Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sawr this over at Just a Fleshwound.


Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.
Hedy Lamarr

I dunno- Hedy looks pretty smart to me, and def. glam.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Deep Forest - Media Luna
I'm so glad this week is over.

Someone Friday (a straight female, not hitting on me) decided to tell me that a certain physical property of mine could yield me a lucrative career online.



I had one of those rare speechless moments.
I think I'll stay home this weekend and hide.

Friday, November 28, 2008


They're so cute when they're in love!
Creaky, stultified and however remote, one remembers dancing and one remembers having a reason to dance...

She can read: she's bad. Oh, she's bad.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

For the beauty of the earth...

Have you ever looked at aerial images of your home on google or mapquest? You really should.

Here's my grandpa's place in the Ozarks, and a larger version. In the first photo, there's a black-ish oval in a purple circle which barely shows up. That's a pond where my brother did most of his fishing when we were kids, and I just tagged along and looked at stuff. You'd be amazed by the giant black ants they have up there. They don't bite though, so they are okay. That's also where I ate tadpoles, which, as everyone knows, are merely raisins-in-waiting. Gritty, though. Took me years to forgive raisins. The pink circle is my grandparents' house which they built in the late 70s, and which, to my delight, has indoor bathrooms. The outhouse is something you really should have experienced, though. Their little old house, built in the late 40s, is concealed by the trees just above the pink circle. There used to be a mimosa tree there which seemed huge to me. I loved those pink furry chenille blossoms. I was amazed when I was an adult to find that the branch I couldn't reach as a child was barely higher than my head. That tree has been gone for a long time, now, though.

The second photo is a larger version of same, with the above photo area in the yellow rectangle. Then below and to the right is a blue square where the church is that a lot of folks in my family helped to build. WWII vet Uncle Homer was a carpenter and built the pews for that church. I have one of those pews in my home, now, and I'll always treasure it.

You don't get a sense from this image of the undulating terrain, but there was something marvelous about a large American-made car flying along these roads. I always felt like my guts were fighting to catch up with the rest of me. Dad would drive fast, and we'd giggle like fiends in the back seat.

Most of my childhood we lived in the mid-South, Memphis area, and we'd make the two-ish hour drive up to the hills to see grandparents most weekends. Hundreds of times we must have made that trip, but I've only been on those roads a time or two in the past 30 or so years, and yet I remember the entire journey so vividly. A few times, I've gotten on mapquest aerial and started following the roadway from Balfour Road in West Memphis all the way up to the hills, seeing the satellite version of the landmarks I remember, rail lines and waterways being the silent companions of the journey.

Holidays make me think of these trips, too, and of being so alert with the anticipation of seeing loved ones, being spoiled by lovely grandparents, good food and too-rare glimpses of favorite cousins and places I thought of as home. The flat fields of Crittenden County would give way to yet more miles of sprawling cultivation. I always noted when we passed one particular place where the property was dotted with disused freezers and fridges, portholes cut in to accommodate nesting yard birds. Recycling, anyone? Usually, but especially at holidays, Dad and Mom would have classic radio music playing from an oldies station, lots of Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman and the like. That was the sound of home, too.

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of good memories and warm times with dear ones.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


When I was in first grade, my fingertip was smushed in the hinge of a big heavy bathroom door here. They need to put a little effort into that website, by the way. I wonder if they have a plaque up immortalizing that moment? No? This'll have to do, I spose.

I blame any subsequent bad behaviour in my life on that moment, if, in fact, I've ever actually done anything remotely naughty. Which, of course, I haven't. I'm just misunderstood.


There was a girl in my class who wore froufy dresses to class with lots of ruffles, and she won some beauty pageant and got to ride on the steamboat down the river with all the beauty queens during the New Year's Eve fireworks. I was really jealous-- how could she get to be the cutest girl in Memphis when they must have been aware I was there?

Nap time came daily after lunch. Nap time was difficult for me. Golly, it was the most tedious, boring 30 minutes of my entire life repeated daily. It took becoming (at least age-wise) an adult and having to earn a living to make me crave naps. Sitting still was torture. We sat in our seats, heads down on desks. Other kids seemed to nap, but I'd look around the room sending eye-daggers at the kid who always got the best crayons and then broke them, or wondering if I'd get a chance to play with the clay that day. Would I make it through the day without being sent out into the hallway or to the principal's office? Luckily for me, the principal seemed to be the one woman in the world who didn't think I was the spawn of Lucifer, so she never paddled me. Yeah, I'd sit there and wonder what I was about to do wrong, next. Then, every so often, something would happen that would remind me that for all my flaws, there were some humiliations in life I would be spared. Every so often, I'd look ahead and to the right and would marvel at the little puddle splattering to life below flounce-beswagged seat of Little Miss Memphis, and I would think "at least I don't pee in my chair."
*Shirley Temple in Baby Take A Bow

Of course, that was a very immature inclination, but I was only 6. I forgive myself.

***Upon its 1934 release, this Shirley Temple film was banned in Nazi Germany for its depiction of gangsterism and gun play.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

...speaking of Star Trek-- what do you think of the ideer of the new Star Trek prequel thingie?

Here's my problem with it-- we already have the ST films with the aging original class and the beefed-up budget for set design and cinematography. We will now be expected to go back to pre-series era Star Trek characters with a super-slick degree of technology and design values. To me, if the producers of the prequel had even the tiniest mote of irony about them, they would have found a big-budget way to emulate the geeky analog adolescence of the birth of sci-fi tv without lampooning it.

Star Trek was one of the handful of shows I watched and loved as a kid in the 70s. A marked characteristic of the original series was its ability to take side-trips to the riduculously sublime. I think if a kid today sees the entire series in order beginning with the prequel, they won't get what was so fabulous about the original series. My thought is that the wide-eyed earnestness of later Star Trek films coupled with the luvved-up prequel will spell a whole that is less than the sum of its parts.

Other than the thought of the immaculate Simon Pegg as young Scotty, I can't wrap my brain around the idea of finding enjoyment in this film. I could be wrong, and someday when I see this film, I'll admit it if I am.

Come to that, I hope I am wrong.
Don't feel so bad, Detroit. TV's not so good anymore, either.

One hardly ever hears Concierto di Aranjuez these days, and how long's it been since anyone intoned unctuously about the richness of soft Corinthian leather? Well, that's too long, my darling.

