I’m not asking about Life in Trump’s America, I’m asking about in your own, private, non-headline-news life. Because I have the least demanding life I know of (I, *cough* write for a living, at home with cats and plenty of tea, and I have zero kids so, really, I should have nothing to stress about ever) and still, I have to deal with bullshit on a daily basis.

One morning last week I stumbled into the kitchen at dawn for my wake-up cup of tea. While the water was heating up I checked my phone, which I usually leave on my desk in the den.  I discovered that someone had called and left a message the night before.

At 11:20 PM.

The message was from a woman I don’t know, calling about volunteering at the used book store that I manage out of the goodness of my heart for our local library.

I’m trying to be a better person these days. I’m trying to meditate and be compassionate and give people dignity (like it says in the book I’m reading) and to not assume everyone is an asshole whose purpose in life is to piss me off (like I do because I’m me). But who calls up a stranger at 11:20 PM to talk about becoming a volunteer bookseller?

An asshole, right?

So that pissed me off, and I hadn’t even heard the morning news about the latest Trump atrocity yet. And I hadn’t had my morning tea either. I don’t like to start the day like this, and it seems that I start a lot of days like this.

But I didn’t call this lady back and fill her in on how much I hate her, for two reasons: It takes too much effort, and I’m trying not to be a fight or flight kind of person who confronts every single instance of assholery in my life. I’m trying to send love from my heart to all those who annoy the crap out of me and thus become a more evolved and self-actualized person. Well, that’s what this meditation book promises. We’ll see.

But speaking of books, here’s this month’s most useless book that came in as a donation to the used book store that I manage for our local library here on the north shore of Long Island:

If you need a book in order to think of a name for your horse, maybe you aren’t smart enough to have a horse. I hear they are very intelligent animals and they require a lot of care. Naming a horse is the easiest part of having a horse.

It’s been a while since you’ve seen what a typical few days’ worth of book donations looks like. This is what I deal with every four or five days:

This pile of books was weirder than most because it contained some very specific tastes in reading. Such as:

Also, this:

Including this:

I don’t know. That seems like an awful lot of bookmarks for a book about polar bears.

In fact, all the bear books had little book marks stuck inside them, something I’ve only seen before in self-help books. Seems to me that these books about bears, mostly ones about polar bears, must have meant a lot to someone, obviously at some challenging phase in their life.

But no matter how lost you are, desperately grasping for meaning via polar bears, it would have been polite to remove those stickies before you made them my problem donated them to the library’s used book store.

Here’s a book that we in the used book store have absolutely no use for:

Not because sailboat racing rules are not a fascinating subject. It’s because, maybe as you can see in the photo, the book is, literally, filthy.

We can’t use this book (below) either (this time because the subject happens to be boring, sorry, Canada) but it had a killer cover and it made me happy, so I have to show it to you:

That’s enough of about books I can’t wait to throw out. Here’s the book about meditation that I hope will make me a better person:

This book comes highly recommended (by the Dali Lama, among others), and I’m determined to learn from it because in the near future I’m going to have a lot of free time on my hands and I can’t spend it being constantly pissed off. I need to find a way to have a spectacular Third Act, and I don’t want to read a lot of books about polar bears to find out how. I hope this one book will do it.

At this week’s board meeting of the Friends of the Library I turned in my notice. I’m closing the book store for the ChrisHanuKwanSolstice/New Year’s holiday on December 21, but I’m not coming back in January. I quit.

And it feels FANTASTIC.

In other news, our old cat, Lickety, is still with us, bless his darling little heart. I don’t know how he does it, since his cancer has made him skin and bones, but he is enjoying left over Thanksgiving turkey and, now and then, a sunbath in the back yard:
It’s hard for me, now,  to remember him as the cat he’d been for the 12 years before cancer:

Lickety is on my lap as I type this:

As weak and cancer-ridden as he is, Lickety is still as gentle and loving as he was when he was  fat and healthy . I think there is definitely something deep and meaningful about his life, and we could all learn from him.

But then, we all know that cats are deep and meaningful creatures:

Here are some more life thoughts to get you through the day”

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. And if telling us about an recent incident of bullshittery in your life helps you get the ball rolling on a joyful TGIF, please feel free to share in the Comments.

Here’s you political righteousness for the day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I miss Obama more every single damn day.

 

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Just when you think he can’t bring any more shame to the office of the President of the United States, Trump tweets a photoshopped image of his head air-brushed onto Sylvester Stallone/Rocky Balboa’s body:

So let’s see how that went over.

And then there’s this for the mic drop:

I won’t blog today because we had a big Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA and Top Cat and I had people over and I am all talked out. But I’ve been saving stuff for you.

Enjoy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog it up this weekend, Dear Readers. See you next week.

 

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I’m so glad that so may of you Dear Readers liked the watercolor post I did a few weeks back.

This is also a painting post, but not that kind of painting post.

The story is, that with just a few days to go before Thanksgiving, I decided now was a dandy time to re-do our horrible, 100-year old staircase.

Random BEFORE and AFTER photo of someone else’s staircase. I am too embarrassed to show you how bad our stairs looked BEFORE.

