Friday, October 31, 2008


I love how you can see on Donahue's face that he can't begin to grasp what the absolutely brilliant Milton Friedman is saying. I love the last few seconds when a chuckle of recognition swept the audience as the point was pressed home.

Since when did selfishness become a virtue, Obama? Watch and learn.
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The Toothpick Test
Chapter Five

Now we're really going to whizz through a bunch of these fellows, sort of hitting the high spots. Since I found so little material on early also-rans, there weren't lots of ways I could buttress my theory on the toothpick comparison in the beginning. Now, however, that we've entered the age of still photography, my buttress will be flying right on through a swathe of these fellows like a knife through hot buttah, baby. Fasten your seatbelts and make sure your tray is in the upright position. I don't want anyone to spill their post-toasties.

President #17 Andrew Johnson
1865 - 1869
In life there are rules. How not to bomb in the arena of popular favor: 1. Never follow a kid act. 2. Never follow an animal act. 3. Never follow a popular but dead president act. Remember that-- we'll see it again later.
Johnson earned his toothpick by virtue of sheer curmudgeonliness. AJ was short in stature and short-tempered. A senator for Tennessee when they seceded, Johnson disagreed with them and insisted upon keeping his Senate seat in the Union, where he was the only Southern senator to do so. Perhaps for that reason, Lincoln thought he'd be a diplomatic asset as vice president when it came time to reunify all the states. Not so. Johnson was something of an equal-opportunity offender. Soused at his inauguration as Veep, Johnson gave a speech berating people born to wealth, many of whom were in the audience and quite influential, at that. Mere weeks later, Lincoln died and Johnson could dearly have used the good will of all those folks he'd offended. Live and learn, ya schmuck! Johnson wanted to strike a conciliatory tone with the back-in-the-fold states, but the Northern congressmen had a taste for blood and impeached AJ, who prevailed in his presidency by only one vote. Meh.

President #18 US Grant
1869 - 1877
A bit unkempt - TOOTHPICK! My goodness, what a healthy bunch of hair this man had! He was the first one I drew with a pen without semi-sketching with a pencil first. Grant tried and failed at a lot of things in life. He was named Hiram Ulysses Grant but when he went to West Point, someone had entered his name into the academy rolls as US Grant, and since he was loathe to be known for the initials H.U.G., he didn't bother correcting them. Anyway, after many other failed careers, Grant rose through the ranks of the military and excelled, becoming the first American General. Grant was supposed to have been with Lincoln at Ford's theater the night he was killed, and he never forgave himself for not being there to save the president. Gosh, don't you like take-charge, responsible people? Anyway, some folks in his administration skimmed money and were not trustworthy, effectively scuttling Grant's job as president. After the presidency, Grant lost his savings when someone scammed him, and at the end of his life as he was ailing, he agreed to write his autobiography so he could earn some money so that his family would have money for support. His friend Mark Twain published the book.


President #25 William McKinley
1897 - 1901
McKinley was in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry and fought at Antietam, which, of course, gives him total toothpick cred, even if he was on the wrong side. As President, McKinley focused his energy on making the US a great international power, acquiring more territory overseas and winning respect as a player on the world scene. When running for re-election, he selected young Theodore Roosevelt as his running mate to bolster his support from Republican party reformers. Theodore was focused on his political career, and nearly didn't take the Veep nod, thinking there would be little political adancement to be gained there. Shot by an anarchist in 1905, McKinley died and Teddy's career was off like a shot. [By the way, I found a place on the internet which said McKinley was shot by a "deranged anarchist," isn't that a little redundant, as well as repetitive, hmm?] This is the scariest drawing I've done so far. Mckinley crosses over into Ernest Borgnine territory here - a little intense, a little weird, but one heck of a guy in the Poseidon Adventure with Shelley Winters. The naked floating head thing doesn't help, either. Come to think of it, he looks a little like the guy who was standing behind me in the bookstore last week and breathing so loudly. I wonder what that was about? He was interested in the same sections of the store as me, too. Strange.

President #26 Theodore Roosevelt
1901 - 1909
Walk softly and carry a toothpick.
A sickly child, TR's father insisted he take much exercise for strengthening his body. As a result, Roosevelt became something of a fanatic about vigorous activity. Forming the Rough Riders regiment which served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, TR became a national hero, but failed in a bid for the governorship of New York in 1898. The Rough Riders were a volunteer cavalry outfit, and as the name implies they were a teeny bit on the rugged side, which adds up to toothpick in a big way. In fact, to my way of thinking, Theodore Roosevelt was the very embodiment of the toothpick principle. A reformer and trust-buster, TR negotiated treaties between foreign countries (winning a Nobel Prize in the process) and was instrumental in the construction of the Panama Canal. TR's record stands as the only Veep to win reelection after assuming the presidency following the death of an elected president. In 1904, Roosevelt soundly defeated Alton B Parker, but look at the picture* - who does the toothpick belong with? Roosevelt also is fondly remembered as the first conservationist president.

*this drawing is a total cheat - quickly running out of steam and utterly out of my lovely legal pad, I had to break out the lovely Japanese calligraphy paper I bought at Uwajimaya in Seattle last time I was there. That's a great place for buying nice pens and papers, by the way, if you're the writing sort of person, or if you just have a paper and/or pen fetish. Anyhoo, the paper is very thin, and I traced these images from a clippy-art thingie. Yet again, I find myself having to forgive myself, and yet, haven't my drawings taken on a weird kind of same-ness? I mean, they're all looking alike to me, now. Tomorrow will be better, I think. No more cheating. I promise! The really sad part is that prolly some of you were thinking "wow, she's finally learning to draw!" Not so.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008
If this doesn't warm the cockroaches of your black little heart, nothing will.

This homeowner set up the dog-shocker to his McCain sign after the previous two were stolen. The boy's father claimed he was just "seeing how the sign was put together." Uh, yeah.

If you ask me, it didn't have enough juice running through it, as there should be a wet, brown streak trailing from the boy's pantleg.

But that's just me.
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THE TOOTHPICK TEST
CHAPTER FOUR

...So where were we? AH! The South was just about to throw a wobbler and it's all fixin' to get really ugly.



