Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bonjour Tweétaire

I wanted all of you to meet my French foreign exchange student for the summer. We’re going through a rough patch, and I’m not sure she’s going to last. Say something, Françoise. I guess she went out for un petit café break. If they get Twitter in France, it's going to have to be 360 characters. No way the French can hold it to 140.

Françoise wrote this novel that is considered groundbreaking for a teenager, and it’s all about ballerina flats with French sailor tops and smoking cigarettes like Jean-Paul Belmondo and racing her sports car down to the Riviera while swigging straight from the Dom Pérignon bottle , sorta like Spring Break, French style, shattering the empties against olive trees and scaring the sheep. In other words, thinking she’s pretty merde chaude (vulgaire.)

I need to talk to her about those ballerina flats. She gets them off Repetto’s in Paris cause they made them for Bebe (Brigitte Bardot,) plus they make real ballet shoes, but it was the flats and toe cleavage and Brigitte doing her mambo dance in And God Created Woman.

Françoise’s gone and whacked off her hair in some kind of screwy homage to Arthur Rimbaud, that little disaffected punk from Charleville who went to Paris and spent the bulk of his time having sex with Verlaine, staying drunk off absinthe and writing some bad poetry, then running home to Mama, when not playing games with knives and guns and disappearing into London to teach French when he couldn’t even speak English.

Françoise needs to realize this is D.C. where where we’ve got wars to deal with and a recession and Au Pied de Chochon flu. Anyway, she thought she was coming here to work for Cubism, an art movement, and instead she got me trying to teach her how a stapler works, for Christ's sake, so now she’s been slouching around a lot, sneering at everyone that crosses her path (that Rimbaud thing again,) and going around to Lauriol Plaza telling the al fresco group she’s leaving for Africa to become a gun runner and live the dissipated life of a downtrodden Colonial, talking about saints and paradise (her Patti Smith drone,) and how “Life is a farce. My innocence is enough to weep over,” and D.C. is hell and this is her season in it, and she keeps seeing fire and pitchforks in Penn Quarter. I mean, get a grip, girl. It's just an open kitchen.

She’s also given to those highfalutin’, verbose statements that aren’t working too well with Twitter, so the second she tears off with “My day is over, I’m leaving Europe. The sea air will burn my lungs. I will swim and be bronzed by the sun and smoke and drink liqueurs strong as boiling metal. I will have gold. I will be lazy and brutual.” On Twitter, that will cut her right off at "stron," and she’s got the lazy part down, I can attest to that. Her "bronzed by the sun" is turning into me running across the street to CVS to get her some Noxema and a bottle of Bayer’s.

I ought to remind her that Verlaine went so off his rocker hanging with Rimbaud that his penis and anus were examined to see if he was a “habitual” or “recent” pederast, so subsequently, we know more about his penis and anus than the intimate anatomy of any other major poet of the past. Chew on that with your croissant, Françoise. Study your croissant. Do you not note the shape, the flakiness, the pure symbolism of diseased passion?

The other day I saw “What hard angel stuffs me full/Between the shoulders, while/I fly off for Paradise?” on her computer screen. I wonder if I could find her work as a French teacher to some St. Alban’s kid needing a tutor?

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Soo Ee Flu Ee
A Public Service Announcement

KOB of DC Blogs has asked me, WCH (Washington Cube Health…or WhatCha WannHa Know?) to step up and issue a PSA (Public Service Announcement or Phuck Service Announcements) about the Swine Flu since the WHO (World Health Organization…or the group,) have been doing nothing but alarming people this weekend.

• Stay away from anything to do with pigs. I’m not even going near my piggy bank where I drop off my change every night. Why risk it?

• This also means “no” to Aunt Annie’s Pretzel Dogs at the airport (I-66!).

• Reading anything with pigs in it like Animal Farm or Charlotte’s Web. Piglet in Winnie the Pooh? Diseased Swine! This includes poetry by Swinburne. Swin? Swine? Too close a call.

• Pig movies or TV shows like Babe or Sir Oinksalot in The Simpson’s. Miss Piggy (filthy slut) Arnold on Green Acres, however, is “safe.” I received that news from a solid source.

• No Meat Loaf (the food or the singer.) Both contain pork.

• No riding Harley Hogs during this epidemic.

• No tref, but yes to Hebrew National. Kosher.

• Do not use a spork.

• You will find free antibiotics in the candy aisles at drugstores. Look near the Good N’ Plenty and Jelly Belly section.

• Do not touch anything. Yourself or anyone else. You are meat.

• Do not eat pork. This goes without saying. And when the pork industry starts screaming “unfair,” remind them how people avoided chickens during the Avian Flu epidemic.

• D.C. Metro stations are installing Purell gel machines. Do not use these as a public masturbation aid.

• Wear a respiratory mask. Then cover it with a pig mask. You’ll either look like a Kubrick extra wandering around from Eyes Wide Shut, or people will know to keep their distance, either way.

• If someone says “pig” or “swine” you can yell “Holla” as in Pig’s Holla, Georgia where The Playaz are building the world’s largest still.

