Friday, November 30, 2007

What Happens At Hello ....

from Jacqueline

I have discovered that, sometimes, in this blogging business, when Friday comes around, I just have to take another swipe at a subject I’ve touched upon before. Sometimes it takes more than touching upon the subject to get it out of my system. Sometimes I have to clobber it. And when a bit of clobbering is in order, you can be sure that someone’s rattled my cage.

Last week three things happened to give me pause to consider – again – what sort of people we’re all becoming. These were not big events, in the grand scheme of things. No, they were small, like a mosquito in the bedroom when you’re trying to get to sleep. Mosquitos get bigger and bigger the more you think about them, because the more you think about that tiny insect, the more you hear the thing.

Let’s start with the first event.

We – hubby and me – are fortunate to be able to divide our time between southern and northern California, and last week we were at our house “up north.” The street can sometimes be a bit busy in the mornings, when the mini-van-driving moms use it as a racetrack to see how late they can leave the house and then whizz to the school, which is not far from our home. Other than that it’s quiet. And most of the drivers realize that those of us who live there have to back out of our driveways slowly and with care, and we do a lot of looking – you never know what might come around the corner. So, for the most part, they stop and wait for you to complete your manoevre. But there’s always one, isn’t there? Or two or three. Never mind that there are signs everywhere warning of kids playing, etc., no, there’s always a bozo who couldn’t give a flying you-know-what. That’s the guy in a Toyota Matrix who raced up the street at about 50mph in a 25mph zone and skidded around me even though he had time to stop. He just missed a woman pushing a stroller down the street. That’s community for you.

Then to the next event that tickled me into this week’s post. Last Sunday was just lovely – a bit of an autumnal nip in the air, but bright and sunny – perfect for a hike around the lake. So, off I went up to Bon Tempe lake, which is part of the Mt. Tamalpais watershed, in Marin County. There were a few runners and hikers around, most of whom were quiet, because they know that sound carries around that lake. I was having a very serene, enjoyable hike, stopping to watch a blue heron reflected in the still water, which was like a mill pond in the morning. Then, out of the blue I heard a voice shouting, and another voice in reply.

“She gets to go to the f*****g Ontario office.”
“What the F**k.”
“F**k, yeah.”

And the coversation, between three runners (two men, one woman) went on along these lines for the ten minutes it took them to reach me on the narrow path. I stepped aside. They ran past. No “thank you.” No nothing. They just resumed their “conversation.”

“You’re welcome!” I shouted after them.
A fisherman nearby laughed, having observed the entire scene.

The third thing that happened – before I thought that maybe I should just stay home – took place in a store. I was in conversation with the assistant about an item I was about to purchase. A woman suddenly butted in, without (as they say) so much as a “by your leave” and shouted at the assistant while brandishing a black sweater, “Where’s this in red?” The evil part of me wanted to say, “Under your nose in about two seconds, lady,” but I didn’t. Instead I said, smiling, “I am sure the young lady would be delighted to help you as soon as she’s finished answering my question – and I’ll just be another couple of seconds, if you can wait.”

So, before you think I’m an old curmudgeon, a bit of an Andy Rooney, I use these three examples to make a point. Common courtesy costs nothing. And it may seem dispensible, especially in our fast paced lives, when we will probably not see certain people again, but it isn’t. Common courtesy is a fundamental building block to that illusive thing so many people are seeking: Community.

You hear a lot about community these days. People searching for it. Joining clubs, to see if they can find it there. Setting up a farmer’s market, in the hope that if they come it will be among the fresh basil or broccoli. You can have bake sales, book groups, you can do a lot of things, but if you can’t think about how you interact with others individually and collectively on a daily basis, you might as well forget it.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a warm, thriving community. Only no one used that word. We didn’t know we had community. It was transparent. But here’s what we knew:

You greeted those you knew if you saw them on the street. If you had time, you stopped to talk.

You made eye contact with people when you crossed their path, and you acknowledged them – if you were about to bump into them going in and out of shops, for example.

