Sunday, January 31, 2010

Loving The Now

I love people who claim to know the future -- one of my favorite times at the Mind, Body, Spirit Festival was when I picked out a white dude in a Native American tribal outfit. The clincher -- he called himself One Feather. Indeed, he had one feather in his hand by which he claimed he could divine my next year. After asking my first and middle name, he said, "Michelle Marie, will you marry me?" I knew I had picked the head crackpot and was pleased with myself. I can, if nothing else, spot a good time.

One Feather told me that my mother was a literal snake charmer (spooky given her propensity for the evil creatures), and I was a metaphorical one. This gave me the confidence I needed to continue with my day. I can't remember what else he said. Unlike my friend Sharon, I always forget to brings tapes to record the prophecies and see if they are accurate. I guess I really don't go for that reason. The future will be whatever it will be, que sera sera. It's more for shoring up about the present, which, of course, is the hardest place to be. (Hence the need for a million different books on being present, staying present, loving the now, etc.) After our prophecies from One Feather, my buddy and I took off for a dinner at the Macaroni Grill where we examined all the options, so much of it bad for us, hard on the heart.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I do not know many survivors." James Baldwin

Cocktail Hour
Okay -- I LOVED Shannon Day's weekly astrology on I was so unhappy to see her Skyvibe gone, replaced with someone else who is not near as fun. Please come back, Shannon! I need my weekend fun!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Six Thousand Egg Rolls

Just saw the movie Big Fan the other night. Loved it. It's a dark comedy that skirts tragedy, a film about Paul from Staten Island, a parking attendant who lives with his mother and defines himself by his love for the New York Giants. This fantasy world gets challenged when he meets the quarterback for the Giants at a strip club. I won't give the plot away, but in all honesty, it wasn't the plot that had me most compelled. It was the details of Paul's life, my favorite being when we see him and his only buddy going to the Giants game and realize they don't have tickets. They sit out in the parking lot with their television hooked up to a car battery and watch just to be closer to the team they love. "They can't lose if we're out in the parking lot," Paul claims.

I'm guessing we all feel this way from time to time, that close is as good as we're going to get. Paul and his mother have a bit of the Grey Gardens' type relationship going (my shorthand way of describing an enmeshed symbiotic situation), and my favorite scene is with the two of them is where Paul's mother is sorting soy sauce, duck sauce, and hot mustard into Ziploc baggies. Paul eats his take-out and watches her, musing that she doesn't even like Chinese food and that what she really needs are "six thousand egg rolls." I don't know a better way to describe this movie. It's for all of us with bags of useless shit that we don't want to waste, but will never use, for those who try and go along and do what we can, who want to feel like part of something bigger, something magical.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." Anne Sexton

Cocktail Hour
Tonight is the first full moon of the year, the wolf moon -- take a look if you dare brave the cold!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's A Wise Child

Like so many people, I've always loved J.D. Salinger. Not the obsessive crazy "I'm part of the Glass family" love (although is there any of us who didn't at one time feel that way?), but with the reverence of someone who changes the way you think about writing. I didn't read Catcher In The Rye in high school -- I got to it way too late to really love it. Instead, I gravitated to his novellas and short stories, particularly Franny and Zooey. He wrote of topics that other people didn't, or at least not in the same way, a desire for God, for understanding. His words had a way of lingering. You might not get it all, but he wrote about the ineffable, the things for which there are no words.

And uncommon for this publicity-whoring age (I'm no exception, obviously), he didn't seek the spotlight. Of course, this brought it in that Jungian, What you resist, persists kind of way. Most of what we know about him comes from other people's memoirs and it's not particularly flattering. He stopped publishing altogether. He resisted the movies. He gave up the things for which most of us would give our very souls. Who knows how it was for him in his years in seclusion? The young will always love his work, the way he could see longing and desire and the hopelessness of it all, the beauty.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Jesus knew — knew — that we're carrying the Kingdom of Heaven around with us, inside, where we're all too goddamn stupid and sentimental and unimaginative to look? You have to be a son of God to know that kind of stuff." J.D. Salinger

Cocktail Hour
Loved Big Fan! Will have complete review soon.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

The Catcher In The Rye

Breaking news -- J.D. Salinger just died. Whoa. I'll be doing a longer post later, but for now, Rest in peace!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Night With An Exorcist

Here's a very small portion of the new (as yet untitled) novel. Thanks for reading!

