Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! The day has arrived, candy to steal from children, joys to be had in many ways. I have many different costumes, but my camera is acting out (love that expression for some reason) so you guys will get the fashion show in the coming weeks. Weirdly enough, I think my favorite part of Halloween is when I'm in a store and some bowl or ghoul toy starts to move or speak. It kind of shakes me out of my usual torpor and reminds me to pay attention. Everything in life depends on this quality. Too often, I go along in my day without noticing anything extraordinary or wonderful, consumed with my internal dialogue of bullshit that passes for an having an intellectual life. This radio station, more obnoxious than a Rush Limbaugh monologue, keeps me mired in what I have to do, where I need to be, what should be happening. And what I try to remember when I see a spooky skeleton head glowing at me is that every single day is filled with enchantments, excitements, thrills, and hope. Don't be afraid of it; don't turn away.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Hold on, man. We don't go anywhere with "scary," "spooky," "haunted," or "forbidden" in the title." ~From Scooby-Doo

Cocktail Hour
The Halloween Shot:
one part lemon vodka
one part grapefruit joice
color with orange food coloring

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Devil's Night!

Happy Devil's Night to all of you! For those who don't know, Devil's Night is a Detroit holiday where people feel compelled to start fires -- forty today and counting. In the eighties, upwards of 800 fires burned on this day. I'm a little under the weather right now so I send all apologies for not commenting a lot this week. All of October caught up with me in a big way, and I find myself unable to do much of anything on this fine Saturday. In a side note, do you not just love the absinthe lip balm? I tried absinthe once -- worst hangover in the world, the world, people. So evil. I now have a bottle from the Walking Man which I'm saving for some brave day. According to that death/bar stool website, I can have five shots of absinthe before I risk imminent death. Good to know. I'll be back at you tomorrow with holiday cheer for the big day. And happy birthday wishes to my friend Sharon!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beauty Before Comfort

Just read that Lisa Blount died today at the age of 53 which makes me very sad as I loved her as an actress, especially in the fantastic movie, Chrystal. She got her start as Debra Winger's friend in An Officer and A Gentleman and as the years progressed, she became more and more beautiful (a rarity in Hollywood despite or maybe because of the influx of botox, fillers, and so). Chrystal, a movie she helped write and produce, showcased her unique talents. Most of the reviews called it southern gothic which meant it would seem very familiar to me. Rest in peace, dear lovely Lisa!

My other topic du jour is the whole fat hatred which seems to have infected the internet in response to a fairly innocuous television show called Mike and Molly. I've never seen the show, but from what I can tell, it's a fairly standard love story starring people who are battling being overweight. A few blogs have talked about how disgusting it is to see fat people kiss and make overtures toward having sex. Because, I suppose, everyone else looks so very good during those activities. Get this -- the great part is how these fatophobes are making the case that fat is being glorified as an example. Seriously?! That it's irresponsible to show overweight people (because God knows they don't exist in the United States) because we're sending the wrong message. To whom? Should we pretend everyone is a size 2 and be done with it? To act as if the plus-sized models (who are usually a size 8 or 10) resemble the average shopper at Lane Bryant? I can't tell you how many otherwise rational students I've had over the years who claim to loathe fat people.

Once a relative at Christmas said he had a prejudice against the blacks. I asked my mother what it meant in front of him, and she said a prejudice was an opinion. I didn't buy it, and I replied that I still thought he was an ignorant asshole. At ten, I got threatened with a spanking, but my mother didn't bother. She knew who needed one.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant." Edna Ferber

Cocktail Hour
If you guys are rocking any fun costumes, please email me some pictures to post if you so dare!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ghouls And Goblins

Three more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween .. . Can you hear the annoying soundtrack yet? I'm posting costume pictures this weekend for the big day. I'll be back tomorrow, but until then, I'll be singing that evil little song and getting the Halloween treats in order for the ghouls and goblins. Thanks for all the well wishes from this wicked cold -- it's leaving the system and all should be well to enjoy the weekend.