• Close down Congress which is pork-tacular. H.R. Soo Ee! Pig Pig Pig!

Close down Congressman Murtha’s dead airport built on pork. Cite public health reasons. There’s no one flying in there anyway.

• Congressman, Barbara Cubin, put in almost $200,000 for digitalizing and editing the collection at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. And she's not even in office anymore. Cite “buffalo” as the next swine. Totonka Flu! When Buffalo Flu mutates with Avian Flu there will be an entirely new strain to worry about called Buffalo Wings Flu! You heard it here first.

• Tom Harkin’s request for $2 million for swine odor and manure management. Leave that alone. He’s a visionary.

• No Porkbelly’s. No Rockland’s. No Georgia Brown’s. No Famous Dave’s. No Willard’s. No Red, Hot and Blue. No Smokey Bones. No Urban and especially “no” to Three Pigs.

• No Jimmy Dean’s, even if his house burned down. No Smithfield’s and that means “no” Paula Deen as far as I’m concerned. You can’t be too safe. No bacon (Jordan Baker I mean YOU and "yes" those bacon jellybeans count!) and don’t argue with me on German Forest ham. “Nein!”

• New money. Issue all new money. Current issue could have swine germs on it. It could have been Madoff money!

• No to Nine Inch Nails "Piggy," or "March of the Pig," The Beatles "Piggy," Suicidal Tendencies
"Choking This Pig," Dave Matthews Band "Pig, " Sugar Ray "American Pig, " or Eminem Chokin’ This Pig." Pull them off yer iTunes. You could get SICK listening to this. The vaccine? Beck singing Ass-Hole, and I warned Suicide Blonde about Meatloaf, so what does she do...BLONDE...goes out tonight on a date, and he sings Meatloaf Karoke to her! You are gonna get SO sick. I am courier biking over massive amounts of drugs to you tomorrow with a vodka chaser.

• Personally, D.C., I don’t care. Go out to bars, shove your tongue down someone’s throat. Have your noses and lips drop off. Turn D.C. into Carville, Louisiana. Have people wandering with bells around their necks yelling out “unclean, unclean.”

• Lastly, do not watch Porky Pig cartoons and boycott anything Warner Brothers, Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies. Do, however, to continue honoring Mel Blanc in your hearts.

• “That’s all folks!”

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The 411 On The Lincolns

I've been reading about Abraham and Mary Lincoln since childhood. I do that with a lot of topics: submarines, Russian culture, those whackadoodle New England Transcendentalists, Hitler....

This winter, a ton of new books came out about the Lincolns, and I do believe I read all of them. Some I truly enjoyed, a biography by Robert C. White, Jr. Others, like the slender volume by George McGovern (part of the American Presidents series,) did nothing for me...or I learned nothing new. Lincoln achieved iconic status in our collective memory some time ago, and I started wondering, "What things are out there about the Lincolns left to be said where people would say, "I didn't know that.""

*Mary Lincoln lost her mother at age six. Lincoln lost his mother at age nine. While both fathers remarried rather quickly, Lincoln's stepmother totally understood him and gave him space to read and expand his intellect and protected him from a father who only saw value in his son's physical labor. Mary's stepmother actively worked on distancing the father from his children of the first marriage, so there was always contention and sadness in the break for the rest of her life.

*Mary Lincoln did not want to go to Ford’s Theatre the night of the assassination, wanting to stay at home with the hope she could offset a headache. She had a history of migraines. You have to wonder "what if" she had only stayed home that night in a darkened room with a compress on her head. Lincoln had many prophetic dreams: many involving ships, one tied to the end of the war, the other, to his death. He even dreamed his death, which he reported to his wife and to his law partner: "I retired late, for I had waited up for important dispatches, and I fell into a light slumber. I dreamed there was a death-like stillness about me, but I could still hear the subdued sobs of a number of people. I left my room and went all through the house in my dreams everywhere the same weeping and wailing, but I could see nobody. Finally I went into the East Room, there I saw a coffin with many soldiers as guard. "Who is dead in the White House?," I asked. "Why don't you know," said one of the soldiers, "the President has been assassinated." Then a loud burst of grief came from the crowd and with that I awoke."

*Mary had advanced education for a woman of her time. She spoke fluent French. She had shared the company of politicians from childhood. Both Lincolns were ambitious. Abraham for political advancement. Mary for the social cachet that would accompany his political rise. They both wanted success, and they both feared not achieving it. Lincoln had a habit of jotting down random thoughts and stuffing the bits of paper in a desk drawer....or his stovepipe hats. Many of those snippets expressed worry over his legacy, or sentences that lead to a legacy of speeches. History seems to have left Mary to be the driven shrew, yet her husband had the same desires.

*Lincoln had less than one year of schooling out of a dirt-floored schoolhouse. He explained his intellectual curiosity as, “I love to dig up the questions by the roots and hold it up and dry it before the fire of the mind.” And he never stopped digging. He loved going to the Library of Congress for books which he would tie up in a hankerchief and put on the end of his cane. He constantly challenged his thinking, trying to see both sides of the issue. Even during the Civil War, he saw the country as united. He viewed his work as ensuring it remained that way. I love that he wasn't complacent in his thinking and would play Devil's Advocate to himself. He also wrote poetry and invented things: patenting a device to lift boats over shoals. Patent: 6469.