After a nap, Severin went to inspect the message. She wanted to get rid of it, to pretend like whatever was happening wasn't. Could it be the Ouija board with which Luci had tried to conjure spirits? She wondered if she should mention it to Deacon John. In a month, a visiting priest was scheduled to come to St. Patrick's downtown and deliver a lecture titled "A Night With An Exorcist." Severin didn't think she would go because of the high ticket price, thirty dollars per person. But now thirty dollars seemed like a pittance in order to get answers.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” Eskimo Proverb

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Tonight I'm watching Big Fan. Will let you guys know how it is.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pure Michigan

Happy 173rd birthday to my dear state of Michigan! I hope you guys are having a great week. I've decided that my horror novel is going to be psychological rather than demonic even though I really enjoyed "Evening With An Exorcist" night at St. Patrick's not so long ago. I'm going to start posting little bits this week.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I remind young people everywhere I go, one of the worst things the older generation did was to tell them for twenty-five years "Be successful, be successful, be successful" as opposed to "Be great, be great, be great". There's a qualititative difference." Cornel West

Cocktail Hour
Drinking vodka suggestion: Dripping Springs -- it's a vodka from Texas and the name makes it sound like a particularly nasty STD, but it's the smoothest vodka I have tasted in a long time.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Secret Windows

In the wake at trying my hand at horror fiction, I've been reading Stephen King's Secret Windows which is a collection of essays from various points in his career. My favorite story so far is the one where he talks about the first time he saw someone reading a copy of one of his books. He determines he will sign if for her. He was drunk and on a plane so he goes up to the woman reading Carrie and asks if she likes it. She says no, that the writing is pretty shitty. My favorite part of this anecdote is Stephen King's reply, Oh, I guess I won't get that one.

Self-deprecation is a quality that has gone out of favor for some reason. I think it's all the new age bullshit that has us believe that if we're not one hundred percent confident all the time and presenting our "best" selves (ie, nightmare horror version of this -- Heidi Montag's ten plastic surgery procedures done at one time), we will fail. I don't know about you, but sometimes it's a relief to be a mess and let the guard down. Right now, I'm worried, my face is broken out, and my hair is in a transitional 'do that is downright scary. But that's okay. I'm in search of my opening sentence, something that will make it all good. Right now, I'm toying with the image of a bullet-riddled wall that surrounded the hacienda where my dear Angela had her wedding. Those bullets had been lodged for a long time. Someone needs to notice them.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The difference between daytime and prime-time drama is the suffering of consequences. There is no time at night to experience the result of foolish actions; during the day, that is all there is to do." Agnes Nixon, creator of All My Children

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: What Happened Was

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday! My apologies on Cleaving, Dave! Hey, if I controlled who got the book deals, I'm telling you it would be a different world. But I still think it's interesting in a train wreck sort of way. I don't think too many people want to admit a pretty common situation -- wanting the comforts of a predictable, relatively happy, relatively safe marriage versus the crazy passion she describes with Damien. I take the view that all affairs given enough time become as tedious as any marriage. And Keith your comment about the evil little blonde white children in Village of the Damned cracked me up! And finally, rest in peace, James Mitchell, ie Palmer Courtland. A fan of All My Children since birth, I can guarantee you will be missed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rosemary's Baby

Working on a new project and have a question for the day to pose to you guys -- What are your favorite horror novels and why? I used to read them all the time when I was younger and remember really loving Ira Levin, particularly Rosemary's Baby. What, if anything, really scares you?

I'm also reading the new Carver biography and will have a review soon. So far, very compelling!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Speed, strength, and the inability to register pain immediately." Reggie Williams, when asked his greatest strengths as a football player

Cocktail Hour
Drinking suggestion: I have a new drink with dry ice coming up -- it's really cool-looking and a little scary to drink, perfect for the mid-winter days.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Story Of My Life

Well, we come to the end of yet another week in the sorrow that is January and find out that (gasp!) Jonathan Edwards has indeed fathered a love child. This does not surprise me. He is a rich man who was having an affair with a woman who stands a lot to gain from such a situation. (For further reference, Jay McInerney wrote a story about her titled "The Story Of My Life.") Also, the baby looks just like him. What surprises me is the outrage of the pundits on his lying, many going so far as to call him a pathological liar. Really? The man did not act well. He lied about it. For about two years. With a terminally ill wife to boot. But what do we know of his life? While huffing and puffing away on the elliptical, I heard a woman on television say that he did irreparable harm to his daughter by denying paternity and that she would never get over it. I grew up in a place where a young boy suffocated to death in an abandoned refrigerator because of lack of parental supervision, where kids got routinely beaten and starved and bullied because their parents didn't have money, chances, or the sense God gave a goat. Perspective, please.

