Thursday, December 23, 2010


I hope all of you who bother to stop by here are on your way to enjoying some holiday down time, and party time, too! I've been busy shopping and baking and spending quality time with my "kid" - who turns 20 on Saturday - but it's all good. I'm likely to be absent from blogland for the next several days, but I do want to wish all my friends here a merry and peaceful Yuletide.

I know that the holidays are a difficult time for many; we're supposed to subscribe to some Disney-Hallmark-Rockwell fairytale of how things "should" be, or we're having a first Christmas without someone near and dear to share it with, or maybe a few of us are just born Grinches... yet I can't help but believe that there is some small something to celebrate at this time of year.

Even if it's just congratulating ourselves for making it through another year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

funky friday, frisky-n-festive edition

Feel free to stop the video at about three minutes in, when the unfortunate remix begins -- although the photos are still nice:

You know, I don't doubt Eartha got every thing she asked for that year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

monday meh, n/a edition

Interestingly enough, I do not feel "Meh" at all today.

(Update 12:00pm EST - 12 degrees with wind chills as low as 16 below. Cool!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I'm not sure why I have to leave it to an old white guy to bring me stuff, but then you fellows do have all the power - that fact of life was made plain yet again to even non-believers last month. And so, although other old white guys are at the top of your list this year, I would like to ask for just a few presents, myself.

I'll start with the big item first: World peace. I know that the boys like to play at war, but Santa, if you brought Playstations and Call of Duty to all the girls and boys serving in the military (and to Dick Cheney, too, even though he should be permanently on the naughty list), there still would be plenty left in the $895 billion defense budget to send the troops home, heal their wounds, clean up the environment, and even put candy in all our stockings.

If the whole war thing is too much to ask for, maybe we can start smaller. Can you just bring all the haters new hearts? That way they can stop perpetrataing violence on people who look, love, live and believe differently than they do.

Mass organ transplants still too tall an order? Well, I have a few family members who've been sick, Santa, so maybe you can bring them the drugs and treatments that they need to maintain some quality of life. You see, their insurance companies have decided not to continue paying for meds and therapy for their conditions anymore, so I'm hoping you can help out.

I'd also really like it if you could give homes to all the dogs and cats in need. Lots of kids will be asking you for puppies and kittens, so I hope you'll do what's right and visit the animal shelters to fill those requests. Come to think of it, some of the critters in residence there were last year's Christmas presents, so Santa, please choose wisely!

That's really all I want this year. I am one of the lucky ones, Santa, with a roof over my head and a job to dread going to every day, so I don't need anything for myself. I know last year you tried to give me a 37-year-old Californian, but he wasn't the right ideological fit. If you're feeling generous this year, a 25-year-old Scotch will do. And it'll help see me through the new congress year.

God jul!


(image from Karen's Whimsy)

Friday, December 10, 2010

funky friday, naughty or nice edition

Feeling pretty merry here today - I got my class project turned in before the midnight deadline last night, and I'm blissfully DONE with student-type stresses until sometime next month. Yippee! Now I can read all those books that have been patiently waiting for their spines to be cracked. (Speaking of spines cracking, I hope Santa gives me a gift certificate to my favorite massage therapist! I haven't been too naughty - but I don't know if that's in my favor or not...)

Here's some Friday funkiness from Satchmo:

Monday, December 6, 2010

monday meh, F.Y.B.O. edition

UK illustrator Jackie Morris captures my mood today.
(Note, however, that a dachshund makes for a poor polar bear surrogate.)

Hibernation season comes early to the NE TN mountains this year. It's been snowing since Saturday morning. Wind chills are best left uncontemplated.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do you hear what I hear?

Nothing cures the Monday Mehs like a good singing, so last evening I went to hear the Bubba County Chorale's Christmas concert. The spirit was upon us, I tell you. I was particularly moved by the group's rendition of "Dona Nobis Pacem, " or, as the locals sang it, "Dona Nobis Possum."

May the holiday season bring peace, and marsupials, and all other fine blessings to you, my friends.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

funky friday, bill evans edition

Nice rendition of a classic.

It's a rainy Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day here in Bubbaville. A good day for cleaning house to work off some of the Thanksgiving calories consumed yesterday. And I might have the opportunity to babysit a Yamaha electric baby grand, so I need to make room for it, just in case.

Friday, November 19, 2010

funky friday, lame duck edition

Dear Congress,

Get it (done) while you can.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010


"Refudiate" named word of the year.



