31 December, 2005

Happy Same'Ole.

...but if this ever changing world in which we live in /makes you give in and cry....

It's New Year's Eve, and somewhere, someone is about to do something incredibly stupid.

Therefore, I'm off to donate blood. Some asshole's gonna need it.

Actually, I'm mean enough to hope that my blood goes not to the asshole, but to the poor meekling the asshole hit with his veering vehicle, and that the asshole bleeds to death at the scene.

I'm realistic enough to know that this is probably not what will happen.

As for me, the blood I shed tonight will all be Zesty Mint Flavoured, and difficult to wash off. And my outfit? The stockings alone are to die for.

So to speak.

(Live And Let Die; Paul McCartney)

(Aside: I had always hoped that the lyric was 'this ever changing world in which we're living', instead of the actual grammatic awkwardness that appears above, but this seems to not be the case. The year's not even begun, yet filled with disappointment already.)

26 December, 2005

Looks A Lot Like...

...it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...mmmmmmm....

People are throwing money away left and right. Everywhere, neon lights flash green, red, blue and gold. There's a blow up doll on every lawn. Vegas? No, just Christmas.

Cheers, everyone.

20 December, 2005

Name That

...I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping...

Three vertical clouds slash across the moon, as though some great thing had tried to claw it from the face of the sky.

Tomorrow, I will be at the Baltimore County Public Library, Pikesville, reading poetry at 1 PM. Join me if you like. You'll know me; I'll be the one without the beret.

Resigned, I listen to Christmas music on the radio, thinking that I'm not sure I can tell the difference between Harry Connick's voice and Harry Belafonte's, simultaneously wondering whether this is the sort of thing I should even waste any brain energy on.

I hear the first seven notes of a Beatles song, played on piano. I know the song, and it makes me smile. George Harrison sings While My Guitar Gently Weeps. It makes me think of Billy Joel's Piano Man, which is remarkable for its opening riff on harmonica.

I'm fairly certain Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man doesn't open with a tambourine, either.

(While My Guitar Gently Weeps; George Harrison)

13 December, 2005

Bio Feedback

...Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble....

Update on The Book, which is written by a man with three first names, no last name. Perhaps his family couldn't afford one. Now I am not so much desperate to not finish as I am reluctant to continue. The library is going to love me, I'll owe them so much in overdue fines.

I've been asked to participate in a poetry reading, which may or may not mean that I need a bio. So once again, I find myself talking about me in the third person. Tell me what you think.

In addition to placing third in CityPaper's annual poetry contest in 2005 and receiving an MSAC award for her quartet of playlets View Thru Quarter Pane in 2003, Cybele Pomeroy, writing as Cybele Churches, won a prize for her poetry and performance art in French, not her native language. A Junior High School project was a filmed mock commercial, in which Ms. Pomeroy (nee Churches) invited the viewer to attend a (fake) school of poetry, L'Ecole des Poets, after reading a poem of her own composition. Her efforts were rewarded with a prize of a vinyl LP of songs in French, which she may still have. She's not sure. She doesn't remember. In fact, she doesn't remember much from her junior high years, as they occurred in the same temporal space as vinyl LP records. She does, however, remember the poem.

Je t'aime beaucoups
Quand tu marche la rue
Tu est ma vie
Femme de nuit
Les otres sont betes
Pour te laizer, Collette.
Tu n'est pas mechant
Mais je n'ais pas d'argent.

-Cybele Churches, circa 1980something.

Cybele resides in Baltimore city where she finds plenty of inspiration. Her poem City Plows, Broken Or Not, appears in the next edition of Scribble literary magazine.

(Michelle, The Beatles)

10 December, 2005

Frozen OutPost

...the weather outside is frightful....

(As though there were weather inside which might be better.)

The frozen ground is somehow harder than the concrete walk that runs beside it.

I expose as much of me as I dare to the elements, trying to inure myself against the coming months.

It probably was not my best thinking, washing my hair this morning when I knew I was going out, not knowing where (if) I have a blowdryer, which I hate and refuse to use anyway.

It's warm here in Red Emma's, and there's a jazz trio playing. A woman with adorable punkrock hair sits nearby coaxing a tiny kitten to drink frothy milk from a tinier cup. I'm drinking something called a Molotov. It's a shot of espresso in a mug of dark roast coffee, and life is good. Good, with a capital G and more than one o, Gooooood.

(Let It Snow; Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn )

07 December, 2005

Observational Quintet

You can observe a lot by watching. --Yogi Berra

1. No one thinks funerals are fun. And yet many people find it necessary to state "I hate funerals." Nobody goes to funerals for the food and booze. On this topic, Yogi Berra says, always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours.

2. Dogs and cats are not supposed to be alike, however there are dogs that are more like cats and dogs that are more like dogs. Also there are cats that are more like dogs and cats that are more like cats. This is not logical, but it is often true.

3.I think it unreasonable that to open a new cello-wrapped box of tea I need to actually resort to using a knife.

4. Disappointment lurks around every corner. The trick is to keep expectations fairly low and be prepared to be amused by the mundane.

5. The grocery store is only very slightly more entertaining after a few beers.

04 December, 2005

Wrong Number?

...give me the number if you can find it....

He follows me around the block, and when I pull into the lot, okay not exactly in a spot, but the lot's empty fer chrissake, he flips on his lights. I am already halfway out of the car at this point, and just stand there in the open car door as he gets out, flashlight in hand.

I'm not sure what he's expecting, but I, evidently, am not it. I figure he's going to give me grief over the whole back- windshield -replaced -by -opaque- plastic -and -duct -tape issue, but he approaches after giving me the once over and looks at my license plate.

"You know what," he says, looking down from his considerable height, "I think I put in the wrong letter when I ran your plates. The number I put in came up as not registered, but I think I put in an F instead of an E."

What are you running my plates for, I wonder, specifically not mentally adding 'asshole.'

So everything's okay with my license probably?

"Probably everything's okay, yeah." He’s young, and not bad looking. I give him the once over. It takes awhile because he's so tall. He shifts a tiny bit, gives the faintest hint of a blush.

"Everything okay, Mama?" Fuzzy pokes her head out from the back seat.

I think so, honey. The officer thought there was a problem with my license plate, but now he thinks maybe he ran the wrong number and there's not anything wrong after all. Isn't that right, Officer?

"Yes, ma'am. You all have a good night. Uh, they're closed," he adds helpfully as I head towards the liquor store.

I only wanted a CityPaper.

"What was that all about?" asks Fluffy.

I'm not sure. He said he ran my plates, but that was just kind of an excuse to stop me. But when I got out of the car, he was surprised, I think. I think I wasn't what he expected.

"What did he expect?"

Who can know? I mean, considering how battered the car looks, maybe some drug running greaser punkass with pot instead of lollipops in the back seat.

"We don't have any lollipops, Mama."

You got any pot?

"Uh, no."

Well, then.

(Operator; Jim Croce)

30 November, 2005

Dress Code

...You -/ Can dress in pink and blue just like a child....

It's nice to come in third place, (Yaay, me!) and there's even a cash remuer- renumer- uh, prize. (Did you think Primarily Decorative was on PERMANANT vacation?) Here it is.

Please come see Do Or Die's production of Slay Ride at the Chesapeake Arts Center. I promise I won't wear a beret, and neither should you.

Now that I've gotten the shameless plugs out of the way, here's a post.

We are at a movie theatre. A group of people have come in costume. This is not as disturbing as the fact that the costumes of the adults are more elaborately accurate than those of the children. I assume the Harry Potter outing is a child's birthday party; possibly it's not.

I suddenly think of people listening to me complain about Day of Wrong. One frowns at me.

"What is proper dress code for a Renaissance festival?" he asks. My face changes shape several times, I can feel it. I puzzle over the question, because I've never really thought about what standard dress IS; I just know when I see it what it isn't.

There is in fact a fairly strict dress code for the performers, crafters and general staff of the Renaissance Festival. For the patrons, not so much.

Appropriate wear: cutoff jean shorts and a tank top. Golf shirt and khaki shorts with sneakers or boat shoes, either gender. Peasant or pirate blouse and leather pants, either gender. Jeans and a t-shirt from your favorite Ren performer: Hack and Slash, the Skinny German Juggle Boy, Renaissance Man, Puke and Snot, Sinius Vice, Mike Rose, The Rogues, Stupina...or any one of a number of Maryland Renaissance Festival shirts, or indeed a shirt from any Renaissance Festival.

A shirt that says I Can't Even Think Straight. A shirt with the name of your favorite team, your favorite beer, your favorite brand or your favorite bar. If you wear one that says Kiss Me, I'm a Pirate, beware, for there are those of us that will. A camisole top and a peasant skirt is appropriate, if you're female. Or a peasant blouse with too tight jeans, high heeled boots, big hair and a floral wreath. The costume you bought here last year. Or last week. The costume you spent the last nine months building with your own hands. The costume you bought at Wal-Mart last Halloween, if you're under fifteen and were a fairy, a princess, a fairy princess, a pirate, a knight, Robin Hood, a crusader, or a dragon. Unicorns also acceptable.

Biker wear. A sweatshirt with nothing on it at all. Your kilt. Chain mail. Jeans and sneakers and a velvet vest, with or without something underneath. Fake fur. Real fur. Nearly anything plus a cloak. A black mesh shirt, plaid skirt, knee high socks and Doc Martins, but only if you're wearing eyeliner and black lipstick, either gender. A clown suit pushes the boundaries, but a jester outfit is fine. Nearly anything plus a hat. Velvet tights. Flowing skirts. Tight skirts. Low heels. Sandals. High heeled boots. Swashbuckling boots. Tattoos. Multiple piercings. Short hair. Long hair. No hair. Military uniform, if you’re in the military. A suit of armor. Elf ears.

Not appropriate: Storm Troopers. A chain leash on your lover. A Tigger suit. Bedroom slippers. Silver makeup. Ghostbusters. Wifebeater and boxer shorts. Prosthetic noses.

Dress carefully. Mimi's watching.

(Steppin' Out; Joe Jackson)

28 November, 2005

Ninjas Everywhere

...I'm gonna flip out like a ninja coz that's what ninjas do....

I had a post, but I reread it and it was kind of whiny so I ditched it. In other news, I've never been so anxious to not finish a book that I'm reading. I'm considering returning it to the library and waiting for somebody to give it to me for a gift, I'm that desperate to not finish it. Although, I must confess that the author's use of the tongue-tangling names of Schtitt, Stice, Shut and Schact is more like a mind-schtupp, because Bergen and Goldthwait and Hobart and Krautt would have worked just as well.