Here's the whole thing reimagined, on the wings of gentle zephyrs and whatnot.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Use the fork, Luke.

shamelessly purloined from clever Christina

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday, Puppy Sunday

You wouldn't know this about me, but I sort of really get energetic about 11 or 12 at night. That's pretty much the only time I really enjoy cleaning house, actually. Daytime, well, daytime's for sleeping in, getting up at the crack of noon for a lavish lunch out, and then back home in time for a proper nap while there's still good daylight to avoid.

My place has a concrete floor, and starting about 11:15 on Saturday night, I hand scrubbed half the downstairs floor. Yeah, by hand, with a rag.

OOH, and- SHOPPING REPORT! -- Mrs. Meyers' Clean Day cleaners now come in Basil flavor!!! No, it doesn't smell like pesto, but it does smell super-clean without smelling like a bunch of chemicals or artificial fruit or flower scents. I really like the Geranium and Lemon/Verbena scents, but I saw the Basil at Elliot's Hardware at Motor and Maple Friday and had to give it a whirl.

Mrs. Meyers Countertop Spray is good stuff, too. I'll have to check into their pet-oriented products. When someone comes up with something I can feed these varmints to make them pee lavender, well, I'd do it. In the meantime, I'll keep cleaning with Mrs. Meyers, but only very late at night.


Had the wee darlings over Saturday while sis was working and we fiddled with the filters on the logitech camera. We laughed and laughed. Fun!

I'm a lucky auntie.

Now I'm off to scrub the rest of the floor. Cheers, m'dears!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Maiden 'Voggage

When you're a person who loves 'Vogs, you'll wear each pair hundreds of times, but there's only one day when you wear that pair for the first time. It's cold and I was digging through me sock drawer and found some patterned stockings I've never worn before and one thing led to another et voila! Here I am in my goth-bootie Dame Agnes for the first time.

Got these way back in January, but the time has never been right to wear them. Today's the day!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Remember that big to-do last year - Earth-Aid or whatever it was - a string of synchronized concerts around the planet to raise money for Al Gore's. - oh, whatever the hell that was--???

I just remember there was one bit where Madonna harangued the audience by modestly saying "this is the last chance we have to save the planet."

Well, guess what?

Madonna's strict macrobionic diet includes blueberries flown to her from Canada. Uh, how is that environmentally sensitive, air-lifting your gorram blueberries?
Kicking and screaming, I finally let peer pressure (thanks, Breda) shame me into getting a webcam.

Wanna see my wiener?

Here he is in all his splendor. Yup, he's got more of the dachshund than chihuahua. He's 8.5 pounds of magnficent brute.

Lessons I learned Thursday:

  • You know how you get those sprinkle-on-carpet-then-vacuum air fresheners? Well, the spread-the-aroma effect works with other products, as well, including the dog poo someone hoovered up a couple weeks ago. Don't do it.
  • The $9.99 mallard squeak toy will last less than 30 minutes, whereas an Aquafina water bottle will last for days and days. [NOTE: Greybeard sagely informed me that plastic can be deadly for our little pooches. Sorry to give bad information - I've monitored my dogs when they've played with plastic things, but based on what he told me (see the comments section), it's probably best not to let them play with plastic things at all. Better to deny them goodies than to give them something that may wound or kill them. Thanks, Greybeard!]
  • If a terrier is being quiet, they are definitely up to something. Go ahead and get mad before you find them.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sometimes, a gal's just gotta take charge.
Hedy Lamarr and Spencer Tracy in Tortilla Flat

From IMDB:

Hedy's credited invention was for a radio guiding system for torpedoes which was used in WWII. She supposedly gained the knowledge from her first husband, Fritz Mandl, a Viennese munitions dealer who sided with the Nazis. Hedy drugged her maid to escape her husband and homeland.


I generally have a goal of kicking more of the week's ass than it kicks of mine. At this point, I'm thinking I'm only still ahead of the game because I took Tuesday off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What better way to celebrate National Ammo Day than to add to your stash?

While you're adding to your hoarde, how's about giving the old stuff a little hug while you're in there? :)
From GunNuts radio chat companion:

phlegmfatale:Hey sexy peoples - I'm taking off. Great show, breda and ahab!
SebastianSH:What about Skype?
Jay_G:that is quite possibly the most annoying music in the history of bumper music
Jay_G:Night phlegm!
0G:Wtf is up with not being able to backspace?
SebastianSH:sexy peoples? Speak for youself
phlegmfatale:uh, i was!
SnarkyBytes:Breda: Skype fail
TJP:bye phlegmmy
0G:I can barely type as is, without backspacing!
phlegmfatale:OH, and the drunk show?
Ahab:bye phlegmmy
phlegmfatale:two weeks ago?
Breda:the drunk show ROCKED
phlegmfatale:I think gunnuts chat is pregnant.
Jay_G:I was there.
Jay_G:I think
SebastianSH:The drunk show?
Jay_G:But I'm not the father
SebastianSH:Was this during the election and I missed it?
Jay_G:The kid is not my son
Rich in Ohio:Election night.
phlegmfatale:many fathers, many mothers, no good parents
I have to say I'm an amazing cook. I've made a couple little recipes up all by my ownsome, and I'm very good at following other recipes and I greatly enjoy whipping up a feast. I'm a naturally good navigator, and (when not distracted by the most extraordinary things) probably a much-better-than-average driver. I can decorate quite well with what other people leave at the curb. I can sew, crochet, knit and probably stitch up a nasty gash. I'm a very good gardener. No one can spoil a dog the way I can. I'm a fair shot and handily qualified for my CHL last week. I like to be nice, but have been known to crack a whip when one needed cracking. Even at 5'2", a person or two has called me intimidating.

But only yesterday did I truly become a dangerous woman, possessor of the key to the undoing of the known universe: late Tuesday, the Brown Truck of Happiness™ delivered to me Nanny Ogg's Cookbook.

This was a surprise belated birthday gift from darling dear enabler Christina in Las Vegas. Thanks Christina, you clever girl!

I can't wait to get started, and now no one is safe. You have been warned.

