Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't Wake up the Baby (Or the Baby Will Get You)

our Mao, originally uploaded by your neighborhood librarian.

We had our first day of Circus Arts Club at the elementary school today. Despite a few snafus (the two other parents who were going to do it with me, separately and for different reasons, er, bailed) and a truly staggering number of children signed up (27), our first meeting went well. Especially considering it's meant to be an outside club, with hula hooping, juggling, and unicycle lessons, and today, because of the cold, we had to hold it in the science room (thanks Ms. Jagusch, sorry you had to do report cards with 27 chattering would-be clowns in the room).

Yeah. I'm a little punch-drunk.

We talked about circuses and expectations (sorry, no lion taming, no wheel of death) (popcorn maybe), I handed around some equipment to fondle, and I failed to really badly hurt myself on the unicycle.

Slap-happy. Maybe ready for a drink.

Before we broke up until next week, we all selected clown names. I had some suggestions at the ready for kids who were stuck: Guapo the Clown, Oboe, The Bonus Brothers, Freckles, Beep... but I needn't have bothered.


Robin the Ridiculous. Ok fine.
Loony the Clown. Sure.
Jit. This was a kindergartner, but wasn't Marcel Marceau's clown name something similar? Bip?
Skeleton the Clown
Lumpa Lumpa
Guy the Clown
Hobsloe the Horrendous. Wow!
Death of Pain. THE CLOWN.
Five Dollar Foot Long (these last two are twins, and I'm totally loving their clown names)

Of course, we also had a Checkers, two Lulus, a McNougat, and a Buttercup, but even those, I am sure... let's just say I'm not getting into a tiny car with any of these little bananagrams!

Not until they're trained, at least.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I've got blisters on my fingers

Oh I'm not even gonna COMMENT on little Reese's weird black and blue parentheses gown.
Hey not only is Sofia Loren alive but she gives HALLE BERRY a run for her money, even in that bronze Hello Dolly dress. I love these direct-address presentations for the major awards. The women are especially fantastic at this. Everybody's crying.
But frickin Halle Berry is the most gorgeous person at this event, and that dress doesn't suck at all. She's been drinking the blood of Thai virgins to stay looking so amazing.
Nicole Kidman is wearing, surprise, white. Looks like she and Angelina Jolie HATE each other though, man that was the iciest fake smile and tiny head incline you are ever likely to see.
Sean Penn, despite being atypically charming and very heartfelt... forgot to thank the wife. Ow, man, she was sitting right in the front row looking AMAZING, and she was the Princess Bride! Tsk, tsk.
The little Slumdog kids are still up for the finale! Yay, little guys on stage for best picture! Too tired to lose their minds, and so am I.

Almost ELEVEN and finally a dress slit up to Heebus! Plus it's purple, yay! It's on Alicia Keys, you know, the musician girls always give it a little extra, don't you think?
Really? Pairing wee Frieda with giant Liam? She must be wearing foot-high heels with that pretty blue dress.

THE DEAD. Nice to have Latifah sing 'em off. And I ain't gonna miss Michael Crichton, guy didn't believe in global warming. Probably crazy. But Roy Scheider, that's a blow. He shared my birthday! But it was a little bit of a bad year for men of color - Isaac Hayes, the black cop from Robocop, Bernie Mac, and Ricardo Montalban, my favorite Klingon ever.

Who's the tallest of the 5 previous leading men? Oh, it's Kline of course. Guy's a giant, but it don't mean you can keep that mustache forever, pal.
PSH, Meryl is going to be ON YOU for that little hatty-hat.
"Josh Brolin's brilliant work in Milk." heh heh, sounds like that Annie Liebowitz portrait of Whoopi Goldberg. or... something ewwier.
Sniffle. Heath Ledger.
Hey that's Sofia Loren! She's still alive?
No, really, sniffle. Heath Ledger.
Is Bill Maher's suit made of rubber? If so, I'm kind of impressed. Not enough to overlook the Karrine Steffans thing, of course.
Excellent! Philippe Petit balanced the Oscar on his chin! I'm guessing that's a first.
Best dress of the night, and it's on the director of the Best Documentary Short Subject? Well, you never know. Couple years ago it was Deneuve. Red faced with gold with twin drapes down the back.

