Sunday, November 14, 2010


Every NFL Sunday I watch Troy Aikman commentating, and think, "Holy NIGHT! Troy Aikman's hand's are HUGE. They look like baseball mitts!" Then every once in a while I see a photo of myself and think, "Holy NIGHT! My hands are HUGE. They look like Troy Aikman's!"

That beer looks like it's in a Dixie cup, for pete's sake!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

shore thing

And on the topic of cycling: This morning I met my bandmate Gary and friend Ana for breakfast and World Cup viewing at Tulcingo Deli in Sunset Park. I ate a completely delicious breakfast which I could handily rhapsodize about here, but as I am no food review hot shot and the kind of lady who favors the "a lot going on" approach to meals (aka a plate full of snacks), I will save my breath. Rest assured, it ruled.

After watching Mexico outplay Uruguay...except in the One Goal Department...we parted ways and I set out on my bicycle toward a long time goal of riding the Shore Road Park path. I always stare longingly at that route from the van when we head out on tours thinking, "Sometime I need to wrangle someone to explore that trail with me." I bet Nerd Bird would have been game. If there was an elevator line directly there.


Yesterday, when the World Cup venue was selected, I had a bright idea to seize the opportunity solo. That was good thinking.

I rode down through Sunset Park, along Owl's Head Park, and onto the path.

It felt like a different coast along the promenade. Sail boats, ocean smell, very few people, tidy park side...

See what I mean? I busted myself smiling along the way. I actually felt like Goldie Hawn in the beginning of the movie Foul Play, steering along the California coast in her lil car on the way home from a party where she blows off Chevy Chase.

Just like Goldie, I was an independent blonde gal, driving along a shore, feelin' free. Except that at the end of her trip, she picks up that drifting hitchiker who's on the run from a bunch of thugs. And I turned around once I approached Coney Island and rode back toward my house. On my way I stopped in Owl's Head Park to fill up my water bottle at the self-same fountain where kids were industriously pumping up water balloons. Serious business. I glanced at the ground and notice a rainbow of water balloon shrapnel confetti-ing the path. Fortunately they were totally uninterested in me as a bull's-eye. I also noticed these guys around the premises:


Verdict: The field trip was a hit. Invigorating, even. I will say the to-and-from Sunset Park commute was a bit harrowing as 5th Ave. above 20th St. is very torn up, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Aves are video-game-hell-ride nail-biting thoroughfares, and 6th, 7th, and 8th Aves. cease to exist for a while due to Greenwood Cemetery. If you plan on tackling this outing, I emphatically encourage charting your course prior.

guess who's back. back again.

Know who I ran into when transferring from the 2 train to the L train the other day? Oh, just Biking Nerd Bird.

(Insert one thousand exclamation points.)

Oh My Word. What a classy dream boat. A helmet AND a tie? Come ON! I am officially standing in a swirling snow globe of cartoon hearts. It's enough to drive me to decant my soul on craigslist missed connections. (Or on my website. Er...) [nervously loosening own tie].

It's a little confusing that he's riding a bike AND an elevator (not very energy saving) when arguably the guy could fly everywhere, but let's not make petty distinctions. This guy has more tricks up his little apple slice wings than I imagined. And it also answers reader Dave's question about what sorts of energy saving tricks the Bird busts out during a night out. He bikes to his to-dos!

If anyone catches him showing off any other talents, please alert me.

In the meantime, on the matter of cartoon hearts, here is one of my favorite Pepe Le Pew cartoons. A disclaimer: Pepe episodes used to make me really uneasy for all the obvious reasons: Total pest relentlessly chasing freaked out kitty cat dipped in paint, and not taking "clawing you to bits means NO" for an answer, for starters. That said, watching this now, I find his indomitable snuggling and smooching spirit pretty charming, in an "I wouldn't want to date him, but how can you hate him? He's just Pepe!" way. His bouncy, singing entrance alone at minute 2:45 redeems any residual "what a scum bag" sentiments I have about the guy. However, let's be clear, Pepe is no Nerd Bird.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I accidentally came across this U2 parody video while searching for a totally different U2 parody video. Is it so wrong that I greatly enjoyed this social commentary/send-up?

"Your tweets, make a circle."

This production has a little something for everyone: Heartfelt home recording by a young fella with an acoustic guitar and a sweet unaffected voice, crappily assembled graphics, U2, handsome stills of old haircut Bono, a message on point with the call-to-arms-against-oppression/despotism of classic U2 anthems, and a message on point with my general pump-down-the-volume attitude toward motormouths.

hangin' on the telephone

I'm not sure how I forgot to write about this moment I bumped into a month ago:

Some wiseguy must have stopped at the market across the street and decided, "You know what? Why prepare these guys or put them in a new home tank because I feel too guilty to prepare them, when I can put them to work manning the switchboard on the corner of Union and 6th Ave?"

When I came face-to-face with this still life I was at once startled, amused, worried, sad, and a photojournalist! I was also a little concerned some prankster had dosed my ginger beer with angel dust.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

birdie brain

You know what makes me happy? Walking the streets of New York and running into posters of the GreeNYC bird, leading his busy, conscientious life.