Thirty-fiveyears ago, when Top Cat bought the house here on the north shore of Long Island, he ripped up old olive green carpeting that was there and slapped a coat of white paint on the steps. What I’ve come to discover, from wear and tear and exploratory chipping away at the landing, is this:

Historically, there are four coats of paint on this 100-year old staircase. From bottom to top, the archeology of these stairs is: brown paint, yellow paint, white paint, carpet, white paint.

The fine people on YouTube made it look so easy. Just buy “green” (organic) paint remover, go watch an episode of Property Brothers, and voila: your stairs are ready to be televised.

I have 12 stairs in my staircase that I need to strip down to wood. The first 4 stairs took me two days (two full work days) to do.

Then a voice, the mellifluous intonation of the Angel of Duh, spoke to me and yea, it said: Yo, Stupid, Let The Paint Stripper Do The Work.

So here’s how the next four stairs took me two hours to do:

First, squish a lot of Soy Gel, “green” paint remover made from 100% Aerican-grown soy beans so they say, onto the hideous 100-year old tread:

Soy Gel is not cheap but O-boy, is it effective if– you have patience. It’s organic, so you can use it indoors in Winter and you don’t have to rig up ventilation.

Then you take a “chip” brush that you will throw away when this adventure is over, and you spread the Soy Gel evenly over the despicable surface:

This is a trick I learned on the Advanced YouTube tutorial about not being dumb about removing paint:

You lay down a layer of cling wrap on top of the Soy Gel. You do this because you are going to let the Soy Gel do its thing for the next seven hours.

Meanwhile, if it’s OK with the Boss, you can put away the sander and clean up the mess that you made on the first four steps because you won’t need any of it (now that you know the trick with the Saran Wrap).

You can believe your eyes. Lickety took a nap on top of sand paper, sandy-side UP.

And, if it’s OK with the Boss, you can use brown paper to cover the previously stripped stairs so to keep them clean from the crud you will be excavating soon:

It’s 3 o’clock.  Time to have fun!

This is SO COOL!

The Saran Wrap does all the work!

The remaining bits of paint can be scraped up with a minimum of cursing, and still provide you with a fine work-out for your trapezius and latissimus muscles:

Next comes the horrible part. What is left on your stairs now is a thickish layer of persistently clingy goo that has the consistency of  the insides of a marshmallow.

So you need to buy the strongest “de-greaser” you can find. You spray it onto the stair, you let sit for a minute:

And then you get your wire brush and you warn your back and leg muscles that there’s some hurt coming soon. You crouch for leverage, and you put all your might into scouring away at the goo:

At this point, the “goo” becomes a finer texture, more like very sticky “crud”.

The crud wedges good and hard into the teeth of the wire brush every minute or so, so keep a bucket of water handy so you can dip the brush into it and take another instrument to gouge between the rows of wire and pry out the impacted crud. This, too, will require “effort”.

Repeat at least twice; three times if you’re really into punishing yourself for ever having started this stupid project in the first place, and then let dry.

This weekend I will be painting the stairs Espresso, because I read that dark-chocolate-colored treads are the hottest trend in staircases. I’ll be painting the trim and risers white, but I won’t strip them first since I don’t want to.

I did all this work all by myself because I got no help at all from The Rock, who was off gallivanting, as it’s been doing for over a month now, and now has made it all the way to the Great North Great West.

The Rock, from Stromness, Orkney, Scotland, is now in Washington (state).

This for Australian readers who don’t want to have to drag out an atlas.

In olden days, the Oregon Territory took up the whole huge NW corner of the continental United States. Nobody knows why it was called “Oregon”, but when that top northern bit broke away and its residents applied for statehood in the 1880s, they petitioned Congress to give them the name, “Washington, Not That Washington, The Other One.”

Then New York Congressman and general busy-body David Dudley Field went around bitching that the country already had a “Washington” (that “Washington, of D. C.”), and that a duplicate “Washington” was going to make life very difficult, especially for the U. S. Post Office. He wanted the new state to have a Native American name, and he suggested “Tacoma”.

David Dudley Field, 1805 – 1894. I wonder if he was disappointed about not living long enough to see 1900?

I’m all for having a state called “Tacoma”. Is it too late?

Well, the residents of “Washington, Not That Washington, The Other One”, argued that the dunces at the U. S. Post Office should be able to deliver mail to the correct Washington by paying attention to context and they took advantage of the fact that nobody else in Congress gave a crap about having two Washington’s so they shortened their state name and their application for statehood as  “Washington” was approved in 1889.

So, now you know where we are today.

We are in that Washington. Specifically, we are with Dear Reader Alexandra, in the fair city of Richland, located at the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia Rivers. Richland is in the southeastern part of the state where, being on the dry side of the Cascade Mountains, the climate is desert-like. The area gets 7 inches of rain yearly (Seattle gets 39 inches) and there are dust storms in Summer.

Dust storms. In THE DESERT.

So, naturally, that’s where you can find The Rock hanging around the USS Triton Submarine Memorial Park:

In THE DESERT.

All that is left of the historic USS Triton is its con-tower, sticking up out of the ground. Much like the history of the nomenclature of Washington the state, the sub is here in Richland because shut up, we want the damn submarine and Congress doesn’t care either way, so shut up.

They notified the U. S. Post Office  that the sub’s new address is in THE DESERT, in that Washington.

