Sunday, May 31, 2009

Red Wings Rule!

Hey readers! Working on Motor City Burning Press and watching the Red Wings win the Stanley, as God and nature intends. Back later with another restaurant and more pithy commentary.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Motor City Burning Press

There comes a time in every writer's life where he or she says the same thing (and no, it's not, I can't really be drinking this much). The writer gets an idea, a scary idea. An idea to start a journal. A press. Seize the means of production. That sort of thing. I, sad to say, am no different. Today, Motor City Burning Press is born. Yes, it's a journal. Maybe it's a press. For certain, there's going to be a Devil's Night contest for best short short. I'll have a blog/website for this project by the end of next week. But for now, the address for submissions is as follows:

Motor City Burning Press
23210 Greater Mack #105
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

I'm looking for work about Detroit, both city and metropolitan. Be well this Friday and I'll be doing Food Fridays on Saturday this week. Post-modern, huh? What can I say? I'm a clever one.

Benedictions and Maledictions
One of my commenters informed me yesterday that a wonderful man, Jeff Fazio, died. He was an adjunct at Macomb's Center Campus and a kind, dear teacher and friend. I met Jeff when we both taught the developmental sections of composition. This is a tough course to teach given that everyone has to pass a test at the end graded by another instructor who doesn't know the students. And the failure rate is high. Jeff handed mine back and said, Well, some passed, a lot didn't, but your students seem to really love and trust you with their stories. It's the best batch I've ever graded. He said it in face of my tremendous sadness over the ones that didn't pass. And true to his kind and gentle nature, he made me feel much better. That was the kind of person he was. Confined to a wheelchair, he had a helper dog named Knight who was the bee's knees. My condolences to all his family, friends, and students.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cancer Doesn't Hurt Response

Hi everyone! Thanks for the great comments on the Cancer Doesn't Hurt post. I completely agree that cancer is terrifying -- my mother had it four different times before ultimately dying of it. My ex-boyfriend had a lung removed because of it (and no, he didn't smoke) along with a few rounds of radiation and two rounds of chemotheraphy. Countless friends of mine have suffered, either directly or indirectly from this blight. I agree with Charles -- the pink appliances are a way of "owning" it. And I don't want to own it. As for Mark, I like your ribbon, man! I used to wear a red AIDS ribbon when I worked in an AIDS hospice -- I think it gives people support. And like many people mentioned, I don't like the battle metaphors. So and so is fighting a brave battle with cancer. As opposed to another person who is fighting a cowardly battle with it?! For some reason, the language of cancer is all about fighting and war and winning. Why? Does this make people feel better? Nobody I know feels better for this metaphor because, as Will and Mark pointed out, is death ultimately "losing?" It's not a game of Pacman. As for Heff and Jodi, I always like pink, especially hot pink! Special thanks to my buddy Rob for the sweet compliment on the last few sentences. Check out his brilliant, spiritual, smart work! And for all those who are in the midst of cancer, whether suffering themselves or by loving people who are suffering, my deepest sympathies. I'll be back later today with a new post. Thanks again for reading!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cancer Doesn't Hurt

Does anyone else feel spooked by all the pink breast cancer appliances sold? I have a dear friend who was recently diagnosed with this horrible disease (and make no mistake, all cancer is horrible -- I've seen a lot of people die and/or suffer from various incarnations) and I can't help but appreciate the efforts to help, but still. I think of pink as a little girl's color. And it didn't help that one of the secrets on Post Secret this week was about being thankful for breast cancer because kitchen appliances look so much cuter in pink. Umm, okay. Good to know. I'll walk for the cure and I'll donate, I don't mind the pink ribbons, but to hell with pink blenders. Pink blenders are creepy. The person who wrote that secret is even creepier than me and not in a good way.