Sometimes he wears glasses and teaches.

Sometimes he demonstrates how to operate lamps.

Sometimes he grooms by the glow of a sensible light fixture for a night out on the town.

Sometimes he's a model.

Sometimes he's just simply at attention like the Queen's Guard, standing by his message.


His 1970's-style spare collagey body and his succinct directives ensure that he's never too flashy and always on point. Nerd Bird just wants you to give a hoot about energy conservation. Plain and simple.

Hey, if it involves a smart, adorable, green animal with big ideas, I'm listening. His command is my command.

This one's unfortunate, but noble:

NB will take one for the team if it's for the greater good.

I do, however, have a complaint about his initiative's name. While "GreeNYC" is an obvious and convenient mash-up of message and demographic, it's a completely clumsy presentation of upper and lower case letters, and, frankly, unpronounceable (Gree NYC? Green-Y-C?) While Nerd Bird's wearing spectacles and packing chalk, maybe he can shuffle over to that name and organize that mess as well.

This just in: Holy mackerel. I just found the real show-stopper:


If they are hiring, I'm in. I will deliver the bird's good word!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

major award

I can't compete with this. What a ham. AND the guy had braces during age-appropriate seventh grade. Sheesh.

This is only fueling me with bad ideas. Grade school dentist stories I can write about, for one. Also, I think I may need to pose with a bunch of my soccer and tennis trophies at my parents' house and paste those puppies all over this site.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 26, 2010

silver and gold

Today my dentist recommended I consider braces or Invisalign, while my brother just won an Emmy for his show Pardon the Interruption.

I ask you, Ladies and Gentleman, who is the REAL winner today?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

upright piano/downright impressive

Last night I went to see the band Ambrosia perform here in Brooklyn. They encored with "Biggest Part of Me" and some off-the-wall keyboard antics and vocal acrobatics:

I have to say, during the set the keyboard player looked like Nick Nolte's mug shot. I think you see what I mean. This is the second instance I have used that comparison in the last few weeks. The other occasion was describing my very nervous cat upon arrival at the vet ER for the second time in twelve hours for a tail injury. He was all jacked up on pain meds, covered in nervous shedding, and walking like a drunk man. He's also cross-eyed so it really enhanced the whole Bonkers Look.

(I saw the keyboard player mingling at the merch stand afterward and it turns out he cleans up nicely. He also seemed very genial.)

On a related music-of-that-ilk note, the other day I looked up Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, guitarist for Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers, on Wikipedia. Everything read impressively and as expected (played in said legendary outfits, went on to do session work with a barrel full of icons on a pile of seminal records, etc.). This trivia, however, gave me moment's pause and had me chuckling and uttering "wow" aloud:

He also occasionally plays in The Coalition of the Willing, a band comprising Andras Simony, Hungarian Ambassador to the United States; Alexander Vershbow, US Ambassador to South Korea; Daniel B. Poneman, formerly of the United States National Security Council and now of The Scowcroft Group; and Lincoln Bloomfield, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. On June 19, 2007, Baxter jammed with former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's band Beats Workin at the Congressional Picnic held on the South Lawn of the White House.

And then I arrived at the "Defense Consulting Career" section.

[Brakes screeching]

Unreal. I mean, maybe it is common knowledge, but I had no idea.

flop of the topps

When I was in third grade freedom meant going over to my friend Justine's house and walking around the corner, unchaperoned to Woolworth's to purchase Topps Movie Posters. At my home office, the local drug store was one-and-a-half-blocks and two major intersections away. My mom rarely granted that kind of clearance, unless I was in the company of my older, taller siblings.

Justine lived a stone's-throw-and-no-street-crossing-necessary from a virtual retail Elysium and the rules were different in her familial fiefdom. This was never taken for granted. After school or on a weekend we'd stroll over, dollars in hand, and walk straight to the Topp's product shelves. Each time I thought, "This time it will be different. Luck WILL be a lady."

As with their baseball and movie cards, the thrill and anguish with Topps posters was you never knew what you were getting. You paids your money you tooks your chance. That said, if you were Justine, you knew you were getting something awesome. If you were me? You knew no matter how you tried to improve the odds—picked from the bottom or took from the top of the Topps, had Justine choose, etc.—no matter how you sifted and selected you WERE going to tear open the waxy packaging to unveil: THE BLUE LAGOON.

Every. Single. Time.

Justine was blessed with the movie poster Midas touch. She could cull from a box filled to the brim with Blue Lagoons and still end up with a Superman banner in hand.

Each time the moment of bijou truth arrived, she tore the packaging open to reveal Star Wars!, Rocky!, The Pink Panther! And I, ever hopeful that "this time it will be different, this time I will slightly rip the top of the wrapper like Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to reveal the golden ticket in the guise of Animal House!", peeled back the corn yellow ceraceous husk to reveal the never-wavering verdict: Christopher Atkins, Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

f-ing gonutz

I'm not going to lie to you, this commercial jingle used to get stuck in my head on the regular until my college years:

This catchy hosanna finally went on furlough in the turntable of my mind until a few days ago when a friend ordered fried gnocchi at a restaurant. It tasted to me like, well, a bowl of donuts.