Therefore, ninjas. An obvious choice, but it's November.

For the uninitiated, some ninja facts.

Meet the most ninja-happy fellow on the 'net.

Play the ninja monkey game! Or the last ninja game!

And if your preferenece is for the junior variety, here are the teenage turtles. Check out the art contest.

I know you wondered. Yes, ninjas are nocturnal.

A serious ninja weapon website, which of course I can't take very seriously, and which leads me of course to Engrish.

I dare you to leave this website not singing the ninja song. Though anything by the rathergood progenitor is bound to be fun.

(Ninja; 7 Seconds of Love)

24 November, 2005

Shah, yathink?

...Our space songs on a spider web sitar/Life is around you and in you....

“No, but the lights, people put them up early because the scenery’s so monochromatic. It adds some color.”

The thing is, late November is about subtlety. It’s about appreciating the soot on slate on silver of cumulus on sky on water, or the smoke on dun on charcoal of cirrus on sky on asphalt; the difference between cold, not so cold, really damn cold and almost warm. It’s about mornings wrapped in shimmering fog that turn into fretful sleety afternoons and cold crisp light on concrete. It’s paying attention to which days are dreary and which ones are dismal. It’s the brief pause when the motherfucking rain takes a breath before resuming its relentless drumming. It’s the color of your breath on the air, subtlely different from the color of mine.

Demetri Martin is on Conan. He looks more like a fourteen-year old than a standup comic in his torn jeans and Ringo Starr haircut. "I saw an ugly pregnant woman yesterday," he says. "And I thought, good for you."

You may not think Vin Diesel is funny. In fact, you may not think of Vin Diesel at all. Personally, I find the very CONCEPT of Vin Diesel funny. But here are facts about Vin Diesel that I never knew.

Funny how everybody goes apeshit over black and white bears. Here they are, cute with a capital C and more than one u. Yes, cute, cute, Cuuuuute.

Oddly enough, Publication DQ
comes through with the goods
. Scroll down, but enjoy the grammar lesson and the Political Animal hatemail while you’re at it.

Some seriously funny shit happens in Washington DC.

(What? WHAT? I thought it was funny.)

“My wife’s family is coming for the holiday. They’re mostly retarded.”

If anyone else was talking, I’d think you were being insulting.

“No. Retarded is a medical term. Big difference between being retarded and being a retard. They’re spelled the same, though.”

I let the spelling comment pass.

So the family’s retarded, but your teenager’s friends are retards?

“That’s about it, yeah.”

And you thought you were going to find some sappyass shit about how grateful I am for allathatthere.

(Let The Sun Shine; HAIR)

23 November, 2005

Head Scratching

...it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...mmmmmmm....

It is a puzzle: I wondered last week how K, of Publication DQ, got my telephone number in order to phone me for permission to yadda yadda yadda one of my poems.

I am at CAC and I mention that K of Publication DQ called me. “Oh, is that who that was?” the Prince asks absently. “I wondered.”

(And now I know why he said “You’re trying to compute ratios in your head? Hah! Poet, playwright, writer, sure.....math skills? Hah!” At the time, I wondered what would make him put ‘poet’ first.)

“Yeah,” says BirthdayBoy. “It was Publication DQ. I thought I told you.”

He called here? Why did he do that? He called my cell phone.

“I know. I was the one who gave him your number. I told him to tell you that it was me that gave it to him, so you wouldn’t wonder. Of course, he didn’t. Figures.”

Okay, so that explains how K got my phone number. Next question: Why did K call here? How did looking for me lead him to you?

“Well, not me personally, Cyb. Just...”

...I know, the Center. But...oh, this is freaking me out.

“So did they run it?”

No. Or at least, not yet.

Also putting a twist in my tights? Christmas lights. Look here, folks: I’m all for festivity and shit, but put a lid on it, willya? Day after Thanksgiving’s soon enough, mmkay? Those of you who were out last weekend decorating, I respectfully suggest that you Get A Life.

Admittedly, I'm participating in the earlification of Christmas myself, by virtue of being in a Murder Mystery on Saturday, December 3, but I have an excuse: I co-wrote it.

You're invited- no beret required.

22 November, 2005

Delayed Gratification

"You may find that 'having' is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as 'wanting'. It is not logical, but it is often true."

Tiny yellow leaves pile in on the sidewalk, small fans, skirts of fairies, a mound of rustling gold. Breeze ruffles them, and they glitter on the ground.


Naked conversation:

What color today, do you think?

“You’re running lights, helping with strike, taking apart a set, all that techie stuff, right? So, black.”

It’s not like they’ll show.

“I know. But still.”

Black it is.


“Lookit them thighs! Girl, you could crack nuts with them thighs! You could kill a man!”

This makes me grin in rememberance. “My partner can crack walnuts with her thighs” was a line my partner used to use in our show. I sat on his shoulders eating torches blindfolded while he juggled two beanbag balls and an apple. But we haven’t done that show for so long; it’s been ten or eleven years now since my thighs have been assesed as weapons.

“I’m not really trying to read your handwriting,” he says, leaning over me. “I’m just looking at your tits.”

This is the price I pay for not drinking my beer at home.


After months of anticipation, I finally go to Vaccaro’s Pasticcioria on Monday night for pastry and coffee. The coffees are marvelous. The pasteries, not so much. The Napoleon and the cookies are disappointing, though Coco is happy with something called 'Vesuvius.' The cream puff-chocolate mousse-crushed Oreo cookie concotion that I order is less satisfying than I’d hoped.

But the most horrifying bit of all this is that I remembered the quote verbatim.

(Spock to T’pring in Amok Time; Star Trek, the original series)

21 November, 2005

Know? What.

...Something's got me reelin', it stopped me from believin'/Turn me around again/Said that we can do it, you know I wanna do it again...

"You will like it," he said, pushing his cup of chai towards me. "Here, taste."

It was a strange moment, one that held its breath, almost. We didn’t know each other well, and the afternoon had been awkward already. And yet, he knew enough to know. Of all the tense and chilly moments that day, it is this warm one I recall.

It’s at once unnerving and reassuring to be known in that way, the way in which someone can say, She loves Chinese, and be certain.

"I know you only did this because I asked you," he says to me. He is right; I had. I am accustomed to being Wicked Stupid about people. I am accustomed to everyone knowing I am Wicked Stupid about this one, everyone, his spouse, mine, everyone. I am not accustomed to this being acknowledged. He knows, and he acknowledges. "I know you only did this because I asked. I owe you," he says.

I say nothing, poised between a witty response and an honest one. I opt for witty, quickly realize I have no wit for this moment. The silence stretches uncomfortably. I default to honesty, but there is nothing safe to say.

Long pink clouds stretch like birthday party streamers across the evening sky.

Every Morning; Sugar Ray

17 November, 2005

Shadow Dance

...it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...mmmmmmm....

The sun is out. It's cold, but the sun is out.

This is not news, except to me.

Hormonal fluctuations and grey weather and quotidian annoyances (though these less so) factor into a strange balancing dance I do with my own brain. It's frustrating to spend the bulk of a day, some days, just keeping myself happy.

I've been depressed before, and it's difficult to explain depression to anyone who hasn't. I'm terrified of being depressed again, since every episode increases EXPONENTIALLY your likelyhood of having another episode. And they're bad, suicidal bad, which I certainly don't want.

A package comes in the mail. It's boots, with wooden cutout heels. They seemed like a good idea when I ordered them, but now I'm not sure I like them.

What do you think?

Fuzzy gives me an assessing look. "Snaaaappy," she pronounces.

I bow to her seven-year-old wisdom.

We find for three-ish dollars at a resale shop a CareBear, 2002, talking. Cheer Bear, with a button in its paw and body, this gender-indeterminate bear, says "You're fun to be with," and "How about a CareBear hug?" when you squeeze it. The children perform "surgery," switching it from 'demo' to 'on' to 'off' without warning. It's a Personal Affirmation Bear, is what it is. "You're my best friend," and "A happy day is coming your way." Okay, it's stupid, but it's what I needed.

That day.

Conspicuous consumption of chocolate (ie stimulant) helps, but then the sugar creates a crash, and since I skip right over the supposed sugar 'high' and go directly to the crash, it's momentarily satisfying but ultimately unhelpful. I can't find my book, Constant Craving which seems like a non-sequiter, but isn't. Doreen Virtue has collected data about food dependancies, theorizing that people with particular needs or problems want particular foods to deal with them. Thus, you can decode what you're feeling by what you're eating/craving. Theoretically. What I was thinking was that maybe there was a section in there somewhere about mood-elevating foods, though if there is, it's probably something dull like salad or oatmeal.

I steamed two artichokes for my breakfast and felt decadent eating them dipped in melted lemon butter.

That was yesterday.

Today the sun is out, and even though it's cold, I'll walk and walk and recharge, because it's still thirty-six days to Darkest Day, and I have to survive. Unfortunately, sunlight cannot be stored cumulatively, otherwise my summer sunning would keep me going til Spring.

Spring, when I will again go Topless.

Or maybe I will today, with the heat on full blast, because even when I'm near-on suicidal, I'm no masochist.

14 November, 2005

Funny? Maybe.

On a scale of one to ten, you're an idiot. --Scotty Meltzer

"Our little girl didn't have a problem with me flushing."

Oh. And did you?

"Well, yeah."


"Why? Did you want to bury it?"


"Why didn't you say something?"

I figured you'd think I was foolish.

"I wouldn't...hey, are you choked up about this? You are! Come here."

I really liked that stupid fish.

And if you think that's funny,

The Nerd Test. I got extra points for using a Mac!

Always funny: Bad Puns.

Funny. No Milk. It's eleven minutes, and yes, that good.

I spent part of last week learning to be funny with Scotty Meltzer, a MotionFest veteran.

Nunsense 2 at the Chesapeake Arts Center (don't worry, I'm not in it; just running the light board) is funny, but mostly if you are or have ever been Catholic. I'm not, and haven't so I miss a lot.

Also funny is this, in terrorist news. Okay, not funny-funny, but I-don't-understand-anything,-apparantly funny. A couple wires themselves to explode, and when his wife has trouble detonating, the man PUSHES HER OUT OF THE VENUE. What does this mean? In the midst of terror and death, love? Did he want to save her from death, and only detonated after she was safe? Did he not want to be personally responsible for her death, since she couldn't take responsibility for her own? Did he want her left alive so she could try again later?

I am constantly amazed by the complexity of humans.

