Friday, February 29, 2008

Easy Non-fiction

Somebody left this on my desk at work. Don't worry, this isn't a book review - just a penis joke. Those Rookie Readers are amazingly unselfconscious.

Now that the kidlit stuff has moved over to Pink Me, I feel so free! Pretty soon I'll tell the story about the guy in our neighborhood who calls himself Cocksucker Douchebag in public. Hee hee! And yesterday I put up a picture of a lady in her bra! Wooo!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

You call that rock and roll?

Our Aimee sent this lovely image along - it's a Victoria's Secret ad - with the comment "Who cares if your bra fits if you look so f-ed up?" and a quote from Amy Winehouse: you can probably guess which one.

Strangely, all our 3- and 4-year-old children LOOOVE that song. It's a little disconcerting to hear them sing, "Ty ta may me go to wee-hab, I say 'NO, NO, NO!"

Mr. Four is currently hooked on a Brian Setzer Orchestra counting song,
Cause when you were 10 you used to run from men
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)
When you was 15 you was a natural queen
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)
When you were 22 you didnt know what to do
When you was 25 you thought about that jive
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)

When you was 31 you was hot as the sun,
(You kept on sittin on it all the time)
When you were 35 you were glad to be alive
When you were 38 it still wasnt too late
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)

When you were 44 men were still knockin on your door
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)
When you were 49 you changed your mind
When you were 52 you still knew what to do
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)
(Kept on sittin on it all the time)
The "kept on sittin' on it" part is the part that makes me wince a little. Pretty sure I know what "it" is, and I'm not all that comfy with my four-year-old singing about "it".

Almost as bad as when he used to sing "Malo" by Bebe. It's in Spanish, so I'm absolutely sure he never realized it was about a physically abusive relationship. Oh for the days when they would just sing "Booty Fresh".

On that front, I would like to tell everyone within the sound of my voice to GO TO THE 8x10 FRIDAY NIGHT and FLEX YOUR FUNK MUSCLES! All Mighty Senators are ON!

And if that ain't enough? GO TO THE OTTOBAR SATURDAY NIGHT and FLEX YOUR PUNK MUSCLES! Pulaski (formerly Sick) is GO!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pink is the new BLAAAHG

No more reviews of children's books on this blog. Sorry, Jaime, I know you're going to miss them. If, however, the thought of choosing picture books without assistance from a learned, opinionated librarian leaves you shaking in a corner, please click yourself over to the BRAIND NYOO BLAHG Pink Me ( and I believe you will find the guidance you crave.

Also, if you choose to purchase books rather than take them out of the library, each title on Pink Me has been thoughtfully linked to the fine folks at Amazorn dort corm, who will, upon your purchase, thoughtfully deposit a tiny referral fee into Pink Me's bank account.

This is a test: J. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography

A few things I haven't had to deal with

My friend Aimee was sitting on the floor one day putting on her boots. As she picked one up, she felt something shift inside it. As all boot-wearing mamas know, kids love to put Hot Wheels cars, sidewalk chalk, and walkie-talkies in boots, so she sighed and upended the boot, expecting a piece of train track or a handful of crayons to fall out. Not expecting a live mouse, anyway. She and the mouse looked at each other for a second, then the mouse ran away. She turned to the two cats watching from the bed and gestured futilely toward the fleeing mouse. "What do I PAY you two for?!" she yelled in disgust.

My friend Juliet was at the SuperFresh the other day, picking up the peanut butter and the contraceptives, when she passed a dad with a full cart and three kids. He had a 6-year-old with him, a baby in the baby part of the cart, and a toddler in with the groceries. All of a sudden the toddler threw up. All over the groceries and out the bottom of the cart. Juliet had her own kids with her, so she made a "Yikes" face at the dad and got the hell out of there.

My friend [name redacted 'cause would YOU want the whole world to know you have IBS?] has IBS because she refuses to eat anything with a square cell structure.

I haven't had to deal with a supernatural Japanese hair-cutting monster.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fug the READ poster - Colin Farrell

BECAUSE he looked so awful at the Academy Awards last night.