Let's talk about this commercial. First of all, I love that Coach No Sport gets right behind this product. Second of all, I like the baritone donut that foghorns "dough-licious." Most of all, this verse alone is a total touchdown:

They look like powdered donuts do
Taste like powdered donuts, too
Yeah donuts!

It reminds me of the commercial my father wrote for a product called The Buttoneer.

The problem with buttons is they always come off.
The problem with buttons is they ALWAYS come off.

Overall, I am tempted to tailor the Donutz campaign to fit my new favorite breakfast food: The Kiwi Berry.

My local produce market just started carrying them. They are essentially baby kiwis without the regular kiwi gorilla suit covering. You can jam them whole like, well, donut holes. I feel like pulling the random coach in my life aside and singing a brainwashed dancy ditty about them. But if we are gonna get serious here, my actual attitude toward the kiwi berry discovery is more along the lines of the profanely satisfied customers in the Mr. Show "Ding Dong Burger" commercial. (Warning: This video contains all kinds of filthy language. NSFW.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

overcast days

Rainy, cold, dreary days like today in Brooklyn feel fairly haunted, especially in empty Prospect Park. Gauzy mist often rolls along the open long meadow making the scene like something out of The Wicker Man. Like you may approach a clearing and face this figure towering overhead:

Speaking of spectral presences towering overhead on overcast days, today it was announced that the Japanese firm SANAA won The Pritzker Architectural Prize. When working at an art book publishing house, I conducted fairly extensive archival research on this firm for books on modern houses, museums, and retail spaces. The entire NPR slide show above reveals the totemic structures are perfect for viewing and photographing on dingier, gray days.

To be fair, there are stunning images of the structures on clear blue days when the buildings look like structural clouds on the ground:

But I prefer them set against hum-drum, drizzly backgrounds.

Whether set against bruised or blue skies, or in urban or provincial settings, their constructs stand as luminescent, pristine, and at times, spooky contrasts to their environs. Everything, even nature, looks like it needs a trip to the laundry mat in comparison.

To me they kind of look like calm, translucent space stations that gently landed in their designated locales overnight where they quietly, harmoniously proceed with their order of the day.

Still deciding whether I am a fan.

I *do* like this quote from a 2005 interview I read with SANAA's two founding architects, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizama:

When you were a child, did you want to become an architect?
N: I would never have imaged myself being architect.
S: Me too.
N: She wanted to be a grandmother! Kind of funny! Grandmothers always look like...
S: They are relaxed.
N: Happy and relaxed.
S: Yes, when I was a child I really wanted to be a grandmother.
N: To sit on the terrace and enjoy the sunlight.

In a way, SANAA's structures reflect this regal grandmotherly, white-haired, beatific, sitting in a flat-backed white wicker terrace chair sensibility: Their constructs sit pacifically situated in outside spots, sagely taking in and reflecting on their surroundings.

In all, I think Prince's Raspberry Beret sums up this scene better than I can: Now overcast days never turned me on, but something about the clouds and her mixed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

everything's gone green

This was a conversation between two AARP ladies at the salad bar the other day at my office cafeteria.

lady 1: [pointing at guacamole] What is that? Is that green hummus?
lady 2: No, it's guacamole.
lady 1: What is that?
lady 2: You know, avocado and garlic.
lady 1: Huh.
lady 2: It's kind of smoky. [pause, pause, pause] Kind of bacony, really.
lady 1: Hmm. [Looks] Hmmph. [Walks away]

Needless to say, lots of things about that conversation gave me pause. No matter. Onto some scatter shot research and storytelling!

Apparently, the US celebrates "National Guacamole Day" on both Sept. 16 and Nov. 14. This took place in March so there was no official celebration afoot. I was pretty happy it appeared in the work salad bar mix, however. That said, two National Guacamole days? Within two month's time? What gives?

Growing up it always spooked me when a friend's family attempted to grow an avocado plant. The initial germination process looks pretty barbaric. A pit with four tooth picks jammed into it bracing it over a glass of water makes it look like a "hero is about to be mince-meat" scene of an action movie. When the sprouts spring it looks really questionable. The whole set up just looked messy and unnatural to my grade school eyes--like the giant avocado seed was captured, held prisoner, and forced to breed for its hippy jail keepers.

Still looks so brutal to me. It reminds me of The Muppet Movie when Doc Hopper catches Kermit and hands him over to Mel Brooks for a lobotomy.


Aaaaaah! Kermit looks so helpless! Cover your face and eyes, Froggy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

set of covers

In my recent research laps I discovered a wonderful Latvian literary publication called Jaunās Gaitas. The publication launched in the 1950s in an attempt to centralize the voices of many Latvian writers who were relocated all over the world after the Second World War.

(Yes, I am wearing my "I'm getting serious here, people" glasses.)

The website has English synopses of each journal's content but not, it appears, translations of the articles themselves.

The cover designs alone—a great many drafted by designer Ilmars Rumpeters—are aces.