If someone pulled over on a narrow road to let you drive through, or stopped to let you merge out into traffic, you pressed your hand to your windshield or you waved to acknowledge the gesture – and they did the same. Oh, yes, and if you could, you stopped your car to allow another person out into traffic. And you smiled, even on a bad day.

And if you just had to interrupt a shop assistant while s/he was helping another customer, you said, “Excuse me.”

Of course you said “Please” and “Thank you” where appropriate, and you didn’t show yourself up by using bad language in public – it doesn’t roll off everyone’s back and to show a bit of restraint demonstrates respect for others.

Ah, yes, respect.

So you see, we can have all the community-building initiatives we like, but if we can’t respectfully be aware of our environment, if we can’t engage in the common courtesies of life, we might as well forget it.

Please. Thank you. Hello. How are you? (remembering that this particular question suggests that we stop and listen to the response). Excuse me .

If we start with those, our actions will follow. Not that any of our blog readers need to be reminded of such things, but thank you for bearing with me while I got that little diatribe off my chest. Oh - and thank you to the people who don't scream obscenities while at the lake, and the drivers who stop to allow me out of my driveway. Nice to have you in the 'hood.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Colt & Bronko, Smear & Strong. Houston Nutt and the Name Game

By Paul Levine

Yes, I know it's Thursday, Jim Born's day.

However, Agent Born is on special assignment. At a Florida beauty pageant, someone doused Miss Lake Okeechobee with Gator poop. Jim is on the case.

Cornelia's post yesterday got me thinking more about names. Football names.

1. Shouldn't Colt McCoy (Texas) and Colt Brennan (Hawaii) be running backs and not quarterbacks?

2. Doesn't Mizzou QB Chase Daniel have the perfect name for a bartender?

3. Is there a better name for a defensive lineman than my Penn State classmate Steve Smear? As for fullbacks, how about Seattle's just retired Mack Strong. Strong's WR teammate Taco Wallace gets an honorable mention after being flattened by a tackle. As for QB's, attention must be paid to Jeff Smoker, formerly of Michigan State and the St. Louis Cardinals.

4. Trivia note. Steve Smear played Defensive Tackle. Who was the DT who played alongside him at Penn State? Clue. As far as I know, he's the only player to both become an NFL All-Pro and win a Grammy Award.

5. Does Bronko Nagurski win "best name ever" award, or is he disqualified because his real name was "Bronislau?" Either way, does he get a special award for his ring size of 19 1/2? BRONKO NAGURSKI DEMONSTRATES PROPER HAND POSITION FOR PLAYING THE CLARINET IN THE MINNESOTA BAND

6. Is there a better coach's name than Houston Nutt? Yes, Tommy Tuberville. [No, Cornelia, not Tommy Tunes. Different ball game]. Houston would win this competition if he coached, say..."Houston." Mr. Nutt, however, recently replaced Ed Orgeron at Mississippi. Sadly, Mr. Orgeron will not be taking over at Oregon.

7. Do you have any favorite players' names?



Come back, Jim Born...


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


(By) Cornelia Ludlam Fabyan Read, AKA:

A Lonely Barracuda, Inflamed

A Candelabra-Laden Fury Limo

Jacqueline Winspear:

A Jewel's Cannier Quip

Paul Levine:

Elan Live-Up

A Level-I Pun

Patricia Smiley:

A Limiest Piracy

Calamity Is Ripe

Marital Ice Yips

Alias: Pricy Item

Maria Clips Yeti

Icy Tiaras Impel

Malice Is Parity

Say "Miracle Tipi"

James O. Born:

More Banjos

Major Bones

No Smear Job

Jam Sober? No.

Ma Job, Senor.

One's arm job

James Grippando:

Raja Pimped Song

Rajas Mopped Gin

Maiden's Jag Prop

Prepaid Man Jogs

[What is the sound of] Jade Oms, Rapping?