Fun Fact: The USS Triton submarine was the first to circumnavigate around the world underwater, on its maiden voyage Feb 16 – May 11 1960, following  Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of 1519 – 1522. The con-tower stands tall at 26 feet high and 67 feet long. The sub has no logical connection to Washington, the state, but that has never stopped Washington, the state, from getting what it wants.

Here we are at the splendid used book store of the beautiful and gleaming Richland Public Library, where The Rock is trying to see if anyone will mistake him for a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  and try to read him, and they can’t because he doesn’t have any pages because he’s a rock, and then he’ll laugh and laugh and make them feel stupid.

The Rock can be a little bit of an asshole sometimes.

Lunch time, and The Rock heads for The Emerald of Siam, Richland’s oldest Thai restaurant, located in the groovy Uptown Shopping Center:

FunFact: The Upland Shopping Center was designed in 1948 and its architecture epitomizes that brief but glorious style known as Atomic Age Aqua Everywhere.

Funner Fact: The shopping center was designed by by the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States.

Why?

Because it’s Washington, the state. Shit like that happens here.

And next The Rock went bowling. Because it’s a rolling stone. Get it?

The Rock wrongly thinks this is hilarious.

Most people call this next tourist attraction The Ginnko Petrified Forest State Park in Vantage, Wa. But The Rock calls it “Meeting the American Cousins.”

The rock drawings that are reserved here date from prehistoric (pre-white people, that is, because pre-white people there was  no history) times. Carved by the Wanapum people, who lived along the Columbia River and welcomed Lewis and Clark to the neighborhood. The Wanapum lived here in peace until 1953, when newly-built dams on the river flooded the ancestral home.

Petrified wood was discovered here in the 1930s, which led to the creation of this 7,124-acre park.

The Rock ponders, “Is this petrified cottonwood, or redwood?”

There are over 50 species of trees that are petrified here. One of those species is the ginkgo. The forest dates from the Miocene Period, 5 – 12 million years ago.

You should know that dinosaur fossils have not been found in Washington, the state. The park’s velociraptor, small brontosaurus, and pterodactyl statues came from Arizona, where there are dinosaur fossils. So, in the end, it’s completely legit.

The Rock is at it again, trying to pass itself as something’s not, in this case, a gem:

You know what else moves rocks? Tourists fromLong Island, Aer Lingus, the U. S. Post Office, and the lovely volunteer tour guides who have given The Rock memories of a lifetime.

It’s a fossil, yes, but it’s a mammoth, still not a dinosaur:

Fun Fact: Columbian mammoths (mammuthus columbi) once roamed from Alaska to Mexico and are the most common species of mammoth fossil found in this part of Washington state—so common, in fact, that the Columbian mammoth is the Washington state fossil.

You will be happy to know that The Rock barely moved the needle of this geiger counter:

Why is there a geiger counter at The Ginko Petrified Forest State Park?

Nobody’s telling.

Least of all these guys:

This is Truman and Pippin. Can you tell from his hang-dog look which one is most disappointed that The Rock is not edible?

Thank you for stopping by today and hanging out with me and The Rock.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. And if you check back later, I will have a slew of stuff to make your celebrations of the House Impeachment Hearings’ total indictment of Trump, Giuliani, and the Republicans just a little more fun. I have a lot to show you.

Oh, lordy, it was a good week to be an American, for once.

 

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Dear Reader Jeanie was in charge of The Rock from Stromness (Orkney, Scotland) last month. GUESS WHERE Jeanie took our beloved rolling stone?

From its secret hiding place at The Orkney Fisherman’s Association last Summer, you Dear Readers have hosted The Rock through Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and, now, Ta-Da:

The Rock is in Michigan, The Great Lake State, the base from which the United States launched an invasion of Canada in 1813 which, sadly, we did not quite pull off. But that is why everyone agrees that Michigan is our most Canadian state, as reflected in its almost absurdly polite state motto: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”.

The Rock, being Scottish, needed refreshments of a liquid nature so Jeanie took it, first, to a cider mill/Tiki Bar:

And then to a wine tasting:

And then, because drinking makes the Rock very thirsty, they went to the famous Miller Brewery in Milwaukee:

Quick: What’s the capitol of Michigan?

It’s Lansing, where Jeanie gave The Rock to a group of very Michigan protestors gathered around the capitol building. They get together every Wednesday afternoon for a little political activism and then they go to Marge’s house for cherry pie. Because they are CanadiaMichiganders. And none of their signs say, Fuck Trump.

Michigan’s unofficial state food is cherry pie. Michigan would make cherry pie its official state food, but Michiganders don’t want to hurt the feelings of the state’s official state flower, the apple blossom.

Apple Blossom be all like,  So, I’m good enough for the state flower but not good enough for the state food?? Apple pie, ever heard of it??? WTF?

No, CanadaMichiganders don’t want any hard feelings.

Since The Rock was in Lansing, it moseyed east, over to Michigan State University campus so take a wander through its 4-H Garden:

MSU is the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and has 50,000 students, known as Spartans. It is the biggest of The Big Ten universities, an athletic conference founded in 1895 which actually comprises 14 schools, mostly in the Mid-West. If you don’t like snowy winters or if you need an urban vibe for your college experience, do not go to a Big Ten university.

But if you like to be around people who know how to earn an A+ rating for their parties and academics, then you should put Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI at the top of your list.