I want a giant flag of the cover with the apple.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A few weeks ago I arrived at my office kitchenette to find a container of amiable, spearheaded snacks and a note of explanation (see above). In case you can't decipher the blurry script, the epistle explains:

Last night's experiment: Candy coated, happy face, cake balls.
Yellow cake crumbled up with chocolate frosting, rolled into balls, dipped into yellow colored white chocolate, and drawn on with food color markers.They turned out...okay.

My co-worker and I quietly stood over this still life for several seconds and ultimately agreed the note should have simply read:

Last night I got stoned and made these. Enjoy!

p.s. I ate one, and, apropos of my previous post, I can honestly say I enjoyed eating the face off.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

it's not easy being green

The other day while looking up dessert recipes online I came across the following review for "Frog Cupcakes":

The Frog Cupcakes were a huge hit at my 2 year old son's birthday...the kids loved eating the face off & really enjoyed the eyes!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaahhhhh... NOOOOooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

school of shamrock

When I was in first grade my 15-year-old sister clued me into the whole "wearing green on St. Patrick's day" tip. On March 17, 1981 she donned a green top and a Kermit the Frog button that said "Green is Keen."

For my own get up, I rifled through the pile of trinkets on the top of my dad's dresser and found the button to the left. He used to write commercials for Schlitz beer. I saw a Shamrock and the name of the beer company my dad worked for, and thought, "Well, okay then."

So I pulled on one of my sister's too-big Izod green shirts, fastened on that Schlitz button, and marched on my merry way to school. As this was 1981, no one flinched. Mrs. Bailey, my blue-haired Texan teacher seemed amused, even. I just remember feeling festive and proud that I was in on the "wear green" secret.

My sister sent me that button to me in the mail last year. Pretty certain I do not have the dash of 6-year-old me to wear it into my 2010 office tomorrow.

Monday, March 15, 2010

day dream believer

Recently, I left work and ran directly into someone dressed in a Clifford the Dog outfit promoting the Scholastic store. I was star struck. Here's something you should know: My dream is to work once, just once, as a mascot of some sort. I just wanna dress in a giant, ridiculous animal costume, and shake hands, dance, wave, pose for photos, pat people on the head.... I know the costume will smell, be hot, be unwieldy on my teeny frame, but it's my dream and I am standing by it.

One of my friends worked as Cookie Monster for a trade show and got to hug the president of Del Monte foods. Another punched the clock as the skating Polar Bear for our college ice hockey team (and he would often drink *generously* before showtime so skating was very, very wobbley). Another moonlighted as the Fighting Cardinal (?!) for her college basketball team.

Recently, I researched the German designer Otl Aicher and found out he was responsible for creating the very first Olympic mascot. Meet Waldi:

Waldi is adorable. But look at that fella! He is puny! Can you imagine that lil' guy bobsledding? Or speed skating? I bet he was very helpful, but not very sporty.

Can you imagine someone trying to dress up and walk around like that?

I can.


When I was six years old I thought this commercial was hilarious. I memorized it and sang it over and over again, cracking myself up (and likely *only* myself) in our family kitchen. Can you blame me?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

giving good face

The other day my pal Whitney sent me this photograph of her son:

It's perfect.

Over the phone, we also shared a hearty laugh about the scene in Mrs. Doubtfire when busted Mrs. Doubtfire utters "Helloooooo" in a mud mask.

This morning my friend Katie gave me a jingle on Gmail video chat. I was quite frankly a little apprehensive about picking up because I was fresh out of bed and didn't have my face on yet.

It got me to thinking....

From now on, any time I log onto chat, I think I shall apply a cakey mud mask, don a matronly curly white wig, and answer all calls like Busted Mrs. Doubtfire. Even better: Maybe I will just go on Chat Roulette and skip from chat to chat doing just that. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

jr on jj

I have listened to jj's album "jj n° 2" a bunch recently and this particular song about 200 times:

For starters, research proves it's very difficult to find out the singer's name.

Her voice reminds me of the husky ache of Yaz's Alison Moyet. While Moyet can mourn with the best of them, sitting in a dark room staring at the rain frustrated, choked with grief, dying of broken heart, pleading with her loved one "don't go", she can also put up a fight, tell off the operator, and tell her lover "I ain't never gonna let you go!"

jj similarly offers an album that strikes a moody balance between the quiet, bruised search through biting nostalgia and the bark of rebound and recovery where tough love pulls no punches and master plans to be feared are laid.

"From Africa to Malaga" opens with Blondie "Heart of Glass" style percussive palpitations and kicks in with the keen-edged opening statement:

It's too easy to cry 
when everything eventually dies.
If not today then maybe tomorrow. 
Don't let that thought slip away, 
let it come out and play.

Out of the gates, jj rules out the best excuse in the book for throwing in the towel. The song begins with The End and looks for the "and then...."

Throughout the song jj argues that dead ends are, in fact, new beginnings:

A thought that you found, 
takes you to town, 
smashes your face, 
burns out your heart, 
then you go home and turn it into art....
Don't cry for the time you lost in your life.

