Wednesday, September 29, 2010

'Que Sera Sera' -Sly & the Family Stone

Hi everyone! Here's a song for the day that seems to fit, Doris Day by way of Sly Stone. One of my favorites . . . Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Can't Be Any Poorer Than Dead

Just watched the excellent movie The Joneses starring Demi Moore and David Duchoveny as a "couple" whose job it is to sell products to their friends and neighbors through "lifestyle" marketing. This movie, ironically enough, did not do well in theaters which means it's made for me. The premise -- everyone wants to be them. They seem to Have It All: great marriage, beautiful bodies, beautiful children, and loads and loads of stuff. So what part can you get of this fantasy? The loads and loads of stuff. Does this stuff make you happy? Who the hell knows? The point is that as a culture, we still use this strategy in large part because it's easy. Getting money isn't that easy, but in a credit culture, why think about it? So this fake couple with their fake kids set out in each new community their "unit" is placed, to make friends and influence people. They do it very well. Being a movie, hijinks and tragedy ensue. I will not spoil the outcome should you choose to view it. Which you should (insert heavy didactic schoolmarm tone here).

Which got me thinking about things, the power they have. If I have that bread maker, I will be the kind of person who makes bread! Maybe I will start wearing peasant blouses and popping out a brood of kids who will be well-groomed and charming, the kind of kid who wears fussy dresses and serves snacks at parties. Oh wait, that was me! Never mind, I enjoyed drinking out of the cocktail glasses when no one was looking. No, my kid would never do that because I have a bread maker. Maybe if I got the right dress, the right bag, the right shoes, I would have another life, the kind of life where I never felt bedraggled, miserable, emotionally fatigued. I would be "put-together," that staple of fashion magazines everywhere. I wouldn't look like I'd raided the Salvation Army "free" bag. I wouldn't be stuck returning my cans to a beeping Kroger machine in hopes of getting money to take the edge of the grocery bill. I'd be the kind of person who shops at Whole Foods with my very own "green" bag that shows people I care about the environment while matching my outfit. I'd drink champagne on special occasions (no hangover in the fantasy) on special occasions of which there would be many. I wouldn't be keeping up with the Joneses; I'd be the Joneses. Or maybe I will keep buying breakfast from vending machines because I was too tired from work to shop the night before, the night where I would lay out my clothes for the next day, clean my already immaculate house, and relax with my new Iphone. On second thought, the vending machine is pretty good. Judgement-free, it usually contains what I want behind glass. Which, if you think about it, where what you think you need always is.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can't get my wife to go swimming." Jimmy Carter

Cocktail Hour
Movie suggestion: The Joneses

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eye Candy

Baby Grouchie has never been referred to as eye candy, but today he's reading it! He's not much for books without a lot of pictures (if you need examples of what Baby Grouchie likes to "read", refer to Heff's blog, the wonderful bar and grill), but he's set down the shot glass in order to peruse the stunning photographs contained in Eye Candy Photography: Scenes From The American South by Lana Gramlich. You guys may know Lana from her Dreaming Tree blog, Baby Grouchie urges everyone to buy this lovely book of photographs. He especially likes the purple passionflower picture, seen above. He's afraid of the snake pictures, but has his shot glass if things get too scary. Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Detroit Lunch Break.

This is priceless! Love the background music. I wish Charles Bukowski were still alive -- Factotum city. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Office Politics

Hey guys --wrote a poem for the first time in a bit. Thanks for reading and the great comments on the dialogue post!

Office Politics

This is my real life --
After it is over, the deep breath
before walking home, the streets
eaten by stores, each food smell
offering comfort, each clothing store
a new life. I am not fooled as I pass
them. Anxiety, my old companion, with me
as I draw my attention to signs.
One store sells fifty dollar yoga
pants and quotes the Dali Lama --
I am only a visitor in this world. Outside
abandoned coffee cups swirl, and I remind
myself fall will be here soon. I will
miss all of it, even this.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Writers are people who are comfortable with intense contradictions." Heather Sellers

Cocktail Hour
Will be back with special fall beverages! Tis the season . . .

