Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all! I'm goiing to post winners for the Halloween contest entries tomorrow, but my Cheri won the voodoo knives. David Huffington's haunting ghost hospital and JR's childhood trauma are also receiving prizes. And maybe a few more! So I hope you're having a great night and much love to all!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Devil's Night

I just finished reading a book on self-mutilating. Just carrying it around sort of shields you from all but the truly strange. When I got my nails done the other day (I love this time of year because you can pick the darkest shade of black and people assume it's for a costume) and the woman asked what I was reading, and I told her about the case study I had just read where a woman poured gasoline on her jeans and set herself on fire. "Why?" she asked. I shrugged, because the only answer I could give was "Fuck if I know" and the woman spoke limited English, and I could not be sure if it would translate. "In my country, sometimes men eat the heart of snakes --very expensive and sometimes they still beating when you hold them. They think it good for sex." And then she launched into a truly horrific practice where people eat a four to six month old fetus to improve their health and skin. "In China. People very strange. Baby girl cost much less than baby boy. I see picture of one in bowl once."

Anyone who knows me knows I'm pro-choice, but this was beyond the fucking pale. I probably turned a lighter shade of white. I've been reading and seeing all sorts of horrible things lately; I blame this on writing a book about trauma. You draw it to you by the simple fact of remembering. In a very real way, we stay stuck in time when something terrible happens even on a chemical level since it's proven that the body never really recalibrates entirely. I'm glad to be done with the self-mutilation book. Its stories stay in my mind like the worst kind of cautionary tale. Whatever cruelty someone does to us, we can usually do better or at least more often, a self-perpetuating hell that goes on like our strands of DNA; they all look alike and yet everyone is different.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It's happening right now... it's just not on film, it's not being recorded." Rodney King

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Celebrity Rehab -- This is my big guilty pleasure of late. What's not to love about a show that stars the sanctimonious Dr. Drew Pinksy, Gary Busey (sent by the angels according to him to minister to other addicts -- favorite moment on the first episode -- extremely attractive model addicted to opiates talks to Gary for a minutes, grows weary of his voice, and says in the most succinct take on the whole encounter, I know he means well, but I don't want to get help from someone crazier than me), and Rodney King? So far, Rodney King is the most sympathetic person, Rod Stewart's son Sean, the least, but there's many episodes to go. As they say in Hands On A Hardbody, we'll see what transgresses through the night.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Devil's Night! I'm still sorting through contest entries, most of which will be posted tomorrow along with the winners. To lovely Lana of the Dreaming Tree -- for some reason (probably my demonic computer), I can't pull the images off my e-mail. If you send them again, I promise I will do an exorcism and get them on this blog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nain Rouge Or That Wicked Little Dwarf In A Tattered Red Coat

There's an old story in Detroit about an evil dwarf in a tattered red coat that comes around when something bad is going to happen. That little bastard, aka the Nain Rouge, appears as a small child-like creature with red or black fur boots. It is also said to have "blazing red eyes and rotten teeth." Famous multiple sighting occurred in the days before the 1805 fire which destroyed most of Detroit. General William Hull reported a "dwarf attack" in the fog just before his surrender of Detroit in the War of 1812. He's also appeared before fires and riots and is known as a "harbinger of doom." Most recently, two Detroiters leaving a bar before a big storm said they saw him wearing and I quote, "an ass nasty red coat."

I suppose we all have our red dwarfs, things that tell us that something wicked is on the way. For me, it's always been birds and dreams of weddings. I use to keep a set of Chinese fortune telling sticks in my office and pull them out for inspiration until I got shitty fortunes for days. I became convinced the sticks were evil and that good fortune was hiding from me. Hey, what can I say? I grew up in a world in which Smurf figurines were believed to be Satanic and able to come alive at night if the Devil possessed them. I suppose my Smurfette figurine in this case would become like Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby, impregnated by Papa Smurf. But I digress. I kind of like the idea of the evil nain rouge. Supposedly he loves to dance on the riverfront in the dead of winter, telling people not to get complacent. Even though I don't believe that the Devil is coming in the form of a Smurf, it's good to remember evil is out there, especially given that its favorite trick is to make us forget it exists.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'm for whatever gets you through the night." Frank Sinatra

Cocktail Hour

Magic Potion
1. Prepare creepy crawler ice ring.
2. Pour bowling water over gelatin in heatproof bowl; stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in cold water. Add lemon-lime beverage and sugar; stir well (mixture will foam for several minutes).
3. Unmold ice ring by dipping bottom of mold briefly into hot water. Float ice ring in punch and garnish with gummy worms.

