Hugs Shmugs

I'm not the world's prettiest hugger. I tend to stick out my rear end while I'm doing it, and then there was that time my ex's uncle informed me I wasn't breathing while I hugged and that I really must start breathing to maximize the hug. Apparently it never occurred to him that my tension might be directly related to his insistent offers of back massages, on the kitchen counter, naked. Or his repeated attempts to get us to bathe under the blissful outdoor shower, which had no walls, and was clearly visible from his bedroom.

Despite the questionable source of the advice, I've never been able to hug anyone since without making a concerted effort to properly breathe whilst doing so. This means that sometimes I hang on too long or grip too tight as I concentrate on my lung work, and too often my breath comes out like the ones you might take under the study of a stethescope. But if there's one thing I'll break out the good breathy hugs for... it's food. Just today I almost hugged the Starbucks case when I noticed vanilla cupcakes were back in stock. I've never tried one before but have been told on good tastebud authority that they're surprisingly delish. And I've really been jonesing for a tasty treat. So please pardon me now while I go give one a big toothy hug. With my mouth.

pic c/o at the end of the line

Purty Birdy

You don't get much cuter than a pudgy bird.

thx allcreatures


"When I Feel Alive..."

"...I try to imagine a careless life."

Toldya, D. gg and I have seen these guys twice, once at The Empty Bottle (awesome 'cept I had to work the next day and they didn't even come on 'til after midnight) and once at The Portage (kinda shite truth be told). In the time that passed between the two Zach Condon really seemed to grow up a bit, both in appearance and presence. Or maybe he just started acting more French. I don't know, but the kid's got something.

More Cheap Laughs

Because they're good for the soul.

This is indeed a real sign for a real street found in South Yorkshire, England. The New York Times published a silly article on this and other examples of "aesthetically unsuitable names... capable of deliberate misinterpretation" spread about the UK. There are also a few books on the subject, namely "Rude Britain" and "Rude UK" by Rob Bailey and Ed Hurst.

It was none other than Butt Hole Road that originally inspired the gents to write the books:

Mr. Bailey, who grew up on Tumbledown Dick Road in Oxfordshire, and Mr. Hurst got the idea for the books when they read about a couple who bought a house on Butt Hole Road, in South Yorkshire.

The name most likely has to do with the spot’s historic function as a source of water, a water butt being a container for collecting water. But it proved to be prohibitively hilarious.
“If they ordered a pizza, the pizza company wouldn’t deliver it, because they thought it was a made-up name,” Mr. Hurst said. “People would stand in front of the sign, pull down their trousers and take pictures of each other’s naked buttocks."

The couple moved away.

Bitches & Britches

I could use a good laugh, so imagine my delight when Pretty To Think So reminded me of Sugar Lumps. I could maybe do without the guy who pawns his sugar lumps for a frisbee, but still... it's simply never not funny.

Same Spot, Different Day

"We're All Gonna Die - 100 Meters of Existence." I've mentioned this guy before, and I continue to go silently apeshit for Simon Hogsberg's work. He gets to the pulse of the matter. Instead of offering strangers a penny for their thoughts or inquiring into what New Yorkers do and don't like about their mugs, this time he created a 100-meter-long photo of strangers walking down the street. Same spot, new day, different people. Like people-watching without the sunglasses, since Simon did the dirty work for us. I just wish I could see the exhibit in person.



Like the rest of my year-round swim team, I spent many years of life trying to impress a man who wasn’t my father. None of us shared any blood with the man, barring the blood we spilled for him in the pool. Or the running trail. Or the weight room. God, I hated that weight room. I was serious about swimming yet vain enough to pretend I was weaker than I was to keep the weights down, thereby keeping the muscle mass down. I thought I was so sneaky, but he was always on to me. He felt like family.

We took instruction from him nearly every weekday starting at 5 a.m. and again after school for two more grueling hours of workouts. I admit to hating him sometimes for the sets that spilled out of his mouth (“20 two-hundreds at cruise minus 5?? Effff you.”) But never-ever would I have said such a thing aloud and always-always did I have the utmost respect for him. He taught us how to make our bodies perform in ways we wouldn't have thought possible, and that was a big life lesson in and of itself.

And was he ever a handsome devil. Some might put him in the silver fox category, but he was too much of a father-figure for me to see him in that light. He was an ex-military man with the work ethic and sailor mouth to prove it, but when he was proud of us, we knew it... and we loved it. We thrived on it. That was Coach.