I've made many mistakes, large and small. I've done stupid shit, lied about it, ruined relationships, broke my own heart, covered up mistakes. Sound familiar? It should. Everyone has regrets, even the ones who say they don't. We've all been the dude in the Bible who buries the talent and has to pay the piper when the time is up. No doubt that Edwards acted the fool. Let's just say he's not the only one trying out for that part.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"A mistake in judgment isn't fatal, but too much anxiety about judgment is." Pauline Kael

Cocktail Hour
All right, I'm really wanting to see Crazy Heart. I'm a total sucker for that type of movie. Has anyone seen it yet?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday! In answer to the Macomb question, yes, guilty as charged!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

When You Are The Camera

Thanks so much to Laura at her Wardrobe by Sam blog for inspiriting this post!

I liken pictures to an autobiography of sorts, this is me, this is who I was, this is where I have been. Was in a discussion the other night about whether knowing something is autobiographical automatically takes away from the artistry. I think not, though others disagree. I think it's a question of taste (for instance, I usually prefer photography to painting and that in some ways mirrors my taste in literature) because all writing comes from somewhere and it ain't thin air. You're pulling out the deepest parts of yourself, trying to understand or at least tell a decent story. And as Joan Didion pointed out not so very long ago, We tell stories in order to live. I can survive without a lot of things, but a story isn't one of them. Even if it's a story about not having a story -- my brief flirtation with meta, I suppose.

For me, writing is where artifice meets honesty, paradoxical bedfellows. Sometimes we are most ourselves when we are posing as someone else. When I was a little girl, I used to imagine myself as someone else, usually one of the popular, effortless girls, tried to see what it would be like. I'd choose a new girl every week, imagining her reality to be far superior to my own. But I never quite made myself believe it. I remember a lot about that time, but not everything. My favorite picture of myself from these years is one of me lying on my stomach, reading the Bible, dressed in a nightgown and pom-pom socks, looking as serious as can be. As if I could midrash those stories, find out what I needed to know in order to be whole in the world. I don't know if I ever made it, but I have the proof that, at least for a moment, I was seeking it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"And as I've gotten older, I've had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things." Martin Scorsese

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: The Woodsmen

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! And thanks so much for the reminder about Robert B. Parker -- rest in peace, writer extraordinaire!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventures In Babysitting

My favorite babysitting gig was for a child named Sunny Gayle. Her parents, Sonny and Gail, were heavy drinkers who always paid well and never insisted on driving me home. I liked that their house always had a lot of food, and I spent most of my time cooking Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat, and watching cable, which in those days meant that you subscribed to HBO. Whenever I requested similar Rice-A-Roni privileges at home, Mother would tell me to wait for my next good babysitting gig since the boxes were pretty expensive and it was good to have a job with perks.

Certainly it beat babysitting Brad and Blake, the two little boys that lived behind us. Brad at seven wanted to be a Marine and spent most of his time trying to get me to play China Beach, a game where he'd ask me to dance on the table for money while he drank wine. I never danced on any tables, but I did put his Welch's grape juice in a wineglass and let him hold some Monopoly money in case any would-be strippers sauntered by. His brother, Blake, named after the poet, decided by his tender age of five that life was too hard and that he wanted to kill himself. I didn't know much about William Blake at the time except that fucking "Tiger, Tiger" poem Mother liked so well. The road to excess and all that, the way a friend had written in a journal about a visit with him, Still dirty, still poor. Brad would goad Blake and tell him he wasn't man enough to take his own life. I told him if he kept up that kind of talk, there'd be no wineglass for him and he could forget staying up late and watching "The Twilight Zone" with me. After all, why put it on television when you're living it?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.” Erich Segal

Cocktail Hour
Drinking blog post selection -- my beautiful Jodi's post on the good and bad points of Facebook communication is a must read!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Rest in peace, Erich Segal! And special birthday wishes to my dear lovely Jill and sweet adorable Marci! Hope you both have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Feast Of Snakes

Just checking to see if you guys are awake! Back later with a longer post.

