Tuesday, May 31, 2011

more old tori footage.

i love this era of her, with her drug store red hair and wide open face. she's unrefined in the best way. the only thing that kind of sticks in my craw about these early performances are the really dramatic, theatrical head-tosses and playing to that whole wild wood nymph tied to piano thing. my tastes are too subtle to like all of that. but she was young and crazy so what the fuck ever.

pretty sure that i have made a very similar post to this in the past.

Monday, May 30, 2011

On Mariposa

Following my grandmother's somewhat unexpected death in 2003, my aunt renovated her house and moved in. As the executor of the estate, she was supposed to have sold the house and split the profit four ways between she and her stupid siblings, but she decided that it was not an option to let the house go. I felt the same way. My dad criticised this action and rudely dismissed her desire to keep the house as "a shrine to mom." Not so. She tore everything out of the house, the original kitchen, the ugly 70s tile, the dark carpet, the ancient drapes, and she remade it into something that more or less resembles the Apple store.

But the backyard remains. The old radio flyer wagon is still there, which in my grandma's day was used to transport large bags of cat food from the door to a storage room. The ancient ferns still sit by the alley wall, one 100 years old, the other about 50, brought here from Iowa by my great-grandmother. The guest house (we called it the maid's quarters) which was full of moldering artifacts of mingled family pasts. Warped encyclopedias, medical texts from the 70s, discarded motorcycle parts, and spiders. So many spiders. Also rolls of carpet covered in cat pee, full disclosure.

This is the narrow sideyard. When I was small, my cousins told me that a witch lived there. It was overgrown with bushes at that time and they told me that she hid behind the last one. Even last month when I walked back there to take a picture, my brain recalled the slightest waft of apprehension.

The outdoor fireplace, never once used by my grandmother since 1964. This was another dark area of the yard for me as my cousins told me that this fireplace had been used by a very old woman to burn the bodies of the children she had killed. In my mind, the fairytale was a strange mix of Hansel & Gretel, and the Holocaust. Somehow, I already knew about the Holocaust then.

It was kind of a bitch being the youngest cousin. During summertime sleepovers, my cousin Angie would shove me out of the twin bed we were sharing, telling me that the ground was covered in so many roaches that they would carry me away. To hell, assumedly, where they came from. I would cling desperately to her so that she couldn't shove me out of bed, determined that I would take her with me if I failed.

They would also put dried locust skins in my hair in the summer, but this just feels like complaining now. And when my grandmother would find out, perhaps because I had failed to get one out and had returned to the house with a dead bug skin tangled in my hair which was immediately spotted, she would get the flyswatter out and slap their arms and legs with it a couple of times each, squawking at them comically that they were bad! I never got swatted. Not with a flyswatter, or a broom (her other weapon, mostly against cats), and never was I spanked. I was the total ass-kiss grandchild who did everything she told me to and asked for stories about the farm, which were her favorite ones to tell and my favorite ones to hear.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The clip actually begins at 1:08, not that the introduction is tedious.

I watched F for Fake for the first time this weekend and was very captivated by this part. I replayed it several times. It stands alone without any difficulty, but leading into this clip is a portion of the film about how an alleged art forger claims to never have applied any false signatures to his works, now hanging in the most eminent museums in the world. Who signed them then? Does it matter?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Taxidermy I

A pretty nice Victorian-era taxidermied goldfinch. The finch looks like it's in great condition. I love finches! And all birds.

Trapdoor spiders! I was very concerned about trapdoor spiders as a kid but haven't thought of them since. I used to look for them in our yard, more with an air of prevention than anything. This is an amazing and terrifying listing. There is a preserved spider in one of the nests! Looking like some tucked-up cords of hairy evil in there. Actually, it looks like a fried soft-shell crab. Trapdoor spiders are so insidously ingenious, I still have a mental clip of footage of one lunging out of its little tube to apprehend some other creature. It plays in slo-mo in my mind; it is still scary.

An unfortunate little Italian Greyhound from A Case of Curiosities. This is a pretty excellent site of charming taxidermy pieces and fascinating repairs she's done to some really old ones.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Amazon should allow you to sort search results by where they would be shipped from, for instance when sorting through hundreds of two-dollar listings for a remaindered Alain de Botton book (or whatever). Ebay does.

I should start keeping a list of these complaints. I have all kinds of consumerist problems like this, such as:

There should be more farmer's markets in Phoenix that are open all the time. There are five million people here, and though 4.9 million of those people buy their food at Walmart, I DON'T. I just need a place to buy TOMATOES.

Why did my Safeway stop carrying Vegenaise? I DON'T EAT EGGS.

Why doesn't Ebay email me when my watched items are about to end? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, and I can't be remembering all of the random old garbage I'm trying to buy without some help.