1 cup boiling water
2 packages of lime flavored gelatin
3 cups of cold water
1 1/2 quarters of carbonated lemon-lime beverage (chilled)
1/2 cup of superfine sugar
gummy worms

Creepy Crawler Ice Ring Recipe
1 cup of gummy worms
1 quart of Gatorade
Freeze overnight.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Thanks for all the computer help -- my most faithful is feeling much better. Tomorrow is Devil's Night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Demonic Computer Is Evil!

I'm having a hellish time with my wicked blog for some reason today -- demons in the computer, etc. I'll be back at you tomorrow with some Halloween magic!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What Cops Know

Hi readers! I'm still working away at the rough draft of Second Day Reported, but here's the initial poem that spawned the title as well as a chapter about fear, urban legends about rape, and what seems too horrible to endure. This story comes from a strange little book title What Cops Know which has morbid little tidbits for every type of crime.

Second Day Reported

I have never told anyone this,
and I am not going to start now.
You won’t recognize me because
I’ve dyed my hair, and I don’t
answer to the same name. But
here’s something. This is the worst
story I have ever heard. Once a woman
was gang-raped in an apartment
where men kept streaming in and out
for hours, so many that she couldn’t
identify them all. She changed
everything she could so that they
wouldn’t recognize her, but in the end,
she became Apartment 206, and she
could never leave. Some women tell
themselves this place doesn’t exist,
that she doesn’t even exist. The men, well,
they know better, or so the saying goes.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away."
Elvis Presley

Cocktail Hour
For cocktail hour, I'll be posting a non-alcoholic magic potion invovling gummy worms. It's green and pretty cool. Special thanks to Laura for the suggestion!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Break Up The Concrete

My dad worked on building a plane for years that still sits unfinished in the family garage; one of my mother's favorite activities was batting a tennis ball against a concrete wall next to a defunct mental hospital. When people ask how I got interested in writing since there was no evidence of this genetic curse in my family, I think of these two activities, both relaxing and futile, and how much they defined my childhood. "I've got to work on the plane," my dad said about 364 times a year. And my mother loved nothing better than playing tennis without any opponent. She taught me the value of banging my head against a wall and coming out the better for it.

To write is to hope for the best in face of massive rejection, to discover things about yourself that you don't like, to tell stories that might be better left untold. After my mother played tennis with the wall, she'd steal wildflowers from the hospital by crawling over the fence and cutting them with a pair of clippers she'd brought along for the job. She never feared getting caught because my sister and I would be on the look-out. So no matter how good or bad her game, she'd always bring home the most exotic flowers, ones you couldn't buy in a store and arrange them in ways where they'd dry out and die so she could keep them forever.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks." Hunter S. Thompson

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Break Up The Concrete The Pretenders

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Five More Days Until Halloween . . .

Hi readers! I'll be posting some of my favorite Halloween things all weekend, along with more contest entries. Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Burns Don't Heal

Hi there to all! I'm working on a bunch of Halloween-themed drinks for next week (hey, the taste test is the most important part, right?) and assorted snacks. Until then, I'll leave you with this poem, Halloweenish in its own way.

Anyone Could Do It

The phone rang, and she picked up her iron,
pressed it close to her face, the mistake
searing into her skin. Burns don’t heal
fast, the doctor told her. It didn’t. Worse,
having to explain all the time. Anyone
could do it and she had. Sometimes people
urged remedies to prevent scarring, for making
the skin smooth again, as if she’d picked
up a phone and asked them for their advice.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'm too stoned to be able to figure that shit out." Hank Williams III on why he hasn't yet gone the DIY indie route

Cocktail Hour

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Contest Entries!