Monday, October 25, 2010

You're My Friend

My old buddy Hank used to read his poem, "You're Not A Man, You're My Friend" each month at Joe's Diner during open mike night. It was a hit among disaffected men tired of hearing the old female saw, I just don't think of you in that way. Can we be friends? Hank, a brilliant performer, managed to hit a high note at the crescendo ending about not needing any additional friends, a note that gave bitterness its due. As lifelong friends, Hank and I often discussed the troubles of love. I adored his first real girlfriend, a worldly woman (she was older and much more experienced than us) who had two kids and flaming red dreadlocks. I did not, however, like his next one, a scarily tall Grace Kelly-type who I referred to, rather unkindly, as "that square-faced bitch." Alas, he had worse monikers for my loves who were routinely dismissed as a group of dimwits and assclowns. I didn't know how right Hank was -- one of my exes claims to love Glenn Beck. Dear reader, I'd be less appalled if he'd admitted he had bodies in his crawl space. Glenn Beck? The follies of my youth haunt me . . .

Hank and I also talked about the window men have for not becoming just a friend, a fate he claimed worse than an STD. We both agreed -- women put men in the friend box pretty quickly. The confidante. The one they talk to about other men who are treating them poorly. What fun for these lucky souls! Also, we agreed that listening, that rare quality even in those foggy pre-internet days, was a precious talent that women didn't appreciate. Remember that old deodorant ad -- Never let them see you sweat? Well, there should be an addition -- Never listen to them whine. Of course, I've been in the opposite role, the girl who gets to hear about what a bitch so and so is and yet, how compelling so and so is, and why can't she act right? Well, if she acted right, you probably would dump her ass. I didn't say this, of course. I lied. That's what we friends do, male and female. We tell pretty versions of love. Of course, Hank became a blues man. He never had a talent for that kind of bullshit so he went for the one career where truth-telling is prized, a kind of continual Love Is contest with guitar. Of course, like lots of blues guys, he died young. But truth, the kind that makes you shake your head in recognition, lives beyond all the graves.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Ain't no blues except between a man and a woman that's in love." Son House

Cocktail Hour
Been watching The Big C. Will do a post as soon as the season is over.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Illness As Metaphor

Hey everyone -- home sick with an evil flu/cold combination. Hate it! I haven't been sick in a good while. I credit vitamins and umm, relatively clean-living. Better Made chips, Dr. Pepper, and fifteen vitamins a day -- America runs on Dunkin', that sort of thing. But seriously, I should be fine for the Halloween holiday and am working on a couple of costumes. I'm thinking Edie Sedgwick after her split with Andy Warhol, right before her death and the Statue of Liberty. Also, some kind of Morticia/Elvira thing. Hope you're having a good Monday. I haven't gotten a case of the Mondays like in Office Space, merely a Monday gone wrong, via exhaustion and sore throat.

So my question -- when do you get sick? Is it predictable times a year, never, when you're tired, depressed, etc? Answer, and I'll be back soon with more goodness and light . . .

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body." Cicero

Cocktail Hour
Television suggestion: Detroit 187

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Living Dolls

Greetings from pre-Halloween weekend! Working on a Halloween costume this weekend . . alas, stay tuned for the results next week. Happy Saturday!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hell House

Hey guys -- I'm working on a review of Hell House, which I saw last night. Tis the season for the creepy-ass you're going to burn in hell haunted house so I thought it about time. For those who haven't heard, these haunted houses have been around for a good while, a spin on the traditional ghosts and goblins. You have raves, gay men dying of AIDS, girls getting raped at raves, and other assorted scenarios designed to win souls for the Lord, in the parlance of the evangelicals. While I believe in God, I certainly don't go in for the whole fire and brimstone thing even though it was omnipresent in the culture in which I was raised. Best line of the documentary -- hell is different for every person. To which I can give a hearty amen. Most interesting moment -- a girl playing someone who is suicidal because she thinks she's "ruined" from having premarital sex talks about when she saw the guy who raped her two years prior touring Hell House during her performance and realized that she hadn't gotten over the experience. Lots to think about!

Changing gears, I'm also wishing my dear friend Steph the best of luck in her surgery and recovery today. If you've been keeping up with her blog, you know she's scheduled for a double masectomy today. Last update -- surgery went well! Will keep you posted.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If I were asked for a one line answer to the question 'What makes a woman good in bed?' I would say, 'A man who is good in bed.'"Bob Guccione

Cocktail Hour
Memoir suggestion: What Becomes Of The Broken-Hearted E. Lynn Harris -- fantastic read!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Hereafter

A new poem for the day -- Halloween potions soon, but for now a Zombie picture of sorts . . .

The Hereafter

The priest prayed as I sat on a bedpan
covered with a sheet. Nothing phased me
anymore. My appendix ruptured, and all
anyone could say was Couldn't you feel it?
I'd gotten good at the not feeling thing,
and killing myself, it turned out to be
an inside job, an infection I couldn't quite
shake. Surrounded by people, I was alone.
I considered my life and wept until boredom
pushed me outside myself. Nobody knew why
I lived. Like Lazarus, I walked the halls
hunched over, staples in my stomach. They held
me together when nothing else did or would again.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Cocktail Hour
Review on the documentary Hell House coming soon . . .