By the end of high school a shoulder injury had me down about swimming, and at the same time, I wasn’t so driven by the competitive spirit anymore. Coach understood and never made me feel guilty for turning my back on the sport. When I was waitlisted at the university where he was head coach, he sat me down and asked me how much I wanted to get off the waitlist to attend. Even though I was excited about heading to Philly and so answered with uncertainty, he offered me a no-strings-attached spot on the team to guarantee my admission, knowing full well I’d never actually swim another competitive lap for him.

It only took a couple hours of thought for me to let go of my thoughts, go with my gut, reneg on U Penn and accept the generous offer. It was one of those pivotal life-bending moments, and –though I’ll never know what lay in the alternate- I have Coach to thank for much of the direction my life found. And though I no longer swam on one of his teams, for years I couldn't seem to stop shadowing the poor guy. I worked for him during college as head lifeguard, where I met UITBE. And later I took a job as a waitress at his favorite watering hole. Whether he was more protective of his vices or my innocence, I don't know, but boy did he ever hate that I worked at his favorite watering hole.

I finally got out of Coach's prematurely white hair after college, never to return to it again. I've thought of him too many times to count, but I never took the chance to thank him outright for the role he played in my life. My brother came to visit me last weekend, and during a latenight pow-wow over beer and vinyl, Coach made his way into our conversation. K is another of his former swimmers, and we both knew he was very sick. I couldn’t help but express my guilt over not thanking him properly for his influence, but K, in all his matter-of-fact glory responded “Uh, I think he has more important things to think about now, J.” I felt silly but comforted too by the reminder that I was only one little fish of many in Coach's pool. Still, I like to feel like nothing is left unsaid, and now my time to say is up. So, instead... here's my meek alternative, just a small energy of love and thanks directed toward an unforgettable man and a beloved Coach.


"A Storm is Abrewin'"

... and it's sure to fall soon.... as I look at you from the shore."

All the times I listened to "The Man Who," and I never caught the bloody hidden track, which is now quite possibly my favorite off the entire album. Thanks, D, for giving me a clue. I love how dark it feels compared to the rest of the songs and how Francis annunciates the hard 't' on "stree-T" and "fee-T." PreTTy gorgeous.


Squirrel, Meet Dorito

I hope someone warned him that you can't eat just one.

Things have been busy enough around the office that I've had nary the chance to formulate my own thoughts on much of anything unless it's related to pretrial orders and/or appellate decisions (affirmed, thank god!) and/or motions to compel discovery (that we already answered, numnuts, thanks for wasting my time).

In downtime I've mostly taken the route of brainless distraction via image hunting. This was just one of several animal pics/vids that made me smile at my computer screen last night. And what a special moment it was. Then there was the vid of the kitten enjoying a parrot petting... from its claw. I was going to spare you the link (to seem like less of a loser), but I'd hate to withhold such a classic.

Aussies Don't Beat Around the Bush

Hair removal brand, Veet, ran the above ad in Australia's The Daily Telegraph the day after Bush left the presidential office. Hilarious.

thx cheeta fight


Nothin' But Time

LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?
Sometimes I like to pretend it's the case. I was actually kind of surprised by my results, though I guess the last name helps balance the lack of creativity the rents employed in choosing the first.



A lot can happen in twelve years. Here's an interesting little article from The New Yorker on what was then just a "couple in Chicago."


"And Hold Me Don't Leave Me..."

"...til the sun warms my bones."

So much for up-tempo and non-lyrical, this was chosen for obvious reasons. It's "Embracing Winter" by The Autumns.

Save As

...desktop background. I just did, and "Professor Stanley" is cheering me up already.

thx allcreatures


Earworm du Jour

Just got the unexpected news it's going to be a doozy of a week here at the office. This means I've been assigned someone more important's 48 hours of work with a Wednesday deadline on a file about which I currently know zilch zero nada nothing. The ole lawyer divvy, creating triple the work just to get one lowly in the know and a big cheese off the hook. I figure some up-tempo non-lyrical music's in order to help keep my wayward focus on the work. Since my noggin still seems to think it's on holiday, it'll need all the help it can get.

Ronald McDonald

Reincarnated. He seems to say "Just give me a year or two, and I'll batter you for what you're thinking about my ginormous feet."


Turn That Frown Upside Down

Even though the fellow's frowning, these toy photos by McCarty Photoworks brought a smirk to my face. The face that's aged 10 years in the last 2 days. From now on these fossilized lines shall be known as the McCarty smirk.


I live for this shit. I tried to embed this vid last week, to no avail, but now it's a go. If you haven't already stumbled upon it fifty other times this week and need your heart warmed a few degrees (if only it would work for my toes), then check it.