Monday, January 18, 2010


In lieu of a post, I offer this picture I took in Detroit a couple of years ago. See you tomorrow, my lovlies!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cocktail Hour
Best Golden Globe look for my money -- Christina Hendricks from Mad Men. Love her, the dress!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy MLK Day!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Take My Hand

My idea of the perfect Sunday or funeral song. Of course, my favorite version -- Hank Williams! Happy Sunday to all!

Friday, January 15, 2010

No Good Deed

Lots of good things to think about with the comments this week! I think Lana's comment about expectation is right on so I'm going to go with that issue on this blog post. Thank you, my dear!

I remember the first time I heard the old expression -- What does assume do? It makes an ass out of u and me. This gem came out of the mouth of a fellow lifeguard I didn't like at all. Darren (his real name, not the real spelling) had the uncanny knack of finding someone's soft spot and picking at it, like a dog nipping at your heels and finally biting hard enough to draw blood. Darren was the first male bulimic I ever knew; he'd gorge on bags of fast food and vomit in the men's room at the pool. If you are desperate enough to force yourself to vomit Taco Bell, Chicken Express, and McDonald's in such a nasty place, you have some sympathy from me. But then he'd do something to fuck it up like call the morbidly obese woman who had ventured out to the pool Shamu and make me hate him all over again. I avoided him for the most part and aligned myself with the older lifeguards who wanted to keep the radio tuned to Hendrix and the Eagles and Skynyrd, not the new rap music that the younger guards favored. Which is now called old school rap. How evil and quick the passage of time!

I grew up in a house with a bunch of rattlesnakes so I didn't assume much about anyone, only that I was sure there were places that were calmer. On this fact, I was right, although not by much. Expectation was a different matter, though. When you act well or do a good deed, you most of the time expect that you will be treated accordingly. Wrong bat breath, my dad would have said to such an assumption. No good deed goes unpunished, my mother would have replied in a sage voice that my sister deemed her Oh Wise One posture. But both were right, of course, because sometimes those we give our love, time, and support don't give a shit or can't reciprocate in kind. So we end up feeling like we're constantly giving to the shiftless friend who never has any money except when he or she wants to jet off to Paris for the weekend. This said, I think that giving is best when freed from the constraints of a fair return. Once a boyfriend said that he thought relationships were investments and that you put in your time and energy and when that person became successful, your investment would pay off. Sorry, buddy, I am not Bank of America! Your best bet is to enjoy the giving and the receiving of any particular moment, taking as many self-protective measures as you need. (Lana's suggestion on remaining anonymous works wonders here --if there's no way you can be rewarded except karmically, you don't worry about it. Another way is to avoid being put in uncomfortable situations -- give as much as you can without feeling used. It takes some practice to know the limits, but I assure you that you'll know the line once you cross it.) Once I had a rosary where Jesus popped off the cross. I guess he was tired of his perpetual crucifixion. I put Him in a drawer where He could rest, take a break from forgiving my sins for a spell.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"We create monsters and then we can't control them." Joel Coen

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: A Serious Man (finally got to see this one and LOVED it!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Dead Girl

Last night, I watched a dvd called The Dead Girl. I knew nothing about it, just thought it looked interesting. Well, it was. Great movie, but on a creepy note, the late Brittany Murphy played the title character, said dead girl. Just a couple of years before she died, she was on her way to death in film. And for me this type of coincidence always begs the question -- do we have prescience over that which is about to happen if we are alert? Do we tune into reality or create it as every self-help guru would have us believe? If we create it, I'm writing a story titled "The Rich Beautiful Girl With No Worries Who Will Live Forever."

