Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dr. E. Amer Is On Vacation

Eight years ago today, Hank D. Ballenger died. I've written about him a lot on this blog and have just finished a manuscript that includes much of his sage advice and crazy outlaw ways. He was easily the funniest, most fearless person I ever knew. I met him when we were really young and got to know him best in high school when he went by the pen name, Dr. E. Amer. He was a year ahead of me and every day he would write on the board a different quote or some line of his own poetry. Even though I knew Hank, it took me a long time to realize he was the one writing the quotes because of his alias.

I always looked forward to these daily quotes -- they acted as a sort of omen or portent or horoscope for the day. Of course, like all of us, he wore out from time to time and wrote "Dr. E. Amer is on vacation." I always dreaded these absences -- I missed my quote of the day, whether it be from Ginsberg ("I've seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness") -- sitting in Mineral Wells High School, I nodded furiously, I had seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness!, or Stevie Smith who seemed to both wave and drown or Hank himself, such as in the following poem, "I come out here to indulge/ My Blind Lemon Jefferson fantasy./I play guitar, yes/I sing, yes/But my "Prison Cell Blues"/Lacks a certain conviction,/And, as a blind man,/ I am rather ambivalent/ On the subject of tin cups." But in the spring of each year, Dr. E. Amer would take more vacations, particularly before the weekends or spring break. Spring fever, I suppose. I never liked the season. But now I like to think that Hank isn't dead, but on vacation, just like his youthful hopeful alter ego, and that one day I'll come back to see a new quote where only absence had been the day before.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Words and memories/Are the only curses/ I believe in anymore./ My words,/ Your memories." Hank D. Ballenger

Cocktail Hour
Beautiful jewelery coming up as promised -- my camera chose this exact moment to go on the fritz so I promise by mid-week, you will have pictures and a new link, my lovelies!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday! Thanks so much for all the supportive thoughts and wishes for finishing up my project. Today I complete all corrections and will return to my usually chatty, emailing returning self.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Apocalypse Now

Hi to all -- sorry about my absence for a couple of days. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments on revision and memoir, especially to Keith -- I remember that story ever so well! As of late, I'm working hard to bring a bunch of material together. I enjoy revision to a point, but also find my mind turning to jello under the pressure of heavy revision and find myself in a bit of a lost space, kind of like in Apocalypse Now -- We all wanted to go home, but I'd been back and realized it no longer existed. And in a side note to Dave, I do have some lovely new jewelry to show for this weekend(the ring you noticed I have had for quite some time) and a great website for you guys to check out with said lovely rings, earrings, and necklaces. I'll be linking in to the side bar so look for it in the next couple of days. Please send all your energies, prayers, and thoughts my way as I enter the home stretch of this latest revision. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remember Me

Hi everyone -- hope you're having a good week! I'm working very hard on a new draft of some old material so if you have any revision advice or comments about the process (do you like it better than the first draft or is it more tedious), please feel free to leave them. I'm going to post an old poem today as we lead up to my old friend Hank's death day (Sunday) and will be back at you tomorrow.

Remember Me On This Computer

I'm not contagious, the woman on the plane
said. I just had some face work done.
It's not healing like they said it would.
We talked during the flight, and I discovered
that she had carried a list of pallbearers
in her purse since she was twenty-one. I add
and delete all the time, she said. The vagaries
of the heart! The kind of detail you'd love,
I thought, remembering your pallbearers, one my
ex-husband, another an ex-boyfriend. The typo
on your funeral program, What A Fried We Have In Jesus
and how that would have made you laugh. How my dad
laid his hand on your casket and said Good-bye, old buddy
and then the sound of your casket being lowered
into the ground. There is no other sound like it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I don't need no make-up, I got real scars." Tom Waits

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: World's Greatest Dad

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Explain Your Answer

Question for my reading faithful -- favorite memoirs? If you guys could list some of your favorites, it would be a huge help to me. And about the memoirs -- why? What element makes your choice stand out?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Every story is really two stories." Grace Paley

