Monday, December 29, 2008

Aristide & Henri & Dina

Sweet little interview on NPR by Susan Stamberg, with a feisty 89-year-old French woman who modeled in her youth for Maillol and Matisse. In a letter she carried to the elderly Matisse from Maillol as an introduction, Maillol said, “I am sending you the object of my work and you will reduce her to a simple line.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I read the news today, oy vey!

The Tribune Company, owner of—among others—The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant has filed Chapter 11. No big mystery as free news sources abound and newspaper readership grows ever more slender.

I remember what a nice thing it used to be to hole up in a comfortable chair every Sunday with the fresh, heavy, inky, Sunday New York Times and a pot of coffee.

No newspapers. One of those “grandpa, what was it like...” moments you thought would never come. Maybe they’ll grow lean and bounce back for a time. Who knows? Industries are ever evolving or disappearing. Looks like maybe the horse and buggy could come cart off the newspaper.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

If nuts are criminalized, only criminals will have nuts! Whose nuts? Who’s nuts?!

Sunday, December 14, 2008
Nut Bans in Schools May Be Spurring Hysteria
Expert says lack of exposure could also perpetuate more allergies among kids

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay News)—Peanut and other food allergies are on the rise, with more and more children being diagnosed with potentially life-threatening allergies, and schools are responding by providing nut-free areas.

But, at least one expert wonders if schools are going too far, even creating hysteria over potential nut exposures. What’s worse, schools may be perpetuating the problem by limiting exposure to nuts in non-allergic children.

“There’s a disproportionate response that may be making things worse. First, by feeding the concern—if a whole school is declared nut-free, how can you say to children that nuts aren’t dangerous? And, second by contributing to sensitization,” said Dr. Nicholas Christakis, the author of an editorial in the Dec. 12 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Christakis, an attending physician at Mt. Auburn Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, pointed to a recent Israeli study. It found that children exposed to peanuts at a young age appeared to have fewer peanut allergies than those who had a later exposure.

Christakis stressed that he's not saying schools shouldn't make allowances for children with severe allergies. “No one is arguing against reasonable accommodations,” he said.

But, some schools take those accommodations too far, Christakis believes. For example, he cited the school district where his children attend school. Recently, that district evacuated a bus full of 10-year-olds because a peanut was found on the floor of the bus.

Such a reaction, he said, makes it appear as if the threat from a peanut is much greater than it actually is. Among the 3.3 million Americans who are allergic to nuts, the overall likelihood of a serious reaction is low. Serious allergic reactions to food cause about 2,000 hospitalizations a year, and 150 deaths.

In comparison, noted Christakis, 50 people die from bee stings, 100 from lightning strikes and a whopping 45,000 from motor vehicle accidents. Another 10,000 people suffer traumatic brain injuries due to sports participation and 2,000 people drown every year, said Christakis. Yet, he said, no one has called for an end to athletics.

Other experts weighed in on the issue.

“This editorial really shows how emotional the issue really is, and it always goes back to education and getting people to understand perspective,” said Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. “Until there's a cure, we need to do everything we can to keep these kids safe.”

Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital in Detroit, said she'd like to see schools focus more on emergency planning for kids with severe allergies, because it's impossible to make anyone's environment completely nut-free. “Having a nut-free table, or even a nut-free school, gives you a false sense of security. It's like living in a very safe neighborhood—robberies happen even in the safest neighborhoods,” Appleyard said.

“Schools need to have policies in place for treatment. Teachers, aides, etc. should be trained in using an Epi-Pen [against anaphylactic reactions], and school officials need to make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency,” she said, adding, “that any emergency plan in place should be practiced, like fire drills are.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

In the wise words of Pogo...

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Funny looking at these wartime posters, and realising how many good ideas, like saving gas and saving resources were focused to a sharp point by the idea of a common enemy.

They just don’t make enemies like they used to... Or maybe we’re not afraid of the real ones anymore.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I’m piddling through one of my usual daily crosswords online ( and 54 Down is “rock band formed in new hope, PA.” I nearly dropped my virtual pencil! Any of you who do crosswords know there are rarely any musical/pop culture references more contemporary than Yoko Ono. Three-letter word “wife of Lennon,” oh, no!?

So this is just a shout out to Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo a.k.a Gene and Dean Ween. Congrats on this semi-achievement. Of course I heard they recently made a record for Rounder, so not sure what happened to their young weirdo street cred. Those boys must be in their late 30s now (photo is from the very early days, maybe junior high when they first met)

From a (uncredited) review: “Ween is the ultimate cosmic goof of the alternative rock era, a prodigiously talented and deliriously odd duo whose work travels far beyond the constraints of parody and novelty into the heart of surrealist ecstasy. Despite a mastery for seemingly every mutation of the musical spectrum, the group refuses to play it straight; in essence, Ween are bratty deconstructionists, kicking dirt on the pop world around them with demented glee.”