It would be different if Ms. Palin's congolmorization was intentional, a-la Norm Crosby. And if she didn't try to elevate her errors to the level of Shakespearian wordsmithing.

English teachers have their work cut out for them for the forseeable future. (If, that is, they are able to remain employed at all.)

I can only wonder what's next -- Bill Clinton promoting GW Bush's memoirs?


Monday, November 15, 2010

monday meh, with miscellaneous musings

Girl in Red Kimono, by George Hendrick Breitner

I can't figure out why, now that we're back on Standard Time, the 6a.m. sky is really not much lighter than the 6a.m. sky was under Daylight Savings Time.

It's not a good idea to watch "The Big Lebowski" just before going to bed, unless you enjoy trippy dreams.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of buttock augmentation procedures performed in the United States has risen 37% since 2008. I wish there was a donor registry for this.

Is it an anomaly that I actually know all but 2 or 3 of my "Facebook Friends" outside of Facebook? Who really has thousands of friends???

This year intellikid won't be coming home for Thanksgiving. Meh.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

eleven eleven

Thoughts & wisdom for today shared by tnlib at Parsley's Pics.
I couldn't think of anything more to say.

Monday, November 8, 2010

monday meh, fall back edition

Young Man Asleep, by Eugène Berman.
Not content with merely one extra hour of sleep on Sunday, I feel the need to sleep for, oh, about a month.

(Painting photographed at Boston's Museeum of Fine Arts by Doug)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Same house, different worlds

Conversation with mother at dinner last evening:

Mom: "Are you an AARP member?"

Me: "No."

Mom: "Good. Don't join."

Me: "Why?"

Mom: "They've raised their insurance rates. For their employees. For everyone. Something like 9 per-cent. Because of the health care law. Which they pushed for."

Me: "Well, AARP isn't the insurance company - the insurer they contract with is raising its rates - like many other insurance companies are - because they can. The new law will restrict them from arbitrarily increasing rates in the future, so they're grabbing money while they can."

Mom; "Oh. I thought they were the insurance company. Well, my rates are going up. I think they are. I'll have to look at my papers. (pause) I'm going to drop everything. If I get sick I'll just shoot myself."

Me: (Sighing loudly) "Do you want more wine?"

The rest of the meal progressed rather uneventfully; mother reading grocery store fliers while I perused the IKEA catalog. Then my mother asked me if IKEA was Chinese or Japanese.

"Um, they're Swedish."

"Oh. Well, everyone in the catalog looked Oriental."

Glancing down at the blonde family gathered round the lovely kitchen scene in the catalog, I remained silent. I needed all my strength to keep from banging my head against the table....

Friday, November 5, 2010

funky friday, post-election edition

Ah. I feel a little better now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

monday meh - famehly edition

Painted in Germany in 1920 by Max Beckmann.
They ain't seen nothin' yeht...

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I hope the weekend's been gorgeous wherever you are. Nights here have turned frosty, but the days have been warm & sunny. It's not going to last, though; snow's in the forecast for late next week. Grumble, bitch, swear...

Nobody, however, can accurately predict what the political climate will be after Tuesday. Even hoping for the best feels kind of like I do when I go to the dentist and aspire to merely get a tooth filled, versus full-blown root canal.

In the meantime, I've dusted off an old poem, shined it up a little, and posted it at my poetry blog, Word Art. Check it out!

Friday, October 29, 2010

funky friday, frankenstein edition

Wow. I forgot how freakin' long this tune is. Used to have it on a 45.

(Crazy drum action at 4:20 for certain drum action afficianados.)

Still haven't decided who I want to be for Halloween. What about y'all?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a matter of perception

intellikid and yours truly at MIT's Stata Center

I have been pretty succesful in my recent efforts to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the electoral circus, but while I can easily change the channel on the TV or exit out of a web page that threatens to raise my blood pressure, my upbringing makes it very difficult for me to walk away from real-life dialogues that venture into matters politic. I stumbled into a conversation with my mother recently where, miracle of miracles, we both agreed that special interests and corporate entities exert too great an influence in matters where their own interests are served before those of we the people.

However, due to her exposure to toxic levels of Fox shit, my mother has lost her ability to think critically and craft informed opinons relating to many matters. For example, when I went on to say that I was unhappy with the Republicans for repeatedly supporting policies that favor big business and the wealthy at the expense of the health & welfare of everyone else, including the critters on the planet, however, Mother took exception. That's all Obama's fault, doncha know (and global warming is a figment of another Democrat's imagination).