But I don't write those stories. Hell, I can't even bring myself to read one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. (This is no judgement -- the guy who wrote them was persistent in his desire to get published and I have no doubt they help lots of people.) Even so, I do believe in what people sometimes refer to as the power of the word. They have powers, words. Powers to heal and to wound. Some of the dumbest shit I have done has been in response to a nasty comment someone made. And guess what -- all the bad stuff was self-inflicted. Always looking out for number one, I suppose.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness."
Allen Ginsberg

Cocktail Hour
Okay -- let's all try to not worry or get inordinately pissed off about Pat Robertson's remarks about Haiti's deal with the devil (the gong show should have pulled him off a LONG time ago) and do what we can to help.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Black Hawk Down

Hey guys, hope your week is going well! I'm working on a project and tying up several others and am starting to feel like the scene in Black Hawk Down where the guys think they're rescued and then they realize they still have to run through the bullets to get to safety. Alas, the writing life! I'll be back soon with some recent writing -- until then, Celebrity Rehab is on tonight!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's So Funny About Peace, Love, And Understanding

I pray. A lot. I'm like the character in Steel Magnolia's who "prays because the elastic in her panties is shot." I pray about big things, little things, begging prayers, thankful prayers, forgive me prayers, forgive them prayers, help me forgive them and not want to shoot them prayers, the works. But the hardest prayer in some ways is the one I see engraved on plaques, stitched on samplers, a prayer that seems to be pretty simple, but isn't. The St. Francis prayer. You know the one, the one about seeking to console instead of being consoled, about doing for others those things you want for yourself. When I'm being honest with myself (once a month, every third Wednesday), I know that this is more than a nicety that you can give out on a bookmark. I know this is the most important thing we can do, no matter what, if any, religion we follow.

I, like everyone else, get into the occasional fight or tiff with people I love. No surprise there. I used to think this was the end of the world, as phobic about confrontation as if someone had stuck a rattlesnake around my neck. But it isn't. Even so, very few of us like to fight with those we love. It's so hard, though, because we become so very entrenched in our positions that we lose any hope of bridging the gap of understanding. Usually when someone is upset, the default reaction is to become defensive or attempt to minimize the problem. This makes the upset person become more strident in an attempt to convey the seriousness of the problem which makes the listener become more defensive. And so on. If both people can come together a bit, a lot of the cycle would be broken. I don't really know why I wrote this today; my guess is that someone out in the world needs to hear it. Or like Anne Lammott wrote in an essay once, that she writes things she would like to hear. So I think about the St. Francis prayer, that sweet saint of animals. It's simple, but not easy. To do for others what we so desperately desire for ourselves is perhaps the ultimate prayer.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'll put you through hell, but at the end of it all we'll be champions." Bear Bryant

Cocktail Hour
Has anyone seen Synecdoche, New York? My friend Priscilla says that there will be a giant sucking sound that is your life going bye-bye for those long two hours of the movie. But I've also heard some good things about it so I ask you, dear readers, to give a recommendation if you've seen it.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Celebrity Rehab

Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew has a special place in my heart. When my appendix ruptured, I was in the middle of season two and in ICU, the channel was one of the few things I could remember. Clearly not ready for the pearly gates yet. Hi Jesus, I had a good life, but I did miss the last three episodes of Celebrity Rehab. Is there Comcast On Demand here? Just the kind of thing that cements your standing as a Deeply Spiritual Person. Now that we're in the third season (with, for my money, the best cast so far -- Heidi Fleiss is television gold! Dennis Rodman is also pretty cool and let me point out that he wasn't near as crazy as he is now when he was a Detroit Piston. Forget Dr. Drew; let's just reincarnate Chuck Daley to straighten his ass out), I find myself asking why I like the show.

Well, I delve into this mystery because I'm not touching Sarah Palin being hired by Fox News even though I got an email asking me what I thought about it. No comment on much of the political scene which has raised some ire in the past. One old boyfriend used to say, You're a nihilist, Boo Boo. How anyone nicknamed Boo Boo by her then-beloved could be called a nihilist, who knows? But back to the point. Why do I like the show? Not because I particularly like Dr. Drew -- I find him a bit condescending. Not because the patients are such beds of roses -- just like in life, you find some you adore, some you think are true assclowns. It's more the sense of urgency that everyday actions carry. I know this is in large part because of careful editing. Reality shows have more in common with soap operas than reality. But what makes either form compelling? It's because words and actions matter in a way they don't in real life. I once read that women watch soap operas because it's one of the few forms where women are listened to by men, where their actions matter deeply to the plot. This makes sense to me. Who doesn't want to matter in some fundamental way? And our interest in celebrities gone wrong also stems from the whole love to build them up to tear them down mentality. Everyone always complains about the cars slowing down to see a car wreck. I've never heard anyone say, I'm the dufus who slows down to look. But someone sure the hell must be.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Isak Dinesen said that she wrote a little every day, without hope and without despair. I like that.” Raymond Carver