Hi readers! Here's a few more entries for the contest from David Huffman. I'll be posting more this weekend. Keep sending -- not only is the voodoo knife set up for winning, there's also a voodoo toothpick holder and a few other little treats. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Burn After Reading

My favorite scene in Burn After Reading is where John Malkovich is working out to a step aerobics show after getting fired from his job due to a drinking problem and goes home to write his memoirs which consists of him talking for a few minutes into a tape recorder before planting himself down in front of "Family Feud" and waiting for five o'clock to fix himself a gin and tonic. While he steps, he says, I'm bigger, I'm better, I'm stronger, you fuckers. I've taken this as my new mantra at the gym or anywhere. And I admit I loved "Family Feud" when I was a child, what with that whackadoodle Richard Dawson always kissing everyone which seemed both cool and creepy, my favorite combination. Which may explain why I love John Malkovich so much.

While Burn After Reading may not be No Country For Old Men (no Javier Bardem in a Dorothy Hamill cut -- I'm sure that when he and Penelope Cruz have arguments, he blames his moodiness on the bowl cut -- You do not understand Penelope, my hair, it was like John Denver!), it's a lot funnier. Given the few reviews I've read, I don't think the reviewers realize how much the Coen brothers have their collective finger on the pulse of modern culture. What could be funnier or more telling than having Frances McDormand (one of the few actresses over forty who can actually move her face) say to a plastic surgeon, I've gone as far as I can in this body. It's not a Hollywood body. I'd be laughed out of Hollywood. Of course, she isn't, although most of her counterparts appear to work out four hours a day and have fat injected in their face as to get around the old chestnut about how after you turn forty, you have to choose between having a beautiful face or a thin body. And George Clooney is a revelation -- he picks such serious roles so much that it's a relief to see him as a dork obsessed with working out and picking up women. He dumps his mistress by telling her, You're a negative person. The language is a perfect mirror of our psychobabble-ridden culture. While many people will find one too many uses of the word fuck in this movie, it's the most honest one we get.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble." Benjamin Franklin

Cocktail Hour
Drinking Halloween suggestion: bloody eyeball cupcakes -- pictures and recipe to appear soon!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Thanks so much for all the support about the book. You guys are the very best!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Make Yourself Small

Hi readers! Hope you're having a great Tuesday. Sunday was my mother's birthday and since her death, I've always received excellent news on this date. In fact, I received my very first acceptance letter while cleaning my dorm room since she was visiting for her big day. That said, my poetry collection, Make Yourself Small, was accepted yesterday (only a day late since the mail doesn't run on Sunday!) by Backwaters Press ( I'll post more details as I know them, but I want to thank every single person who read these poems (not always an easy dose) which was described on the acceptance letter as "dark and visceral without any melodrama. The corruption of the heart and desire is spoken here as if under the glow of a burnt-out street light." I have never felt so groovy cool! Again, thanks for reading the work which was written in the heart of a Detroit winter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Take Your Breath Away

I once read that Joan Baez was taught as a child to treat everyone as though they only had one hour to live, particularly when said person was working that last nerve. If we could maintain this fiction which like a stopped clock will be right at least once, we'd be a lot different. But to live with such intensity is impossible. When I taught freshman composition, I often had students write that because of such and such an experience, he or she would never ever take life for granted. One of my students claimed she would not take life for granite anymore which made me like the cliche a little bit better. Some parts of life are like stone: hard to move, impossible to destroy completely. But could they, I often asked, live each moment with joy and bliss, even the mundane tasks of brushing teeth and dusting the television and filling up the gas tank? It seemed like a great goal, but not a likely one.

I remember lots of essays, many sad stories that took my breath away. No matter the level of skill, I got honesty, the kind that shocks you awake. Like most teachers, I hated grading given the judgement aspect (sorry your brother was shot, but you have a lot of comma splices!), but I always enjoyed reading the work. Even the mistakes were interesting. Once a student with a closed head injury wrote that he had dug a profound hole. He meant it literally, that he had dug and dug a pit in his backyard, and he didn't know why. This remained a mystery to both of us. But to dig a profound hole, well, who hasn't done that?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." Charles Mingus

Cocktail Hour
Drinking Halloween candle suggestion:

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We Capture Your Memories Forever

We Capture Your Memories Forever

Everybody is dead in the picture, even the cat
whose decapitated head pokes out, an accident
of photography. The jack-o-lantern scowls, my
grandparents' cigarettes burn by their sides, so
loathe they were to part for them to pose together.
Nobody smiles. It wasn't like that. I remember
my grandfather, always angry except when he wasn't.
He once said that you have the same shoes to get
glad in that you got mad in which I always consider.
Last night someone tried to kill me in a dream. When
I got the knife away, he said, You'll just use it
on yourself. It's that kind of knife.