Speaking of my thawing toes (I had to go there), they were in so much pain during this morning's negative 30 commute that I couldn't help but feel very sad for those unfortunate people who get lost and stranded on mountaintops (or under overpasses). The feel of a few measly frozen toes was almost unbearable, so just imagine the frozen ascent into the rest of the body... agonizing! I hereby add "freezing to death" to the long list of ways I really never wanna go out.


Beaming in Blooms

Aw, this guy looks so happy. I would be too if I was him. But I'm me, here in the winter of my discontent. You know it's bad when an upcoming forecast of mid-twenties makes my heart go all a flutter with anticipation. And that's all I'm going to say about the weather. Because... well, I have more important things to think about and say and... do with my... time. Did I mention it's negative 7? And my own dog refuses to step paw outside?

photo c/o ffffound.com

"When The Day Is Done..."

"... I hope you're still the same."

A thousand thanks to one of those rare (dirty) birds, who's actually managed to stay reliably the same over the years, for packing and mailing a FIVE HUNDRED pound box of leftover b-day gifts to me all the way from ATL. That'd be you, GTA. You might recall (though I'd like to soon forget) how I was too sickly my last day in Atlanta to do anything with them myself. tsk.tsk.

Among the countless goodies found within the loveliness of my new Orla Kiely wheelie duffle (um, an EMPTY Orla Kiely WALLET would have MORE than sufficed!) was my beloved b-day mix, which brings back many a memory (we'll always love you, Ma Bells) and introduced me to this pretty gem by The Samples.

The Lucinda River

These underwater photos by Damion Berger instantly brought to mind memories of John Cheever's The Swimmer. Like the story, the images felt cheerfully nostalgiac at first (The day was lovely, and that he lived in a world so generously supplied with water seemed like clemency, a beneficence.), but now I can't shake the suspicion that they're hiding something. (You might have wondered if he was the victim of foul play, had his car broken down, or was he merely a fool? Standing barefoot in the deposits of the highway - beer cans, rags, and blowout patches- exposed to all kinds of ridicule, he seemed pitiful.)

yet another thx to lenscratch


"Let's Take It Easy..."

"... and enjoy this lovely harmony."

(-or- "We can do it in the car. My brother owns it.")

The latest addition to the iPod that I'm oh-so-thoroughly enjoying is Ode to Ochrasy by Swedish pop/garage/rock band, Mando Diao. I don't know the album well enough yet to pick a favorite, but this here's "Long Before Rock n' Roll."


The kitchen chair plopped down in the middle of this road should look strange to you. There was a time it would have looked strange to me too, but I've become accustomed to seeing unexpected ornamentation parked in the road where someone's car used to be. Orange construction cones, caution tape, milk crates piled like building blocks, miniature furniture a child outgrew, the saddest ugliest orphan chairs you can imagine (think brass, torn vinyl and Son of Sam's basement). You name it, and Chicagoans will use it to claim what's theirs and keep vultures out of the space they meticulously slaved over with a shovel. You'd think the blood, sweat and tears left behind would be enough, kinda like peeing on it, but apparently furniture works much better.

I for one have never moved anyone's damn chair, and I've never seen anyone else do it either, so I suspect the method is respected (midwesterners are so gd polite). But I sure as hell have had to resist the urge to put the chotchkies back where they belong (in the nearest alley), even when I'm not searching for a space. It's just the principle. Don't get me wrong, I understand what drives these folks to wield furniture. I've done my share of shoveling, and have acquired my share of scars. First during that virgin Boston winter.... (screen swirls)

I woke up to so much snow one weekday morning that I naturally assumed I didn't have to go into work that day. After all, that much snow would have put Durham, NC out of commish for a good month. So I called up my coworker friend to confirm what I knew to be obvious -and (record scratches) was instantly interrupted by hyena-esque cackles of hysteria that would create an echoing roar in my head for years to come... at least every time she told the "wicked funny" story and roared again. Oh, the ridicule and shame I endured. ("You can take the girl outta North Carolina, but you can't take North Carolina outta the girl." "Ah, you're ah trip, Jen. There ahre no fuckin' snow days in Boston!")

That morning I crawled in about 3 hours after everyone else. Sore, sweaty and soaking wet from one of those neato bus-drives-by-splashing-giant-brown-puddle-on-girl tricks that I thought only happened in the movies. Au contraire mon frere. I had to opt for a long walk to work after my first shoveling attempt ended with the car in exactly the same place it was when I started.