Cocktail Hour
About to read the new Raymond Carver biography. Will give a full report when I'm finished.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Black Cat Crossed My Path

Today as I wrote, a black cat stared at me from beyond the glass door. I felt its wicked eyes on me and flipped out a little when I saw it, much like Paulie in The Sopranos when a cat becomes fixated with the dead Christopher's picture in the Bada Bing. Of course, being a modern girl with a dash of my late great grandmother, I stared back at it until it left. And then going with the modern part of that sentence, I googled black cats and what the hell does it mean when they stare at you with yellow eyes? Of course, most Americans think black cats are unlucky, but in Scotland, if a black cat comes to your door, it means that you are coming into prosperity which is the meaning I'm going to take as it will help fund Motor City Burning Press and all that jazz. Old joke -- How do you make a small fortune from a small press? Start with a large fortune.

I'm a bit on the superstitious side in life, picking up pennies (a habit from my younger days -- a hundred pennies meant going to the local movie, a story I could bore my grandchildren with if I intended to have any), avoiding walking under ladders, that sort of thing. Nothing too dramatic, just cautious. Birds scare me, although given that my friends love owls, I'm warming up to them as a symbol of wisdom. What about you, my dear readers? Any superstitions you fear or welcome as signs of luck?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You can play a shoestring if you're sincere." John Coltrane

Cocktail Hour
Check out beautiful Jodi at the J Spot with the drink I made especially for her sweet self!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Birthday Wishes

Hey guys, Here I am with one of my favorite little girls in the world, Angela, on her birthday! I thought this was a fitting photo since its my dad's birthday today. I've been working on a much longer project, a horror novel of sorts, that I'll start posting bits and pieces of next week. But for now, I'll leave you with an old poem of mine. Happy Thursday!

Last Big Show

On his last morning, my father drives
himself to work, tired from a two-week
air-plane sales show. Even so, he listens
to Fleetwood Mac on the cd player, turned
up loud. Before he leaves, he writes on the dry-
erase board -- Good to be home! Last big
show. Days later, picking through the debris
for what was his, almost nothing remains
except the battered rims of his sunglasses,
a pocket knife. My sister identifies the face
of the watch his friend, the pilot, wore,
still working. It’s like an advertisement,
we think, this three thousand dollar
extravagance that lasted through a final
confrontation with a power line and all
that charred earth. The evidence bag of dirt
and litter yields nothing more, just this -- small
unconvincing proof that time has not stopped.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tale Telling

Still working out my thoughts about memoirs. I have to agree with my dear friend Priscilla on the question of TMI -- it's not so much what it told, but who is telling it and how it is told. I guess that's true in life as well. I think it's one of the pitfalls of the technological age. Whereas if you're on the phone or having a conversation with someone in real time, you have to at least take nominal notice of social cues and audience whereas with e-mail and texting, it's much easier to do the old, apropos of nothing routine, the kind of revealing tale telling that used to be reserved for drunk dialing. We're also used to knowing a lot more about people which can be a good or a bad thing. Like I said, I'm still relatively half-baked on all this material. More thoughts soon!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it." Thomas Merton

Cocktail Hour
Check out Mark's post on Motor City Press -- we're going to get things going this year. Like all presses, the start-up is slow, but Detroit needs a literary venue and this is going to be one!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Still calling for JR's return -- Car 54, where are you?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments on relationships, image, and persona. I've been thinking a lot about all of that upon reading Cleaving. Interestingly, Cleaving is also the title of another memoir about marriage that I love. It's written by Dennis and Vicki Covington (two writers married to each other) and the utter honesty in that work gives one considerable pause as well. What makes it significantly different is that both sides have a say. I'm working on a longer post for tomorrow, but please keep the comments coming and what I can weave from the various strands of thoughts.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be." Ellen Burstyn

Cocktail Hour
Anyone watching Hoarders this season? I do, if only to clean more furiously.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday! Thanks so much to Whitenoise for the kind comment and I second your Where's JR? JR's Thumbprints come back to us!