For my mother on the occasion of her birthday

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Mystery is underrated, and understanding is overrated." Larry McMurtry

Cocktail Hour
Drinking horror movie suggestion: Fire In The Sky (special thanks to Total for suggesting this one -- very very scary!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Contest Entries

Hi everyone! I'm going to be posting contest entries over the next few weeks. Here's Cheri and Jim -- the first two entered. I'm loving the pictures so far!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Feast Of Snakes

Here's a picture of my dear sister Beth with an evil python. I would never ever do this, but she did so there you have it. I'm going to be posting some contest entries today. Hope you're having a good weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Strangest Of Dreams

Been watching the new season of Californication which has begun to oddly mirror David D's life, as if he became Hank Moody, (at least what we know from the tabloids) which makes me wonder how much art both shapes and reflects our realities. Since I've gotten into the heart of my own recent book, I'm constantly bombarded with shows on rapes, murders, and crimes against women. New age thinking counsels that what we think about comes to us, that we create our realities. But while I agree with some of that idea, I also think we carry our scars, that they can't be undone, and we are left with a past we can't quite forget and a future which we can only glimpse through the strangest of dreams.

I grew up next to the Brazos River which means the arms of God. It is full of snakes and trash, but I still loved swimming in it. You never knew what you might see. Sometimes people camp next to it, usually with guns to protect themselves from the other nuts that also are out in droves. Sufficed to say, it wasn't a prime camping location. You could still be alone out there given that you were willing to go to a place that nobody else wanted to be.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"In the dark, the eye begins to see." Robert Lowell

Cocktail Hour

Love In The Afternoon

2 oz vanilla vodka
2 oz coconut rum
1 oz sweetened lime juice

Strain over ice and serve in a martini glass.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! And a special thanks to my beautiful Jodi for the great suggestion about the mystery answer. I think I can get away with this if I use the biblical phrasing, This is a profound mystery even to me. And truth be told, I'm glad anyone is interested at all! Advance copies for everyone thanks to Mark's question. And keep checking out Laura's Handbasket -- her brilliant writer husband Pinckney Benedict is in the basket this week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ashes To Ashes

Whenever you tell someone you're writing a book (something I almost never do), the next question is as predictable as the Detroit Lions having a bad season: What's your book about? The pretentious douchebag side of me hates this question because I'm all like, well, you can't sum it up, really, it's about everything. Which sounds absolutely fucking stupid. And if I give the flat true answer, well, it's a cheery little tome about being raped, umm, that's a real buzz kill, a conversation-stopper. It's not just that, I always try to explain. Parts of it are really funny. At this point, people are looking at you like you've just started carving a satanic symbol on your tender flesh.

People are always in closets of some kind, and there are endless debates about the difference between privacy and the need to say, This is what I am; I'm not ashamed. I'm kind of an open book in my real life as many years in Detroit taught me to say things directly as well as made my considerable potty mouth worse. I don't like to tell people things they don't want to hear. I don't consider it my place usually, the hard apple of truth deal. But I do believe this: ask and get told. The last time a stranger asked what my book was about, I told him and he said, That's fucking fantastic. His face was made up like David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes, and he wasn't in any closet. And for once, I was glad to be rewarded for the truth, so unlike much of the bullshit that permeated the years before.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Throw away the lights and definitions/ Say what you see of the dark." Wallace Stevens

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: The Night of the Gun David Carr

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! I've added some new pick your poison links so check the new ones out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Light As A Feather

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for all your kind comments and support this week. I'm starting to get caught up with everything going on -- and I'm going to start posting some contest entries this week -- especially Cheri's particularly adorable witch pictures! Here's the prologue of Second Day Reported. I'm in the home stretch with the book so soon I shall start posting new material about new subjects. I've kind of been buried in this book since February (catching a nasty case of the flu turned out to be fortuitous in terms of resetting my priorities), and I'm glad the end is in sight. Of course, I feel like that famous Olympic marathoner who crawled to the finish line with all her internal organs failing, but I think everyone feels that way when they finish a big project. I'm still working on adding new links of people whose blogs I've begun to read and enjoy under my brand new Pick Your Poison/ Bar Open sign. Thanks for your patience and as always, thanks for reading!