Jessica Biel's dress got loose and is waterfalling down her front, AND it's white! Arg! This is the last year I'm doing this, if these silly girls can't sack up and commit to color, or fringe, or a slit up to Heebus, or a headdress. They look like a squad of fancy nurses.

OH wow... JESUS CHRIST! Huge Ass-man (lucky him, at this moment) and Beyonce just singlehandedly crushed the presumed return of the musical! That was THE klutziest montage number I've ever seen. Even Baz Luhrman looks stunned and appalled, and supposedly it's his number.

Natalie Portman is wearing PINK! Thank you, God and Natalie Portman! and she looks fantastic, even if the gown is not super interesting. Ben Stiller is imitating Joaquin Phoenix? That's almost... edgy. At least it's, you know, current.
What a classy, understated, friendly speech by the Cinematography winner, but, um, is he wearing Crocs?

I've NEVER liked SJP, and I kind of hate that dumb old hoopy white dress that squishes her boobs up VERY high and VERY squished, but seeing her stride out on stage, can we actually SEE THROUGH it? The center part and down hair don't make her face look any shorter or less... equine... AND she's standing next to my secret boyfriend, Daniel Craig. Phht.
These guys that won Costume Design for The Duchess have to at the very least be congratulated for getting any clothes onto Keira Knightley at all. I am so sick of seeing that skinny kid naked or nearly naked - she wears bandage tops when she goes out, and she wears only a hat - in the wrong place - in ads for Chanel.
Little Amanda Seyfried is at least wearing red, but the stiff fabric makes it look clanky. And if that montage was romance at the movies in 2008, cripes I haven't missed a THING.

That's better. A cute presentation for Tina and Steve Martin, but Tina Fey's hair is dumb. And yet more silver. Now, this is strange - Tina Fey actually kind of DOES have hips, unlike Anne Hathaway, and yet HER dress manages to not make her hips look big.
AAAANND Aniston is in silver AND white. Yeeeahh she's never going to wear anything interesting. But she can deliver a funny line, and I don't know why that doesn't count for more.

Ok Hugh Jackman, charming, but I don't guess we can expect that much funny. Singing.
No, really, he's still singing.
PSH is wearing a schmatte. He's a bold man. Always a hat guy, he wore the hell out of that fedora in Capote, and indeed he wore a beer hat in Twister, still one of his finest roles. He craved sustenance.

Ok lets recap: so far, no SWINTON, no Mirren, no Cher, no Cate Blanchett. No Julia Roberts, or Clooney, or Johnny Depp, no Damon, no Affleck, not even Paltrow. Kind of an arid year, I have to say.

No wait, we have SWINTON! YAY! Looking... like an android. Oh well, at least she's not wearing cheetah chiffon - christ, Whoopi. Holy MOTHERFUCKING shit Goldie Hawn now has Mickey Rourke's face, and more of that beige silk all these ladies seem to like. Also, brush your hair. Also, we can see your plastic boob brace.
It's Penelope, who thanks Almodovar, and whose dress I like better from the back.

You know, when I worked at the American Museum of Natural History, the communications dept would rather massacre a busload of schoolchildren than let a commercial film crew through those tall brass revolving doors. They turned down Relic (well they had bad blood with Richard Preston, who wrote the book), they turned down Night at the Museum. Now they're letting Sprint in. Standards. Nobody has no standards no more.

Meryl looks amazing, and I can't fault her for the grey - grey looks terrific on blondes.
Penelope raided Grandma's closet for vintage Balmain that is ALSO WHITE. I am getting really tired of WHITE tonight.
Jack Black wash your hair. Also shave.
Tomei, that IS a nice dress despite looking like the pile of cocktail napkins the bartender twirled a sideways glass on.
Leslie Mann is a big mirror, which is an interesting choice. Interesting is better than white.