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Art Of French Cooking

Just finished reading Cleaving, a memoir by Julie Powell, the same writer who wrote Julie and Julia. Let's be clear: Julie Powell is no Amy Adams a la the movie. I saw the Julie/Julia movie, surprising myself by enjoying Meryl Streep as Julia Childs, but not caring as much for the cutesy heroine who cooks her way through a year of The Art of French Cooking. No worries there -- that cutesy narrator is nowhere to be found in Cleaving. The book, from what I hear, has not done well. Those readers charmed by the plucky happily married blogger/cook in the first book won't like the narrator in her new offering. But does this make the book a bad one, much like many of the reviews on Amazon suggest? In Cleaving, Julie Powell cheats on her husband (in a slightly s/m-ish affair where, after being dumped, turns into a full-blown loop de loo, cyber-stalking her ex-lover and sending him countless texts about her how miserable she is), learns how to butcher meat (arguably some of the best parts of the book), drinks a lot, and travels with her husband who knows all about her extracurricular activities.

To be honest, I don't know what I think of the book. I found it compelling, staying up late to read it in that train wreck kind of way. Never having watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I missed a lot of the references to it and the way it serves as a touchstone in her marriage. I don't dislike or feel betrayed Julie Powell as much of her former fan base seems to feel; I don't think it's a writer's job to be likable. But this begs the question -- how much information is too much in a memoir? Do you have to like or identify with the teller of the tale? And what if, like in all relationships, the writer eventually lets you down? We all start every relationship with an idealized view of someone. Then we have a fight or the person disappoints us in some fundamental way. The walls come down, the masks are tossed to the side. We no longer sit in the glow of perfection, but the good news is this -- we are now free to have a real relationship, the kind that will last, free of the bullshit and soul-killing expectations of perfection. Someone told me that the publisher didn't want Julie Powell to release this latest memoir before the movie. And the movie does charm. But like the meat she learns to butcher, Powell exposes herself in a way that Julie and Julia doesn't begin to touch. The recipe, like liver or chicken hearts, isn't for all tastes, but it does get pretty close to the bone marrow.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself." Charles Dickens

Cocktail Hour
Good news, my friends. Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew returns this Thursday!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Yes, Jason, I did copy your Crystal Vodka skull! Let's face it, it's too cool. Vodka and a skull? Not since Tequila in a gun have I been so pleased. Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sunday's Child

Hi everyone! Here's an end of the holidays, favorite skull objects post. Hope everyone is well. Back at you tomorrow with more writing!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bodies In Motion

Here's some random thoughts about writing and mildly interesting (or maybe not even mildly) discoveries of the last year. Hope everyone is well and recovered from holiday madness. Today the tree goes down. I had one of those mothers who took the Christmas tree down on Christmas afternoon while Beth and I crawled around picking up pine needles from the carpet. She wasn't one to linger in the holiday glow. And truth be told, I'm not either, but I gave it an extra week this year just because.

1 -- I work better with a word/page count than a set amount of time to write. Having done it both ways, I notice a huge increase in productivity when I have a goal to reach. I also get a lot less bogged down in my own worries and have an easier time with plot. Go figure.

2 -- Take a day off. I take Sundays off now and since I've started, more writing gets done. I think if you're "always writing," you're "never writing." Work hard and take a deserved rest. It's counter intuitive, but you'll get a lot more done.

3 -- Enjoy yourself. This one seems self explanatory, but I never gave it much thought before this year. I thought of writing as passion, pain, and most of the time, about as much fun as a colonoscopy. But I've been having a lot more fun, making myself laugh (fortunately I'm easily entertained), taking more risks. Not everything need be so very serious.

I'm sure there's more, but those are the essential truths that come to mind. Also, remember the whole body in motion stays in motion. I don't know about this when it comes to exercise, but I do know that this is true of any long writing project. Even a little each day is better than nothing to keep the flow.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'm here today because I hated everything else." Wanda Sykes

Cocktail Hour
Nominations for favorite drink of the year? I'll be posting some new recipes very soon.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hi everyone -- hope you've recovered from New Year's Eve! Thanks for all the kind comments and well wishes. I'll be back this afternoon with a tremendously serious post about some of my favorite things about the last year. Happy Saturday!