President #13 Millard Fillmore
1850-1853

There's no telling what amount of ass-kickery Zachary Taylor would've gotten up to, even if he was a little back-and-forth on the whole slavery question. Since Fillmore was veep, he wasn't elected, but I thought he deserved an obligatory toothpick shot like all the rest. If things were bad for Taylor, they were a hot mess for Fillmore. Tried to straddle the fence with the new territory, letting some be free- and some slave- states, thus pleasing no-one. His urges to the factions to compromise only served to further inflame passions. When the Library of Congress burned in 1851, Fillmore joined the bucket brigade and carried water. Try not to hold against him that my rendering looks like the love child of Donald Trump and Marlon Brando.

President #14 Franklin Pierce
1853-1857

Nicknamed Handsome Frank, Pierce looked good with or without a toothpick. A lawyer, Pierce was warm, outgoing and liked people, and never wanted to be a politician. However, Pierce was unanimously nominated by the Democrats as their presidential candidate. Tragically, his one surviving son was killed in a railroad accident just before he took office, and this plunged the alcoholic Franklin to a permanently in-his-cups state. He was well-meaning and honest, but also considered a weak president. I think this is the saddest thing about this project - seeing these little slices of life that humanize the men who have served in this office. It's easy to imagine that the rigors of the task of the presidency were made more odious by the fresh wound of the loss of a son. Franklin did not support slavery, but did not always oppose it, either. He did manage to buy parts of Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico, two of my favorite states, so his presidency wasn't a total wash. He also tried to buy Cuba from Spain. Drunk shopping: don't do it.

President # 15 James Buchanan
1857-1861

Old Buck was respected as a diplomat and politician, but is commonly thought of as one of the very worst US presidents. Though he doesn't look like it in my rendition, he looked like Anthony Hopkins. Anthony could make him more sympathetic, I'll bet. Buchanan had just arrived from lengthy work overseas in diplomacy, so he was the obvious choice for nominee, not having been embroiled in one side or other of the slavery issue that had been raging back home. I'm thinking just like the previous few presidents, this is a rock-and-a-hard-place job to fill at this moment in American history. The Panic of 1857 contributed to the ill feeling between the North and the South, and by then the Union was a slippery slope on which little footing might be gained. As the Southern states started to secede, Buchanan did nothing to stop them and preserve the Union. I'm thinking incidents like Harper's Ferry and the like had Old Buck graduating the toothpick to the woodblock to bite down on.

President #16 Abraham Lincoln
1861-1865
Planet of the Abes- the unreconstructed

Believe it or not, Abe was the hardest one to draw so far, so I drew Tom Hanks and put the wonky beardy action on. Quite crap, really, but you should see the first 3 rejects. Spent more time trying to draw him than the past 10 presidents combined. Jeez! Maybe it's because he's so familiar and we have such a picture of him in our minds that it's almost too close or something. Oh, I just realized I forgot his mole. Oh well- imagine it there. Anyway, my first efforts were looking like a Planet of the Apes reject. I love that he appears to be the first(?) (only?) president to wear the down-market Colonel Sanders ribbon-style tie, which, as everyone knows, is the mullet of cravats*.

About the thigh thing-- Billy Green, a friend of Lincoln's from the Illinois frontier town of New Salem said this: ''His thighs were as perfect as a human being could be.''
Uh, okay.


But enough about the decorative bits: on to Abe's toothpick quotient. He was born in a 3 sided shack. After that, any thing's possible. Lincoln was immensely talented, and interested in a great many things. His writing and speeches show a benevolent sort of bemused sadness overriding everything. He tried many trades, was a rail splitter, opened a store, and finally managed to become a lawyer, and all of this with only one year of formal education. His parents were illiterate, and when his mother died, his father married another illiterate woman who happened to have a few books, including a bible and some Shakespeare. Most of what Lincoln knew was self-taught, and his abiding intelligence was obviously very complimented by his impeccable instincts, so long as you don't count his choice of theatrical productions. During the war, he managed to find military leaders who would execute the war in the way he felt it should be done. He is said to have cried whenever he received reports of casualties. Before the war, Southerners viewed Lincoln as an enemy because he wasn't sympathetic to their issues. Lincoln, on the other hand, knew the foremost issue was to preserve the union at any cost. Lincoln was assassinated five days after Lee's surrender.

At least, I think I'm right about that. Y'all tell me if you see anything major I goofed on - some of these guys are kind of running together. I only have so much room in my brain for new information, and sometimes, the new stuff pushes the old out the other side.

*This is a compliment to mullets, rather than a slight to the tie. I personally like this tie. I wore one like this in marching band.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In case you ever have wondered, this is what a Dallas bicycle thief looks like:


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The Toothpick Test
Chapter Three
The Awkward Years
Or, rather, my dog is being such a brat that this is an awkward post for me to compose...


President #8 Martin Van Buren 1837 - 1841
Alas, Marty inherited an economy in decline, and underemployed folk turned to the gubmint for help, but he didn't think bolstering these struggling folks was the gubmint's job and he was not elected for a second term on crashing waves of popular enmity. No amount of toothpickliness could save his flagging reputation with teh pipples. He was unsuccessful in two more bids for the presidency, and this because the other candidates looked better with a toothpick, of course. Yes, we are learning, here. When he was Veep under Jackson, MVB presided over the Senate with loaded pistols. I s'pose he didn't take those into the highest office with him. More's the pity. Imagine Van Buren, guns ablazing, all that wild hair-- he may have been re-elected after all.