I eventually grasped the art of shoveling, with my first successful shovel lasting hours. Boy was I proud when that sucker got free. But soon the pride was replaced with rage when later that night I returned from work to find my spot gone. In its place stood a giant farmer truck, which I knew for a fact had been parked across the street just that morning. The criminal thing was that the fucker had four-wheel-driven himself right out of his own spot with zero (ZERO!) shoveling. This left a giant spot that nobody without a farmer truck could possibly get into without hours more shoveling. Instead of politely taking his spot back (massholes!), he stole my hard-earned space. Oh was I ever livid.

So... I get it. But I'm still not resorting to furniture. Instead, I just pretty much refuse to drive my car once it's buried. So help me, my car will sit where it's parked until the weather changes enough to reveal my car again. Or I decide I could really use some upper-body work. Or there's some kind of emergency. Like I get really thirsty.

photo c/o apartment therapy


"Don't Waste Your Words"

"... I don't need anything from you."

One of the long-awaited results of my ongoing organization efforts is now having all CDs that still patiently await ripping accessibly located, sorta in order of ripping importance, and well on their way to the iPod. Thanks to D, who's already put a hefty dent in the pile, my ears have already been invaded by many worms that hadn't stopped in for a chat (ok, soliloquy) in some time. It's a lot like meeting up with an old friend and submerging yourself in a pool of nostalgia and ketchup. As in catch up. Like where was I then, where am I now, in all that's passed has all that much changed? Except it's a little more like talking to yourself about all that. Anyhow, just today I got a surprise visit from The (loveable) Stone Roses. Nice to hear from you again, ole chaps.

Rooms with Views

If I wanted to show someone what is essentially my view every weekday, I'd show them this gallery of photos by Michael Wolf. Only difference is that from my own office I need no telescopic lens to see people's business (or others to see mine), which is why you'll usually find my shades drawn. I'll pass on absentmindedly glancing over to the next building to find my anonymous neighbor with chair leaned back, feet kicked up, computer broadcasting porn, and hand... thankfully obstructed. True story.

thx to lensculture


Men and Their Orchids

I first saw this gallery of "Men and Orchids" by Natascha Libbert several months ago on Exposure Compensation, and even though I'd never witnessed it for myself, it struck me as funny in a very sweet way. Since then, it so happens I've had to make many a trip to the Home Depot... for boot tray, rocks for boot tray, mats, shovel, foam sealant, hooks, screws, screwdrivers, lights, bulbs (I could go on), and the first thing I see every.time.I.walk.in. are a collection of men surrounding the orchids and gawking. It's one of those things that makes me inexplicably happy to be alive.

"Sweetness I Was Only Joking..."

"...when I said by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed."

tee hee

Lest you mistake them for trying too hard, these guys compensate for their flashy kicks by perfecting a humble slouch and formidable belly. I'm guessing they were captured en route to their favorite watering hole.

Vana's comment inspired me to dig deeper, and wouldn't you know these little wonders are called a blue-footed booby. As if they weren't silly enough, someone had to go and name them boobies. I don't know if they'd appreciate that. Though I didn't do any exhaustive research on the boobies (I can't stop saying it), it looks like they're found in Ecuador, in the Galapagos Islands.

c/o allcreatures


"I Was Slicing Up An Avocado"

This is Jens. His style reminds me a bit of Neil Hannon's from The Divine Comedy, with subdued Scott Walker-esque vocals, ladykiller vibes, cinematic drama, and sometimes silly lyrics. Here he is doing the same song live ("Your Arms Around Me").

I had tickets to see him back in April, but it happened to be the same day I moved into my new place, and amidst the moving mayhem I plumb forgot. Didn't even think twice about cute Jens until the next day when my coworker bragged about how much he'd enjoyed the show. I would have been more annoyed if I wasn't so busy visualizing the placement of my couch and obsessing over how I was going to get symmetrical holes into the back of my makeshift entertainment center.

Pretty as a Parapluie

This presentation is doing wonders for both my OCD sensibilities and my passionate love of basil. In fact, if I ever gave birth, God help the child, I might name it Basil. And then promptly give it away. That's right, "it."


Dog Problems (among others)

I returned from the holiday with an eerily foreign sense of inner peace and resolve. Peace that life is what it is. And resolve to make it even better whilst refocusing on the simple pleasures. I didn’t say it was profound. While the resolve remains intact, the peace was shattered to anxiety-ridden bits within 48 hours of returning to The Everyday. A few memorable catalysts…

Employ. The coworker who drives me up the wall with her insecurity-driven (I can only assume) incessant bragging was immediately up to her old tricks of making herself feel important by making others appear second-rate. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s braggarts. And know-it-alls. And queue-cutters.