Ok, so the "turn it into art" part may be pushing it, but I buy it, and take all it to mean: "It's brutal out there. You are gonna get yourself into scrapes again and again. You gotta keep getting back up again round after round and make something vital out of it."

And I keep spinning this song round and round

Yaz, and tomboy tough attitudes aside, I think I'm also hooked because the anthem immediately conjured images of the movie "My Bodyguard" in my mind.

Particularly the vision of tiny Chris Makepeace finally facing his bully nemesis Matt Dillion, while Makepeace's bodyguard Adam Baldwin coaches from the sidelines. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. Even though the trailer voice-over is ridiculous.

The message of both the song and the film bear repeating: We are born losing, but don't let that stop you. As jj says, "No matter how down you are you'll eventually rise."

(Which I originally misheard as "no matter how dumb you are...." Which raised an eyebrow and some questions.)

And, yes, the album art is a bloodied mary-jew-ahna leaf.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

parts recall

Toyota's recent troubles had me thinking a heap about the history of the automotive industry and of the automobile proper. I started thinking about the recall of parts and auto parts generally, and how they've evolved. Thoughts turned to one of my favorite Chicago sculptors John Kearney. Kearney makes hearty animal sculptures out of welded steel car bumpers—a fixture that became pretty much a thing of the past once the industry started universally using Thermoplastic Olefins (TPOs), instead. I never knew that's what they called plastic bumpers until I looked it up. Now we will all throw around "TPOs" like it's going out of style. Here are a couple of Kearney creatures:

Incidentally, I also recently learned that you can tell what side of the car the gas tank is on from the driver's seat by looking at the gas gauge on the dashboard and looking for the arrow indicator.

No more gas station arrival panics/cranking the rear view mirror/leaning half way out the car/actually getting out of the car to answer this riddle. Then forgetting the moment you fill up. You may now coast into Flying J in the PT Cruiser the rental car company stuck you with (that makes you look like you are driving around in a big goofy John Fleuvog shoe), with all kinds of "I got this one" confidence. Now we are smarter.

My grandfather Jack was an engineer and, in fact, a Manufacturer's Representative for auto part companies. He was the guy responsible for selling individual fixtures to car companies. One fixture he knew inside and out was the air conditioner. My mom told me a story about my grandfather visiting his Aunt Gert in Sarasota, Florida who lived next door to the Ringling Brothers property. One day during his stay the air conditioning unit used in the Ringling animal stables broke down and my grandpa went over and repaired it. That is a true story. Lucky animals.

During my lifetime my father, a creative director in advertising, wrote commercials for Ford dealers while working for J. Walter Thompson, Chicago. My dad's big break for Ford national advertising came while visiting another client: King's Island amusement park, in Dayton, Ohio. While on a (presumably important) roller coaster (meeting), an announcer came on over the park PA saying that my father had a phone call. My father disembarked the ride, got on the horn, and on the other end of the line was the head of J. Walter Thompson New York. "Ralph," he said, "We're working on some Ford national spots here. We have some darn fine middles, but no beginnings and ends. We need your help." So my dad flew to New York to help create and install new parts for automotive ads.

Maybe I should fly him out to New York to help me write the end of this post.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ice ice baby

Tonight while watching the Winter Olympics, I told a friend that if I were a men's figure skater I would dress up like a member of the Na'vi tribe from Avatar and dance to a Celine/Enya/Enigma medley. I really would.

Alternatively, if I needed a back up plan, I would also consider dressing up like the Kool Aid man. And balletically, emotionally skate to a weepy classical piece. Or bounce around to a 1920's Charleston number? I'm torn. Please advise.

Monday, February 8, 2010

birds on film

Last night the Saints won the Superbowl. Could there even have been an alternate ending?

Last night everybody won the Puppybowl. Could there even have been an alternate ending?

If you missed that masterpiece, please, at the very least, check out this year's starting line up, with descriptions such as "Bandit, Husky Mix: Women love him, men want to BE him."

Here is my favorite commercial of the evening:

Important Chicken slowly marching into the Oval office is the real show stealer.

In other birds-in-the-world news, French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenothas has a new installation at the Barbican, London. He created an indoor aviary using musical instruments for perches. The result is, well, wild. I may just have to go and see it for myself.

My favorite review of the Superbowl half-time show came from founder, Will Leitch: "At the end of their set, The Who are going to smash their hips." 

The evening drew to a close last night with a car ride home discussion of scary movies. I have thin skin for spooky. I explained to my four friends that even "Picnic at Hanging Rock" did a number on me, and nothing too clearly horrifying really ever happens. [Cue: Foreigner's "Head Games"] But to me, even the girls' eerie procession to the picnic is nerve-wracking. Not unlike the Important Chicken marching into the Oval Office. 

But there is no real reveal and screaming chicken payoff. The main reveal is that I am a total chicken.

My friend Amy has never seen the film. Her husband and my pal Kevin astutely offered, ""Picnic at Hanging Rock" is basically about a group of school girls who go into the wilderness... and get attacked by synthesizers."  

[Holding arms above my head signaling touchdown.]

