Monday, October 31, 2011

My grandma grew up here. It was built in 1894 by my great-great grandfather.

After looking at my museum every day, it seems plain as hell. But it is rather fancy for the area, which is still a tiny farming community in Iowa.

I stayed there twice. The first time was fine, because I had to share a double bed with my cousin Emily and stayed up all night scaring her with ghost stories and asking was that a branch on the outside of that window, or...a hand? Too easy, until I later woke with the bathroom light on and no blanket as Emily had co-opted it for protection. The second time I was on my own, and slept in a tiny upstairs back bedroom with shag carpeting. There was an electrical storm that night and I had nightmare after nightmare. Like a scene in a bad horror movie, I woke at one point from a nightmare right as a thunderbolt clapped and the room lit with lightning, and screamed. I think the scream is what really woke me. I lay back down with eyes as big as saucers and wondered if I HAD actually screamed. I've never done anything like it before or since.

There is a sad mystery that I will probably never unravel about my grandma's aunt Julia, who I think died in the house very early. She and my great-grandmother were sisters and best friends. My grandma told me about her just once, and apparently never told my dad because he knows nothing, which is unusual. She said Julia was pale and small, with black hair and big dark eyes and died in childbirth in the house. She (my grandma) was a rather morbid storyteller (hmm) and I recall she said there was so much blood that it was running across the floors.

I've always thought about Julia and this story, and later researched her to no result. All I found was a record of birth as "Julia Angelia" and a claim staked in her name in S. Dakota which I knew about. No record of a marriage and no stories of a husband. Did she really die in childbirth and if so, where was he? It's a rather sad story and I would imagine my great-grandmother was much affected by the experience. A distant cousin sent me a childhood family photo of her, and she is innocent and sweet in a white dress, with loose hair around her face and her mother's hand rested protectively at her collar. She seems to be about five years old.

Everyone on this side of the family looks the same, with thick dark hair and dark heavily lashed eyes that look black. Maybe that's partly why she stays with me. She looks like, as my uncle puts it, "us". There's a photo of my grandma at this age that affected me deeply when I first found it. She looks like the picture of Julia in it. She had died about six months before I first saw this yellowing photo showing a little girl in a sack dress leaning against a split rail fence. Her hair is cut into a shiny black bob and she is barefoot and dirty, sticking her tongue out at her brother. I wanted to pick her up and stroke her hair and her child's face and it was a strange feeling to have about a grandmother that you last saw in a coffin.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wait a second.

I think Theo Kogan had a nose job. Sometime in the past 20 years.

I just watched an interview with the Lunachicks from 1988 or something, very old, after they recorded their first album. I couldn't help but notice that Theo's face was not the same face as her current face! WTF MON? When I was a barely-teen, Theo taught me that doing what everyone else does IS LAME. And that unfair societal expectations of people, particularly young women, are BULLSHIT. And that whatever the fuck you look like via nature IS OK.

This is of course all totally true, with or without her old nose, but I'm still a little surprised. Maybe it should have occurred to me that there could be some incongruity when this message is coming from someone who is an actual working model, but.

I don't actually care because, you know? Whatever. They still convey an excellent message to young females and everyone else, as long as you can stick around after all of the fart jokes.

But still - really?

There are better quality versions of this song but they don't have this awesome video.

It's an interesting talk, I guess. Does the authenticity of a message suffer a little damage when the individual does something antithetical to it? Is it antithetical? Women love to say that cosmetic surgery is worth it (and no longer shallow or false) if it makes them feel better about themselves every day. But what part feels improved? Being viewed as "better" than old-you because your nose is 10% more narrow? That really feels better? Paying thousands of dollars to look more attractive to people with idiotic sensibilities? If that's where your head is at, then it shouldn't be very hard to toss out a fishing line for an equally fucked up male companion, without the surgery. But I can't really fight girls who say a little heinous bone-sanding brought them some peace of mind, because it probably did, but only because EVERYTHING IS RETARDED.

The Lunachicks are still painful-offensive-amazing authentic. If you don't like it, you can, yanno. Suck it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

These usually work out well

New moon in scorpius! I have pared my life back almost extremely. Like a fingernail cut short enough to protest, but not pain.

Usually I do this because I'm pissed off, but this time it's because I'm all business. For the first time in my life, I spend more time working than playing. And I recall Stephen Fry quoting Noel Coward when he says that, sometimes, "Work is more fun than fun."

Check it out, jerk. It's the newest new moon that the world has ever had. You can't see it because it's black on black, but it's still there.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Favorite piece

at PAM.

Ghostly Josephine Jessup. Or, The White Rose by Chase.

I visited with my Gram, who pulled me over to a 16th century jewel-encrusted altar, the kind the very religious would have traveled with. There was a small engraving of The Last Supper in the middle of it, and she stabbed at it with her index finger.

Her: Whose head is rested on Jesus' shoulder?!
Me: (quiet)
Her: Mary Magdalene!!! See! (stab) They were married!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Don't you claw that thing! Don't you do it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Good God.

I never paid attention to her. I've always thought of her as interchangeable with Garbo. No fairs? I know. I'm sorry, MD. I had no idea you were amazing.

Mind blower: Dietrich and Garbo, lovers. Don't ask me, I just read it on the internet. How could they tell who was who? By the accents? My god.