I'll keep a freezer-full of ice on hand, btw, not that it will be enough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day off Tuesday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

So I found this latex pirate rubber chicken squeak toy and HAD to have it for the hounds. She-beast was mad for it and and didn't want to share with wee Chuy. Stingy.
I know. I know. Try not to be jealous of my $10 green velvet 1970s thunder-pimp chair, okay? I really like it, is all. I can quit buying furniture at thrift stores any time I want to. I'm not addicted. Really.
omg- i SQUEALED when I got my results. Just when in my 18th consecutive year of being owned by Jack Russell Terriers, I was wondering if I'd been mistaken:

What dog breed are you? I'm a Jack Russell Terrier! Find out at

Jack Russell Terrier
The Artist
You, my friend, are an artiste! Fuelled by a hounding sense of creativity and an untameable desire to express yourself, you see the world through rose-colored glasses one day and then wrestle the curtains closed and turn off the lights so you can ponder life the next. Your dog-eared journal is filled with brilliant ideas about rescuing the universe, yet you have trouble training your noggin on any one of them for any significant amount of time. Your originality occasionally manifests itself as performance art, and you love showing off your amazing athletic abilities in front of an audience. When it comes to taking on the leader of the pack, you’re not afraid to sink your teeth in - and won't loosen your grip until you've gotten your point across.

Clearly, they've met me. Except for the athletic thingie. I expect all the bouncing and giggling gave me away.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Separated at Birth?

In what has to be one of the most unintentionally funny photo enhancements of recent years -- quite an achievement-- the UK's Mirror did a story on the whereabouts of B.O.'s fifth-grade classmates. What cracks me up here is they felt the need to point out which one was Our Dear Leader by circling and significantly enlarging his cranium, to Mars Attacks! effect. His head was plenty big enough already.

What do you think?


Holly's pretty adventurous and already has joined the cult of Fluevog. I'm proud of her for stepping up her shoe game. I'd like to think I've wielded some teeny bit of bad influence, in that regard.

In that spirit, here's an uncharacteristically sensible choice in shoes for Our Hols: the Sofft Carma Mary Jane pump has 2 3/4" heel, but this line of shoes features some of the most comfortable, all-day-wearable heels I've ever had. Plus the entire upper and shoe lining (or sock) is made of leather, which is coming to be increasingly rare in shoes under $100, I find. I like this shoe and will prolly get a pair for myself, but I thought of these for Hols because they come in purple.

Hope ya like 'em, honey!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

As someone brilliant once said: I been gotted.

aepilot_jim tagged me with a meme - (yer meme is coming soon, Brigid!)

Bookworm MEME

Rules:Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!

Happens to be The General by C.S. Forester

It was a surprise to him to be addressed as "Dear Curzon" by General Mackenzie. Mackenzie had been one of the eminent officers who had discussed the war with him two days before, but half an hour's conversation did not seem sufficient reason for the Director-General of Strategical Services to address him without a prefix and to preface with an apology what might just as well have been a simple order. It was possible that now the confraternity of Generals who might have their own conventions of behaviour among themselves, but Curzon did not think that very likely.

I know: dry.

I tag anyone who wants to play this reindeer game

Friday, November 14, 2008

Went to Ray's this afternoon and picked up some 9mm. The place was packed, but the owner - Ray's daughter - called out hi to me from down a long gun counter where the customers were stacked deep.

Borrowed the instructor's 9mm 1911 for the shooty portion of the qualification. I'd never shot it before and didn't practice with it beforehand.

My very first shot was dead center through the crossing of the X.

The first target picture is of the first 25 rounds I shot, which stayed in a fair group, I'd say. Honestly, I really practice almost entirely with .22, and I'm not super-wimpy, but the larger caliber are more fatiguing for me. Must correct that, must practice more with the big stuff. note to self: GET some bigger pistols. I do shoot my .38 snubby, but honestly, nothing is as fun to me as looking at my target over about a mile of barrel of dad's old High Standard squirrel-blaster.

And for those who don't know, if you qualify on a revolver in Texas, you are only allowed to carry a revolver. If you qualify with a pistol like I did, then you can carry a revolver OR a semi-automatic pistol. I know. It doesn't make sense to me, either. Oh, and if I futz any of the terminology here, mea smegging culpa. I'm going to ride the n00b wave as long as possible when it comes to gun things. I'm trying, but I'm a little shallow, darlings. Forgive me?

Finally, you can see the target with all 50 rounds, 3 of which I dropped. I was anticipating as I pulled the trigger, and had those 3 go off the reservation. Was disappointed, because, honestly, I wanted a 250 score, but 247 is not embarrassing either, is it? Looking at the photo, I just noticed one of my dropped shots is in the neighborhood of the perp's wedding tackle. I swear it was unintentional, but I reserve the right to get creative if I have to reload that many times to stop a threat.

I'm just relieved to have it all done with. It was fun, and not nearly so difficult or intimidating as you might think.

And I shot better than a lot of the guys.


Unbelievably hectic week, and I expect my schedule to stay rollicking-tight pretty much for the rest of the year. My job may or may not be ending very soon, so I may or may not be moving from Dallas sooner or later than I expected, hoped or feared. Nothing like a goodly straight dose of ambiguity with an uncertainty chaser to inspire confidence and calm the nerves. Hmm. Post Office is out. I wonder if GM is hiring... Nope? Sonic? This is going to be interesting! Whatever happens, it'll all work out. Heck, I may like flipping burgers.

I took wee Chu-Man-Fu to the vet for his second round of puppeh shots Thursday. Apparently, they didn't set well with him, because he produced some of the most hideous-smelling effluvium ever to grace a car seat this side of a decaying corpse. It smelled like ten-times-worn dirty gym socks turned up to 11. Yeah, his puke goes to 11. Poor little lamb.

Friday is the shooty portion of my chl test. Looking forward to getting all that taken care of. Tomorrow is a chick-shoot meet at my pistol club. There'll be a couple dozen of us. Admit it boys-- beads of perspiration have popped out on your forehead just thinking about a shooty estrogen-fest, yeah? There will be no talk of Oprah or Obama. There will be no talk of 401Ks. There will be kicking of ass. No cartridges will be spared.

I'm finally watching Firefly this week, and I really love it. I love the music which fits in the most wonderful and unexpected way. Good stuff.

Wasn't that Tequila video on the last post delightful? I thought so. If I sleep with a ukelele under my pillow, can I learn to play by osmosis? Hmm? Check out other videos by that guy- he's really clever and he's spearheading the plastic ukelele revolution. I particularly recommend his version of the Ramones' classic Blitzkrieg Bop.

Have a great day Friday.
Oh, what the heck - why don't I start this supremely shooty weekend right and just post it? Now, straight from Glasgow comes Gus' and Fin's Rock and Roll Radio Ramones Ukelele Show.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some days you're Glinda.

Some days you're Dorothy.

Some days you're just a witch.

