Wednesday, October 31, 2007


There was a time, starting back in '88 when we bought this house, that we would buy candy for trick or treaters that would stumble their way into our neighborhood. During the first five years, no one, not one kid in a highly combustible Batman costume, would get within missile range of us. So we stopped buying candy for Halloween and of course, somehow they knew, they sensed our lack of all things high fructose corn syrupy and they came in droves. We sent them away empty handed except for those odd children who would accept the handfuls of Fiber One in their buckets. Then we came up with the idea of bugging out for the evening. Dinner and a movie or whatever. That's the way it's been for quite some time although with the sorry state of cinema these days, it's not so much a movie evening.
Tonight it was Indian food, chicken tikka masala with some garlic nan and Cal nabbing the lamb vindaloo. Then to a bookstore, lots of browsing, lots of coveting tons of books I can't possible find room for except for one, The Book of Useless Information. Right up my alley. Having useless information is great entertainment, not for others, just for me actually and mostly, that's all I care about. The trick to using useless information is finding just the right opportunity to slip it in and making it look like it belongs when it really doesn't. A lot like the thinking that went behind casting Keanu Reeves in Much Ado About Nothing.
For example, if you're talking about bestsellers in general, you could slip in the useless tidbit that Herman Melville's Moby Dick only sold 50 copies, which would make me want to beat my 11th grade English teacher if she wasn't already dead. They still assign that book in English classes everywhere and I ask why? Fifty freaking copies.
There's a bunch of nuggets like that in this book. Here's another one: People in Iceland read more books per capita than any other people in the world. Well duh. They live in Iceland. It's either that or club Greenpeace volunteers.
For my Disneylovin' pals:
Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy.
Peter Pan and 101 Dalmatians are the only two classic Disney features in which both parents are present and don't die throughout the movie.
Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't wear pants.
So what, you may ask are the top five reasons for revelling in this useless knowledge?
5. It's crap like this that could have kicked Ken Jenkins's ass during his Jeopardy reign.
4. Entertain those around you on a trans-Atlantic flight.
3. Become king or queen of small talk at any gathering including memorials, brisses and First Holy Communions.
2. Establish an eccentric icebreaking vibe at your next parent teacher conference.
and the best reason to know all that useless information:
1. Create the illusion of real writing in a blog.

One more for my Star Trek bro, LJ: The mask used by Michael Myers in the original Halloween movie was actually a Captain Kirk mask painted white.
That's what I'm talkin' about.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


There's only one area where our spending is out of control. It's books and to a smaller extent, magazines. They're everywhere in our house, in every room including the bathroom. Mostly in the bathroom it's magazines except for two books: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes which only shares the same title as the movie. The two are nothing alike. The other book is something new I bought this summer, Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I've read both of these books, not on the crapper in fits and grunts of breath but elsewhere in comfort and often with cookies nearby. Keeping them close during the regular bathroom visit allows me to reread just about any passage in either book and hope that as I expell what needs to be gone, that I can ingest seamless sentence structure and a rhythm to my writing that makes others envious. Neither one of those gals ever talk about taking a dump in their books. I am still a work in progress.
Most of the time, that is where my Oprah Magazine is housed. I'm a big fan of LaOprah---the show and the mag. The articles are diverse and fairly lengthy. The interviews are interesting to read and the features are always engaging. I especially like the book reviews and the piece at the end, What I Know For Sure which Oprah writes giving us her grounded philosophy on a great many things despite the fact that she is richer that God. The AHA Moment feature is farmed out to guest writers, mostly entertainment celebrities where they share a moment of clarity that helped them personally. This month it was Celine Dion's AHA moment. Apparently when Renee, her husband, was diagnosed with skin cancer, Celine found the inner strength to decide things for herself (like what song to pick and how a technician should light her) and to keep his spirits up plus take care of her son. With the help of her staff of 150. I should say now that I've never been a fan and not just because her ferret-like facial features annoy me, along with that voice. It's her whole aura.
A better aha moment could have been written by a teacher friend of mine with a chronically ill son who manages to come in to work, day in and day out and do her job with such poise and grace. She has experienced a few of those aha moments and I'd like to know the source of her revelation to excavate that kind of strength. I'd like the aha moment from that woman (she was on Oprah a few years back) who managed to forgive the man who killed her son. I'd love to read about that kind of compassion, the one moment that led her to that decision.
Which leads me to believe that the next thing I write might be to O Magazine to scold them on such a lame selection for the AHA piece. Didn't know how pissed I was about it until I wrote this. Freaky.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Truth be told, most of the time I'm just a big old slug. A sloth of galactic proportions. I would rather sit and watch a movie than just about anything else. Why I didn't become a movie reviewer is a question that continues to baffle me. I've always heard "Do what you love," but I suspect I didn't think it applied to me until it was too late.
I am a fan of many genres, my favorite being sci-fi, but I truly adore any well written story told in an interesting way on film. But the writing always comes first. This week on the free movie cable channels I've been treated to a few of my favorites. Shakespeare In Love being one of them.
This is a movie I've seen a bazillion times and I never grow tired of it, not one scene, not one word of dialogue. I could see this every day for a lifetime and it would still be a treasure from beginning to end. Even Gywenth Paltrow who I'm not a fan of, she does a wonderful job with the lead, accent and all. In fact, everyone with a role, even the extras in the large crowd scene watching Romeo and Juliet being performed, tearful and heartbroken at the play's tragic end, even they are completely believable. As much as I love watching the landscapes and listening to the inspired and sharp dialogue (so funny in so many places), my absolute favorite thing about Shakespeare In Love is the sound that the quill makes when Joseph Fiennes's Shakespeare begins to write. That sound is glorious. And even though the lovers do not end up together, for their goodbye is heartwrenching, we are left somehow satisfied and content. How? I don't know. It's a mystery.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pinky Swear

I blame the company I keep and the fact I was raised Catholic so the self-guilt comes easily. My blogger pals have not goaded me, they haven't chastised me, they haven't insulted me nor have they challenged me to write more. I have to give them credit because they know all of those things wouldn't have worked as well as just leaving me alone and letting my own shame and insecurity as a writer to work through the delicate web of my self-esteem. So, in keeping with my usual method of operation, that is cannon-balling in the deep end, I hereby vow to blog every day for the next thirty days barring any catastrophic event like floods, hurricanes or the rewriting of the Constitution so the Duhb can run one more time. Now the very fact that don't even have 30 blogs to my name and I started posting last April would cause the average normal person to say, "Hey, maybe I should start slower, work up to it. That would make more sense."
But I am neither average, normal and as most of my friends can attest, I have very little sense. So, there it is. I'm going to have to find something to write about every single day for the next 30 days.