At my dad’s funeral, my godfather stood up and talked about what had brought our family to Mineral Wells, Texas a town known for having every poisonous snake indigenous to the United States, a hotel in the dead center of town that had dispensed curative water filled with lithium (the unknown secret ingredient) to celebrities during the thirties, and a decommissioned army base that served to train helicopter pilots for the Vietnam War. A union strike had closed down his work at a factory in Iowa so my dad left the Midwest and took a job in a plant that made resistors, a main staple of employment for the town. Eventually he would be fired and convicted of a felony for falsifying government documents during his work inspections for quality control, but for many years our family lived in this small, desolate place. My godfather knew my dad in Iowa and had already moved to Mineral Wells. On the phone, he told my dad that Mineral Wells wasn’t the end of the world, but that you could see the end from the city limits.

In my earliest memory, I am waiting for God to speak to me through the Texas heat. I didn’t know how it would happen or what I expected to hear; all the stories I knew told me that God spoke through bushes, angels, sacrifice. We lived next to the rodeo grounds and while I drew on the driveway with a white rock, I heard an announcer say, Out of chute three, here comes Black Thunder! I told my dad who laughed and conceded that maybe it was God. Even then, I was looking for signs on how to live.

The Devil held sway as well; nobody had dismissed him yet the way they would be tempted to later. After all, I lived in Texas, that big, lonely state with vast stretches of road populated by three name serial killers that trolled for victims. A skinny child, I often played victim in childhood games -- the one who got to levitate or the one who played dead. Light as a feather, stiff as a board, I thought as I trained to be a lifeguard, strapped onto a backboard as the other lifeguards pulled me to the surface with instructions to be careful, that they couldn’t possibly know what my injuries were. Years later, I’d become Catholic and learn about victim souls, those girls who’d remain in a coma and take on other people’s pain and disease. In Texas, we called the emotional form of this a salvation complex or being a woman.

After my rapes, I still liked men. I had a very good daddy, the kind you want to marry. I said as much at his funeral, making everyone laugh. Everyone liked him which could not be said of my mother. People described her in many ways; sufficed to say, she scared people and not just because she kept snakes all around the house. But as for the company of men, I knew them but they never knew me, not really. When feeling really romantic, I’d think, I’d kill myself for you if I wasn’t already dead. Timing, I suppose, is everything.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Joseph, Mary, pray for those/ misled by moonlight, and the rose." W. H. Auden

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: The Tennis Partner Abraham Verghese

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Written On The Body

Hi everyone! Working on a larger portion of Second Day Reported which I will debut this week. I hope you're having a great weekend!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do." Benjamin Spock

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Manic: A Memoir Terri Cheney

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ask Raymond Carver

Sometimes you have an inkling of something, a whisper of what is to come and you try to ignore it, the way you ignore a hangover or the coldness in a friend's voice when the relationship is strained. One of the most protracted romantic break-ups I ever had started at Raymond Carver's grave, a situation Carver himself would have appreciated. The voice at the grave spoke in short, declarative sentences (okay, I made that up but still) and told me that a window was closing in on the life I had known.

Carver insisted that he was listed first as a poet on his gravestone which I like -- his poetry in my mind is as easily as good as his short stories. I thought a lot about his life as I sat there, weeping at an ending that was to come. Of course, lots of people cry at graves. I could pass it off as general sadness and did. As a Catholic, I talk a lot to dead people (in all honesty, I did this before I converted). Sometimes I still talk to Carver and ask his advice. He's no Dear Abby, not by a long shot. He made some pretty shitty decisions in his day. I like that in a man. But where he ended up is magnificent -- right on the ocean with beauty all around, a place where you can hear yourself think if you desire.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear." Dick Cavett