BECAUSE he rubbed up against Linda Sue Park in an elevator and then made an erection joke about it.

BECAUSE I can smell him from here, and he smells like a homeless chain-smoker sweating out Pikesville Rye.

No further comment is necessary.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Just another excuse to drink wine and eat chocolate in front of the TV

Here we go, the broadcast version. No cable.

Best Director. I'm on the last of the wine, so let's get this going. Scorsese is kinda getting like Woody, the ticcy delivery, they eyebrows. Although he looks decidedly better in a tux. Coens it is. I'm kind of taking this as an award for Cormac McCarthy too, although of course he's not there (wait, no, is that him?). More flailing. I just love these guys. One of 'em's married to Frances McDormand, my role model. Thar she blows, fingers in her mouth, whistling! Love that chick.

God, even Denzel is getting a little squinty. I have to say I rooted for someone else for Best Actress, Director, Screenplay, but I want Juno to get Best Picture. But No Country for Old Men sweeps it! And wow, yup, there's our man Cormac.

Best Actor. Look at that, back when he made Philadelphia, Tom Hanks's eyes used to open. All these squinty guys. Jesus Dame Helen looks fantastic against the blue backdrop, in her crystals and red satin, plus that shiny shiny hair. She makes the young girls look like crap.

Daniel Day Lewis could stand there reading the owner's manual for our Civic and I would just drink it in. He's got the most beautiful voice.

Bob brought me Cheetos and cigarettes. God I love that man.

Harrison Ford, still dating the skeleton. Guy has more cool movie themes associated with him than anyone else. I bet if he walks in a room and doesn't hear Raiders of the Lost Ark, he doesn't know he's there.

Screenplay. Bets, please. Diablo, you knew it. They're playing Kinks, that's so strange. Possibly the most prominent tattoo ever on the Oscars, as well as most prominent skull-themed jewelry. Thank you, Diablo, for being interesting looking, for worrying that your slit is too high, and for choking up. And I am super glad you family loves you just the way you are, although if they didn't before tonight, I bet they do now.

Score. Amy Adams back in her first dress of the night. Can't see her ass from here, but her hair looks good. They made her say "brilliantly inventive composers." Take that Diaz, tripping over "cinematography" when that's actually the award she was presenting and you'd think she'd'a practiced the word. Atonement gets score. Woo.

I like Tom Hanks a lot more now after Charlie Wilson's War. I had been real sick of him being Our Man in Space... but oh god now he's Our Man Representing the Troops. Pretty cool that they've gotten service members to present doc short subject. That's really lovely.

Stewart, what a guy. Bringing out Marketa, who got scooted off the stage before she could do thanks for the Best Song. She's sweet and inspirational and Jon is clearly completely smitten. Awwww!

Oh Christ Cameron Diaz is drunk as well as looking like hell. There Will Be Blood got it for cinematography. Ok.

The shiny decorations on Hillary Swank's funereal gown are beginning to crawl toward her neck, or is that half a bottle of wine talking?

Who's dead? Kitty Carlisle! That guy! Jane Wyman! That other guy! Michael Kidd, Antonioni, ooh, the kid from Hook, that's got to be a terrible story. Moneypenny, I knew that. Laszlo Kovacs, inspiration for one of the best fake names I've ever heard. Suzanne Pleshette? Jeez! Bergman, man it's been a bad year for auteurs. And poor crazy Heath.

Thank you for brushing your hair. I'll make a whole Golden Girls theme song about Penelope Cruz's hair. Plus I like the blue, plus I like the fluffies around the bustline. Makes Jessica Alba's dress look like it was trimmed by a 70-year-old New Jersey housewife. Penel always looks great at these things. Kind of don't like the drape across the front though.

Guck. Patrick Dempsey "versatile and talented"? No, he's JUST CUTE. Notice HE'S not singing any of these crappy songs, or even dancing. And wait, is that Amy Adams dancing to the THIRD blah song from Enchanted? If that's her, her third dress of the evening, that purple thing, makes her ass look GIANT. If it's not her, why did they pick a dancer with a giant ass?