From Wikipedia: “The name Ween was a cross between the words ‘wuss’ and ‘peen.’”

Rock on Gene and Dean Ween...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And the candy floss you had, and your mother and your dad.

Anybody who’s a Neil Young fan, has to check out this live stream of the 22-year-old Neil’s finally-to-be-released Live from the Canterbury House, recorded in Ann Arbor in 1968, here. The show where the single “Sugar Mountain” was recorded. Damn, I loved that record when it came out...still do...seems like it was actually a B-side, can’t even remember the single. The full recording has been sitting somewhere since it was originally recorded, coming out first of December.

This is very early solo Neil, just after the breakup of Buffalo Springfield and before the release of his first solo record. Not the best ever, but great for the hippy 1968-style patter about guitar tuning, pills and minds being blown, and early versions of “Birds” and “Sugar Mountain” if nothing else. Sugar Mountain sounds so tossed-out, but so freakin’ perfect...simply one of the best songs ever recorded about the sadness of the loss of youth. He calls it an “oldie” in the show, must have written it when he was about 18. Not a lot of 18-year-old’s songs holdin’ up nearly 45 years later. “Old Laughing Lady” and “Broken Arrow” are also nice moments.

Thanks to Bob Boilen and his great All Songs Considered program on NPR, for this and so much more.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Music NOT for Airports.

Nice entry on NPR’s “This I Believe” this week from one of my old favorites, Brian Eno. Listen to it here.
Ever the cheeky monkey, Eno says this about an acapella group which meets weekly at his house: “I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gooooooooal, Botero!

I wasn’t even sure that Fernando Botero was still alive...but by golly, he’s not only still kickin’, but is kickin’ ass and takin’ names, as they say (just who are they?). My buddy Roger sent me a link to this blog called “WITHIN EMPIRE” with some of the finest, most powerful pictures Botero’s ever made, IMHO. Based on the American tortu-rama at Abu Ghraib. See them here. Not for the kiddies!

[This is not an endorsement of the blog WITHIN EMPIRE, by any stretch. Haven’t had enough chance to check it’s pretty radical thought. They describe themselves thusly: “Critical analysis and deconstruction of both hegemonic and radical ideology, as well as its social, historical, and aesthetic manifestations and implications, all from within the contemporary American-capitalist empire.”]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President (Elect) Obama.

I feel that, due to the ridiculous shenanigans of the last two elections, I’m still holding my breath here just a little. Feeling hopeful despite all of the other craziness in the world. Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Dixville Notch in a landslide!

In the first voting of the day, Mr Obama won by 15 votes to six in the town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

The town, which has a 60-year tradition of being first in the nation to vote, opened its polls at midnight, with turnout of 100%.

It was the first time the town had voted for a Democrat since 1968.

Monday, November 3, 2008

People we’ll miss. Studs Terkel. 1912-2008.

Dead in Chicago yesterday at 96.

From his friend, NPR’s Scott Simon, a nice Studs quote...“You just have to give ’em the chance. Everybody’s got their story, just let ’em sing, Pally, let ’em sing!” ’Nuff said.

“My epitaph? My epitaph will be ‘Curiosity did not kill this cat.’”

Lots of archived remembrance of Studs here.
Chcago Tribune here.

Photo by Steve Kagan.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hermit crabs from hell.

A bit of good news, by golly.

I’ve always been curious/furious about the way Wal-Mart and their big-box ilk have irresponsibly built and abandoned stores all over this country for years, like giant hermit crabs outgrowing their older smaller shells and seeking larger ones (only these are REALLY large, ugly shells to begin with). Knew I wasn't alone thinking about this phenomenon, and here a new book on the subject: Big Box Reuse (M.I.T. Press) by Julia Christensen an artist and professor at Oberlin College in Ohio.

NPR story is here.

Amazing the uses to which these buildings have been put...libraries, churches, go-kart tracks. Even two museums, one dedicated to Route 66 and the other to Spam (yes Spam!). This is the innovation that made this country great. And i’m not being facetious...this is amazing. Might be better if the monstrous things had never been built to begin with, but we all know they aren’t vanishing in a perfumed puff of smoke, leaving only flowers and unicorns, when the WalMart leaves town or morphs into a Super-Mega-Ultra-WalMart.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why the Caged Bird Sings.

I heard this really nice interview with Maya Angelou on an NPR music blog that might be oldish, not sure. It was celebrating her 80th birthday.

(When i searched, the link was way down, most were about that David Alan Grier who does a pretty fair impression of Maya)

What a joyous lovely woman...I wanted to adopt her as my third Grandma.

Looking for the link to the interview, ran across this great picture of her and Jimmy Baldwin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

80 Over 80.

Interesting list on Slate of influential octogenarians (Paul Newman at least, sadly already gone since its publishing)

Where else you gonna find Pinetop Perkins, James Lipton, and Andy Wyeth, right there up against Robert Byrd, George H. W. Bush and Henry Kissinger?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mmm, mmm good!