Cocktail Hour
Drinking Halloween movie suggestion: Misery

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Fright Night

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the sweet words of support. I'm doing all right and will probably write about my current situation when I have a little distance from it as is my way. But for the weekend question, I'm going to ask for your favorite horror/ Halloween movies. Mine include The Shining (of course, what could be better for a writer?!), Carrie (those dirty pillows!), and The Exorcist. I have others that I will suggest over the month, but I'd love to hear from you. Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dublin Dr. Pepper Makes Everything A Little Better

Dear readers -- much sadness in the world today, both personal and big picture. The best we can do is stick together and try to make things a little easier for everyone. I'll be back tomorrow with more writing. Thanks for reading and your comments! It's going to be a tough contest with all these fantastic entries!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Against Ambition

I love books that rail against things -- love, sex, money, whatever you have. Anger isn't an emotion I allow myself very often as a world-class repressor (hello stomach ulcers) and a conflict-phobe. And I don't really think of this as a problem. Must we vent every negative thought, impulse, and private misery? The demi-god of psychotherapy in our culture has made this the real religion and even though I am guilty of spilling my most personal observations and experiences (does everyone need to know about that Cinco de Mayo party? Umm, yes, especially when I get around the evil substance that gave me the story in the first place), I find myself skeptical about the therapeutic value of telling. Artistic value, sometimes. Does it make me feel any better? Not really.

I've come to understand that I'm old-school, not caring about being ambitious or having life-affirming experiences. While people are sitting around at dinner parties talking about everything they've given up and the difficult but amazing vacations they've taken or are about to take (the trip to Tibet changed my life!), I find myself glazing over and wondering what the hell happened to sitting around on your ass with a cocktail in hand wondering when "All In The Family" was about to air. I find myself terrified by the prospect of a visit to an REI store for camping gear I will never use and clothes I would never wear. I miss writers like James Baldwin who claimed to hate almost everyone and only enjoy food, drink, and a good camera. Women used to talk about having it all -- I can't imagine wanting even half of it. Of course, if I develop this idea, I'll have to write a book about it. Much too taxing.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"To be a good actor you have to be something like a criminal, to be willing to break the rules to strive for something new." Nicolas Cage

Cocktail Hour
Drinking cocktail suggestion

Strawberry Shortcake
one shot of vanilla vodka over one shot of cherry vodka

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Devil's Night Prize

Hi everyone! Here's the prize. The deadline is Devil's Night, the day before Halloween for those non-Detroiters out there. You can enter as many as five pictures of anything Halloween-related. I'll announce the winner on Halloween. Thanks for the entries so far!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Moonlight And Magic

Somewhere Nice

“The Klan’s okay by me,” her husband said, and spat
into his cup on the edge of the couch. “The blacks
have the Panthers.” My friend said, “I just hate
anyone who thinks they’re better than anyone else,”
and made to show me around their new double-wide,
explaining that even though it was ugly, at least they weren’t
pissing their money away on rent. I remembered our
apartment in college, the way she’d pick up men
on the street and bring them back for dinners she never
ate. One night, a juggler in a green beret beat her and she
stayed silent until he left. She went home for good, her
face caved in as if waiting for the next punch. “This is
the only room I like,” she said. I entered the small space,
filled with a day bed and a hammock full of stuffed animals.
Romance novels filled the shelf, and I read one of the titles,
Moonlight and Magic, before I heard her husband ask if we
wanted to go out to dinner somewhere nice, before it got too late.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I've gone and come back, I'll find it at home." Rumi

Cocktail Hour
Drinking Halloween decoration suggestion: Hobgoblin Designs

Benedictions and Maledictions
Halloween contest -- Send me your best Halloween pictures (costumes, scary landscapes, etc.) via e-mail ( The winner will receive my prized red voodoo knife set which will be featured in tomorrow's blog. There will be runner-up prizes as well -- and those will also make appearances on the blog this month. Good luck!

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Best For Last

My mother gave me one cookbook which consists of only Halloween recipes -- sloppy joes that look like devils, gummy-worm punch. I never made anything out of it except a spice cake with a spooky looking tree on it. My mother was fond of saying that anyone could follow a recipe and while I find my talent with drinks, I do not understand or respect food enough to take the time and care to create anything, umm, that anyone might actually want to eat. But the spice tree cake was something of an anomaly, my piece de resistance. She loved the cake or was kind enough to say she did. I suppose nobody should be denied the joy of making a dessert that someone loves.