Next, let’s go visit Lansing’s most famous native son:

Ransome Eli Olds was the son of a blacksmith and a dress-maker whose Curved Dash Oldsmobile (1901 – 1904) became the first mass-produced, low-priced American motor vehicle so take that, Henry Ford.

Fun Fact: Ransom Eli’s father was Pliny Fiske Olds; his his wife was Metta Ursula Woodward Olds. People had fabulous names back then. His gorgeous mansion, which had a turntable garage which allowed Mr. Olds to pull in at night and leave again the next morning without driving in reverse, was demolished in 1966 to make way for an interstate hi way. People had shit for brains in the 1960s.

R. E. Olds is dead, which is why The Rock is in a cemetery.

Oh, I forgot: while in Milwaukee, The Rock got to take a selfie with The Bronze Fonz:

Taking a selfie with the Bronz Fonz statue on the Milwaukee RiverWalk is practically a rite of passage for any visitor. As is a visit to the Harley Davidson HQ:

Motorcycling is very popular in Scotland and The Rock felt right at home in the gift shop:

And, lastly, The Rock had the good fortune to meet one of Michigan’s grandest dames, the lady Lizzie Cosette of the blog, The Marmalade Gypsy:

And that was Michigan.

Next stop for The Rock: Wisconsin.

Otherwise known as The State of Deja Vu:

Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of WISCONSIN. I can’t say that I had known that for sure before I got Dear Readers Susie and Tony’s photos, but I know now that I will always remember that MILWAUKEE is in WISCONSIN. Not Michigan. It’s never even been to Michigan.

Milwaukee is known for being the setting of the popular 1970s sit-com Happy Days. This explains why there’s a Bronze Fonz in MILWAUKEE, in WISCONSIN. Which is not Michigan.

And then, being that The Rock is a bit of a booze hound, it went back to the Miller Brewery, in MILWAUKEE, which is in WISCONSIN, a city that is famous for its many breweries.

Overlooking the Menomonee River, the Harley-Davidson Museum displays classic motorcycles, including one of Elvis Presley’s. The Rock also went back to the Harley Davidson museum, which I don’t have a picture of but I do have one of the stills — I mean brew kettles — at the Miller Brewery:

Yeah, The Rock is looking a little worse for wear, but that’s what happens when you drink your way through Michigan and WISCONSIN.

Fun Fact about MILWAUKEE: the city boasts a statue legendary Scots poet Robert Burns. As far as anyone knows, Burns never visited Milwaukee, mainly because Milwaukee didn’t exist in his lifetime.

But you know how it is when you’re in a foreign country and you come across a countryman and you’re all, “Hi an sin seann friend! Och, gabhamaid deoch! ” And then you’re stuck with your new best friend for the rest of the bus tour.

Fun Fact about the Saint Andrews Society of Milwaukee:

Every September they hold a Kilt Raffle.

Now, when I think of men in kilts, I think of this:

Actually, The Saint Andrews Society in Milwaukee is like this:

But let’s think a little bit longer about men in kilts, because that’s where The Rock has taken us (Thank you, Rock) :

 

 

Now, while The Rock did not don a kilt while it was in Milwaukee, it DID get to try on the famous WISCONSIN Cheese head:

WISCONSIN is known as The Cheese State because they make a lot of fondue there and because fans of its football team, the Green Bay Packers, wear bits of cheese on their heads. I think it’s because football is a dangerous game that causes concussion. Also, because of the long, hard Winters in WISCONSIN.  People go a little crazy from concussion and the cold and nothing says “crazy” more than an inordinate love of cheese.

The capitol of WISCONSIN, America’s Dairyland, is Madison, where apparently The Rock got an Uber and hit the singles’ scene:

Fun Fact: I have no idea where The Rock is (below), but then, I don’t track The Rock’s every move and if it hooked up in Madison and woke up the next day in a strange town hey, it’s not for me to judge:

Good Going, Rock.

But The Rock isn’t as young as it used to be (it’s actually from the Devonian Age, about 400 million years ago) and hop boy, the Rock needed a bucket of coffee and lots of low light when it woke up the next day.

They say nature is the best cure for a hot night out in Madison WI and there is plenty of nature in the woods around Lake Michigan:

TREES. On Orkney, The Rock never sees trees because it’s treeless environment, being too cold and windy for them to grow there. So you can imagine how spectacular this landscape was, how overcome The Rock was to see such abundance of those little things, in the billions, those things called Leaves. So, so many leaves.

Majestic Lake Michigan, from a rock’s point of view:

Fun Fact: Lake Michigan gets its name from the Ojibwe native peoples’ word michi-gami, meaning “great water”. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume, and is 2/3 the size of Scotland. Scotland’s largest lake (or loch) is Loch Lomand, which is about the size of a Great Lake sneeze if Lake Michigan had a nose and a cold. (Loch Lomand is 71 square miles and Lake Michigan is 22,393 sq miles.)

So. Where is The Rock now?

For that, you’ll have to meet me here next week. Spoiler: The Rock turns out to be a real stoner.

Thank you Dear Jeanie, and Dears Susie and Tony, for showing us and The Rock such a great time.

And, oh yeah, Fuck trump.