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Delight

Hi everyone! Here's a picture for today. I'll be back tomorrow with more Halloween delights!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hot Springs

Hi everyone! Here's an older poem of mine, on the eve of my mother's birthday.

Before My Mother Died

At the baths in Hot Springs, a skinny woman
in a sheet tells me she passed out her mother’s face
on flyers, begging people to pray. I made a thousand
copies and stood on the corner until they were gone.
We lay in on top of tables like corpses, waiting
for the hot towels, placed wherever we hurt. The attendant
gives us hot water to drink, and we stomach what we
can, hoping to make our insides match the heat outside.
Before long, we gather our things. The skinny woman
asks me to hand her a huge black purse. I was tired
of not having enough room for all my garbage, she says
with the saddest smile. It’s lighter than I would have
imagined, a deflated thing she slings over her shoulder
out of habit before she starts off for whatever might be next.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I have known relative happiness -- and by happiness, I mean a sense of peace, not just waiting for the other shoe to drop." Robert Downey Jr.

Cocktail Hour
The Robert Downey Jr. interview in Playboy!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy Sweetest Day!

Sweetest Day, a made-up Midwestern holiday, is today! I'd like to wish all you guys a happy Saturday as I consider you my sweetest of all. Big love to my co-conspirators in Motor City Burning Press, Mark and Jim. We're all doing a reading in November -- details to follow! Happy Saturday . . . to the sweetest of them all, my readers and friends.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bewitched Again

Hey guys -- sorry for the break! Taking care of business (in Elvis language). My chapbook should be out next month, the poetry collection by Christmas should you need that special stocking stuffer to put a smile on any girl or boy's face. I suspect it will be like the new Tickle Me Elmo this year. See you tomorrow!

Monday, October 11, 2010

For Better Or Worse

The above shot was taken one Thanksgiving at my dad's parents' house. Grandmother Brooks was not an affectionate sort so the hand on the shoulder is all for the camera as is the feigned interest in her elephant collection. Of course, she's the family member I look like in her younger days (when my Uncle Mac was dying, he saw a picture of me and thought it was Helen -- morphine is an evil, evil drug). This picture is a better piece of fiction than I can write!

Well, Brett. Yes, Brett Favre. You didn't think I'd write about him. Or maybe you did. I've always liked Brett, despite his erratic retirement choices and those ghastly Wranglers commercials. I don't know why. Now I've seen a lot of Brett. Yes, I watched the video. Yes, I believe it's him. Men, here's a note -- do not send pictures of your penis in an attempt to woo the ladies. Women just aren't that visual in that way. I don't mean to be sexist; it's just a fact. Women can sext pictures of their boobs and whatever else to great effect, not so with the other way around. I wasn't shocked -- ooh, a married man attempting to have sex with a woman not his wife is not exactly surprising. I feel a great deal of sympathy for his wife. This cannot be her idea of a good time.

Brett never struck me as the brightest bulb. In his defense, though, he, like me, didn't grow up in a digital age. Everyone wonders why he couldn't imagine that he wouldn't be exposed. (Why does everything about Brett now sound obscene, even the most innocuous announcements at the game tonight?) But I don't wonder. The age of exposure is a bell that can't be unrung. Sometimes it has wonderful consequences, sometimes awful. It's here, for better or worse, to stay. You do something stupid and you're famous? It's inevitable the results will be severe. I'd hate to be judged on my dumbshit behaviour. But it's probably good to make sure the cameras aren't rolling for the worst of it, especially if it's your own.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Every bus ride is like this one." Denis Johnson

Cocktail Hour
Check out beautiful Jodi's great new blog at the J Spot. And wish Heff a happy third blog anniversary.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Inside Deep Throat

I've always loved Philip Roth, most famously known for the truly dirty Portnoy's Complaint. I read Portnoy in high school and learned of the practice made infamous by the American Pie movies, only years earlier with a liver. It made me glad not to have brothers and it also made me a lifetime fan of Mr. Roth. A lot of women don't like his portrayal of us -- as sexualized hysterics, as evil mommy figures, as problems that will never be solved. The equation is simple -- woman = devil. And I like this. At least he gives us our due. And never shies away from the dark complications of sex.

