Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween

We watched some of the Munsters marathon - time to introduce the kid to the classics. I think Herman may have influenced her drawings.

"It's dark out."

'You like my drawing? I'll make a copy, only different."

I like that she's already thinking about working in a series...

Friday, October 30, 2009

carnival of blogs

A "Best of Me" carnival hosted by Dodgeblogium also included my recent post, mean girls and boys.

These carnivals are a great way to check out some great blogs—take a look!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

i love this... sculpture being installed at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden, by artist Roxy Paine.

installing Roxy paine sculpture, NGA sculpture garden

Nature made aluminum. Love it. This is from his dendroid series:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

for the most creative use of a Segway in a film the award goes to...

...Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Yes, another overlooked gem that I just caught on cable. This is one of those incredibly dumb films which are also incredibly fun to watch. Kevin James is immensely likable in his sad-sack-victorious character—one of those actors with a television show I may have skipped, but always happy to see him turn up on the big screen (he practically steals Hitch from Will Smith.)

What really made Mall Cop for me were the at first insidious, and finally over-the-top references to the Bruce Willis classic Die Hard, all while keeping true to the movie's New Jersey shopping mall scale. Especially funny was James crawling through the the de rigueur action flick air conditioning vent. The references took the movie beyond a spoof, as it is more than likely that a New Jersey shopping mall security guard would have seen Bruce Willis's most well-known flick a thousand times and start to emulate/imitate him if the situation (comedy) called for it.

And James is both embarrassing and pure poetry on the Segway. In other words, great comedy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the tooth fairy's gonna think we don't like her...

My daughter lost her second tooth last weekend—she is really looking like a Little Rascal now.

The tooth was wobbly in the afternoon, and after dinner I noticed that her gap had widened. But no sign of the tooth...

Oh well, luckily the tooth fairy still delivered a quarter.

The Awful Tooth (1938)

Monday, October 26, 2009

this is A-Rod's first World Series?

Wow. Alex Rodriguez really surprised me last night when he admitted amid all the showers of champagne, that this will be his first World Series. Has it been that long? It feels like the Yanks have been closer, and that Rodriguez has put us through enough for three or four. Well, good luck Alex. You've been amazing so far this season. It's interesting that a lot of the announcers have been dropping the A-Rod moniker. Guess they are taking him seriously, just as he is, finally. It was also great to see all the dopey sports mouths proved wrong last night as they lamented pre-game about the Yankees choice of a pitcher to face off the Angels. Baseball is a lot about the numbers—after the fact. But it's also about heart and sheer push. Andy Pettite was great. As was Mariano. And of course, Mister Rodriguez.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

lazy Sunday

Today's agenda: bake pumpkin muffins and watch the Yankees (hopefully) wrap this one up. Glass half full, people, glass half full...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ooh it's magic

"We just expelled Brett."

"You expelled him?"

"He's not allowed to do magic anymore."


Friday, October 23, 2009


This is not a Rob Reiner tribute, although I like The Princess Bride. It's a riff on a New York Times article by Jonathan Safran Foer, "Against Meat," recently shared by my friend Steven on facebook. The main gist of the article, as you I'm sure have already guessed, is about the author's quest to become a vegetarian. I must add, however, that he freely admits his history has been quite on-again, off-again—so as a vegetarian manifesto, it leaves the reader a little skeptical regarding the author's commitment. In fact, he goes on quite a bit about his grandmother's delicious cooking and her history of food/experiences with starvation. I could practically hear him salivating about her chicken and carrots—he mentioned them so often you could almost start a drinking game...

I felt like a meathead reading it, because I am quite ambivalent on the subject myself. I rarely eat red meat, except the very occasional sampling of salami. I'm Italian/Sicilian, and come from a family where food was incredibly important and still isnot just as something to be consumed, but part of life, family history. One great grand-father had his own family bakery, the other was a chef.