While the media is holding a funhouse mirror up to reflect what's what in the country, it's easy for folks like my mother, I suppose, to focus on the piece of the vision that is most appealing, most entertaining. But it's not reality. I know that my reflection in the Stata Center doesn't accurately depict my physique. Why can't my mom see that Fox News' reporting is just as distorted?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

please stand by

Or sit, if you prefer.

Been busy here the past 2 weeks transforming half of the downstairs into a temporary gallery (more on that later), keeping on top of school work (translation: falling asleep while reading up on the scintillating differences between direct & indirect assessments!), and getting ready to depart, this afternoon, for a conference in Greensboro (where some very famous sitting took place).

At least it's a lovely day for a 3-hour drive....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Funky Friday

If this doesn't make your feet tap and your booty shake, then you'd better get to the doctor quick.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My October Thing

A number of posts back, I wrote about celebrating my 50th year by doing one new "thing" each month. September didn't present many opportunities for wild-n-crazy adventures, but I did manage, for the very first time ever, to cook a perfect steak on the stovetop (gotta have a cast iron pan!), so I'm counting that as my September "thing."

Having already devoted almost 15% of my annual income to vacations and dental procedures this year, there wasn't much in the budget for October's new "thing," but this past weekend's Indigenous People's Autumnal Warming meant I just had to get outside and enjoy as much gorgeous weather as possible. I decided to head out into the hills of Bubba County to be in the sun and catch the fantastic show the trees are putting on.

Now, I had already attended the Shady Valley Cranberry Festival a few years ago, so viewing Tennysee's native cranberries (all three of them) no longer holds a strong attraction for me. Instead, I drove past the festival grounds and found myself motoring toward Backbone Rock, a spot that I'd never gotten around to visiting in the 12 years I've lived in these parts, most likely because of intellkid's propensity for car-sickness when traveling certain winding roads in the county.

Admittedly, Backbone Rock is no Mount Rushmore, but it is a very lovely spot to stop and get a few lungsfull of Autumn air tinged with the scent of foliage that's just past its prime. (I need to work on that description.) I hadn't bothered to educate myself about the rock before my visit, but I spotted a number of trail markers and some stone steps up the hillside, so in spite of the sign advising of steep drop-offs, unprotected ledges, and uneven footing, I presumed the hike to the top of the rock was very do-able.

And so, it was. But once at the "summit," I remembered that although I'm not afraid of heights, per se, I am extremely and ridiculously afraid of falling. Nervous, I sat down a safe distance from the edge of the rock and tried to figure out which would cause me less angst, walking back down the steep, uneven, leaf-covered stone steps:...or continuing across the ridge to see where the trail led:I told myself that I was being ridiculous, and of course I could walk across. What was the point in being there if I didn't go all the way, so to speak? Luckily, there was nobody else up on the ridge at that moment to witness my utter lack of bravery, so I figured that even if I had to crawl across on my hands & knees, I'd make it. And so I did. Walk, I mean. Didn't need to resort to crawling!

On either side of where the arch crosses the road -- which is maybe 12 feet wide at the top (I didn't stop to measure) -- there is a 75-foot drop, just high enough to be exciting without being terrifying (see top photo). Nevertheless, my knees were shaking while I stopped long enough to snap a picture of the road, then walked on to see if there was a way down from the other side.

Much to my relief, the stone stairway on the opposite side of the arch was much shorter than the route I took up, and was also supplemented by an iron handrail most of the way down. I took my time walking back to the car, congratulating myself for my bravery while simulatneously ridiculing myself for being such a chicken. I thought of rewarding myself with an ice cream cone, but got lemonade instead, and enjoyed the rest of the drive home while pondering what my November "thing" might be...Any suggestions?

monday meh

Because meh is gender-inclusive, here's a male Mehtisse.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Funky Friday, Academic Version

Listening to Professor Longhair teach some New Orleans blues piano is a good way to start the weekend.

I got some academic blues, myself. I'm taking a graduate class in which I had to give a presentation last evening. Lo and behold, the finely crafted PowerPoint presentation that I intended to use to mask my lack of knowledge on my topic was not the PowerPoint presentation that was saved to my USB drive...

Fortunately I had printed out the final presentation and could use that as my "script." I blustered through the presentation, and when it was done I congratulated myself for not bursting into tears or letting out a flurry of cuss words upon realizing my presentation was not going to go the way I planned.

Now, to find out where my PowerPoint is really saved...

Monday, October 4, 2010

monday meh

The first monday of a new mehnth.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Funky Friday

Oh, the silly. Oh, the hair. It rained all week. People are nasty. I just want to smile a little...

