shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


last spooky fingered posts

We had double digits of trick-or-treaters, which was lovely, if nervewracking, since we'd only saved 7 kiddy gift bags full of toys and candy from the reeption for our trick or treaters. Improvisation won the day and we dumped everything out in a bowl and let the latter treaters pick from it -- the kids who got whole bags were a little suspicious of why we were giving them so much stuff anyway. Oddly, very few were in full costumes. But still: trick or treaters rock.

The party last night was mucho fun and we stayed out way too late and imbibed way too much. There was a fabulous drag show featuring Cleopatra in the middle and an excerpt reel half of quaint old-fashioned girly pictures, the other half quaint screamingly cheesy horror flicks projected onto the back of the house. It was disconcerting at times to look up and see alternately gore and chainsaws or bouncing '60s co-eds. C said to me at one point, "I've been going to this party for 15 years. I like this party, that's why I keep going to it."

Anyway, two last Halloween links:

Susanna Clarke has a short Halloween fiction in the New York Times today, "Antickes and Frets¹."

I love how it's marked "Opinion," since isn't all fiction really?

And, only coincidentally on Halloween, yay for Greer Gilman for winning a World Fantasy Award for "A Crowd of Bone" from the fantabulous Trampoline. And for all the other winners. A good year.

i covet your pumpkin and fins

Underwater pumpkin carving contest, where else but Florida?

"Weird" is a relative term in the Florida Keys. So, the sight of a bunch of people in dive suits popping out of the ocean with carved jack-o'-lanterns in hand is, well, almost normal.

They've been doing this around Halloween for the past five or six years at the Amoray Dive Resort in Key Largo. And, apparently, they're getting better at it. When they started the annual underwater carving contest, the pumpkins went in whole. But just try to cut a perfect eyehole with slimy pumpkin innards clouding up around your dive mask.

Go look at the picture.

things that make you say uhhhh department

None of the 31 schools in Puyallup, Washington, were allowed to observe Halloween this year: no ooky spooky wall hangings, no costumes, in short, no fun.

The first official reason: Halloween parties and costumes detract from the district's core mission of academic achievement in a competitive world.

The second official reason: "We have been contacted by followers of the Wiccan religion, and they indicated they have been offended after seeing elementary school depictions of witches with long noses, warts, cauldrons and such,'' said Tony Apostle, the superintendent who banned Halloween.

You know what's obnoxious? Holier-than-thou Wiccans.


Happy Orange Scary Teeth Day!

Otherwise known as Halloween... well, almost Halloween.

Today was a good day. C. did not have to work all day as expected so we found ourselves with a clear slate. We crossed some stuff off the list and discovered the very best shop ever.

You see, I'd been coveting from afar this cool wooden hanging with three levels that say "Hocus Pocus, Abracadabra, Alakazam" -- because I heart the magic, as most of you know. There was even a Carter Beats the Devil poster hanging next to it, so I knew my eyes weren't deceiving me. The shop was The Clock Shop, and nearly everything else in the windows was of the cool, weird clock variety. We never seemed to pass by when it was open.

Until today. I yelled, "The door's open!" and we screeched to a halt. Went in, where the proprieter, beardy mustache round guy, was talking about ghosts he'd actually seen (ahem) with a tall customer type. He told us to look around but that they were having a really interesting conversation so interrupt if we needed help. I asked about the hanging and he gave it to me for five dollars less than the sticker price. And he did two magic tricks for us!

Because yes, it turns out that in addition to being The Clock Shop, the place is the local magic shop. Full of gags and props and, best of all, tons of rare and hard-to-find books about magic.

Oh, happiness.

We got other fine things as well, including many comic books and two new Cheap Ass Games, which may well be inflicted upon someone this evening. Speaking of which...

off to the cool kid party in my spiderweb patent leather cowboy boots, which I might post a picture of tomorrow if my head doesn't hurt like the devil's poking my eyes from inside. I found them at a long-gone thrift shop when I was 19 or so, and shopping with Jeremy and Sunshine. No one else came close to fitting into them. They're like my glass slippers and get worn (at least) every Halloween.


one last, a spell

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
-- Emily Brontë

and a daughter

Dream of a Rotten Daughter

On the night of the day
she buried her mother

her father turned to her
from the grip of an old

photograph, her six-year
dead daddy, swiveled his

bullet head, nailing her
to him with a blood-shot

sniggery eye, then stuck
out his tongue. She woke up

laughing, recognizing
the title of this poem

before she wrote it, there
on the point of that red

wad where he'd honed it all
those years, slipping it in

between her ribs when she
least expected. It was

his label for her from
the time of the big bed

Sunday mornings, and she
between them pretending

oblivion, a balled-
up cuddle to bridge their

unbridgeable gap. Or
(speak truth, oh rotten one)

usurp the I'm-here-first
of that furious eye.

Old news, old news. Tell it
another way. Make it

a Halloween story,
Poe story—ghouls, spiders,

cellars and foul air: Two
dolls in their boxes, laid

side by side like people
bewitched in an iron sleep

and a ghost with a blood
eye and a butcher's tongue

who cut his way into
his daughter's dream to say

of the newly dead, Boo!
I won. I've got her now.

--Alice Friman (from Poetry Daily)

a little witchyness

She is neither pink nor pale,

And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun `tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of coloured beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

accumulated debris

Wow, did I not mean to disappear. Oh well. I got a haircut. I have bangs! (Well, kinda. You'd like it.)

And had a helluva a week. But I did accumulate lots of stuff you've probably already seen that I'm going to link to anyway. Though not the little people -- that's everywhere and yes, very, very cool. You know the scientists are cringing at the "hobbit" designation, shaking their heads and squinting at the typical media translation. Oh wait, I do have a little people link. Forget all that. Let's go:

1. You should read what Carl Zimmer has to say about the discovery over at The Loom. "Get to know that little skull. Scientists are going to be talking about it for centuries."