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Charles Gramlich of Razored Zen wrote a post on dialogue addressing the difficulties of it and the balance in a good story. I thought I would add to this by writing a few pieces of great dialogue I have heard recently. Feel free to add your own or pick a favorite. The hurt piggy is still crying wee wee wee, but less so today. Thanks for all the well wishes!

My friend Darci describing her job monitoring EKGs at the hospital: "I watch the hearts at night."

"He won't even let him touch her boobies. That's not dating if you as me." In reference to an 89 year old man who had hooked up with a 40 year old.

"A grown man tiptoeing through the tulips? That ain't right." In reference to Tiny Tim's famous song.

"You don't deserve to watch Dancing With the Stars!" my question -- Who does?

"She had three children, looks like she ate two of them." in reference to a former sweetheart.

"It's just a matter of time before a young dude sticks his thingy into another hole." in reference to Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Speed-dialing Gloria Steinem!

"I showed my boobs, but my mom didn't mind because she'd seen them before." No idea of context, check-out line at Target, source of much of my great material.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time." Marcel Proust

Cocktail Hour
Detroit 187 was really fun -- lots of old-school, 70s grit!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Detox Mansion

Hi everyone -- here's the picture of the day. Thanks so much for the piggy sympathy and the thoughtful comments on yesterday's post. I'm working hard to think of something new for tomorrow. Until then, happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Both Dead Wrong

Cosmic joke -- On Friday I wrote about self-injury. By Friday night, I had a broken toe, the second piggy on my right foot. It's now in a big walking cast thingy which comes on and off. In a couple of weeks, I will graduate to a more fashionable little shoe. Joy. So please send my piggy good thoughts because he is definitely crying wee wee wee all the way home.

One of my favorite lines in Mary Karr's Lit is a simple summing up of the problems of marriage: "Women get married thinking men are going to change. Men assume their wives won't: both dead wrong." I feel the same in many ways that I did in high school and yet I know that I have changed with my experiences. Once I was a shy, fearful, deeply neurotic girl; remnants of her remain in my personality, but I also have become outspoken, grateful, and more relaxed. My hurt piggy taps into the powerlessness I used to feel all the time -- let's here it for a grim, self-pitying party with myself as the guest of honor! But back to the point, we are paradoxically always the same, always changing. This provides a cauldron for both growth and pain.

I always think first dates are premonitions for relationships. One of my first dates with a long-term beloved started with a closed restaurant. He, being deeply disapointed by this failure of planning, decided we would go to another Chinese restaurant, probably not as good, but okay. The kicker? I'd been there for lunch and had to pretend I hadn't because he didn't want to go to any place I had ever been. I had to pretend that the waiters weren't super-friendly for any other reason than they were trained to be. I spent a lot of that relationship downplaying various bits of knowledge, pretending. It was okay, but as far as themes go, not the best one. What about you guys? Agree with Mary Karr? Any relationship stories of your own?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them." George Bernard Shaw

Cocktail Hour
Detroit 187 tomorrow -- can't wait to see it.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday! And special thanks to Shea on the comment board -- you are the best! Thanks so much for the kind words. Happy anniversary to my dear Angela and Nick!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010


Bethanny Storro, the woman who claimed to be the victim of an acid attack, has a far stranger story to tell. The case played out as follows -- Bethanny claimed an African-American woman in her twenties approached her with a glass and said, Hey pretty girl, do you want a drink? After she declined, a cup of acid was thrown in her face. Wearing sunglasses just purchased with money from a new job, Bethanny claimed her eyesight had been saved by God. Now we know that she rubbed the acid on herself, inflicting horrible burns. After the supposed attack, Bethanny was praised for her bravery and compassion. She said she had only one question for her attacker -- Why? When the attacker is yourself, this question still pertains, but the answer is the stuff of psychiatric studies. Who would do this to herself? And why the old tried and true gambit of a black person did this to me?