Cocktail Hour
Thanks for all the Tiger feedback on the last post! Check out Jim's latest on the Motor City Burning Press website. Working on meeting stuff -- soon. Also, feel free to send submissions -- check out the website for details.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Rest in peace to my dear Angela's faithful companion, Bogey. I remember when she found Bogey as a stray ever so many years ago. He was a miracle dog, the kind that kept going and going. May he rest in Heaven with all his little friends that went before him. And welcome back home, Charles and Lana!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tiger In The Master's House

On Friday, Tiger Woods gave a fourteen minute apology for his sexual misconduct. Why I have no idea. Scripted public mea culpas are all the rage, but only seem to make matters worse. See Bill Clinton, Jonathan Edwards, Jimmy Swaggart. Of course he's sorry. He's sorry that his life has fallen apart, his marriage is in shambles, his children will suffer, and bye bye Nike. He says he's let me, as part of the public, down. Really? I kind of hated his public image, that I can do no wrong, perfect life, wholesome bullshit scripted ever so carefully by his agent. Why did he go this route? To please his father, to score Tag Heur? Maybe. But I think it's a little bit more depressing than that -- I think he did it to make money in the largely white, largely conservative golf world. Welcome to the Master's. Or is it, welcome to the master's house? His apology suggests, as angry as he is (and make no mistake, that was one angry ass apology), he still wants a room there.

I know that lots of people of all races do this sort of thing -- live an inauthentic life because they can't take the idea of owning up to their true natures. I myself am guilty many times over, as we Catholics say, by the things I have done and have failed to do. It has nothing to do with being an African-American man. But could he have revealed his true nature (and no, I'm not buying the sex addict bullshit -- try narcissist who thinks with enough money you can get away with anything, also see Jonathan Edwards) and still be selling Mont Blanc pens? I'm guessing no. Is being the world's greatest golfer enough? Now that Tiger is in exile from his first life and on the verge of a second, it's going to have to be a start.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression. " W. E. B. Du Bois

Cocktail Hour
Working on some new spring drinks to harken the winter blues away!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday's Child Is Loving And Giving

Writing a bunch of new stuff and will post a lot of it tomorrow and next week. Thanks for the feedback on the essay -- trying to work with some old material and some new to create a delightful confection. Now that Heff's Bar and Grill has been closed to me (waah!), I ask you guys the question -- What do you think of the John Mayer article this month? I read it -- TMI, TMI, TMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream." Hugh Hefner

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Check out Shutter Island! Would love to hear your thoughts before posting a review.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


How's this for Jungian synchronicity -- I pull out my children's book on Jim Jones Monday so I can use it for the blog. I notice for the first time that Jim and Marceline Jones were the first white couple to adopt an African-American child in the state of Indiana, Jim Jones, Jr.. Two hours later, I'm at the gym and catch a commercial for Oprah. Jim Jones, Jr. is her guest for Tuesday. I seldom watch Oprah and never know who is going to be the guest. Cue Twilight Zone music. He escaped because he was playing basketball a hundred miles away from Jonestown on that fateful drink the flavor-aid night.

I found Jim Jones, Jr. to be incredibly thoughtful. Oprah asked him why he didn't change his name given all that had happened. He said that he went by James for a long time, but when he got his dream job, there were too many titles for his door to fit so they had to abbreviate his name back to Jim and he thought, that's who I am, Jim Jones, Jr. His contention was a simple yet profound one -- to disown parts of ourselves is to be forever running away from those parts, giving them even more power than they have originally. We all have a legacy and a story that we shape over and over again based on the skeleton keys we feel compelled to give each other. Like the sign over all the dead bodies in Jonestown said, Those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Everybody comes from the same source. If you hate another human being, you're hating part of yourself." Elvis Presley

Cocktail Hour
Anyone interested in Shutter Island? Looks like the kind of thing that will give me bad dreams for a few days.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Own Your Own Body

Spent part of this morning writing a new part to a series of essays. I'm going to post the abridged version and will let you know when I finish. Some parts might seem a little jumpy because I'm not all that great at condensing. Thanks for reading!