President #9 William H Harrison 1841, 32 days
*sigh*
It's... just...
*sigh*
What.. well.. oh.
You know when you see photo on a copied paper taped to the register at the kwikmart and you know no one'll ever see that person alive again because they just... look... doomed? Well, WHH was the presidential equivalent of the kid on the milk carton. Made of gone, daddy, gone. Sad. True. He'd enjoyed a distinguished career fighting Indians and was known as Tippecanoe, but even his own bad self was not tough enough to stave off the illness that set in when, during his wet and rainy inauguration, he spoke for three hours without a coat or hat. I remembered him when people gave Cheney guff for wrapping so well for one blustery inauguration. Fortunately for Harrison's Veep...
President # 10 John Tyler 1841 - 1845
...looked teh ossum with a toothpick! He was sort of the Abercrombie model of the first dozen presidents, though I know of no pictures of him in various stages of undress. Work with me here. I'm not the only one with an imagination. Tyler was a proponent of states' rights and continuously addled the Whigs in Congress by vetoing or cancelling the bills they sent him. *FUN* In fact, I like to think of him irritating the powder out of the Whigs as he ruminated, shifting toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other. His preoccupation and success in acquiring the Republic of Texas left him no time to make a successful bid for a second term. After his presidency, Tyler was elected to the Confederate Congress.

11. President #11 James Polk 1845 - 1849
Polk managed to show a lot of grit by saying America ought to go from sea to shining sea, and proceeding to make it so. Perhaps in real life he looked slightly less like the product of an unholy union betwixt Alec Baldwin and Donald Trump. One hopes so, anyway. Polk managed to persuade Britain to sign a treaty with the US for the Oregon territory. Mexico was not so keen on Polk's idea of them selling the US California and New Mexico territories, so Polk waged war on them and took them anyway. That was a dish he may not have picked from his teeth so quickly - for that was one to savour. After these many accomplishments, Polk kept his promise to serve only one term. His last official act as president was to lay the cornerstone for the Washington Monument. He died of cholera later that same year.






12. President #12 Zachary Taylor 1849-1850
What is it about certain former Army guys? ROWR!
Let us review: Soldier = total toothpick material
Taylor was a career army officer and frontiersman and never even voted until he was 62. He was one of the few US presidents not to have a law degree, and the men who served under his command called him Old Rough and Ready. [!] Taylor owned a Louisiana plantation with slaves, but was influenced by Seward's belief that new western expansion states should not be slave states, and this infuriated the southerners who'd thought Taylor would come down on their side of the fence in this argument. This went a long way toward laying the foundations for the War of Northern Aggression. Indeed, he was willing to go to war to prevent any states from leaving the union, but would be unable to do so as he became fatally ill during the ceremony for the Washington Monument a mere 16 months after his inauguration.





So, what have we learned here?
You can look amazing with a toothpick, stomp the mud out of various ethnic groups and acquire lots of land and stuff, but a microscopic bug can still kick your ass, and that bug may look better on a toothpick than the toothpick looks on you.



I know, I know. I promised this post would be exciting, and it is, but not as exciting as I thought it would be. Perhaps I can punch it up tomorrow. Right now, I'm a bit punchy myself. The dogs are going bananas. Tomorrow we'll have some war, and stuff, and it'll get really hairy. Mebbe I can even find for you the name of the man who said Lincoln had the most superb thighs. I know: I wonder what that was about too. I mean, holy crap. What did Mary Todd think of that? Sheesh.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
THE TOOTHPICK TEST
CHAPTER TWO





Some have expressed surprise at the elevation here of toothpick to political barometer, but it is indeed a very humble and yet marvelous device on closer examination. Let us consider the lowly toothpick which has been with us as long as the domesticated feline. Paleontologists have found scrapings on the teeth of neanderthals, which would seem to indicate that the dilemma of dislodging chunks of meat and veg from the grille predates such modern fancy grooming niceties as Dippity-Do, eyelash curlers and banana clips.





Picture the poor average guy (Joe the Caveman) out dragging his knuckles around just for giggles, hoping one day his descendents will quit inbreeding long enough to vote republican, except that he can't quite concentrate on such abstract concepts because he's got a bit of wolverine rib meat stuck between his molars. Ouch! Perhaps Joe picked the spine from an obliging nettle or succulent, and thus was the first toothpick born. Of course, we'll never know, but this is not much of a stretch. I well imagine that through a vast number of millennia, people were quite comfortable and casual to pick their teeth in public. Yes, it is done less often these days, yet there still is a toothpick dispenser on the counter of many an American eatery. Occasionally even a business card serves as a reasonable facsimile. You get the picture. Point is, the true calling card in life is one's smile, and it's only natural that one would wish to tidy up before bandying it about town. In one way of thinking, to efficiently clean the teeth after gustation is a concession to courtesy as much as to comfort.






Toothpicks have been made from every conceivable material. The earliest were probably thorns as I described, or other such, and over time, people forged metal into toothpicks. During the eighteenth century, jewel-inlaid metal toothpicks were the fashion. Even the first multi-tool most people acquire, the Swiss Army Knife, features a toothpick. Basic!






When contemplating political choices, is it not a good thing to see how considerate the candidates are, how they take a bit of care to remove disctractions which would pull focus from the real discussion? I think so. Thus does the toothpick indicate a level of social grace and conscientiousness. I'll tell you when we get to the president who is the embodiment of the Toothpick Principle, but you'll have to wait like good boys and girls...






Moving right along...


President #5 James Monroe - 1817 - 1825

I had a bear of a time finding information on Monroe's opposition for the presidency. In fact, he was so warmly regarded that he won 232 of 233 electoral votes in his first run, the odd vote apparently going to Frank Zappa. As you can see from the expertly rendered and very professional-looking image I toiled about 3 minutes creating, he had the felicity to resemble a chiseled Kirk Douglas sort of guy, and doggone it, people liked him! Anyway, seeing as he was such the congenial sort, it's easy to envision him standing with the fellers by a pile of burning leaves, shooting the breeze and lying about chicks, all the while champing on a toothpick. Monroe had done a bit of diplomatin' (as we hillbillies say) and came up with a doctrine which was pretty much that folks in this hemisphere should keep their own counsel. Sounds fine to me. Apparently, the Europeans took breaks from soiling their own nests to criticize America for the Monroe Doctrine. Not so different now. So highly regarded and such a mild and balanced leader was Monroe that his presidency was known as The Era of Good Feeling. Wow. Uh, how could anyone feel good about America if Europe disapproved? That's not sposta be possible, someone told me today.