Heard on NPR today that the only company not to lose value in yesterday’s stock market high-dive was The Campbell’s Soup Company. Maybe everybody was thinking in the end some chicken soup might just make it all better.

On an even yummier positive note, 2/3 of the Republican Congress members found their lost spines and voted against the Lame-duck’s express wishes as to how they should vote on the $700 bil “bailout.” Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Designer’s Triangle of Mystery.

A little nugget for all the designers out there. Was remembering an old typeset banner, that if I remember correctly was at an old typesetter shop in Nashville called D&T. “Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick any two.” Always stuck with me, kind of jokey, but more of a realistic mantra for the designer than anything else I’ve ever come across. The idea that if you choose two you always sacrifice the third...

Looked on the web and found this illustration at a site called They called it the “Designer’s Holy Triangle.” I think calling it “holy” is a bit much, but i like the way they’ve worded the explanation:

Good + Fast = Expensive

Choose good and fast and we will postpone every other job, cancel all appointments and stay up 25-hours a day just to get your job done. But, don't expect it to be cheap.
Good + Cheap = Slow
Choose good and cheap and we will do a great job for a discounted price, but be patient until we have a free moment from paying clients.
Fast + Cheap = Inferior
Choose fast and cheap and expect an inferior job delivered on time. You truly get what you pay for, and in our opinion this is the least favorable choice of the three.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lehman Bros.

So I’m in Montgomery, Alabama visiting my sister a few weeks ago, and we’re out at this nice little outdoor live music gig at a downtown hotel. (A lovely night to be outside enjoying beer and music after fleeing Baton Rouge and the impending blowhard Gustav)

I notice this beautiful old (19th c.?) building across the street, the history of which nobody is quite certain. Maybe some cotton brokers from ages ago? There are a couple of peculiar statues on the roof, one of a large anvil, a female figure I think (an angel?), and a strange capsule-like thing rumored to contain a mysterious body...very Edward Gorey.

Turns out certain young Misters Henry, Emanuel and Mayer Lehman moved to Montgomery from Bavaria in the late 1840s and started a dry-goods business called Lehman Brothers. The brothers began to start accepting King Cotton as payment for dry goods and eventually began a second business trading in cotton.

By 1858, Henry had died of yellow fever and cotton trading had moved to New York, whence the two remaining brothers (pictured left) went and the rest as they say is history...

(and now so is Lehman Brothers?)

Thursday, September 11, 2008


After hearing “9-11” invoked as the rationale for any amount of lunacy over the past seven years, it’s easy to forget the actual horror of what happened that day.

I remember walking into Compass Records that morning in 2001 to deal with some job-related task, and hearing from my buddy David Haley what had just happened in New York. Never been one to turn on the news first thing in the morning, or I would have known.

I remember thinking...“Nah, that couldn’t have REALLY happened”...even after we all subsequently saw it on TV from every possible angle, until I just couldn’t look at it any more, couldn’t think about it anymore, couldn’t look at any more pictures in the New York Times of people who had died.

I remember the tense days and weeks following making sure everybody I knew in New York (and everywhere else) was accounted for.

I remember wondering what sort of people could perpetrate such a thing. Was it a well-laid terrorist plan gone well beyond belief, was it a fluke, was it a tremendous conspiracy?

After seven years that both seem like yesterday and seem like a creeping eternity, it’s almost impossible to make any sense of what happened through all the fog of information, near-information, and outright mis-information.

Today I bow in memory to those who died, those that keep dying daily...and try to picture a reasonable end to it all. Amen.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wore a black hat, ate lots of chicken.

wore a black hat
ate lots of chicken
and conquered half europe
was caught by the british
imprisoned on elba
he died on the phone

[favorite lyrics about Napoleon, from Robin Hitchcock’s Cynthia Mask]

New favorite movie about Napoleon is The Emperor’s New Clothes

From Netflix:
In this whimsical tale based on Simon Leys’s novel The Death of Napoleon, the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte (Ian Holm) trades places with a look-alike—a common drunk—and makes his way back to Paris in disguise, intent on reclaiming his throne. During his travels, he discovers that France has changed in many humorous ways—and finds love with a melon-selling widow named Pumpkin (Iben Hjejlie).

Came out around 2002, seems to be an Italian production, may not have been widely released over here. Director is Alan Taylor, who seems to mostly to really good television. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, etc.

Have always been quite fond of Ian Holm. Met him briefly in a bar in New York ages ago.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who’s the cat that won’t cop out?

Isaac Hayes 1942-2008 R.I.P.

Funny that in many people’s minds, Isaac Hayes will forever be entwined not with the beautifully innovative lush soul music he created, but with two radically different and semi-ridiculous fictional characters.

Shaft and Chef...

Isaac was one beautiful smooth man. Strange, I had been listening to Black Moses recently, and just got Hot Buttered Soul today from eMusic after I found out he’d vinyl versions long gone. I remember as a kid I used to look at Hot Buttered Soul and wonder what that ultra-smooth head felt like.

