Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Word of the Day


From Terry.

Hawaiian Punch

Our master bedroom had to be repainted last year after the new bathroom was built, and we made a bold and daring color change, from pale green to pale taupe. Benjamin Moore calls it Cedar Key, but I like to say it's the color of despair. It's actually a pleasant hue - grown up, even sophisticated, debatably - just not very colorful.

Shortly thereafter, a tragic misjudgment left me with a big blank wall facing my bed. A big blank wall the color of despair. Not only am I a delicate soul with a highly attuned aesthetic sensibility, I spend a lot more time in bed than most people. What to do?

One of my prized possessions is a diminutive New Zealand mountainscape by my old friend Leila. (She's the one who designed the Jackals logo.) The little painting has been much admired by visitors, and after migrating around the Holler for a while, it found a permanent home next to my bed, where its verdant splash lifts my spirits every day. So I wrote Leila to ask what else she had.

She offered several, all of which I liked. Many of her paintings are inspired by her travels, and the one that spoke to me the most was a landscape from Kauai. Unfortunately, it was another wee work. So Leila, ever amenable, offered to try recreating it on a larger scale. You can see what you think, she said. No pressure.

We tore the package open as soon as it arrived and were instantly smitten. The picture draws you in, inviting exploration. Months later, I'm still noticing new aspects.

I'll never set foot in Hawaii or New Zealand, but I visit them every day.

Like it? You can see more of Leila's work here.

Thanks to Mom for funding the "vacation."


You haven't lived till you've heard ABBA in Hindi. I especially enjoyed the German cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown."

From Derek.
A camel being used to promote a new film in Kingston, Surrey, England,
decides to have a rest in the middle of a busy street, December 1935.
(Fox Photos/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Take a Load Off

So this is what too much information looks like.

From Derek.

Crack Down

A breakthrough in office technology.

From Riley.

Photo Synthesis

In case you're still hungry. Or incredulous.

Barack and Michelle Obama walk in the parade following his inauguration
as the 44th U.S. president on January 20 in Washington, D.C.
(Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

From Caroline.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Clark.

Angels of Death

There was a time when this would have surprised me.

From Peggy.
Cars parked at an automated drive-in diner, where individual conveyor
belts transport food directly to the driver, California, circa 1950.
(FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Riley.

Dirty Drawers

As anyone who's been here will attest, the air in Butt Hollow is thick with refined elegance*.

When we redid the kitchen, we got a Jenn-Air range with a warming drawer and thought: We have arrived. The drawer is nice to have, but we don't use it as much as we expected. When Dan pulled it open the other day, he was startled to find a roasting pan, then horrified to realize it was dirty.

"Is that from Thanksgiving?" he gasped.

Alas, we'll never know.

* Wait ... On second thought, it might be methane.

The Business End of the Shtick

In case you didn't get your fill last week:

From Peggy.

The Beat Goes On

"This is appalling."

From Derek.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Burning Bush

I don't do cold or crowds anymore, so I ignored most of the countless inauguration events despite living next door. But when humorist Kate Clinton announced a sage-burning ceremony at Dupont Circle last night, I felt inspired to venture out.

Traffic was surprisingly light, and even parking was OK. The feeling on the street was almost electric. I've lived in and around Washington most of my life, but I'd never sensed anything like this before - not even when Bill Clinton was first elected. People were smiling, which is just not a common sight here. The only discordant note was the heavy police presence. They were everywhere: on the street, in the sky, down below in the tunnel.

I'm not sure burning sage can clear away eight years of bad juju, but we were certainly enthusiastic. Kate was joined by a lesbian rabbi, a shaman, and a magnificent singer, all deeply engaging to our ebullient crowd.

A different type of catharsis was playing out on the other side of the circle, where people gleefully hurled shoes at a giant inflatable Dubya. And sage wasn't the only substance aglow: on the way there, we passed an idling black Town Car that reeked of pot. Poppy and Bar, no doubt.

Despite wool socks, schlong johns, fleece, etc., I froze my withered hiney off and enjoyed today's festivities from the warmth and comfort of our living room. But I'm glad I was lured out for a couple of chilly hours to get a little taste of something that feels like a revolution.

Be Prepared

From Derek and Peggy, always looking out for others.

From Riley.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Christine.

Cold Cuts

Some people collect coins, some prowl the Internet for vintage guitars; I know a woman with a closet full of antique Kewpie-doll heads. I'm not totally clear what turned her against everything from the neck down -- she may have been frightened by a Barbie breast as a child.

But I'm nobody to judge, because I, too, am a collector. What I collect are slights, digs, withering remarks, and the occasional mean-girl glare. I examine a good ... story from every angle, I trade them with friends, I commit them to memory, I savor them for eternity.