Monday, February 1, 2010

a dark horse

I just watched most of Seabiscuit for the first time the other night. It was on cable and the end time was 4:40am. I made it to 3:45am and through all kinds of obstreperous ten-minute commercial breaks then conked out. Watching movies on cable is a bumpy ride. You get into a quiet, focused groove, then suddenly you are hit with the smarting switch of noisy, endless, commericials, man-handling announcers, and discernibly on-the-juice television volume.

Even so, I still got into the movie. And I still fell asleep.

Mostly, it made me want to revisit another horse drawn coming-of-age film, 1979's The Black Stallion. As I remember it, it is a touching, visually striking feature with a gripping performance by young actor Kelly Reno as Alec Ramsey. Save for a few opening scenes, the first half of the film is nearly wordless—just a boy trying to survive on a deserted island and befriending his cast away companion: a black stallion. The score is elegant—carefully, quietly navigating with Alec around this totally unfamiliar environment. I am glad it is never on cable because interrupting that mood would be criminal.

There are some beautiful horse riding scenes in the first half and competitive horse racing in the second half. And, oh yes, Mickey Rooney shows up half way through, delivering a really solid performance—and not as a horribly offensive caricature of an Asian landlord (see: Breakfast at Tiffany's).

I just watched some footage of The Black Stallion on youtube and was instantly swallowing tears. Kelly Reno is amazing. Like, Justin Henry in Kramer Vs. Kramer forgot-the-plot-is-not-actually-happening-to-this-child amazing. Mr. Mom's Terri Garr as Kelly Reno's worried mom does a pretty admirable job, as well.

Why am I writing home about this film? Well, last post I covered what I appreciate in a short film. Today I offer that this feature length film has everything my blog could ask for: A coming-of-age tale featuring an animal, a desert island, music as dialogue, a sporting event, and an actress who was in Mr. Mom.

In related news I just found a website featuring a list of animal idioms. Am I in heaven?

Friday, January 29, 2010

barn nun

The Verlaines video for "Bird Dog" has everything I could hope for in a short film: dogs, barnyard animals, animation, claymation (of poison throwing up, no less!), a cat, The Verlaines briefly playing "Red Light Green Light" in a pasture, music from a Flying Nun band...the works.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

brake for foxes

Why does the hound look so worried in this film still? Maybe because he just read this article on

Frisky Foxes Sabotaging Drivers
Over the course of eight months, nine cars in Kent, England, had their brake lines cut. A special police team got together to investigate the crimes, thinking the group of vandals responsible was going to cause someone serious harm if the trend continued.

The team started out watching CCTV footage of the community, investigating the cut brake lines and reading reports of the incidents. When the officers visited an expert in biological sciences at Bristol University, though, they were quite surprised by his analysis — the vandals were actually foxes who had developed a taste for brake fluid.

“This series of incidents was quite understandably causing anxiety to people living in the area and we are pleased to be able to find an innocent explanation for the cause of the damage,” said Sergeant George Blair, the head of the investigation unit.

I love fairy tale endings.

Rest easy, motor car drivers and deerstalker-hat-wearing detectives of Kent, England! No hooligans, vandals, or meddling marauders to be found in your county. Simply a case of hop garden variety foxes who developed a taste for glycol-ether based hydraulic fluids. *Phew*. (Crossing wellington-booted legs and putting feet on coffee table.)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

when the saints go marching to the superbowl

As a fan of Buddy Ryan and his pro football progeny, I was so sad to see the Jets lose today.

The Saints sealing a trip to their first Superbowl with a masterful overtime field goal, however? I'm totally smiling and all choked up.

I especially loved the sight of the football soaring through the uprights with Saints' mascot Gumbo the Dog jumping up and down behind the end zone.

name game

The New Jersey Nets have been on my mind. If they ever do actually relocate to Brooklyn, will they forgo their ABA appellation and opt for something with more attack? A recent Bill Simmons podcast posits it's not often you run across a sports team named after a piece of sports equipment. This comment spurred me on to the ABA Wikipedia page and subsequent scrutiny of originally ABA team names.

Let's be honest people, a lot of the names on that roster are totally phoned in. The Oakland Americans who became the Oakland Oaks? The Memphis Pros? The Floridians? The San Diego Sails? I have a hunch the Christening of these teams resembled the episode of the Brady Bunch when Cindy Brady fibs to her family, claiming she has a steady boyfriend. When pressed for his name she searchingly answers, "Um.... George...." [Frantically scans the room. Locks eyes on the water glass in front of her.] GLASS. George Glass." Which makes me think of the equally absurd Hail Mary name moment in A Fish Called Wanda when Otto (Kevin Kline) introduces himself to Archie Leach (John Cleese) as a CIA agent "Harvey Manfren... jen...sen."

It's essentially like me walking into a 1967 ABA meeting and saying, "Gentlemen. The next addition to our growing league will be in Idaho. They will be called, um, The Yes, The Boise Boys Basketball Players."

I think a lot about team names. I think my formative team sport experience mandates it.

In second grade I joined AYSO's "co-ed" (read: one girl per team) soccer league. Most of my classmates joined the season prior and returned from their first team meetings all a flutter about their flinty titles and splashy team colors.