Why is there only one person per department manning the phones at ASU? I know it's summer but fuck those guys. All day long there is a message telling you to call back between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm and I'm pretty sure that if they're on a skeleton summer crew, then they're NOT THERE AFTER FIVE. I am convinced that this is a joke and that they are dicks. At one point today after stalk calling them, I did get some hold music, but I had to give up when my phone was going to die after 45 minutes of incessant, soothing horn music. If I could leave a message after my interminable phone wait, I would have Stephen Fry do it for me:

And lastly, everyone at the airport is a dick, and hates you.

All of these complaints are only from yesterday and today. If I wrote everything down, I'd have more volumes than Proust.

Words -> Pictures

Poster & design masters POSTERTEXT have made this delightful wall art out of literary classics.

The background is composed of portions of or the entirety of the actual text.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Caroll

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

More at Postertext

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is this too twee?

Yes. It is. But it doesn't have to be.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I hate stock expressions, treasured adages, truisms.

Most times (in my inhospitable view), the proverb is meaningful only because the shallow thinker has heard it enough times, or heard it early enough in their life to treat it as some sort of foundational fact. The origin of the phrase is utterly unknown or too out of date to be relevant anymore, but that doesn't matter. But what disappoints me even more about this sorry situation is that I, TOO, will begin to use these idiotic phrases in order to more easily communicate with someone who...is not a communicator. We'll put it that way and leave it. Each time I do it, I lose a grain of respect for myself the size of a salt crystal, which may seem inconsequential, but there are only so many fucking grains!

My friend Marshall and I used to square off and see who knew the most dumbshit adages offhand. Fish in the sea, darkest before dawn, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. He usually had more. Growing up (and still, if I didn't have the volume of her comments turned down to "1"), my mom liked to use a combination of time-worn sayings as well as brief pop music interludes to mark various types of moments. If she was feeling merry and teasingly motherly, she would sing the chorus of "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison. One of my earliest memories refers to hating that song. When I was in middle school, I was serenaded with Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon," the timing of which made me almost violent with self-defensive, awkward pubescent loner rage. When there is a problem that may be slightly humorous yet still insurmountable, one is treated to "Que Sera Sera". Really - sometimes the personal flair makes a bad situation worse.

I can't decide if it's in conflict with my hatred of stock expressions, but I love colloquialisms, and I love slang. New or old, it's often a tiny flash of brilliant shorthand for something tons of people are experiencing at the same time. It's not a cliche yet, or maybe good items never will be because they're not trying to teach you something (unlike most of these phrases of "comfort" which seem overwhelmingly to advise that you remain in what is probably a bad situation, and cease complaining), or explain something. I love witty wordplay and I love when it's about something so seemingly obscure or requiring a challenging channel of thought that you feel like a genius or an insider when you identify it.

I saw this old ichat conversation that I had saved the other day. After a prior talk about mass abuse and misuse of "per se" ...

m: i heard the perfect use of ~persay~ on cnn the other day

b: tell

m: can't remember exactly. woman was interviewing someone, said, "so what would you call this and that, persay".

b: just wanted to hear herself say it

b: they love to hear it come out of their mouths

b: there's another one that people just one tier above the persays love. incidentally

b: meaningless little pocket of air that adds an air of intellectualism, either british or old fashioned

m: so i guess you're not a fan of coincidentally

b: no, but i would use if it fit in context, which it never would with me.

b: i do say ironically too often.

m: just stay away from ironically enough

b: exhausting trying to be clever outside of all of this common wisdom, though.

m: lately "in terms of" is being used in place of regarding, concerning, even "as far as", which was bad enough.

b: yeah. i say "as far as" more than "in terms of"

m: i rigorously avoid both. that kind of construction has to be thrown out entirely.

m: "now about x ..." is good. because most people say something like: "he won't get very far, in terms of x"

m: it's a ridiculous splitting of an idea. or they just tack on -wise. "he won't get very far x-wise"

b: well, i like that.

b: have you seen the apartment, 1960? shirley maclaine and jack lemmon. it's a joke throughout the movie.

b: "that's the way it crumbles...cookie-wise."

m: every midwest human resources mom tacks -wise onto her nouns.

m: anyone worth their salt...

m: worth your weight in gold

m: but yo

m: not everything that glitters is gold!

b: too troo

b: but how can you even tell, when it's always darkest before the dawn?

m: ha! oh shit i hate that one so much

m: but you CAN save it for a rainy day. Practical Dictionary of Cliches, "Never think again!!!"

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Bought this awesome bronze & agate necklace from Gather Jewelry recently and love it.

High quality workmanship with pleasing bits of detail as not evidenced by the unusually poor iphone pic.