Come to find Isaac had just finished a movie called Soul Men with Samuel Jackson and Bernie Mac, who I found out also died this weekend of complications from pneumonia.

In Chef’s inimitably poignant words “James Taylor, what the hell are you doing singing about prostitutes to these children? Get outta here!”

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More recent collage.

The devil...Britney...childhood...CPR...body building.
A little something for everyone...

Loving working with the old book material I’ve been finding around here. Especially stuff with kid’s drawings.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Politics...what a drag!

My buddy McGuire sent me a bunch of these ages ago, probably before I was blogging. Thought they were still funny and worth dragging the best few of them back out.

Reminds me of good old Morrissey on the Smiths’ The Queen is Dead record...
“I say Charles don’t you ever crave / to appear on the front of the Daily Mail / dressed in your Mother's bridal veil?”

Thursday, July 3, 2008

War dims hope for peace.

[[“Headlines" by Robert Phillips, from Circumstances Beyond Our Control: Poems. © The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006]]


War Dims Hope for Peace.
Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told.
Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead.

Miners Refuse to Work after Death.
Include Your Children When Baking Cookies.
War Dims Hope for Peace.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say
Prostitutes Appeal to Pope.
Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead.

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half.
Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide.
War Dims Hope for Peace.

Stolen Painting Found by Tree.
Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over.
Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead.

Iraqi Head Seeks Arms.
Police Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers.
War Dims Hope for Peace.
Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Modern Home Medical Adviser.

Haven’t posted any collages for a while. So here’s one that’s fairly different from the earlier stuff in NH. Not as figure-portrait oriented as they’ve been in the past. Whatever.

The drawing at the bottom is, I think, a chicken and was done by an actual child...not a childish drawing from my hand. The “babie young deer” tape at the bottom was on a package from my friend Sai.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Things we like: John Fahey

Hadn’t listened to Fahey in a long time. First discovered him back when I was originally flipping out about Leo Kottke in the 70s. Re-discovering Fahey’s 1965 record The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death, which I recently downloaded from eMusic after the vinyl version long ago went to live who knows where.

A strange man, John Fahey, with an unusual set of guitar styles. This album, originally released on Riverboat Records and later reissued by Fahey's own Takoma label, has a lot of rough edges in terms of the recording but a tremendous amount of power when it comes to the music. Fahey was at the top of his game, alternately playful and dark, so there's never a dull moment. There is always something new to be heard on each playing.—from Steven McDonald on

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

WE can solve it (?)

I’ve been getting stuff from this organization called WE. They have a snappy logo in green circle, where the “m” in “me” has been turned upside down to make a “we”—as with wine labels, I have a sneaking suspicion that when people care enough to REALLY do design right, they must care about the rest of it (of course the Nazis had a pretty strong graphic design presence going for sometimes my theory is a maybe a little awry).

Anyhoo...haven’t paid a lot of attention to their mail, despite the snappy logo, but today was really stopped by the brilliance of their new ad campaign to fight global warming. Check it here.

They have “polar opposites” (you know, like POLAR ice caps melting...) like Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi, Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson, etc. The pairs are sitting on couches and talking about how they may disagree on most things but the problem of global warming is something they can agree on. TV spots aren’t going to bring about change in themselves, but it’s a strong thing, I think. They are doing an online contest to choose the next unlikely pair.

I nominated Al Franken and Anne Coulter (while I would prefer to see Coulter taking her chances with a mother grizzly defending her cubs, maybe this is the chance for her to do a good turn...good luck Anne!)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wonder Boys (How does it feeeel?)

(Chabon at left, as pictured on The Simpsons, one of the great contemporary honors..perhaps cooler than his Pulitzer, with Jonathan Franzen, Tom Wolfe and Gore Vidal)

Birthday of two of my favorite writers today. Bob Dylan in 1941, and Michael Chabon in 1963.

Check out Jimi Hendrix doing “Like a Rolling Stone” here (oh, and also check out Zimmy’s 1966 version with The Band here). ’Nuff said.

If you’ve never read Chabon, start with The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay, which garnered him a Pulitzer for fiction. If you like that one, I’ve particularly enjoyed his two most recent books Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Gentlemen of the Road (the former a bizarre Yiddish Raymond Chandler opus of sorts, the latter a book thoroughly out of time, difficult to label—had it not been for its cover, which is contemporary and not awfully good, the book, with its odd old-fashioned illustrations, would feel like a treasure found at rare book shop).

Chabon said, “Literature, like magic, has always been about the handling of secrets, about the pain, the destruction, and the marvelous liberation that can result when they are revealed. If a writer doesn't give away secrets, his own or those of the people he loves, if he doesn't court disapproval, reproach and general wrath, whether of friends, family or party apparatchiks ... the result is pallid, inanimate, a lump of earth.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lindy Hop.