I watched Inside Deep Throat, a documentary about the making of the first mainstream porn movie, Deep Throat. It made me even more confused about the issue. I don't take the hard line against it, purported by some evangelicals/feminists (unlikely bedfellows), nor do I approve of the whole Girls Gone Wild culture. But I do approve of the frank discussion. There's no defanging sex, despite how much we try to demystify it. Sex is love, it's inherently scary and violent, it's casual, it's serious -- the ultimate paradox. Linda Lovelace herself never understood her role despite a book, Ordeal, an account of her marriage to Chuck Trainor, the man who took full advantage of her unique ability to suppress her gag reflex. But she never could suppress the reflex in life -- she kept choking on meaning and sadness, just as we do.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"That some serious foreshattering." my sister Beth, making the word foreshadowing even better

Cocktail Hour
going to check out Catfish -- will report back!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

We're Here

Years ago when I was teaching in Texas, a young man read his paper about coming out as a gay man to the class. This was well before Gay/Straight Alliance clubs, before Glee, before celebrities came out in the tabloids. The class was filled with openly homophobic types. My student could have read any paper, but he chose this one. I thought it an incredibly gutsy move and when asked about my happiest moments teaching, this one would rank as a top ten. I don't know where he got his courage, but he had it and the stupid gay jokes I overheard before class ceased after this moment. Now that the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a college student who was publicly outed on the internet in the cruelest way (having his sex life recorded and live streamed), I grow deeply sad. I've had many friends who have come out to me, never an easy process even with an audience who loves you and doesn't have a stake in you being heterosexual. I can't imagine the agony Tyler felt as he contemplated what to do as he saw his privacy crash down around him.

We live in a society where it is very easy to surround ourselves with people who are just like we are and never challenge our world view. While we have made great strides in many areas, I find that the sad truth is that our existence is both more public and more isolated than ever. How alone and devastated Tyler must have felt as he contemplated jumping off the George Washington Bridge. I'd like to think we've made huge progress since kids played Smear the Queer on the playgrounds of my youth. But alas, Tyler's story tells me that those days aren't so long ago and for all the rainbow stickers I see, we still haven't reached the end of it yet.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
Cocktail Hour
Anyone watching Detroit 187? So good!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

We Have Always Lived In The Castle

To start the wonderfully wicked month of October, I'll list some of my favorite horror movies. Anyone truly interested in horror should visit Scott's fantastic Blog of the Beast for the obscure must-see movies. My list is fairly pedestrian, but here's a start --

Carrie -- a shower scene and Tuesday Weld all in the same movie -- genius!

The Exorcist -- I do love a soul-searching priest . . .

Play Misty For Me -- alas, so many relationships are just like this -- Clint got it right before anyone else.

Blair Witch Project -- This spooked me. Camping is truly truly awful.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- seeing this in a trailer when I was 14 really put me over the edge.

More to follow . . .

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Everyone is a moon and has a dark side, which he never shows to anybody." Mark Twain

Cocktail Hour
Cocktail du jour -- I'm going to make a zombie this weekend, a potent concoction that I will video and share on the blog. There's a reason a lot of menus limit their customers to two of these bad boys.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Let Me Look At Cake Like It's Evil

Hi everyone! Thanks for the Halloween ideas! It's my favorite month of the year, and I'm working on some new Halloween ideas for the blog. I finally finished How To Own and Operate A Haunted House just in time for the season. Wanted to give a shout-out to the end of the Cathy comic strip. I always liked this one, an early portrayal of a single girl wrestling with mother issues, swimsuits, and donuts. Some columnists have suggested it has lost its relevance in the age of Sex and the City, third wave feminism (or is it the fourth -- Girls Gone Wild has set us back a bit, I'm thinking), and the supposed end of workplace discrimination, but I never felt that way. It strikes me as innocent, but true in fundamental ways, the hallmark of any good comic strip, an art form that requires a dedication to production (every single day) and is undervalued.

See you later with more posts about the news (Eddie Long, gay bullying on the docket) and some Halloween ideas that may not be Martha Stewart approved, but I think you guys will like them. Happy Monday!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Woodstock and Altamont

Alas, it's the start of October and Halloween month! Any nominations for costumes you'd like to see on the blog? I saw a cute Statue of Liberty outfit -- Give me your poor, your tired . . . I could see it. Also considering a mermaid. Input?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If human beings had genuine courage, they'd wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween." Doug Coupland

Cocktail Hour
Anyone seeing The Social Network?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!