For one summer, I babysat a boy named Blake every night while his mother worked the graveyard shift at the only factory in town. The trailer in which she and Blake lived belonged to O.D. Miller, a long-time friend of my parents, a guy that ran a small flight school out of the local airport. O.D. was the kind of guy who always had a get rich quick scheme going, an eternal optimist who sometimes slept on the couch in his office to hide from his abusive, jealous wife. The backs of t-shirts covered the walls of said office -- all worn by his students on the day they made their first solo flight. The dates were scrawled in permanent black marker, along with a personal message, usually something like, Thanks, O.D.!, Flying High! No lack of explanation points there. The t-shirts went on the wall as soon as the person landed, still high from the adrenalin of being alive. As my dad used to say, Anyone can fly a plane. It's the landing it that's more crucial.

My mother worked for O.D. part-time for a couple of years. On her only typed resume that now resides in my baby book, she listed her reason for leaving as not enough work. When O.D.’s beige rotary phone range, it was usually his wife who wanted to pick a fight after drinking all morning. By noon she’d already passed that window that every drinker knows, the world is glowing window, and gone into that hurt injured paranoid mode. My mother overheard her yelling at him, telling my dad, sister, and me that O.D’s wife treated him like shit. I didn’t point out that things were pretty strained around our own house since she started having a not very discrete affair with my dad’s boss. That kind of astute observation did not go well over our LaChoy dinner, a nasty concoction out of a can that claimed to be Chop Suey.

What kept O.D. in business at all was his propensity to train Iranian men to fly. Because of the recent hostage crisis, Americans weren’t all that partial to Iran, but O.D. didn’t seem to care. In addition to the ripped t-shirts, he had two small flags in his office -- an American one and a Christian one. Both rested in a tin can, as if he were a homeless veteran selling them on the street. But despite the flags and his refusal to eat “gook” food (a nod to his stint in Korea), he didn’t much care from whom his money came.

My mother supplemented her O.D. paychecks by making rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions and butterflies into paperweights, suitable, as they say, for home or office use. She sold them out of his office, some of them perfect, others exploding because she’d used the wrong chemicals or too much of the right ones. She never measured or followed a set plan. She made one for O.D., a small garter snake in a paperweight shaped like the state of Texas. This gem went on the desk next to the flags and eventually became buried underneath a tsunami of paperwork. O.D. did not like to get rid of anything.

Which explains the trailer. He did not want to sell it so he loaned it out to Cynthia for a few years. A single mother with almost no possessions, she was glad to move into it with its cornucopia of cast-offs. Despite being the last year of the eighties, the furniture brought right back to my childhood -- worn avocado-colored couches, thick glass ashtrays filled with butts, a transistor radio. By this point, O.D.’s mean wife had died of cancer. My mother had cancer as well -- cervical, compliments of the affair she had so many years ago.

I had one year of college behind me. Although I didn’t know it then, this summer would be the last time I lived at home. I hated being in the house, the house where I had been raped by my high school boyfriend. I didn’t tell anyone for fear of being blamed, exposed. My family had one unwritten motto -- Whatever bad happens to you, you brought it on yourself. I believed it, at least more than I believed O.D.’s pipe dreams of wealth or Cynthia’s conviction that her syphilis (she'd confessed that she had been diagnosed with the disease, but wouldn't go back to get the prescription because she was afraid) would cure itself if she lived healthy. Her idea of health involved Hydrox-brand Oreo cookies, cigarettes, and a bottle of Beefeater’s gin for the weekends.