2. Strange clouds as viewed from the International Space Station. (Via mefi.)

3. Giant squid round-up from Weirdwriter. (Also seen at Tingle Alley.)

4. The Lit Saloon rounds up a bunch of good Gilmore Girls links and generally talks sense about the show. I, of course, watched "Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant" and may even watch it again (oh the joys of the TiVoid). It wasn't my favorite episode this season and I really, really, really, really wish Chris wasn't being inserted into the season before Luke and Lorelai's relationship consummation has time to be fun. Their names start with the same letters for chrissake, it's meant to be, Amy Sherman-Palladino! Don't get all high and mighty on your Mailer trip! Also, a little sad how little facetime the younger Mailer got, considering I'm guessing the whole guest shot was more or less for his benefit.

5. Homeless hygiene. (Via Boing Boing.)

6. Jeff chats with Ahnuld (this is the funniest thing I've seen all week).

7. The cinetrix points to must-see O Russell TV on IFC Monday night.

Halloween posts to come. Angst over election to continue, but see how hard I worked not to extend my ulcer?


dickian with a side of spillane

In honor of the general paranoia over the upcoming election, I offer up a pointer to a letter written by Phillip K. Dick to NBC's Jack Perkins about Mickey Spillane in 1982. It's even better than you think; a teensy excerpt:

The other day I heard from the Southern Poverty Law Center --run by Julian Bond-- that my money had helped free a young black man who had been sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit. So I say to hell with the Porsche and the swimming pool -- but I didn't really understand until tonight when I saw your segment on Mickey Spillane, because I had to see another writer for my brain to comprehend; I had to see that if Mickey Spillane can do it, so can I. Tell him I love him, the big lug. He is obviously a good, good man, and I deduce from this that in a certain real way so am I. I never realized it before.

(Thanks to Christopher.)

worm "Wooden Overcoat," John Wesley Harding

name J. Todd

trombone orphan secrets

This came from Richard Butner, so it must be true, and it's definitely one of the strangest things I've ever seen.

The Orphan's such an oddity, in fact, it's probably best to quote from the Transcriber's Note on the site rather than try to explain:

I recently moved into a small, sparsely furnished attic apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina--a twin bed, a rickety dresser, a dorm fridge, a hot plate, and a little round table under the one window, where I'm composing this. Under the bed I found what I thought was a suitcase, but which turned out to be a trombone case, complete with trombone.

My original idea was to pawn the thing, since I needed the money more than a horn I couldn't play. A bunch of cassette tapes were crammed into the case as well, even into the horn's bell. On most of them was a label reading, "The Orphans in the Palace," and six of these were numbered. I popped in number one and hit play. It was some guy telling me the sad, funny story of how he came to be who he came to be, and how we try to make sense of ourselves in a world we usually can't understand. And it has all those things that good stories have, like love, and death, and intrigue, and deceit, and betrayal, and romance, and sex, and drugs, and rock and roll.

So I'm transcribing all of the tapes and posting the story here, day by day. It's worth telling, and it's worth hearing. The other tapes were music. Strange and wonderful songs this guy and his friends created. I'll be posting those here too. At least one a week.

The "Transcriber" is named David Wilson, and since October 5, he's been updating every weekday. From today's entry:

Such images. Yet I forgot them all for a full week after the accident, until the details came rushing back from out of nowhere, the way dreams sometimes do when you're just tying your shoes or pouring milk on your cereal or something. So I thought that I'd foretold the future, and felt guilty about not remembering, and not finding a way to warn them.

I consoled myself with the notion that if it had been the future I'd seen, there was nothing I could have done. The wreck was their destiny, planned and executed by God.

Later I realized it could have been coincidence. I dream every night, the teachers told me. I just forget most of it. If I dream I find a sack of money, but I don't really find one, I'm never surprised, and the dream just melts away. If my parents had come home from that trip safe and sound, I wouldn't ever have given my nightmare another thought.

It occurs to me only now, after all these years, that maybe I didn't even have the dream until after the wreck. The mind, in its search for meaning, can alter even the inexorable flow of time.

Check it out for more about the bird and the bat.

worm "Mass Destruction," Faithless

name Chris "Typhoon Master" Barzak

Say... update

This is an official Fortress of Words mea culpa and update on the next issue of Say... (...have you heard this one?)

We're behind. All that getting married, moving house, schedules from hell, etc., etc. have resulted in a terrible state of being behind. We are also not attending World Fantasy Convention this year, which is where we usually debut the fall issue.

We are still putting out the issue. We are reading through the submissions now and hope to have acceptances and rejections out within the next few weeks at the absolute outside longest. The issue will come out sometime between now and December 25, and it will be beautiful. We expect to perfect-bind again and we will be sending out review copies as aggressively as ever and printing more copies than usual. We will also hopefully debut a new Fortress of Words website, where issues can be purchased, before the end of the year.

So, in short, if we have your story/poem/what-have-you, you'll hear from us soon. We're running a little late, but remain committed to the product (just in this case, to our sanity a tiny smidge moreso).

worm "Evil," Interpol

name Mandy "Where the Hell's my stake?" Helton

perfect comic

Expect bite-size posts today.

The first is to point to Family Reunion, the eight-page mini-comic accompaniment to Sean Stewart's Perfect Circle, written by Sean and illustrated by Steve Lieber. You can get your very own copy by ordering anything from Small Beer or by ordering it here for a buck. But you can go look see right now for free!

worm "Attack of the Ghost Riders," The Raveonettes (my new favorite band)

name Sonya "Collected" Taaffe


more poetry

...because C is sleeping and I don't feel like doing anything else.

In Praise of My Sister

My sister does not write poems
and it's unlikely she'll suddenly start writing poems.
She takes after her mother, who did not write poems,
and after her father, who also did not write poems.
Under my sister's roof I feel safe:
nothing would move my sister's husband to write poems.
And though it sounds like a poem by Adam Macedonski,
none of my relatives is engaged in the writing of poems.

In my sister's desk there are no old poems
nor any new ones in her handbag.
And when my sister invites me to dinner,
I know she has no intention of reading me poems.
She makes superb soups without half trying,
and her coffee does not spill on manuscripts.

In many families no one writes poems,
but when they do, it's seldom just one person.
Sometimes poetry flows in cascades of generations,
which sets up fearsome eddies in family relations.