Valentino: I remember the very first time I recognized a dress, was the Valentino Jane Fonda wore when she picked up her father's Oscar for On Golden Pond. I'd seen it in Italian Vogue, a russet gold-embroidered ballgown.
Oh the Slumdog Millionaire bunch, god the place is going to go bananafish when it wins.
Mickey Rourke wash your hair. He can pronounce Gaultier though.
Zac Efron I just last night noticed was in Firefly. He played Simon as a boy. Vanessa whatserface wants to meet Meryl Streep? Ho yeah, what on earth is she going to say to her?
RDJ's wife must be like 5'2", cause I think he himself is only like five and a half. But she looks pretty in that coral color.
Miley Cyrus, who can understand that?
Time for me to say shit about Anne Hathaway's dress. Ok. It's boring. And - am I hallucinating? It makes her HIPS LOOK BIG.

Winslet, boring. But at least it's a color. And if I'm not mistaken, even she knows she's going to win.
Diane Lane is MARRIED to Josh Brolin? I didn't realize. Nice Morticia dress.
Amy Adams, the red is great, but the puddle of Trix vomit around her neck looks like the stepstones that my kids made last summer.
SJP looks like Bride Barbie, and she's spilling out the top of it, and her beard is getting fat.
Taraji P. Henson, now that is a neat dress. Sort of mummy wrappings.
Gunn actually GRABBED Angelina by that skinny toothpicky arm, guess he heard how she rollerskated away from Seacrest at the Gold Globes.

Am I going to live-blog the Oscars AGAIN? With access to not even basic cable? You're kidding me.

I may not, actually. I'm feeling kind of blah again, and the prospect of saying mean things about Anne Hathaway's dress is not enough for me to get it up. I will be following the Fug Girls' liveblogging and the Guardian UK. And drinking.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I feed my horse on corn and beans

living room storage shed
This used to be my playground

The cat is sitting in a puddle of sunshine mewing miserably. She just HATES all the construction going on in our house - the power tools, the sawdust, and, apparently, the fact that her litter box is not where she expects it to be. I can smell it, you stupid little mammal, and when I find it, if it's one of our beds, I will be ANGRY. I don't care how traumatized you are. You should fear nothing more than you fear me.

Ok, yes, I also am sitting in a puddle of sunshine mewing miserably. I have a head cold and no cable, and I can't even watch old episodes of Cagney and Lacey on Netflix Instant because the Netflix player plus my Linux laptop equal HATE and ERROR and 404 HA HA YOU THINK YOU'RE SO SMART, YOU REJECTOR OF PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE YOU and THE ONLY WINNING MOVE IS NOT TO PLAY.

AND I am miserable because we have been unable to use our kitchen, dining room, basement, or living room since mid-January, and we're hiding out upstairs, in three little rooms plus a bathroom. Also, we've been staying at my parents' house a lot. Which - wait, no, that part is great. Really! They have cable and wifi and electric blankets and they keep the heat up nice and comfy high and we don't even have to feel crappy about not pitching in on the cleaning because they use a housecleaning service! The kids are happy to see so much of their grandparents - Mao has become devoted to Alton Brown, whom he watches with his grandfather, and about whom I cannot figure what is all the fuss. Guy's not THAT funny, or THAT original - and yesterday when I really needed to sleep all day with this cold, I slept all day without being awakened by power tools or cursing or Contractor Jake who whistles ALL THE TIME.

I've also been spending a LOT of time in the car. Mom & Dad's house is clear across town, plus I'm running around looking at flooring and countertops and tile - Christ, I think that part's done and I could not be happier - and, let's face it, our house is just not that pleasant during the day.