[[This is the anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s flight from New York to Paris. Today this seems so run-of-the-mill. Nowadays we don’t have many heroes. Much more detail here, look under May 21]]

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “In the late spring of 1927, something bright and alien flashed across the sky. A young Minnesotan who seemed to have nothing to do with his generation did a heroic thing, and for a moment people set down their glasses in country clubs and speakeasies and thought of their old best dreams.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On not giving up (Pt. 5)

[[Very touched by this story recently about the poet Virginia Hamilton Adair, who was born in New York City in 1913. Must confess I haven’t read her poems, but her book Ants on the Melon is on my Amazon wishlist. Nice interview with her on Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour here]]

Her father was an insurance salesman and an amateur poet. She grew up loving poetry, and she published many poems in magazines as a young woman. But after she got married, she stopped trying to publish. She said, “Publishing takes a sort of canniness that I didn't really think went with poetry. I was afraid of writing to please somebody else instead of myself.”

So she went on writing poems, without publishing them, for almost 50 years. It wasn't until after her children were grown, her husband had died, and she had lost her eyesight that she published a book of her work. They went through thousands of the poems she had written to find 87 for her book Ants on the Melon, which came out in 1996. She was 83 years old. She went on to publish two more books: Beliefs and Blasphemies (1998) and Living on Fire (2000).

When asked where she got her inspiration, she said, “A cup of coffee. Always black, always strong, and always just one. It takes the cork out of the bottle.”

Friday, April 25, 2008

Indiana Edition.

This was one of the first successful collages I made in New Harmony (meaning that it was the first one that I was actually happy with). On the back of an old textbook...I think I’ll keep it for myself.

Back to doing collages with satisfying regularity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ominous warnings.

“Are you sure you want to delete the 10,926 photos permanently? You cannot undo this action.”

Know that I have all of the photos on my laptop backed up, most of them several times, but still pretty scary to empty this special load of “trash.” Talk about your bad “what if” scenarios...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Moondog and JFK.

[[“Moondog” by Susan Donnelly, from Transit. © Iris Press, 2001. this struck me from Writer’s Almanac...from a time when 7-foot blind viking stockbrokers and respected presidents roamed the earth. Have always been really curious about this Moondog character. Have liked this album cover for a long time.]]


He just stood there,
at the corner of 43rd Street
and Sixth Avenue,
nearly seven feet tall,
dressed as a Viking.
Everyone, it seemed,
in New York in the ’60s
knew Moondog. They said
he’d been a stockbroker,
from a rich family.
They said he was blind.

I was writing a novel that year,
but didn’t know how,
and falling in love,
and everything moved so fast,
but the Viking was motionless.
I know he wrote songs,
but I never heard any.
He just stared outward.
I’d wake up, write myself dizzy,
then go walking, fast,
through the streets.

One day, a stranger
stopped me: JFK had been shot!
This was in midtown. The bells
of St. Patrick’s began tolling
and I joined all the others
going up the cathedral steps.
I’d seen the President
just last month — young,
glinting like silver,
in a limousine going up Madison
to the Hotel Carlyle.
He waved to all of us
and we waved back, cheering…

Or are these tears
for the broken love,
the unreadable novel?
Anyway, the years.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Barney Googlin’.

[[Haven’t Googled my own name for fun in quite a while... Besides the expected design and collage links, and stuff about the Norman Conquest, I found another Griffin Norman—an accountant— in Chicago (I’m thinking about calling him). Apparently there’s a hot young college basketball player named Blake Griffin, who got way more than his share of Google hits in my search. I stopped looking after about 65’s addictive!]]

Apr 6, 2008 ... 10 a.m. April 19 (registration required); graphic design tour of downtown led by Griffin Norman and Dan Brawner, 11 a.m. May 10; ...

After the Norman conquest of Sicily, the new rulers showcased their ambitions ... Look also for the lion and the griffin, symbols of the Norman kingdom. ...

Griffin Norman & Judith Grobe Phil & Annie Grubich Marion Guyton Germar, Inc., DBA Evans-Gzesh & Co ... Preferred Professionals - Dean's Team ...

That picture was taken in a park near my house, by our friend Griffin Norman. 1:09 PM. Anonymous tuckky said... I bought it !!! lalala~~ ...

Norman Griffin AKA Louie AKA Big Al AKA Five Star Shippers AKA Franklin Ripped me off $3000 for secretarial work done. Wrote me a hot check for services.

Feb 15, 2008 ... Today we took Griffin to Langport with Norman, a male Rottweiler. Griffin had a great time, he really enjoyed himself. ...

Joel Siegel, Ingmar Bergman, Merv Griffin, Norman Mailer, Leona Helmsley, Sean Taylor, Evil Knievel, Ike Turner, Marcel Marceau, and Benazir Bhutto.) ...

Our 800-page catalog features "The Adventures Of Bullwhip Griffin" and other hard-to-find titles ... Category: Family / Live-Action Director: Norman Tokar ...