As a child, I had been obsessed with a book titled Own Your Own Body. My mother surrounded herself with exotic types -- foreigners, outlaw hillbillies, new agers. To her credit, she remained engaged and curious during conversations about astral projections, séances, snake-handling, and colonics. I found Own Your Own Body in the room off the garage known as the office -- it contained my dad’s Selectric typewriter, a shelf of books, and two pictures of New Zealand warriors with bones through their noses. Under their watchful gaze, I read Own Your Own Body over and over, a strange choice for a child raised on meatloaf, fried bologna, and KFC. You couldn’t eat anything cooked or canned. You were required to fast and do cleanses. After a few reads, it became clear to me that I would never own much of anything, especially my body. Given that I had enjoyed drinking the leftover sips in the various cocktails that collected in the kitchen while I was supposed to be offering snacks to the guests, I had taken, as they said back in the Seventies, a different path.

I don’t know what happened to Blake or Cynthia. Both my parents are dead, and O.D. lives in a nursing home. The trailer sits in the middle of a hill in Mineral Wells where O.D. got it stuck years ago. He couldn’t get it back down the hill, nor could he pull it to the top. And I can still see myself in it, awake long after Blake had fallen asleep, trying to find a leftover cigarette to smoke, killing time until Cynthia finished her grave and came home, the day already shaping up to be as bright as an overexposed photograph.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'm too old to do things by half." Lou Reed

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Downloading Nancy

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Ash Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday

On the eve of Lent, I ponder what to give up this year. I'm not particularly ascetic by nature and love vices of all kinds. I've gone the soda/chocolate route in years before, and broke myself of the habit of eating nothing but Triscuits all day long. Yes, you can survive this way. For a very long time. Of course, you can choose to do something active for Lent, something that will bring good into the world. I thought about writing a children's book on one of my very favorite subjects, Jim Jones, but that's already been done in the American Disasters series. I love this set of books and if you're out there listening, I'm available to write about any scary cult disasters for the third to fifth grade set.

Seriously, I'll probably try to be kinder to people. Like all simple vows, the difficulty level is pretty intense. I don't watch much of the Winter Olympics, but I did see the luge the other night after the one athlete died on the course. I don't understand the luge, what makes you good at it or not. I think of it as bend over and kiss you ass goodbye, hope for the best sport. Which is kind of like life -- only we are attuned to the subtle things that make us succeed or fail. It all looks very much the same from the outside. But one small movement this way or that can change everything.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that's a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated." Lucille Clifton

Cocktail Hour
Drinking food suggestion: King Cake -- I don't know how to cook so I will not offer a recipe, but instead tell you to find someone who can bake a cake with a plastic Baby Jesus in it. Do not eat/hurt said Baby Jesus. If you get the piece with Him in it, you merely have to throw a party next year. Get everyone so drunk that they don't remember it's you that has this duty. Hide Baby Jesus in house for luck in the coming year.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Fat Tuesday! Rest in peace, Lucille Clifton, author of many wonderful poems. I remember reading "an ordinary woman" as a child and it always stayed with me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The First Rule Of Curses

Working hard on the new novel, The First Rule of Curses. The title came from a book I read as a child and it had twelve signs so that you could know when someone had put a curse on you. The first one was simple -- you had to believe that it had been done. The others involved the death of livestock, infertility, and having to watch reality shows about people losing weight, especially the new Kirstie Alley one that looks only slightly less painful than the Carnie Wilson one titled Unstapled. Okay, maybe it didn't say that last part. But I had my dad make a copy of the curse rules so I could always have a handy index just to make sure I was okay. I also had him sign a piece of paper that said if I died, he'd stick a stake of holly through my heart before burial just to make sure I was dead. One too many Poe stories, obviously.