My sister cultivates a decent spoken prose,
her entire literary output is on vacation postcards
that promise the same thing every year:
that when she returns,
she'll tell us, everything,

-- Wislawa Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

From Czeslaw Milosz's introduction to the poem in his anthology A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry:

Writing is a vocation but many writers experience it also as a curse and a burden. In a way, they feel as if they are serving as instruments to a force alien to them. But writing, be it a blessing or a curse, may also be treated humorously by its practitioners and in this amusing verse the word "poems" at the end of the lines serves to enhance the weirdness of that occupation.

All right, ladies, let's have a kick-ass week.

hunter's usually right about horror movies

Plus, Buffy in a movie with no talking dog:

Among our many crimes as an imperialistic exploiter of other nations' cultures, stealing their movies ranks lower than selling them cigarettes but higher than killing their game. If you've seen big stupid American versions of France's 'Three Men and a Cradle' or, recently, Japan's 'Shall We Dance?,' you can only mutter: Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Now along comes 'The Grudge,' adapted from a terrifyingly creepy Japanese film, and the only verdict is: Innocent, innocent, innocent. That is because 'The Grudge,' though it now stars perky, attractive Yanks, assiduously avoids Americanizing the film's essential bleakness of spirit. The film is still set in Japan and still directed by the original creator, Takashi Shimizu, and its ending is just as crushing. In fact, you might argue that this version of the film is a little better than the original.

I can't wait. Now, to talk Mr. Rowe into going along. (Or Mandy? Mandy, are you out there?)

A week of such longness I can't describe and it's not over. Tonight, we'll go check out the new little Italian place or something and not much else. Go look at magazines. Tomorrow, the Big Hometown Wedding Reception. Prolly no pictures.

Next week, life should return to normal and I can FINALLY do the FINAL (until it's for an editor!) pass on my book and get it out there. And then, the next book, which I'm ready to start on -- except for the small matter of needing to take a research trip down to the Outer Banks first.


another reason anne rice sucks

She doesn't know how to respond to her critics nearly as well as Caitlin Kiernan:

What am I supposed to say in response to a reviewer who's reading comprehension is so low that he couldn't even catch the fact that Daria's house is located in San Francisco, not Alabama? How would I reply to someone with such an obvious contempt for poetry or any sort of experimental prose that he isn't ashamed to employ a phrase like 'tricksy 'poetic effects''? I just don't know. How about, 'Asshole, meet Opinion. Opinion, meet Asshole'?

I have written my publicist and editors letters asking that they never again send review copies to Fangoria.

And Mr. Philpott, if you are out there ego-surfing one day and happen across these comments, just remember, though it might be trite of me to say so, an A- from Entertainment Weekly trumps an F from a titties and gore mag any old day of the week. In short, please feel free to kiss my sophomoric ass, that is if you can first manage to extract your head from out your own.

update le dog

So, it turns out George the Dog has an ulcer, and is now on four (!) medicines. But we think he's going to be fine, though he's still very tired and out of it. This is a picture from last Saturday night, just before the bad-feelingness started. Beer certainly would have helped.


everything really has changed

But, where else am I going to find such easy targets?:

ABC has dropped Miss America, leaving the famous beauty pageant without a network TV outlet for the first time in 50 years.


Go Sox!

pointing to the trix la cine

The cinetrix has an especially brilliant post, which you should go read. (And, tangentally, I'm loving Maisonneuve whole-cloth right now; it's my current favorite magazine.) She ends it with a challenge, from J-Fly:

Over a Modelo Negro at our staff happy hour this evening, a fellow film teacher offered up a rather sparkling idea that he borrowed from his film teacher at UCLA. His teachers would ask students to jot down five of their most favorite films off the top of their head, quickly, without much contemplation. Then she asked her students to determine what the bare bones story was to each of the films on the list. Chances are, those films will tell essentially the same story. And chances are, your films will tell that story too. Because that is your story.

Tonight, some of my choices are different than they would be on other days, just because: Midnight, Gas Food Lodging, Run Lola Run, Happy Accidents, and The Station Agent.*

You tell me if the story is essentially the same. Maybe all life is.

George still sick, so no real posting tonight or tomorrow until late afternoon or early evening. Visit the folks on the right. (And Christopher ponied up a great poem.)

*This is a particularly odd list for me, having several wild cards, but I do in fact love all these movies lots.

**You'll be amused to know I'm already second-guessing these choices, thinking of movies that should have been on there -- Rushmore, Bowfinger (yes), The Apartment, etc. Which, of course, totally misses the point of the exercise. Ahem.

get well soon

Sorry for the silence, but George the Dog hasn't been feeling well this week and neither C or I have had a decent night's sleep. I'm home with him most of today, hoping he's actually doing better and not just too worn out to move.

I may pop in and post pictures from last Saturday later, or I may not. Tonight we have writing group (where my 9900 word "short" story from last week is up) and then we have tickets to Ollabelle. All on the assumption that George the Dog remains in a better state.

Later, there will be boiled hamburger and plain rice, but only for the dog.



Echo River

Soon we had fashioned a rude boat,
and with lanterns affixed to the prow
were ferrying tours across the smoky waters:
Styx, Lethe, Echo River, the host
of wonders I had found. By slapping
the water with the flat of my paddle,
there comes a sound like the ringing of bells,
a mournful, hollow melody--waves lap-
ping and beating under the low stone arches.
The voice, too, will reproduce in myriad;
often I have led a tour in song, shouts raised
or pistols fired on the dark, deep water.
Children of a clanging, squeaking world,
we cannot bear the silence.

-- Davis McCombs

When you see this, post poetry on your own site.

the apes we don't see

Scientists believe they have discovered a new group of giant apes in the jungles of central Africa. (via Greg van Eekhout)

Obvs, there's only one -- possibly two -- appropriate ways to observe this happening: reading Karen Joy Fowler's controversial, award-winning, kick-ass short story "What I Didn't See" and the James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) short story it's inspired by "The Women Men Don't See."

Both can be read gratis at SciFiction, which you should be reading anyway. I offer the first paragraphs of each below to convince.

Of Karen's story:

I saw Archibald Murray's obituary in the Tribune a couple of days ago. It was a long notice, because of all those furbelows he had after his name, and dredged up that old business of ours, which can't have pleased his children. I, myself, have never spoken up before, as I've always felt that nothing I saw sheds any light, but now I'm the last of us. Even Wilmet is gone, though I always picture him such a boy. And there is something to be said for having the last word, which I am surely having.