*Lincoln broke off an understanding with a woman named Mary Owens because “she was a fair match for Falstaff, as well as weather-beaten and having missing teeth.” Mary Owens felt she had rejected Lincoln as “he would be deficient in those little links which make up the great chain of woman’s happiness.” One of those contentions just ripe for a D.C. blogger to give advice on.

*Lincoln didn’t visit his ailing, then dying, father, even though a request was made of him to travel the three miles to do so. He also didn’t attend his father’s funeral. One of those shrouded mysteries involving Lincoln with no answer and of interest to his historians. I do think his father, living the life of most frontier people, didn't understand a sensitive son who craved learning. A child's role was to help out and labor like an adult. His father ripped the family's roots up a lot too: many moves in childhood, each to a progressively more primitive place.

*Lincoln lacked formal education, yet he had legible penmanship, with very few quirks in spelling, even though the era was full of that habit. If you look at copies of his letters and speeches they are free of self-editing as if that process occurred earlier in his mind. There is an exhibition of his correspondence currently on display at Museum of American History and other Lincolnalia on exhibit all over town, including the Library of Congress.

*Lincoln shopped at Tiffany on his way to Washington. He purchased a six-piece seed-pearl parure (necklace, earrings, bracelets and brooch) that then cost $530. Mary wore these pieces to the Inaugural Ball on January 20, 1861.

*Mary Todd Lincoln discovered that there wasn't enough tableware available to host large State dinners. She had been left with the remains of china from the administration of President Pierce, known as the "Red Edge" set. She replaced them with plates showing the American eagle, pictured in the 1853 London, Crystal Palace Exhibition. After Lincoln's re-election she bought another set of the china with her own monogram. Two months later the President was assassinated and that set was never used.

Documents have shown that the Lincoln plates were made by Haviland and Co., Limoges, France, as were many of the sets for succeeding presidents. The "Solferino" or "Royal Purple" service,(as it became known,) was ordered by the First Lady from Messrs. E. V. Haughwout & Co. in May of 1861 during a shopping visit to New York City to purchase furnishings for the White House as well as a formal dinner service.

"Solferino," a rich fuschia color, had been made fashionable by the French in about 1859, and Mrs. Lincoln perpetuated the vogue by employing it liberally in the interior decoration of the Executive Mansion (then the name for the White House.) She had curtains made in that shade, as well as a ball gown. The china service was delivered to the White House on September 2, 1861, and numbered 658 pieces, including a dinner service of 190 pieces, a dessert service of 208 pieces, and a breafast and tea service of 260 pieces. The total cost was $3,195.00. You can still buy this design today.

*Lincoln was the total opposite of luxe. He liked to turn a chair upside down and lean against it’s back to read: a habit he acquired in youth and carried to the White House. His appearance could be sloppy and his casual indifference to wardrobe became notorious as cronies would report that they could tell when his wife was away by the “disorder of his apparel." He wore shawls. He wore slippers. He wore gray wool knit caps on his head. Lincoln was Aunt Blabby!

*In her widowhood, Mary wandered to Europe, settling for a while in Pau, France, (where she had a noted hatred of the French,) then back to the States; mainly in Chicago where the Lincolns had hoped to settle after his term of office. Hotels, relative’s homes, a stay in an asylum courtesy of her surviving son. She spent her days hidden away from people, pawing through stuffed trunks of things she had no need of: old ball gowns (she was wed to bombazine mourning for the rest of her life,) a collection of gloves that would rival Imelda Marcos in shoes. At one point she decided to hold a sale of some of her things, and there was such a scandal, she never attempted it again, other than having her seamstress make visits to New York to offer up items--under wraps. This trunk riffling went on until the end, and it's a sad image of a woman who lost so much: her husband, three of her four sons, and her place in society.

"Who In Da Back?"

*Lincoln’s “things” however became the relics of a saint. People went in and ripped the Executive Mansion (as the White House was then called) apart, just to have a piece of him. Blots of blood. A cane. There were attempts to steal his body on more than one occasion, until he was finally buried inside concrete and steel to prevent future grave robbing attempts.

I read something interesting in The Washington Post about the disinternment of Lincoln (to reenforce his grave once last time.) I’m going to quote from a portion of the article verbatim:

"On Sept. 26, 1901, a boy named Fleetwood Lindley was summoned from school by his father to see Lincoln. The President had been dead for three decades, but his coffin had been dug up and moved multiple times over the years, more times than any other President. In 1876, it had nearly been stolen by grave robbers who wanted to hold it for ransom. The crooks had sawed open the massive white marble sarcophagus and dragged the 500-pound cedar and lead coffin part way out before being foiled by authorities. The coffin was moved among several different hiding places around the tomb over succeeding years, at one point under a pile of lumber.