Best Song. Travolta. You know, there is nothing wrong with gay. Just be gay! And grow your hair out. Well, I'm happy for the Once kids if only because it means that none of those boring Enchanted songs made it. But poor girl, did your hair guy miss the plane? You got a nice dress, after all.

Hey hold on there's a whole bunch of people with pink hair in a J.C. Penney ad! Screw you guys, I own that!

Stewart doing Wii with the singing kid funniest thing yet. And Oh SHIT here's Fug the READ Poster poster boy Colin Farrell. I hate that guy. He got all innapropriate on Linda Sue Park in an elevator once, and his is the only Internet sex video I have ever seen even a second of, and I'm not sure how that happened. It might have started up automatically on some website or something. I'm still so scarred. And I'm so sick of this song from Once. It feels like it's been around forever, like it's a Van Morrison song that gets used in every sensitive moment in every movie ever. Really makes the Moldy Peaches sound like geniuses.

So here's Jack. Whatever, Jack. At least he ditched the sunglasses. And here's Renee. More grey, and she still has that awful haircut. At least it looks fluffy this time, and the dress fits, of course.

I can't believe those slight songs from Enchanted got all nominated and stuff, and Eddie Vedder, who, ok, we used to always deride as the guy who sang like "Hurrr, hurr, hurrr," didn't get nominated for the music from Into the Wild. That "Big Old Sun" song is good.

And here's Nicole. Her necklaces are all crooky, and she missed the memo about pregnant = purple. Black looks awfully creepy on pregnant, I don't care how well it sets off your ivory skin. I'm not even going to mention the face. You'd think she'd have to lay off the toxin while she's carrying, but what do I know.

Vosges Oaxaca Bar: guajillo and pasilla chiles, Tanzanian bittersweet chocolate. Ooh! The bitter 75% cacao really goes with the chilis - often that high a cacao content is just too much. This is really good.

Oh and some old guy is talking. Some old guy who apparently knows everybody, I've never heard such a name-dropper! With the obligatory white scarf that the old guys always have to wear. I think even Kirk Douglas wore one. I'm gonna eat more of that chocolate and pour some more wine.

Oh my god it's my friend Sam with a bad Jewfro wig! Wait no that's Seth Rogen. Sam's curly wig is pink. What's this award for? Action sequences? I should pay more attention. Wait, was that Shia LeBaeiouf in Transformers? I didn't know that - I might have seen that movie if I knew that Constantine's sidekick was in it. Love that guy.

Wow they blew up a horse in 3:10 to Yuma. Maybe we should put that one in the Netflix queue too. Not often people blow up horses.

One of the sound guys on The Bourne Ultimatum tripped on the walkmodel's dress. Dude, you just looked dumber than Rogen!

Best Actress. Nice to see Cotillard's eyebrows grew back. Man, what a crew of actresses, and I still don't get why Allison Janney didn't get nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Ok I didn't see La Vie en Rose but good god how many times does Cate Blanchett have to torture herself in hoops and corsets before they'll give her an Academy Award? On the plus side, Cotillard seriously looks like she might throw up.

Jessica Alba's hair is boring. I said it. I guess she didn't want it to compete with her bust feathers. The ones ON her dress, not in it, you perv. But now that you mention it, the feathers do obscure her best assets. Color is great though - purple is I guess the way to go for pregnant nowadays.

You know what I loved James McAvoy in? Bright Young Things, it was kind of an awful, obviously coke-fueled period film by the otherwise brilliant Stephen Fry. He should go back to whoever styled him for that movie, cause he's looked awful since then, even in The Last King of Scotland, when he had coolio 70's suits and leisure wear. Go back to the cute, Jimmy!

Got to love the Coen Bros. They're like so improbable as big-time Hollywood guys, they can't even manage a speech at the Academy Awards without a little flailiness.