...and walk the dinosaur.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's that time again...

Happy Banned Books Week!

To celebrate, I've been reading Lysistrata, a comedy written by Aristophanes around 410 B.C. In this play, the women of Greece are tired of sleeping alone while their men are off fighting the Pelopennesian War. To secure peace, Lysistrata convinces the women of Athens that they should withhold their favors from the men until they stop the war. After much titilation and frustration, presumably a peace agreement is reached and the rest, as they say, is history.

I'm not so sure that sex is a viable weapon to secure an end to today's wars. Sometimes it seems like the interests behind current conflicts get their jollies more by figuratively screwing with people (and the planet), and so have little interest in making love, not war. Then again, there are those who would have us declare war on sex itself.

Sometimes it's awfully hard to believe in evolution.

(Illustration: Lysistrata Defending the Acropolis,
by Aubrey Beardsley)

Monday, September 27, 2010

monday meh

Today's meh, dating to 1858 and titled "She Never Told Her Love," is from the collections at the George Eastman House.

Oh, those were the good old days. I can remember way back in 1858 1998, when most cameras still used film. But I was seduced by digital photography's promise of immediate gratification around 2003, I think, when I bought a used Fuji FinePix something-or-other for less than $200. Ever since then, I've let my old Minolta SRT-200 sit idle. I've considered donating it to the university's art department, but in spite of the fact that I haven't shot a roll of film in almost 10 years, I'm not convinced that I'll never take another picture with that particular camera.

Friday, September 24, 2010

funky friday

I didn't forget. But if I'd have posted this tasty video earlier, nobody would've gotten any work done all day.


listening with my mouth full

What the ... ? Wednesday, as I was contributing once again to my dentist's children's college fund, I was the captive audience to my hygenist's subtle attempt to "help" me with my "weight problem." Oh, she didn't say so in so many words; rather, she told me the details of a television show she recently watched, wherein some doctor was attributing all of humanity's ills to fungus. Everything from hangnails to cancer is apparently caused by fungus, according to this program. And of course, the key to vital health is to follow this TV doctor's dietary recommendations. There's probably a book to buy, too, and a custom line of supplements that ensure the health of the doctor's bank account, if not of his followers.

Now, I won't argue that I'd be better off if I kept my hand out of the cookie jar more often, but being subjected to a thinly veiled critique of my size when I was unable to respond, well, that's just foul play! I suppose it could have been worse: The hygenist could have just as easily been telling me about the last episode of Glenn Beck that she watched (now there's a fungus that needs eradication!), could've told me that she'd pray for my receding gums, or could have tried to pitch a tooth-whitening treatment. And even if I didn't have my mouth full, who wants to argue with someone who's armed with sharp pointy metal things?

I suppose the incident will have at least one benefit. I'm going to brush and floss five times a day from now on, so that I have to spend as little time as possible in that woman's chair next visit!

Monday, September 20, 2010

maanantai meh*

(*Finnish for "monday meh.")
I have family ties to today's "meh." In this painting, "Symposion," by Finnish painter Aleksi Gallen-Kallela, you can see my great-great grandfather, Robert Kajanus (second from right). The Finnish-English translation of the painting's Wiki page is a bit hard to follow, but I have a feeling that the conversation depicted was rather hard to follow as the night's drinking and philosophising went on ... and on ... and on.

And I bet they all felt pretty "meh" the next day.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Norwegian Wood

Actually it's Swedish MDF, but I like it anyway. I probably would not want to sit on it while wearing shorts, though.

I have a moderate obsession with browsing Scandinavian design blogs, of which there are an amazing abundance! I'm sure that part of the attraction is due to my own semi-Scandinavian heritage. I only wish that I had also inherited whatever gene it is that predisposes one to living a simple, clutter-free life!

My sister seems to have lucked out in that regard -- even though her home bears little resemblance to an Ikea store, she is more successful than I at deflecting the material detritus that partners, pets, and progeny bring into one's life. I, on the other hand, have the potential to become one of those people whose loved ones resort to the intervention of professional organizers and therapeutic de-clutterers. But really, I'm not that bad: I do maintain more than minimal standards of sanitation in my dwelling, and I don't attach sentimental value to items whose rightful place is the garbage can.