President #6 John Quincy Adams 1825-1829


Now, this is another one of those hairballs, and at this point let me mention how sick I am of drawing those poncey, fussy collars, so JQA gets to be a floating head. Sheesh. I'm feeling all frisky over the thought of a Roughrider gitup, though, so I suppose I have that to look forward to. ANYhoo...You can see from this expertly rendered portrait that JQA doesn't seem as at home with a toothpick as we know his opponent Andrew Jackson would have been, and that's entirely fitting: John Quincy Adams was technically not elected. Andrew Jackson actually won the popular vote, but Adams and his family had a great history in diplomacy and the highest office of the nation, so Henry Clay led the electoral college to opt in favor of JQA. JQA made Clay his Secretary of State. Cronies, much? Love the chrome-dome, by the way, and he looks a little intense. I'm thinking Ralph Fiennes for the Lifetime movie event. Loved the nose, though. Nice nose on that man. You may have have noticed all the noses I draw look kind of alike, but that's mebbe because I can't draw and stuff.


President # 7 Andrew Jackson 1829-1837 Old Hickory


Total toothpick guy even though this is my worst drawing so far. At one time or another, I'm sure someone has hewn a very effective toothpick from hickory. AJ had an impressive head of hair which I had no hope of replicating, and this turned out a little Elvis/Liberace, er, sumthing. Here he is portrayed by Gabriel Byrne, as you can see, and he was a pretty handsome guy, in addition to being a badass. We love badasses, don't we, ladies? After the stinging defeat of the previous election, a very determined Jackson won the office in a landslide victory. He was the first poor-born US president, born to immigrant parents, and though he became immensely wealthy, he never forgot his humble beginnings. He was a duelling dude, and stared down the barrel of a gun more than once over slights or insults, which he never took lying down. He went to his grave wishing he'd killed Henry Clay. I have to say I personally adore Jackson for allowing the national bank's charter to lapse. He felt a national bank would be used to benefit the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the common man. I heartily agree. Jackson said "It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes." Nothing new under the sun, I suppose.



Coming up tomorrow: Martin Van Buren's Wild Hairs! More poncey collars! Presidents you never knew we had! It'll be ossum, possum! All the cool kids will be here.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

THE TOOTHPICK TEST
BY PHLEGMFATALE
OCTOBER 2008

If you can fog a mirror, you must have noticed we are again in the throes of a hotly contested presidential race in the USA. By virtually every avenue of media, we are bombarded with information of this season's candidates ranging from their plans and policies to the frivolous minutiae of whether next season will favor lower or higher hemlines and what's their favorite color.

For a bit more than half my life, I have been a registered voter and have followed with interest the previous six major elections. During those 24 years, I have noticed the media play human interest stories predicting the top dog may be divined by which candidate is taller or which has a greater preponderance of blue blood in their ancestry, or various other equally scientific methods.


I have made my own observations and have reached a startling conclusion with regards to the winner of the presidential race: the winning candidate will be the one who looks most natural with a toothpick sticking out of his mouth, hence The Toothpick Test. I know it sounds nutty, but just bear with me. Over the next week, I'll be posting some illustrations and facts to buttress my postulate. I'm certain I'm right about this and next Monday I'll predict who the winner will be of the 2008 presidential election, of that I am certain. Well, pretty certain. I think. Kinda. Sorta.





President #1 George Washington, unopposed
I love the story that he had wooden teeth. Alas, that story is untrue - for he had dentures carved of rhino ivory and apparently he didn't often smile due to the discomfort. But it would have been a toothsome irony if they'd been carved, say, of applewood, yeah? Fortunately, George was a brilliant man who was not one to let denture discomfort distract him from the business of establishing this democracy in such a way that it be perpetuated and safe from turning into yet another monarchy or some other yucky-archy. He set up his cabinet of advisors which is an executive branch tradition to this day. Plus he was a military guy, and military guys look good with a toothpick. S'true.









President #2 John Adams 1797-1801 Ran against Thomas Jefferson
I know what you're thinking: we've hit a wrinkle already. You've seen a two dollar bill and you therefore know Thomas Jefferson was a president, and so this thing about the toothpick already has the wheels falling off. Well, not so fast, sunshine. Adams was nicknamed "his rotundity," and apparently knew his way around a dinner plate, a trifle dish, a compote, aspic trays, buffets and whatnot. It's no stretch to envision someone called "his rotundity" walking about with a toothpick in his mouth, is it? Srsly. Oh, and back then, the practice was that the runner-up in the election would be the Vice-President, so there was lots of bad blood between Adams and Jefferson which led to...









President #3 Thomas Jefferson 1801 - 1809 Ran against Aaron Burr in 1801, and George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic in 1805, each serving as his Veep
Speaking of the buffet, the buffet became the rage in Europe in the eighteenth century, and Jefferson had spent a lot of time in France, and some have suggested he introduced the practice to American society upon his return. Buffet = total toothpick. You know how back in the day when a conscious patient was having a slug dug out or a limb amputated and they'd give him a piece of wood to bite down on? Well, the toothpick thing also stands up here because TJ needed the buffer between his pearly whites after four years of gritting them puppies as Adams' Veep. By that time, Jefferson looked way more natural with a toothpick than did Adams. Adams was so steamed by TJ's election, he left town the night before the inauguration. Incidentally, after their lifelong feud, TJ and Adams died on the same day (July 4, 1826, 50 years after the signing of the Constitution). Adams last words were "Jefferson is still alive" and he did not know TJ had died earlier the same day. Jefferson sold his collection of books to the US Congress for money to pay his debts off, and this became the foundation of the Library of Congress. [I wonder if they'd buy my old Nancy Drew books so I could pay off my shoe bill?] Jefferson was a fascinating person, but we should give him his propers for being a very smart shopper, what with him picking up Napoleon's fire-sale castoffs in the form of one Louisiana Purchase. Way to go, TJ. We love a bargain. But we'd like to sell NOLA back to the French. I'm sure we can come to some sort of arrangement.