Will keep you posted on the novel as well as posting small sections here from time to time. My main character is named Severin which is part of a great Lou Reed song and also means severe in French. Until then, happy holiday weekend!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor." Truman Capote

Cocktail Hour
Love Potion Number 13
one part Crystal skull vodka
one part cranberry juice
one part Triple Sec

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy President's Day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! Today Baby Grouchie is displaying a beautiful painting by my dear Lana of The Dreaming Tree. Thank you, honey! Hope everyone is having a good Sunday. I have emails to answer and miles to go before I sleep so I shall sign off, also wishing you a happy Chinese new year -- The year of the Tiger.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Will You Be My Valentine?

Happy weekend from hell, everyone! Yes, it's the dreaded VD day extravaganza (VD Day -- trademarked term from Hank D. Ballenger, yes sir). Hank and I spent many a VD Day together, bemoaning the grossness of the holiday. My first Valentine from a boy (albeit a gay one who was toying with the idea of becoming a priest while listening to Berlin, oh yes, there were signs) was a balance beam. So I could practice my little tricks on a beam that was low to the ground and made of a wooden beam and duct tape. I did enjoy walking on it from time to time, but I was always too afraid to really do anything substantial. Just like in life, right?

So I send you all my best wishes for the weekend. Keep your chin up in face of all the red and pink. Be brave and eat all the chocolate you want. xox, Michelle

Michelle's Spell of the Day
Lucy van Pelt: [to Schroeder] Sometimes I don't think you realize that you could lose me. Are you sure you want to suffer the tortures of the memories of a lost love?
Lucy van Pelt: Do you know the tortures of the memories of a lost love?
[Schroeder stops playing the piano just as Lucy goes berserk, demolishing the piano over her next line]
Lucy van Pelt: It's awful! It will haunt you night and day! You'll wake up at night screaming! You can't eat! You can't sleep! You'll want to smash things! You'll hate yourself and the world and everybody in it! Awwwwww!
[sobs, then quite normally]
Lucy van Pelt: Are you sure you want to risk losing me?

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Black Dynamite

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Chinese New Year -- It's the year of the Tiger!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ed Nebel

Dear readers,

Many people knew our friend, Ed Nebel. He was married to our dear Stacey and died this week. Please keep her in your prayers. Ed was a fun and exciting person, always ready to talk about books and music and writing. May he join his precious little girl in Heaven and rest in peace.

Edward J. Nebel Jr.
Mr. Edward J. Nebel Jr. Port Huron Mr. Edward J. Nebel Jr., age 45, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday in his home. He was born on October 25, 1964 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a son of Dr. Edward J. and Evelyn (Schmelzer) Nebel. Ed graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Skidmore College in New York and a Master of Arts Degree from New York University. He was an associate professor at Macomb Community College in Warren. Ed enjoyed writing and reading literature and history. Edward is survived by his parents, Edward J. (Jacqueline) Nebel M.D. of St. Clair and Evelyn Nebel of Thornton, Colorado; three siblings, Anne (Dimitri) Prekas of Doha, Qartar, Patricia (Mark) Hill of Broomfield, Colorado and John (Kristina) Nebel of Brooklyn, New York; and wife, Stacey Simon Nebel; step-brother David Myers of Naples, Florida. Edward was predeceased by his daughter, Berghetta Justine Nebel on October 13, 2001. A funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. in St. Peter Catholic Church, Market Street, Mount Clemens with the Reverend Father Michael N. Cooney officiating. Burial will follow at St. Peter Catholic Cemetery in Clinton Township. Mr. Nebel will rest in the Will and Schwarzkoff Funeral Home, 233 Northbound Gratiot Avenue, Mount Clemens on Friday from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:15 a.m. until time of prayers at 10:15 a.m. Memorial contributions to the Michigan Heart Association .