While we hate our alien enemy, we designate his motivation 'evil' without attempting to understand. Until we love our enemy, at least a little, our hearts and minds are not open to hearing his motivation. Until we clarify motivation, we lack understanding. When we achieve understanding, there is at last hope for peace.

That's not funny, but it's true.

06 November, 2005

Wrapping Up

...counting the days 'til I'll be with you/counting the hours and the minutes, too/ Bye, baby, goodbye/Bye, baby, goodbye/ Bye, baby, goodbye/ bye-bye, so long, farewell...


We’ve planned to breakfast at the Bizarre Bazaar before tearing down Panto Camp. In my twenty seasons at the Faire, I’ve never been to a Bizarre Bazaar, though it’s held weekly during Fairetimes.

All the testosterone that doesn’t share my DNA is firmly ensconced in the basement showing no signs of activity. I make coffee, post a note, and the children and I leave.

Vultures circle the parking lot, in search of easy meals. One bold fellow sits on the ground, close enough to eye us with beady glitter from his red head. Another swoops low in front of the BoringMobile, looking at us as much as we look at him.

"Look, Mama! There’s their home!" My daugher’s eyesight is as keen as any vulture’s, or moreso. She’s right: there is a leafless tree, decorated with two birds, just beyond the back edge of the joust arena.

Joseph, who gave us plain pins, cooks eggs while Frank the Elephant Trainer cooks potatos behind him. The menu is posted on paper tacked to Heineke’s knife booth. Joseph writes our orders on a scrap of cardboard. The cash register is a clear glass jar and payment is the honor system. An iBook plays CDs through small speakers in what must be the most dramatic display of underutilization of technology I’ve ever seen.

That Girl hands something to me.

"You owe me two bucks."

It’s underwear. Specifically, hot pink satin tanga panties trimmed in black lace.

(Yes, I am wearing them. Why?)

"They still had tags on, and I knew you had to have them. So you owe me two bucks."

We are comfortably covered, our cold-and spandex-induced Nippleometers no longer in evidence.

"Is it the right nipple for temperature and the left for barometric pressure, or the other way around?"

Not sure. Mine's a Swedish model, so it's likely to be different anyway.

Hilby arrives with Martin and Aviv, intent on taking Fluffy with them to the National Aquarium. Martin stays, as does Fuzzy, under duress. She does not appreciate that I am rescuing her from the cruelty of two boys burdened with a little sister.

The Bazaar is...bizarre. I buy a hat, a silk scarf, ponder earrings I do not need. Once the Bazaar and breakfast have finished, we tear down. Seven large plastic totes, six pair of stilts, four big ladders, five folding chairs, two armloads of white costumes, three tarps and two five-gallon buckets fill both the BoringMobile and That Girl’s pickup truck to capacity.

"All this stuff. All this preparation. I suddenly feel inadequate with only stilts, trousers and a baggie of makeup." Martin is a minimalist, it's true.

Yeah, but you pack out and travel in a drill case.

"Please. It’s a chainsaw case. Much more macho."

Fuzzy, still put out with me, opts to drive with That Girl. As we caravan out, I look for vultures.

It's different from this morning.

"What is?"

I drove in with children, and I'm driving out with an adult.

"Bit like life, then, really."

(Fabares Shelley; See You In September)

02 November, 2005

Final Day

...five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes/how do you measure - measure a year?/in daylights - in sunsets/ in midnights - in cups of coffee....

Saturday Night

Hilby arrives, eleven-year-old son Aviv in tow. "Where do you PUT them all?" Rosman asks, incredulous. "And why do they like to stay with you better than with me, anyway?"

Basement, breakfast, blowjobs? I dunno, Michael.

Martin calls Hilby "the perfect anti-German. He's friendly, he's messy, and he's funny."

Aviv looks at a picture on my kitchen wall. "Who are those guys?"

"Who ARE dose guys? Come ON, Aviv," Hilby chides.

"The Three Stooges? This is Curly...and those are, uh, the other two?"

Actually, those guys are Julius, Leonard and Adolph. Better known as Groucho, Chico and Harpo.

"Friends of yours?"

The Marx Brothers.

"Who's Mark?

"No, Aviv, you know the Marx Brozers. Veally, Seabelle? Harpo's name vas Adolph?"

Little known fact. He had it changed to Arthur later, of course, when it became uncomfortable to be named Adolph.

"Ah. In Chermany, nobody is named Adolph anymore."

What, not ever?

"No, the government won't let anybody be named that."

They retired the name.

"Vell, not retired, exactly, but yah, I guess, becauze zey don't..."

So Mrs. Hitler has to name her son Gordon or Wallace now?

"Oh, vell, no, dere's no Mrs. Hitler anymore. Zey retired dat one, too."



I'm still sulking. The weather is perfect, which means that there will be MILLIONS of patrons DEVASTATED by the cancellation of Mimi Flambe. Or...well, not. I have an addendum to post to our Mimi Flambe sign: "...will not be presented today~ photo op and autographs only." Fluffy and I will sit together on the bench, mug for cameras and sign programs.

The final Morning Meeting of the season holds a delightful surprise: David Smith, professional freak. "Michael Rosman brought me in," he says, looking down at me, down, bending his long neck, tossing his long hair, looking down that long gorgeous nose. I am afraid to stand near him more than a moment or two, in fear of babbling like an idiot. "You squealed when he carried you across that broken glass," a girlfriend reminds me, with more memory than tact. She confesses that she's also had a crush on him since, like, ever.

Michael! You've been holding out on me.

"I knew you already had a full house. Stop it. I get to have SOME of the cool people."

Up we go on stilts because the grounds are sloggy and disgusting. In the Wine Garden, (more tasting!) we are given bits of meat by a well-dressed Designated Patron, who stands near a group of...Storm Troopers? Yes. There are Imperial Storm Troopers in our village today. One of them hands me his head. Costumer Cindy shows me how to put it on, demonstrating expressively with her hands while giving clear, simple instructions: "Sideways, and then you turn it. Be careful." Yes. I've a good idea of what these things cost. Through the helmet, I can just barely detect several camera flashes. I'm off balance, can't see. Enough.

It's Day of Wrong. Patrons have invented this. Last year, there were two separate sets of Wizard of Oz characters. Every year, men with full beards dress as wenches. The Twins don't dress at all. I've seen a Tigger costume, a Ghostbuster, and now, Storm Troopers. Wrong. But I love it that the patrons are making up their own show. Talk about interactive.

We change to La Blanca Venti, our white costumes on stilts, for a short photo session with Martin. Fluffy brings him a top hat and tails, by wearing them across the site. It's Day of Wrong; he fits right in.

At Fluffy's suggestion, we all don our white outfits and stand, unstilted, outside the front gate, to bid patrons farewell. A final glimpse of beautiful before they face the reality of the parking lot. So long, farewell...adieu, adieu, to you and you and you... That Girl peels off for parts unknown: the children and I remain a few minutes more.

"This is for you. Thank you for a wonderful Faire season." A gentleman hands me a red rose. No. Thank YOU. Really. All of you.

I mean that. Thank you, everyone, for everything. Thank you for the slick photographs, the picture disc, the food and wine and flowers. Thank you for repairing our pixie Trixie, for the music CD, the tee shirts, and the chocolates. Thank you for the encouragement, the cautions, the concern, the kudos. Thank you for the sips of beer, the oyster shooters, the pins, the laughter. Thank you for the admiring glances, the flirtatious moments, the applause, the hugs and kisses. Most of all, thank you for the promise that next year, you'll come back and love me some more.

Believe it or not, I am also paid for this.

The day is over. Sandy has braided my hair for the last time this season. We're packed to go. Martin is off with Hilby. The children and I slog through mud to find the car.

"Can we put the top down, Mama?"

Son. You can see your breath. If we put the top down, you'll be extremely uncomfortable.

"But Mama. Stop a minute. Look at the stars."

And for a moment, there is nothing but sky and wonder, and the Universe, big enough to give me all the love there is and my son, too.

(Seasons of Love; RENT)

29 October, 2005

End's Beginning

...feed it to the vultures, there's a lot of them out there....


We drive in, dreading mucky grounds again. The rain has returned.

I loathe this weather. I do. My official face is one of acceptance, but truly, I detest grey dreary days, when I do little more than make tea, sit near my SunBox and eat comfort food in a mostly futile attempt to protect my fragile mental health from something as impersonal as the goddamn weather.

Two vultures sulk beneath an ornamental tree. I think they are ours. They should be on our parking lot, foraging for leftover turkey legs. They loathe this weather also. The lot is messy, but the rain eases off. It does not matter. I am still sulking, like the vultures. I am not permitted to do my show today, and fire is so pretty on grey heavy air.

There was an 'incident' last week. This is not what really happened.

And neither is this.

I don't know WHAT really happened. I wasn't there; I didn't see it.

But for those of you who worried, please be assured that I was not involved.

What is true is that the festival was slapped with a 'cease and desist' for fire, and without fire, I gots nuttin'. This is the explaination for why Mimi Flambe did not occur as scheduled on the final festival weekend.

The media, vultures that they are, make much of this 'dangerous stunt.' Must be a slow week for real news.

Fluffy and I make magic instead of doing our show. With the perfectly ordinary ingredients of soap and water (though I believe there is non-coincidental symbolism in the fact that the brand Joy has always worked best for us) we create gorgeous rainbow spheres, metaphoric in their transience. We engage boot-and-poncho clad families in a non-destructive game: blow beneath the bubble until it lifts and floats away. Gently, now: when these four-foot beauties burst, they dump a drenching amount of soapy water on the offender. The children find the right breath. The adults join in. The bubble is passed from one to another above the heads of several people before an updraft catches it and pulls it away over shingled rooftops.

The humans stand quietly, watching. Magic, I say.

While on stilts, I find a young man with a short haircut. I rub his head with my gloved palm. He does not object. His friends are amused, and take pictures. I lean down and stroke the underside of my chin across the crown of his soft head. His friends laugh at my blissful expression. And then the young man begins to purr.


That Girl has jumped all over the Ministry of Silly Walks concept, the one that permits white-faced pantos in absurdist pseudo-Tudor costuming to walk in a goofy way for no apparent reason. We carry candy in wooden bowls offering it to patrons. "Candy from strangers?" asks one teen of a bevy of cronies. "Gotta do it," responds another. The candy is color-coordinated to match our costumes.

We silly-walk to the Wine Garden and are invited to feast. Some Designated Patrons have brought a fancy spread, and share roast pork, cheeses, and brownies with us. We sample wine: I, two or three; she, six or seven.