Of Tiptree's*:

I see her first while the Mexicana 727 is barreling down to Cozumel Island. I come out of the can and lurch into her seat, saying "Sorry," at a double female blur. The near blur nods quietly. The younger one in the window seat goes on looking out. I continue down the aisle, registering nothing. Zero. I never would have looked at them or thought of them again.

*For those unfamiliar with Tiptree's work, I reprint her biography from SciFiction because it's important to reading Karen's story: "James Tiptree, Jr." was born Alice Bradley in Chicago in 1915. Her mother was the writer Mary Hastings Bradley; her father, Herbert, was a lawyer and explorer. Throughout her childhood she travelled with her parents, mostly to Africa, but also to India and Southeast Asia. Her early work was as an artist and art critic. During World War II she enlisted in the Army and became the first American female photointelligence officer. In Germany after the war, she met and married her commanding officer, Huntington D. Sheldon. In the early 1950s, both Sheldons joined the then-new CIA; he made it his career, but she resigned in 1955, went back to college, and earned a Ph.D. in experimental psychology.

At about this same time, Alli Sheldon started writing science fiction. She wrote four stories and sent them off to four different science fiction magazines. She did not want to publish under her real name, because of her CIA and academic ties, and she intended to use a new pseudonym for each group of stories until some sold. They started selling immediately, and only the first pseudonym—"Tiptree" from a jar of jelly, "James" because she felt editors would be more receptive to a male writer, and "Jr." for fun—was needed. (A second pseudonym, "Raccoona Sheldon," came along later, so she could have a female persona.)

Tiptree quickly became one of the most-respected writers in the field, winning the Hugo Award for "The Girl Who was Plugged In" and "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?," and the Nebula Award for "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death" and "Houston, Houston." Raccoona won the Nebula for "The Screwfly Solution," and Tiptree won the World Fantasy Award for the collection Tales from the Qunitana Roo.

The Tiptree fiction reflects Alli Sheldon's interests and concerns throughout her life: the alien among us (a role she portrayed in her childhood travels), the health of the planet, the quality of perception, the role of women, love, death, and humanity's place in a vast, cold universe. An award in Tiptree's name has celebrated science fiction that "expands and explores gender roles" for ten years now.

Alice Sheldon died in 1987 by her own hand. Writing in her first book about the suicide of Hart Crane, she said succinctly: "Poets extrapolate."

If you're unfamiliar with Karen, I can't help you. You need to remedy that.



Actress Sandra Oh interviewed in the NYT and she curses almost as much as I:

A. After it came out, I couldn't get an [expletive] audition. The only other role I got was another best friend and they said to me, 'Well, you've already played a best friend so we're not going to cast you.' That was a turning point for me to go back to TV - I'd hit the glass ceiling of playing the best friend. And we all know the classic best-friend role is [expletive]. You're on the periphery. You're all sardonic, all sass-say. You're not even sassy, you're sass-say. But even so, you're not going to let me play another one? It was enraging. It's not like they're ever going to say to Danny Glover, 'Oh, you can't play another buddy because you've already played one.' Or say to Jeremy Piven, 'You can't play John Cusack's best friend again.' So because I don't want to depress myself by going out for [expletive], I would rather work in television where the roles are [expletive] better. I can get a better role in TV and work more constantly than I can waiting around for my friends in Canada to call me every four years - which they do - and I go up there and play a leading role.

How charming she is, and who knew Alexander Payne got married? I'm very much looking forward to Sideways, even more now that I've read Oh's fucking interview.

why I'm up late

besides the little party (which was great)... art on the walls. Pictures to come soon.

But Ed is right and I see the same thing happening to people I know and in fact have to stop myself from berating people from talking about -X in the possibility of X (if you know what I mean).

Ed says:

The point is this: When the Towers were knocked down, citizens, irrespective of government, gathered together to see what the hell they can do. It was their generosity and bonhomie that got us through that fateful day, not the sham rulers or the opportunists. Why is it that we so frequently forget this? So long as artists and painters and writers and crazed speakers and determined protestors and giddy bastards continue to fight the good fight, we're going to be okay.

Because the plain truth is that the human spirit in all of its omnifarious forms cannot be quashed. Even with a second Bush term. If those in power are to declare that certain sectors of the vox populi are to be denied basic liberties, then it is your responsibility to not only take the power away from them, but to point the middle finger in their faces. And you can do that first and foremost by heading to the polls on November 2. But beyond that, inhabit who you are and damn the consequences. The rest will follow and the world will be all right.

I think he's right.

(I also think right now we should all listen to ABBA's "Fernando" but that's the liquor talkin'...)

Good night, sleep tight.


just one of my addictions (UPDATED)

Mexican Coke, that is, and I'm not alone. The Chicago Tribune explores the phenom:

Up and down Chicago's West 26th Street, where ranchera music thumps and street vendors hawk pork rinds called chicharrones from gallon pickle jars, residents take nearly as much pride in their imported Coca-Cola as they do in flying red, white and green national flags.

The neighborhood is one of the nation's largest consumers of Mexican Coke, a sweeter - some say - version of the American soft drink shipped north in heavy glass bottles. The U.S. Coca-Cola Co., which does not make money from Mexican Coke, has taken notice and is trying to win over soda pop drinkers in this economically bustling area known to locals as la Villita.

The import typically costs a little more than U.S. Coke, but residents are willing to pay extra to be reminded of home.

"It has a way different taste, better than American Coke," said Tomas Rios, a customer at La Chiquita canteen. He tossed the straw the waitress gave him and gulped down half the bottle.

Christopher and I always assumed that it was because of the lack of evil, evil, evil high fructose corn syrup and it turns out we're probably right:

Some describe it as sweeter - closer to Pepsi than American Coke - because it uses cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, the sweetener found in the domestic recipe, said Coke spokesman Mart Martin.