Periale Bakery Calendar, Lodi, NJ, 1922

I have recipes from
my great-grandfather the chef written down that include parts of an animal or creatures from the sea that don't exactly make my mouth water. But would I try these delicacies if he were alive today and could prepare them? Absolutely.
"Grandma made sfincioni this way, with tiny meatballs."
"Remember the time she made them like popovers?"
"Didn't she use prosciutto?"
Foer's Grandma also had her traditions, of which he wrote fondly. I wasn't convinced, however, that he was able to justify his philosophy, which he is completely entitled to, of the higher moral/ethical ground of vegetarianism vs. the loss of his family food traditions, particularly, his Grandma' chicken and carrots. I'm not arguing with him that the higher moral ground doesn't exist, but has he truly embraced it, or is he trying to convince the reader and himself that this time he has, as opposed to his many previous attempts?

Foer seems to think he has finally found the perfect impediment to his backsliding into meat-eating and what struck a bum note with me most about the article. Foer is imposing his vegetarianism/food beliefs on his children (much like one might about religion, politics, etc.), and assuming that's O.K.—his kids will be free to choose for themselves when they're older.

Huh? My daughter, although only 5 1/2, makes zillions of choices every day, including what she will or will not eat on her plate. Of course I set rules and guidelines for her life and behavior (as well as put which items I deem appropriate on said plate), but "forcing" vegetarianism on a child seems to me to be not-so-hot. The world is not the bubble of your home. You may not serve meat or sweets or soda or whatever you are opposed to in your house, but what about when the kid goes to school, on trips, etc.?

clip from Oliver!
couldn't resist...

When it's a question of life philosophies, a kid will have questions...
"Do you believe in God?
Are we Democrats?
Where did that turkey come from?
...I think it's cool for a parent to explain the choices that they make, and if they can, why they make them. But they should also show their child the whole world, not just a narrow slice of it. It's a tightrope walk: good vs. bad and how a parent presents such choices. These are questions that come up for me, and I'm sure, most parents, every day. Kids have a hard-enough time navigating through all the various pressures of school, status, etc., without adding "special" meals to their profile. Parents can't control their child's actions when they're not with them (sometimes even when they are), so will the child be cross-questioned when coming home from a friend's house to see if the lasagna served at dinner was meat-free? Who wants to be that parent? Who wants to ramp up the stealth and obfuscation so early in their relationship with their child?

Don't serve meat at home, Mr. Foer. Set an example of yourself as a vegetarian to your children. But don't try to mandate every menu outside it, or you are opening up a whole other can of worms. Juicy, meaty worms.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

dealers in dry gooods

You never know what you'll come across on the web. Here is an ad from a book about the hatting trade in Danbury, CT in the 18th century that advertises my great-great-great-grandfather David P.Nichols's dry goods store. Pretty cool...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On the Hudson Dayline

My family, on an outing circa 1923/4, when everyone still wore their Sunday best to spend the day with the relatives.

On the Hudson Dayline

p.s. Happy Birthday, UJ, fourth from the left...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


What a missed opportunity!

The other night, while watching the first episode of the Monty Python 6-part documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut), John Cleese revealed that his real last name was Cheese. Yep. Cheese. And that his father didn't change it until John was quite old—he apparently went through school with Cheese as a last name. He's thinking of changing it back—to Jack Cheese...

The documentary is definitely worth catching, for new fans and old. And right after the first episode IFC played Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, a fun collection of their greatest hits. Many of the routines you may find yourself quoting along happily, but word of warning... some of the songs may stick in your head...

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Monday, October 19, 2009


Mariano Rivera is just amazing. I know this isn't exactly news, but I just had to say it.

Even when he makes an error, he still manages to pull the Yanks out of the fire by the end of the (11th!) inning. The game didn't end up in the Yanks' favor, but there's still game four tomorrow.

However this season ends, I will still be in awe of Mariano's abilities. He's been a Yankee for so long now I can't really imagine a bullpen without him.