As a result, when I was going to pick up Bob today to make a final countertop decision, I glanced over at the passenger side of the minivan, and suggested we just meet at Home Depot.

Check this out:

That is my front passenger seat. I had a couple minutes in the Home Depot parking lot, so I picked the pile apart a little (like Alton Brown examining the components of pad thai).

Nori crackers, because I have a bad habit of skipping meals, and then getting so hypoglycemic that I think I don't need to eat, and then getting homicidal when... well, just getting homicidal.

Walter Dean Myers, Sunrise Over Fallujah. Reading for Great Books for Kids.

Christopher Moore, Coyote Blue. My reward for reading Sunrise Over Fallujah.

Curtains for the sliding door in the dining room. Measured, pinned, and ironed, waiting for me to find a sewing machine that I can figure out how to use. There's also a bag of grommets in the car associated with this project, but I did not take a picture of the bag of grommets. But I think I will look for excuses to say or type "bag of grommets" for the rest of the day.

Miscellaneous chocolate from a checkout line. Usually I can resist the checkout line chocolate, but I am feeling weak.

An extremely large fungus the kids found in the woods with Grandma.

Lunch to take to work on Saturday.

Laptop case / briefcase. Has the Project Folder in it. The Project Folder has every receipt, every measurement, every paint color, surface, plan, drawing, specs for every appliance, pages torn out of catalogs to remind me what I'm going for here, and tickets to Aruba in case I really have to bail on this renovation.

My camera bag. Eleanor From High School recently reminded me that I used to have a red shoulder bag that I carried with me everywhere and that I called The Red Bag Of Courage. I think this is the new Red Bag Of Courage. I love this camera bag.

Not a comment on our renovation - it's where we are in the Little House books. But it could also be a comment on our renovation. Cabinets are going in today - maybe we only have three more weeks to go. If it goes longer than that I think I'll start peeing in the corners too.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

There's always something happening and it's usually quite loud

What they're reading, left to right: Vincent Van Gogh, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Shaun White, Nancy Pelosi, Robert de LaSalle, Eleanor Roosevelt, and America Ferrera. (Not really.)

And what else, you ask? Does Your Neighborhood Librarian do anything other than cranky-talk about her gritty, cold, under-construction house anymore? Well, in conversation... no. Truly, I talk about nothing other than tile and flooring and the fact that we can't find the folder with all the permits in it.

But do I do anything else?

Why, yes! I read! I am writing a compare-and-contrast article on several series of biographies written for young readers, and so I am reading 94 books. NINETY-FOUR. Give or take.

Forty-four of the books in question are about the Presidents of the United States. I read about the bad ones first, of course: Nixon, Harding, Grant, and Bush. And then I read about the ones even my husband can't keep straight: Tyler, Taylor, Jackson, Johnson, Polk. I like having something to lord over him. I read about the first and the current, and then I read about my favorite: Woodrow Wilson.

Why do I like Wilson? Well, first of all, there's his Fourteen Points, the most idealistic set of foreign policy goals I've ever read. Look at Point Number Four: "Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety." Open to interpretation, sure, and an ever-shifting target, but a fine, easy-to-remember formula to adopt. Then there's the fact that he was an educator, and won the Nobel Peace Prize, and got married while in office. Plus, he just looks like a nice man.

I have read no fewer than three books about Ulysses S. Grant (drinker, poor judge of character, loved horses). I have read about Miley Cyrus and Marie Curie. Those two don't have much in common besides their initials and an abiding interest in radioactive isotopes (yeah that's a lie).

It's a lot of history to get at once. I have been led to wonder why the Confederate generals in the Civil War were just so much... classier than the Union generals. Seriously, Grant and Sherman? MISERABLE FAILURES before leading the Union army and inventing "total war". Thanks for that by the way, guys. Sure, I'm pretty happy about slavery being abolished and federalism maintained, but "total war" has been a pretty severe bummer for anyone experiencing it ever since.