It decidedly does not taste like Pepsi. (Yuck.) The bottle has other nostalgic benefit, even for my un-Mexican, smaller-than-smalltown roots. My parents used to crush up penicillin in a spoon of Coke when I was sick as a kid and the bottle it came from looked just like Mexican Coke. (I was tough to get to take medicine, much like George the Dog, who has learned he can eat around the treat we hide his pills in and then spit them out. Bleh.)

Sweetie, can we go to La Michoacana for dinner tonight? Please?

UPDATED: It has come to my attention that this article leaves people with the impression one can only get Mexican Coke in the U.S. in big cities. Not so, we can get it at lots of places here in Lexington. So, ha. Also, we didn't go to La Michoacana for dinner even though it serves the best food in the world because I forgot about Saturday afternoon's planned Tour de Taquerias on the bikes. Should be fun. Watch for pictures.

seconding mckeown emotion

I keep forgetting to point to OGIC's post about Erin McKeown. Long-time readers of S&S (all two of you) may remember the way I found Erin McKeown from way back during the Journalscape days. I'd heard "Cinematic" on our fabulous local radio station but only enough to fall in love with it and get snatches of the lyrics and fruitless searches on the internet by me and a dozen others failed to turn up what song it was or who it was by. I bet I listened to 50 snatches of songs about cinemas and cineramas on Amazon looking. Finally, my query was answered in a bittersweet email (bittersweet because the station had been sold off to Christians by then) from the station manager, who'd been googling to see if people were sad about the station dying and found my pleas.

So, anyway, go read the post and believe her: Erin McKeown is a star.

one more today*

a reminder to celebrate ee cummings' birthday... (via eek!, who notes that edward estlin cummings "taught gazillions of fifteen-year-olds that capitals just ain't cool. thanks to this lucky trick, creative writing instructors have at least one sure-fire lesson plan a year.")

said cummings at different times when he was being quotable:

"Always the more beautiful answer who asks the more beautiful question."
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."
"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
"Be of love (a little) more careful than of anything."
"Knowledge is a polite word for dead but not buried imagination."
"America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn't standing still."

you might also want to check out the audio recordings at the academy of american poets site: yes is a pleasant country (read by Susanne Abbuehl) and why must itself up every of a park (read by the author).

* capsless bits in honor of for this lone instance in shaken & stirred history.

the revenge of the numbered list

Lots of good links today.

1. Happy birthday to TEV! Whenever I see multiple TEV updates pop up on Feedreader, it's like a little present. I envy, and heart, TEV's prolific posting.

2. Great Globe and Mail interview with Daniel Handler (via the also prolific Maud), that only increases my affection for him. On the way to lunch at the Omni Berkshire Place hotel in midtown Manhattan, Daniel Handler's driver mentioned a reality show about a bounty hunter, which got Handler musing about a version of the show set in the publishing industry. "These bounty hunters, they come and get these people who've escaped from jail," he says, a lopsided grin on his face and a thrill in his voice as he chomps energetically on a Cobb salad. He adopts a grave TV narrator's voice -- "Don DeLillo hasn't earned out his advance" - then mimics an armed-to-the-teeth bounty hunter storming into the author's household, guns blazing. "Get down! Get down on the floor!" he yelps. Concerned restaurant patrons turn and stare.

And once again, I'll plug his novels for adults. The Lemony Snickets are fantastic, but Handler's non-pseudonymous novels are the same marvels of voice but weirder, darker and just as funny. And the article informs that a new one's on the way: The primary obstacle to the publication some time next year of his third novel for adults, Adverbs, is his inability to find enough time in his packed schedule for a final edit.

Related: CNN article/interview mostly focused on the upcoming Unfortunate movie.

3. Various National Book Award nomination links to follow -- GalleyCat has all the links you need about the nominees themselves. The Washington Post confirms that this is: the first time in the 55-year history of the awards that all the finalists for fiction -- including two first-time novelists -- are women. No surprise there, except that it happened. It turns out not, however, to be the first time a government report's been nominated: Government reports have traditionally have been considered bland and unreadable, so the inclusion is unusual, but it is not unprecedented. In 1973, a report by a special commission in New York on a deadly riot at the state prison in Attica two years earlier was nominated but did not win. Ed expresses his opinion of this historical sequel nomination in fine style. The NYT story reveals that not only are all the fiction nominees women, but all five live in New York City. This must mean that the New York City Secret Literary Feminist Cabal has won! The NYPost on the other hand, provides a more businessy look at the noms, saying it's a battle royale between Simon and Schuster and Norton.

But my favorite story, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (free registration required), explains why the announcement was held in Minnesota -- the first time the noms were not released in New York -- and interviews the extremely charming Pete Hautman, a Minnesotan nominated for his book Godless in the category for youth literature. I've already put the book on hold at the library.

"After I found out 'Godless' was nominated, they made me not say anything for 24 hours, and it nearly killed me. I kept telling our two poodles over and over. They're very literate,'' he said in an interview from the Golden Valley home he shares with author Mary Logue.

"I never thought one of my books would be nominated. It's dangerous to think about things like that. You can make yourself nuts. There is a lot of really good stuff being printed for children and young adults, so getting noticed gets tougher every year. A nomination like this gives you an edge where you are going to be looked at, especially by teachers and librarians who are important for young-adult writers. I hope wonderful things happen. I'll have more book sales, more readers. My skin problems will clear up.''

"Godless'' grew out of Hautman's memories of a summer when he was a teenager in St. Louis Park "taking a hard adolescent look'' at his Roman Catholic faith. He and some friends from various religious backgrounds invented a religion in which the town's 10-legged water tower was a god.

I also reserved Joan Silber's book, but am awaiting the opinions of trusted others before leaping to read all of them. I loved Madeleine is Sleeping though; Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's book and urge you to read it. I hope this brings it even wider attention.

4. The The New York Times fact checks the debate -- and they missed at least one thing, W's assertion that we wouldn't allow the flu vaccine from Chiron into our country. As the San Francisco Chronicle has reported, 6 million doses had already been shipped to warehouses in the U.S. before the U.K. (not U.S.) government supended Chiron's license due to contaminated vaccine lots. Also, as Mr. Rowe pointed out, there was a golden opportunity for Kerry to turn that answer around: "If Canadian flu vaccine's good enough for Americans, why aren't Canadian arthritis medications?"