President #4 James Madison 1809-1817 Veep John Adams
James was a brilliant man, a master of languages, and lived a long life despite poor health. He stood just 5'4" and never broke 100 pounds. Think horse jockey. What could look more natural than a jockey with a toothpick in his mouth? We love Madison because he came up with a lot of the ideas behind the US Constitution. James probably felt a little cocky, too, because he landed such a fabulous catch in the form of one Dolley, who is widely regarded as one of the most charming and admired of all US First Ladies. Dolley's cupcakes were very popular in school lunches when I was a kid.

This concludes the first gripping installment of my Toothpick Test series. I hope you were as entertained as I was by compiling this information. This is intended as a light-hearted sashay through the history of presidential elections. Every moment in the life of a democracy is an important one, and we never can afford the luxury of inattention to the pressing questions of the day. Still, it is comforting to know that even the very brilliant men who founded this great nation had at times violent differences of opinion. If they moved forward and pressed on in spite of those differences, then perhaps we can today, as well. Whoever wins the election a week from tomorrow night, when the sun rises on Wednesday, we still all will be Americans. I think that's a pretty amazing place to start.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gosh, I'm so flattered, truly I am!


The lovely and talented Breda has nominated me for a Superior Scribbler award. Now I get to pass this distinction along to 5 other bloggers and also post the rules* and their link at the bottom, as I have done. There are so many great reads on my blogroll, so this is tough for me. I love you all, my darlings, but I must choose 5, so here goes, in no particular order:

Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man is a superb technical writer. Featuring posts which are fact-rich and educational, his Weekend Wings series is a must-read for any aviation entoosiast. A more charming, elegant and gracious gentleman could not be found, but he also holds the distinction of having once posted an Australian mock-commercial from which I learnt of the existence of tag-nuts. My life will never be the same!

Ambulance Driver treats his audience to a rollicking ride-along in his exploits as a provider of emergency medical services. His posts are often side-splitting, often touching and never dull.

Barbara the Bad Tempered Zombie is among the most wonderful Canadians evah - I like her better even than William Shatner, and that's saying something. She's a fellow music enthusiast and writes on that topic more than any other. In fact, she's about to be a feature writer for a dead-tree format music publication, I think, and deservedly so. Rock on, Barbara!

Brigid's blog Mausers and Muffins has made me a better cook. Her posts are contemplative and as soul-nourishing as the repasts she documents there, full of poetry and absolutely stunning photography. You should try some of her recipes, which she often posts in the corresponding comment section of the post on which the photo appears. Yummy food, yummy reading.

...and finally, the erudite gentleman whose blog is The LawDog Files. In an age of hurried, crass communications, LawDog writes with style, elegance and wit which calls to mind the brilliant, genteel grace of Monsieurs Clemens and Bierce of a couple centuries back, making him one of my favorite reads. He does not update daily, nor does he throw up posts with madcap abandon like certain shoe-obsessed people I could name**, but when a new post appears on The LawDog Files, you may be assured it will be well-considered and researched as well as a delight to read.

*The Rules:Every Superior Scribbler will name 5 other Super Scribblers.If you are named you must link to the author & the name of the blog that gave you the award. Then you must display the adorable award and link to THIS POST, which explains the award. The same post also allows you to add your link. Then they will have a record of all the people who are Super Scribblers!
**I forgive myself.
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Thanks to the lovely gentleman reader for bringing The Devil's Panties to my attention. Why didn't I think of that? I lurves it!
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I have no words.

Oh, wait, I have one word: sharks.

Oh, and what if the Grateful Dead aren't playing near an ocean when it's time for the birthing experience?
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Saturday, October 25, 2008


When I was a kid, I never got a Hippity Hop. Cruelly denied by my captors, my life has been a search for zat certain somesing. Despite this deprivation, I've never been incarcerated. Now I am sitting at the computer on a yoga ball, listening to Buena Vista Social Club, my Hippity-Hop void has been filled and I am complete.
Aieeeee!
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Shopping for Others


Today's lucky recipient is Christina, who I gather doesn't wear heels generally. You'll be relieved to see this pair is not a Mary Jane, and she'll be relieved to see she's getting a wedgie instead of a pair of spike heels.


These puppies are from Chloe, and ring up at a cool $800. Hey! That's my lucky number, 800 is! Anyhoo, these'd look cute on you, C. You really should think of purchasing them. If you find them on a 90% off rack. I'm just saying...
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Wow. Obama has some really classy supporters. Since he already hangs out with thugs, he no doubt is as proud of them as they are of him.
[update friday night - looks like that didn't happen, after all, showing that even excepting west Pennsylvania racist rednecks, there's plenty of low-class to go around. I do, however, stand by the statement about consorting with thugs.]

If my apartment gets trashed after the election by rioters, will FEMA hook me up? Just wondering....
_________________________

Here's a great article by Thomas Sowell entitled "Do Facts Matter?"

I have to say this evening that I'm feeling a little disheartened. Earlier this week I had occasion to see a friend and former neighbor who has always prided himself on being a conservative black republican. I asked him if he was as sick of election season as I am, and he said "I'm doing my own thing, tuning it out. I was going to vote for McCain, but then he picked Palin and she won't quit running her mouth, so now I'm going to have to vote for Obama." I wanted to say that I was happy to hear he wasn't voting for Obama for some lame reason.

I scraped my jaw off the floor and said "I like Sarah" and he said "she's hot, but she's not saying anything."

I just couldn't even begin to argue with him. I mean, how does one span the gulf between espousing conservative Republican ideology to justify voting for Obama? If I morally couldn't vote for one candidate, I'd seek out the candidate who best represented my views, rather than the person who SHOULD have gotten my vote. I'm not accusing anyone of anything, but I think Palin is just an excuse for him, and not the real reason he's voting for B.O.

We are cursed to live in interesting times, it would appear.