Her scheduled appearance on Oprah has been cancelled because of her "fragile state." Damn, I'll say! A lot of people hurt themselves. Baby Grouchie, as beautiful Jodi pointed out, has been overserved on many occasions (not many bartenders will cut him off because he tends to throw tantrums) and has the subsequent predictable "I'm going to stay in my trashcan all morning" regrets. My mother was so clumsy that instead of How was your day? my dad used to ask her, How did you hurt yourself today? Of course, lots of people starve and cut themselves. But rubbing acid on your face seems beyond the pale. When I heard Bethanny's first report, I sent out lots of prayers for healing for her. Of course, I'm still going to do that. It seems she might need them even worse than I thought.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Other people can do these things, so can we!" Angela Bills

Cocktail Hour
My dear Steph is back with another blog post on her condition. Please check it out and send lots of love her way!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

Thanks for all the great comments on the Hung post! Tomorrow, regular internet access resumes so I'm working on a longer post for then and get back to my regular blog visits!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"There is only one plot: things are not what they seem." Jim Thompson

Cocktail Hour
Looking forward to You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger -- the new Woody Allen!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Only People In Michigan: A Review of Hung

Full disclosure -- Hung is my favorite show on television. While I enjoy the brooding, enigmatic Don Draper of Mad Men and the wacky exploits of Entourage (let's hear it for the Detroit-style brawling of Eminem last night!), I love Ray Drecker in HBO's second season of Hung. Ray, a high school history teacher who has experienced a series of unfortunate events, is a contemporary everyman who seeks to return to his own version of the Garden of Eden. His Eden consists of a marriage he misses and a life with possibility instead of endless complication. Hung, one of the few shows that addresses the issue of money without the predictable scrims of social politeness or the rescue of various deux ex machinas lies at the heart of this series, the urgent unending need for money. While love, friendship, and nostalgia comprise the heart of this show, the Faustian bargains we make to get money provide the snake in the grass. The premise of the show deals with this subject directly -- Ray sets to supplement his income as a male prostitute that services women. (Ain't no money in that, says Charlie, an old-school pimp that befriends Ray's poet/pimp Tanya.) But money he makes and disaster ensues. Finite resources, both in terms of customers and dollars, concern all involved.

We're not good people, cries Tanya in the middle of the abandoned Tiger's Stadium, a symbol of Detroit's happier times, sadly replaced by Coamerica Park and its attendant corporate horrors. But Ray's son Damon dismisses this notion when he asks her to be his poetry mentor. "So you hit one lady with a belt. You've done a lot of good," a Detroit sentiment if there ever was one. This call and response underlies all the interactions in the show. The raunchy humor and graphic sex combined with a deeply pragmatic worldview give the show the needed gravitas to temper the main conceit. Will people pay for sex? Most certainly. But what about the subtle undercurrents in the wake of such relationships? This question plagues the characters, either directly or indirectly. Ray's ex-wife Jessica has married an irritating dermatologist, Ronnie, for an upgrade in her ease of life, the women Ray sees don't entirely trust him because of what they become my merit of hiring him. Even couples presented as conventional such as Ronnie's crush Mindy are revealed to be shams -- He invited himself, Mindy says while attempting to give Ronnie a hand job while her husband is in a gas station buying a Twix bar. My marriage, she concludes, is dead.

But as the poet laureate of New Jersey (Bruce Springsteen) once wrote, Everything that dies comes back. Can Detroit, the main character of this series, regain a modicum of its glory days? Can Ray regain his splintered family? At the end of the finale, Ray wistfully recalls his parents buying the house he now owns (the shell of it at least, it having burned in the pilot) on the lake, a spot so beautiful that it could serve as a Pure Michigan ad. I felt like the luckiest boy in Detroit, he says, a grown-up Wonder Years situated in urban blight hell. Can he get his luck back? He hopes, but his tone is laced with the knowledge that things do fall apart and people, imperfect as they are, will provide the glue to make all that is broken work again. Like the Velveteen Bunny, he's a bit worse for the wear, but love and forgiveness have to be enough in the wake of the various humiliations and despair he has suffered. Like the city, he may have seen better days, but he's not out, not by a long shot.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Writers' Well

Doing a reading soon with my two buddies, Mark Durfee and Jim Tomlinson. Love both of these guys and their wonderful writing! Durfee made me turn in a bio note and threatened me with writing it for me if I didn't produce. So here it is. Happy Saturday everyone!