Daring Popes Jam

Maid-Nappers Jog

Jog Amid Nappers

Mad Japing Prose

Dorothy L. Sayers:

Heralds Story, Yo

Agatha Christie:

Aha! Tragic Heist.

Highest Cat Aria

High-Caste Tiara

Case Airtight? Ha!

I Sight A Trachea

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

Routs A Chandler Irony

A Charred Surly Notion

A Nuanced Horror Styli

Lee Child:

Iced Hell

Ian Fleming:

Inflame Gin

Minette Walters:

Leanest Term: Wit

Denise Mina:

Idea: Men Sin

Ken Bruen:

Burn Keen

Patricia Cornwell:

Replication Crawl

Will Reprint Cacao

Cranial Clot Wiper

James Patterson:

Raja: Temps Steno

Man Jots Repeats

Edgar Allan Poe:

A Paroled Angel

Lo, Paler Agenda

Parade All Gone

'Ere Gonadal Pal

All-Gored Paean

Wilkie Collins:

Lice Kill Winos

I Coil Inkwells

Charles Dickens:

Lacked Richness

Cinder Shackles

Darkness Cliche

Chanced Less Irk

Dashiell Hammett:

Mashed Hamlet Lit

Death's Mallet, Him

Hated Mall Theism

Halts The Dilemma

Sue Grafton:

Got Unsafer

A Forte: Guns

Guts, No Fear

Erle Stanley Gardner:

Real, Stern, Legendary

Ray Endangers Teller

Patricia Highsmith:

Might Hit Pharisaic

I Might Itch Pariahs

Georges Simenon:

Emerging Nooses

James M. Cain:

Iceman Jams

Ross MacDonald:

Drama's cold son

Okay, and I wasn't going to do any book titles, but this one cracked me up:

The Crazy School:

Lazy Hos Crochet.

So, how does your name anagram? Check out the internet anagram server and let us know what you come up with...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hefty Coaches, Literary Writers & Serial Killers

By Paul (Pigskin) Levine

I love Mark Mangino.

I love him because he doesn't look like a football coach.
Actually, the Kansas coach looks like Clemenza from "The Godfather."

Mangino could chew up Charlie Weis and spit out Lou Holtz.

Kansas students proudly wear t-shirts proclaiming, "Our coach can eat your coach."

If Howard Cossell were alive, he would call Mangino "the rotund one."

Mangino didn't have it easy. A college drop-out from New Castle, PA, he worked 13 years on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. His duties included cleaning rest rooms and clearing deer carcasses from the road. (He later earned a degree at Youngstown State).

Mangino drew national attention this year for leading the Jayhawks to a number two ranking and an 11-0 record before losing last Saturday to Missouri. (Yes, yes, I know the Kansas schedule was as soft as Mangino's belly, but 11-0 is still 11-0. Until it becomes 11-1).

He also drew attention for berating punt returner Raimond Pendleton in colorful language after Pendleton SCORED! The goofball was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a showy swan dive into the end zone. Just as spectacular as the punt return was Coach Mangino's diatribe: "You fucking hot dog! Look what the fuck you did!"

(My high school basketball coach, Frank Casale, who doubled as a tavern owner, used to yell at me after a turnover: "Levine! Gosh darn it! Do we have to put handles on the ball for you?")

For the uninitiated, diving into the end zone is considered taunting in college football if it's done to celebrate the play, rather than as a necessity of scoring. That may seem like a dumb rule. But think of it this way. If Agent Jim Born arrests someone, he doesn't shoot his gun in the air to celebrate. Or does he? Little known fact. In South Florida, it is permissible to shoot automatic weapons into the sky to celebrate any report of Fidel Castro's death, no matter how premature.

Anyway, here's what happens if you play for Mangino and draw the penalty.

All of this is prelude to my observation that it's a shame Kansas lost to Missouri in a 36-28 shootout. Neither team played pass defense particularly well, and the tackling was atrocious. But it was exciting, even if Mangino neither called a player a hot dog nor ate one on the sidelines.