Everyone I know who has had cancer has been told the same thing as a reassurance: Cancer doesn't hurt. Because usually the spot where the tumor is growing does hurt so the doctor and everyone else says, It's probably not cancer because it hurts. If it doesn't hurt, that's what you have to watch for. Not the case in all the cases I know. The metaphors are strange as well -- you're going to battle cancer, you're a cancer warrior. But cancer isn't an outside invasion. Your own cells are dividing against themselves. At war with the bad parts of yourself? Now that is something I understand.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"One skilled at battle summons others and is not summoned by them." Sun Tzu

Cocktail Hour
Drinking video this weekend! Watch for the absinthe!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day! I'm always big on supporting our troops in any possible way, but my favorite organization is Much love to all from me and Baby Grouchie!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Almost Decoration Day

Even though I pride myself on having minimal possessions, I still have a lot of stuff. Like three cauldrons. Who, I ask you, needs three cauldrons? No one, that's who. Even so, I'm pretty good at decluttering a space, so much so that I'm frequently called during that fun process known as moving. I'm good with throwing things away, asking the important questions like, Do you really need this rubber decapitated chicken? (True story. Halloween party prop, I suspect, but still -- how many voodoo themed parties can a person have? Maybe four in a lifetime.)

Dear readers, on the eve of Memorial Day, I ask you -- do you throw away or do you hoard? What can you not get rid of? What have you been surprised to find when going through your stuff?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I don't want to go to hell/ but if I do, it's because of you." The Black Keys

Cocktail Hour
Drinking documentary suggestion: Tyson

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Coney Island Baby

Hey readers, hope everyone is having a great Friday! For the next few months, I'm going to use Fridays to highlight a Detroit restaurant and show you some of the people you know from their blogs and also from my writing. For the first Friday, I've decided to use this picture of me and the Walking Man, Mark Durfee for those in the know, at a Coney Island, the greatest of all Detroit diner institutions. Aretha Franklin recommended it as "the chili drips off the dog." She, I think, would know what good food is along with being able to do a killer version of "Dr. Feelgood" and no, I do not mean the song made famous by Motley Crue. When I got to Detroit, everyone told me that I had to have a Coney dog. I did not take to the practice immediately, but with so much that is good, you develop a taste. And truth be told, I love almost all food except vegetables. Okay, I can eat some vegetables, but it's tough for me. Working on it. If any of you Detroiters have a restaurant you want to see on Food Friday with Michelle, let me know.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Same Old Song And Dance

I've read a lot of interesting reviews on the new Eminem album, Relapse. I've listened to it; much of it is disturbed and dark. No surprises there. Marshall Mathers isn't known to millions because of his stunning mental health. No one will confuse him with Leo Buscagalia. This is not Chicken Soup for the Rapper's Soul. Nor is it a sexual ode to the ladies either, alas no one is using their milkshake to bring the boys to the playground (oddly, I saw this quoted on a sign for a shop selling snakes the other day -- How does the owner's milkshake bring in people who want to buy snakes? Paging Dr. Freud to figure out this mess!). A lot of people feel that Eminem is played out and that his shock value is one of diminishing returns. I don't feel he is playing the shock card -- there's not much that is terribly surprising; he got hooked on prescription drugs. He's upset at his stepfather. It seems that every man of a certain age in Detroit has an abusive stepfather. I remember hearing one dude ramble on at a bar for a long time about his, a hard evil man who had a great vocabularly. The guy kept saying over and over, He knew so many words. As for Eminem, perhaps the most shocking thing he's admitted is that he's very close friends with Elton John and reached out to him for help when he began trying to get sober. Sir Elton? Eminem? Sobriety? This is truly shocking.

People spend a lot of time analyzing his clever rhymes and highly confessional nature; I don't see any critics doing this with say, Nelly's highly dance-friendly song "Candy shop." Of course, it doesn't take a scholar of metaphor to decipher lyrics like -- "I'm going to the candy shop/ going let you lick my lollipop." Confusing indeed! The man some refer to as the Great White Hype has returned on the scene after a long absence. Did some of us miss him? Certainly. Love him or hate him, he keeps the scene from becoming one long ode to sexual pleasure. If rap didn't have him, we'd have to invent him: his anger, his despair, his cleverness.

Michelle's Spells of the Day
“I hate and love - wherefore I cannot tell, but by my tortures know the fact too well.” Catullus

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Relapse Eminem

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! Go Red Wings!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Call And Response

I keep hearing the horrid song, "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" everywhere I go. I heard it a lot as a child and the new regime started at my dear Angela's wedding where the guests analyzed the lyrics after downing some relatively weak Mexican beer. So the conversation was still coherent if a bit confusing. A big part of the debate involved the call and response section of the song, "Granny does your dog bite?/ No, child, no." We danced to the song at the end of the wedding, something I remember not as well given that it was late and the world was spinning along with me under the stars in a black bridesmaid's dress. I've only been a bridesmaid once and this was my chance to do it right. This means staying sober the week before the event and drinking like an Irish dockworker after.