Off to Rob Piland's jewelry booth, where Amy has gifts. "I give this to you with heartfelt thanks, deep gratitude, and honor. Your brave deed was entertaining and gratifying, and has become legendary. And so, I present this to you." She hands me a rose. Attached to it is a pewter badge that reads: "Don't Mess With the Mime!"

I cook supper and hear Martin vocalizing in the shower. Ah, yesssss. The cure for damp and drear is hot steamy water and plenty of it, and a warm meal that follows.

Has it been raining? I suppose it has. It's been a good day anyway.

(Play On; Crack the Sky)

25 October, 2005

Non- Post...

I realize I am long overdue. Apologies. I have too much to say to be able to be brief; I'd go on forever. Much better to craft something somwhat better than disjointed rambling. Soon, soon, I promise....

(Life. Don't talk to me about life.)

13 October, 2005

One More

...wings to fly above the clouds (above the clouds)....

Axiom: If you're sober enough to be troubled by the cold discomfort of the bathroom floor, it's probably safe to go to bed.


It's nice to hear that my favorite bar owner has missed me, since I'm neither a frequent visitor nor a copious consumer, so therefore professionally unmemorable.
It's good to see the bald dude, but it doesn't require more than a few moments. However, quick-minded entertaining people who are free of the aaaaahhhctor double blade of ego and insecurity can keep me occupied for hours.

"Let's do vodka shots," says W., ever friendly and charming. Okay. She brings them, accompanied by sugar-coated lemons.

Do NOT let me have another of these.

"No, just one. Salud!"

Drink the vodka. Bite the lemon. Yummy. It won't hit 'til later, the feeling of having consumed an alcoholic beverage. But the notion of invincibility, as though I can drink as if I were 6'2" and 220 lbs. is instantaneous. I have much more fun than I bargained for, listening to the jukebox, drinking tiny Miller Lites and losing at pool. I restrain myself from biting W.'s tender neck, as her fiancee is present. I content myself with running one fingernail along it. I only came in for a beer.


I plunk down on a barstool, one eye on baseball and one on the new beertender. His name is Mike. He gives me the bad news about the Ravens game. It's been a weird weekend. I need this beer.


"Cybele? I'm not coming in on Monday, after all. I'm coming in tonight."

Really? What time, do you think?

"Well, like, now."

Come on, then. Young Evan will lurk in my basement until I clear the guestroom. Hilby and Martin won't arrive until Friday anyway.

Axiom: If you park your car somewhere other than where you usually park it, it will be dark when you go to look for it.


Larry's reassuring presence keeps me from parking lot panic. The rain has caused large-scale adjustments in our parking patterns.

"Is that it?"

No, we're looking for dark green. Right. On an unlit lot.

"Oh, a Cherokee-type. I thought we were looking for a JEEP Jeep."

Yeah. And we would be, if the Jeep were mine. But it's not, so here we are on a black and crowded waterlogged lot, looking for the BoringMobile.


I am incognito, out of makeup, in mufti. I order coffee and drink it from an aluminum travel mug. I make a call on my cell phone. I refrain from making faces at patrons. I talk to Sandy as she braids my hair. All of this is so strange to me. I keep waiting for someone to call me out: "HEY! Aren't you that mime?" No one does.


"This group of high school students arrived and started singing at the Globe stage."


"Well, they apparantly had called the entertainment director, asked if they could perform, been told 'No' and then showed up anyway."

They crashed the Globe?

"Yeah, they did. 'No one else is performing here right now', they said."

They crashed the Globe. Brilliant.


I am greeted by cheers and congratulations. People thank me for a good laugh, a good story. I am the village hero of the moment. I'm embarassed, as I was ashamed to have lost my temper. And yet, when the collective loveliness of the moccasin booth stands to applaud, I take a bow.


"Oh, it was mad, people being taken away in cuffs and everything."

"They arrived drunk. Justin found beer cans on the parking lot."

"Did you hear about the girls mud wrestling?"


"Well, after they pushed over the privy..."


"Yeah, it's from a movie, I never saw it, but....anyway, they push over the privy with some guy in it, I think they knew him..."

Holy shit.

"Exactly, and these girls went through the hole that was made in the privy wall to the area behind the joust, you know?"

Idiots. And then they start...

"Right, wrestling in the mud, throwing it at each other, except it wasn't mud."

Holy shit.

"Yep. They were flinging horse poo."

Axiom: When there is an Us vs. Them mentality, heroism is defined by one of Us getting some of our own back from Them.


It's been raining on and off all day, mostly on. Patrons have arrived anyhow, some few intrepids willing to drip and slog. That Girl and I have been dashing colorfully from shop to shop and blowing bubbles through our fingers. We carry buckets and rags, and we pause between booths, deciding where to go next. Suddenly, a loud voice roars in my ear, frightening a scream from me. That Girl, startled, looks at someone behind me. I turn. A young man in a striped shirt is dodging away.

Shocked silence falls on this sector of the village. I feel expectation in the air. Will Mimi let this pass? She will not. She must not.

I turn to face my attacker, nearly blind with indignation, and douse him with the contents of my bubble bucket. Still furious, I stalk away to wild cheering from the booth workers.


Ugh. It's raining. I roll over, wrapping myself in the covers before flinging them back to face the world. I have done this before. We can do this again. We will manage to be bright spots of color against the grey drab. I don't even mind getting my feet wet.

It's wet socks I can't stand.

Fast forward:

Early Monday morning, I look at myself in the mirror.

Axiom: No matter what sensible, sober, hairdo protective reason you had for doing it the night before, it still feels incredibly stupid to wake with a pair of pantyhose tied to your head.

(Windy; The Association)

11 October, 2005

Tonight On Fox

...mime goes wild, attacks patron....

The stories you have heard are not all true.

You won't get the truth from me, either.

Not tonight, anyway.

In the meantime, if anyone's interested, on Wednesday October 12th at 7:30 PM, I'm reading poetry (yes, mine) at the Cafe Beaux Arts inside Maryland Hall in Annapolis.

I'll probably wear a beret.

07 October, 2005

Time's Short...

...we all have time enough to die....

He, usually reserved, reaches for me, a hug goodbye. Odd, and yet....


"What's the good word?"



The good word. You asked what it was. It's 'yes'. 'Yes' is the good word, and it's my favorite.

To no-one's surprise, I'm sure.


There are three Renaissance Festival weekends left. If you haven't been yet, hurry.

(Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?; Chicago)

05 October, 2005

Related Images

...the sky is grey/ I've been for a walk....

The sky is a stormy sea. Foamy clouds twist and writhe. A lady walks to her car, prim in working woman skirt and shoes. Her perfume washes over me, carried by breeze that churns leaves and branches into green froth.

Airborne, an ordinary squirrel becomes a flying one, in a startled leap from fence rail to a tree just out of reach. And yet it clings to the bark after all, remains still a moment, stunned, before scampering spiral up into sheltering leaves. The squirrels have gone mad, maaaaaad. They taunt and tease and dart and dash. The Questing Sniff tugs my joints askew. He thinks he can climb trees to catch these furry impertinents. The leash bites my hand, burns my wrist as it lightning snakes, following frenzied dog.

That Girl has given me a bit of Brie, and I sit in a haze of leg-filled dust that is at this moment my stage. The Brie is amazing. I close my eyes, for I hold the ocean in my mouth. Rattle of drying leaves becomes roar of surf, and high-pitched excited voices become sharp seagull cries. The briny cheese melts away, and the vision fades. I open my eyes.

She's watching my face.

Silently, she snickers, points a finger, does a mocking mimic of ecstasy.

And offers me more Brie.

Life is good.

(California Dreamin'; The Mamas and the Papas)

28 September, 2005

Briefly Uncovered

The weather is fine. I've finished a gig that seemed endless. Traffic backup permits makeup removal. Pulling my striped top off in favor of a solid black one, I let cool evening air wash over my skin. The plain top lies in the seat beside me for about half a mile. Topless, me?


I'm still wearing a hat.

26 September, 2005

Not Dead

...I want something else/ to get me through this....

My actual life crowds out my virtual one, by virtue of being actual.

Actually, not having a computer at home is a serious handicap.

In other news, the Maryland Renaissance Festival has enjoyed wonderful weather. You have four more weekends in which to partake of the magical environment we spend most of a year creating.

In other other news, the IRS in its infinite wisdom has decided it owes me more money than I had calculated on my (late) tax return. Who am I to argue with the IRS?

This is good news in that it permits me to plan a trip to buy an iBook at the Apple store.

Not because an Apple is necessarily better. But I've been hating the Microsoft operating system for a bunch of years now, and I'd like the opportunity to hate something different.

Like Mae West, when choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I haven't tried before.

(Semi-Charmed Kind Of Life; Third Eye Blind)

20 September, 2005

Sandy Crannies

Coral bleeds a thin vein dividing grey on grey of sea and sky. Waves brown and white tumble in to lick my feet and chase me further up the shore. Melon orb suddenly bumps above pink line, throbs color onto misty morning beachfront. Rolling waves pause in pant and growl, like an inhale, and resume.

The rough surf is all tumble and frolic today, knocking me from my feet, burying my head beneath foam, scratching my skin against sandy bottom, sending my sandy bottom over and over my snarly head. I break my head free, drinking warm salt air into my lungs, water streaming from hair across shoulders, down back. Skin cool and muscles warm, I stride out further to wrestle with more waves.

Leaving my feet to float, I am no longer of earth, at odds with water, but part of the sea, bobbing and dipping, tossed gently with rush and roll. My bikini wanders, sliding askew with little provocation. Discarding it is an appealing non-option. I accidentally flash a pair of amused elders as I emerge.

Back ashore, I still feel tidal pull tugging at my body.

Back home, I still feel tidal pull tugging at my heart.

12 September, 2005

Nice View

...summer lovin, had me a blast/ summer lovin' happend so fast....

His ponytail hangs to his waist. His naked waist. His naked, construction-worker tanned and muscled waist.

Have I mentioned I love summer?

And despite the leaves that tumble into my hands as I walk in a certain wooded village, I refuse to see it end.

So I'm off to the beach.

If you miss me, my archives are ample.

(Summer Nights; Grease)

08 September, 2005

Eleven Vignettes

...sing, and dance/ My heart is set/ All goodly sport/ To my comfort....

Designated Patrons have beat us to the site and embrace each other as they struggle into their 'garb' and have what amounts to an early morning tailgate party.

Look how adorable they are.

"They've been here since eight-thirty," CandyBoy tells me from his souped-up golf cart.

Bless their hearts.


Our white costumes have undergone some revisions in an attempt to top last year's level of gorgeous. Fluffy, without irony, calls the entourage Stairway to Heaven.