 

 

 

 

 

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As you know, my blog is not a place where I write about what I had for lunch. Lunch is a topic too mundane for my blog. No lunch here. Because my blog is all about the larger issues and the deep thoughts concerning art and life; it’s about the interpolation between fast-breaking trends in high fashion and low popular culture; it’s about being on the cutting — nay, the bleeding — edge of nuclear science and phenomenological philosophy.

Having said all that, I’m going to show you what I had for lunch last week:

This is bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish made with rice and kimchee and whatever else the chef wants to throw in there, topped with a fried egg and served with with a bowl of soy sauce and side dishes (in this case, potatoes, a veggie thing that looked suspiciously like a small slab of fish, and more kimchee). It is served sizzling hot, except for the side dishes, which are cold.

I didn’t much care for the bibimbap (sorry — I’m a very picky eater) but I was thrilled to have had Korean food for the first and probably last time in my life (sorry, kimchee) because of where I had my Korean lunch.

I was in thrilling Koreatown, in Los Angeles (California), at the thrillingly famous Koreatown Plaza’s thrilling Food Court.

Backstory: A few months ago, when my dear Top Cat told me that we were going to LA, I was not thrilled. I called up Delta Airlines to inquire what I needed to get a refund on my non-refundable plane ticket to LA and was told that either a Death Certificate or a note from a doctor on hospice letterhead would do. I was five minutes away from asking my mother to fake her own death for me.

I was ten minutes away from asking her to actually die for me. My mother is in her 80s and hasn’t been feeling all that well lately anyway.

I really did not want to go to LA.

But everything that I hated about going to LA changed when I became a pervert.

In a word, I became a K-Pop fan. Specifically (because K-Pop is weird this way) I became a Shawol. And from there it gets weirder: There are five sub-sets of Shawol and I’m the one that makes me a Blinger. I am not proud that I know this, and to me it sounds like coded language for something dirty, but I do give myself credit for finding a new hobby that isn’t about sticking pins into Republican voodoo dolls or self-harming by diving into a vat of white wine (because of Republicans).

K-Pop inspires me. I now take my iPad to the gym with me so I can watch Youtube videos while I’m on the treadmill and K-Pop makes me run 1/3 faster and 80% longer. That’s because K-Pop is has been intricately engineered to be extremely catchy and very pretty to look at. You can look it up. This stuff is made in laboratories. It is addictive. And plus, lagniappe, the boys are extraordinarily cute.

Then I found out that Los Angeles has the largest Korean population in America and that its hub is an happening place that is imaginatively called Koreatown, and I ditched all my thoughts of matricide and packed my bags.

(I also made a blog post and rescheduled it for Friday November 1, but it failed to publish on time. In case you missed it, it’s right behind this one, and it’s called As If These Were Normal Times.)

On our second day in LA I made my way to the Koreatown Plaza for lunch and a visit to one of the country’s best K-Pop music stores, where I bought authentic, imported from Korea, K-Pop CDs of my favorite group.

K-Pop boys know their way around eyeliner. South Korea is the world’s largest market for men’s beauty products (also known as make up).

The CD came with a book about the group that, upon perusal, turns out to be lots of soft-focus photos of the boys laying atop rumpled sheets and lounging across velvet armchairs while shirtless. This was c. 2010, when one of these kids was only 16 years old and the oldest two were only 20. The vibe is definitely soft-core porn.

Indignant, I showed the book to Top Cat and yes, I actually said: Is this appropriate?? Would you want your teenage daughter or son looking at this?!?  (Or, even worse, your wife???)

There are 370 K-Pop groups (someone actually counted them) and you are a knowledgable K-Pop fan if you can name 30 of them. I can name 5 and I have trouble keeping these 5 straight. K-Pop is complicated.  And I just ordered another CD off amazon. I can’t quit it.

So, OK, I admit that it’s pervvy to workout to videos of 20-year old boy groups  but in my defense two of my books were translated into Korean…

…so I think that mitigates my pervviness. Somewhat. Somehow. Because my esthetic is Korean-cute? I hope.

I was able to do a lot of other unusual things on my own in LA, including riding the subway:

I went for a 4-second ride on a glass slide on the outside of the tallest building in LA(the U. S. Bank tower), 1,00o feet up, from the 70th floor to the 69th floor:

Afterwards I admired the 360 degree views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills:

I went to a satellite version of Burning Man on Venice Beach:

Ah, Venice. Where things are always groovy:

And I witnessed virga…when rain falls from the sky but the surrounding air is so dry that it evaporates before it hits the ground.

We were not bothered by the fires burning a mere few miles north of us because for the most part the winds were blowing out to sea. All we got were spectacular sunsets:

There is so much to catch up on so be prepared for nest week, when the blog will be long-form re: The Stromness Rock’s visits with Dear Readers in Michigan and Wisconsin.

I will close now because my heart is a little sad these days. My 19-year old cat, Coco, two days after I got back from LA, and I am still seeing her shadows in every corner of the house. You know how it is.

Coco was never a “nice’ cat. She was, as Top Cat rightly said, “a pain in the ass.” She was aloof, mean to all the other cats, cranky, demanding, and had a way about her that took up a lot of room whenever she was around. I’ve had her since she was a kitten, trapped by me in a neighbor’s yard on November 3, 2000. She died on November 6, 2019.