Crappity.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008
h/t to Thud for passing along a tale of inspiration to blog about. Bless 'em.
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To my delight, Wednesday marked the arrival of the first seriously cold front to hit Dallas this year. I adore dreary weather. I feel more alive when it's cold and wet, for some reason. Clearly, some sort of celebration to mark the occasion was in order.
I happened to have on hand an incredible stock from a leg of lamb I prepared last week, so I used that as the base for an Italian turnip and rice soup.
Here you see the minced Italian parsley, chopped up bacon (though pancetta was called-for) and thinly sliced turnips.
I've been having a stone-soup sort of thing going on lately in which I call up one or two residents, usually ones I think are underfed or can't afford to eat as well as I think they should, and they will come over and eat with me. Wednesday, though, making the soup seemed so much more medatative, and I really didn't want company. I made the soup, opened a bottle of wine and had my dinner, and then I called various residents, divvying up the remains among 4 other people.
It was a very lovely evening. I had my nice, solitary meal and yet I still got to share my cooking with some folks who could use it.
Do note Our Lady of the Herbs. I got that wonderful figural bottle for a few bucks at a local antique market. I think she's marvelous. I wonder what sauce or libation she originally held? Anyway, she makes a great vessel for holding fresh herbs, and in this one, I think she looks quite the Vegas showgirl.



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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Love This Lamp.
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And now, without further ado, it's been simply too long since I treated you all to my mad digital arts skills. Try not to be jealous. Yeah, I did this with exactly zero art school learnin'. Try not to be hatin' on me just because I'm so naturally gifted.


There's a store in town which sells the kind of supplies i need for my stuff that I make and sell. I don't go there often, though, because they charge even wholesale customers like me a ghastly price above what I'd pay to order the same stuff from New Mexico or at a gem show.
Anyhoo, like I said, the prices are exorbitant, but a trip there at least affords the perverse pleasure of getting to stare at the proprietor, who is an older, very tall man with Gandalf-style hair treatments on chin and head, except all around his mouth is an aureole of nicotine stain, starting with twin jets of nico-skid below the nostrils and flaring out into a gently burnished rust color around the mouth. His index and middle finger are both amber-color with same.
He is rude and gruff and has the warmth and people skills of a road grader, so I don't feel so bad writing this post about him.
If he ever runs out of cigs, he could just suck on his facial hair and fingers for a nicotine fix. Nice to have a backup, I suppose.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The price is XXXX, and with a signed lease and one month's deposit, I can hold this apartment for up to 30 days for you.

Really? I have to give a 60 day notice where I live now. Can't you work with me on that?

That means I have it sitting empty and getting no rent for an additional 30 days. No, I can't be flexible about that. It's our policy only to hold for 30 days.

Aw, come on, now, phlegm, you're breaking my back here. Can't you work with me on that?

[That was the tipping point, by the way. Mama doesn't like you anymore and wants you to live somewhere else.]

saccharine mode: Aw, dude, I wish I could! But it's supply and demand, man! Other apartments are happy if they stay over 90%. Mine rarely dip below 97%. It's not me- it's the marketplace. People want to live here, and I can't have a place sitting empty and rent-free for one person while someone else wants to rent it. Gosh, I'm sorry it won't work for you. I think you would have liked living here.

grrr.


As he was leaving, he gave me his business card. I can tell a lawyer or a doctor when I meet one. Knew this guy was in sales. I wonder how he responds when someone tells him he is breaking their [insert anatomy bit here]?

The funny thing is how often I hear that our community is really special and that our staff are not like the weird sales-bots one meets in other Dallas apartments. Just because I start every encounter as sweetness and light doesn't mean I can't end it as Supreme Goddess Queen OOber Bitch, sonny. Just don't make me go there.
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Ruh Roh, Raggy: Biden warns Yes we can... be attacked again.

Goody.
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THIS is rich... someone in France doesn't want the big economic downturn to pull focus from the enviornmental disaster going on right under our noses. A banking crisis mustn't take the heat off climate change action. Yup, stay the course to keep the public panicked and distracted.

Uh, is there any remote possibility that the whole climate change action is in some small way responsible for manipulating the marketplace? I think so, and if that is the case, then keeping the heat on the climate change action is at least in part responsible for the current economic downturn. How can it not be? The kook fringe at the Greensane Cabal Headquarters are hell-for-leather to punish and impoverish industry and the kind of forward-thinking capitalism which has been the rising tide that has raised all boats. And just like Peta who kill way more animals than they save(yes, even housepets!), improving the planet is not at the root of their movement - it's merely a clever part of the power-grab.

The same folks who bitch about our over-use of plastics and wasting water are utterly ignoring that this same economy in which there is flagrant waste is also the economy that has sent countless billions in medical aid and famine relief around the globe, with no hope or expectation of being treated in kind. The generosity of the nations of the west is unparalleled in the history of humankind. Untold millions are alive today because capitalistic societies allowed folks to flourish and to make a little extra that they might give a little more to help others.

I think now that we've seen how effectively the socialists hobble democracy, it's time we break our shackles and free ourselves from the mooring of moronic and failed European Marxist policies and get on with the business of making the world better for everyone who would be free, whether the Europeans like it or not.

Remember: misery loves company. There are many beauties and distinctive delights in Europe and her peoples, but that doesn't mean they know shit from shinola. They want us to be as miserable as they are. Keep in mind that in Paris, there are neighborhoods of foreign nationals where the French police dare not go, for fear of death. It's not all happy families over there. They've got a mess on their hands and we want no part of that magic.

We had to leave there once, remember? We left for a reason.
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In the link below, a Pennsylvania Woman was ordered by the court to come out of the chemical-free bubble she'd erected in the yard with plumbing and electricity without permits. The smell of everything makes her sick.


When a locator calls me up and asks if I have an apartment for rent that hasn't been cleaned yet, I just cringe, because I know they've got some bizarre, hard-to-please neurotic who fancies they have allergies and can't bear cleaning products or fresh paint. I try to be polite and courteous, but they are always time wasters. AL. WAYS. Even if they rent, I'll end up letting them out of their lease so they can go be a boil on someone else's armpit. Bubos!

Was talking online to rabbit Monday, and he steered me to this article:



phlegm: ye gawds!

rabbit: can't tell who is the nuttier one involved there.

rabbit: but, you'd think the Lustron house would be pretty sterile.

phlegm: fruitbat
rabbit: eeeyeah, that's one word for it.

phlegmf: haw

phlegm: those chemical allergy people need a severe beating

rabbit: a quick bath in a septic tank will usually cure that.

phlegm: I guar-damn-tee you we could let them all suffer death-by-air-freshener and we'd have lost nary an einstein or edison among the lot

rabbit: there's another term for them...malingerer.