I was rooting for Mangino to add some heft, if not gravitas, to the BCS Championship Game. And now, sadly, there's no chance of that.

The New York Times is out with its "100 Notable Books of the Year".

One of the anointed novels is "On Chesil Beach," by literary favorite (and possible D.D.S) Ian McEwan,which chronicles a couple's sexual misadventures on their wedding night. Here's an excerpt:
"With his lips clamped firmly onto hers, he probed the fleshy floor of her mouth, then moved around inside the teeth of her lower jaw to the empty place where three years ago a wisdom tooth had crookedly grown until removed under general anesthesia. This cavity was where her own tongue usually strayed when she was lost in thought. By association, it was more like an idea than a location, a private imaginary place rather than a hollow in her gum, and it seemed peculiar to her that another tongue should be able to go there too. ... He wanted to engage her tongue in some activity of its own, coax it into a hideous mute duet. ... She understood perfectly that this business with tongues, this penetration, was a small-scale enactment, a ritual tableau vivant, of what was still to come, like a prologue before an old play that tells you everything that must happen."

Want more? You'll have to read the book. Me, I'd prefer root canal.

That's mi esposa Renee with Michael C. Hall, expert serial killer on Showtime's "Dexter." Photographer Craig Mathew caught them discussing the pros and cons of manual strangulation versus garroting at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

In unrelated news, Renee has recently purchased several yards of cat gut. She claims she needs to re-string one of her several dozen tennis rackets.

HA! I have it on good authority that tennis strings are now made of plastic...while cat gut remains an excellent tool of STRANGULATION!


Monday, November 26, 2007

The Kite Runner Controversy

Patty here…

I went to a pre-release screening of The Kite Runner directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland), which will arrive in theaters on December 14. The film is based on the novel of the same name, written by Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini. Since its publication date, The Kite Runner has lived on the New York Times bestsellers list. Despite eight million copies in print worldwide, I’ll admit to being one of the few members of the book-buying public who hasn’t read this novel. That said, there are few movies I see that make me want to read the book. This was one of them.

The Kite Runner is about betrayal and redemption, about getting a second chance to make things right. The action centers on two young boys growing up in Kabul before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan: wealthy, privileged Amir, and Hassan, his best friend, defender, and son of the family’s live-in servant. When courage-challenged Amir witnesses the sexual assault of Hassan by neighborhood bullies, he does nothing to help. In the days that follow, Amir is forced to look into Hassan’s eyes and see his own cowardice. Unable to cope, he falsely accuses Hassan of theft, forcing him out of a job, a home, and Amir’s life. Much of the film is set in Kabul, Afghanistan (using locations in China as stand-ins). The period spans from pre-Russian rule through the Taliban takeover. Most of the dialogue is in Dari (Afghan Persian) with English subtitles.

Here’s a trailer for the movie:

While in line waiting to enter the theater, I heard people chatting about a controversy surrounding the film that had delayed its release for six weeks. I was curious to know more, so this amateur sleuth went home and scoured the Internet for information. According to the New York Times, the brouhaha centers on the scene depicting the rape of Hassan. Family members of the young Afghan actors are afraid that the sexually explicit action will stir religious and ethnic tensions and foster violence against the boys. They wanted the scene stripped from the movie. Paramount Vantage refused, but for the children’s safety, they agreed to temporarily move them out of Afghanistan before the film is released.

The young actor who plays Hassan asserts that he was not informed of the rape scene prior to accepting the role. Director Forster says not so. He argues that all of the principals and their families were briefed and that the scene was twice rehearsed before it was filmed. But even if that wasn’t the case, the movie wrapped a year ago. So I asked myself, why the controversy and why now? The scene in question is not overly graphic, nor it is exploitive. Simply stated, it is essential to bringing the stakes to the level of a compelling story. In the conservative religious milieu that was and is Afghanistan, it helps the viewer understand the gravity of not only the act but also Amir’s spinelessness.