The other day, I saw a group of children dance to this song in a building used as a church most of the time. It made me laugh, particularly the dance of the demons. But I guess it was fitting -- ultimately the devil loses the fiddle contest and is forced to depart with "a violin of gold." I brought a book to read during the dull parts of the recital as I always do and realized too late that Columbine, the book about the school shooting, with the terrific bleak cover and big block letters might not have been the best choice. There was also a song about an "evil clown" and one of the girls made evil clown motions around her face. This was worth the price of admission. I laughed as I thought of our discussion about the Devil lyrics. Why is granny being asked if her dog bites at this point? How come the dance of the demons wasn't that great in the end? What the hell happened to the prize fiddle? Next time I hear it which I suspect will be very soon given my luck, I'll figure it all out.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Food to the indolent is poison, not sustenance." Frederick Douglass

Cocktail Hour
Drinking suggestion: Working on a rum concoction as we speak. Thanks to Mark for the ultimate Detroit cocktail! That will be in a video very soon.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

Thanks for all the comments from last week! Been thinking about the Carrie Prejean comments and actually agree -- she had the right to say what she said. Everyone does. I don't believe someone should ask a question (ie, Perez Hilton) and not expect an answer, one with which he may potentially not agree. As for her semi-nude pictures and breast implants, no surprises there. She's in a beauty pageant, not aiming to be the next Marie Curie. The fact that she's now a spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage doesn't bother me; I think their ads are so ridiculous and ill-conceived (A Gathering Storm, anyone? Gay people fall out of the sky and ruin our lives!) that she seems suited for this work. And she looks pretty good naked. Better, dare I say, than Perez Hilton? Conservatives love a hot woman who talks their party line. For a long time, they've had to make do with that horsey Ann Coulter -- bad face, great legs. But now they've got a new face, one that looks more like a model, less like Secretariat.

I've never been a huge fan of marriage of any kind, but I truly believe in civil liberties. I don't follow strict party lines -- I believe we should be able to have guns, abortions, legalized drugs, and gay marriage if we so desire. I don't agree ethically with all of these things, but I do believe we are smart enough to make our own decisions without government interference. Before speed limits, you'd see signs on the road that said, Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide. No matter what our disagreements and opinions, I hope we can remember to be kind, to think about who else is on the road, and to still be ourselves.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences of too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." Thomas Jefferson

Cocktail Hour
Drinking suggestion: Any ideas for a new video?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Date To Prom

Hi everyone! Here's the start of a new something or other I've started (maybe a novel?!). Love the comments from this week -- I'm thinking of a post to address all of them. Happy Saturday!

I like words that sound alike but mean different things -- take weak and week. One is a judgment, a word I misspelled in a grade school spelling bee and still have trouble with to this day and week, an increment of time, something you’re glad to be at the end of, finished, done. I lost the spelling bee to Calvin Anderson and years later, living in Detroit, I got interviewed by an FBI agent about his fitness for service and mostly if he was gay. Where did my judgment go? I knew what I knew and yet I fell back on the old Mineral Wells standby, He had a date to prom.

The FBI agent asked if we had a dining room table, the we being me and N, my much older boyfriend at the time. I don’t need to tell you how that ended, not with any, we’re done, let’s be friends speech. More like lingering allergies. From the start, we were a car with the engine light on. We did not have a table of any kind, the only furniture being two couches my friend Andrew gave me. The couches were a little worse for the wear because of frequent visits from our landlord’s cat, Muscles, a fat kitty who loved to claw. The landlords lived in the flat below and filled their place with strange objects that she referred to as “satirical” art. She showed them to me once, truly hideous things, and said that people over forty found them disturbing and often wanted to cry when they saw them because people over forty feared death. This is how you learn to talk, I suppose, if you have gone to the Chicago Institute of Art and now are stuck teaching rich little brats at an elite prep school in Detroit. I pointed out that N was forty-five and she said she never would have guessed which was a lie. N looked all of his age and then some, never having a met a bottle of sunscreen or moisturizer he liked. She told me that she and her husband had been shocked by my arrival, that they hadn’t expected me to be so peppy, a euphemism for our twenty year age difference.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive

I watched Doubt last night which I liked, particularly the scenes where Philip Seymour Hoffman is delivering a homily about doubt or intolerance or the wind that we can't see that propels us to different places. Set on the cusp of Vatican Two, the movie is in part about the sadness of life, the deals we make with the devil, how change is always with us, both a blessing and a curse. I often feel this way when I write -- it's a difficult business in that you set your course and work with very little idea of where you're going.

I used to compete in Bible Bowls, a Jeopardy like contest where you answer questions about, well, the Bible. I still remember much from those days and now that it's in fashion to tattoo words on yourself, I could do it if only I could choose one I liked that didn't sound so bleak. Of course, those are the ones that stay with me, warnings and cries for help. Even so, it's comforting in a strange way -- we are bonded by our pain and suffering as much as anything else. I saw a woman the other day whose hair had fallen out and looked painfully thin, the look of cancer. She wore a t-shirt that said, I Did Something Spectacular Today! It made me smile to see her in that t-shirt, that bit of hope despite everything for all the world to see should they care to look.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cocktail Hour
Drinking journalism suggestion: Columbine Dave Cullen

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How We Reveal Ourselves

Here's a new piece of flash fiction. Hope you're having a good week!

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't. I wouldn't start out by ordering garlic chicken while you picked at almost nothing. There's only room in any relationship for an eating disorder and I go by the old practice, Ladies First. I wouldn't fall in love with you right away, thereby sparing myself. I think of your spartan room, the rice paper blinds. How I decided that I wouldn't count the cost. I didn't have much to go on in those days. I still don't.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don't find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges." William Albert Allard

Cocktail Hour
Drinking recipe/memoir suggestion: Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant edited by Jenni Ferrari-Addler

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Here She Is, Miss America

I wrote about Carrie Prejean, Miss California, before the nude pictures surfaced and her tiara was threatened. Sufficed to say, she remains not the brightest -- her recent comparing of Perez Hilton to Satan when Focus on the Family asked about the question was, well, giving a tremendous amount of credit to Mr. Perez. He may be many things to many people and while I believe that ex-lovers can call you Satan, I really don't think Mr. Perez fits the bill for all the horror that is the fallen angel, leaders of the demons, etc. Miss Prejean, however, did some modeling that shows her nipples (pause for collective gasp!) and now she has been redeemed by someone a little more Satanic that Perez H. if only for that hideous comb over, Donald Trump. Mr. Trump sagely commented that we're in 2009 and that we can't expect our Miss Californias to be perfect.

I find myself slightly horrified that I agree with the genius who came up with The Apprentice, but I do. Would Jesus approve of Miss Prejean's pictures? How the hell would I know? But I do know this -- you can pay for fake boobs so your contestant has a better chance of winning the dog and pony show that is a beauty pageant and yet there are moral standards this person is supposed to live up to? Really? What is the difference between parading around like a trained monkey in a bikini and showing the goods for money? The pageant officials are living in the same rarefied air as Larry Flynt as far as I'm concerned. I admit to enjoying a frisson of schadenfreude when the pictures surfaced. Who wouldn't? But surprise? No. Not really. Do I have a problem with a Christian posing for risque pictures? Obviously not. We each answer to our own conscience. What is not a sin for me may or may not be for others. The Bible says that. Perhaps this is the verse that Miss Prejean needs to study before doing any more interviews.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a sinner. Conscience makes egotists of us all.” Oscar Wilde

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Crazy Love Leslie Morgan Steiner

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Working For The Weekend

Hi everyone -- sorry I've been out of touch for a few days. I'll tell you all about it in the next post. Hope everyone had a great weekend -- see you in a few hours!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday's Child Rides Again

Hi Readers! Here's a paragraph from Screen Test. Thanks for reading!