Lisa Kogan is my kind o' gal.

From Peggy.

'The Soil of a Friend'

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out
what happened inside this Oval Office."
What else but:

From Leslie, who finds herself oddly wistful at the end of this long, bumpy ride.

Oys R Us

From Derek.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Riley.


Ça ne va pas.

From Peggy.

Fit to Be Tied

Dan's boss was having lunch at Panera the other day when her friend found something strange in his tuna salad: a leather shoelace. Probably a bootlace, actually, as it was three feet long.

Panera's disclaimer? "Our tuna salad is made off-site."

I guess it didn't arrive on foot.

Brief Cases

Dorothy: “Fuck it, I’ll stay here.”

Literature for busy people.

From Kristine.
English film director David Lean (forefront) films a tempestuous sea
on the west coast of Ireland for a climactic scene in the MGM film
Ryan's Daughter, 1970. The camera is equipped with a specially
designed plexiglass window that rotates at high speed to prevent
sea spray from fogging the lens. (Archive Photos/Getty Image)

From Riley.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Today's Top Story


Noteworthy Names

Harry Katz
Harry Wolfe
Rosie Blayds
Starla Moonbeam
Jewel Featherstone
Pearl Golden Lake
Pearl Brown
Jade Gold
Ivory Greene
Ebony Cross
Crystal Roach
Chrystal Fritter
Sapphire and Diamond Tubbs (twins)
Temple Fawcett
Roberta Steel Bell
Katherine Gray Lamp
Hazel Gray Berry
Curlie Spell Green
Sylvan B. Green
Lance Range
Autumn Camper
Angelic Shoemaker
Mahn Hahn
Jerry Barry
Terry Barry
Mary Zerry
Mary Murray
Kelly Kelly
Willie Hunt
Dick Good
Dick Power
Herald Grandstaff
Guy Broadbent
Peter Wood
Peter Popoff
Sang Dong
Gay Payne
Fannie Leak
David Shatraw
Lisa Poos Green
Smokey Leite
Barbie Huff
Angel Huff
Angel Nix
Hardy Pickett
Serena Toro
Daisy Chaney
Rainee Tennis
Candy Apple
Frances Wine
Martini Wright
Komkrit Kittiporn
Porntip Nakhirunkanok
Titiporn Ruangrattanathavorn
Anurag Dikshit
Queen Best
Rosette Royale
Versailles Miller
Joy Fortune
Barzilla Thrift
Charity Bush
Hope Settles
Frankie Honesty
Putzi Hirshberg
Godzilla Haywood
Erskine Troublefield
Theldine Dowless Flattum
Scootie Halfpap-Edmonds
Fleeks "Butch" Hazel II
Oakey E. Nolley
Zollie Fogg
Odber McLean
Mervin Shpritz
Diana Thang

William S. Penn
Warren F. Harding
John Quincy Adams, economist
Sal Pacino
Mary L. Martin
Martha Mitchell

Dr. James E. Payne
Barbara Lawless, attorney
Vina Faught, divorcée
(Ms.) Honesty Knight, arrested for lighting up a joint in front of a cop

Don Black, former Ku Klux Klan leader

Thanks to everyone who contributed.
Married actors Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman crack nuts while sitting
at a table in their home, January 1940. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Today's Top Story

The time-sweep of these stories, 1929 to 1983, may have altered Tintin's attitudes but never his appearance. He remains about 16 throughout. But then, as we all know, gay men don't age as others do. He was probably moisturising.


What does it mean when your lucky bamboo turns yellow?

Kick Start

Happy belated birthday, Dame Shirley.

From Eric by way of Clark.

Just a Few More Bites

From Riley.
Mrs. Francis sits in her cluttered living room on Christmas Street (formerly Noel Street), southeast London, December 1946. Widowed for many years, she helps out her neighbors by collecting their milk and looking after their children. (Charles Hewitt/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Peggy.

Physician, Heal Thyself

We expect our stylists to have decent hair, our mechanics to drive roadworthy cars. Should we ask any less of our doctors?

The week before Christmas, dogged by a mysterious and persistent sore throat, I made an appointment with a specialist. I'd never seen him before, nor had he been recommended; he was one of two nearby ENTs approved by my insurance company, and he could see me pronto. That should have been a clue. Oh, and his name was Dr. Amini. I hoped desperately that his first name was Idi. Alas, it was Massoud.

His office did not inspire confidence. It was in a high-rise suburban apartment building that was decades past its prime - if in fact it ever had one. The corridors smelled of boiled vegetables and weary resignation.