So once again, the age-old question boils down to this: Does an artist cave in to political/religious/cultural correctness by removing or restructuring a controversial scene, or does he stick to his vision and the truth of the story? And how does he know when he has crossed the line?

Friday, November 23, 2007

How We Learn

from Jacqueline

About six years ago, my brother bought a draft horse, Ben. Ben stands about 18 hands (that’s big, for the non equestrians), and weighs about 2300 lbs (really, really big). He has feet the size of dinner plates and when John bought him he was trained to pull a six-person carriage and had a bit of an attitude because he hadn’t been treated very well. My brother had never owned a horse, but thought, “Hey, how difficult can it be?” And he loves animals and thought that some TLC would be all that would take for them to work together. He also had a dream of being able to drive. John was named for my grandfather, a costermonger who sold fruit and vegetables from his horse-drawn cart. He had several horses and was as knowledgeable about horses and driving as anyone - after all, having a horse was just like owning and driving a car in those days. But time marches on, and though John wanted to have something of that experience, he didn’t know how to drive. I suggested lessons. “That’s the trouble with you, Jack, you think you have to take a lesson to learn anything." I didn’t pursue the topic any further, but I thought about it a lot at the time, as you do when someone starts a sentence with, “That’s the trouble with you ...”

You see, I love learning new things. With certain exceptions (Math and Miss Crawford’s domestic science class) I loved school, from the time I started primary school at five years old. As an adult, I have found that, for me, if I want to learn something or improve a skill, I’d rather start at the feet of someone who knows a lot about the subject, someone who has achieved a level of mastery. And the funny thing is, those people tend to be learners too. Take my dressage trainer, Kim. Last week we went off to a clinic taught by a world-class dressage rider. Kim had signed up for a couple of days and I went along for the second day, to observe the lessons and also to have a session with the teacher. Watching your trainer take a lesson opens as many windows, inspires as many ah-ha’s as engaging in that learning yourself. I came back having a different idea of how to do certain things, how to break a bad habit or two. Oh yes, habit.

One of the things I came to know early on in my career as a “life coach” is that we all look at life a certain way, though the lens of our upbringing, our culture, our heritage, our education, experience ... and so on. Even the most “broadminded” people look at life through this tunnel. To change things in our lives, to go for something new, we have to change the lens, we have to shift, to widen that tunnel, to shove it in a different direction. That’s where teachers come in – and they don’t have to be the “on a pedestal” teachers – just the person who say, “How about this?” “Look at it this way” or “You could try ....”

Some years ago, between the child #1 and child #2, my cousin, a lawyer, decided to give up her job for a while to be a full-time mother and think about how much she really liked being a lawyer. After a while she became a bit antsy and around about the same time she was contacted by a local college to see whether she was interested in teaching a course on law as part of their adult/continuing education program. She snapped it up and planned a course that was fun, witty (she is very, very witty), covering all aspects of law that might be of interest to the average adult, and she threw in some history, etc. She loved teaching the course, however, the students she enjoyed the most were two ladies of a certain age who were making their way through the catalog, starting with Aromatherapy. They hit “L” for her class. “Never too old to learn something new,” they told her.

Well, I hope so, because I have just booked some lessons. Granted, it’s not for something completely new, but a skill in which I have collected a fair amount of rust. I haven’t been skiing for over twelve years. I used to love skiing and every winter I bemoan the fact that I have not been skiing. So, four days ago I went online and booked myself five days skiing – Park City at the end of January. Then I booked my lessons. I can’t wait.

My brother had a lot of problems with Ben, including an accident which I witnessed – no one was hurt, but they could have been. Ben and John lost confidence in each other and because my brother couldn't face him for a while, I began spending more time with the horse, working him under halter – and doing that helped me gain confidence around horses again after my accident several years ago. A couple of years ago I was with John and we were trying to persuade Ben to take his halter so that we could lead him over to the shoer. A big old horse, he knew his size and knew that he could run rings around us all if he wanted to. Then along came Jim, the ranch owner and a real horseman – a practitioner of “natural horsemanship.” He sorted Ben out.