After a 14-month reconstruction of the tomb, it was moved one last time. At the behest of Lincoln's son, Robert, the President was going to be placed in a massive underground vault lined with a steel cage and encased in concrete so he could never be disturbed again. Before this happened, the officials hesitated. Partly haunted by the attempted grave-robbing and partly wanting a farewell look, the locals decided to see whether Lincoln was really in the coffin.

Joseph P. Lindley, one of the tomb's unofficial guardians, sent for his 13-year-old son, who hurried from school on his bicycle. Shortly before noon, according to an old account, two plumbers cut an oblong opening in the coffin, and Fleetwood Lindley and 22 others gazed on Abraham Lincoln's face. All said it was unmistakably him.

Mr. Lincoln's features were totally recognizable. His face had a melancholy expression, but his black chin whiskers hadn't changed at all. The wart on his cheek and the coarse black hair were obvious characteristics of Mr. Lincoln's. The biggest change was that the eyebrows had vanished. The president was wearing the same suit he wore at his second inauguration, but it was covered with yellow mold. Additionally there were some bits of red fabric (possibly the remnants of an American flag buried with Mr. Lincoln).

Three days before he died in 1963, Mr. Lindley was interviewed. He said, "Yes, his face was chalky white. His clothes were mildewed. And I was allowed to hold one of the leather straps as we lowered the casket for the concrete to be poured. I was not scared at the time, but I slept with Lincoln for the next six months." Mr. Lindley was 75 when he died (and 13 when he had viewed the body.) He had been the only child to do so. Mr. Lindley is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery not far from Lincoln's Tomb." I love how he says he slept with Lincoln for the next six months. I don't think he was haunted by what he had seen, just the iconic weight of the image, and I do believe there are times in our lives, when we see something of such strength, the imagery is imprinted forever, and I'm not talking Britney's va jay jay.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cake For Cheryl

My new manicurist loves making things gracious for her clients. She always has little extras, like a pretty flower at her station, or offerings of candy, or a sweet that another of her clients baked. She loves offering things to be gracious. She offered me a piece of cake her client Nancy made: Chocolate Cherry Cake, and it was so moist, not overly sweet, and just seemed perfect.

When I got home I started researching and found many recipes for the same thing, and what was amazing, was how easy with so few ingredients. I made one recently and took it in for others to have: play it forward in action. I'm taking Cheryl a pita chip she expressed interest in (Stacy's,) and printing out all of the dip recipes for her. What goes around, comes around. I did a little research on the cake and it was a 1974 Pillsbury contest winner:

Chocolate Cherry Cake

Vegetable oil spray for misting
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil's food cake mix,
1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist a 13x9" baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

2. Place the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber sptatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 package (6 ounces, or 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

Place the sugar, butter, and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips. When the chips have melted and the glaze is smooth, pour it over the warm cake so that it covers the entire surface. The glaze will be thin but will firm up. Cool the cake for 20 minutes more before cutting it into squares and serving.

* This cake is so "Honey, I'm home," family sitcom easy. I was surprised by the cherry pie filling, thinking it would cloyingly sweet, but it wasn't.

* I used a whisk and hand mixer, and it was mixed in minutes. The icing mixed down incredibly quickly too.

* Store this cake, covered in aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the cake, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving. (Mine went into work and whoosh Gone in Sixty Seconds.)

I only listed it here to have a record of my handiwork. Back to my usual craziness.

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Thi Hi Boots And Corset Cake

I have a friend named Loralee whose nickname is Thi Hi Leather Boots, and she made herself a corset birthday cake last weekend. Lee (or Thi) moved away a few years ago, and her D.C. friends sorely miss her. She had come here from Massachusetts, her native state, and now she is in another part of New England. I keep running into women who have (had) motorcycles, like Lee and Velvet in Dupont, who know how to renovate houses, and in Lee’s case, how to be a chocolatier.

A few years back, I designed a corset birthday card for Lee, corsets being another of her passions, and I wish I had better photographs to offer up, but those got lost in a hard drive fry. I used very heavy black stock paper (which was a doozy cutting) off a corset template I designed. I also used red stain ribbon, red satin rosettes and red crystal hearts. The card was designed to be opened after being unlaced. I only made one other card like that again in greens. It was labor intensive, but the hardest part was that stubborn black paper that showed every scissor nick. I’m guessing Lee still has the card. I know she retains a passion for corsets.

This birthday she decided to make a corset birthday cake, and it came out pretty good for a first try. It was a white cake with vanilla butter cream frosting, and covered by a fondant. Fondants give shape to desserts, but are rarely popular to eat, and Lee confirmed this, but she added people loved the butter cream, and she’s going to be doing a series of chocolates with them. She also made a simple syrup of amaretto and vanilla (using real vanilla bean,) for the layers, and also vanilla bean in the frosting, which leaves these tiny brown flecks from the scraping of the bean.