One problem with Griffin is his inactivity. This will be only his second bout in two years. In his last fight he comfortably outpointed the southpaw Norman ...

Mar 24, 2008 ... Ah, but will Capel be in Norman for that conversation? Or will Griffin have to make it a teleconference, phoning his coach in Columbia, ...

The Cambro-Norman Invasion of Ireland summarizes the events, circumstances and people ... Griffin nephew of Fitz-Stephen Raulfe Fitz-Stephen Walter de Barry ...

ride was graphic artist and photographer Griffin Norman who shot snaps while we talked.] We’re. going to make it brief, because you guys got sound check and ...

Griffin is hot, tearing through his set with Norman Simmons at the piano and the underrated trumpeter Dave Burns. Favorites include "Good Bait" and ...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Democracy to the fish.

[[We Bring Democracy To The Fish by Donald Hall, from White Apples and the Taste of Stone. (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007).

It is unacceptable that fish prey on each other.
For their comfort and safety, we will liberate them
into fishfarms with secure, durable boundaries
that exclude predators. Our care will provide
for their liberty, health, happiness, and nutrition.
Of course all creatures need to feel useful.
At maturity the fish will discover their purposes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

April Foolery for the Typophile.

The news media have been responsible for some of the greatest April Fools’ Day pranks in history. In 1977, the London newspaper The Guardian published a seven-page supplement commemorating the anniversary of the independence of San Serriffe, a completely imaginary small island nation located in the Indian Ocean. The article described the geography of the nation — it consisted of two main islands, which together formed the shape of a semi-colon; the northern one was called “Upper Caisse” and the southern one, “Lower Caisse.”

The island's natives were of “Flong” ethnicity, but there were also the descendents of Europeans settlers who had colonized the nation: “colons.” The two groups had intermarried over the years; their offspring were “semi-colons.”

The capital of the nation was Bodoni and the national bird, the “Kwote.”

[[The Guardian apparently received hundreds of letters wanting to know more about this fantastic place, some of the letters were from travel agents]]

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Things we like: The Evens

From their own site: “The Evens are a band from Washington, D.C. Ian MacKaye plays baritone guitar and Amy Farina plays drums. They both sing. Their debut album was recorded at Inner Ear Studios in the summer of 2004 and released in March 2005.”

I only have the first, self-titled album, but hear they’re both great.

If you loved MacKaye in Fugazi or Minor might not like this at all. But you probably will. Love seeing guys my age still shaking it up. Kind of...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

More good McCarthyism.

“Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it’s important.”
Eugene McCarthy, politician and poet (now, how often do you see those two items together in somebody’s title?)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On perspective, etc.

When she was five, Flannery O’Connor became famous for teaching a chicken to walk backward; a national news company came to town to film the feat and then broadcast it all around the country. She said, “That was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. It’s all been downhill from there.”

She also said, “The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.”

And also this:
“I doubt if the texture of Southern life is any more grotesque than that of the rest of the nation, but it does seem evident that the Southern writer is particularly adept at recognizing the grotesque.”

Monday, March 24, 2008

Born in Latrobe PA.

Fred “Mr.” Rogers (b. March 20th, 1928)—whose middle name was actually “McFeeley,” which you might remember as the name of one of his recurring characters. And Rolling Rock beer “Old 33”—the 33 was apparently a typo that indicated the number of words at the end of the original slogan (“Rolling Rock, from glass lined tanks in the Laurel Highlands. We tender this premium beer for your enjoyment, as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.”) and was left on when the bottles were printed. Or so it goes...some claim it has something to do with the Masons, which sounds juicier...

Monday, March 17, 2008

We represent the Lollipop Guild.

My buddy Roger Clayton sent me this, attached to a St. Patrick’s Day email. Forgot how snappy these guys’ outfits and hairstyles were!

Couldn't resist a little Google-fest.

Was reminded that when I was out in LA, my friend Kim told me that a lot of the munchkins had stayed at this hotel in Culver City. The Culver Hotel. Understand it’s worth a trip to the bar, though we didn't make one.

BTW...if in Culver City, don't miss Tender Greens. Went several times.

Also, munchkin related, this blog.

“I played elves all my life,” boasts Jerry Maren, 87, who was one of Munchkin Land’s Lollipop Guild kids before playing a space alien on The Beverly Hillbillies, a Halloween gremlin on Bewitched and an elf in the 1984 Mickey Rooney holiday TV movie It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. “I played elves in numerous commercials—and also St. Patrick's Day leprechauns.”

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Open the door, Homer...

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
—Alexander Graham Bell

[[Always thought this was just some generic pap that people repeated when bad things happened. Funny—knowing this was attributed to him—that Bell actually invented the telephone as an accident while trying to perfect the telegraph.]]

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Washington had a dog named Sweet Lips.

