Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photo Challenge: MINE/BORROW

I always want to say something about the photos in these challenges. Then I feel as though I should shut my trap and let people interpret for themselves. Would you be more inclined to look and/or comment if I wrote a 10 word something about each picture? What if those 10 words came from the photographer? Would either of those things make you less likely to participate? More likely?

For this week I'm going to let the images speak for themselves again. Chatty bastards. These are the results for the MINE/BORROW challenge. Scroll down for the next one.

It's been kind of a primal week over here so your prompt isn't even a word. Next challenge is GRRRRR!

Please submit to our Flickr pool by 9am Tuesday April 12th for posting Wednesday April 13th. Please tag photos with "photochallenge" and "GRRR." Please feel free to submit more than one thing, to email me with questions and to comment all over the place in support of our fine photographers.

Thanks again everyone for making my days more beautiful.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back Up!

At some point this morning I thought it would be a good idea to do a 10 Things list of 10 Things I did before I left for work solely so I could make a joke linking my apartment and Tatooine. It was a good joke. I worked on it. It was polished. But it was not strong enough to hang a whole list on. Silly.

Aaaaaand, right there I just zoned out, staring out the window at some park across the water in Queens, trying to come up with the next sentence. I don't know about you guys but I don't think we're going to get a themed list out of my brain today. When in doubt make the problem your solution.

Unthemed list ahoy!

1. I love lists.

2. When training a dog to back up (or reverse if you're my dog since "back up" translates to "go run quick and bark at the door" in mutt) the dog has to get that it needs to step away from the treat in order to receive said treat. This, as Aunt Becky would say, is bullshit. However, learn he has but he likes to try and get around the problem so we'll get into position to do the trick and I'll say "reverse" and he'll streeeeeeeeetch his back foot out as far as he can to see if he can get up on the book stack without backing away from the treat. When he's practically popped a ligament without success he scampers backwards onto the pile as fast as he can.

3. I just ate a big bowl of pasta so that I wouldn't eat a normal portion and then be tempted to go back for seconds. Can't go back for seconds if the goodness is all gone.

4. I often have more than one book in progress at a time. I kind of like it that way. In Rory Gilmore style I want to make sure that I have a book going to fit each possible mood.

5. Does anyone have an online subscription to The New Yorker? There's a great article by Tina Fey that I finished reading this morning (while peeing, brushing my teeth, filling the humidifier [I live on Tatooine!] and drying my hair) that I really want to share with the world. Lorne Michaels, 9/11, pee in a cup and Contempo Casuals all in one coherent piece. I love her.

6. I bought an armload of music last night, mostly using an iTunes card I got 2 Christmases ago (Thanks Steph!) and finally learned how to redeem. I am listening to so much good music right now. Almost too much. It's making it hard to concentrate...says the girl who likes to read a bunch of books at once.

7. I just had to take a break from making this list because I couldn't bear to pay attention to it anymore. I am going to be a treat in tricks class tonight, just as distractable as my dog!

8. Oh, have you entered yesterday's giveaway? There's still time but, you know, it'd be nice to see some more folks in the running for this fantastic movie.

9. Watching (via Twitter) someone (@QueenofSpain) make cake balls I'm realizing that the reason a lot of people make them on lollipop sticks is because the sticks make it easier to dip them in the chocolate. Feeling a little idiotic for taking the zebra route instead of the horse one with mine.

10. I've got a lot of stuff I'm working on and toward this week. I'm also going to have 2 dogs for 3 days. The thing I'm most looking forward to this week seems to be walking those dogs a few miles on Saturday to run a stupid errand. I keep picturing it as a warm, sunny stroll and I can't wait to feel free and full of natural vitamins with tired dogs. Except it's never going to be warm here again. I'm still wearing my sleeping bag coat and sometimes long johns and always a hat or hood. It might be a simply frigid and terrible walk. It might be fine. What it most certainly will not be is the early summer walk I envision. Yet, I can't stop. Aunt Becky is right. This is bullshit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Insert Sheen Joke Here

*Cross posted at Kizz & Tell*

I was going to write some really sad shit here, y'all. Feeling sad, sharing sad, I am made of generosity. Then I typed the first sentence of this entry into the url bar instead of "" and decided my brain was not meant for writing of the deep today. So let's have a contest.

Remember Tony Comstock? You better. He's opened a new business venture of sailing trips off the coast of Long Island on his pretty little boat. Then he had another stellar idea (I bet Peggy helped) that they would raise money to fund a stipend for a Comstock SubGenius Grant. The grant will get you a week in September of life on the lovely boat and the stipend to ease your way to spending that time getting some honest work done on what you love. Your only obligation that week will be to have dinner with the Comstock Clan on Wednesday September 14. Nice work if you can get it.

I want it. 