The store always has some super sweet items, like this! Being on a home-purchasing budget is unfortunate. Tempted to get it anyway, as budgeting is so ESTABLISHMENT! Wait, no it's not. Binge-purchasing the whole store and then asking someone to help me out of my money woes at their cost would be the establishment thing to do...hmm...complex times...

Leora has a great blog here, as well. Gather Things

Pictures stolen from the store.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Parlor Photos

The back of this stereoscope says "Aunt Josephine Robillard," so I assume she is my great-great aunt as this item came from my great-grandmother's collection. I love indoor photos of this era. There is so much crazy clutter, you see photos and memorabilia tacked all over the place and it's fun to zoom in and check it all out. I do recognize the woman in the photo above her right shoulder as my great-grandmother Celina Robillard. Although there is so much never to be known, I suppose it is decent that I know what I do about these people.

I traced these Robillards to Montreal and no farther, although by the time this photo was taken, my branch was in Spearfish, South Dakota. My grandmother was the original Gone with the Wind fan in our family and, when discussing her mother's family, would always toss in that "we" were Robillards just like Scarlett's mother Ellen O'Hara had been. I just nodded soberly; it was true. When I was very young and before I had read the book, I took that comment to mean that the characters in the story were real and that we were related to them.


Good Night, Sweet Prince

John Barrymore has by far the most outrageous trivia of all of the great actors. I love these two stories, the utter wrongness and macabre disconnect between the way reverent and irreverent persons approach death is fascinating to me. Lacking religion utterly, I kind of appreciate the demystification of the sanctity of the dead body thing. Probably just because death rituals unnerve me.

Firstly, it is known that he was an addict and carouser and part of a scandalous wolfpack of hard drinking, womanizing prankster sons of bitches, one of whom was Errol Flynn. Barrymore died in 1942 after years of serious self-abuse.

"After Barrymore's death, his friends - including Errol Flynn and Raoul Walsh - gathered at a bar to commiserate on John's passing. Walsh, claiming he was too upset, pretended to go home. Instead, he and two friends went to the funeral home and bribed the caretaker to lend them Barrymore's body. Transporting it to Flynn's house, it was propped up in Errol's favorite living room chair. Flynn arrived and described his reaction in his autobiography: "As I opened the door I pressed the button. The lights went on and - I stared into the face of Barrymore... They hadn't embalmed him yet. I let out a delirious scream... I went back in, still shaking. I retired to my room upstairs shaken and sober. My heart pounded. I couldn't sleep the rest of the night."

I thought about this story while watching Celebrity Ghost Stories, my not-so-secret guilty pleasure tv show, in which B-list and below celebrities narrate their personal experiences with the paranormal, from haunted hotels to seeing their own dead children. One of my favorite segments is the one with Tracy Nelson, daughter of Ricky Nelson. Her family moved into Errol Flynn's former home when she was a girl, at which point she felt traumatized by strange experiences and a general sense of aggression and activity in the house. Was this the same house where they propped Barrymore's body 30 years before? Perhaps. Tracy hated the house and felt unsafe at all times. It's gone now, having burned to the ground inexplicably.

The other fucked up Barrymore story involves his son, also named John:

"Barrymore left specific instructions that he be cremated and his ashes be buried next to his parents in the family cemetery in Philadelphia. However, as his brother Lionel Barrymore and sister Ethel Barrymore were Catholic and cremation was not then sanctioned by the Church, the executors (Lionel and Mervyn LeRoy) had Barrymore's remains entombed at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles. In 1980, John Drew Barrymore decided to have his dad cremated, and recruited his son John Blyth Barrymore to help. They removed the casket from its crypt, drove it to the Odd Fellows Cemetery, and made the preparations. John Jr. insisted on having a look inside before they left. After viewing the body, he came out white as a sheet, got in the car and said to his son, "Thank God I'm drunk, I'll never remember it."

I found a much longer retelling, allegedly by the grandson John Blyth Barrymore, posted on the internet here. Quite dark and strange, it's interesting what remains with people over the decades, that the son was so traumatized by the subverted wishes of the father about where to put his body. I can't decide if this sort of thing matters or not! I say no, but it certainly is a big deal for others.

This picture definitely makes me think about the bit about the nose cartilage.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Civil War & the Reconstruction

This guy is a winner.

He teaches American History at ASU. He is charming yet irritable and, of course, 30 years older than he appears in these photos. These days he wears muttonchops and a pocketwatch and that's ok by me.

No, I am not internet-stalking him, not that it's beneath me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day

& new moon. tomorrow.

cleaning house a bit, ejecting some old behaviors and trying to adopt new ones, but try though i may to be a machine of efficiency, i am not. i am moody and procrastinating, and while i have fantasies of reforming myself into that pinnacle of righteous competence, the other half of me says, "i thought we hated that person." oh well. figure it out laterrrrr