"Wait, stop! I want my son to have his picture with you!"

Sorry lady. We follow the littlest one. She's in motion, and besides, we are a procession, not a backdrop.

In the wine garden, a tender mixes what she calls Spanish Fly into our tin cup. Mmmm, tastes like Sangria! Greedy, we snatch the cup back and forth from one another in between mugging and posing against a convinient tree. We are the imps of this village and we take our job seriously.

Seriously impish, that's us.

A little girl in a pink gown with organza wings is afraid of clowns, but by our second encounter is fond and brave enough to have her picture with me, as long as Gran holds her. "Her parents will never believe this," Gramps gushes. Later, a teary-eyed sweetie in lavender approaches. "She's frightened of you, so she wanted to come see you," her mother explains with the sound of someone speaking logically. I reach down from my seat on the bar and pull the girl to my lap. She snuggles up and we are friends forever.

Or at least for the next five minutes.

I've made my trousers too long. The right leg tangles in the foot of the left stilt and spills me onto the ground with a fair degree of momentum. I've no time to alter my position. This is the worst landing I've ever made. I roll over, in pain, suprrounded by concerned faces. What to do? The arm throbs so badly I can't concentrate. I only half-feign distress at the wood chips all over my costume. Pouting, I brush off, scanning the crowd for big guys. Little, little, nope, only medium, where the hell are my burly fellows? Ah, there, ooops, it's Jules. Well, that's embarassing, to need an assist from the boss, but I know I can rely on his shoulder. And hope for his understanding. Now medium sized Joe Patron to my right will do just fine. With a man's shoulder beneath each armpit, I'm on my feet again and off. That Girl indicates that I've lost my nose. Dammit. I stop at Bruce's facepainting tent for a repair. I lean down and one of his girls makes quick work of mending me. "Did you know you're bleeding?" Ah, no. Just cover that shit up with white paint.

I have a responsibility to be beautiful, you know.

I prod That Girl and point to a beautiful man. His sharp-featured face features a warm expression. His silver hair reaches past his shoulders, and his silver beard reaches his collarbone. He's wearing a princess hat. "Princess hats for men!" he calls from his post at the hat cart. That Girl frowns in confusion. I mouth, "That's Patch Adams." He shows up every year about this time, and he's one of the highlights of the weekend.

Because he's lost, I bring him to Customer Service. "I want bagpipes," he says. At Customer Service, he reveals that he wants the BAR with the bagpipes. "White Hart, that's the one!" he exclaims when Nice Lady shows him a map of the village. He asks if I'll walk him there, and since he's fun, I do. He makes a series of bad tall-girl puns on our way, and I nearly fall off my stilts in convulsions of silent laughter. I haven't had this much fun with a drunk in a long time.

He's my very first lost grownup.

Max has finished his rootbeer float and I help a patron locate one for her own child. A man sitting near us wants funnel cake. I check the program for food offerings, but don't find funnel cake. No worries: Max knows. He escorts Mr. Hungry halfway across site for his goodie.

Trust my boy to know where all yummy stuff is sold.


Okay, I'll cop to that. I turn.

"So, my lady, you do not speak, but you DO hear!"

Mmmm. Yes, and?

"Might I have your hand?"

I give him the confused look, then tuck my mug under one arm to show him both my hands.

"Ah, I am to have my choice, then?"

Sure, why not. Give it back, though.

"Well, then, my lady, I shall choose the right. Know you, my lady, that I am Shawn, and I be a privateer, but what is more important, I am a romanceteer."

Oh, yeah? He raises my hand to his lips, slowly, slowly, holding my eyes with his the whole time. It is not only the tickling of his moustache and breath against the back of my hand that sends me into fits of snickering. He kisses my hand, finally, finally, and from behind his back, produces a rose, which he hands to me with a courtly bow.

Romanceteer, indeed.

Outside the bookshop, Santa Claus stretches his arms out to me. I grasp his hands, lean down to kiss him. His friend snaps a shot. Atop his snowy head, Santa is wearing a green John Deere cap.

"We've been looking for you all day, Mimi!"

Consider me found.

I pass parents clustered outside the school, in khaki or denim shorts, skirts and trousers, all topped with ice-cream colored tee shirts. It's nearly as much a uniform as the ones their children are wearing inside the building. The Real World seems boring to me now.

Come visit me in my world. You only have seven more weekends.

(Pastime In Good Company; Henry VIII)

31 August, 2005

Opening: Wormcan

...only one thing that I know how to do well/ And I've often been told that you only can do/ What you know how to do well/ And that's be you/ Be what you're like/ Be like yourself....

Opening Day at the 2005 Maryland Renaissance Festival was so filled with technical difficulties and costume changes that I felt I hardly saw the audience at all; unfulfilling, to say the least.

Shattered glass greeted me inside my front door. The still life photograph that d. and I had created at Artscape this year had fallen. The shards of splintered glass had a melancholy beauty against the blue background, and I was nearly sad to sweep them up.

Saturday night, the show went wll, even better than it had on Friday night. Fucking CityPaper never reviewed it. Bastards.

Sunday's weather threatened, but began to clear as we drove in. The varigated clouds created an amazingly textural depth of skyscape.

All equipment problems had been addressed, if not completely resolved, and the day began smoothly. I was just starting to feel the love when it was time to leave for the Sunday matinee. It was at this point that I got word that the cast party was being moved from nearly family-friendly poolside to the interior of a bar I hate.

You'd have thought it would be difficult to be cross while riding topless to eighties tunes.

The matinee was smooth, and strike was brief. That Girl brought my children to me. They'd finished their day at Faire, the lucky beggars. I was not up for dragging them to a bar after Opening Weekend, so I declined to attend. "You'll be with people you love," Coco cajoled.

Who would that be?

"Hello, your castmates? The people you've been working with?"

Ah. Did you get the impression I loved them, then?

She was visibly peeved, and stomped off with a "Fine!" that meant she was anything but, but by that time, exhausted from the weekend and upset about my offspring being only just barely tolerated, I was in the Don't Care Zone, and thus imperturbable. We had a nice time at home in front of the television.


Fleecy fog fails entirely to conceal the horrifying transformation of a home from the dismal shade of candy pink to the equally dismal shade of tarp blue.

Glass from the broken window of a stolen car crunches beneath my feet.


Now, as promised, To Politics.

The problem as I see it is that each one of our options for an elected official has been purchased by somebody or multiple somebodies. As far as I know (clue me in if you know differently) there is no mandate of disclosure as to what companies have contributed to which candidates and by how much.

We can overthrow our elected officials every four years- even every two- but until we know who is in whose pocket and elect accordingly, it will not be our agendas that are addressed.

It isn't our politicians, bless their scheming power-hungry hearts, who are running the country. It's Big Business that's in charge, hiring the Marketing Machine to make us want things, buying advertising space to show us the things they've chosen to make us want, then selling them to us at pre-determined prices in pre-determined retail outlets, and using their unholy profits to contribute to every politician who agrees to support their interests. We cannot get rid of these people, even if we discover who they are. As long as we are willing to be led like lambs to Wal-Mart, we are tacitly participating in our own subjugation.

Let us be clear: I am not against Capitalism. What I am against is subscribing to the self-delusion that Common Man's participation in the Political Machine will somehow make a difference. Which is not to say that we should not participate, just that we ought keep in mind that we can't know much about a candidate based on media sound-bytes. Even if we investigate a candidate's history (and honestly, how many people do? Do you? I don't. I have a family to look after) this tells us nothing about the sort of decisions this person will make as an elected official.

Now, factor in the people surrounding Your Favorite Frontrunner, such as campaign manager, speechwriter, financial advisor, brother-in-law, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, and you now have, not Candidate, but Candidate Soup.

Even paying attention to debates, press conferences or live flesh-pressing events is of little help. Perhaps you forget (and it is hoped that you will) but I promise you the candidates never do: these are performances, where they portray the characters they hope you'd like to elect.

Politics is performance art, funded by powerful coorportations with profit-minded agendas.

Go ahead. Cast your vote for whoever's lies sound best to you. But realize that you're whistling in the dark and hoping for the best.

(Whistling In The Dark; They Might Be Giants)

26 August, 2005

Tune In...

...next week, when I, in my current snarly condition, will post links and discuss politics.

Seriously, I've been so irritable I'm getting on my own nerves. But general bitchiness is good for vicious humor and caustic observations, so all is well in my vituperative world.

In the meantime, amuse yourselves with this review of the show I'm in. There's an overly cheerful sunshiney one which was in The Sun, but click here for the one that is probably most accurate.

As busy as this weekend's schedule is, I'm thinking it won't be possible to get too well padded with the joy that usually flows in my direction, especially on Opening Weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Which bodes well for something entertainingly mean-spirited.

24 August, 2005

Southern Exposure

...we could go down with a smile on, don't bother to pack your nylons/ just keep them pretty legs showin'....

When the contractor’s truck comes around the block for a third time, I write down his license plate. What? WHAT?

A man in a minivan pulls to a stop.

"Hey, kin I talk to you?"


I keep walking. "You am some (mumble mumble) beetch. Whasho name?"

I do not answer.

Mr and Mrs White Trash shamble past, pushing a dirty child in a dirtier stroller.

"Aww, lookee the purdy doggie, Bubba!"

Then, as I pass, from Mr White Trash,


"Good morning, sweetheart! You look fanTAStic!"

Uh, thanks, Grampa. Go back to your yardwork. Check your pacemaker.

"Hey, Miss! Miss!"

I turn to face the person addressing me.

"I jes gotta say, I thought I look good in mines, but you…oooohhhhweee, I wish my huzbin could see you."

Goddamn it. Okay, screw comfort. Obviously, I’ve miscalculated the correct length for cutoff jean shorts, and not by a little. These Daisy Dukes (aside: thank you, Hollywood, for in your infinite wisdom producing a movie to resurrect this piece of nearly-dead cultural iconography) are hereby consigned to the trunk of my car, marked 'For Emergency Use Only.'

Or perhaps 'Caution: Contents Under Pressure.'

(Drive South; John Hiatt)

20 August, 2005

No Puedo

...say the only words I know that you'll understand....


His English fails him, but the exasperated 'come on, have half a brain, willya?' expression needs no translation. He gestures to the two kitchen stools lying end to end on the floor, the ones I'm blithely stepping over. This, apparantly, is a deliberate barrier rather than general sloppiness.

Okay, Carlos. Fine. I point to the ladder leaning against the wall I'm not allowed to approach.

Is it for sale?

He looks. He fumbles with a tag. He looks at me. His mouth works. He can't tell me what the tag says. If he can read it.