So I'll apply and all will be well whether I receive the grant or not.

However, the stipend-raising hit a snag today when Kickstarter kicked the grant off their system. Details aren't important but Tony has a new plan, of course. For the next 24 hours (until noon Eastern on Tuesday March 29) half of the profits from all Comstock films sold will go into the stipend fund.

Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to buy a copy of Matt & Khym (review coming, no seriously, I promise) today during the stipend-raising period. I'm going to give it away to one of you on Saturday. This is what you can do to increase your chances of winning.

 - Leave a comment here: 1 entry
 - Leave a comment at Kizz & Tell: 1 entry
 - Tweet a link to your favorite Kizz & Tell post (leave a comment here with the link): 1 entry
- Buy a Comstock Film after the stipend raising period has ended (comment here to tell me, honor system): 3 entries
- Buy a Comstock Film during the stipend raising period (comment here to tell me, honor system): 5 entries
- Blog about Comstock Films (comment here or at Kizz & Tell with a link): 10 entries

Contest ends at midnight on Friday April 1st (no fooling!). I'll select a winner on Saturday and announce it here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

At Least It's Ambitious

You know how you're just going along and something suddenly manages to tip the scales and you're either really happy or undeniably sad? I collected my taxes today. It was like the Failed Ambition Tour 2010. (A bit like Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour but with less pointy bras and abysmal ticket sales.) Did you make money acting? No. Writing? Um, no. Singing? Sorry, no. What about the picture taking? Well, no but I donated my work to some people for very good reasons. What did you make money at? know, answering the phone and making calls no one else wanted to make and sending the mail out and stuff. You know?

Hey, I have a job and I'm glad of it. I know I'm lucky and I'm not complaining per se but there's nothing like having to evaluate a whole year to remind you that sometimes you don't exactly work yourself to the bone. I am now at the point where the view of 2010 leaves me with a list as long as my arm, your arm and the arms of 100 of your closest friends laid end to end to end to end to end (you're welcome for the bedtime vision of severed arms) of things that, if executed well and in proper order, will yield world domination. Of course that means it's a list so long and so disordered that I despair of doing even one item. 

So then I worked with my dog and his skateboard. We also learned that if you tell him to "back up" he will run away and bark at the door. If you gently tell him to "reverse" he will back up. He's a funny boy. And I watched the series finale of Big Love and it made me sob and sob and sob. (Dear Chloe Sevigny, I love you!) Then I folded laundry and processed some photographs and tried to remember...something.

Going to put those taxes in an envelope, pay a credit card bill, have a cakeball and sleep so I can try again tomorrow. That will work.

Won't it?

Friday, March 25, 2011


I got a skateboard that's perfectly sized for my dog today. I have fantastic friends. That's really all you need to know.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shielding Us

Tomorrow you're going to hear a lot about a fire. Don't worry, I'm not about to lose the plot. This fire happened about 58 years before I was born. I had nothing to do with it.

In 1987 I began attending NYU. I was an actor (dahling!) so most of my time was spent rolling around on the floor, crying, jumping, singing, yelling, hiding and generally being a fool on purpose in small, dingy, unwindowed rehearsal rooms around Manhattan. Two days a week, though, I played the part of a regular college student, dutifully trudging into small, dingy, unwindowed classrooms within spitting distance of Washington Square Park. On the side of the building that contained the classrooms was a small, unobtrusive plaque which said something relatively noncommittal along the lines of, "Site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire." Like any self-respecting teenager I didn't delve any deeper into it.

Over the years, though, you put that kind of teaser on display amongst crowds of budding actors, writers and performance artists all desperate for content and someone is going to delve. At least a little. Bits of information trickled down to me. I knew that rescue attempts were thwarted. I knew that the victims were mostly women. I knew, of course, that women jumped to their deaths to avoid burning. I knew that they'd been trapped in the building and not by accident.

Here's what happened as I understand it now. The Triangle factory made shirtwaists, a lacy undergarment made popular by the Gibson Girls. Young women and girls, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants, made up the majority of the workforce, women who couldn't have afforded a fancy shirtwaist even if they wanted one. 1911 was a time when unions were just organizing in the garment industry. Many manufacturers had entered into collective bargaining agreements but the owners of the Triangle factory remained staunchly opposed. To prevent infiltration by union organizers, though ostensibly to prevent workers stealing product, most of the exit doors were closed and locked. Near the end of the day a fire broke out on the upper floors. There weren't enough exits. The rescue ladders were only 6 stories tall and it was a 9 story building. The rescue nets, held on the ground by firefighters, weren't strong enough to catch women falling from such a great height. Some women burned inside. Some women worked to get their friends and colleagues safely out before dying inside the building. Some women jumped to their deaths. Some women were killed when the inadequate fire escapes collapsed. Some women got out alive. Over 140 people died and 129 of those were women.