The trick is recognizing that you can be the witch and still be incredibly cute, and anyone who can't see it is probably not worth fooling with anyhoo.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Besides, witchy shoes are hella cute!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If you are looking for a good concealed handgun license class in the DFW area, I heartily recommend Larry Bartek's. I feared taking classes for my ccw would be a depressing mixture of dull and intimidating, and Larry was just one more in a chain of brilliant, proficient gunny folk who have persuaded me the gun set is smarter than the average bear. Larry excelled at conveying the nuances and gravity of the decision to legally carry a concealed firearm, and he did so with good humour and grace. In practical application, Mr. Bartek took time to focus on each pupil and was able to give clear, firm instruction to those who needed a little extra guidance without sacrificing his attention to all the rest. He's that rare instructor you hope for, whatever the subject.

Check him out at his site.

Bonus: I got to fondle 6 different 1911s in his class. Sweet!
Tam posted a link to this brilliant Peter Hitchens article in the Mail. Nice to see that someone some rare soul in the media was willing to commit to print the folly of the Emperor's New Clothes.

I've always liked Camille Paglia--have always viewed her as objective in ways most liberals dare not be. She didn't check her brain at the door, even though she is a liberal democrat and proudly supports Barack Obama. She criticizes the media for not reporting and putting to rest the nagging inconsistencies and shadows in his C.V. I love what she said here in salon about Sarah

Given that Obama had served on a Chicago board with Ayers and approved funding of a leftist educational project sponsored by Ayers, one might think that the unrepentant Ayers-Dohrn couple might be of some interest to the national media. But no, reporters have been too busy playing mini-badminton with every random spitball about Sarah Palin, who has been subjected to an atrocious and at times delusional level of defamation merely because she has the temerity to hold pro-life views.
How dare Palin not embrace abortion as the ultimate civilized ideal of modern culture? How tacky that she speaks in a vivacious regional accent indistinguishable from that of Western Canada! How risible that she graduated from the State University of Idaho and not one of those plush, pampered commodes of received opinion whose graduates, in their rush to believe the worst about her, have demonstrated that, when it comes to sifting evidence, they don't know their asses from their elbows.
Liberal Democrats are going to wake up from their sadomasochistic, anti-Palin orgy with a very big hangover. The evil genie released during this sorry episode will not so easily go back into its bottle. A shocking level of irrational emotionalism and at times
infantile rage was exposed at the heart of current Democratic ideology -- contradicting Democratic core principles of compassion, tolerance and independent thought. One would have to look back to the Eisenhower 1950s for parallels to this grotesque lock-step parade of bourgeois provincialism, shallow groupthink and blind prejudice.

Then again, Paglia is a commentator and not a journalist, in the same way Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer and not a journalist. There is something refreshing about someone not beholden to anyone, someone who can plainly state their allegiances and also criticize their own house for failing their objective. And it's nice to hear a respected feminist call the media on their petty Sarah-bashing.

To paraphrase one addle-witted Obama supporter, the media can suck it.

My recent conversation with someone smarter than I:

Me: The American media have been derelict in their duty.
Them: Sweetie, the American media have been treasonous.

Tuesday was my first night at the CHL class. *YAYS*

It's a very enjoyable class, and the information was easy to absorb, even if the subject can be quite grave. The people who run my pistol club referred me to this instructor. He's witty, engaging and knows what he's doing. The time flew by.

Before class, though, we filled out forms, did the fingerprinting and had our glamour shots taken. The very starched-and-pressed young officer who did the thumbprints set about his business. We lined up a few at a time. He was a model of efficiency, and I heard him ask each person if they'd been fingerprinted before. I figured "we're in this law-abiding citizen environment. why not have a little fun?" Came my turn, he said to me "have you been printed before?" and I said "well, just that one time, but I was very, very drunk." He turned his face to mine, a little wide-eyed, and I quickly said "just kidding." He laughed. I said "but I suppose you hear that all the time" and he said "no, actually, you're the first."

Heh heh.

From the I-would-rather-not-have-known files comes this golden chestnut from a couple years back. A girlfriend in real estate mentioned to me recently that an old folks community somewhere had taken on a sort of swingeresque atmosphere, and sexually transmitted diseases were spreading like wildfire among this geriatric set.

I mean, can you imagine Marge, Flossie and Willard all coming down with crabs or chlamydia or who-knows-what? *gack*

So, I googled it, and sure enough:

Now, this was in Orlando in May of 2006. Uh, lack of sex education? If they don't know by now...

from the story:

Local 6 featured Louis Franklin, who used to date in the community at least three times a week.
"I have had a better dating life since I have been here than I have ever had," Franklin said. "I know there are things going around."
A doctor blamed Viagra, a lack of sex education and no risk for pregnancy for the spike in sexually transmitted diseases at The Villages.
"All I can repeat are the things I have heard which are things like, 'Should I bring the little blue pills over tonight?'" community singles group president Richard Matwyshen said.

Um, ew.

I'm imagining the cast of Cocoon frolicking sans raiment, running along moonlit beaches and falling into disturbing tumbles of ... well, you get the picture.
Pass the brain bleach, please.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Through a dealer I found a strand of beads hewn from lava. !
I know!
Isn't that cool?

They are porous like pumice but seem to be sealed with some sort of waxy resin. It's also polished to a smooth surface.

When I saw these, I knew immediately they must be paired with irregular large white pearls and strung on black silk.

The problem with the irregular surface of the lava is that some holes were bigger on some than others, so they wouldn't be stopped from sliding by the knot on the silk, so I happened to see a nearby strand of faceted quartz beads which I just used as spacers to stop the lava from sliding.
The clasp I bought at a lovely bead shop in London near Covent Garden about 8 years ago. This is the best bead store I've ever seen. I have a few other findings I've hoarded from one of those shopping trips, but they won't last forever.

I'm going to keep this necklace and wear it. I can't remember the last time I made myself a piece of jewelry, but it's been years. I'm concerned about how easily the lava beads may fray/cut the cord. If they are tight enough that they won't slide, then it won't matter. I definitely don't want to sell something like this to anyone until i know it won't fall apart easily.

Oh, and I'm wearing these to my CHL class tonight. Nice, yes?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Here's something that really bugs me:I'm not just picking on Barack Obama, although he's the most recent high-profile person I've heard say everyone should get to go to college. If everyone goes to college, what degree would he suggest would prepare people for a life's work flipping burgers or mopping floors? Or working at the car wash? Or cleaning swimming pools?