Nevertheless, along my upstairs hallway there is a slowly growing lineup of things that are destined for the yard sale that I keep threatening to have. I don't know why I don't simply put the outdated clothes, outgrown toys, and unwatched VHS tapes into Hefty bags and tote it all off to the nearest charity store. I suppose I rationalize that, as long as I'm going to the trouble of hauling the stuff downstairs and out of the house, I might as well put price tags on it and see if there's a profit to be made.

And if I have a yard sale, I can put the money in a savings account toward a trip to see some genuine Norwegian wood (and glass, and pewter, and textiles), in Trondheim, where some of my roots are. Ok, so it will take more than one yard sale to make a downpayment for such a trip, but I've gotta start somewhere, ja?

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a 1999-vintage cordless phone (slightly smaller and lighter than a brick), a glass nativity set (made in China), or a half-dozen black hoodies (various sizes), e-mail me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

monday meh

Usually I feel pretty good when summer turns to fall. Not only is the relief from August's heat a pleasant change, but I've always anticipated the "clean slate" that is associated with the start of a new school year, a new season. The fruits of the year's labors have ripened on the vine and are ready for enjoying. But....but....but.....this September I'm just not "there." At least not yet.

I've resolved to get unstuck from these doldrums -- that means changing the way I think, acting instead of reacting, and perhaps most difficult of all, developing some goals and then figuring out how to achieve them. It means that I have to unpack more than the luggage I brought back from my Boston vacation; I have to unpack the accumulated stuff, psychic and actual, that I've had in storage for some time. I've avoided that task for too long. When it's time to move on (might be to a new job, a new town, I don't know yet...), I don't want to have to drag all that crap along. Again.

Meanwhile, it's Monday again. Meh.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


It's rough getting back in the workday/blogday routine after my Boston trip. But now the laundry is done, the dog seems to have forgiven me for not bringing intellikid back, and I need to haul my rump to the office so I can finance my next trip...

I reconnected with a number of old friends along the way to & from Boston this time, and even met up with a new friend who traveled to the city. Doug's photos are better than anything I took, so check out the link at his blog if you're one of those visually-oriented folks. As soon as I have time, I'll post more wordy stuff for you literary types.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Funky Friday, Dirty Water Edition

The lip-synching on this video makes Milli Vanilli look like geniuses, but it's a fitting segue as I embark on "The Wayward Yankee Repatriation Tour (aka Magical Midlife Mystery Tour Part Deux)"

Boston-bound in a couple of hours...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday meh...

Today's meh is by NC artist Elliot Coatney,
whose brother has the best buns around!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's Like Riding a Bike

Taking my clue from PENolan, I decided that I'd mark turning 50 with a year-long celebration. I had the idea that each month I'd do something I'd never done before. In April my planned new activity was rained out, but since I'd never had a surprise birthday party before (thanks, Mom), I'll count that as my April "thing."

May brought the Magical Midlife Mystery Tour. In June I was stuck for ideas until I decided I'd write a sonnet (I know, I know....and it's still not finished). Come July I was so busy with my job that I didn't have the time or energy to consider tackling any new activities (but I did stay sober at the Institute's farewell dinner, which was a first).

Yesterday I did my August "thing," and biked the upper half of the Virginia Creeper Trail with intellikid. What fun! Even though it had been well over 30 years since I'd spent more than, say, 30 minutes on a bicycle, I managed this 17 mile ride with minimal discomfort. Ok, so it was mostly a downhill coast, but I found that it does take considerable effort to remain upright and balanced on 2 wheels for that distance!

It seems that riding a bike is just like riding a bike. I found that stopping a bike, however, does require some practice. Or at least the ability to remember that one is on a bike when one wishes to stop.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Funky Friday, Space Edition

I've been taking Fridays off from work this month because I accrued a crapload of comp time this summer. And three-day weekends are sort of like a mini-vacation. Unfortunately, today's planned leisure is being interrupted by an "emergency" department meeting called by the Dean of our college. All we know is that the meeting is about "space"; however, I doubt that NASA is in any way involved.

Monday, August 16, 2010

monday meh

Brooding Womehn, Pablo Picasso

When I was a senior in high school, I wrote a term paper about Pablo Picasso. In Spanish. It's kind of disheartening to realize that I've probably forgotten more than I've remembered of my formal education. But that's not why I'm - ahem - blue today. No, today is more of a funk along the lines of "oh-crap-it's-Monday-where-did-the-farkin-weekend-get-to?" thing. And I really don't want to go to work.


Monday, August 9, 2010

monday meh

Lady Mehcbeth, as portrayed by Gabriel Cornelius von Max.