Oh Christ Chenoweth is going to do a header in that fluffy rag. You just can't prance around in floor-length chiffon. Especially when it's the color of a sidewalk. I can't believe I feel so uncharitable about her - she's Ms. Noodle on Sesame Street and is apparently a game gal, even though she's a Mormon with a tiny dog. Squinty little thing.

Again there's that M&M's commercial with "This is the day". Do I have to remind you that The The changed my life?

A salute to binoculars in film? Jesus Christ. Not even worth it for the joke. Keri Russell is so cute. I just watched Waitress, like twice. But grey? Lord, girl, find a color.

Vosges Naga Bar: sweet Indian curry powder, coconut flakes, deep milk chocolate. I've really come around to milk chocolate - it melts so nice, and nowadays it doesn't all taste like gritty plastic Snickers chocolate. So? The spice is really good, but the coconut doesn't have much flavor, or decent bite.

Hey look it's Owen Wilson, looking sane! Hair out of his eyes at least. Oh I love award winners who barely speak English, means the speech is short and cute.

Frickin Jerry. As a bee. We go see most kid movies, but I couldn't drag us to that one.

Best Supporting Actress. I loved when Arkin won his award last year, he's such a breath of actual air. I'd love to see Ruby Dee and her ruby dress win, but it's hard not to root for Miss Cate or Miss Tilda. That poor British kid from Atonement, somebody should have brushed out her hair, and given her a different dress. Even a tux, like Tatum O'Neal did way back in the day. Jesus I love Tilda's hair. I love her speech, I love that she says "man" all the time. And I don't think anyone else can wear a black charmeuse sack like she can.

The Rock can actually wear the hair that Travolta is trying. He looks super in a tux.

God does Blanchett wear a dress. Purple! With some weird beady haltery strap - I would totally be pregnant if I could dress like that. Thank you thank you for cutting away to Johnny Depp as often as possible. Boy looks better in glasses than anyone else in history.

Well now here's one person who can wear white. Jennifer Hudson. Although the dress does a terrible thing to her ladies, turning them into one pyramidal boob. Maybe Philip Seymour Hoffman will never be the Helsinki station chief, but I think he should be Best Supporting Actor, mostly for his role as Dusty in Twister. But you can't argue with Javier as a choice. Such a great voice that guy has. And look at his happy ma and all her fantastic silver jewelry, man nobody ages like a Spanish lady.

Look, there's Tilda! One sleeve, hair like a hood ornament, god I love that woman.

80 years of Award ceremonies in 4 minutes - that actually works out.

Animated Feature. Hathaway's in red too! I bought a blue sweater today and thought of her. She looks pregnant though, big boobs I didn't know she had, scarlet lei, ripped-looking single sleeve. But she has such great hair. Wouldn't it be great if Persepolis won? Marjane's so great, each and every one of those books.

My kids didn't like Ratatouille, which is very strange - they usually love all kid movies. I think it was too fast-paced for them, and Remy was too much of a loner. But of course, there you go. My boy Nate Wragge must be pleased at least.

Vosges haute chocolat Black Pearl Bar: wasabi, ginger, black sesame seeds, dark chocolate. Hm. Loved the salt one better, the sesame seeds don't add that much, and I don't find the wasabi.

Beginning to dislike Heigl, certainly that short hair is way too retro and old for her. And the dress is boring. So makeup went to Piaf, which makes it Blanchett: 1, Cotillard: 1.

Amy Adams apparently can do anything, even sing soprano trills while wearing Spanx, with no shitty backup dancers to distract. I would expect this kind of professionalism from Kristen Chenoweth, but holy heck Amy is strictly a movie gal I think.

The governor is delivering the Oscars in their little animated intro. Nice to think he'll 1) ever be close to one and 2) has a job to do tonight.

Thank god for Jon Stewart. I miss cable. Thank god Johnny Depp is there.

Big ass beard on Viggo. Buddy, you're breaking my heart. I love DDL's earrings, he's been wearing them for years. Is Cate Blanchett sitting next to Chrissie Hynde? Who is that in the purple?

McAvoy, by the way, does not make the stubble. Boy should shave, maybe twice a day.