Classmate one: We're the Golden Eagles! We're bright yellow and white!
Classmate two: Well we're the Blue Devils! We're royal blue and black!

I looked completely forward to my own bragging session. When I attended my initial meeting, however, our coach—the gentle, amiable South African father of one of my schoolmates—slide tackled us with the following opening statement: "Welcome to the 1982 fall season of AYSO soccer. I am Coach Eric. You, boys and girl, will be known as: THE ZULU WARRIORS, named after a very important South African people. Your colors are grey and black."

The room of seven year olds fell cricket-chirping silent.


The next day at school I didn't even know HOW to talk about what happened because I felt completely confused. I couldn't even ask questions about it because I didn't know any of the questions to ask. I knew I had my hopes pinned on being called The Red Arrows. That's where the ball stopped rolling.

Our first practice we felt further befuddled when informed we would sing the following team chant before and after every scrimmage and game:

Hold 'em dooooown, ya Zulu Warriors!
Hold 'em dooooown , ya Zulu Chief-Chief-Chief Chief
Hoi da zumba zumba, hoi da zumba zumba zee
Hoi da zumba zumba, hoi da zumba zumba ZEE!

Recounting this memory, I completely grasp it was a totally exceptional experience and relish every dimension of it. As a tiny second grade girl dressed like a newspaper I wasn't so optimistic.

We definitely caused a stir the moment we set foot on Chicago Park District's Margate Park Field and kicked off with our pregame cheer. The parents proudly smiled. The opposing team stared at our singing huddle, totally perplexed. After we were summarily demolished—most likely by double digit goals—and gathered round for the encore performance of our team anthem, our adversaries were full-on giggling like crazy at us. That set the tone for the season: Lose once, chant twice, always be laughed at by all other second graders every Saturday.

Coach Eric was ever patient, always enthusiastic, never fazed by looks askance, never doubting we were champions, and always so proud of each one of us as we completely sucked throughout the season. I like to think of him as the Rex Ryan of 1982. Except we never won games, and never advanced to a championship. He was just happy we were there. And honestly, his enthusiasm was totally contagious. The more we lost and the more we were misunderstood, the more our own team pride anchored. I still have my end-of-the-season award: A giant button stating "MOST ENTHUSIASTIC PLAYER: JULIA RYDHOLM, ZULU WARRIOR."

If the Nets do make it to Brooklyn, they could use some sure-footed counsel from Coach Eric. One thing's completely certain: His selection for the new team sobriquet would assuredly be a slam dunk.

Friday, January 22, 2010

snack attack

This article on underage noshing was pretty milk and water. However, amidst the angst of neurotic parents over-catering to the moody palates and temperaments of ticking time-bomb moppets, Chicago dad Sean O'Neill busts out and makes it worth the read with his grittier, curveball view of overfeeding:

“It has all just gotten out of hand,” said Sean O’Neill, an illustrator and father of two in Chicago. Mr. O’Neill wonders why snacks must be served at every sporting event, even those taking place at 10 a.m. or an hour before lunch. 

“The kids are playing baseball, they are covered in Chicago Park District dirt and then they eat a handful of fruit bites,” he said. “It’s pretty disgusting.”

That really cracked me up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

power play

The most recent attempt to add a little more show biz razzle-dazzle to Alaska-Fairbanks' hockey team entrance is...remarkable:

I'm so confused. Probably because my mind just melted. Or rather, was severed in half with a glowing hockey stick Excalibur sword, shot at with missiles, and then TOTALLY BLOWN UP with awesome flames and "KKKRRRRPSHHHHHHHHHHHH*&%$!!!!!!!!" (My attempt at typing third grade explosion noises.)

Welcome to the video that officially completes my "Overstimulation Hell Ride Visual Experience That Threatens to Land Me in a Hospital Due to a Category 5 Panic Attack" Troika.

"2012" and "Avatar": You are in good company.

I thought mascots where supposed to shadow box and dance. You know, "Root for the home team! Yay!!" [jump-jump-shadow box-shadow-box-shadow box] [Air conducting "LET'S. GO. BEARS."]

The Nanooks bear is a complete criminal. And a full blown arsonist. And, frankly, doesn't totally seem to understand the rules of hockey. First he uses a hockey stick to sever a gigantic barge in half, not to shoot at a goal. Then he jettisons the stick, because what he really loves to do is FLY. So he gets in a fighter jet and heads directly to Miami University and Michigan State to obliterate their campuses, and only THEN is it time to drop a bomb in a volcano. Which is the key to detonating three volcanoes. Which apparently is the secret to completely exploding planet earth.

Why does the Alaska-Fairbanks hockey program want their mascot to destroy earth? Isn't he just supposed to encourage them to win hockey games? Well, apparently he can do that too, because as it happens, though earth is now a faint memory, the Carlson Center (the Nanooks' arena) REMAINS INTACT on a meteorite in space!!