Shelter. After making myself comfortable in my parent’s very respectable adult house for a few days, I returned to my own rental and suddenly felt like a cold sardine within its confines.

Four-Legged Friend. Oh, and there was the incident where my sweet little Foo bit a human. Yeah, there was that. I'm a dog-rearing failure, I'm going to get sued, and to avoid Foo getting taken away in a paddy wagon we will both go fugitive. Let me explain. My end of year raise made my embarrassing debate between walker-for-foo and therapist-for-me a reality. As if there was any question, the dog walker camp was far more persuasive. After all, who needs a therapist when you can’t even tell him the truth? I mean, really.

Foo met Dog Walker once, and all seemed fine. Until I received an urgent call at work on what was to be Dog Walker’s first day informing me that all was not fine, no not fine at all. Turns out Foo was much less enthused about Dog Walker than me. In fact, he was not in the least bit okay with Dog Walker entering the apartment during my absence, and, in fairness, Foo reportedly made that disinterest quite clear to Dog Walker via ferocious barking and fang-bearing. Is it Foo’s fault that So-Confident-He-Is-Delusional Dog Walker plodded onward, much to the chagrin of his tasty knee?

Upon getting the disturbing news that Foo is Kujo, I closed my office door and cried. And continued to cry off and on until I went to bed that night. It was neither a reasonable nor proportionate reaction (I know of real tragedy in the world), but pity parades rarely cater to reason or proportion (or the suffering of others). I’m all about embracing what needs to be done, and apparently crying like a baby is what I needed to do before I could implement the resolve. Recall, resolve is intact. Peace, gone. Resolve, here. That’s right, this is where the resolve comes in.

Work. They always told me work would help me learn to deal with difficult people, and this has never rung so true. Dealing with the pesky coworker is a work in progress. When she comes around to do her thing, I’ve resolved to breath, remind myself I'm lucky to have a job at all, pretend not to be seething inside, remind myself that I’m not stuck in an adolescent mentality (whilst I excuse her behavior as some sort of compensation for being so short), and convince myself that braggarts never prosper. So far this is working about as well as a cold compress on a hungover head. But using logic to trump raw reaction is a start, and I’m not looking to work miracles on myself here. The Tylenol, tomato juice and Coke will come later. Seriously, how did it take me this long to discover the cure that is Coke?

Shelter. This is where I’ve spent most of my spare time thus far. The reorganizing I’ve done freed up a noticeable amount of space in the joint, and the whole apartment has become more user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. The best thing about this is that the space surrounding me tends to mirror the space inside my head. In other words, things are feeling less cluttered upstairs, and this is a welcome sensation indeed.

Four-Legged Friend. My beloved Foo is soon to receive a few house calls from a dog shrink. Sadly, I'm totally serious. In lieu of a dog walker, I’ve hired Chicago’s finest dog behavioralist to help curb Foo’s “house aggression,” which I hardly knew had so spiraled. Ok, there were signs that this was brewin’, but the bite was the proverbial straw… that will break the bank. But I’m hopeful it’s worth it, and I’m excited to learn new things. Dog Behavioralist’s philosophy sounds like a good one. He uses purely positive reinforcement, recognizes anxiety-inducing triggers, desensitizes Foo to those triggers, and teaches him to respond in new ways. we'll see....

photo c/o ffffound.com

"What You Give is What You Get"

I kinda hate to upset my own sense of balance by posting a second earworm in one day, but I don't feel like putting thoughts to keys yet, and I couldn't very well deny the cosmos, which has been haunting me with this song. Today was the third haunt and, thus, the charm. D and I heard this while waiting in line at J.Crew to return some ill-fated (and ill-fitting) online workwear purchases, D pointing out its unmistakable similarity to (if not direct sample of ) "Taxman." Two days later the same song popped up on one of the CD mixes that had theretofore been hiding in the recesses of my car. And as charming thirds would have it, "Taxman" just now came up on the ole shuffle. So it was and so it is... The Jam with "Start."

Nature's Wonders

Handy little trick this mom's got up her sleeve, er, feathers.

c/o all creatures (and while you're there check out the heart-tugging vid about elephant-dog love. unfortunately i couldn't get it to embed.)

A Thing for Bulbs

I've got one.

I Second That

c/o ffffound.com

"Ride It On Out Like You Were A Bird"

The first earworm of 2009 is from the vaults... Marc Bolan/T. Rex with "Ride a White Swan."