I'm not knocking any of these professions. On the contrary, there is good money to be made in any service field where one is willing to work hard and put in the time. The truth is, though, that nothing I learned in college prepared me for the work I am doing today. Right after high school, I got a job with the postal service and in my 20s I was making at least $40,000/year with no college education.

Hey! I wonder if the post office would take me back?
Never mind.

Sunday afternoon, Hols came over with the Kobe beef pup Tip and he got wallered around by 15 pounds of puppy fury. Drank iced tea in the mild autumn air. Pretty day.

Thanks for bringing, Tip, Holly!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

In the news from Tribble Ad Agency:

Massive Surge in traffic for keyword “antichrist” since Obama victory November 5, 2008 According to Google Trends, and a first hand account by having access to the log files for a site on page one in Google for the term, a disturbing massive surge in traffic for the keyword “antichrist” is being reported.

When we mean massive, we are saying in order of 10’s of thousands of individuals in the past 24 hours have been coming in under that term, and a fair percentage of it has been hitting the parody site Anti-Christ.Com … to the tune of a wordpress record of 1,500 real comments on a single wordpress post.

Take it for what it’s worth but this is a problem that we have never seen in politics to this extent before.

I'm offended. Why would anyone associate Obama with the Antichrist. I don't get it. Someone splain me.


Cocteau Twins

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I've always loved Cocteau Twins for Robin Guthrie's lush, atmospheric guitars and Elizabeth Fraser's ethereal voice.

Last month, ten years after disbanding, they have been honored with their first award, a Q Inspiration award from Q magazine in London. I hope they will record some more, one day. They are in permanent rotation at casa de phlegmmy y cachorros.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm cranking out the jewelry again these days. Here's one I made Thursday night. The materials can be expensive, depending on the quality of pearls, etc., but doing the knotting I realized I might make more money for the same amount of effort tying fishing flies. THEN I'd have to go trout fishing and that would become yet one more expensive habit, I suspect... SO, I suppose I'll stick with the jewelry-making. (I think you can clicky the bottom two pictures for more detail.)

The first pic is the pile of pearls and crystals I used in this mix. The lighting is not very good. I need to work on that. The color of the swarovsky and the green pearls is olivine. The bicone crystals are 4mm, to give you an idea of the scale. The green pearls are dyed. I've stayed away from dyed pearls, mostly, because I'm not sure how color-fast they are. Natural colored pearls are worth a fortune, by the way, but I suspect they dont' come in green or fuschia the way many vendors market these freshwaters. The cord I use is silk. I like the look of the silk cord, but one problem with silk is that it stretches where synthetic cords will stay the same length. Probably on a piece of jewelry like this, though, it's not going to be worn enough to get stretched out. I'm going out on a limb to say that probably no one will be playing rugby in this piece of jewelry.

The second picture shows how the beads are strung in the proper order, with a stop bead on the end of the string so I wouldn't accidentally un-string them as I make the knots. The stop bead is a glass bead I made on torch this spring, btw.

The third photo shows the strand as the pearls on the left have been knotted, an awl sticking through the most recent knot. The tip of the awl is used to [puncture clumsy fingers] slide the knot down the silk cord and snugly up against the edge of the pearl. This process can take a little more finesse and effort than you might expect.

The final photo shows the completed necklace, which is about 18" long. See those little double-pearls? I've been calling them mitosis to myself all night. They're really cute, and they have a neat, grainy texture.

These pearls are freshwater, cultured pearls which are produced by introducing a seed into the oyster, which the irritated oyster coats in nacre. It's sort of nature's equivalent of a pebble in the shoe, except the oyster lives in the shoe and has no hope of expectorating the pebble.

Nacre is really fragile, and can be flaked off when you least expect it. The nacre is also very sensitive to chemicals. One has to be careful not to scratch the pearls with the awl or with other tool surfaces. There are also rules about wearing pearls:
  • pearls should be the last thing you put on before you leave the house
  • pearls should be the first thing you take off when you get home
  • you should never spray perfumes or oils on or near pearls
  • always clean pearls with a clean, soft cloth
  • if pearls get dirty, have them re-strung - don't try to wash them

Pearls are drilled not all the way through at one go, but are drilled from each side toward the center. This means sometimes the holes don't meet up squarely in the middle on the inside. This can be frustrating, depending on the size of the needle you're using to thread your cord through the pearl.

Anyway, I thought you might want a gander at some of what I'm making. And by the way, I've been working with real pearls for yonks, and I have no idea how you pronounce nacre.

Uh, unless it rhymes with acre.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


A friend told me about a meteorological phenomenon they have up in the [Texas] Panhandle called pogonip. A dense cold fog will suddenly coalesce around solid objects, encrusting them in ice. It sounded like poetry, the way he descirbed it.

MSNBC thinks Obama will tackle the economy early. I think the economy will tackle Obama early. Sanny Claus better get them elves a'ginnin', what with so few shopping days left and everyone awaiting their prezzies.

Meanwhile, not even 48 hours out from victory and some chickenssssssssssss, are already.........comin roosssssst!
Song in the key of Magritte

Wow, someone from Arizona had to run a mile with a rabid fox latched onto their arm.

Punch line, anyone?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Puppy Therapy:



I admit I am surprised.
At least I never cracked open the tequila.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I'm a sucker for novelty bottles.

I don't even drink tequila, but tequila always has the best bottles. I found this one at the Centennial over at the Quadrangle in uptown today for $23.99. Sort of a celebrational election day purchase. Like the last funky bottle of tequila I purchased, this one will prolly sit unopened and unloved on a shelf collecting dust for many years.

Anyway, as much of a gun n00B as I am, I got a giggle out of "the way the West was won" on the box, with the decanter in the design of a 20th century pistol. That ain't right.

Which West would that be, then?

As I have put forward, the Toothpick Test is all about authenticity.

In far too many cases, the only options the American people have had for high elected offices have been people we all know to be out of touch and completely political animals.

Ad hominem attacks in the media on Joe the Plumber, the mere lowly human person who dared to ask a question of a man running for public office, have shown us how very much we are disdained by the media and by the candidates whose very salary We The People pay. An attack on Joe the Plumber is an attack on you and on me.

We have seen men like McCain who came through very difficult challenges early in life yet went on to celebrate what makes this country great through his work. We now know what it is to strongly consider electing a man who was born to a teenage mother. We have considered and elected for the highest office people from a broad range of circumstances early in life, be it very poor or very wealthy. In all circumstances, there have been various factors which color our perceptions of the candidates. Perhaps we haven't always made the best choice, but we, as a nation, live to have that argument all over again and to fight our battles in the arena of ideas again in one or two or four more years.

