Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hot Birthday People

You guys, if you want Hot People posts for your birthdays you need to remind me. I seem to have been backsliding on this particular service.

JRH's birthday was in the middle of the month and finally this week she nudged me for some eye candy. Please follow me down the rabbit hole of our shared TV watching over the course of our friendship.

 I don't know if you saw this in the news. Apparently he was driving his girlfriend to the airport and the beautiful vintage car failed so he called her a cab and pushed the car to a gas station.

Recognize this guy?

And, I always have to end with this one. He is, after all, responsible in part for the strength of our bond.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Funny For Me

As you know I've been working with the dog on not barking his fool head off at every suspicious thing he sees. With a few notable exceptions it's been going well. The last few days, however, have been more, er, exciting than I'd hoped.

Within two blocks of home on this evening's walk we got blind sided by a pitbull on a very short leash. The dog lost his head, the pit probably chuckled, and we crossed the street. Coming at us on that side was a small, wire haired terrier of some kind and it was already spoiling for a fight. I did all the things you're supposed to do by moving Ed into a parking space so there was some distance and getting a treat ready and keeping both eyes on him so I could react and reward swiftly.

I don't know if he tried or not but he did keep it together for a while. The other dog was being given more vague commands and went Full Metal Jacket first. I had shortened Ed's leash so when he broke it was spectacular in the amount of fury he was able to express with only about a foot of leash to work with.

I was exasperated and still furious about previous infractions so I was prepared to just stand there doing my own fuming while he spun out. Then, all of a sudden, someone a couple of cars away started up a vehicle that was running so rough it could have belonged to Teddy Roosevelt. I think Ed might have swallowed his own voice box. Immediate silence. Well, until I burst out laughing.

Thank you Mr. or Mrs. Shitty Muffler. Strangely enough you made my life more soothing.

Sometimes New Is Good

Not often. I'm not a fan of new.

Unless it's puppies!

We're told his name is Booger and he's a Boston Bulldog. He's 10 weeks old and, though he seems to like dogs better than people, he did respond to the power of R's will and eventually came to him from across the park.

Any day that starts with a puppy is going to be good, right? (Thanks to Cat for taking the pic of me.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Check Your Pockets

It's Poem in Your Pocket Day. What do you have in there?

I don't have anything yet but here are some that are under consideration:

A Pig's-Eye View of Literature 
by Dorothy Parker

The Lives and Times of John Keats,
Percy Bysshe Shelley, and
George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron

Byron and Shelley and Keats
Were a trio of Lyrical treats.
The forehead of Shelley was cluttered with curls,
And Keats never was a descendant of earls,
And Byron walked out with a number of girls,
But it didn't impair the poetical feats
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley and Keats. 

(a tiny excerpt from) Little Gidding
by T. S. Eliot 

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

 (from) The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss

"All I need is a reindeer..."
The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...?
No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.
He loaded some bags
And some old empty sacks
On a ramshakle sleigh
And he hitched up old Max. 

by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

This next one would be a funny one to memorize.

by Billy Collins
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart. 

That's enough for me to ponder for now. Even though there are so many more out there to be discovered. Or re-discovered.

What's in your pocket?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Photo Challenge: BETTER

We got some really interesting and engaging images this time around. There were a bunch of yummy food ones. Feel free to stroll through the unfeatured offerings.

I not only chose this one of the three that Our Lisa submitted but had to lead with it because she and I have already joked our way to the caption. Are you ready? This belongs in the challenge would be BETTER if we'd never seen this! *rimshot*

I included this one not actually because everything tastes better with Spoonable Caramel sauce, though it does, but also because my photography is getting better and getting to shoot this display in some spectacular natural light made me feel like a shutterbugging rock star.

Ooo, a diptych! I love it when people play with things and Our Cindy is so good at making stories with her pics, am I right?

Hey look, Our Janet brought something that, while delicious on its own (rhubarb pie with strawberry ice cream she made with her own two little hands!), would be even better with some caramel sauce from my pic!

Since I gave away books on Monday and since today is ChemE's birthday and my fingers are firmly crossed that her gifts will arrive today (come on USPS!) I decree that the next challenge is GIVE. Go forth and GIVE that a think with your camera at the ready, will you?