Apologies for not delivering a timely "meh" to those of you in more easterly time zones. Or really, really far westerly ones...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Funky Friday

Because you can't have too much Etta...

Gotta wonder about her outfit, though.

Monday, August 2, 2010

monday meh

By popular request Because one of the two followers of "the daily meh" thought the series was worth continuing, and because mondays really are "meh," I will adorn my corner of the blogosphere with weekly visual representations of this sentiment.

Today's meh is by French artist Henri Mehtisse.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Life, liberty, guns, and teeths for all!

I've been too busy of late to pay much attention to affairs of state, but here in Tennessee one can't help but take an interest in the upcoming gubernatorial primary. The lone Democratic party candidate, Mike McWherter, is no progressive's prize, having opined against adoption by gay couples and for the teaching of intelligent design in the state's schools. (Why am I living here, again?)

The Republican party's half dozen candidates have unleashed a plague of mailers and canned campaign phone messages to households here in Bubbaville, but it is in their unrehearsed pronouncements where they shine brightest, some promoting secession, while others ponder whether Islam is really a cult and therefore not afforded all the protections of "true" religions.

But the shiniest star in this primary has got to be Basil Marceaux:

Swoon. I could just listen to him say "pwedge of aweegance to da wepubwick" all day.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Funky Friday

This brings back memories of Baltimore summers, hot & muggy and no air conditioning in the apartment I shared with my best friend's finger-pickin-blues guitarist boyfriend. Not that she had other boyfriends, mind you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

up to my ears

Friends and family know that I have no shortage of words when it comes to whining about the less-than-positive aspects of my job. I could write pages and pages about every outdated, poorly designed, mismanaged, ill-conceived aspect of the job, and how even though I am charged with coordinating the program, the things that are in direst need of attention are outside the realm of my influence, etc., etc., yada, yada....

Words failed me last week, however, when I had to write a 360-word promotional piece to accompany an ad for next year's program. I think I managed to eke out 194 words before my mind started to warp...

Come spend a month at our campus. We have cleverly timed the program to coincide with the arrival of several hundred high-schoolers here to attend wrestling, cheerleading, and football camps. If you are lucky, they will not have eaten all the good stuff at the dining hall by the time you shuffle your middle-aged rump across campus.

If you missed the opportunity to experience dormitory living during your undergraduate studies, you will now have the chance to live in a 14' X 20' room, sharing a bath with someone who is the Oscar to your Felix, or vice-versa. We hope that all of the mildewed carpet in the residence hall will be replaced by the time your group arrives, but cannot guarantee same.

Your days in the classroom will be spent among colleagues whose tales of woe will rival your own. Nobody has it worse than they do back at their home campus. Prizes will not be given for the saddest tale of administrative abuses of power, but that doesn't stop the sharing.

You may or may not be assigned to a qualified advisor to guide you through the design of your project, since you failed to return the required paperwork on a timely basis. We are not mind readers and have no preconceived idea of what the hell you want to work on while you're here.

Need more information? Your program director will cheerfully answer any questions you have, at least the first and second times. After that she will become quite testy and refer you to the program Web site or the informative handout you were given 5-minutes prior. She will smile when you ask how she is. And she will weep to see you leave at the end of 4 weeks. Whether this is because she will genuinely miss you, because her veneer of self-control has finally cracked, or because she knows she must immediately begin planning for next year's program, well . . . .

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Listening to fireworks


-- by David Baker

Yesterday a little girl got slapped to death by her daddy,
out of work, alcoholic, and estranged two towns down river.
America, it's hard to get your attention politely.
America, the beautiful night is about to blow up

and the cop who brought the man down with a shot to the chops
is shaking hands, dribbling chaw across his sweaty shirt,
and pointing to cars across the courthouse grass to park.
It's the Big One one more time, July the 4th,

our country's perfect holiday, so direct a metaphor for war
we shoot off bombs, launch rockets from Drano cans,
spray the streets and neighbors' yards with the machine-gun crack
of fireworks, with rebel yells and beer. In short, we celebrate.

It's hard to believe. But so help the soul of Thomas Paine,
the entire country must be here-the acned faces of neglect,
the halter-tops and ties, the bellies, badges, beehives,
jacked-up cowboy boots, yes, the back-up singers of democracy

all gathered to brighten in unambiguous delight
when we attack the calm pointless sky. With terrifying vigor
the whistle-stop across the river will lob its smaller arsenal
halfway back again. Some may be moved to tears.