Quite.


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Monday, October 20, 2008

available for the mere pittance of $8.95 at Archie McPhee, where pickles yodel and lederhosen run free
Thought of you, breda!
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Add ImageSunday was yet another wondrously lovely day...
About 8am, I stepped out into a crisp, cool morning with the pups. It was so nice. If I were a coffee drinker, I'd have sat in back and drunk an entire pot on such a lovely morning. Life is sweet.
It's funny, but with prolonged heat and dry weather, the moss on this concrete structure in my back yard (my henge) had turned black, but it rained recently, and now it's gone all green again. Lovely stuff. Did you ever look closely enough at moss to see that it's actually teensy green little flowers?
I love the Fall. It's such a gorgeous relief from the brutal heat of summer, and it's as if nature heaves a sigh and just relaxes a bit. Maybe it comes of being an October baby, but days like that make me so happy.
___________
Chuy, Chuychanga, Chu-ManFu, whatever I'm calling him today - he's being pretty assertive with his big sissy. Sometimes it looks like he's getting the best of her, even though he's only half her weight. They usually sleep half the day or more, I expect, while I'm at work, but on days I'm off and home with them, they will fight sleep to try and stay up with me the whole day. This means by 9 or 10 o'clock, they start getting really cranky because they are tired, so they start fighting. If I manage to settle their fighting, then the Ginsu Girlie will just start barking at me. She seems indignant that I don't recognize that my primary function is as her personal heater. Silly me.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008
apartment seeker: This is really great, but I'd like a larger apartment. Can you recommend anything nearby?

Me: I'd drive around downtown paying particular attention to older buildings which have been converted. There's one I've particularly heard has excellent prices on lofts with private rooftop decks. It's on Houston Street across from the School Book Supposito-"

egad.

Yeah. In jest I have said "School Book Suppository" so many times that I can't say "School Book Depository" when I want to. Is this a form of Tourette's?
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

I love burning fragrant pinon in the chimenea. It's funny how the flames look like the glowing logs just splashed down into some diabolical liquid.
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Japan: redefining personal space.


Japanese know from crowded.
The title on yootoob says "where's the water?"
My guess is there's a little water mixed in with the pee.

Still, it's kind of cute.
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Friday, October 17, 2008
This is so special that I simply must share it with you:

Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney says that the Federal gubmint executed about 5000 prisoners and dumped their bodies in the swamps of Louisiana during Katrina.

Goodness knows we've more than 5,000 dirtbags that want serious executin' in our federal pens. I've also no doubt that many a festering clump of human debris found theysef dead up in the swamps of NOLA, but, rilly? Mass execution of prisoners? Please.

Please.

And all this time I thought the Green Party was a bunch of kooks.

Silly me.

h/t to the immaculate Rabbit, who still refused to blog his ownself...
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Thursday, October 16, 2008
One fantastic movie I recommend, unconventional and provocative, is Sin noticias de Dios. Great film. Not safe for children.

I'd seen Penelope Cruz in films and thought she was really good. I actually really liked of Woman On Top, because it seemed a whimsical nod to the whole magical realism thing that I like so much about South American literature. My major dislike of the film came into how it was edited for cable and for the dvd release to be more muted and politically correct.

Anyhoo, in Sin noticias de Dios, an angel and a demon are battling for the soul of a boxer. I could tell you what I like about the film, about the big twist that comes later, but that would ruin the surprise. Suffice to say this was the moment I realized I ADORE Penelope Cruz as an actor, and I want to see more of her.

Also check out the divine Pedro Almodovar's Volver, another Spanish comedy starring Cruz. Great stuff. She's gorgeous to watch and actually seems to have a brain which touches her spinal cord.

Hey, mi video screen es tu video screen, baby.
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Breda pointed me to Hot Air Blog where this was posted.

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One more Fair Park statue.
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Mr. Bean Meets the Queen
my favorite Mr. Bean bit.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
ay oh way to go Ohio...



Acorn attempts to steal the election, because they can't be honest and win in a fair fight.

Cowards. Reprobates.
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Now, I'm not saying this surly teen in this ghastly outfit is a horseman of the Apocalypse, but I am certain this outfit was mentioned somewhere in the last book of the New Testament between rivers of blood and froggy rain. I'm just saying.



Sweater - $352

Manky designer tee - $220

Botulism slide miniskirt - $429

Money's obviously a curse.

Labels:

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I have been fortunate to have been given many tickets to events and concerts over the past several months. I was lucky to be given a pair of tickets to a lecture last night at the Meyerson Symphony Hall of Dereck and Beverly Joubert, photographers for National Geographic who specialize in researching big cats in the southern regions of Africa. They showed lots of spectacular photos and footage, particularly of one leopard to whom they'd grown quite attached in Botswana. They talked extensively of conservation.

They mentioned looking for days and days to find the big cats, about how they are so territorial and all, and that made me think of safaris. The Jouberts are major experts in the field and have been researching their subject for 28 years. If they take 10 days to find the big cats just to photograph, what would be the odds of the guided tours with hunting licenses tracking them down in the few days the dry cleaner from Des Moines has to hunt big game in Africa? What would you bet that a lot of safari companies have staff just around the next clump of trees springing big game from cages to guarantee a clear shot for a kill for their paying guests? I mean, considering how territorial they are and all, it seems the only way a tour host could guarantee the big game would make an appearance would be to cause it to appear, don't you think?

Yeah, it sounds crappy, but it's human nature to take the easy way out, innit?
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
34 years ago today, a gorgeous little lamb came to my family. She was unusually pretty. Little old ladies in stores would ask my mom if that was a doll in the stroller. I got just what I'd always wanted-- a baby sister.

When I was about 14, a boy asked me to a banquet, and he came to our house to visit. Mom and Dad went somewhere, but left the 5 year old home with me and the boy as chaperone. She climbed on his lap and grinned like a possum, then she proceeded to fart a blue streak. We went to the banquet, but I never went anywhere with that boy again. I quickly concluded Sis was right to have farted on his lap. Pearls before swine, and all that.