Published in The Times Herald on February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here Comes The Sun

Hello everyone! Been writing and working on Motor City Burning Press -- need to send out emails and will keep everyone posted. Just got a story titled "Here Comes The Sun" in Pearl, slated for the Spring/Summer 2010 issue. Pearl is the first acceptance my old buddy Hank ever got -- it only took me about ten years to catch up with him! Hope you're having a happy snow day or sunny joyful day, wherever you may be.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Rest in peace, Charlie Wilson! I always thought he was great, and I like to think of him and Molly Ivins sharing a bottle of champagne in heaven.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Done With Errors On The Page

I was reading the other day that Giselle (wife of Tom Brady, supermodel, ex of Leo DiCaprio) said that giving birth for her did not hurt. If she had any decency at all, she'd keep this to herself. Seriously. I've never given birth, but I think it probably hurts for most women, including those hapless innocents who appear on the scariest show on television, "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant." But even so, Giselle doesn't bother me the way she does some people. Sarah Palin falls into this category for a lot of types -- a strong reaction. Again, she does nothing one way or the other for me in terms of a personal feeling. Yes, I have opinions about her various ways, but she doesn't get my goat. There are people I loathe, who irritate. These people are as necessary as air.

In feng shui, a person is instructed to stick a black fish in a tank with other fish to absorb negative energy. In any group, there's this person. The person who you talk about, who drives you mad. It's probably your mother at times, maybe someone at work. Someone who doesn't have any pain in giving birth. (My guess is that Giselle is driving Mrs. Big (Bridget M, Tom Brady's ex and mother of his firstborn) crazy. At least a little. What do you do? People upset us, disappoint. That's the nature of all of this mess. If that person were to magically disappear, they'd show up again in another outfit. I've had this happen, both with delightful and not so delightful people in my life. Let's face it -- we're always giving birth to a new self, one that tries to be better. And if anyone says that's not painful, I'd know she was lying.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart." — Pema Chödrön

Cocktail Hour
Any good book suggestions? What are you guys reading?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday! MCB Press members -- will email tomorrow all relevant information!

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Scar, Revised

A little section from the essay, "The Arms of God." Still working it out! Thanks for the read, as always, my dears.

The last night I spent on the trauma unit, a nurse with a thick Romanian accent changed my bandages. It was my first and last encounter with him and he was easily the best of my stay, shielding my eyes from the bright lights while changing the wound (a painful process of taking out pieces of gauze from four wet/dry sections and replacing them) and making me laugh. Everyone says that the appendix does nothing, and I had begun parroting this notion. Heavy pain medication made everything I said seem interesting to me.

"Maybe it does nothing, but it did make itself known, yes?" he said, his face lit up by the machines in the room. "You will want to have the scar revised. You do not want memory of such sadness on your body."

In a strange bit of coincidence, my ex-boyfriend had almost died during surgery to remove his lung a couple of months before my near death. He was the only person that I knew who had been in the hospital longer than I had besides my mother. I mentioned this to the nurse and he said, "It is right that he should suffer. What joy is there in life except to see those who no longer love us have more pain than we do?"

Michelle's Spell of the Day
When asked by Dinah Shore what influenced his music: "The industrialism in Detroit...what I heard walking around...boom boom bah - 10 cars...boom boom bah - 20 cars...I get a lot of my influence from the electric shaver..." Iggy Pop

Cocktail Hour
Drinking HBO television suggestion: Am really loving Big Love this season. Makes me incredibly anxious just to watch it with the various twists and turns. Anyone out there watching?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

When The Saints Go Marching In

Happy Superbowl day to all of you who are loving it, hating it, or forced to endure it. I'm always a fan of the commercials and did see the Tim Tebow ad that has everyone talking along with the banned Mancrunch ad. Neither one has my proverbial panties in a bunch. Those of you who read the blog know that despite being Catholic, I'm pro-choice (I got stopped by a pro-life group the other night and pretended to be deaf which worked fine -- I got a Bless you, my child and moved along my merry way). But alas, I don't think the Tim Tebow ad is that big of a whoop -- simplistic, yes, but mercifully brief. It's not, in my opinion, going to change hearts and minds. Those who agree will love it and those who don't will put it in the same category of the whole, "You just aborted Beethoven" story.