We'll clean up fast, drive home slow, and tomorrow
get back to work, those of us with jobs, convicting the others
in the back rooms of our courts and malls--yet what
will be left of that one poor child, veteran of no war

but her family's own? The comfort of a welfare plot,
a stalk of wilting prayers? Our fathers' dreams come true as nightmare.
So the first bomb blasts and echoes through the streets and shrubs:
red, white, and blue sparks shower down, a plague

of patriotic bugs. Our thousand eyeballs burn aglow like punks.
America, I'd swear I don't believe in you, but here I am,
and here you are, and here we stand again, agape.

Read this poem and others at Poets Against War

Sunday, June 20, 2010

a month of "meh"

It's come to this folks: I'm reduced to an inarticulate shell of a wench. Stressed-out and sleepless, I now resort to posting kitteh pictures from that cheezburger site in a lame attempt to maintain some sort of presence in the blogosphere.

Alas, this state of ennui is all too familiar to me once the end of June rolls around. Long-time readers may recall the despairing post I wrote last summer when I struggled to maintain my sanity in the face of the demands of my job. Enthusiasm eludes me. I'm gearing up for an entire month -- 5 weeks, actually -- of "meh."

Since I will be working for the next 13 days straight (at least), I don't forsee having much time or energy available to wring any witty verbiage from my poor, overtaxed grey matter. But I do expect to find a few moments to take refuge in the words and images that others cast to the interwebs. To that end, I am launching a new project, "the daily meh," where I hope you will come visit & commiserate with me.

It'll be kind of like a party, except not.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1000 words + 1


Painting by Joseph Lorusso, found here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Full Frontal Reminiscence

Summertime inevitably brings back memories of youth, of the long carefree season where the usual rules didn't apply: no waking up to the clang of an alarm clock, no evenings spent toiling over homework, no … clothes. Back when air conditioning was something we enjoyed only on rare shopping trips, and our family's nearest neighbors were half a mile away, summer was a clothing-optional kind of time at our house. Accordingly, my younger sister, cousin and I switched our TV-inspired role-playing games from "Star Trek" to "Tarzan" in honor of the season's less-restrictive costume requirements.

That all changed the summer of my tenth year, however. Precocious in all things, I got a jump-start on puberty as well, and during one afternoon of topless tree-climbing I came to the poignant realization that I really couldn't play Tarzan with these new bubbies that had inconveniently attached themselves to my upper torso. I left the game, went in the house to find something to cover up with, and spent the hours until suppertime sitting on the kitchen stoop reading a Bobbsey Twins book.

It wasn't parental pressure or any sort of moral brainwashing that made me suddenly modest. I guess I just felt uncomfortable in my new body, and was reluctantly aware that other things would change, too. While garments may not have been compulsory, growing up was. Or at least I believed so then.

Nowadays I indulge in the occasional sauna, hanging out, so to speak, with my friends, in the pretext that I'm doing something for my health. In reality though, I'm just being a naked kid again.

(Edited & Reposted from JS 7/29/05)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meat the Author

I hope they don't make a movie out of Julie Powell's second book, Cleaving. I've just finished reading this latest memoir-ish offering from the author of Julie and Julia, upon recommendation from my sister. I haven't seen the Julie and Julia movie (nor actually read the book - yet) but I'm sure it's innocuous enough. I have read excerpts of Powell's Julie/Julia Project blog, which is comically entertaining while providing ample evidence of Powell's questionable sanity. And Powell's success at turning a passion for cooking into a way out of a shitty job is pretty enviable to those of us stuck in shitty jobs ourselves.


Cleaving would be an okay book if its author was content to merely chronicle her obsession with learning the butchering trade. I didn't grow squeamish at Powell's descriptions of turning animals into entrees; after all, I grew up in a family of fisherpeople, so I know that flounder don't come from the ocean ready for the pan in uniform rectangular blocks. Heck, I've even eaten meat that had a name, courtesy of my sister & brother-in-law's sheep herd. But when Powell's tale turns to the way she rips her husband's heart apart, even if figuratively, via an affair that fulfills some masochistic need she didn't realize she had, I found myself not wanting to read the gory details. Oh, sure, Powell suffers because she sees how she makes her husband suffer. As a reader, though, I didn't want to suffer along.

I acknowledge that many writers use their craft as a form of therapy. Powell surely earned enough from the success of Julie and Julia, though, to afford a real therapist to work out her problems with. Maybe I just don't read enough (any) mainstream writing to appreciate the appeal and marketability of the sort of writing Powell is paid to indulge in.