My spirits sank further when I saw the waiting room with its random mishmash of battered furniture clustered awkwardly around the perimeter like kids at a junior-high dance. The walls were graced by some of the ugliest landscapes I'd ever seen - and I've stayed in plenty of cheap motels. They were, of course, mounted in wildly baroque frames, the faux gilt applied with a heavy hand.

I was engrossed in a copy of The Virginia Sportsman magazine when something caught my eye and I glanced up to see a wraith drift eerily past. With a shudder, I realized he was the doctor.

A few minutes later I was called back, and the impression was even more chilling up close. Part of it was his advanced age, but far more disturbing was his cadaverous pallor. The man was actually gray. As my eyes roved the room, looking at anything but Dr. Death, I noticed that all of his equipment seemed as old and worn out as its owner. By that point I didn't much care about my throat; I just wanted to get out of there.

The spookiest thing was that he murmured "You'll be all right" three times during our encounter. It had honestly never occurred to me that I might not recover from a sore throat. Until I met him.
Pedestrians brave the rain on a street in London's Westminster,
26 February 1957. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Evidently trademark infringement is not a big concern in China.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

From Kristine and Riley, respectively.

Oy, Holy Night

A mother's lament.

From Tia Terry.

Full Moon Rising

From Rebecca ... and Derek ... and Peggy ...
Bulgarians dive into icy water as they compete to catch a cross in the
middle of a lake on Epiphany Day, January 6, 2009. It is believed that
the man who is the first to grab the cross, thrown into the water by an
Eastern Orthodox priest, will be healthy throughout the new year.
(Getty Images)

From Riley.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

"The two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant,
and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change."

Seth MacFarlane

Devil's Advocate

Has it really been all that bad? Have we been too hard on the poor schlub? Does Bush really deserve such white-hot derision and international contempt? Or is he just lost and misunderstood, like a sad clown with a big shotgun and an unfortunate muscle spasm?
Mark Morford wonders if there's a brighter side to the Bush legacy.

Goodbye, Stranger

When I first stopped working, nearly 10 years ago now, I strove to be a diligent housewife. Naturally, my activities included daily perusal of the obituaries.

It crossed my mind that it might be a fun hobby to attend strangers' funerals, sitting quietly in the back, perhaps weeping softly if the mood struck. I figured I'd either slip out before anyone could ask questions or pretend to be too grief stricken to respond.

Sadly, I never followed through. Yet another forlorn cultivar in the weedy garden of regret that is my life.

Thanks to Ann-Maree for reminding me of this abandoned dream.

Look Homeward, Angel

Near ... far ... wherever you are ...


Saturday, January 03, 2009

"I moved through time and space with the grace and confidence of a puppy walking on a beach ball."

Sarah Vowell on performing in her high school marching band

Word of the Day


And you thought Marie's dolls were disturbing.

Thanks to Peggy. Thanks a lot.


Collectible dolls: creepy

Collectible dolls on QVC: creepier

Marie Osmond collectible dolls on QVC: creepiest
The New Year holiday at St Moritz brought this 'horse' on to
the ski slopes, 3 January 1938. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Friday, January 02, 2009

"Don't make fun of grad students.
They just made a terrible life choice."

Marge Simpson

Last Roundup

From Riley.

Sign Me Up

Interesting hobby.

From Derek.

For Terry

Ten-year-old Brian Hudson cares for 'Bluey,' an adopted stray kitten, at his home in Condor Street, Sydney, 9 March 1955. (Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of,
he always declares that it is his duty."

George Bernard Shaw

So Long, Cowboy

Good stuff.

Hey George,

Maybe you are wondering why I am addressing you in such a casual way? Probably not, as we all know you're not the biggest thinker in town. And, you really do have appalling manners.

But, in case you are wondering, here is the deal: you are not my President. You never were. To give you such respect would be a slap in the face to the many great humans who have done so much for our country.

George, you really shit the bed these last eight years. What an amazing reel of blunders you have left us with.

My brain still hurts from your inability to pronounce the word 'nuclear' correctly. And how about that time you stood on the American Flag, you know, on the anniversary of 9/11? Jesus, dude, what were you thinking?

I will not miss you. And I will never, ever forgive you for starting the war in Iraq. How you sleep at night is beyond me. May the rest of your years be haunted by the ghosts of so many innocent lives lost.

Ride 'em, cowboy. You dick.

Kerri Harrop

Dear Mr. President,

I hope one day you will direly need America's help, only to have her turn her back to you. That would feel just.


Dear Mr. President,

I'm glad to see America finally getting rid of a terrorist.


From Derek.

Nice Perk If You Can Find It

From Peggy.

Time Flies