Does anyone not know that Diablo Cody used to be a stripper? Looks like they rushed a few jokes into the monologue.

Costume design! One of my favorites! Oh but boo, no production number like last year, just clips. The Beatles movie, the bummer McEwan movie, the new Elizabeth movie, the Piaf movie, and Sweeney Todd. Ha! Elizabeth! Hopefully a sign Blanchett will get the Oscar she was robbed of for the first Elizabeth movie.

Ellen Page, I hate the long chain necklaces, they're too casual for a gown, even that kind of dumpy black thing.

Yowza, don't you just worry Hillary Swank is going to bite things? Those teeth are so giant! And it's rather a predatory gown - Versace. But her hair is did, which is nice, for this group.

Fuckin Regis is backstage with, what? the janitorial staff? No, they're production number performers.

Everyone's in red: Heigl, Mirren, Miley. Julie Christie.

Jennifer Garner, pretty irritating. Again with the hair - why not brush? And all squoze up at the bust.

Dame Helen is wearing diamond sleeves? Beats the crap out of the Stuart Weitzman kicks Diablo Cody is famously wearing.

DDL's wife has some kind of arthropod attacking her bust, accented by little splashes of blood on the shoulders.

Cameron Diaz is wearing a ponytail. Even I brushed my hair for this event, and the only one paying attention to me is Big Man. Plus that weird bag at the back of her flesh-colored dress.

Amy Adams I loved in Charlie Wilson's War - she's got to be a funny smart kid, but why'd she pick the boring green column dress?

God I hate Regis. He found the old lady in the crowd, while actual interesting people are walking past behind him.

I am also liveblogging the Vosges aphrodisiac bar box. First up: Barcelona Bar. Hickory smoked almonds, grey sea salt, deep milk chocolate. Hm. Oh god. That's good. Did you want more? Ok. It's really really good.

God I hate Regis. Clooney brought somebody's babysitter? And she's wearing like beaded barkcloth curtains that don't go with her hair. Reege knows her name is Sara, but that's all.

Marion Cotillard looks awesome but why white? Cool she hasn't had her teeth all bleached.

Wow Travolta's hair! The wife is in orange looking ok, except her hair is so messy - compensating for the husband? Wouldn't be the first time. Travolta's voice is going higher and higher, isn't that weird?

Laura Linney always looks so classy. Boring though - navy. I bet it's Carolina Herrera.

Bardem cut his hair thank god. And one of the only men ever who can trot stubble out at a formal occasion and look great.

God I hate Regis. Somebody dressed Miley Cyrus like she's 30, and also pregnant.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New picture books, late February 2008

Ok listen: I'm going to live-blog the Oscars again tomorrow night, because, as I found out last year, blogging it actually makes the telecast slightly more bearable. Also, gin helps. So I figured I'd better get in some wholesome picture book reviews before I indulge in my annual orgy of bustline bashing. Here's to you, Mrs. Berenstain:

No English, by Jacqueline Jules, illustrations by Amy Huntington
Blanca speaks no English when she arrives in Diane's 2nd-grade class. But instead of hammering on the old "it's ok to be different" nail, this book makes a number of small, good points - about intention, about sensitivity, and about the importance of bilingual books in a library's collection. Unfortunately, this particular book is not bilingual at all - might have been nice to have presented it in both English and Spanish.

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
There's a lady with a beehive hairdo and a beauty spot on the cover of this book - a sure-fire signifier of "quirky," perhaps even "offbeat". And let me tell you, it ain't just the illustrations! (although now I'm craving Iggy's mom's Pucci-esque caftans and Twiggy A-lines) The story is fun and the wordplay is quirky in this book about a second-grade engineering prodigy.

"Young Iggy Peck is an architect
and has been since he was two,
when he built a great tower - in only an hour -
with nothing but diapers and glue.
'Good Gracious, Ignacious!' his mother exclaimed.
'That's the coolest thing I've ever seen!'
But her smile faded fast as a light wind blew past
and she realized those diapers weren't clean!