I have been surprised by Susan B. Anthony's sense of humor, and appalled at Che Guevara comparing his baby girl favorably to Chairman Mao. Maybe Bob and I joked about naming our first child "Chairman Mao," but only because we assumed that he or she would take on all decision-making duties in our house upon arrival (and possibly cause our starvation) - not because we wanted him or her to LOOK like Mao Zedong.

I have learned that the dickiness of Steve Jobs is so profound that it has in more than one instance altered the trajectory of his life, and therefore cannot be edited out of even a biography for kids (note the brevity of that bio on Apple's website). I also found out that I have been taken to lunch and had my brain picked by his birth sister. I have learned that John Huston made Ray Bradbury cry. I have learned that Ellen Degeneres has striven for normalcy in her life, and that consequently, her life is quite boring. And that even Kanye West believes Kanye West to possess very little musical talent.

I have a new fun game: spot the smoker. This started when I saw a picture of Rachel Carson at her desk, writing. The first two fingers on her left hand were crooked-out in an odd but somehow familiar position, as if giving a surreptitious papal benediction. I whipped off my glasses and used my personal superpower (magnified vision 3" from my face) to ascertain that Yes! Somebody Photoshopped a cigarette out of that picture!

I used to read nothing but nonfiction. Plagues, crime, animals, Africa, cookbooks... the Dewey Decimal system was my oyster (oyster!). Truth is wild. Lately I read nothing but children's books. Eh, it's fine with me. The dialogue is funny and the plots move right along. But you know, nothing combines the real-life drama of nonfiction and the sprightly timing of children's fiction like a good kids' biography. And... I know 100% more about the Civil War (and Maya Angelou, Elie Wiesel, Frank Gehry, Rachael Ray and Hernando DeSoto) now than I did a month ago!

Monday, February 02, 2009

When I called you last night from Glasgow

nature things

You know, if I had it my way, I wouldn't paint my walls at all. I'd bring home the entire wall of swatchy strip things from Sherwin Williams and stick them all up on the wall together. I love color. Pretty much all colors, lots of colors, even the colors I don't like, I'm like Billy Bragg: "If you stick around, surely we can find some common ground."

I've also spent a fair amount of time painting in the last 48 hours. Can you tell? Painting in enclosed spaces. Woo! As I observed about one of the carpenters: "Glen has spent a lot of time around... solvents, hasn't he?" It's COLD in that goddamn basement, at least it is so far. They tell me there will be heat. But this weekend it was so cold that the primer went on like Elmer's glue.

I painted the big room in the basement a robin's egg greeny-blue called Spa. The first person who walks into that room and says the word "toothpaste" gets a punch in the yap. I'm just sayin.

The bathroom is this crazy mossy yellow-green called Kodiak. "Like, goose-shit green?" asked my friend Chris. "A little less yellow than goose shit," I told her.

We're having trouble settling on a color for the kitchen. Our living room is bright apple green, almost chartreuse, and I think I'm going to repaint the dining room an inky blue. I was looking at a bottle of Longhammer IPA when I hit on that blue. So with the blue and the green I was thinking a wheat-gold for the kitchen.

At this point, I carry color strips everywhere I go. I shuffle them, lay them out, talk about them with our friends. And I've noticed, in our conversations, as in the one with Chris above, we can talk about color and make each other understood. We don't use words like Spa or Kodiak or Viking; we use words like asparagus, crabgrass, babyshit, and dryer lint. And somehow we have gotten on a somewhat... anatomical tack this past week.

So here, for your delectation, the new color line from those creative folks in Greater Lauraville, Maryland. My thanks to Eerily Similar Paula, The Toddfather, Heather, Studio Constance, Molly, Recovering Graphic Designer Rich, Patty in Exhibitions, Darius, and Sam, who thinks "opulent" is an insult.



Bleeding mole



Chlamydia. Some of these words, after all, are so pretty that they deserve a second chance.


Cradle cap











Taste bud



And, last but not least... BRAINS!