The deaths of those women were used as an example of the importance of collective bargaining and made a great difference in the development of unions in the industry. But I didn't know that until the beginning of this month.

Frankly, I was a little ticked off to start hearing about the fire this year. I thought that dead women were being exploited because of the bullshit going down in the Wisconsin. Up until now few people were honoring a group of underpaid, overworked women who were brutally killed in the name of profit and now, suddenly, when it suited their purposes they brought these women into the spotlight. Then I breathed in long enough to hear that it was the 100th anniversary of the fire. We'd have been talking about this even if Governor Walker wasn't dipping his toe in the union busting waters. So now, clearly, I'm all about honoring these women and their contribution to the safety of America's workforce.

I think it's worth noting that Governor Walker started with a teachers' union, a profession whose members are mostly women. He didn't go after the Teamsters or anything. Nurses, I suspect, are fair game for him. Perhaps he'll start to feel nostalgic for days of yore and hit the garment workers. His tactics add fuel to my fire that our "great" nation is viciously disrespectful of people with vaginas.

I counter this egregious discrimination with news of the hardworking immigrants who perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911. Thank you, ladies, for allowing us to stand behind the shield of your bodies during this 100 year fight. I hope you are resting in peace.


Here are the pieces that have educated me about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire this month.

Blogher honored Daphne Pinkerson, the director of Triangle: Remembering the Fire.

Also at Blogher Suzanne Reisman explores the workers' rights angle.

Feministing's Sharkfu remembers the women who died in the fire.

Nancy Goldstein is at the American Prospect outlining the lessons to be learned from this avoidable tragedy.

The New York Times shines a spotlight on Clare Lemlich Shavelson who led the workers in a strike at the tender age of 23.

US Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis, wrote about what the Triangle fire means for workers today. The modern day examples she uses are especially interesting.

Lastly, the CBS Sunday morning piece on the fire.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home Movies (Someone Else's Home)

When I was in 4th grade a few teachers banded together to be rid of us on Friday afternoons when we were being, well, 4th gradish. They would lock us in a high temp classroom and show us movies and filmstrips. Usually movies. Always subject matter that was "educational" if by educational you mean fucking terrifying. As a high strung child to begin with I was not aided in nerve management by the looming prospect of enduring another Friday afternoon learning about elephantitis, the world water shortage, endangered species and how we could not live without them and nuclear war. I had my own internal endless loop of disasters I didn't need to be educated about all the stuff I didn't yet know to be scared of. Thanks Mrs. Fitch! Seriously that elephantitis film still haunts my dreams.

I would never do that to you.

Turns out, though, that I would subject you to home movies of my dog's fledgling circus career. At least they're all short. This one's my favorite because it's a trick Ed does pretty well and it features Bobby in a cameo appearance.

Eddie crawling from Kath Hansen on Vimeo.

This one takes a little while to get going  but he does demonstrate an aptitude for locating delicious smelly stuff. (Lorry the cat who was found stuck under a truck makes a cameo in this one, I believe.)

Eddie shows his stuff from Kath Hansen on Vimeo.

And this one shows you that dogs need Pilates, too. It's all about building your core strength, baby!

Eddie the Great from Kath Hansen on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Kath for taking these videos and sending them to me. I hope she'll do it again once we get hold of a skateboard. She's one of the greats, like Elizabeth Taylor who, I'm sure you've heard, has gone to the Pyramids.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And By Opposing End Them

I am all over the map today. Pack a bag and join me!

1. I wanted to do a list of 10 movies based on collective bargaining/union/fighting the man issues. Even using this list I came up a little short. These were the ones I felt most strongly about, though: Norma Rae (natch), Silkwood, Erin Brokovich, Triangle: Remembering the FireBrassed Off!, Cradle Will Rock, October Sky, and 9 to 5. Do you have any to add? (Also, huh, guess I was closer than I thought.)

2. Last night Kath made me delicious dinner and then photographed a few of Eddie's tricks. Also me teaching Bobby how to crawl. High comedy. I don't have them yet but I thought you should have something to look forward to. I recounted those fun time to NDP at 7 this morning while we were walking dogs. After pumping me for tips she went right home and taught Tim ( German Shepherd whose shoulder comes up to my hip) to crawl, then called me chuckling with follow up questions. Guess they're all dressing up as commandos for Halloween.

3. I love good, frank discussion about death and dying and Aiming Low just posted the first part of a two parter by Kim Trimble. I think I'm going to like her. A lot.

4. If you're sick of hearing me blather about reproductive rights and anti-choice being anti-woman then there is one way to stop it. Protect every woman's right to choose. I promise, as soon as you sew that up I'll shut my trap. In the mean time check out some stats on what's going to happen if/when catastrophic budget cuts hit family planning entities. Hint: The number of abortions changes. It doesn't get lower. Oh no indeed.