To be honest, the Polar Bear's journey to the Carlson Center, and the feeling of traveling to a game in deep space with twinkling lights dotting the scenery reminds me of the drive to see the NJ Nets play at Izod Stadium. That commute feels like taking an international flight. Or, you know, like driving from Manhattan to outer space.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

desert island election

On the not-as-infrequent-as-I'd-imagine occasions that someone inquires, "You play music? Ooh, what is your Desert Island Music?!" my reaction is as predictable as the tides: My eyes glaze over and my face slackens into screen-saver mode. For me, that question triggers the same response as listening to someone recite their dream from last night, or trying to shop for groceries without a list: My mind draws a complete blank. I lose the plot. I can hear the ocean in my head. Also, I suddenly don't care about anything. I just feel a wave of "get me out of here"—out of the island, the other person's subconscious, the grocery store, and my own anxiety dream where I am center stage, in a spotlight, and where a voice from the sea of empty seats in a blacked-out auditorium bellows, "WHAT IS YOUR DESERT ISLAND MUSIC?"

That's my patent, unreasonable reaction to that get-to-know-you question. I feel challenged committing to a plan five minutes from now, let alone a list of music I am gonna have to listen to forever by myself—or perhaps with an island mate straight out of the Far Side, and Lord knows what THAT man brought. Then there's the concern that if I manage to cough up a list, will my selection accurately reflect my actual taste? Or am I just nervously sounding off music that I manage to recall in that moment—like Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" when he finally gets to speak with Department Store Santa and wants so badly to beg for a Red Ryder BB Gun, but loses his cool and in his own state of shock, chokes and asks for, "A football. A football? What's a football?!" Except in my stage frightened moment I stammer, "Uuuuummmm, I'd prrrobably bring aaaa, um, yeah, "A Very Special Christmas"....the, uh, yeah, the first one?" because that is suddenly the only album on planet earth that I can remember. At all.

What's more, "trapped on a desert island" as a concept further unsettles me. I don't know why. Maybe it's the dread of being stranded with a straggly cartoon weirdo on a tiny island with one palm tree. That idea doesn't make me wanna curate a compilation of kickin' jams in advance, it makes me wanna figure out in advance how not to get stuck there. Why can't the question be, "If you had to give away all your music TO a guy trapped on a desert island, which essential albums/songs would you keep for yourself [on your ipod pequeño]?"

But still, the question and no satisfactory answer remains....

Or *remained*. Until this morning, that is, when a foolproof rejoinder revealed itself on my computer monitor. I had just woken up and half-heartedly scrolled through my music library by song title, looking for a solid "shower and get dressed" soundtrack. Brian Eno's "Here Come the Warm Jets" felt right. When I arrived at that song and its neighbors, my riposte was as crystal clear as the cobalt Caribbean. The scales fell from my eyes: The solution to this Gordian knot was so obvious. I suddenly felt as exhilarated as irrationally overcome Michael Caine in "Hannah and Her Sisters" when he giddily declares, "I have my answer! I'm walking on air!"

I may have even said that out loud.

It turns out any song with the title "Here come" or "Here comes" covers all bases. Ok, let's be honest, the song selection knocks it right out of the park. I wanna listen to them all, all the time:

"Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles
Features one of my favorite bass lines, ever.

"Here Comes the Night" covered by Them.
Van. The. Man.

"Here Comes the Phantom" by the Clientele.
Ethereal, lilting, lovely.

"Here Comes My Girl" by Tom Petty.
A classic. I also decided it's the soundtrack for this little vignette, as it's a song all about wandering around wondering, feeling listless and "just so...hopeless," that is until the answer suddenly walks right up and knocks you cathartically between the eyes. I also just realized that I have the exact same haircut as Tom Petty.

"Here Comes Your Man" by the Pixies.
A nice companion to the Petty ditty.

"Here Comes My Baby" by Cat Stevens
Winning instrumentation and a good one for harmonizing.

"Here Comes the Judge" by Shorty Long
Amazing slide show featuring archival Motown album art for that song, here.

"Here Comes a Regular" by the Replacements

"Here Comes a Headache" by Hypnolovewheel
Fuzzy, driving, relentless.

"Here Comes the Summer" by the Fiery Furnaces

And I will. All of them. And I will also stop myself here. I have my unforgettable solution in pocket.

Also, I need to go download "Here Comes the Boom" by Nelly.

But before I sign off, I have to wonder, what is it about those words that makes any song introduction rock solid? For starters, that all-purpose presentation handily conveys a whole range of moods—anticipation, hope, dread, excitement, love, relief—with a good measure of melodrama. Someone or something is about to happen. Even if it's "Here comes trouble" there's something really thrilling and "this is gonna be good" in the message. That particular preamble confidently sets the stage for a good yarn.

Regardless of the why that formula is such a success story, the wait is over: I can check "Decide on Desert Island Music" off my to-do list. To repeat: I have my answer. I'm walking on air.

Tom Petty sums up this post (and this blog, for that matter) better than I ever could:

"Yeah, I just catch myself waiting, worrying, wondering
about some silly little things that don't add up to nothin'.
But then [the list] looks me in the eye and says, "we're gonna last forever darling"
And man, you know I can't begin to doubt it.
No, because this feels so good, and so free, and so right.
I know we ain't never gonna change our minds about it—hey!...."