Oh and PS of COURSE - David Roberts is the superstar who illustrated one of my all-time super-faves, Janet Wong's Dumpster Diver. I remember the Missoni jumpsuit in that one - the guy likes fashion, I think, and that ain't bad.

Engelbert Sneem and his dream vacuum machine, written and illustrated by Mr. Daniel Postgate
Oh, awesome! It's a fun, good-looking book that, very sneakily, is also for helping with nightmares! Mr. Sneem is like a reverse Santa Claus who shows up and suctions away the dreams of children, keeps them corked up in brown bottles for his own consumption. Then one night a mom reads her kid a bedtime story - a book about Engelbert Sneem (ooo! meta!) - and the kid has a nightmare about him. Sneem sucks up the kid's dream and then views it at home. He is so upset to find out that he himself is a nightmare that he vows to change his ways.

And now...
if a child has frightening dreams
Of ghosties and ghoulies
and terrible things,
The good Mr. Sneem
is right there in a tick,
And he sucks up the nightmare
and plugs it up quick.

Junk Man's Daughter by Sonia Levitin with illustrations by Guy Porfirio
This is from the Tales of Young Americans series, which I think is not part of the American Girl empire. Just the same, it is a straightforward little historical fiction picture book of a family coming to America, facing poverty, and becoming successful through perserverence, ingenuity and hard work. I am sure there are kids for this book. Not really any that I know though.

When the Shadbush blooms, by Carla Messinger, with Susan Katz, illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden

"My grandparents' grandparents walked beside the same stream where I walk with my brother, and we can see what they saw."

Clever. This books takes us through the cycles of the year as defined by the Lenni Lenape people, Native people who originally lived along the eastern seaboard. Each page spread shows the sights and activities of the season - on the left, as experienced by "my grandparents' grandparents" and on the right as experienced by a modern-day Native girl and her family. There's more information about the Lenni Lenape in the back. "American Girl," indeed!

Snail's Birthday Wish by Fiona Rempt and Noelle Smit
Snail wishes he could be as fast as his friends Beaver, Ant, Frog etc. They give him all these odd birthday gifts: nails, a round thing, a chair, wheels. Then they build him a car out of all the parts. Cute. Like Pssst! by Adam Rex, but for littler kids.

Night Shift by Jessie Hartland
Don't load the sardines next to the ocelots! I love the detail that Jessie Hartland jams into her saturated, messy paintings. The late-night DJ plays Monk and Brubeck; the newspaper printing plant is a union shop; and there's a Rothko on the wall at the Modern Art Museum. More than just a cool occupations book (though it totally fills a niche there), this one should be fun for everyone up to 9 or 10.

Ballet Kitty by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams
Ok. Last time we had the ballet kangaroo, and I already knew about the ballet javelina, the ballet mouse, the ballet boy and the other ballet boy. This better be good. Aaaand... ok, I'm just going to say it: It's not. It's a pure celebration of girly-girliness, and I just can't get behind it.

Oh, Brother! by Nikki Grimes, illustrations by Mike Benny
The ambivalence of being in a brand-new blended family, plus a happy ending, all in Nikki Grimes' accessible poetry.

The Pen that Pa built by David Edwards, illustrations by Ashley Wolff
Man, it always seems that these cumulative stories (The Apple Pie that Papa Baked, The Van that Dad Cleaned, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain) have the best illustrations. Such a shame I find them so daggone tedious. This one at least has an interesting subject - it shows how a colonial family would have processed wool from sheep to blanket: washing it, spinning it, dying it, and weaving it on a loom. Makes me think of Ox-Cart Man, and the illustrations, reminiscent of woodcuts but dense with color, are rich and satisfying. Ashley Wolff also illustrated Philemon Sturges's She'll be comin' 'round the mountain, one of my favorite librarian-as-hero books.