If you’ve never done this, vanilla beans are long narrow brown beans, fairly pricey (you usually get two per purchase,) that you cut lengthwise, then run a knife down, scraping off the brown seed interior for the cooking process. It looks like brown “gunk,” but it breaks down upon stirring into tiny dots the size of grains of sand, and it gives anything you use it with a highly aromatic flavoring—absolutely nothing like liquid vanilla extract that most cooks rely on. I would list vanilla beans under “sensual experience” as odd as that sounds, and given Lee’s love of the sensual, entirely appropriate.

I hope you continue to evolve your corset cake building skills, Lee, but more importantly, you had a wonderful birthday and all my best wishes. Love, Cubie

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What Would You Say If....?

I started thinking about some of the odd conversations I get into with people, and this passion people have for giving dating advice in Washington blogs. Me? I can talk to anyone about anything, but I was thinking: maybe conversational gambits would be good advice to pass on to people. Let's keep it to "five."

“What Would You Say If....,” you meet a man or a woman,( let’s say a bar,) and they share their interests or passions, and then, there’s that one thing said into drunkedy drunk drunk number five that is extreme, but could be the home run of answers in sealing the deal for a date.

For example, you are sitting next to a nice looking young man at a bar, and he tells you he is into death metal, guns and plumbing. Could you come up with five things to say to hold his attention and draw the conversation out? Things like:

1) I think the Desert Eagle is a superlative handgun….and I want one in gold.

2) What’s wrong with cleaning your AK-47 on the front porch. It sends a message to the neighbors.

3) Ozzy kicks Ronnie James Dio’s ass.

4) The "Do-It "Heavy Duty Toilet Auger kicks the Drum Auger’s ass.

And then when you’re really drunk:

5) I got the lead singer of Slayer to autograph my back, then I went and got the signature tattooed on.
It's always good to have a few bar tricks up your sleeve as well. Here's a good one for the cocktail napkin. You know how to draw Slayer's pentagram:

A simple drawing lesson. You will first draw a large circle with another circle in the outer middle. Then you will start with the inner lines like the two slanted vertical lines and the beginning lines of the "Slayer letters" in the middle of the vertical lines.

Start drawing out the sword lines that will make up the pentagram symbol. There is a total of four blade lines and on each blade you will add the short vertical lines for the handles. Add more lines for the lettering as seen here.

Add more lines for the logo lettering as shown and then detail the handles of the swords.

Draw out each individual blade that will later form a sword like pentagram. One edges of the handle draw teeth like spikes as shown.

If you are having a cocktail for each step, things "might" not look this clean. Erase all the guidelines and shapes that you drew in step one. Finish off the lining for the blades until they are completed and whole looking as well as the details on each handle. You will then draw the rest of the letters that say "Slayer". When you are done, move to the next step to check out what your drawing should look like.

If you're still talking at this point, color it in and write your phone number or Tweets ID on the bottom of the napkin.


*Thanks to Drago Art for the drawing lesson.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Twitter Twatter
Cutting Blog Roll Fat

Per someone's gentle nudging (Reya), I finally sat down tonight and updated my blog roll. These are the main people I follow, or who hang around here. I think I got you all. If I didn't, forgive me, but writing out code on Amoxicillin sucks. I tested all of the links and they seem to be working.

I read a lot of decorating blogs, but they come and go so quickly, I don't even want to begin listing them all. Two that I have listed are (or were) local: Pigtown Design out of Baltimore (Pigtown being a section of Baltimore over by Hamburg and Ostend Streets where Carl's Little House is.) The other is Hue. Rachael is a color consultant-specialist. She moved to San Francisco not too long ago. Since I like thinking about color and space, I went out West with her so Rach is listed too.

It was rather sad who I removed, since so many good bloggers of the past bit the dust. I read tonight within D.C. Blogs where someone described ongoing bloggers efforts as "quaint," versus the latest thumb craze, Twitter. Say it all in 140 characters, kids.

I am joining Twitter as Cube, due to another nudging by KOB-Patrick of D.C. Blogs who wants to throw me out to a larger readership. Do ya think, Pat? We'll see.

I've been dumping blog sized comments over here: Some of their readers respond back to my comments, which is nice, and I like reading what some of them have to say, as well. I am always looking for good sources of things to read.

I still need to do more with this blog. Add a nice fat photo masthead. Perhaps play with the template colors. It just seems there is never enough time, and I have other blogs, I have completely let drift, and wish I hadn't.

I try to keep my avatar changed every few weeks. This will always be the one I consider most representative of me. When I go back to the Cape, I'm taking a picture of my laptop out on the sand. Already this desk by the sea is dated, but you get the drift(wood.)
....and Reya? Thank you. I discovered I was set on Abidjan time. I mean...what the...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

I Scream "No" To Lost Love

I was walking downstairs , staring at the cover of a book I had just finished, realizing I didn’t have one thing to say about it. Did I enjoy the book? Yes. Aren’t there clever quotes inside? Yes. But what popped into my mind was all of these women who achieved world fame; lasting fame that has carried them from their time into the beyond, and each had, for want of a better expression (and forgive me, ladies,) “unrequited love.” I became frozen to the place where I stood.