We all doted on her and spoiled her, but somewhere along the way, I found my little sister was my best friend. I love her more than I could ever express, and she will always be one of the best people on earth, to me.

I love you, Sis. Stay gassy!
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The Christmas I was 6, I got my first record player. It was white and orange plastic and fully portable. The 45rpm record I got with it was Rubber Ducky, which remains one of my favorite songs. Yeah, it's silly, but it's sweet. What's not to like? If this doesn't make you grin, something's wrong with you.
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Monday, October 13, 2008
The author of this Glasgow daily photo blog laments the notoriously unhealthy Scottish diet, giving the photo example of Herpes Soup.

Good googly moogly!
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FASHION DICTUM


Celebration of birth month continues with a vengeance.



Mom said she wanted to give me something I'd been wanting or needing for my birthday, and asked if I would like to choose. I knew just the thing- something I'd been hankering over for some time but just couldn't bring myself to spring for. I opted for both want- and need in the form of this play pretty by Candace Ang. I love her jewelry. This is laser-cut and -etched black lucite. Sorry, but it was hard to get a really clear picture of it while wearing it(my arms being under-long and all), and I thought if I photographed it on a flat surface you wouldn't get an idea of the scale, etc. There was also a sinuous snake necklace I really wanted, but I didn't want to appear too greedy. The snake was fabuloussssssss, but this is the one I liked best.





Anyhoo, it's sort of bohemian/goth/pirate or somesuch. Mebbe I need to institute International Festoon Like A Pirate Day, ya think? Love the skeleton and raven, and not just because it's October. The text-- I'm guessing this was from a woodcut or something-- is it latin Putre factio or Italian (putre? faccio?) I guess it is Halloweeny after all. I likes it. High stinking fashion, or some such.






Thanks for the prezzie, Mom. It's fabulous and I love it!


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Sunday, October 12, 2008



Sunday, Puppy Sunday!


Puppies love chudder.
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Some time around the time my family moved to Texas, the sky ride at the State Fair collapsed and squished some folks. Obviously, it was a terrible thing to happen. I DETEST heights, pretty much. Once in Belgium at Dinant, I willingly got into a gondola rather than climb the cliff wall, thus saving some valuable time for investigation of the trappist arts. Anyway, I never had the urge to voluntarily get on a sky ride. Well, they've got a new whizz-bang skyride at the State Fair of Texas sometime in the last few years, and this one doesn't look at all rickety or rusty. Wednesday at the fair, it was my birthday, and I've been through lots of scary things over the last 15 months, and I figured what the hay - if the skyride gits me, then at least I won't have to suffer the horrors of an Obama presidency. The pic with downtown in the distance is the only clear shot I got of downtown, as the gondolas were passing in rapid succession on the other side. Anyhoo, I survived, obviously. :P
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Wow. Saturday was such a perfect fall day. Is everyone else having gorgeous weather, too? I want to bottle this stuff.
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Saturday, October 11, 2008
So, this is another true story.

A very close friend of my family, M, has a sister. Some years back, M's sister had a roommate who was murdered in their apartment by a serial killer. M's sister and another relative gave testimony which was instrumental in the serial killer finally being put permanently on ice.

Not too long ago, a major publication did a series of articles on this killer and his victims, and how the case came to be solved. The series included graphic photographs of the crime scenes, including the blood-spattered living room of M's sister and her roommate. But something was oddly off-putting about that photograph beyond just the obvious hideousness of the aftermath of a murder. M looked at the photograph again, and realized that the entertainment center cabinet her sister had given her (and which she still was using) had been there in the room for the big ugly event, and was there in the photo, all jellied up.

Ew.

No word on whether she still uses that entertainment center or not.
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Interpol - PDA Video

We have 200 couches so you can sleep tight...

I haven't posted an Interpol video in a while... You probably thought I'd forgotten

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Friday, October 10, 2008

For Buck, more images of the Beaux Arts deco structures at Dallas' Fair Park. The Parry Entrance Esplanade is lined by facades featuring six of these stone-hearted giantesses, each representative of one nation which ruled over Texas. I think that first heifer is Phonecian, and yet that doesn't sound right. These Amazons give each other the big-eye across a reflecting pool that is 700 feet long, by the way. Kinda neat.
Note the murals in the recessed areas. The murals are very like the socialist propaganda of that era in style, if you ask me, even if the inspiration was otherwise. So, they didn't get they pitcher took.


The 1961 Ann-Margret film State Fair was filmed at Fair Park. This is the only pre-1950 US fairground still completely intact, still having its original marbles. I think you can clicky the pictures to embiggenate.

I may go back to the State Fair one day next week. I didn't make it into the food building, so I didn't get to see the butter sculpture. It's always fun to see the creative arts building, too, because it has all the fiber arts prizewinners, including lots of fabulous quilts and sculptures and things by little kids. Fun stuff.

**************

Oh, I never told you, but the boy dog is named Chuy. That's pronounced like chewy. Sorry, but I don't watch tv so I won't be bothered by thoughts of Chelsea Handler's sidekick, so I'll thank you not to bring him up. Chuy's seeming to me like he'll be considerably smaller than Praline. I should have named him Sawed-Off, which could tastily double for sod-off.

At lunch yesterday, I came home and sat in the yard with the pups as they lolled about in the sunshine and wallowed in the dirt. It was really cute. I was not quite ready, though, for the 11 week old boy to start humping his sissy. Wow. Having a boy dog is going to be interesting.

If I had Praline to name over again, her name would be Ginsu Girlie, she of the razor tooth. I call her Ginsu anyway. It's her first nickname. They're settling into a nice play style with each other, which is a relief. I worried she'd always be too rough on him, but he's really holding his own. He's picking lots of fights, too, so I think he's digging it. I leave their kennel doors open so they can go take naps when they like. I came into the living room a couple days ago, and she was asleep in his kennel, and he was asleep in hers. Sweet!

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Name: Phlegmfatale
Location: Elsewhere, Texas, USA

I'm not whining;
I'm unburdening.
FATALE ABSTRACTION


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