Please add your photos to our Flickr photo pool by 9am on Tuesday May 8th for posting on Wednesday May 9th. Let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sing 10 Bars Bel Canto Style

If you follow me on social media or run into me in every day life chances are you heard that yesterday, for World Book Night, I gave out 20 specially printed copies of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto. I'm not going to explain what WBN is because you're smart and I gave you a link. I am going to use my 10 things today to recap my day yesterday.

1. Before you read anything about my day, though, you must go read about Chris Cander's day. Have your hankie at the ready but don't be afraid. Just read.

2. It was hard, y'all. It's a stretch for me to talk to strangers and I had to really work outside my own box (so to speak) in order to approach people just out of the blue. It turns out I'm right to be a little cautious since apparently I am a terrible judge of who is approachable/not insane/cool.

3. The very first offer I made was rejected. I was walking to the train with my heavy bag of books, one book out at the ready, and saw the crossing guard for the local elementary school. Perfect target audience, right? She has time waiting for kids, she might be bored, she is school adjacent. She took the book, looked at it, and said, "Um, no thanks. I don't want it to get wet and there's no place to put it." She was not the last to rebuff me, either. People didn't take free books from me. It turns out I find that a little hard to handle.

4. Knowing that I really needed to get right back on the horse I stopped a young mother walking her son to school a few blocks later. She was wearing this snapping pink scarf draped over her head to keep out the mist. She smiled and asked questions. What was my name? Did I write the book? She took it and she seemed happy about it. And her kid saw her be happy about a book. That's got to be cool, right?

5. I spent a lot of time worrying about profiling people. The mission of WBN is to try and direct books toward populations where there is little or no reading. How do you tell if someone is a low reader? I could eliminate everyone reading a book on the subway I guessed. Do people with glasses read a lot? Do people listening to music or playing games not read? Will the type of hat they wear tell me? What about their clothes? Age? If they're reading a bible does it mean they read a lot or does it mean they solely read the bible?

6. Eventually, through reading the social media updates about the movement, I realized that I was making things harder on myself. I didn't have to profile I just had to get these books out in the world. If I got it wrong once in a while that was OK. You never know where a book is going to go after you release it into the wild.

7. I also worried that the WBN folks would be upset with me if I didn't pass the books into someone's hands. There was a feeling that person to person connection was required. I didn't have it in me to do specific personal connection for all 20 books so I left a few in prominent places to be found. I tweeted a couple of pics and the WBN people were fine with it, they even passed my tweets along. Thank goodness!

8. It took me a while to work out how I was being perceived, too. Since I knew what I was doing and since the idea of a free book makes me giddy I didn't think through what it's like to be approached by a stranger on the sidewalk in New York. Once in a great while someone is asking directions. More often they want you to donate to a cause, buy something, give them your change, take their religion, sign their petition, or respond to their creepy pick up line. Even the "Free Hug" people here aren't really only giving away free hugs. There was a persistence required that it took me a while to understand. People thought I was handing them a religious tract or asking them to buy the book or that it was my book I was giving away for free to get them to read my other books which might or might not be horrible or ever have been read by another living human. 

9. There are things I'd do differently next time. I forgot the button that identified me as a giver to people I was approaching. Most givers had homemade signs, too, like "Free Books!" or "Hate to Read? Talk to Me!" A lot of people made their pile of books visible in a box with the WBN sticker still on it, in a display on a stoop or street corner, and in one memorable case, in a little red wagon. Many people also worked in pairs or groups. Some of them gave out the 20 copies of one title between them and others each got their 20 titles and had a selection to talk about and let people choose. Being in one location with signs and some back up feels like a way to make the whole thing more giver-friendly to givers like me. I narrowly missed meeting up with a pair of givers in my neighborhood because their books went so quickly. They set up shop on the stoop where Patti Smith used to live (not a super high traffic street) with copies of Just Kids and their books were gone in about an hour. All I saw when I got there was their box and sign in a dumpster (pictured).