[[The second in a series on American Presidents who, among other things, had oddly named pets. As is often the case, this lovely tidbit is from Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac]]

Ten Things You May Not Know About George Washington

His dentures were carved from a hippopotamus tusk. They were drilled with a hole to fit over Washington’s one remaining tooth, and they rubbed against his natural tooth in such a way that Washington was in constant pain, and so he used an alcoholic solution infused with opium.

By the time he reached 30, he had survived malaria, smallpox, pleurisy, dysentery. He was fired at on two separate occasions — and in one of them, his horse was shot out from under him and four bullets punctured his coat. He also fell off a raft into an icy river and nearly drowned.

During the last night of his life, a doctor friend came over to perform an emergency tracheotomy on Washington. Arriving too late, the doctor tried to resurrect Washington by thawing him in cold water, then wrapping him in blankets and rubbing him in order to activate blood vessels, then opening his trachea to inflate his lungs with air, and then transfusing blood from a lamb into him.

He enjoyed playing cards, hunting foxes and ducks, fishing, cockfighting, horse racing, boat racing, and dancing. He bred hound dogs and gave them names like “Sweet Lips” and “Tarter.”

His favorite foods included mashed potatoes with coconut, string beans with mushrooms, cream of peanut soup, salt cod, and pineapples.

He snored very loudly.

He did not wear a powdered wig, as was fashionable at the time. Instead, he powdered his own red-brown hair.

Washington had a speech impediment and was not good at spelling. He would often mix up i’s and e’s when speaking and in writing.

There are 33 counties, seven mountains, nine colleges, and 121 post offices named after Washington.

He delivered the shortest inaugural address ever. It was only 133 words long and took 90 seconds to deliver.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The right kind of McCarthyism.

In 1978, Bergen announced his retirement. Charlie would be
donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to which he replied, “Well, at least I won't be the only dummy in Washington.” Only nine days after his announcement, Bergen died in his sleep after a performance at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

W.C. Fields: “Well, Charlie McCarthy, the woodpecker's pinup boy.”

W.C. Fields: “I love children. I can remember when, with my own little unsteady legs, I toddled from room to room.”
Charlie: “When was that? Last night?”

W.C. Fields: “Quiet, Wormwood, or I’ll whittle you down to a coathanger.”

W.C. Fields: “Tell me, Charles, is it true that your father was a gate-leg table?”
Charlie: “If it is, your father was under it.”

W.C. Fields: “Why, you stunted spruce, I’ll throw a Japanese beetle on you.”
Charlie: “Why, you bar-fly you, I'll stick a wick in your mouth, and use you for an alcohol lamp!”

Charlie: “Pink elephants take aspirin to get rid of W. C. Fields.”

W.C. Fields: “Step out of the sun Charles. You may come unglued.”
Charlie: “Mind if I stand in the shade of your Nose?”

Sam Berman’s caricature of Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen for 1947 NBC promotion book

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Abraham Lincoln had a cat named Bob. Doo-dah, doo-dah.

It’s the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, born in Hardin County, Kentucky (now part of LaRue County) in 1809. Here are some things that you may not have known about Lincoln: He was the first president to have a beard while in office. And he was the tallest president at six feet, four inches.

He was the first president to be photographed at his inauguration. And in the picture of his second inauguration you can see John Wilkes Booth standing near him.

Lincoln liked animals and he owned a cat, “Bob,” a turkey, “Jack,” and a dog, “Jib.” On the night of his assassination, they found in Lincoln's pockets two pairs of glasses, an ivory and silver pocketknife, a linen handkerchief, a Confederate five-dollar bill, a gold watch fob, and a new leather wallet with a pencil inside of it.

Lincoln was the only president ever to receive a patent. It was for a device that lifted ships over shoals in the water.

He was known for keeping an untidy office and also for his loud and resonant laugh. He admired the works of Edgar Allan Poe, but when Lincoln saw that a campaign document had claimed that he spent his free time reading Plutarch, he began reading Lives.

Many thought that Lincoln was overindulgent as a father and he would let his youngest two boys run and play freely in the Presidential Office.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cute...and tasty!

[[This from England’s Daily Mail, via my friend Jill Earl. Happy VD to all!]]

A cute little piglet born with heart-shaped markings on his side is the centre of attention as lovers gear up for Valentine’s Day this week.

The 10-day-old Gloucester Old Spot piglet christened Valentine—
what else?—is one of a litter of seven born at Byford’s Farm in Taynton,
near Newent, Glos.

Farmer Eric Freeman, 75—a founding member of the Gloucester Old Spot Pig Breeders’ Club—said Valentine's mother Mandi Lou has already got used to her piglet stealing the show.

“Some sows get really annoyed and squeal but Old Spots are known for being quiet,” he said. “Mandi Lou was very good and didn't mind Valentine having her picture taken. I’ve bred thousands of Old Spot piglets over the years but this is the first ever to have such a clear heart-shaped mark. It couldn't be more appropriate with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.”

Mr Freeman has been breeding Old Spots at his farm for 25 years
and said the breed has come back from near-extinction in the
past few years.

