October 2019

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 Now, the stuff you learn to do on your devices becomes outdated every six months.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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I’ve told this story before here on this blog but I’ll tell it again because it’s one of my favorites.

Many years ago now, I met a guy at a party, a low-key party in someone’s backyard, not a punk rock/dancing on the bar kind party that I was partial to back then. . .

. . . and he was telling me how life used to stress him out like crazy, which he illustrated with a story about a cross-country road trip he took, from Seattle to New York City.

From the time he got Puget Sound in the rearview mirror until he crossed the George Washington Bridge five or six days later, he was constantly worried, freaked out, even, because ALL he could think about was, Where am I going to park when I get home to Manhattan ?

By the end of that road trip, he knew he had to make some changes in his life to reduce the monkey chatter in his brain. So he quit drinking and took up meditation. Not in that order. And he’s been much happier ever since.

Since then, whenever I find myself metaphorically fretting about where I’m going to park my car next week, I remember that guy, and I calm down and look up meditation classes in my area. I haven’t gone to one yet, because meditation sounds hard and I’m never far away from a strong V&T, which I call Meditation in a Glass.

I’m telling this story today because I came across something on the inter webs this week, a post about how much happier we would all be if we could just live in the “Now”.

If you want to get on my last nerve, tell me to live in the “Now”.

This is the kind of pseudo-pith that commonly gets accepted as wisdom, when actually the words only sound as if they mean something. Which, sure, they do, but only if you’re a college freshman and you’re smoking pot for the first time.

This “Now” of which we are supposed to venerate lasts, at most, for 12 seconds (that’s a scientific fact). So, are we supposed to live in 12-second intervals? How is that done, exactly? Give me the details of this “Now”-living, second by second, and proof of its superiority to the past and future, or else shut the fuck up.

Now, there are destructive ways of living in the future (see: driving from Seattle to New York, above), and there are terrible ways of living in the past (see: The Republican party, USA), but those are not the only two ways of looking forwards and backwards.

Furthermore, since most of our lives are in the past (every 12 seconds, you generate a new “past”), and most of our finest thoughts and feelings (hope, for one) live in the future, I think it’s far better to train your mind to handle the past and future so that you get the most pleasure and joy from them.

I say, treasure your past, because without it you lose your soul-self (see: Alzheimer’s); and create the beautiful futures that you want to work towards to make real. If you do that, I think the “Now” will take care of itself.

In other news, I installed my Haunted Bookshop at the local library:

It’s centered around a beat-up copy of Christopher Morely’s book by that title (ours was printed in 1923) that we got in as a donation to the used-book store that I manage here on the north shore of Long Island.

 

I sent a press release, of sorts, to the local newspaper about this display:

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Roslyn author Christopher Morley wrote The Haunted Bookshop in 1919 and the Bryant Library is offering a very early edition of the book for sale at its Roberta Balfus Bookstore, located in the historic Valentine House next door.

The Haunted Bookshop is part of a collection of over 30 books, each aged 100 years or more, which will go on sale on Tuesday, November 5.

The most notable book in this unusual collection is a book published in 1833 by J. & J. Harper, 82 Cliff Street, New-York, that comes from the personal library of Major General James Barnet Fry, the former Provost Marshal General of the Union Army during the Civil War who saw action at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 and at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 (photo attached, from the Library of Congress, Matthew Brady photographer, c. 1861).

Currently, the books are on display at the Bryant Library as part of an installation called The Haunted Bookshop, on view until midnight, October 31.

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(I included some photos of the display, along with a totally fake story that I wrote about the book store that inspired the exhibit.)

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The totally fake ghost story of The Haunted Bookshop (the exhibit) is as follows:

Few people know that The Haunted Bookshop, written in 1919 by Roslyn author Christopher Morley, was based on a frightening experience the author had at the Valentine House while visiting it earlier that year.

Mr. Morley refused to discuss the incident in detail, saying only that, “There is something other-worldly, exceedingly inexplicable, in that house.”

He would never set foot inside the place for the remainder of his life.

The Roberta Balfus Book Store is located in the front parlor of the Valentine House, the very room where Mr. Morley’s faith in reason and appearances was shattered.

Rumor has it that there is a hidden dimension somewhere in this room, a “thin place” where time is diminished and reality is as sheer as tattered lace.

            A warning:  Stay far away from this thin place when its portal opens, once a century.

There is no way out when this fragile rift between worlds collapses in upon itself, without warning.

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A reporter from the local newspaper contacted me, and she came to interview me and look at the store and our old books for a feature that is scheduled to go to print in their October 11 paper. If it is online sooner, I’ll link to it. She took a lot of photos of the installation but none of me, which is disappointing because I was have an unusually good hair day.

Here’s some close-ups of the creepiness:

 

 

 

Last Sunday, September 29, was the start of the Jewish New Year so Top Cat and I combined our Fall Solstice outing with a New Year’s Eve chance to make some goals for the future.

Hello, Mr. Husky. Would you like a pizza-flavored Combo? No? Is blocking our view good enough for you?

We usually do not see another soul on this stretch of Long Island Sound, but on this evening there was an interesting photo shoot going on down on the beach.

 

 

 

They left before the sun had gone down  completely so we regained our exclusive use of the view. There’s a new graffiti on the porch where we sit:

And then it was suddenly Wednesday, and it was sunny and we got record-breaking 92 degrees, and then it was Thursday and it was 58 and rainy. I already forget how hot 92 degrees is, and I’m only OK about the 58 degrees because Fall jackets are my favorite kind of clothes.

P.S. to Dear Reader Sandra about last week’s photos of Jake Owen’s turquoise suit: Not only would I change may fashion sense for him, but I would also change my eye color and shoe size and left-handedness for him. . . if I were 30 years younger and had a shot.

Rickety handling the change in weather well:

Lickety at 92 degrees.

 

Lickety at 58 degrees.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay warm, or cool, depending, you know, on the situation.

The “Now” is terrible, but our bright and righteous hopes for the future will get us through, hour by hour, day by day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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