10. Let's see how many of my recipients I can remember. I cheated on one and gave it to Sara to pass along to someone she thought would love the book. The pink scarf lady. The coffee cart guy outside the hospital. A lady on her way to work across the street from the hospital. Left one for the homeless guy on Flatbush Ave who is usually reading the bible. He wasn't there but someone had left him some bananas so I balanced it on those. Left another by the metrocard testing machine at the subway. Another on the platform on the spot where the pay phone used to be (pictured). The porter here at work. My co-worker. A guy in Grand Central who was eyeing the pile of books I was sitting in front of. A girl shilling for a children's charity on the street. I told her, "You spend all day trying to get people to talk to you. I want to give you a book." It didn't make sense to anyone but me but she seemed excited to get a book. A homeless guy camped out on the dining concourse of Grand Central. A guy at a crosswalk whose eyes lit up when he heard me offer the book to a woman and get rejected. Two women waiting for the Hampton Jitney. One left in a phone booth near Grand Central (pictured). One in the elevator on the way home from work. Last one to a bored looking teenager waiting on the platform when I got off the subway. If I'm counting correctly that leaves two unaccounted for. Maybe I'll remember who they went to later.

Want to join me next year?

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Kingdom

Notice that this is the first post in days that has had a title. That's because when Blogger ruined their fucking interface the place to enter a title is so "streamlined" I don't even see it. Which is amazing since most of the screen is now just this light gray expanse of unusable nothingness. If they're going to make the platform all one color and iconed to the hilt and completely counterintuitive and klunky I might as well switch to Wordpress which has been like that for ever and everyone wants me to move there because it's apparently more versatile. This is where loyalty gets you. Awesome.


But that's not what we're here to talk about today. Today we speak of Master Shakespeare because it's his birth and his death day. Sort of. They weren't big on record keeping way back then so he was born either today or a few days ago or maybe even last week. Today, however, is the day we celebrate the fact that he was born and (allegedly) wrote all these fantastic things. I don't know that there's anything I can tell you that you don't already know about the man but let's share some fun stuff.

A friend posted the Shakespearean Insult Kit this morning. My current favorite insult to come of it is, "thou cockered, tickled-brain lewdster!" I mean, lewdster. How brilliant is that?

The super fantastic elastic Reduced Shakespeare Company has pared down the plot of each of Shakespeare's plays into a tweet. Perhaps the best one is, "Hamlet avenges his father, and it only takes four hours" Four hours if you're lucky, gentlemen. Lord, how is this one the most performed one of all the plays? No, really, how?!

Oh, and you know, someone who writes this blog once also wrote a play about the guy. Anyone want me to bring that to a town near you? You know who to call to negotiate price.

Go on, google "dog in a shakespeare collar" and, among the cone of shame pics, you'll find some full on hilarity. I believe Brother Will would approve.

I think I'll end on two of my favorite passages of the plays I've studied. First, Cordelia from King Lear:

Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me:
I return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
They love you all? Haply when I shall wed,
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care and duty.
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all. 

Last, the third prologue (not the first, everyone loves the first) from Henry V:

Thus with imagined wing our swift scene flies
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought. Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king at Hampton pier
Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning:
Play with your fancies, and in them behold
Upon the hempen tackle ship-boys climbing;
Hear the shrill whistle which doth order give
To sounds confused; behold the threaden sails,
Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,
Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea,
Breasting the lofty surge: O, do but think
You stand upon the ravage and behold
A city on the inconstant billows dancing;
For so appears this fleet majestical,
Holding due course to Harfleur. Follow, follow:
Grapple your minds to sternage of this navy,
And leave your England, as dead midnight still,
Guarded with grandsires, babies and old women,
Either past or not arrived to pith and puissance;
For who is he, whose chin is but enrich'd
With one appearing hair, that will not follow
These cull'd and choice-drawn cavaliers to France?
Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege;
Behold the ordnance on their carriages,
With fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur.
Suppose the ambassador from the French comes back;
Tells Harry that the king doth offer him
Katharine his daughter, and with her, to dowry,
Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms.
The offer likes not: and the nimble gunner
With linstock now the devilish cannon touches,

Alarum, and chambers go off
And down goes all before them. Still be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind.

It's the "petty and unprofitable dukedoms" that gets me every time. Also "celerity" at the beginning. It's like celery but cooler. What's your favorite?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's funny which animals become ours. Sometimes, even when we make hard choices and send them to different places, they're just ours. Well, Our Lisa's husband had a cat name Lyra. She's been living with his parents for a few years due to living circumstances for Lisa and family but she's always been his cat. Yesterday Lisa warned me to prepare. Her husband and son were digging a grave for Lyra who, at 16, was failing. She's passed now and I've spent the day indulging my cats with cuddles (on their terms, of course) and raw chicken and general delight for the furry dictators. I hope you'll do the same for your pets in Lyra's honor.