I Mariano.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

drying out

The DC area has been inundated with a steady stream of rain for days and days. Most of the time it was "just" a mist, but it succeeded in completely soaking everything. Before anyone says, "Well, we needed the rain," I will politely demand that they zip it. No area needs a constant, steady, depressing drizzle. Not even Seattle. We took a drive yesterday to visit some relatives in nearby VA, and when making a curving turn onto the highway access ramp on a road I've taken a million times before on a million weekends, we hydroplaned, the car swinging to the right, then the left, before I was able to regain control of the car. The road didn't look slick and we weren't even going that fast. It was simply saturated. Luckily, there weren't any other cars too close, and the kid didn't even notice, apart from the weird squeals and yelps that I emitted before I regained control. Or an illusion of control. I am extremely excited about the prospect of this week's dry-out. Temps in the 60s are forecast, and for those of you who might dare to say, "But that's not October weather," I politely respond, "Zip it."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

not sure what this is

But I like it

Friday, October 16, 2009

rainy days and...Fridays

Thursday, October 15, 2009

eraser in the rain

Don't ask me why, but this sums up the day for me...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

eat your heart out, Errol Flynn

My grandfather, Lionel William "Billy" Winship, c. 1935.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

mean girls and boys

Recently posted by a facebook friend was a link to a website only in existence since August, 2009, People of Walmart.

I started flipping through the photos of bad fashion, etc. and then flipped away. I can't argue with the fact that some people wear some pretty short shorts or see-through outfits that most folks would be afraid to sport in public. But to write a nasty caption below each picture just seemed juvenile and nasty. And posting someone's unflattering photo online without their consent, while not strictly illegal, definitely is not a positive human action.

Sorry, not a "LOL" as advertised.


I kept thinking about the crappy site, considering a caveat on facebook, and then flipped back and looked at the "About Us" section, to see what was the justification for this exercise in humiliation. What a bunch of cowards. "AJK," "ADK," and "LDW" could have included photos of themselves in some horrible outfits in the superstore's aisles and then it might have been a little less depressing, or at the very least a lame attempt to get in on the joke.

I recently read a comment on a website that pointed out a link to obesity and lower-incomes. Poorer folks don't have the money to spend on a lot of the other distractions - nights out at the theater, expensive clothes, jewelry, etc., etc. that make some folks who have the money to spend on such entertainments feel like they are treating themselves. But a poor person can surely super-size their meal or buy some Krispy Kremes for a snack. In its posting of pictures of folks shopping, this website was pointing out mostly fat people. And ridiculing them. Sigh.

I hate to be ageist, but I truly think that the crew of idiots who put this together and others who might think that it's LOL-worthy must be, frankly, twenty-somethings. Being twice as old as these jokers I just don't find it worthwhile to hide behind a veil of superiority to make myself seem "cool." That is a pose sought by the young. At least I hope they are just young and stupid. Only someone who hasn't lived, hasn't struggled, has been so far in their lives cosseted from depression, loss, or bad luck could put something like this together.

They at least are featuring their critics along with their fans. My fear is that link on their site is just some smart-ass cocky badge of courage. But there is no courage here. Only meanness.

Monday, October 12, 2009

that is SO last century...

Capital One has been calling me for over a week with a "great opportunity." A woman named "Linda" has called from Ontario, New York, California, Pennsylvania and many other disembodied locations. Sometimes Linda leaves her pre-recorded message, sometimes not. On Sunday Linda called three times between 8:30 am and 9:45 am.

Is this company mental?

Do they really think
  1. That I will answer their obvious telemarketing call?
  2. That I will ever call them back (800 number notwithstanding)?
  3. By leaving no information whatsoever as to what this "great opportunity" is, that their call will pique my interest?
  4. That I don't have caller ID?
  5. That it isn't as easy as pie to do a reverse look-up on the number when Linda doesn't leave a message?
  6. That I want to hear from them on a weekend morning (or any other time)?
  7. That I haven't heard of the National Do Not Call Registry?
Does telemarketing even work in this digital day and age? Not for me. I want to see "great opportunities," if they even exist, in black and white, and most likely discovered by me or by a friend's word-of-mouth, not through some lame advertising ploy.

Excuse me while I go find my scissors. I have enough credit cards already, anyway.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

great sculpture?

Or great signage?

Or both?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

cats and dogs



Friday, October 09, 2009

make mine tab

I was just thinking the other day how small changes can happen so rapidly that you're not even aware of a whole new way of doing things until after you've been doing them for quite a while.

Tabs, for instance. I'm not sure exactly when I started using tabs on my browser to keep a number of web pages going at the same time, but I know that I couldn't work (or play) any other way.

