for smoking the half-smooshed-out butts across from the high school from cute teenage girls who look herpes-free.

So. Now. What. When you are overwhelmed, it's hard to even know where to start to answer the question. How do you find what it is you feel you were meant to do? Well, you can ask. Ask your family and friends to give you their honest opinions about what they think you do well, what they could see you doing. You might be surprised at what they come up with, and it could take you in a whole different direction. If you have an area of interest, talk about it. To anyone, anytime, as long as you are not too obnoxious about it. Chances are, someone you meet will know more about the field, know someone you could talk to, or might even have a line on a JOB. Networking is crucial, even though I loathe the word. I guess I would rather think of it all as finding connections with like-minded people, rather than the crass 80s kind of soulless job-whoring. Good god, I sound like a hippie.

A lot of people are going to be in the same boat, which means two things: ruthless competition for resources, and a genuine willingness to help out others. What can I tell you? Well, I just told you that, and all the stuff above, too. The best and the worst can come out of dire situations. Door shut, window open, silver lining, blah bah blah. Now is the time, now now now, to save that extra bit of money, go to night school to get extra training like you swore you would, talk to your friend about opening a booth at the Farmer's Market, take the bus, read up, rest up, think. Think about what makes you smile, and head in that direction. Something will happen.

Like the Grand Opening of The Pink Kitten II.