Emily Dickinson locked in her room in white, pouring out her passion. Edith Wharton giving us poor, fallen Lily Bart that society rejects at its hard door. Edith, swathed in familial and earned wealth, never got her man either and lies in an untended grave in France. Dorothy Sayers. Plain as boiled potatoes, but wrote one of the most passionate passages ever written about a woman in love. Nancy Mitford, recreating her rejecting lover over and over again in her literature. Why weep at my bed now, lover? Now that I am dying?

Critics and theorists who rip through their lives and words say, “They chose the wrong man.” “They needed to live solitary lives to create.” “It was subconscious.” “He had to be unavailable.”

At the moment I arrived at that thought, I silently screamed “NOOOOO” at the top of my lungs into eternity.

“NOOOOOO.” They loved.

“NOOOOOO.” For them, “he” was their true love.

“NOOOOOO”, you people who sit and judge a life. You are wrong.

Remaining where I had stopped, I wrote Emily a poem:

That bundle you call “joy?”
Was the last nail
In the coffin I call “hope.”

I guess I had something to say, after all.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Do I Really Want To Be Joan Of Arc?

I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about Joan of Arc, how she rallied her countrymen in fighting through victories in The Hundred Years Wars, and how great it must be to be able to gather people around you to do something, because I can't even get AT & T on the phone.

Of course, if Joan were around now, what's she gonna do? Twitter it? gather@4ish for a burning. It's me that's burning, so don't even begin to tell me you're busy, aiight?

I'm on hold with AT&T, by the way, after having been told I got "Texas," disconnected, given a number to use that gave me everything in Spanish, redialing, and getting India, where I am on hold....wait...I got Los Angeles...really Los Angeles. I'll take it! God bless.

P.S. I may also have scored another victory, because I just blogged the above, while on hold.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What's In My Head: Nefertiti - Miles Davis
For Cyndy

Who, What, When, Where, How

Lately in the news, it's the same ole, same ole. I wonder if the same ole standards of good reporting still apply: Who, What, When, Where, Why?
"She's gonna love Queen's "We Will Rock You."

1) What is with the Queen's iPod?

QEII asked the Obama's for an iPod, and they obliged, filling it with her favorite Richard Rodgers show tunes. What was he gonna slap on there? Me So Horny by 2 Live Crew? Be glad Obama gave her Richard Rogers. I would have picked an iPod in acid green and slammed the Sex Pistols opening with “God Save the Queen,” followed by The Clash doing “London Calling,” The Kinks doing “Victoria,” and “She Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina,” then The Beatles, “Her Majesty,” (Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl, but she doesn’t have a lot to say.”) The Obama gift? Trust me. It could have been worse. How about Queen doing "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy," "Another One Bites the Dust," and "We Are the Champions (of the World.)"

2) When are we going to get over the whole cutsey-bowing thing. Our Queen, Elizabeth Taylor, said, "I've met them, and they are just regular people. Shake their hand and act normally."

Frankly, I’d be more impressed meeting Ms. Taylor. Could the Queen rule in her slip, the way Liz did in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Could QE II make her Christmas speech, uttering a line like, “Mama, face it: I was the slut of all time,” like Liz did in Butterfield 8.

Don't You Just Know That Madonna Was That Kid Saying "I'm taking the ball and going home if we don't play my game." Only now she's taking home her baby, her millions, a phalanx of media coverage and that promised party.

3) Who's is happy that Madonna's adoption fell through in Malawi?

Me, Me, Me!!! Happy over the Madonna decision? Yes. She goes in waving her fame and money around trying to actively circumvent a country’s laws. Who named her Queen of the April? And I read she had a temper tantrum back in her hotel room after the Court ruling, storming at her lawyer’s failings, “How could this happen to me?” With her child Lourdes….her CHILD folks, wrapping her arms around her mother trying to calm her down. Reflect. WHAT is wrong with this picture? THEN she decides to…oh I don’t know…THROW A PARTY. This isn’t about a child in a Malawi orphanage, and don't try convincing anyone otherwise.

4) Where is that great baby video?

Go watch this past weekend’s satire on Saturday Night Live where “Angelina” and “Madonna” fight over babies. The sketch is called “Spicy Brown Babies and (spoiler alert) Angelina wins the baby game when she announces she’s getting a baby from Russia that has a baby, within a baby, within a baby. This is what really has people up in arms. It’s not the poor orphaned child and rescue thereof. It’s motive. And we aren’t fools.

5) How come Nefertiti always looks so good without plastic surgery?

Recent reporting indicates that Nefertiti, history's first great beauty, also may have undergone history's first makeover. The famous bust of Nefertiti has long been a standard of beauty. Now researchers have discovered that beneath the stucco head, there exists another face, the original created from stone. The differences are minor — creases at the corners of the mouth, a little bump on the nose.

" These creases and bumps? What surgery? What plaster covering? This is me. I never had a bump. I just….eat healthy, drink lots of lotus juice and rub tons of eucalyptus oils followed by a mask of pyramid dust clay. Oh yeah…munching a grape…my trainer has me run out to the Valley of the Kings then do Pyramid steps. Great for the abs and butt. And those rumors about my having my organs removed and put in Canopic jars? I mean…really. I’m Queen of the Nile….Madonna….or should I say…Denial?