5. I'm comforted to learn by way of Internal Woman of Mystery Sarah Weinman that the mystery/crime genre is similar to SF/F in the way that matters most. She quotes writer John Rickards on an award dreamed up at Bouchercon: The other product of the night was the formation of ideas for 'the Drunkies', a series of booze-themed awards for crime writers that, believe it or not, I'm actually giving serious thought to trying to launch as the UK scene is bereft of such a thing. I rather like the idea of 'the Debut Drunkie' for any book by an author who's just reached legal drinking age in their country of residence and 'the Ken Bruen Liver Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement' for someone of years of service to both writing and drinking, preferrably both at the same time.

6. Jonathan Strahan gives wise advice on why you should be subscribing to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

7. Dinosaur That Slept Like a Bird would make a great story title.


my hero, Mr. Kessel

John Kessel's wonderful 2002 James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award-winning novella "Stories for Men," has become a source of controversy in Seaside, Oregon. You can read a story about it at the Seaside Signal's website (scroll to second story), and, frankly, this media outlet should be commended for providing the closest thing to balanced coverage of a local censorship story I've ever seen.

Here's the set-up:

The right to intellectual freedom came under fire recently when a science-fiction short story was removed from an English class at Seaside High School. SHS English teacher Jan Priddy has taught her science-fiction course as an elective for several years. In the class, Priddy gives her students a choice between the short story "Stories for Men" by John Kessel, or a short story by Mark Twain. Because each student was able to choose which work they wished to read, the arrangement worked out well for everyone.

This year, however, one of her students upset by the content of "Stories for Men," shared the story with her mother, Kathy Wilson, who was similarly upset over the sexual content of the short story. Wilson contacted Seaside High School Principal Don Wickersham to discuss her concerns over the short story’s content. Initially, Wickersham was not familiar the work, but, after reading the passages in question, found them to be "inappropriate." Wickersham next met with Priddy who "saw where it could be deemed inappropriate and chose to remove it from her class," Wickersham said.

And here's what my hero John Kessel had to say in the same piece:

Upon hearing of the situation here in Seaside, the work’s author, John Kessel, has offered to talk with parents, teachers and administrators, "should they wish to understand what I think this story is about and how I hope that it would cause young people to think about their attitudes toward men and women in society."

"It is unfortunate when students are prevented from reading and discussing work in the classroom," Kessel continued. "The English classroom is one of the last places in our society where young people who are going to be the citizens of the future are challenged to think, to develop their values, to test their understanding of people and society against what thoughtful people have written in times before them and in our own."

He goes on to say that, "A good story—especially a good science fiction story—should make you question and think about things that you might otherwise take for granted."

The Tiptree Award press release described "Stories for Men" thusly:

"Stories for Men" is a story about masculinity, about how individuals define themselves in the context of kinship and community, and about how we construct gender roles by telling ourselves stories. The story begins with a female-centered society that mirrors some of our assumptions about social power relations between men and women, and then explicitly refers to our own society's assumptions (in the main character's encounter with a twentieth-century fiction anthology) in a way that makes those assumptions seem new and strange. It reexamines those tales of outcasts and lone heroes and manly individualism within the context of a story of community. It raises questions about the links between connectedness and exclusion, consensus and stifling conformity, patriarchal protectiveness and sociopathy. "Stories for Men" is a short work, one that's more subtle than it first appears.

John is one of the best people I've ever had the pleasure to know and not only that, his work is amazing and I highly suggest you seek it out. He has several stories available online (including "Stories for Men") and I seriously can't recommend his novel Corrupting Dr. Nice highly enough. It's on my list of favorite novels and if you're a fan of The Lady Eve (and who isn't?) you must read it.

And, as the article points out, this all happened during Banned Books Week. Go forth and read freely.

yet more apologies

I'm still (dreadfully, filled with dread) behind on everything, everything, every...thing. Which explains why the continued lack of email responses and other stuff. And the next 24 hours will be spent -- except 8-9, when I drink wine and watch the Gilmore Girls -- finishing a story I started a couple of years ago, got within a thousand words of the end of, and abandoned for some reason (why do I do these things?). I never got time to go back to it and the motivating factor was the sudden revelation last night that I'm supposed to turn in to our writing group tomorrow night. Ah, the sudden pain of not having a novel to pull chapters from at will.

More when it's done.


george, george, george, george!

George the Dog ignores the first bicycle race he's ever had the pleasure of attending. Also, the first bicycle race Mr. Rowe ever rode in. I promise not to inundate you guys with old pictures. New pictures? Not so much.

downloading with bolly

Mr. Rowe, mere hours after marriage, tests the possibility of escaping through a hotel window. Richard Butner calmly drinks champagne. And this, friends, is the last picture my digital took before its batteries kaputed.

(test post to see if the hello photo thingie really works)

our boy in Japan

Mr. Barzak has a new story up on Strange Horizons, "The Trail of My Father's Blood." It starts good and stays good:

It was winter when it came for me. A blizzard swept through our corner of Ohio that December, strong enough to close the schools and local businesses for an entire week. Snow drifted, swirling into dunes that blocked roads and driveways. Ice grew like stalactites on the eaves of our houses. We were warned to stay inside, but it was deer season, and many of us went out even though we'd been warned not to, some of us because we'd been warned not to. "Men are fools," my mother once told me. "They think by breaking rules they prove their manhood."

Although she loved my father, my mother did not love men.

and I was picturing daisies

Those notes W. was scribbling during the debate have been exposed. And then we laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed...

(Via the ever-prolific TEV.)

giant underwater robot investigates Noah (film at 11)

No, really, a team has been investigating a small settlement in (330 ft. under) the Black Sea, in an effort to date its flooding (and um, Noah's efforts on behalf of the maritime industry) -- and they used a giant robot:

Ballard heralded the work of Hercules, an underwater excavator that was used for the first time.

The 7-foot robot gingerly dug around the deep-water ruins and retrieved artifacts using pincers outfitted with sensors that regulated the pressure they exerted - much like a human hand.

Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeology fellow at National Geographic, said the mechanical excavator's success ushers in a new era in ocean archaeology.

'We now have the technical capabilities to excavate scientifically in underwater environments,' the former University of Pennsylvania professor said. 'We've moved beyond the grab and look part of (underwater) archaeology.'