And maybe, if Powell is the masochist she claims to be, she'd be interested in trying my job for her next book.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

thought stream

In spite of the state's other shortcomings, California is providing us with some mighty tasty strawberries this year.

Strawberry Alarm Clock are also from California. And until recently, still touring, apparently. My LP collection includes their album "Incense and Peppermints."

Peppermint is one of the most widely used and useful herbs. It has wondrous medicinal properties, tastes wonderful all on its own, but I believe peppermint was put on the planet to be paired with chocolate:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making the Grade

It’s that time of year again – PMS time. PMS is the unfortunate acronym for “Performance Management System,” the employee performance review procedures in place where I work. Actually they’ve done away with PMS in the past year, in favor of PM1, PM2, PM3, and PM4 – but “PMS” probably more accurately conveys the agony and general malaise that overcomes my department when the performance review cycle rolls around.

Last week I had my own review, which consisted chiefly of my supervisor telling me how badly my colleagues and I have disappointed him by refusing to cheerfully continue enabling our most dysfunctional colleague’s behavior. He went on to critique (criticize) my own performance because I don’t execute the duties of my position exactly as he would, and left no doubt in my mind that he would rather have someone else occupying my office. Preferably a minority male, because there are so few of those in leadership positions in the field. (Never mind the fact that there are woefully few minorities of any gender within 50 miles of the university where I work.)

So…in order to earn “Outstanding” assessments on next year’s review, it looks like I need to make some major changes.

Anybody know where I can get some melanin and testicles?

(Image borrowed from here.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

At Least it Wasn't a Moose

(Or, "These ain't your momma's vacation pictures.")

Well, part of the "Mystery" in my "Magical Mystery Midlife Tour" was, unfortunately, solved early in my trip when, upon being enthusiastically greeted to the Cape by one of its resident deer, I realized that I hadn't accounted for my $500 insurance deductible in the overall vacation budget.


I'm guessing the deer looked worse, but I didn't check. It was night and I wasn't really in the mood to feel any queasier than I already did. Luckily I sustained no damage myself, and the car made it the final 30 miles to my hotel in Provincetown, MA without showing signs of mechanical troubles. I checked in to my hotel, unpacked the bottle of wine I'd had the foresight to bring along, and after making a few phone calls, enjoyed the night-time view of P-town harbor from my own private deck.
View from my deck

The next day I called the Gecko and learned that I might as well be back in Bubbaville, at least so far as having an insurance adjustor handy went.

Anyway, running around to the police station (had to make 2 trips because the officer hadn't left the paperwork for me by the time I got there Monday) and finding a garage that could tell me if the "Check Engine" warning was anything serious (it wasn't) cut into my sightseeing time, but nevertheless I tried really hard not to let my Bambicidal incident put too much of a damper on my vacation. I spent one afternoon just walking around Provincetown, browsing a few shops and having a decadent lunch (bacon, tomato, and brie pannini....with a healthy side salad, of course!).
P-town record store window

I looked up one of my Mom's old acquaintances who has a gallery there, and later had a nice chat with the fellow who ran the fudge shop I visited. Talk about your dream jobs! Even though it was too early in the season for lots of places to be open, that meant there were no crowds which suited me just fine.
Hands not 4 sale

On Tuesday I had a much better wildlife adventure, and went on an afternoon whale watching cruise. It was incredible! We got really lucky, according to the biologist/guide -- there was a whale who was very curious about our boat and hung around, swimming back and forth underneath the boat and giving us a fantastic show for over half an hour. There were dozens of other whales feeding in the area too.
Our whale

I also spent some time on the Cape Cod National Seashore -- very nice & isolated and . . . natural. A nice change from my last beach experience, which was of the Myrtle variety.

Lines for the restroom
Wednesday I was due in Boston, and the weather was perfect for the drive. I decided to stop in Plymouth for lunch, and after gobbling down a lobster roll at a wharf-side fish market/cafe, I took a quick walk to see the Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock.
The Mayflower II and funky tree

Once in Boston, intellikid treated me to dim sum for my birthday. She insisted that I try the tripe. I did. I let her finish it. Everything else was yum, though -- especially the roast pork buns. I don't have any photos from my stay in Boston, because aside from an afternoon at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, all I did was eat.

Friday morning we got the car packed in an incredibly short time, and left Boston about 11:30. Spent the night in PA, and then during the last leg of our trip Saturday we stopped off for a while at Dinosaur Land in Virginia -- one last roadside attraction before dragging our weary selves back home.
Not Responsible for Accidents

(If you've got nothing better to do, there are more pics here