Chowder by Peter Brown
Who is my man Peter Brown? Is he the scholar who wrote so incisively about the early Christian church? Is he the boy who broke my friend Bill's heart back in high school? I don't think so, but I think I can find room in my life for another Peter Brown - this one, the one who can convey expression in a character at a great distance, or from behind. The one who created a bulldog who sits on the toilet to poop and who excavates bones instead of digging them up. The man who gave his bulldog's owner Eugene Levy's hair. I like this Peter Brown.

And he has another book: The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder
This book is about Chowder finding something he's good at - bouncing on a trampoline. There is something so precise and vivid about the artist's use of space, and light - almost hyperreal. The velvety colors, the large-scale, formal compositions - it all really showcases the wit of the story and the visual detail. On a page showing Chowder's trampoline, spotlit on a darkened stage, you can barely discern a few little drops falling from above, as the pre-performance hush is broken momentarily by the brief patter of drool on the trampoline's surface. Is that explicit in the story? No. You get it from the art. That, kids, is illustration.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

#81801 MAMMOTH MIX SWEET PEA - $1.10

On a day like this, snow on the ground, you just don't believe in plants. I don't care how many daffodil and daylily shoots I see poking up above the ground - I just can't visualize them exploding into large (ish) chlorophylly factories.

I have always been skeptical when it comes to seeds and plants and growth. You drop something the size of a dot on the ground outside, cover it with a little dirt, and a couple months later it's a plant taller than your head? Where did all that mass come from? I know it's largely water, but still. That dot sucked up all kinds of stuff from the soil and, using solar energy to power its efforts, arranged the nitrogen and carbon it found in my garden into, what, a tomato? A six-foot-tall sunflower? Weird.

I placed my seed and plant orders the other day. The catalogs are just dizzying: all the tomatos are "crack-resistant" and full of "true tomato flavor," and you can't keep straight which carrots are long, which are good for fresh eating... I can't even interpret what some of that stuff means. It took all my effort to restrain myself from building a little spreadsheet comparing the traits of all the different strains from the different companies.

The flowers are no better. It's so hard to keep in mind what part of the yard I want to put nasturtiums in, and whether I need mounding or trailing, and whether Gleam germinated better than Empress of India and which one looked so good against the stump last year.

I have a notebook, which this year finally proved its worth. The peas two years ago were amazing, but I'll be damned if I can remember if they were variety Lincoln or Little Marvel or Maestro. But two years ago I stuck a printout of the seed order in the notebook, and now I know.

This year, I ordered seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds and plants from Territorial Seed Company. I used to order from Renee's Garden Seeds.

I only buy tomatos and peppers as plants. Lately I'm just not interested in starting seeds inside - the plants never end up as robust as I'd like, and I get dozens of them. But I can't find the chili peppers I want as plants. You can get varieties like Superchili and Thai Dragon as seeds, but I hate to set all that stuff up just to do the chilis, and nobody's selling the plants.

Monday was 70 degrees, and I spent the day in the garden ripping out last year's dead pea vines and ropes of dessicated pumpkin stalk. I found the columbine putting up tiny improbable whorls of leaves and a few baby stems of mint just barely showing above the mud by the driveway.

It's all bullshit, of course. The landscaping crew will show up in the middle of the night sometime in May and pop in full-grown plants to replace these wan survivors. And then I'll take a few pictures and pull a few weeds and wonder who's paying those landscapers.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm already standing on the ground

tbird_200828, originally uploaded by TeamD Rally.

My brother is at this moment driving from Seattle, Washington to Jasper, Alberta - 4850 miles - as fast as he can. He's in a race called the Alcan 5000 Winter Rally.

I'd say he's crazy, but it just sounds like too much fun. And look at that picture... sigh. Besides, he and his partner were in second place at the end of the first day!

Follow him and his friends, the mysteriously-named TeamD, on their blog, their Flickr photos, and via their GoogleEarth video flyover of the route. (They live in Seattle, OF COURSE they've got their A/V all in line). They even have bumper-mounted and boom-mounted cameras on the cars.

Go baby go!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blowing through the jasmine of my mind

This is our basement. I'm not proud, believe me. Especially since I'm pretty much the one that has to empty it. We're getting some work done, and it all has to go.