Mancrunch made me laugh. I loved that ad. What is more homoerotic than sports? Not even circuit parties have so much man on man action. To their credit, Mancrunch now has tons of publicity which I think is fantastic. Peta (a group I can't abide for lots of reasons, but admire for their media savy) does the same type of thing frequently. So my dears, enjoy the day, if you're cold, snowed in, happy and you know it, choosing life or choosing just plain old sex. Enjoy the commericials -- just keep in mind, you're always being sold something.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Confidence is a very fragile thing." Joe Montana

Cocktail Hour
Favorite superbowl snack? Mine was the free shots at Jacoby's a couple of years ago. And they didn't even put the volume on the game -- Heaven!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday I'm In Heart-Shaped Glasses

Hey everyone -- thanks for the support! You guys will be hearing from me soon. And I'll be posting the completed essay this weekend.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“What's nice about acting is that you're not just left with yourself all the time but you get to see the world through so many different people's eyes.” Evan Rachel Wood

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Humpday

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Briar Rose

Hey everyone -- been working on the start of a new essay, incorporating the fun little sepsis debacle last year. More soon!

I used to lifeguard at a pool located on a decommissioned army base. The guards referred to the pool as Ft. Wolters and once a day, the kids from Edgemeade would run down the street for their hour of swimming. Edgemeade, a residential facility for teenagers who were “touched” (criminal, mentally-challenged, abandoned), no longer exists, nor does the pool except as an empty shell, like those commercials where an unwitting victim of drugs dives headfirst in the cement. On the edges of the fence, bramble and brush go unchecked, giving my past the appearance of a Grimm’s fairy tale, my very own Briar Rose. It was here on slow days I read Fear of Flying, Portnoy’s Complaint, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. And it is here in this broken and desolate place, I ask myself if can I sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become." Charles DuBois

Cocktail Hour
Motor City Burning is getting ready to start up this month -- Hi Mark and Jim (meeting will be announced right quick)-- I'll see you soon! And to those interested in submitting or editing, please let me know.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I Used To Be Somebody

Hitting bottom is a common concept in AA -- the idea that we go for as long as we can until the humiliation of living a certain way becomes too much. Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake in Crazy Heart has spent his entire life in the familiar rise and fall story of an alcoholic country western singer who has seen better days. Beyond the trappings, this brilliant film gets to what everyone feels at one time or another, embodied by the lyrics that Bad Blake sings: "I used to be somebody, now I am somebody else." This somebody else still has his fans, but he's broke and playing bowling alleys and hole in the wall bars. The singer he mentored, Tommy Sweet (played by a terrific Colin Ferrell) has become wildly successful, his agent can't get him gigs that don't require driving all over hell's half acre, and he isn't able to drink without vomiting. None of this bodes well for his brief love affair with a reporter played by Maggie Gyllanhall.

Jeff Bridges makes you believe Bad Blake, makes you feel his pain. The movie is a redemption story, but at its core, Crazy Heart isn't a movie about a magical transformation -- it's about becoming more yourself. There aren't any easy answers offered here, nor is there the ability to forgive and forget the past. The past is always with us. Jeff Bridges deserves the Oscar for this one; I've loved him since he played Duane in Last Picture Show. He's good at those lonely places we all end up from time to time, the sadness of their collective song.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'm very manipulative towards directors. My theory is that everyone on the set is directing the film, we're all receiving art messages from the universe on how we should do the film." Jeff Bridges

Cocktail Hour
Drinking biography suggestion: Raymond Carver Carol Sklenicka

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Groundhog Day

Okay, good news -- six more weeks of winter! This pleases me as spring is my least favorite season. I don't much care for summer either, but at least it has something in that David Lynch-creepy kind of way to recommend it. I'll be back this afternoon with my review of Crazy Heart. I really loved it -- let's face it, I'm a sucker for that sort of movie.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Rita, I've come to the end of myself." Bill Murray, Groundhog Day

Cocktail Hour
One more day on the Carver biography.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!