Treats for everyone, and our love to Our Lisa's family.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I honestly don't know the answer to this question. (Don't worry, it only looks like a word problem from your sixth grade math book.)

Two families arrive at a dog training facility for a one hour class to train their dogs to use their noses to find things. One family brings a generous supply of cheese, handmade snacks, fancy food, and pre-packaged bacon & cheese treats. The other family brings a very small supply of dog biscuits.

Which family is insane?

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's been a good day for neighborhood hanging out. This photo (from the iPhone, did I mention my new iPhone? What about the fancy camera on my pretty iPhone?) is of one of the things I've been absolutely loving about the nabe lately. With the riot of tulips you might not recognize this yard but you've seen it before. Look closely and you'll notice the remnants of the following photo (taken last fall, before I had an iPhone).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NWW: Extrapolation

If you can extrapolate from this offering what I've been watching lately you should probably win some sort of prize.

I have no idea what.

NWW: 3Fer

Two vaguely related photos and a hot guy who set a record this week. Because apparently I am anti-theme today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

News x10

This is what I've got for today. I think you'll like it.

1. Last year this time I was recently back from China. This year Kitty from New York Portraits is in China with her dad. She went and visited the same chunk of the Great Wall that we did and she does a little more specific explaining than I ever did.

2. An interview in which Michele Bachman rails agains President Obama's Healthcare plan because it doesn't give women enough choice. And she keeps a straight face while doing it.

3. A lot of folks are talking about this new HBO series, Girls. It's supposed to be all hipster and cool and raw and whatnot. Came across an interesting graphic about the stars. (From what I hear, though, there's plenty of nudity so the graphic isn't getting it all right.)

4. I've been reading Chiara's Ampersand for years. Recently, after wondering if she was done blogging forever, she used the blog to write out the tough things about caring for her mother, who has cancer. Yesterday's post about how lucky they are and how lucky they might not have been is wonderful.

5. I don't know much about Sojourner Truth but I know that I love this quote about being a woman.

6. On Saturday we "celebrated" the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Through all the coverage I wondered about the class makeup of the survivors. Right on queue Lindsay posted a breakdown of survivors by class. Too few overall no matter how you slice it.

7. According to a TN abstinence bill hand holding is a gateway to premarital sex and should be strongly discouraged. Because forbidding kids to do stuff has worked so well historically.

8. Apparently GOP candidates keep thinking John Mellencamp's music is for them. Like for free and even if they don't listen to the lyrics or get the point. Fortunately the singer doesn't tire of politely correcting them.

9. Speaking of the Titanic. It turns out that a lot of people, even fans of the movie, didn't realize it was a retelling of an actual event. Leon over the The Edible Torah has some words to say about the importance of telling all our stories, even the sad ones.

10. Ending on a laugh is good, right? I have only watched snippets of President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are to a group of kids but I have loved every tiny bit of it. He can read me a bedtime story any time he likes.

Might have 10 more of these for you later. You never know.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Runners Take Your Marks

This face is running the Boston Marathon today. The rest of her body is, too. That's Our Julie, aka JRH, and if she hasn't started already she'll step off in about 10 minutes. I've signed up for text alerts to follow her progress.

The weather is supposed to be hot and humid. Race officials are worried about runner injury so they've given an automatic deferment option to any runner who wants it. Our girl does not want.

I trust she'll take the race exactly her own way but I'm also sure she could use some thoughts of encouragement. Boston is, of course, a race whose route culminates in something called Heartbreak Hill. So please put your virtual hands together, blow your virtual vuvuzelas, and sprinkle magic fairy dust through the internet for her. I know she'll be able to feel it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Like I Do

Been taking some pictures of the new puppy. Even when he's being a pill I just want to squish him and kiss him and love him to pieces.

Friday, April 13, 2012

In the Mean Time

Tomorrow I'm spending the day with Queen Bee. She's coming in on a bus trip with the drama club. We'll just hang out, eat stuff, drink stuff, exchange stuff, and go see Sister Act. It's going to be a good day.

In the mean time, though, I forgot to ask what you did for Easter or Passover, if you did anything at all. I ate chocolate. Lots of it.

What about you?