What's on MY iPod? D'uh..."Walk Like An Egyptian."

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What's In My Head: Legend of a Girl Child Linda

My blog friend M.A. over at her blog The Culture Wars has once again resurrected her "Haiku Tuesday" moments. I added this at her blog, and just another "hello" through the internet waves, M.A., this song as well:

Listen to me now
And I will sing you my songs
Drifting in your boat

There is no romance
In the litany of flowers
If you choose to float

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Madoff Enough For Ya?

Lately, I've seen a lot of articles about Bernard Madoff crop up where Madoff is compared in appearance to George Washington, or if you look like Madoff, you can't hail a cab. Many people are calling Madoff a "Shylock," which I don't like at all. For starters, Shylock was this Jewish character in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice that was a cliché of the moneylender as "penny for a pound," where Shylock literally weighs your overdraft flesh to take. For the longest time, he was always portrayed with a large, hooked nose, rubbing his greedy fingers and speaking with an English-Yiddish accent. A bit of anti-Semitism from The Bard.

"Will You Be My Special Friend?"

Oddly, it’s not Madoff's thievery among best friends that interests me the most, but rather his character. It’s what he did to alleged "friends," even until the last moments of exposure and arrest. Words like "pathological," and "sociopath," come to mind, and don’t mistake those words to mean "serial killer." It involves missing parts of self like "the ability to feel emotion," "empathy," but also to perhaps possess personality traits most of us wouldn’t want landed on our brow: being evaluated a "Narcissistic Sadist." Endulge me in my posting this. I found it on Goggle by the search query: "narcissistic sadist." It is a diagnostic evaluation. You can get back many, many articles on this, all more or less using the exact same language:

"The narcissist simply discards people when he becomes convinced that they can no longer provide him with narcissistic needs. This is an evaluation, subjective and highly emotionally charged. It does not have to be grounded in reality. Suddenly - because of boredom, disagreement, disillusion, a fight, an act, inaction, or a mood - the narcissist wildly swings from idealization to devaluation. He then "disconnects" immediately. He needs all the energy that he can muster to obtain new Sources of Narcissistic Supply and would rather not spend these scarce and expensive resources over what he regards as human refuse, the waste left by the process of extraction of Narcissistic Supply.That the victims of his sadism are still his only or major sources of Narcissistic supply, but are perceived by him to be intentionally frustrating and withholding it.

Sadistic acts are his way of punishing them for not being docile, obedient, admiring and adoring as he expects them to be in view of his uniqueness, cosmic significance and special entitlement.The narcissist is not a sadist or a paranoiac, per se. He does not enjoy the application of pain to his victims. He does not believe firmly that he is the focal point of persecution and the target of conspiracy. But he does enjoy punishing himself - it provides him with a sense of relief, exoneration and validation. In this restricted sense he is a masochist. Because of his lack of empathy and his rigid personality he often inflicts great (physical or mental) pain on meaningful others in his life - and he enjoys their writhing and suffering. In this restricted sense he is a sadist. The narcissist is an artist of pain as much as any sadist. The difference is motivation.

The narcissist tortures and abuses as a means to punish and to reassert superiority and grandiosity. The sadist does so for pure enjoyment. But both are adept at finding the chinks in people’s armors. Both are ruthless and venomous in the pursuit of their prey. Both are unable to empathize with their victims, being, self-centered, and rigid.He acts the guru to her need of guidance, the avuncular or father figure, the teacher, the only true friend, the old and the experienced. All this in order to weaken defenses and to lay siege. So subtle and poisonous is the narcissistic variant of sadism that it might well be regarded as the most dangerous of all.Luckily, the narcissist’s attention span is short and his resources and energy limited. In constant, effort consuming and attention diverting pursuit of Narcissistic Supply, the narcissist lets his victim go, usually before an irreversible damage occurs. (I would add, or get caught.)

The victim is then free to rebuild their life from ruins. The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, devastation, an inescapable verdict. He nurtures his ill-repute, stoking it and fanning the flames of gossip. It is an enduring asset. Hate and fear are sure generators of attention. It is all about narcissistic supply, of course - the drug which narcissists consume and which consumes them in return.Deep inside, it is the horrid future and inescapable punishment that await the narcissist that are irresistibly appealing. Sadists are often also masochists. In sadistic narcissists, there is, actually, a burning desire - nay, NEED - to be punished. In the grotesque mind of the narcissist, his punishment is equally his vindication. By being permanently on trial, the narcissist claims the high moral ground and the position of the martyr: misunderstood, discriminated against, unjustly roughed, outcast due to his very towering genius or other outstanding qualities. To conform to the cultural stereotype of the "tormented artist" - the narcissist provokes his own suffering. He is thus validated.