The results of Hercules' efforts were, unfortunately, inconclusive.


little apologies and things

So... I'm still dreadfully behind on email and other correspondence (but that will change this week!), and I feel suitably awful about it and all that, rest assured. I'm still tickled at every piece of mail I get, so feel free to send and I promise a response in the very near future.

It's just that re-setting up a household takes a lot of time (I don't know how you parental types manage it). We've unpacked just about everything -- except the books. And really, things just don't feel right until the bookshelves are overstuffed and the walls have art on them. These things will happen this week, so that's all well and good. But it took a massive amount of time and work and unpacking (and breaking down boxes, kudos to Mr. Rowe) to get it this far. Did I mention we've lost two bookshelves to other things (the kitchen for a temporary shelving solution and one's just missing the shelf piece that fits into the middle) and so will have to buy new ones to fit all the books we already have? Oh well.

Steve Earle's on the radio, so I'm sure it'll all be alright. (Updated: and by the end of the post, it was Wilco, so still alright.)

Just wanted to point quickly to Ed's post about Pobby and Dingan -- a fantastic book by Ben Rice that KDL sent as a gift many moons ago and which I love, love, love, and basically, second everything Ed has to say about. It will enrich your life far beyond the hour or so it takes to read. What have you got to lose? (This is one of those times where I wish the books were unpacked and on the shelves, so I could go grab it and quote -- as I wanted to with O'Hanlon yesterday.)

Oh, and to this piece on casting (via the sassy cinetrix), which is immediately going to my dear friend who casts and love/hates it, specializing in extras casting. (There are a lot more people that fall into the extra casting category than you think.)

That is all. Good night.


seems like an opportune time... point at Dogs Against Bush again (where George is the Golden Retrievers Against Bush spokesdog -- ah, the multifaceted quasi-celebrity of George Rowe the Dog, Poster Boy for American Values, My Attorney; better than any reality show contestant's).

Let your pets vote with their pics. (There's now a Cats Against Bush site too.)

And as always, make Max happy and write like god.

it's about time

Justine has a blog.

(this should be sung to a grade school tune)

(I still owe you email. Tomorrow.)

(I agree with Carrie about how fantastically gulpably wonderful Magic or Madness is.)

nothing about that parasite*

I heart Redmond O'Hanlon's misadventure travel chronicles as much as just about anything, including Lush products. (No small thing if you've been following the discussion below.) Now, via Mr. Nouse, it comes to my attention that O'Hanlon has a new book due out in the U.S. in January. It's called Trawler, and seems to be about being out on the North Atlantic in very bad conditions.

From the Guardian profile linked to above:

The answer, completely unexpected, was a trip above the Arctic circle, in the grip of a hurricane, in winter, on the Norlantean, a trawler so battered and rusted that he thought, when he first saw it, it was derelict. His cabin had a huge inward dent in the hull, where an earlier skipper had hit something; by the time the book was published, the Norlantean was being scrapped in Denmark.

In his earlier books, the literary skill was artfully concealed. He doesn't show off as a writer, and the structure seems so natural that only when you look very hard do you see how much has been left out so that each scene is properly framed. Trawler is different. All that it really has in common with his earlier travel books is that he spends a lot of time being sick in foetid places. The danger of the storm was real and terrible, but it is also impersonal in a way that the snakes, the mosquitoes and the drunken soldiery of the earlier books were not.

Squeal of anticipation and I also might mention that O'Hanlon's the natural history editor for The Times' Literary Supplement, for those who care.

Interested parties might want to read this Salon interview from '97.

*There's this certain bit in the Amazon book where O'Hanlon talks about the terrible things he's reading about being in the water and Mr. Rowe has put a moratorium on me telling people about the ultimate, worst parasite ever over the dinner table. (It's not that I bring it up because we're eating, it just seems to naturally come up...)


Tom Shales is the only analysis I'm going to read (going to admit to reading anyway) of last night's debate, which we ended up watching after all at a friend's house. (We had planned to miss it.) He's been doing a sharp-eyed appraisal of these things as television and, in so doing, getting a lot closer I think to the actual voter reaction than the people analyzing them strictly as politics. Not to mention doing a better job at the latter sometimes anyway.

Today's piece is well worth your effort and almost explains to me the probably unfathomable (by me) mystery of how anyone anywhere can think Bush won that debate or is fit to be president. I just don't get it. I try and put myself into the mindset of someone who watches the debate and thinks: "That's my guy!" But, I can't do it. I'm beginning to think the people that vote for Bush are people who don't watch TV or follow politics at all, ever, but just flip a coin or something.

Don't give me the bs line on the folksy charm either. I wouldn't want Bush as president, OR to back me up in a bar fight. Who would?


what are the odds?

You are Fluffy Mackerel Pudding!! You somehow
manage to combine seafood and dessert into your
wonderfully fluffy world. We should all be as
tolerant of New Taste Sensations. And of
big-yolked eggs.

What Weight Watchers recipe card from 1974 are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Via the bestest Found White Kitty in the world.)

taffy and buffy

Terry has one of his usual wonderiffic posts, today about the intersection between What's My Line? and taffy. As someone who spent several summer weeks of my own in Gatlinburg, watching through big display windows as the taffy was pulled and giant machines did what giant machines do... I could relate. Even though it makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

I was always more of a candy apple girl, myself, but then, that was just because I was told it would rot out my teeth and so had to be an unqualified good. Plus, caramel.

The thing I remember most about childhood trips to Gatlinburg are:

almost killing a guy with an adult-size go kart, which I was allowed to drive because of my height even though I had to guess which pedal was for the gas and which the brake (sadly, my memory of the guess wasn't what it should have been);

the street vendors with those vaguely Muppetish monkey puppets -- you know, the puppets had velcro paws and feet and the vendors looped them around their necks and waists and put a hand inside to work the mouth and torso and said cute things to you in monkey voices? I thought those were way cool and yet, I find myself now thinking of the ultimate sadness of an adult having that job. This post is for all those street vendors of monkeys who probably shot themselves in the head in a chalet in the Tennessee mountains;

and the haunted houses. Gatlinburg was home of the permanent haunted house, about a half dozen of them, and at least one was actually pretty damn worth the ten bucks. I'm thinking it may be the Mysterious Mansion -- still in operation. However, it's important to note that pretty damn cool at that time meant I was allowed to get my picture taken behind a cardboard cut-out of a busty vampire staker and screamed really, really loud at least twice.