I'll come around, I sigh.

I come around. The tag says FURN DEPT. Not for sale, then.

He shakes his head.

Barriers everywhere.

(Michelle; The Beatles)

19 August, 2005

Three Hours

...before we open.

Goddamn it, I promised myself that I would not turn this into a big deal.

Okay. It's not a big deal.

That takes care of that.


18 August, 2005

Oh, Come On

...baby, talk to me/ like lovers do....

Seriously. I added comments at YOUR request, people. YOURS. And only Robert steps up? Pitiful, I tell you.

I've been slack about links lately, so here's some comin' atcha.

From Sloth's site, a definition of Googlebomb, which is both noun and verb.

Martin offers us results of a contest informally known as It Was A Dark And Stormy Night. Go visit Martin. His hit counter needs fluffing.

I love most everything at Archie McPhee, but this is particularly precious. To no one's surprise, I'll be ordering the purple.

I've been indulging my underwear habit, and after having gone bra shopping with Cutter, who told me the syle I'd been wearing did nothing but keep my breasts company, I've got enough information to shop via internet. Here is what I'm currently eyeing.

In other news, the play I'm in opens tomorrow. It's called Real to Reel.Here's the blurb.

In a departure from her usual fare of interactive murder mysteries, Do or Die Productions writer/director C.J. Crowe forays into the non-improvisational with her fist full-length play. Audiences familiar with Crowe's work will recognize her trademark humor as she explores the complex world of family relations.

Mary Baker has lived the American Dream... beautiful house, devoted husband and three loving children. And now, she is dying to star on reality television... literally. After being diagnosed with cancer, Mary's final wish is to allow hot new reality television show Real to Reel to cover the progress of her illness. Humor is her armor and laughter is her shield as she and her family very publicly face her battle with cancer

It's at the Chesapeake Arts Center in the Studio Theatre.

You'll be close enough to smell my fear.

(Here Comes the Rain Again; Eurythmics)

17 August, 2005

Last Chance...

...hello, hello, hello, hello....

He looks up from fiddling with the hose on his tanker. His eyes gleam under fluffy eyebrows that match a shock of white hair, his mouth crooks beneath a fringe of white moustache. I hit him with the you're-the-most-beautiful-person-I've-seen-today smile when he makes eye contact. He returns it, full force, flashing and twinkling in surprise.


"Hey, Gurrrl," from the passenger window of a car in the left turn lane. I check him out, and giggle.

"Whatchoo laughin' at? Huh?"

Been a long time since I've been legitimately categorized as 'girl'.

"Not from where I'm sittin'. Guuuuuuuuurllllll...." he grins.

I grin. The light changes.


Rain sparkles the skin of my shoulders, cheeks, arms. The Questing Sniff prances smartly. On a worn sofa upon the add-on porch of a battered townhouse in a sketchy neighborhood are two young men.

Good morning.

Punkass #1:


Punkass #2:

"Lordy, good MAWnin'. And you are GOOD this MAWnin'. Mmm, hmm."

Don't be rude.

They're fifteen.

I have to draw the line somewhere.

(Smells Like Teen Spirit; Nirvana)

16 August, 2005

Discontinuation Imminent

...it's a mystery!

"You're not yourself today."

Who am I, then?

And, more importantly, who's me?


The drizzle created a mist that rested on the bay, blurring the line between liquid water and airborne haze. A troupe of ducks marched around the hospital parking lot. The mostly-sunken ship stood like a buoy amidst gentle waves. A speedboat buzzed past, taking no notice.


"I love it."

Care to be more specific?

"Mmmmmm...no. Just, everything that's going on right at this exact moment, I love."

Yeah. I feel that way, too.


(Shakespeare In Love; Tom Stoppard)

15 August, 2005

Still Testing....

...brown skin shinin' in the sun/ you got that top pulled down and that radio on, baby....

The air is soft, like a favorite cotton sweater, like a powder puff, like a lover's breath just before a kiss.

In evening, driving is a delight. After suffering all day in the blazing sun, the relative cool of night is delicious, accented as it is by eighties tunes from the cheap but working stereo.

It's been beastly. That is, like an actual beast. As in like being trapped in the mouth of a slobbering Labrador.

My body thrums and hums with restlessness. Nothing satisfies. I am at once bored, with too much to do. Speaking of which, the Maryland Renaissance Festival opens next weekend. In the meantime, I've been rehearsing something else. Coco wrote Real to Reel, and I've been having fun in a small supporting role. Come see me if you like; red carnation (or indeed any clothing) entirely optional.

I go for beer and decompression, stay for conversation. Topics range from watermelon to penis size to fuzzy keyboards.

"I thought that was you, but you were backlit by the cooler and then you didn't come in so I figured it wasn't. Come to find out, it was you, and you were just being an asshole."

Strangely, I am touched by this.

(Boys of Summer; Don Henley)

10 August, 2005

No Comment?

...this is a test...this is only a test....

The Universe is full of unanswered questions.

Why would an otherwise reasonable human give the name 'Aries' to a child born under the sign of Pisces? Call a winter baby 'Autumn'? A blonde one 'Raven'?

Why is it that the gerund form of the 'F-word' is ubiquitous, but the adverbial form is used nearly never?

The pickup is huge, with hips. The vanity plate reads '4 MY RV'. I get that it's testosterone on wheels. But was it necessary to hang a large plastic scrotum from the tow hitch? And who made that thing? WHY?

"Hi, Sweetheart. Having fun?"

Of course. Don't I always?

"Absolutely. I retract the question."

Remember, this is a test.

08 August, 2005

Birthday Wishes

...you gotta squeeze a little, squeeze a little/ tease a little more....

At first, her expression is one of patient tolerance. It changes to amused patience, then surprise, moving into astonishment. Her legs shift. She squirms. Then, to everyone's amazement, goosebumps. And...is it? Yes, it's nipplage.

He's nuzzling her ear. Cut it out, you guys. You're married. And not to each other.

In fact, one of you is married to me.

"I see why you keep him around," she says.

(Def Leppard;Pour Some Sugar On Me)

04 August, 2005

Final Answer

...it gets so hot the end of the day/ you may find your clothes getting in the way....

Apologies to Robert, who has waited very patiently for the answer to this question, last of the original five he posed.

(5) What is your favourite topless activity? Try to explain to the uninitiated skeptics what the joys of toplessness are.

I don't have a favorite. Topless, it's all good. Everything.

Explaining to the uninitiated is tricky. It's distressing how many of them there are.

To be toplessness is to be connected with 180 degrees of sky. It's exciting. It's stimulating. Your senses interact with your surroundings in a way that's not possible covered up.

It makes your body tingle. Moving from blazing sun to the coolness of a wooded area, or having heat tempered a few degrees by the passage of a drifting cloud becomes a highly tactile, even sensual, experience.

The nose goes into overdrive: hot donuts, hot asphalt, exhaust. Fresh water harbors, steamed crabs, cows, fried chicken, fields of corn, sweet briar rose.

The view is better topless. Clouds unfold to fondle your face, and stars tease, dancing in the darkness.

Your head swirls and your ears reach out to big hair rock from somebody's radio. Tires croon against concrete, clatter over cobblestone, shriek on steel gridwork. Snippets of conversation drift by, and the cries of babies, gulls, and heavy machinery. Note the song of birds, crickets, or the wind whistling round the side mirrors.

To be topless is to be submerged in a sensory environment exponentially richer than that of the boxes in which we normally stifle ourselves. Everyone should try it. C'mon, I'll drive.

How was that, Robert? I've been working on it for more than a month, since before I answered Question One. I knew it would be hardest.

I assume you meant the car.

Because there's only marginal difference between Topless and Totally Naked Yoga.

(Strip; Adam Ant)

01 August, 2005

Sneak Attack

...shouldn't I have this/ shouldn't I have this/ shouldn't I have all of this....

He finally kissed me...and I sat up and burst out laughing.

I think it's been firmly established that I like laughing best of all, but kissing runs very close behind that, very.

Consider the reasons to kiss or be kissed: greeting, boo-boo healing, good morning, passion, comfort, good-night, exploration, farewell, the legendary Kiss of Death- and the ways: loudly, gently, wetly, tightly, fleetingly, longingly, fondly, firmly- and the places: collarbone, neck, knee, nape, crown, brow, toes, knuckles, palm, wrist, shoulder, ear, nose, navel, elbow, ankle, hip- am I giving anyone ideas? or is it just me sitting in this moist spot?


Surprise being the key element in provoking laugher, it's safe to say I was caught off guard. I was prepared for a number of things, but not that.

"I hope you didn't mind," he said later.

Kissing plus laughter?

Mind? Hah! You have no idea.

(Passionate Kisses; Mary Chapin Carpenter)

24 July, 2005

Question Four

"...it seems like you're always partying with your friends in your car" -- Mayven

(4) In your blog, you often take little bites of life, wrap them in juicy expressions and serve them up as tasty, sensuous morsels. Do you specifically *choose* to tease your readers in this way, or is that just the way the words come out? Do you consciously not have comments on your blog? If so, why not?

Well, as I told my sister, I don't write the boring bits. I mean, I'm aware that I'm writing for an audience, so I never pop in with "...Dear Diary, today I had a fight with my boyfriend and he was soooooo mean to me that I think I'll break up with him xcept I luv him soooooooo much and then there's the part where we have the best sex when we make up *giggle*....."

None of that, thanks. I write with an eye to readability, and hoping to not draw you the whole picture, but sketch an outline that the reader can fill in. Also, sensuous is the way I operate, standard issue. If my senses are not being tantalized, I must not be feeling well.

I don't have comments because they seemed irrelevant. I mean, if you like my stuff, good, and if you don't, don't read. It's a monologue, not a dialogue. I have two contact places, if anyone has something important to say. I don't generally need or want feedback. The maintainence would be too much for me. Also, it encourages more of the "oooh, justin u r soooo funny, just had to say that. y don't u post a piktur?" sort of thing that I detest.

Okay, enough with the snobbery. Real reason? (and I'm being very naked here) If I had comments, and no one left some, my feelings might be hurt, and I can't have that.

I'm sensitive, you know.

19 July, 2005

Swelter On

...all around people looking half-dead/ walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a matchhead....

The Questing Sniff and I head out, to see what there is to be smelled this sultry summer day. For the record, 'sultry' is one of my favorite words, due in no small part to Throw Momma From The Train, with Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal. However, there are limits, even for me. We go out anyway. I think the Questing Sniff is interested in a butterfly, but it's a small Siamese cat in a fork of a tree. It turns its lemur-like face towards me. Sweating just from standing still, I tug the dog along. We top the hill, and I hear the sound of rushing water. There is a hydrant open on the corner. This is not unusual; I live in the city. What is unusual is that there is no one playing in the hydrant.