Michelle Brooks was born in Mineral Wells, Texas, home of many a rattle, coral, and diamondback snake and like Durfee, is old enough to remember The Gong Show but has always longed to be on Queen for the Day. At 27, the age Janis Joplin died, she moved out of the desert into the promised land of Detroit and has remained here forever despite the strange Twilight Zone fact that she has not aged a day. Her work can be found in many a pretentious literary journal (the ones with excellent taste) and her first full-length poetry collection, Make Yourself Small, is scheduled to be published by Backwaters Press.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Much love to all those grieving today for losses from nine years ago.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Rattlesnake In The Drawer

Hey guys -- having some internet difficulties, so please don't think I've gone off the grid. Should be cleared up by next week!

My friend Mark (not the famous Walking Man) opened a drawer and found a rattlesnake. I turned this event -- in which he shot at the snake (the operative word in this sentence is at), thereby leaving a huge hole in his floor, snake unharmed -- into an essay. I guess I think of this as the perfect metaphor for writers. We're always looking for things and finding the unexpected. Any thoughts of strange experiences with writing or drawers? I'm in the last edit stage of a big project and am pleased to report that it is slightly more pleasant than a root canal. Hope everyone is having a great week!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"My life has superb cast but I can't figure out the plot." Ashley Brilliant

Cocktail Hour
Pop suggestion: Faygo

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The New Age

The first time I ever got a massage, I was awfully young and had received a gift certificate for Christmas. Nervous about relaxing, I went in and the woman lit a pink candle, told me I had a lot of negative energy, and informed me that I should avoid chocolate and caffeine, probably the most benign substances in my diet at that time. A person raised to believe that KFC was health food, I didn't fit into this world of soft instrumental music and crystals. I didn't like being touched by a stranger, having had that experience more than I cared to admit. I didn't like my negative energy being addressed in such an abrupt way. It had, after all, been with me for a long time.

Over the years, my attitudes have changed. My sister Beth became a massage therapist because I suggested that she might be good at it. I got lots more massages and have since been told I have a lively aura. In a photograph I had done at a psychic fair with my buddy Cal, I have a gold aura with patches of black at the edges which seems to make sense. I have had my chakras cleansed (probably very dirty I suspect) and have undergone reiki from a Vietnam Vet who told me that besides a few cobwebs, I look pretty good, energy-wise. I enjoy crystals and the whole nine yards of the metaphysical world. That music, though! I still don't like it. Would it kill a therapist to put on a little Miles Davis?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone." George Eliot

Cocktail Hour
Memoir suggestion: Let's Take The Long Way Home Gail Caldwell

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! Hope everyone is doing something uber fun for today. Check out my dearest Jodi's fascinating list on the jspot:

Back at you tomorrow!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Nothing happens until something moves." Albert Einstein

Cocktail Hour

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Another Reason Never To Leave Texas

Another excerpt -- thanks for reading! More soon, my dears ...

“Like I want to haul more worthless shit home. If they did a gambling theme, shouldn’t we be playing for money?” Hank has a Lone Star beer in his hand and I think of a Lone Star billboard -- Another reason never to leave Texas. The first Christmas ornament a friend sent me during my first year in Detroit was a ceramic replica of the Texas flags with the word Home on the back, and I thought not anymore.

“I don’t think it’s legal to give money,” I say.

“God, the humanity,” Hank says, either intentionally or unintentionally echoing the line from Heathers, a movie that had great popularity our senior year. Given the rash of school shootings during the last few years, it’s hard to believe I took a class called Outdoor Education, the focus of which included two months on learning to shoot a gun in lieu of gym.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Go and wake up your luck." Persian Saying

Cocktail Hour
Music of the day: Surfa Rosa Pixies

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Living On Tulsa Time

In the middle of the last, umm, five miles (Mark, you're right, as always -- working on the bio as we speak!). So I'm going to send you to two great blogs for today and will see you tomorrow. -- great post by Laura about passions and the importance of doing nothing. Pure genius! beautiful pictures by the lovely Lana!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I come from Detroit where it's rough and I'm not a smooth talker." Eminem

Cocktail Hour
Restaurant du jour: American Coney

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!