I spent some time on it yesterday. It was nuts - I found stuff from every stage of our lives and from everywhere we'd traveled. I found a brass ashtray in the shape of a shoe that we bought in India. I found my fake Kate Spade handbag. I found issues of the school newspaper from junior high. There were boxes that were packed in Brooklyn in 2002 and never unpacked. And since I'm now gonna die from all the mold spores I inhaled, I leave these notes to testify to what I found.

my dad painted this

My dad painted this during one of his art phases. He's not a bad painter, but he's not that interested in it for some reason. He wasn't very happy with the job he did on this portrait of my aunt's Siamese, so he painted in the blue lines.

September 1991 - the month we went tartan

I have September Vogue for every year back to the mid-1980's. This is 1991. Any time I hear someone protest that the fashion industry is not irrelevant and self-perpetuating, I think of all the times the magazines have tried to talk us into wearing plaid. (Jaime can wear tartan, but the rest of us should just leave it alone.) Meryl Streep's speech about Anne Hathaway's blue sweater in The Devil Wears Prada? Left me totally unconvinced.

Vogue magazine, September 1991

Which is not to say I am not riveted by fashion magazines. Here we see a spread from that issue - the infamous ballgown-and-biker-jacket feature. This picture, shot by Peter Lindbergh back when people like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, and Claudia Schiffer still modeled for a living, lodged in my mind as the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Minus the leather caps.

ice skates

Can't clean out a basement without finding a pair of skates.

Bob's Yamaha headlight

Bob brought about 12 items with him when he moved in with me in 1997, and this Yamaha motorcycle headlight was one of them. He's never owned a motorcycle - I think he found this on the street and brought it home. Twenty years ago.

Linda Johnson's XXXmas card

This was for a friend's xmas card. She was a photographer with long blonde hair and she wanted a photo that looked like she was making out with Santa. Proof that at some point in my life I have owned something made of lace. I remember I went from this photo shoot directly to my friend Heidi's baby shower. (Hi, Nutmeg!)

ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support

I used to work in medical publishing. I retain quite a bit about cardiology - it's actually pretty straightforward, for medicine.

Elementary Classical Greek by Frederick Williams

I used to be a Classics major. I had 6 semesters of classical Greek in college. Four days a week, 8am, up a long and very narrow staircase, taught by a man who was at least 300 years old, in a class with at most 3 other students. I retain almost zero classical Greek.

I was a graphic designer once

I used to be a graphic designer. Everything I designed was the color of candy.

Look hard enough in my house and you will always find a nose flute

Look hard enough anywhere in my house and you will always find a nose flute. You know what sounds good on the nose flute? "The Great White North." Koo loo-koo-koo koo loo-koo-choo!

Collection of button ladies

A bunch of little hat model ladies made of a button, scraps of felt, and a few sketched lines. I'm guessing Grandma. They totally make me think of the department store modeling scene in How to Marry a Millionaire.

Button lady!

Doesn't this one look like Marilyn Monroe?

Tiny china kitties playing instruments

A box of tiny china kitties playing instruments, all in various stages of broken.

eyeball candle

An eyeball candle.

Lady Stetson!

A bottle of Lady Stetson.

LIFE: The Year in Pictures, 1983

LIFE: The Year in Pictures, 1983. "Flyin' high and feelin' free, we're the class of '83!" Reagan. Quadafy. Ewoks. Mariel Hemingway. Has survived many such memorabilia purges, but not this one.

Greek shoulder bag

A leather shoulder bag I bought in Greece in 1994, killed by mold.

alarm clock

The alarm clock from my red-white-and-blue bedroom in my parents' house. That room was decorated in 1972 with striped vinyl wallpaper and white shag wall-to-wall, and stayed that way until the early '90's when they turned it into my dad's office.

the BVM loves metal

A planter in the shape of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I do not get why Christianity allows its icons to be used in this way. I'm grateful, don't get me wrong, but if it were my religion, I think I'd have a little more respect.

YNL loves metal too

And the only reason we kept her is because her middle fingers had broken off like that.