Well, no one but me.

(Summer In The City; the Lovin' Spoonful)

18 July, 2005

Third Question

...Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book/ it took me years to write, will you take a look?....

My first best-seller? Robert, bless your ass and all your other bits, don't even joke about that. I mean, this is IMPORTANT. I hope that my first best-seller will be about a bookstore at the beach. Beyond that, I'd rather not say. I've started it, and abandoned it, because I have no idea how long it takes to finish a novel. I started working it as a stage play because I used to be able to knock a play out in about nine months. It's going on two years now. Not that I've been working on it the whole time, because I haven't. But that wasn't what you asked.

It will likely be dedicated to my husband, who is dedicated to me, even when he seems to be ignoring me, which is probably just me being bitchy and high-maintainence.

No 'probably' about it.

( Paperback Writer; the Beatles)

14 July, 2005

Tea Rules

...if you're going to do it, do it right....

1. All liquid poured from the teapot, whether cocoa, lemonade, plain water, or in fact tea, must be referred to as 'tea'.

2. Foods served must be attractively arrayed on a serving plate and served individually onto small individual plates.

3. Hats must be worn. If young gentlemen are present, they too must wear hats. Tiaras are also appropriate for either gender.

4. Second best china is recommended, though stoneware or everyday glass is permitted. Plastic is frowned upon, and paper is by no means to be considered.

5. Participants must address one another in 'fawncy' voices. Extravagent complimenting of outfits, surroundings and repast are appropriate. Criticism and sniping will not be tolerated.

6. Monacles, fingerless gloves and boa scarves are optional. It is acceptable to act as though you are wearing them.

7. Frequent lip dabbing with cloth napkins is encouraged, though pinkie extention is entirely discretionary.

Weird World

...it's a mystery!....

The world is so surreal, I wonder if it actually exists.

A woman stops her car in front of my house, opens the driver's door and reaches into the street for something. She puts it in her car. It's my recycle bin. Empty. She closes the door and drives away.

Downstairs, I hear YoungEv talking: "Tell me..a...joke. Tell me...a...JOKE. Tellmeajoke! Tell...me...a...joke."

Tinny voice: (something...sounds like mwap mwap mwap)

Young Ev: "Who is there? Who...is...there? Whoisthere? WHO'S THERE?"

My daughter demands a professional pedicure for her birthday. She's seven. Gee-zus, when I was seven, I didn't even know what a pedicure WAS. Primarily Decorative takes Baby Diva for her birthday pedicure.

We drive to the theatre for the party/movie. Our party is not there. We're at the wrong theatre. We can't figure out where the right one is. We wind up back at the wrong theatre. We go inside for directions to the right theatre. They give us some. We're only an hour late.

I clean out my fridge. There are beers hidden in the back. Why'd I do that?

That's just...stupid.

11 July, 2005

Fresh Water

...it's a mystery!....

Shore greets us with strange clanking music of metal masted sailboats bobbing in their slips. Birds screech above. If seagulls fly over the sea, and bagels fly over the bay, what are these creatures soaring in wild circles over lovely Lake Minnetonka?

07 July, 2005

Sand Castle

...walkin' in the sand/ (Remember) walkin' hand in hand.....

Answer to Question Number Two, as posed by Robert.

The last time I built a sand castle? Probably last year, but as recently as last month, I built a sand tea party, complete with teapot, cups, plates and food, at a nearby bayside beach. I often build, instead of castles, sand mermaids with flowing hair and furling tails. I imagine when the waves wash over her, she's going home. You can't say that of a sand castle. But my next sand castle?

North Wildwood, New Jersey.

I mean, okay, Aruba, and fine, Nassau, and sure, Mexico...but I've never been to any of those places. I already know I like North Wildwood, New Jersey.

While I love Ocean City, Maryland very much, it must be conceded that the beach is very straight and very flat. In North Wildwood, there are curlicues and fiddly bits and tidal pools. Plus, the town is kitschy, so much so that there is a tour of the 'Do-Wop' architecture from the 'fifties.

That's where I'd build my sandcastle. Without assistance from my family, because they need to build their own castles, and leave mine alone.


(Remember (Walkin' In The Sand); The Shangri-Las)

06 July, 2005

Higher Stakes

...you have to kiss me!....

The ante has just been upped. Amidst the roses and the serenading -the Birthday Dirge! finally!- the annual manicure/pedicure combination and the two-AM-omelettes, there was a most unexpected gift. It came in its own pseudo-leather case, has pieces that fit together and is shiny and smooth in my hands. The strap to the case goes crosswise across my chest, making me look either like Robin Hood or Xena, Warrior Princess. (I think I prefer Xena.) It came complete with a supply of chalk, brushes, polishing cloths, and a spare clip of ammo. No, kidding, it's not a weapon, it's an implement of recreation.

Yes, now that Primarily Decorative has her VERY OWN POOL CUE, I really must learn to shoot a decent (read: not embarassing) game of pool. Otherwise I'll look like a poseur, and I can't think of anything I'd rather not be.

Actually, pool was simply an activity to accompany beer, because I'm wiggly.

The ante has been upped.

30 June, 2005

First Impressions

...I thought the sun rose in your eyes/ and the moon and stars were the gifts you gave/ to the dark and the empty skies....

Yes, Robert, news of a visit inspires an excited squeal. And an actual sighting provokes jumping up and down and jiggling. Next time you're here, I'm sure I'll be thrown out of the airport...

I do put stock in first impressions. I've spent significant portions of time looking at people, and have had opportunity to watch folk while they were unaware of being watched. I think my first impressions are usually valid.

I have been wrong. Dead wrong. Sometimes notably, flamingly, breathtakingly wrong, and ended up hurt because of it. This makes me sad, because it's more indicative of the other person's ability to mask rather than a failure of my reading skills.

I rarely allow a first impression to be my only impression, however, because I've been dead right about some people, and ended up liking them anyway.

(The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; Roberta Flack)

29 June, 2005

Body Parts

...body, you'll adore my body/ body, come explore my body....

A handsome cornfed Midwestern chest swings into view. He's Driving Without A Shirt. Have I mentioned I love summer? As he rounds the corner, we make eye contact and he grins at me with a mouthful of healthy teeth. The effect is marred only marginally by the minivan he's driving.

Ropy tattooed arm muscles flash past my open window, accompanied by a low grumbling roar. He wears the sleeveless tee shirt, and curls flame from beneath the requisite Harley helmet. I am suddenly homesick.

His hairstyle holds a dent created by the headrest of the airplane seatback. Compound word, anyone? Just today, he's used more Product than I do in a month.

(Macho Man; The Village People)

28 June, 2005

The Questions

...and the time will come when you see/ we're all one, and life flows on....

He is someone I love, but love doesn't adequately describe it. Though we don't know each other well, I think on some deep, primal level, we understand each other. I feel at home in his presence, and in his heart, and hope he feels at home in mine.

He's Robert, and he has questions.

"Some of them are compound questions, but I can't help myself:"

(1) You and I met with an excited squeal which proved (I think) to be genuine and lasting. First impressions are an interesting phenomenon. Some people swear by them, others are hesitant to trust them. What do *you* think- do you believe first impressions are authentic? Have you ever been completely wrong about someone?

(2) When last did you build a sandcastle? If you could build a sandcastle right now, anywhere in the world, where would it be? Tell us about the place and why you chose it.

(3) What will your first bestseller be about? Who will you dedicate it to, and why?

(4) In your blog, you often take little bites of life, wrap them in juicy expressions and serve them up as tasty, sensuous morsels. Do you specifically *choose* to tease your readers in this way, or is that just the way the words come out? Do you consciously not have comments on your blog? If so, why not?

(5) What is your favourite topless activity? Try to explain to the uninitiated skeptics what the joys of toplessness are.

Answers will follow. In the meantime, speculation is encouraged.

(Within You Without You; George Harrison)

Can't Decide

...whether I'm hung over, or still drunk with a headache.

15 June, 2005

Farewell, Friends

...I'm about to lose control and I think I like it.....

Only some of you will find this exciting.

They've gone with me to New Orleans, and to Bloomington, Indiana. They've skipped beside the Mississippi River and dangled from my hand in Jackson Square. They've trod wet streets in Fells Point, and sparkling grass on Federal Hill. Now they're going to Minneapolis with me.

The Bondage Sandals, yes. The Hooker Barbie Heels will stay in the bedroom where they belong.

Rob Breszny advises me to scale way back on my excitment level. M'kay. Check out this blog of note while I'm gone: The Dullest Blog In The World.

Fascinating stuff when I return. Or maybe not. Don't get too worked up. I know I won't.

(I'm So Excited; The Pointer Sisters)

13 June, 2005

Leopard Paradise

...behind my back I can see them stare/ they'll hurt me bad but I won't mind/ they'll hurt me bad they do it all the time....

Hard punk guitar balances the soft night air rolling across my skin.

And sometimes pulling out of a blue funk can be accomplished by a teasing comb and half a can of hairspray.

I do me first, then Fuzzy, and we are a hit.

I trot out the Hooker Barbie Heels, a pair of ivory capris that I pour myself into, and a hot pink satin spandex halter top. The scarf matches the shoes, which match the bag, which matches the lipstick. My hair is very high, though not as high as those who were done at The Glamour Lounge, and if I'd known a beehive would be that reasonable, I'd have gone earlier and had it 'done' instead of tiring out my own arms.

My daughter and I are interviewed by Channel 11 News, and a random stranger in a bar photographs my girl learning to play pool. (Go, baby!) Hawk is patient and generous with cash, suffering in a bowling shirt with Buddha on it. Fuzzy's capri pants and tank top are a foil for her co-ordinated earrings, scarf, handbag, and jelly sandals. Her baby beehive turned out well. Fluffy wears black socks with his Keds, turns bright red and demands a pit beef sandwich.

It's HonFest and I buy Natty Boh, pink flamingos and a velvet Elvis. Also, a Nixon/Agnew button, which might only be amusing to me, but, as Martin says, we must each take responsibility for our own entertainment, and this is mine.

Everyone grins at everyone else, and greets each other with the requisite greeting. Except for those who are mopping their brows and complaining that their feet hurt. There's plenty to see, all of it tacky. There are live bands on the far stage, but I'm too busy checking out hair, catseye glasses and animal print handbags. Fuzzy does not win the Lil Miss Hon contest. I thought there was to be a 'drag Hon' competition, but I don't see it listed. The sidewalk scenery is amazing. My favorite? The 'accidental Hons,' ones who didn't dress this way on purpose.