In her honor, let’s do this:

Lickety is still with us, and he takes his daily sun bath in the back yard, bless his heart:

Have a great weekend, everyone. Thank you being here.

Lagniappe:

Big Bang/Fantastic Baby.

 

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There’s an “app” called Waterlogue that will take your photographs and turn them into watercolors:

 I have a similar app, called My Own Two Hands.

Photograph (taken by myself):

Watercolor by My Own Two Hands:

It’s been another terrible week in TrumpWorld and if I have to think another thought about the Republican shits who are trying to ID the Whistleblower because they are the shittiest shit stains to ever park their fat asses in Congress…I will go crazy. So let’s pretend that we live in normal times, and let’s look at how My Own Two Hands take photographs and turn them into watercolor illustrations.

Let’s Go!

Now I’ve got to run, because I’m on a secret mission to have a ton of fun in some place that is not the north shore of Long Island, and I will tell you all about it next week.

Meantime, Welcome back to Oz Kirra; thank you for all your input on the dangers of installing a new OS on an unsuspecting computer; and yeah, I think that post card from last week might have been — dare I say it — “art”.

Oh, and meantime, Fuck Trump and all his little and subsidiary Trumps.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. We will get through this. We will.

 

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Thank you, Leeann at Can We Have A New Witch Please, Ours Melted, for letting me steal all your fab memes.

I’ve had a miserable week, Dear Readers. For three days in a row I have had to call the Apple “geniuses” to figure out why my iMac is possessed by demons. I’ve spent hours on the phone and all I know is that I now have, thanks to interventions with the “geniuses”,  three Apple devices that do not sync with each other, or, for that matter, the real world.

From what the Apple “geniuses” tell me, because I bought my iMac in 2012, I might as well be typing on a Selectric. And since I got my iPad the same year, I might as well be trying to download the YouTube app on a frying pan. My iPhone hasn’t fucked up yet, but that’s because I mostly use it as a phone.

Remember when, if you learned to read a newspaper — say, The Sandusky Register — in 1819, you could still use the exact same newspaper reading skill 200 years later to read The New York Times? Those were the days. Now, the stuff you learn to do on your devices becomes outdated every six months.

The Stromness Rock had a grand time in eastern Michigan with Dear Reader Jeanie last week, but I have not been able to bring the photos down from the cloud because it’s as if I am trying to lure Copper River salmon with magnets. (My computer is a magnet in this analogy and Jeanie’s photos are the salmon. FYI: You can’t fish with magnets. I’m pretty sure.)

I will write this post, and then I will do the dreaded full-scale OS update. If you can’t find me here next week it will be because that operation didn’t go well and I am in a coma.

But let’s get to today’s deep thoughts about life and art.

Maybe you know the fabulous work of artist Anne Taintor:

 

 

 

Born August 16, 1953, Anne Taintor attended Harvard University, from which she graduated in 1977 with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies.

She moved back to her native Maine, and bounced around in different jobs, including as a waitress and a seamstress, and as a cartographer drawing maps for state atlases, while also working her way through a divorce.

In 1985, while at a garage sale in South Portland, Maine, Taintor came across an old Ladies Home Journal, which prompted her to begin creating what would become her signature work.

She founded Anne Taintor, Inc., which celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2020. Taintor’s work is available on her personal website and in thousands of retail locations across 25 countries.

Isn’t her story interesting?

I had to look up what the hell Harvard was getting at in its Visual and Environmental Studies — spoiler alert; it’s “a broad range of studio and theoretical studies”. So, I guess she graduated as an artist, and yet she found her calling at a garage sale, in a Ladies Home Journal.

Now, would she have been prepared to make art with that old magazine if she had not been previously trained in hoity-toity visual and environmental studies? It took her 8 years to find that Ladies Home Journal…without Harvard, would it have taken her 12 years? Or 2? We’ll never know, but I wonder about stuff like this.

I was not familiar with Anne Taintor’s work until last week, when we got a donation of books at the used book store that I manage for the benefit of our local library here on the north shore of Long Island. Inside a copy of a Terry Pratchett mass market paperback (Maskerade), I found a rather striking Anne Taintor postcard; this one:

However, just as Anne Taintor manipulates “found” images to make sarcastic and ironic commentary on women’s secret lives, the postcard that I found in the Terry Pratchett novel had been manipulated into another very personal message:

On the back of it, there was more writing:

For most of the past 15 years, I’ve been happily married. So,  have almost completely lost track of the person I was in my 20s when I could have written this myself — but I wouldn’t have, because I could never have been so raw and honest, so exposed, even to myself.

I wish I knew who previously owned this copy of  Terry Pratchett’s Masquerade. I would take her out for a drink and assure her that things work out, they do. They might not work out the way you think they should, but they work out just fine all the same. We have all been there, caught breathless in this existential panic, but hold on: Find something you love to do and do it. Get a pet. Make art. Dance a lot. Stay away from vodka on weeknights.

This is the exact same advise I give to myself these days, in this epically sickening era of Trump. If I let myself take it all in, I would be writhing in a seething pile of red-hot hatred for all Republicans alternating with a dive deep into an ice-cold pit of fathomless despair for the future of our democracy. And there are Democrats still rooting for Bernie Fucking Fuckwad Sanders?!?!?!?!