His grandiose fantasies acquire a modicum of substance. "If I were not so special - they wouldn’t have persecuted me so". The persecution of the narcissist IS his uniqueness. He must be different, for better or worse. The streak of paranoia embedded in him, makes this outcome inevitable. The Narcissist is in constant conflict with lesser beings: his spouse, his shrink, his boss, and his colleagues. Forced to stoop to their intellectual level, the narcissist feels like Gulliver: a giant strapped by Lilliputians. His life is a constant struggle against the self-contented mediocrity of his surroundings. This is his fate which he accepts, though never stoically. It is a calling, a mission and a recurrence in his stormy life."

This was quite a lot to dump out, and I edited it down, but all of the studies say more or less the same. Sound like anyone you’ve ever known or heard about? I have to admit I've known a few.

There was a good reporting about Madoff in the recent issue of Vanity Fair. One recurring theme kept popping up. The need of his friends to be let into the exclusive "club" of his earning genius, and since he only allowed "friends," in: also being considered a friend (and all that it encompassed.) One individual negatively affected by this man said, "He did these things to me, knowing he was about to be charged. How could he?" How, indeed.


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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Twitter Twatter: Oh No You Didn't

Sigh. What a hard, hard week. Some respiratory thing that had me low for days, when I wasn't begging some deity to put me out of my misery. Toward the end of this week, and back in the world, everything was such a struggle, and I had to get it done, so pushpushpush, tiredtiredtired, stressstressstress. Tonight I had several errands to run; those things you "have" to do, like go to a bank.

Folks? While I've been in bed sick, and reading when I could, I started thinking about things I wanted to write about in the future, and one of them was just how thin that societal veneer can be when money is involved, but overall the idea that we haven't come as far as we'd like to believe and we can be reduced to club wielders in a blink, with the right trigger.

My last stop (and ounce of strength) involved entering a Whole Foods (on a Friday night) for precisely five things. I was sick, but I had a list! I had fought bad traffic, I had made all my stops, I was in the 15 or less aisle, the one where the doors open and close to exit? I had just turned my cart toward the door and this woman stepped in front of me, stopped, lifted her bag from the cart and just walked away, leaving the cart completely blocking the now opened door.

The second she did that, in a voice that can only be described as something involving brimstone, this roar issued from my mouth screaming, "YOU BITCH!" There were three Asian employees standing there and they all let out an audible gasp, that sounded like what you would release after inhaling tsunami wind. My hand popped to my mouth. My eyes widened. I said "She just left her basket there, completely blocking the exit." They said, "Oh"....relaxing...."people do that all of the time."

I walked to my car feeling like I had been eating fire. Of such things, my readers, are civilization constructs . "People do that all of the time."
Good to know since, I felt like I had just stepped back onto the planet from hell.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

What's Playing In My Head: Little Jimmy Scott
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Yeah, I know...Roberta Flack owns it, and she used to sing at Mr. Henry's on Capitol Hill. Upstairs. Gay bar downstairs. Every time Little Jimmy Scott sang at Blues Alley, I was so there, and I am so grateful I was.

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How Does Love Weather A Recession

I’ve been living a practical life for the past few years, and it is humdrum, given that I love luxe. I still follow all of the personal maintenance I believe in, but it is stretched out further between appointments.

Nancy Mitford wrote a scene in Love in a Cold Climate. Linda, a British "Hon," has landed in Paris and begins an affair with a Duke, Fabrice. Fabrice insists Linda return to England at the onset of World War II, and he goes out and buys her things he believes will get her through the war including a mink throw and velvet boots. "He seemed to regard the acquisition of clothes as one of the chief duties of woman, to be pursued through war and revolution, through sickness, and up to death. It is as one might say, "whatever happens the fields must be tilled, the cattle tended, life must go on." He was so essentially urban that to him the slow roll of the seasons was marked by the spring tailleurs, the summer imprimés, the autumn ensembles, and the winter furs of his mistress."

I was reorganizing things tonight in this little triangular antique semaniere (no regrets there) where I keep hair accessories, scarves and gloves, and while I got rid of a few things, for the most part, the rest remained as active wardrobe. I stay on top of weeding out, and try not to buy "regrets." Before you issue a sour "Well good for you," (and I hope you’re laughing,) it got me thinking about an article I’ve been trying to find ever since I read it.

It was in The New York Times Sunday magazine, and it was a two-paged piece about how expensive it is to have an affair. It was dead-on truth listing expenses for anyone engaged in a relationship that wants to put her (or his) best bits forward. Workouts with personal trainers, spray tans, waxings, expensive lingerie, a lot of very costly shoes that may never touch the ground, Wolford lace-topped hose, jewelery, makeup, teeth bleaching, anything involving a plastic surgeon including surgery and the regular "needled touch-ups," plane tickets, hotel suites, private beach houses, on and on. When you saw it all laid out over two pages (with the average price of each thing,) it was appalling. And if things go wrong? You’re left gasping; walking around like a shadow, and paying off some very expensive bills.

It left me wondering tonight. How does love weather the recession? That former sheaf of cellophaned wrapped orchids may well become a a daffodil secretly picked in a public park…and I hope equally cherished and pressed between the pages of a beloved book.

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