A dear friend of mine lost her husband recently in that traditional horrible hospital room way, dying the slow death of tubes and pills. An orderly came in during his last hours when he was in agony and asked him how he was doing. He said simply, I'm going home. The orderly did not understand he meant that he would be dead soon and said, I don't think so man, I don't think anyone is going to let you out of here. I love the gentle expression that he used, going home, and I thought about one of the last things Frieda Kahlo said when her feet were amputated, the thing about not needing them because she had wings. I see that on inspirational cards all the time and wonder how many people know the grim circumstances that informed the quote. My friend's husband also loved dessert and ate it almost exclusively in lieu of anything else during the last few months of his life, claiming that he always had a penchant for saving the best things for last.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If only smart people like your shit, it ain't that smart." Chris Rock

Cocktail Hour
Drinking HBO Special suggestion: Kill The Messenger Chris Rock

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday! Still working on new links -- I've got a special Pick Your Poison sign just for the event. And a Halloween contest that I'm announcing later this week. The prize will be very cool -- I promise!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Last Supper

Hi everyone! Hope the weekend is going well -- back at you tomorrow with another post, answered e-mail, new links, and Halloween drink recipes.

What’s For Supper?

The Last Supper hung over us as we ate
instant mashed potatoes and pork chops,
Johnny Cash on the radio and he’s busted --
the bills are all due and the babies need shoes --
prisoners cheering him on in the background.
Things were tough all over, something we
said a lot in those days. No one used the word
grateful until they’d lost something valuable
and became aware of how much more there
was to lose. It could have been worse, something
else that got repeated a lot. For dessert, we’d
have vanilla ice-milk sprinkled with Nestle
Quik chocolate powder, and we were grateful.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"There's a line in the picture where he snarls, 'Nobody tells me what to do.' That's exactly how I've felt all my life." Marlon Brando

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Rachel Getting Married

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

In The Handbasket

Hey everyone, I'm in Laura's Handbasket ( today so I'm directing you to her wonderful site and ask that you look for her new novel, Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts coming out in December. I've heard her read from the first part -- can't wait to read the rest! It's fantastic! Baby Grouchie continues to do well in his Agoraphobics In Motion support group as witnessed here, enjoying a glass of water at a local eatery.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Interactive post of the day: What is your ideal Halloween costume? I have many that will be debuted next week.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"At some point you start seeing the difference between what you really want, and what is your priority order. I feel that today I know what I want. That's the problem with perspective, as well as focus and concentration." Nick Cave

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music documentary suggestion: Shine A Light

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! And yes, beautiful Jodi, Beth from Dog: The Bounty Hunter is an inspired Halloween choice!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

We Stopped At Perfect Days

One of my friends likes to tell a story about a little girl and her dime store pearls (whenever she begins this tale, I can hear Dolly Parton singing it). The little girl desperately wants the pearls (isn't this the way with all wants -- for what is desire if not tinged with a bit of misery?) and saves up for the necklace. They get a little more tattered day by day, and every night her father asks if he can have the set. She refuses until one night she breaks down and gives them to him. Of course, the next day he presents her with a real set. I'm not so dim that I miss the moral which is that we hold onto crap while the authentic awaits us whenever we release the substandard. You can provide a religious subtext or not; the story works either way.

But this particular story doesn't really work on me. I think about how hard we save for what we want and think about the pearls getting ratty and me loving them even more than when they were pristine. I think the authentic is overrated sometimes, that we must work with what we have. I worship at the altar of decay and brokenness, perhaps the most real things there are. Whenever someone asks what the perfect day would be for me, I don't know what to say. They all seem pretty good or bad in their own ways; I try to like whatever the weather is doing at the time.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I can do comedy, so people want me to do that, but the other side of comedy is depression. Deep, deep depression is the flip side of comedy. Casting agents don't realize it but in order to be funny you have to have that other side." Parker Posey

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Season Two of Californication has started!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy October! And please check out Laura's Notes From The Handbasket this month. She's having guest bloggers each day (Octoberguest!). I am on the 3rd, my lucky number.