So, I try to do something I love at least once a week (daily joy is way too hard, right?). I take care of my cats, who make me laugh most days. I make *cough* art-adjacent things. And I dance.

Well, more accurately, I pound out three miles at 4.0 mph on my morning treadmill at an insanely fast dance beat. By the end I am exhausted and exhilarated and ready to face another dismal and shitty day in Trump’s America.

I start my day with this.

And that, Dear Readers, is K-pop, which if we had had when we were in our teens, we would totally have taken Korean in high school instead of French.

Well, that’s it for this week, Dear Ones.  Have a great weekend everyone, and remember:

And above all, Resist.

 

 

 

 

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I am very bored these days.

Now, like you, I too have intermittent moments of grand fun and occasions of wild existential validation. Just this week, after pouring through family records, I made the phone call that helped a distant cousin conclude her five-year search to find her birth mother. It was very cool. And the next day, I saw someone trip and fall at the grocery store and had a right good laugh. Fun times.

But, at the end of the day, when the sun goes down on these dwindling hours of light and warmth and I’m being the most truthful with myself, I am bored, oh, so, so bored with myself.

It certainly doesn’t help that this country gets uglier, stupider, and trumpier every day. Every. Goddam. Day. Just ask the Kurds.

So I’ve been watching a lot of television lately, as that’s the place where I live my best life. I’m researching  all the exciting  television ways of not boring myself to death.

To start, from what I’ve watched on the teevee, life is more interesting if you are a genius. Plus, if you are a genius with a terrible personality, life practically throws itself at you and rolls over so you can tickle its belly, or vice-versa, I’m getting lost in the metaphor.

Fighting crime also seems to be a good way of keeping boredom at bay. My research indicates that if you’re an adrenalin junkie or you want to become one, you owe it to yourself to join a Homicide squad… people who kill people are terribly exciting to be around. As for fighting crime while you’re a genius. . . 

or some kind of supernatural being?

Off the charts non-boredom.

Alternately, being a criminal mastermind is an equally good way of fighting ennui. White collar only.

I’ve observed that all lawyers lead non-stop eventful lives.

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

But not judges.  Judge Judy looks awfully bored, every day.

One sure way of never being bored is to be a billionaire. Bonus: Being very, very rich appears to make you very witty, as well as bad. BI’m sure I don’t have to tell you that being bad is never boring.

Also, it seems that being royalty means you never have to lie in bed all day, staring at the ceiling, wondering Why? Why is the most interesting thing I have to do all day is laundry? (Because you don’t do laundry, you have subjects do your laundry.)

Being a beautiful 25-year old woman is a sure way to always have the most interesting things to do, places to go, people to meet, but I didn’t need TV to tell me that.

Lastly, the top way for having a life worth living is to do it in only 30 or 60-minute episodes.

So, what can I check off the TV Tips For Not Dying of Boredom List?

Well. I’m not a genius, and I don’t want to fight crime (because of the germs, but I might re- consider if there’s a guarantee of seeing ghosts).

I’m too tired to go to law school, and if I knew how to have a billion dollars I would have made it — or married it — by now. My only claim to royalty is through my next lifetime and I’m hoping for the House of Windsor but with my luck, I’ll probably be re-incarnated into the House of Saud. And it’s about 40 years too late for me to be a beautiful 25-year old.

Lastly, I honestly don’t know if, for at least one half hour episode a day, I can manage to find life — plain ordinary predictable full-laundry-hamper life — worth my time. I Am Capital-B Bored.

But there is an awful lot of outstanding teevee these days.

Such as, Tom Ellis getting out of a pool.

I’m so happy to be living in the era of 24/7 streaming.

Helen Mirren at the premiere of her new film about Catherine the Great on October 17 in LA because some days we could all use a little Dame Helen and this is one of those days.

You know, some days I start typing here and I have no idea where I’ll end up.

This train of thought started with a phone call I got on Monday from a resident of a town here on the north shore of Long Island. This woman had stopped in at the charity used-book store that I manage as a fund-raising endeavor for our local library and well, she had some ideas about how I could be doing a better job at it.

I have a new thing, now, when I get annoying phone calls from idiots: I yell at them for a minute or two and then I say, “This conversation is over” and I hang up.

On this day, however, in addition to being really pissed off by this caller, I found myself being equally pissed off by the poor quality of people I get to be pissed off at. If I had a more interesting life I would be yelling at much smarter people about things much more important than how to run a charity used-book store, for fuck’s sake.

I’ve been down in the dumps ever since.

I really, really need to find more interesting things to do with my life.

Oh, well. Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. May all your annoyances be the most interesting annoyances you’ve ever had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Some times, when I look at the books that get donated to our charity used-book store here on the north shore of Long Island, I wonder why such a thing was ever published in the first place:

Well, color me stupid.

This is a first edition copy of a book that was re-issued in 2014 by NYRB Classics (that is, the hoity-toity New York Review Books). This book got a review on NPR (the same people who did a review of my first book in 2009 and saved my career) and here’s the last paragraph:

In many ways, On Being Blue is less a book to read than an experience to be had. It’s essentially a rant, a riff, poetry, music, art, all of that. But it isn’t apologetics. There’s no scientific argument, no clear-cut hypothesis to be found. It’s not a treatise on the nature of man and his place in the universe. Gass is more interested in getting across a passion for language, and the way the words look and sound on the page. Blue is life and love, it becomes quite easy to believe. But wait for it, because in the end, “everything is gray.”