“I think there are probably around 400 members of the breeders’ club and they have spread far and wide,” he said. “There has been a lot of interest because they are a fatty breed and it's a different taste to the normal type of pig—it's much more succulent.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weasel Words & Sokolowski.

[[This from one of my favorite podcasts—Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, with Peter Sokolowski—subscribe to it thru iTunes if you like words as much as I do. Also with a little bio tidbit about Peter.]]

Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, served as primary editor for Merriam-Webster's French-English Dictionary and worked on defining and etymological dating for Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. He is the host of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day Podcast and can be heard monthly (on the first Monday of each month, at 7:35 a.m.--PST) on Southern California's KKZZ radio. In addition to his lexicographical work, Peter hosts a jazz program on WFCR (an NPR affiliate in Amherst, MA) and is an accomplished trumpet player.

[[Ah, weasel words...where would politicians and business people be without them?]]

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 18, 2008 is: weasel word \WEE-zul-WURD\ noun
: a word used in order to mislead a person or to avoid a straight answer Example sentence: Instead of just saying outright that jobs are going to be cut, the head of the company has taken to using weasel words like “corporate restructuring.” Did you know? Some people believe that weasels can suck the insides out of an egg without damaging the shell. An egg thus weasel-treated would look fine on the outside, but it would actually be empty and useless. We don't know if weasels can really do that, but the belief that they could caused people to start using “weasel word” to refer to any term intended to give the impression that everything is fine when the speaker is really trying to avoid answering a question, telling the truth, or taking the blame for something.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Potent Quotables. 7 feb 08.

“Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.”
—Anton Chekhov

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Real St. Nicholas.

So, another Writer’s Almanac...reading about Mary Mapes Dodge, who wrote Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates in 1895. Later she oversaw a magazine for Scribner’s called St. Nicholas, which published the first childish works of Ring Lardner, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, Edmund Wilson and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Also found this account of the early St. Nicholas, which has very little to do with reindeers and the bringing of presents...interesting:

A wealthy gentleman in Asia, the story runs, sent his two sons to Athens to be educated. He charged the boys at parting to stop at Myra on their way and pay their respects to his reverence, the bishop. The boys reached the city at night, and took lodgings in an inn, intending to make the promised call in the morning.

Now the landlord was a very wicked man, and when he saw the boys’ rich store of baggage he resolved to rob and murder them. So when the poor boys were asleep, he crept up to their room and dispatched them, and, to conceal his terrible deed, he cut up their bodies and packed them in a pickling-tub with some pork, intending to sell the whole to some ship in the Adriatic.

Now good St. Nicholas that night saw it all in a dream, and in the morning he put on his pontifical robes (for he was now an archbishop), and, with his crozier in his hand, went in holy indignation to the inn.

The landlord was greatly frightened when he saw the archbishop, and on being accused, fell upon his knees and confessed his crime.

St. Nicholas next went to the tub in his pontificals, and he passed his hands over the boys, who at once hopped up and out of the pickled pork alive and whole. The happy fellows began to sing praises to St. Nicholas, but he, good soul, would not listen to it. He told them to worship none but God. The boys, at once recovering their possessions, went on their way rejoicing, and St. Nicholas was regarded as the special protector of boys and students from that hour.

Most of the old pictures represent three boys in the pickling-tub, all with uplifted hands, praising good St. Nicholas. We suspect that three boys in the tub, instead of two, better suited the fancy of the old artists. It did not make a great deal of difference in point of fact, and it certainly made a better picture.

Woolf Burns.

Catching up on some Writer’s Almanac podcasts, ran across one from Jan. 25 with the birthdays of two great writers, perhaps not likely to be found at the same birthday bash.

From the great Robbie Burns, Bonie Doon:

Ye flowery banks o’ bonie Doon,
How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu’ o’ care?

Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings upon the bough;

Thou minds me o’ the happy days,
When my fause luve was true.

Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings beside thy mate:
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o’ my fate.

Aft have I roved by bonie Doon
To see the wood-bine twine,
And ilka bird sang o’ its luve,
And sae did I o’ mine.

Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause luver staw my rose,
But left the thorn wi’ me.

and writing advice from Virginia Woolf from A Room of One’s Own:

So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity, which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Signs of the End.

A few nice sign photos sent to me by my buddy Bill DeMain, after he and Molly Felder (Swan Dive) went on a short tour to Korea. He knows I appreciate a funny sign—in any language.

It seems pigs the world over are just awfully happy to be barbecued. And need it be said...everybody loves MONKEYS!?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My library, for better or verse.

On this day in 1815, President James Madison approved an act of Congress appropriating $23,950 to purchase Thomas Jefferson's library of 6,487 volumes. In 1814, after capturing Washington, D.C., the British burned the U.S. Capitol, destroying the Library of Congress and its 3,000-volume collection.

You know, now I don’t feel so bad about the size of my own personal library, and don’t think I could catch Mr. Jefferson, even at the rate I usually amass books.