We leave early, just as the Baltimore's Best Hon contestants are lining up.

Good luck, Hons.

"Thanks, Hon!" they chorus.

Next year, I'll go with someone who'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Read: 'not my family.'

(Kiss Off; Violent Femmes)

10 June, 2005

Comic Language

"...she has trouble believing that when we're together we discuss theories of comedy." -b.

Words with Ps and Ks are funny, thus 'pickle' and 'popcorn' but not 'juice' or 'toast'.

Repetition is funny. 'Tutu.' 'Hottentot.' 'Bora Bora'. 'Dodo'.

Assonance is funnier than consonance, witness kudzu, kiwi and mugwump, but not turtle, tattle or baby.

'Banana' is funnier than 'apple' or 'mango' because of repetition and assonance.

Polysyllabic words are usually funnier than monosyllabic ones, though the word 'polysyllabic' isn't funny at all. An exception: stories about a bear are funnier than stories about a giraffe.

I'm feeling snarky and desolate, so I search CityPaper for something to amuse me, and am dismally disappointed. My friends, however, are a constant source.

My favorite genius asks, "how do you spell 'procrastinate'?"

P-R-O...wait, can I get back to you on that?
"We're looking for....what do you call it when you give human traits or features to something that's not human?"

Anthropomorphic. Anthropomorfic animals, toasters, train engines...

"Vegetables. But not Veggie Tales."

Right. And here they are, in Store Wars. (*play theme music*)

So, have you been working in the studio lately?

"No, I'm leading a more sedi- sedent- sedime- ....what's the word I want?"

Sedimentary is 'settling into layers.' Sedentary is 'lying around on the couch.' According to Webster's.

"Right, that's it, I'm settling into layers."

I always thought you were a deep individual.

The Prince expresses amazement that in a memo, I've spelt out 'etcetera' in one place and abbreviated it in another. I express amazement that the word 'abbreviate' is so damn long.

Rich Potter sends this along:

Seriously, The Joke Is Dead.

IN case you missed its obituary, the joke died recently after a long
illness, of, oh, 30 years. Its passing was barely noticed, drowned
out, perhaps, by the din of ironic one-liners, mule and detached bons mots that pass for humor these days.

The joke died a lonely death. There was no next of kin to notify, the comedy skit, the hand-buzzer and Bob Newhart's imaginary telephone monologues having passed on long before. But when people reminisce about it, they always say the same thing: the joke knew how to make an entrance. "Two guys walked into a bar"; "So this lady goes to the doctor"; "Did you hear the one about the talking parrot?" The new humor sneaks by on little cat feet, all punch line and no setup, and if it bombs, you barely notice. The joke insisted on everyone's attention, and when it bombed - wow.

"A joke is a way to say, 'I'm going to do something funny now,' "
said Penn Jillette, the talking half of the comedy and magic duo Penn & Teller and a producer of "The Aristocrats," a new documentary about an old dirty joke of the same name. "If I don't get a laugh at the end, I'm a failure."

It's a matter of faith among professional comics that jokes - the
kind that involve a narrative setup, some ridiculous details and a
punch line - have been displaced by observational humor and
one-liners. Lisa Lampanelli, who describes herself as the world's
only female insult comic, said that in the business, straight jokes
were considered "the kiss of death."

"You don't tell joke jokes onstage ever," she said. "Because then
you're a big hack."

But out in the real world, the joke hung on for a while, lurking in
backwaters of male camaraderie like bachelor parties and trading
floors and in monthly installments of Playboy's "Party Jokes" page.
Then jokes practically vanished. To tell a joke at the office or a
party these days is to pronounce oneself a cornball, an attention
hog, and of course to risk offending someone, a high social crime. "I can't remember the last time I was sitting around and heard someone tell a good joke," Ms. Lampanelli said.

While many in the world of humor and comedy agree that the joke is
dead, there is little consensus on who or what killed it or exactly
when it croaked. Theories abound: the atomic bomb, A.D.D., the
Internet, even the feminization of American culture, have all been
cited as possible causes. In the academic world scholars have been
engaged in a lengthy postmortem of the joke for some time, but still
no grand unifying theory has emerged.

"There isn't a lot of agreement," said Don L. F. Nilsen, the
executive secretary of the International Society for Humor Studies
and a professor of linguistics at Arizona State University.

Among comics, the most cited culprit in the death of the joke is
so-called "political correctness" or, at least, a heightened
sensitivity to offending people. Mr. Jillette said he believed most
of the best jokes have a mean-spirited component, and that
mean-spiritedness is out.

"You used to feel safer telling jokes," he said. "Since all your best material is mean-spirited, you feel less safe. You're worried some might think that you really have this point of view."

Older comics tend to put the blame on the failings of younger
generations. Robert Orben, 78, a former speechwriter for President
Gerald R. Ford and the author of several manuals for comedians, said
he believed a combination of shortened attention spans and lack of
backbone among today's youth made them ill-suited for joke telling.

"A young person today has a nanosecond attention span, so whatever
you do in a humor has to be short," he said. "Younger people do not
wait for anything that takes time to develop. We're going totally to

"Telling a joke is risk taking," Mr. Orben added. "Younger people are more insecure and not willing to put themselves on the line, so a quick one-liner is much safer."

(Asked if he had a favorite joke, Mr. Orben said, "The Washington
Redskins," suggesting that even veteran joke tellers might have
abandoned the form.)

Scholars say that while humor has always been around - in ancient
Athens, for example, a comedians' club called the Group of 60 met
regularly in the temple of Herakles - the joke has gone in and out of fashion. In modern times its heyday was probably the 1950's, but the joke's demise began soon after, a result of several seismic cultural shifts. The first of those, Mr. Nilsen said, was the threat of nuclear annihilation.

"Before the atomic bomb everyone had a sense that there was a
future," Mr. Nilsen said. "Now we're at the hands of fate. We could
go up at any moment. In order to deal with something as horrendous as that, we've become a little cynical."

Gallows humor and irony, Mr. Nilsen said, were more suited to this
dire condition than absurd stories about talking kangaroos, tumescent parrots and bears that sodomize hunters. (Don't know that one? Ask your granddad.)

Around the same time, said John Morreall, a religion professor and
humor scholar at the College of William and Mary, the roles of men
and women began to change, which had implications for the joke.

Telling old-style jokes, he said, was a masculine pursuit because it
allowed men to communicate with one another without actually
revealing anything about themselves. Historically women's humor was
based on personal experience, and conveyed a sense of the teller's
likes and dislikes, foibles and capacity for self-deprecation.

The golden age of joke telling corresponded with a time when men were especially loathe to reveal anything about their inner lives, Mr. Morreall said. But over time men let down their guard, and comics like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and later Jerry Seinfeld, embraced the personal, observational style.

"A very common quip was, 'Women can't tell jokes,' " Mr. Morreall
said. "I found that women can't remember jokes. That's because they
don't give a damn. Their humor is observational humor about the
people around that they care about. Women virtually never do that
old-style stuff."

"Women's-style humor was ahead of the curve," he said. "In the last
30 years all humor has caught up with women's humor."

The mingling of the sexes in the workplace and in social situations
wasn't particularly good for the joke either, as jokes that played
well in the locker room didn't translate to the conference room or
the co-ed dinner party. And in any event, scholars say, in a social
situation wit plays better than old-style joke telling. Witty remarks push the conversation along and enliven it, encouraging others to contribute.

Jokes, on the other hand, cause conversation to screech to a halt and require everyone to focus on the joke teller, which can be awkward.

Whatever tenuous hold the joke had left by the 1990's may have been
broken by the Internet, Mr. Nilsen said. The torrent of e-mail jokes
in the late 1990's and joke Web sites made every joke available at
once, essentially diluting the effect of what had been an spoken
form. While getting up and telling a joke requires courage,
forwarding a joke by e-mail takes hardly any effort at all. So
everyone did it, until it wasn't funny anymore.

"The Aristocrats," the documentary produced by Mr. Jillette and the
comic Paul Provenza, says a lot about what the straight-up joke once
was, and what it isn't any longer. The film, which was shown at
Sundance in January and will be released in theaters this summer,
features dozens of comics talking about and performing an
over-the-top vaudeville standard about a family that shows up at a
talent agency, looking for representation.

The talent agent agrees to watch them perform, at which point the
family goes into a crazed fit of orgiastic and scatological mayhem,
the exact details of which vary from comic to comic. The punch line
comes when the agent asks the family what they call their bizarre
act. The answer: "The Aristocrats!"

Much of the humor in the documentary comes not from the joke, which
nearly everyone in the film concedes is lousy, but from watching
modern-day observational comics like Mr. Carlin, Paul Reiser and
Gilbert Gottfried perform in the anachronistic mode of Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle and Red Skelton. Imagine watching a documentary of contemporary rock guitarists doing their teenage versions of the solo in "Free Bird" and you'll get the idea; with each rendition it becomes more and more clear why people don't do it anymore.

"Part of the joke is that it's even more inappropriate because we
don't do that anymore," Mr. Nilsen said.

One paradox about the death of the joke: It may result in more
laughs. Joke tellers, after all, are limited by the number of jokes
they can memorize, while observational wits never run out of
material. And Mr. Morreall said that because wits make no promise to
be funny, the threshold for getting a laugh is lower for them than
for joke tellers, who always battle high expectations.

"Jon Stewart just has to twist his eyebrows a little bit, and people
laugh," he said. "It's a much easier medium."

Some comics who grew up in the age of the joke say they are often
amazed at how easy crowds are in the era of observational humor.
Shelley Berman, 79, a comic whose career took off on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and who now plays Larry David's father on the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm," said these days even the most banal remark seemed to get a response.

"I don't tell jokes in my act," he said. "But if I tell an audience I don't tell jokes, I'll get people laughing at that line."

If this leaves you feeling a bit bleak, I recommend Bad Puns, especially the 'shaggy dog' Inflatable Boy.

And (brought to us by Mr. Indispensable) this bondage site. I just think it's funny that it exists. Incredibly useful, but funny.

My favorite short:

Descartes walks into a bar. Bartender says, "What'll ya have, Descartes? Gin and tonic?"

Descarte says, "I think not," and disappears.

My anger and bitterness are in plain evidence these last few days, and I struggle to combat that. I wonder if my Perpetual Pollyanna face is but a thin mask and my true self is this brittle, hostile cynic I see.

It hardly matters. I'm sick of both of them.