Oh, sure, this is a book beloved by the intelligentsia, but lordy, if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a rant, a riff, poetry, music, art, all of that in book form. This book sounds tedious, and I have enough problems of my own, thank you, to have time for deep thoughts about the color blue.

We also got this:

It’s a big, coffee table-sized book and inside were pages and pages of wonderful illustrations:

 

In my favorite book about being a used-book seller, The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, Bythell noted that books about trains — even vintage train schedules — sell very well in his store. Well, sure, I thought to myself, But Shaun’s in Scotland where transpotting is a national sport, but will this sell here on the north shore of Long Island?

I priced it at $2.00 and it sold in an hour.

This looked like a dreary children’s book with a message about life, and I loathe “message” books . . .

. . . but it was redeemed by this on the inside free end paper:

I wish I knew who this nephew was, so I could call him and tell him to treasure this note from his aunt.

Moving on: The only thing worse than actually being IN the Peace Corps. . .

. . . would be reading a book ABOUT the Peace Corps.

I flipped through this book and a chapter describing the application process caught my eye. I remember my application process, back in 1980, and my hour-long interview, and how ernest I was about doing my part to bring about world peace. I cringe to think that I was ever that naive.

In the 1960s, an applicant needed EIGHT references to attest to their worthiness to being Peace Corps Volunteers. “Generally,” the author notes, “they [the references] tend to be candid and reliable evaluations.”

Here’s a sample of what people had to say about possible future Peace Corps Volunteers:

“About emotion, he can take it or leave it.”

“If dropped into an alien culture, he [the applicant] would be accepted by the culture rather than eaten.”

“I have seen her react favorably when her hand was mashed in a car door.”

“Even patrolmen that have arrested him in the past years stated they liked him.”

Note to RPCV Steve: Did you know that Morocco was in the region that the Peace Corps called NANSEA? It’s the most diverse PC region, covering Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India, and Ceylon. What say you and me go back in time and volunteer for Afghanistan? Or Iran. Cool, huh?

Moving on. . .

I got complete bound copies of Gourmet Magazine for all of 1972, 1973, and 1974.

I thought they might have some interesting travel journalism in there along with icky recipes but they don’t, and there’s hardly any color photography (food magazines have come a loooong way since the ’70s). I don’t have any hopes that we have a customer for these, but I’ll give them a chance on our Odds and Ends shelf.

For the past two years, one of our most loyal customers buys coffee table art and photography books from us for his collage art, a hobby of his in retirement. Last Sunday he had an exhibit of his works at a library far up on the north shore of Long Island and I went to see it.

This one is called “Trinity”.

Each piece is a 12-inch x 12-inch square, the same size as an LP cover. That’s a shape that we Baby Boomers are very conversant with, and I think it’s a smart choice.

Title: “Once Upon a Time there Was a Hat”. I asked, but No, it wasn’t about Sondheim.

I was pleasantly surprised that his work (he had about 30 on view) were so formally composed because that’s not what I expect from collage but then, he has always struck me as a linear-thinking kind of guy. I think he might have been a math teacher, or an engineer.

Title: “Doubt”.

I do like his work, but I think they would benefit from better titles. Something a little enigmatic, or hintingly narrative, or in juxtaposition, if you know what I mean.

He called this one, “There Goes The Neighborhood”.

Take this one, above. I like it a lot. the use of that copper-colored sky is very effective, and I like the coyote looking over his shoulder, and I even don’t mind the old people (altho, for the record, I’d rather not look at old people in art).

But wouldn’t it be a better piece if it had a different title? Like, for a random example, “A Slow Walk in the Forever Fields”?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

I happened to see the artist again at the bookstore today when he came in to look at the books I’ve been putting aside form all Summer. He sold two pieces on opening day of the exhibit, and he’s gotten calls about several others. (He bought 4 of the 5 books I’d set aside for him.)

I didn’t buy one of his work because they are outside my collecting parameters. I collect thrift shop art, and I’ve got some beauts.

This hangs above our fireplace in the living room. I got it 15 years ago. It’s large, 32 inches x 44 inches, and I think it’s the most wonderful painting in the world:

This was the first piece of thrift shop art that I ever bought, about 20 years ago, before I got married:

This is 16 x 20 inches.

My heart pounded with joy when I came across these two, together, waiting for ME to give them a good home:

Each is also 16 x 20 inches.

I love it that the person who did these paint-by-numbers pictures signed them.

Last week I was in our local Salvation Army thrift shop and I came across a canvas (16 x 20 inches) that I tried not to buy, because, well, look at it, but in the end I couldn’t leave the store without it:

And now I love it, and spend about fifteen minutes a day looking at it, happy that its weird exuberance and hauntingly inept draftsmanship are MINE. I have half a mind to call this one, On Being Blue.

And that brings us full circle, Dear Readers, for this week.

Have a splendid weekend, everyone. October is the Coyote Month, and this year the trickster has impeachment on his mind!

 

 

A college professor put this sign up on his office door as a warning to his students:

It made me think of this guy:

 

But let’s not let that be the last word, not when there’s this:

 

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