As to McCain, his actions when imprisoned are nothing less than remarkable, and yet, I have no doubt that he is of the same stiff moral fiber that has been the common thread in Americans that courses from today and back through the men who stood, fought and died in the belief in the possibility of a land of freedom and opportunity. McCain proved his toothpick-worthiness the first time he walked upright from a room of torture and scraped up the backbone to wink at a fellow prisoner. I may not agree with all his ideas and actions and bills he has put forward as senator, but he has proven he is a man of integrity.

In comparison, Obama is just words, just speeches. Obama has no record on which to run. Of the votes in the US Senate which he actually attended, he took the cop-out option of voting "present" in more than one hundred instances. What about the people who elected him to represent them? Doesn't he owe them their money back? If a man does not take his task in the Senate seriously, then how is he to be trusted to represent the entire nation in the highest office of our land? Obama has had a free ride from the press, and the specious nature of his background has gone largely unquestioned. Obama doesn't know what it is to be tortured, and yet compare the gesture of McCain's wink and stiff-upper-lip to the appearance that Obama has publicly flipped-off political opponents, and tell me who is a class act? Obama showed not the least shred of humility, never telling people "please do not call me the Messiah." And by the way, who would Jesus flip off? When people in the media have wrung hands in recent days and said the wrong outcome of this election would yield riots, he's not shown the least bit of leadership. A true leader would ask for calm and for dignity and for respect for this great American system. At every juncture Obama could show true leadership and win genuine respect, he has failed. And where is his family? We don't hear from a single member of extended family to support him? If you had a complete bastard relative running for national office, and one who made a habit of trying to destroy ordinary people who question him - would you keep your mouth shut, too? I'll bet you would. The absence of any extended family of Obama speaks volumes.

Back to the idea of authenticity-- why was the idea of Aticus Finch so appealing to readers? Because Aticus walking down the street was the same man when he was at home or was at work. He was genuine, authentic. I think we are tired of only having the option of electing people who have a glossed-on veneer of Ivy-league and too-rehearsed Hollywood styling, antiseptic and utterly removed from the experience of writing the checks to pay the light bill and mortgage and making sure the oil has been changed in the car and the myriad things that go into a normal and healthy life. Joe the Plumber knows what it is to be abused by the media, and we need to give great thought to the news organizations we support, because they so obviously disdain the ordinary person. Cast your mind back to the founding fathers-- how much time do you think they spent sitting around and talking about what low-brow dirtbags the small farmers were who lived on the edge of the wilderness? I'm betting not much. We need to rethink decency and standards, and insist that our government and media live up to those very attainable standards.

Yes, McCain is our toothpick candidate here, but I'll tell you who the real winners of this election are: you and me because we have Sarah Palin, and Sarah Palin because she has us. We have in Mrs. Palin a normal, down-to-earth person who has stepped forward and dared to say they would do their very best and uphold their own high principles while representing the people who hired her. Sarah has stepped into other high-pressure situations and refused to join the good old boy network just because that's the way things have always been done. Sarah has the opportunity to fulfill the idea I've always had that a decent person can navigate those choppy waters and hold their fellow leaders to a higher standard. The founding fathers intended that the highest offices of our Nation would be filled by people who were elected to serve for one or two terms in service to our country. The appearance of Sarah Palin in this field of candidates may signal a return to the principles that are the plinth on which our government stands. Maybe Sarah will not be in our vice president tomorrow. But I'll bet you a dollar she'll be our president in four years, and I'm calling that a win-win.

Of course, she's SO much cuter in person, but at least she looks less like Harry Potter than she did when I first started this drawing. Yes, I think McCain will win. Thanks so much for reading and God bless America.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Toothpick Test
Chapter Eight

I must say that the kind of light touch I had with the earlier presidents is a little more difficult to achieve now that we've passed into the age of presidents who were alive in my lifetime, and presidential contests which I personally remember. Naturally, my own frame of reference colors my perception of these events. Even so, it would not have been much of a stretch for you to guess for whom I voted in each election since 1984. Sorry to rush things, but those pesky folks at my job wanted me to work, recently, and I had to kill a bunch of .22 cartridges Monday- they had it coming!- so we're going to do a running survey of the remaining presidential contests...

On we go.
LBJ followed through on programs set into motion by JFK. Great social change and upheaval was the order of the day, and that in concert with the hairball of the Vietnam war no doubt contributed to his decision not to run for re-election in 1968. LBJ was total toothpickery in much the same way JR Ewing is total toothpickery. Kind of seedy and unsavoury, and yet unctuously appealing. No time to go into his randy pawing of guests at White House dinners after Ladybird retired early. *ahem* That would have been fun. Wisht I had time.

Nixon - 1968 Nixon prolly had way more cred with the American public after the real discomfort of Vietnam was settling in. At some point, someone prolly said "hey, didn't the French already try this?" American society was becoming more stratified between the down-to-earth, normal sort of person, and the wastrel layabout free-love hippie set, several of which were my cousins. Whereas the normal folk favored toothpicks, the hippies were doing the microdot thingie, so perhaps they were too strung-out to show up and vote that year. Robert F Kennedy was murdered on the campaign trail, and thus was Hubert Humphrey nominated to lead the Democratic ticket. Hubert Humphrey had a fabulous name, but it would not be enough to earn him a toothpick.

Ironically, after tv technology effectively scuttled Nixon's bid for the presidency in 1960, his presidency would be likewise dunked into the crapper by technology. He was obsessed with documenting his Oval Office experience, and the recordings he made there of his phone conversations were hotter than Pamela and Tommy's home videos, gravity-wise. In retrospect, I wouldn't say they were chock-full of eeeeevil, but they stood as stark proof of activities that looked louche at best, and licentious, at worst. Never document your misbehaviour. What's funny is that Nixon brought the troops home from Vietnam. Nixon renewed lines of communication with China after more than two decades of silence between the two nations. Born in 1965, and only vaguely aware of politics from the age of 7 or so, I thought for many years that Vietnam was Nixon's war, so universally reviled was he. It's odd that I've never heard Vietnam referred to as JFK's or LBJ's war the way certain other presidents are given "credit" for other conflicts. It's just interesting, is all I'm saying.

Gerald Ford, popular football hero stepped into the presidency when Nixon resigned. Ford pardoned Nixon, and the public would not forgive him for this. Ford never earned his toothpick.