A small innovation to how we use the internet, but completely reflective of the desire to multi-task, multi-browse, multi-surf.

Was it just a few years ago when I was just relying on the back button or history to take me from one web page to another? Now I can have many different worlds open at my fingertips.

Invention, Innovation, Inno-vention.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

movie madness

The kid enjoyed documenting the latest Mummy movie as much as watching it. It was actually fun - one of those movies that you would have probably left the theater disappointed, but seeing it on cable can be a hoot.

You know, a Brendan Fraser flick. I've always had a soft spot for him, but apart from the first Mummy movie, I think his movies play better on the small screen. I've seen most of them - Encino Man, Bedazzled, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Looney Tune one. I'm pretty sure I saw George of the Jungle but I couldn't tell you anything about it, except I enjoyed the visuals...

What I've always liked about him, besides his good looks, is his absolute willingness to look silly, even ridiculous. It's a major part of his charm (besides the torso.) My daughter adores the Journey to the Center of the Earth movie, mostly for Fraser's nephew in the film, played by Josh Hutcherson. She'll be thrilled to hear that a sequel is being planned. Her favorite part of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - the Yeti, of course...

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

old trouts

Just watched last year's The Women remake on cable and it was as bad as I feared. The lame attempts to update the excellent 1939 film were...simply lame. Where was the banter? The pace? The sheer, delightful bitchiness? Even the fashion show, trying so hard to be tasteful, completely missed the campy mark that the original film had. And the lamest of all movie scenes that we've had to sit through ad nauseum, the rush to get the pregnant gal to the hospital...

There were glimpses of the old Meg Ryan at times, but too many scenes where I found myself trying to examine her mouth and its perpetual grin. The scene about plastic surgery with Candice Bergen was especially painful. And what was with the decision to make the ultimate bitch character Sylvia into the BFF? Oh well, not everybody can be Rosalind Russell, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard, or even holier-than-thou Norma Shearer. I'll take the original please. And Jungle Red - not this pale, old trout imitation.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

where's the sculpture?

Something is missing from the National Gallery Sculpture Garden...

Monday, October 05, 2009

cunning women

After a summer trip to New England to research my own bewitching Salem roots, I was happy to borrow a copy of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and see what the author brought to the endlessly fascinating and heartbreaking history of the Salem, MA witch hysteria in 1692.

Hmmm. It is a first novel, so I don't want to be too harsh. And there are some very enjoyable aspects to the story, especially the budding romance the protagonist Connie has with a handsome, punky steeplejack named Sam. The setting of Connie's grandmother's house in Marblehead, MA was also well-drawn, as were some of the glimpses into the past of divers women in Salem. So, there is quite a bit to enjoy.

However...there is also the annoying and inconsistent attempt to phonetically spell out the New England accent. Enough, already. And for a circa 1991 Harvard grad student, I'm afraid Connie is hopelessly dim. She has no insight into just about everything—animal, vegetable or mineral, which make up the plot—most of which is fairly obvious, at least to this reader, as soon as Connie steps into her grandmother's house.

But I quibble. It's still a fun read, although I'd wait for it at the library, or until it hits paperback, if you want to make a purchase. With all its faults, it screams movie adaptation, as most of those could be tightened up in a sharp screenplay. We'll see. It's also a fun glimpse not only into the past, but into our society just under twenty years ago, before cell phones and the internet made a lot of Connie's isolation and running around looking for clues unnecessary. Some generations take huge shifts to change, if at all, while other changes can come quickly, in under a quarter of a century. I do agree with Connie on a few things. Sam is an attractive character and human history is always incredibly fascinating.
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

carrot cake

Saturday, October 03, 2009

such a cool toy

If you don't have it yet, DoodleBuddy is a must/have iPhone app. My daughter is discovering its bells and whistles - hopefully, she'll teach me...

Friday, October 02, 2009

my fabulous scarf superpower

I have fabulous scarf superpower. Or at least, when I am wearing my fabulous scarf I seem to smile more, and as a result, almost everyone I ran across on my travels through the city yesterday smiled or even said hello. Can world peace be achieved at last?

Whose Line Is It Anyway UK - Super Heroes -

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