My favorite day of the week has always been Friday. When I was a child, it was the day my daddy got paid which meant Beth and I would load up in his pick-up truck and go to the Taco Bell for lunch during the summer months when school wasn't in session. These days were looked forward to with great anticipation (no fried bologna saucers!), and even as I got older, Friday remained the same -- the day I went out with Hank for the KFC buffet for a late lunch, or got off work early with that Friday feeling in my heart, knowing that I'd put a solid week in and feeling suddenly lighter. Friday is all possibility, money in the bank, a weekend ahead of you.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I like the prop food so much that I eat it between takes as well as on camera.” James Gandolfini.

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: In the Loop.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cinco De Mayo!

Hope everyone is having a great Cinco de Mayo, a holiday I associate with the excess of tequila and acting the fool. Because I have given up the demon tequila for the most part, I spent my day finishing a new story, a short four page piece titled "Here Comes The Sun." I'm going to let it sit for a bit before deciding what to do with it, but I'm glad to have done some fiction again given that I've spent the better part of the last two years on nonfiction. It's the first genre that I really stuck to despite having absolutely no talent for it. But I love reading short story collections and have a special fondness for the short story in general, despite the difficulty of selling them for anything resembling a decent amount of money.

Everyone has places they return to again and again, that give them hope and make them feel better about themselves. For me, it's the used bookstore, as much a sanctuary as anything in this world. All that effort contained in the walls! All those people sitting and wishing and hoping that their stories see the light of day. I read a book recently by a new mother that said that she realized how much time she'd wasted reading and watching other people's stories. I can't imagine feeling that way. I think of those writers alone in their rooms, feel a kinship with them, a way of being in the world.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Sometimes I get a little manic and you can't stop me. I'm all over the place. I have fun." Dom DeLuise

Cocktail Hour
Drinking dvd suggestion: The Reader (Warning -- you will see a lot of Kate Winslett in this movie which is great, but it is terribly sad so if you're feeling depressed, save it for a night on which you aren't depressed, but kind of want to be.)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

We Stopped At Perfect Days

Hi readers! Thanks for all the sweet birthday wishes! I'm posting a picture of a place that I love, if only for the name -- The Perfect Cafe. Everyone should eat here once in their lives -- it reminds me of the Richard Brautigan poem, "We Stopped At Perfect Days." I'm going to post the wedding cake martini soon -- got to get the mojo going to make the best one ever. It's the kind of drink that is perfect for a dessert. Hope you're having a great Sunday!

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Talent Portion

Am I the only one sick of hearing about Carrie PreJean, our new Anita Bryant? She's a beauty pageant queen, for crying out loud. She's entitled to her opinion about gay marriage as we all are. By answering the question that Perez Hilton posed (and the answer made her sound as dumb as a bucket of hair -- ie, we have a choice between same sex or opposite (?!) marriage in America. Really? Last time I checked, most states don't allow gay marriage), she casts herself as a martyr for the cause, claiming to know that her answer would cost her the tiara. From the sounds of it, she's just short of the type of courage required to hide Jewish people from the Nazis. A modern day Joan of Arc with fake boobs paid for by the state of California.

I could never get fake boobs. The pain alone must be something else. I could never run around with perfect hair talking about the sanctity of marriage. First, I'm divorced. Oh wait a minute, that didn't stop Anita Bryant. Okay, I'm not that pretty or perfect. Never been on an orange juice ad either. Also, I know what a civil union is, something Ms. Prejean doesn't. "I mean, I'll get back to you on that one," she said on FOX news. "I think the gays should have hospital rights." What the fuck? I agree with conservatives when they get enraged about actors going around, sprouting opinions about situations they don't really understand. An actor's job is to act. And a beauty pageant winner's job? Probably sticking to the talent portion of the show. When I was young, Miss Texas came from Mineral Wells and her talent was ventriloquism. Seems like that might suit the latest Ms. California.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The best way out is always through." Robert Frost

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters Courtney Martin

Benedictions and Maledictions
A special hi to my newest commenter, Boneman -- you're always welcome here! I love what you said about the pictures being a sort of autobiography. I couldn't have put it better myself and Lord knows I've tried. Congratulations to beautiful Cheri who is having a girl! And yes to my girl Jodi -- it's a white wedding cake martini coming up. Why endure a wedding cake when you can have a wedding cake martini?