A sulky public gave Jimmy Carter the nod in 1976. After all, this was the bicentennial and America was still young and foolish enough to roller-boogie and Do The Hustle with a straight face, our irony chip not yet having been installed. After all, what could be more toothpickly than a gentleman peanut farmer from Georgia, right? IN the last 18 months of his presidency, my family was moving from the mid-south to Texas. I remember gas "shortages", and how there was no gas to be bought between Texarkana and Dallas. Running on empty, we pulled into a truck stop in Rockwall a mere breath away from Dallas, and dad called Uncle Wayne, the one notorious in the family for hoarding and skinflintery. Wayne drove out in a pickup with a big drum of gasoline, a teeny part of his personal stash, no doubt, and we were on our way for the last 30 miles of the trip. Later on, people figured out that gas shortage really wasn't but was just part of Carter's big ideer to manipulate things with a national energy policy. Way to go, dude. Then there was the time the Iranian students took over the US embassy and held its staff hostage. This made Carter look even more bumbling and ineffectual. The verdict:

1980 - USA rescinds Carter's toothpick and passes it along to Ronald Reagan on the very day the US hostages were released in Iran. Reagan was the oldest president to take office, and yet his mien was one of youth and vigor. His positive message was an anodyne after the stresses of the past two decades. Reagan told America's citizens the best days were still ahead of her. Oh, yeah, she'd been a lot cuter when she was younger with a teeny waist and tits that defied gravity, but she'd mellowed into an older broad with a few miles on her but one who was just-- let's face it-- totally hawt!

1984 - Reagan was grooving along and so good natured and unflappable that he became known as the Teflon president. Some people loved to hate him, but mostly, people just loved him. He won re-election against Walter Mondale, and all the while he took the high road and refused to make an issue of his opponent's youth and inexperience.

1988 - Michael Dukakis shamed Joe Biden into withdrawing from the presidential race by exposing Biden for plagiarism(?!) A strong early favorite for the democratic nomination was Gary Hart who challenged the press to try to catch him philandering. He was out pawing on some broad on a boat called Monkey Business, and the press were on the case, unlike today. The entire Democratic party was a hot mess and just seemed to shoot themselves in the foot at every turn. George HW Bush had about him the air of veracity, and his "read my lips: no new taxes" thing had monster appeal with Joe Q Public. Toothpick granted.

1992 - Guess what? New Taxes. Didn't the House and Senate shut down the gubmint to blackmail the president into breaking his word on taxes? I think the tax thing is what effectively killed Bush's hopes for reelection. Toothpick rescinded. Ah, but speaking of hope as in the boy-from, an Arkie president is plumb et-up with toothpickliness. Bill Clinton had charisma and charm and emerged from a large field of candidates to win the nomination. Clinton's warm demeanor is said to be very *ahem* seductive. I've read that even people who vehemently disagreed with him felt very charmed by him when they met him. Maybe he's actually a nice man, despite being whorish, and all. (psst, if I were married to Herself, I'd screw around, too.)

1996 - Bob Dole was the Republican candidate, and this apparently sent Texas billionaire Ross Perot into paroxysms, so he acted as spoiler and skimmed off some of the conservative vote by running as an independent. I worked as proof operator at a bank in Dallas at the time, and I ran staggeringly huge campaign donation deposits from Perot's organization. Like he needed the money. Bill Clinton handily held on to the toothpick trophy.

2000 - George W Bush ran against Al Gore. GWB was a popular governor in Texas. Al Gore had the sparkle and verve of a lukewarm mound of fermented bean curd. Texas provenance alone would have earned GWB a toothpick, but you can see he looks right with one. Ol' Bean Curd was unsportsmanlike, to boot. Don't you just hate whiners?

2004 - John Kerry challenged Bush. Kerry wind-surfed. Kerry handled shotguns. Kerry had lots of photo ops, but America decided not to change horses mid-stream. In truth, George W Bush has been president at what has been a very difficult epoch in our nation's history. The real beginning of the slide in the world's perception of the USA can really be left at the doorstep of Jimmy Carter. Clinton, too, was ineffectual (or oblivious) in responding to major attacks on US interests. An escalating unanswered series of attacks and encroachments taught terrorists they were right to count coup on America. GWB, like him or not, has borne up manfully against some extraordinary challenges, and unlike any presented before in our nation's history. I think he has been unfairly judged by his critics. Sure, he hasn't been perfect, but the ad hominem attacks on him have been ruthless. I think history will prove him more canny than the media have the honesty to admit.
Well, that's it for past elections. If I've gotten some facts wrong, I welcome corrections, but I do not apologize for my opinions or perceptions. I will say I think I can draw much better than I could 8 days ago, though these are still crap. All those poncey collars at the beginning were a small price to pay for the ease of drawing facial hair and no teeth. It turns out I only can draw Shrek teeth, alas. That's a funny evolution to see in presidential portraiture - the advent of a smiley, toothy age. No, LBJ's toothpick didn't take a little blue pill- it points upward to cover where the toothpick first went through the page in the wrong place. By golly, I wasn't about to draw those 4 guys again. Reagan looks particularly awful, and for that I apologize. It's late. Mama's tired.
I'll be announcing the winner of the 2008 election sometime around midday Texas time. I want to say a hearty thank you to all of you sexy people for following these posts. I've had fun doing them, I've learned a bit and I've enjoyed your many comments. Next series: Famous Dogs of Presidents. *wink*

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Toothpick Test
Chapter Seven

Okay, obviously we're in the home stretch.
My meatspace job babysitting adults pulled focus this weekend and the last of my little toothpick excursion will be very whirlwind. I'll no doubt be skipping several significant elections in favor of focusing on elections since the advent of the television age. As I said near the end of the last chapter, the Toothpick Test is about the perception of authenticity. The public can be a very stupid thing (mobs, anyone?), and the whole "perception is reality" can be particularly frightening in light of that fact. A great many factors shape those perceptions. Eddie Izzard said perception is 10% what you say, 20% how you say it, and 70% how you look when you're saying it. Case in point:

1960 Election
Democrat John F Kennedy vs Republican Richard M Nixon
Nixon served as Veep for two terms in the fifties. That he would be primed for the presidency after Eishenhower retired would seem a no-brainer. However, the 1960 debate in front of live cameras spelled the unfolding of a whole new vista in the way presidential candidates were vetted by the voting public. Previously, voters assessed candidates on public appearances, newspaper and radio accounts of same. Various accounts I've read of this debate mention Nixon's sallow, peaked apperance contrasted with the youthful, vigorous countenance of JFK. In black and white, I don't see the paleness they mention. What is evident is that JFK is very comfortable in this medium, whereas Nixon is almost fidgety and is awkward. Surrounded by cameras, there were no doubt many distractions in the studio, and yet JFK remains cool, focused and on point. Kennedy looks straight into the camera, unblinking, while Nixon's eyes scan between the moderator and the journalists, making him look shifty. Nixon doesn't look terrible, but he does look nervous and seems by comparison lacking in confidence. If you got on a commercial flight and the captain's voice came on the intercom and they sounded nervous and uncomfortable, would you be confident in their ability to fly the plane? Not likely. Nixon didn't speak badly, but his discomfort likely made a lot of people feel he was not ready to take the reins of our nation, despite his extensive executive experience. Kennedy's steady gaze and obvious comfort struck a stark contrast with the profusely sweating Nixon. The net effect is that Kennedy took the toothpick prize.
Watch a clip and see for yourself:

Perhaps Nixon's fidgeting and discomfort was related to knee surgery just a couple weeks before, but you wouldn't know about that from the video. Appearance plays a major role here. Many who listened to the debates on the radio felt Nixon had been the clear winner, and yet those who watched the debate came away with a very different conclusion.

The race that year was brutally close. Times were changing, and while Nixon represented a staid, old-guard philosophy, Kennedy put forth a progressive ideology with much more government involvement in various aspects of peoples' lives in the form of programs. The race was close all along, and in the end, Kennedy barely edged out Nixon. JFK won by a scant 0.2% of the vote. Nixon's supporters challenged the results in 11 states unsuccessfully, while JFK's supporters prevailed when they challenged Nixon's victory in Hawaii. Despite what must have been a grave disappointment, Nixon was very dignified throughout the process.

Ironically, the seed of the Kennedy family wealth in the US was JFK's grandfather's saloon, and Nixon was the son of Quakers who eschewed drink and chew and women wot do. All America wanted to do was have some fun, canoodle with Marilyn Monroe and have sex in White House closets. Ya know: find what you're good at. Looking at the mien of the two men, it's very easy to imagine people considered JFK vastly more youthful and forward-thinking, although he was only 4 years younger than Nixon. Obviously, many times we vote for the person we hope someone is, rather than who they actually are.

The distressing thing about this way of judging candidates is that appearances can be so deceptive. Some have speculated that in an age of television and radio, a person with the grating voice and stultified delivery of Abraham Lincoln would never have been elected to national office. There are, of course, such oddities as Barney Frank who find their way to D.C. on our dime but generally, the cool customer will inspire more confidence. Anyway, maybe going on appearances and delivery rather than carefully examining the record of all candidates is just a trifle superficial. Based on who-knows-what, some Americans have been convinced that one certain candidate will be filling their gas tanks and paying their mortgages. I wonder if such people will be angry when they find out they still will be ponying up the dosh at the gas pump and with their mortgage company, regardless who was elected? *sigh*
Another good 11th hour argument I got in email:

A president's pension currently is $191,300 per year, until
he is 80 years old.

Assuming the next president lives to age 80. Sen. McCain would receive ZERO pension as he would reach 80 at the end of two terms as president.

Sen. Obama would be retired for 26 years after two terms and would receive $4,973,800 in pension.

Therefore it would certainly make economic sense to elect McCain in November.
How's that for non partisan thinking?

Saturday, November 01, 2008


1908 Election
Democrat William Jennings Bryan vs. William H. Taft, Republican

Bryan (who looks to me an amiable sort, with his surrealist bow-tie) campaigned rigorously against the nation's business elite, hoping to appeal to the common man. He ran twice against McKinley in 1896 and 1900 elections, losing both handily.

Roosevelt refused to run for a second election, but endorsed Taft as a progressive. Taft cannily co-opted some of Bryan's reformist ideas and muddied the waters with voters, blurring the contrast between the two parties and winning the election.

This was the most crushing defeat of Bryan's three presidential runs, but he would later be named Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson.

Taft bears the distinction of being the last moustachioed American President.

1912 Election

Wow. What a hairball!

Theodore Roosevelt refused to run for a third term in 1908, but had heartily endorsed Taft as the Republican candidate. TR was so popular that, of course, his endorsement was good as gold with the American public. However, TR was miffed that Taft did not follow through on his reformist agenda, so he challenged Taft for the Republican nomination in 1912. Of course, as sitting president, Taft controlled the convention and handily won the nomination of the Republican party. In what surely was a flurry of earth-pawing redolent of heady musks, Roosevelt broke away from the party and formed the big, swinging Bull Moose Progressives. That's when it all went rodeo. Taft wasn't really a politician and only ever wanted to be Chief Justice of the Supreme court (later appointed thus under Harding), and he refused to go in attack mode on his former mentor Roosevelt. If Roosevelt had won the Republican nomination, it is widely believed he would have won the election, but it turned out the Republican vote was split, giving the advantage to the Democrat candidate. This election set the tone for the Republican party for decades to come, setting in stone the notion that Republicans would not be reformist or progressive but generally more conservative in nature.

With the country in the throes of major industrialization and labor movements, a charismatic Socialist ticket leader garnered a lot of attention and votes. Eugene V Debs as the fourth serious contender further diluted and split the popular vote. He doesn't get a portrait done by me. Neener neener neener.

Democrat Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton University, won the election though not with a majority.

I'll tell you a secret: where I'm going with the whole toothpick thing is that this little implement is symbolic of authenticity. Here we have a contest between four men, two of whom have already passed the test with the toothpick. How could Wilson prevail over Taft and the ever-popular Roosevelt who've already passed the toothpick test? Because in the court of popular opinion, the notion of character is ever hanging in the balance. Trust is a fragile thing and like a soap bubble, once burst, the pieces will never be reassembled. In 1908, Roosevelt endorsed Taft as the next and only choice for the presidency, yet four years later he ran a vigorous whistle-stop tour decrying him and asking to be given back the presidency. This surely must have exasperated many a voter. Some voted for Teddy, and some voted for Taft, but the turn-on-a-dime factor of this Republican infighting must surely have driven tremendous numbers of votes to Wilson. Wilson stayed above the fray and let the also-rans duke it out and knock themselves out of the race. Thus, Wilson appeared the most authentically decent and down-to-earth to the greatest number of Americans who voted in that election.

Authenticity. Once people collectively think you are full of crap, it's almost impossible to ever change their minds.