She aged amazingly well. This is her at 70 years old. Kidding me? She looks like Faye Dunaway with a hangover!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


"In the mid 1960s, the city of Westbrook, Maine had listed this house as one of the next houses to be condemned and demolished. My folks bought it for very little money, mostly the back-taxes owed to the city. By the time we moved in, our entire neighborhood were already terrified of the place, adults included. The place was seriously creepy. It had no insulation, broken pipes everywhere, thousands of bats residing in the3rd floor attic, scary bad wiring and it had weathered to a dull slate-gray color and hadn't seen a speck of paint in well over 40 years."

by flickr user SurrendrDorothy
. There's more info.

I would have done anything to have had that experience as a child. I love moldering old houses. I am kind of annoyed by restoration, in fact, though I realize it's often necessary. Things (and people - other story) should show their age. It's what makes them interesting.

The museum I intern with is an 1895 Victorian dollhouse. It is a perfect showpiece, fully restored and staged in high Victorian frilliness. When the city bought it in 1970, it was a dirty disaster of a rooming house filled with drug addicts, hippies and fleas. There are tons of poster sized photos from before the renovation, and I can't get enough of them. I wish the museum would try to get in contact with people who lived there before they all die off. I need some first person accounts. The house is pretty magnificent, but I feel blah about all the glossy grandeur. It looks a little fake.

Victorian Houses tumblr.

My museum in the 30s or 40s. Peeling paint & screened upper porch.

19th Century Medical Crap

Force! The Master Rebuilder tonic.

"This preparation consists of a highly scientific combination of properties whose splendid reconstructive and restorative values are thoroughly recognized by all standard medical authorities." O RLY

Whatever it was is still in there, sliding thickly around. Grode. If you can make out the image, it's an Adonis type...forcing open the mouth of a struggling grizzly bear. Force!

Glass eye. It's like a hollow shell. I always imagined them to be solid glass balls, but I guess that would create a weight such that your fake eye could pop out any time! No bending over without closing your eyes first.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


70s Dolly kind of reminds me of my grandma. Something about being a little plump and decisively stuffed into something polyester.

You know what I mean.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Another perfect analogy for life

Two interesting things: Fry and genealogy

Firstly I have to state that, as he touches on in the program, genealogy is kind of bullshit.

Due to limitations of time and records, we can only focus on certain of the innumerable ancestors we have. Also, we pick and choose which ones are the "best" and just focus on them, forgetting that we have all the DNA from the uninteresting and unknown ones too. Also, how far back does it cease to matter? How related ARE you to that 14th century King of England, and, if you're prepared to count that, then you have just gained a million distant cousins who are also "heirs". Great. More family to dislike and ignore.

My grandfather's surname has been in the states for ever. Someone did a tremendous amount of research on them and I came across most of the findings a couple of years ago. The oldest record is in the 1680s, I think. I keep meaning to check if anyone came on any boats of note (Mayflower power) but something always distracts me, and I have to question that even that recently in history, does it matter? Following one surname through endless branches disqualifies thousands of other relatives. I still occasionally dabble partly because it's a great way to sharpen researching skills and partly because it does put a human face on history: yours.

Have I mentioned that I love Stephen Fry? I adore him. I love every second of him. I listen to him speaking when I'm at the gym, instead of music.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stupid movies encourage literacy?

No, I'm asking. Do they?

The Raven, with John Cusak as E. A. Poe.

The plot is super fucked up ridic. I think it's about a serial killer who starts using Poe stories as inspiration. The authorities become suspicious that it is Poe, who then becomes...a gun-waving vigilante on the trail of the killer? Normally, I frown on movies using this much license with history, especially with someone like Poe who is already very misunderstood to begin with (ilu eap). I frown because people are very stupid, and they believe what they see actually happened. People really believe that Pocahontas looked like a sexy Filipino Bratz doll and sang like Vanessa Williams, you know?

But then I thought, welllllll...Maybe some idiots people will go to the bookstore after this (Amazon) and pick up a collected works of EAP instead of watching another round of 16 and Pregnant. It could happen. In this case I am going to side with "all attention is good attention" within reason.

Next! Anonymous, a fiction about the ~intrigue~ behind who really penned the works of Shakespeare.

I just found out about this. Again, maybe people will be interested and will want to research and read for themselves about the mystery of Wilhelm Von Shakespeare.

This strangely optimistic pragmatic approach to awful media is the result of my toilings with museum education, and from trying to figure out how to make people care about things they aren't aware of. It's kind of fascinating. It seems to be making me less of a dick! Interesting.

Because normally this blog post would just go like



Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Pinterest is sort of like a highly sophisticated Tumblr. You can categorize and remark upon all of the little pictures you save. At first, I thought the site was just going to be twenty thousand postings of Japanese teen street fashion and the latest crap from West Elm, but it's actually turned out to be quite useful.

I'm obsessed with DIY CRAFTS and MAKING THINGS. Result, I have a million fucking bookmarked sites with ideas I meant to remember and then never return to. Pinterest allows me to categorize and comment upon all of the little ideas. The unfortunate side effect is I keep sort of veering over to the site while trying to WORK. One minute I'm writing a paper and the next I'm wondering about how to get a lamp fitting into a mason jar. WTF. I already have internet-induced ADD in which I pretend to be able to successfully multi-task but then just end up doing one useless thing for 45 minutes.


If you are interested in DIY ideas, different ways to braid your hair, and pictures of horses, then this is the place.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thanks, Lah'


First, I was going to say that I love when widely accepted or celebrated people suddenly bust with something like this. It's not that he's debunked anything, he simply calls attention to the flagrant absurdity of it all. I feel a bit smug when I see these things, like, Yeah. Now what, Seinfeld fans*? Your dad just dissed Jesus! But then I realized that most people probably can't stand Larry David. They just have no choice.

* this is a trick reference, because EVERYONE IS A SEINFELD FAN.