Which brings me to the strange intersection this post is about: two of my favorite episodes of Buffy are the "What's My Line?" eps. The title ref comes in a Buffy line: "Well, then you know it's a whole week of What's My Line, only... I don't get to play."*

Despite that, I'm going to steal the monologue from the episode "Lie to Me" to close this post instead, because it might be my ultimate, favorite, would-win-in-a-death-match Buffy dialogue:

Giles: "Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after."

*Note: Before you begin to worry, I did have to go look this stuff up.

better than a madeleine

How could I have forgotten to mention the visit to the Lush store?

The Dream Cream is especially fab, highly recommended. Also, got assorted bubble bath and bombs and Slammer (my fave) shower gel, oh, and Narcotik, too.

I heart Lush.

It's probably best there's not one nearby. And yes, ordering online or via post is fine, but I prefer browsing and sniffing to cataloguing this stuff.

jiggedy jig

Well, I was very alarmed to learn that not only is it "Home again, home again, jiggety jig," meaning I've been spelling it wrong since forever but there's no illuminating origin. Yes, friends, tabula rasa on the birth of jiggety jig:

There is no particular origin or meaning for this rhyme, this is a simple knee bouncing ditty to amuse very young children.

I just don't know how this impacts my day.

I'm so far behind on everything that it's, as they say, not even funny. Behind on emails, behind on work work, behind on getting this damn book actually finished, behind on reading all the fine people to the right. So far behind, that soon I'll be ahead.

Random thoughts:

Boston was fun; got to see friends and (almost) win bar trivia.

The hotel wireless network was sinister, and made its main page my home page and wouldn't let me load any other pages starting with B, which required much deleting of cookies late last night.

People really should only be allowed to say interesting things on cell phones. If it's not worth dropping eaves on, then it's not worth barking, people. Did the guy at the airport bar yesterday not realize he was a walking cliche even before he used the phrase (with questionable inflection), "Well, it's like the glass is half empty, or it's half full?" I had to order another glass of wine.

Speaking of which, on another fun night, a lovely dinner at the fantastic Limoncello. The waiter was honest about their desserts and sent us around the corner to an equally fantastic pastry shop, Modern Pastry, where many boxes of cannoli were obtained. Many, many glasses of wine were consumed and then, at the end of the night, a new drink:


The Zelda Fitzgerald.

Half champagne, half Southern Comfort in a martini glass.


Still, glad to be home, where things are airy and fall lovely and George the Dog is very happy.


in a hurry

The battery is ebbing, no outlets are nearby but --

I'm off to the airport and almost home, where the wireless is working and it's almost like civilization. So, more soon. Not now, but later, or tomorrow.

More pretending that there's such a thing as a state of normalcy in the near future.

OH, and damn, I lost the heart attack debate pool again.


in the interest of avoiding hard work

I take a quizzy type thing. Bold the ones you've done. (Via Vidiot.)

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink (light crowd and I was bartender)
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (I am counting this even though it was a volcano and I was on a horse)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula.
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said ‘I love you’ and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars
21. Changed a baby’s diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse

30. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
31. Asked out a stranger
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath

39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
40. Seen a total eclipse (I remember doing so anyway, but I may have made it up. Questionable childhood memory.)
41. Ridden a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer.
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job for all accounts
51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe
58. Taken a road-trip
59. Rock climbing
60. Lied to foreign government’s official in that country to avoid notice
61. Midnight walk on the beach
62. Sky diving
63. Visited Ireland

64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Benchpressed your own weight
68. Milked a cow
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero
71. Sung karaoke

72. Lounged around in bed all day
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving
75. Got it on to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud

78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theater
80. Done something you should regret, but don’t regret it.
81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who’s not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites

87. Taken a martial arts class
88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn’t have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Ridden a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
105. Got flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don’t remember anything
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas

111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
(sorta, but I'm counting it)
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a check

124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read - and understood - your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your Congress person
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. …more than once? - More than thrice?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived.
140. Wrote articles for a large publication
141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone’s heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a T.V. game show
149. Broken a bone
150. Killed a human being
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Ridden a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (it's the South, people)
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Ridden a horse

158. Had major surgery
159. Had sex on a moving train
160. Had a snake as a pet
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi
171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad
181. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them (or because I needed a whiskey glass)
183. …and gotten 86?ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself an art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions.
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream (my dream's pretty simple)
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196: Dyed your hair
197: Been a DJ
198: Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal
199: Written your own role playing game
200: Been arrested

Of course, I could be lying.

Now, you.

"Well, actually, he forgot Poland."

Does anybody else think this choice Bushism from the debate would make a stellar bumper sticker? I'm not entirely sure what flipped Dubya off his rocker last night, but it seemed to be something to the level of Laura whispering in his ear right before the debate started that she and Lynne Cheney are having an affair.

Weirdsmobile makes the need for more commentary irrelevant (via Ed, who wants you to know it's hard work).

The funniest part of Bush's performance was when he was all "let me finish" as if he were being interrupted or the timer was buzzing...except that no one was interrupting him and he wasn't even close to being out of time. Wha huh? And his comment about how he knew as much about the tragedy of war as Kerry, because "I get the casualty reports every day and I see on the TV..." comment needed? No. But here it is anyway: are you high?

Read the whole thing; I'm completely in sync with his thoughts on Kerry's performance.

The Rosebud is no longer our favorite bar, as it's apparently where idiot R's gather to watch the debate. We fled to the much quieter, less Fox-friendly Melodeon. Plus, the Rosebud's bartender needs an beating like the one W. took last night.

See also Tom Shales' column: One longtime political observer -- among the friends canvassed by this critic -- was more irreverent about the debate and how the two debaters came off: "It was Andy Griffith meets Barney Fife," he said, with Kerry in the Griffith role -- solid, sanguine, sensible -- and Bush as the nervous Fife.