5. On a similar note have we checked in about the woman in Indiana who was so depressed that she attempted suicide and now she's being prosecuted? See, she was pregnant and the fetus died so they're charging her with feticide. Because a severely depressed woman would be so much better off in jail/as a mom/drugged beyond recognition than she would be if supported in her recovery. Oh, Indiana, you always know the right thing to do.

6. I want to sincerely thank Angela at Fluid Pudding for just posting a regular post about how to make cake balls. I have known of the existence of cake balls for a year or so. I've wanted to make them. But every time I've seen them mentioned there's always been a "on my food blog," "click this recipe," "I'll tell you next month" situation attached and I never click through. I always assume that the click through means a recipe that's too rich for my blood. It's not! I can do this and I can't wait! Angela, if you ever need me to come to your house and touch food with my bare hands for you I totally owe you that. Happy to help. Doesn't bother me at all. (I also get the irony of being too afeared to click on a link and mentioning it in a post where I am providing a list of links that I know it's unlikely anyone will click. I guess I'm OK with the paradox.)

7. Sueb0b went to Costa Rica and she's been chronicling the trip on her blog. I especially enjoyed this post where she went into the country's commitment to green living and recycling and the like. It's a place I'd like to go. I just have to get a sense of how likely I am to be confronted with snakes.

8. This Blogher post is killing me. After the time I spent at the Women's Colony I know that a lot of people think this way about fidelity but it still just ties me up in knots of aggravated disbelief. I think there is a deep, deep distrust of your partner if little interactions make you so upset. I also think that if you distrust a person you've pledged your life to that much that it might behoove you to look at why you made the pledge. Why would you condemn yourself to a life of standing on the edge of being (figuratively) bludgeoned? Why would you think yourself only worthy of someone who had so little respect for you? Doesn't all that constant, terrified fence maintenance leave you exhausted?

9. While I'm hammering away at this here's another story about a woman who very much wanted a child and made a choice based on genetic testing during her pregnancy. She did not make this lightly. Who among us would condemn her to life without that choice? If any one of you raises your hand then I'm not shutting up about this.

10. And here I am continuing not to shut up. I was going to try and make the last one about something else but I can't. I kept scrolling the starred file and the relevant posts to choose from were all about...choice. Feministing's Maya recently got tossed an editorial choice (heh, choice choice choice choice choice choice, just gonna keep saying it) between three article subjects. All were anti choice advocates. She, like so many before her, did not take her choice lightly, she agonized over it, wanting to feel certain she was doing the right thing not only for her but for the web site and the readers. After much contemplation she needed help. She reached out to her pro choice community and asked them to decide between a US Senator comparing reproductive choice to consumer choice (fetuses to light bulbs, who exactly is diminishing the importance of the decision?), a member of the House of Representatives who asserted that all women must carry to term all babies because any baby might grow up to be president (no mention of how she feels about Barack Obama's mother's reproductive choices but if I were in a less forgiving mood I might speculate), and a Montana State Representative that compare women to cows (in all seriousness [note to that rep: Get someone to proof your speeches. Not someone who has Palin on his resume.]). Honestly, I couldn't choose. Still can't. Still want each and every one of them to be forced, Clockwork Orange Style, to watch video pleas for help from starving children around the world. But I hear that's not an option.

Bonus Item: Fill in the blanks - We are ______ weeks into this Republican majority Congress and ___ jobs have been created as their campaigns promised.

Monday, March 21, 2011


That'll brighten up a dreary day. (Park Avenue and 57th Street)
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, March 18, 2011

Re: Kindling

It's been an odd day. Beautiful, warm, friendly, educational but weird. So, here, look at some pictures while I do the Word Jumble.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Photo Challenge: Escape

Did everyone go over to Bethany's blog and give her some loving thanks in the form of comments? It's not too late! Thank you, Bethany, for babysitting my blog and our photo challenge like they were things worthy of care. Your help made my trip better. And that drink last Thursday didn't hurt, either.

On to the ESCAPE photo challenge! Some goodies in here. Click on the photog's handle to go to their photostream. Comments are love! Scroll down to the bottom to see what fresh crazy I bring to the next challenge. Thank you all for participating!

I was slipped some super secret music the other day. I listened to it voraciously yesterday and this one phrase attached itself to my brain matter and won't let go: "Mine to borrow." I'll let you know when you can get a copy for your own self and know what I'm talking about. In the mean time the next photo challenge will be MINE/BORROW.

Please add your photos to our Flickr Pool. Add as many as you like. Try to tag with PHOTOCHALLENGE and MINE/BORROW. Entries should be received by 9am Tuesday March 29 for publication on March 30. Any questions feel free to comment here or email me at isabeau6 at hotmail dot com.