“Why don’t you ask Jim for a few lessons?” I asked my brother, wondering what the response might be.
“Maybe later.”
“He’s standing right there – ask him now.”

So John walked up to Jim and asked about lessons and they began with what Jim referred to as “rehabilitating the relationship.” Within a couple of months my brother – who had never been on a horse before – was riding Ben. It was such a big event, even the vet came along to watch. And when Jim’s available, John will still take lessons, have a tune-up, learn something new, nip a bad habit in the bud. Ben adores my brother, and John adores him. And I saw a lesson come to life along the way – something about the teacher appearing when the student is ready.

If you wish to send this post to a friend, click on the envelope icon below. And have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A happy holiday to all!!!!

From Jim

Today is God’s gift to Bloggers everywhere. The title and content are a near requirement in this land of plenty. I had sent Paul Levine a police video I found amusing last week and he replied “I see a blog in this.” It was a great idea so I started to learn how to upload from Youtube so I could post other videos I liked. Unfortunately, only the super smart Cornelia Read has mastered this art. As I cursed Blogger and Youtube after failed attempts to figure this technological abyss, I realized my usual Thursday blog goes up on Thanksgiving; one of the great days in the American calendar. A day off from the daily grind with the State of Florida generously throwing in Friday for good measure, a big meal and family equals a holiday I can get behind with stomach, heart and mind. A smaltzy, ready-made blog-post is just a bonus.

When I think about the big picture of time, location, history and circumstance, I know I hit the cosmic jackpot. Most Americans have. I can’t speak for any other countries but they’re not celebrating Thanksgiving. I can’t really speak for most Americans but I still think I’m correct in the following reasoning:

We were all born in one of the most comfortable, safest, calmest places and times in the history of the world. Considering I could have been just as easily born in 1837 in India or 1754 in China or 1939 in Paris, I have is easy. Even if I was born in my real hometown of West Palm Beach in 1911, I’d have had to deal with a world without air conditioning, when robber barons still held tremendous sway, the justice system was near arbitrary and, if I got sick, I’d be about as well served from the Benny Hinn of the time as I would have been by a medical doctor.

It’s the little things that add up to the lives we experience here, today, as opposed to the lives we would’ve lived just a few short years ago perhaps just a few hundred miles form where we live now.

I know things aren’t perfect. Here’s a flash: They never have been. In the history of the world there is always something that’s screwed up. Usually in a big way. If it’s not the Romans conquering the world, it’s the Bubonic plague rampaging through Europe. If the Nazis aren’t following a madman the Irish are having problems raising potatoes. As Rosanna-Rosanna Danna used to say, “it’s always something.”

I’m thankful for the simple fact that God decided to plop me down in the United States in the latter part of the twentieth century. The bonuses after that include parents who were reasonable, schools that taught me the basics, children that bring me joy and jobs that have made me feel useful.

It’s easy to want fame, fortune, and all kinds of other perks but one thing I’ve noticed is that most of the people I admire are pretty happy with where they found themselves and what they did with the resources available to them.

On this simple holiday with an easy message to grasp, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cornelia's Naked Guide to Holiday Shopping

By Cornelia

It's that time of year again. The turkey's not even in the oven yet, but they're starting to play sappy nativity/dreidel Muzak in the mall, and the Harry and David fruit-fest catalogs are starting to choke every mailbox in town.

Don't get caught short! Promise yourself that THIS YEAR, things are going to be different! No more hasty last-minute cover-your-butt "Cheez-Whiz-of-the-Month" subscriptions for the inlaws, nary a stale dollar-store assortment of noxious day-glo bath salts for your near and dear!

We Nakeds are here, holiday-shopping rapiers drawn and gleaming, ready to rescue even the longest gift list from the tell-tale reek of eggnog ennui! (click on prices for ordering info).

Feast your eyes on the following, sure to please even the most jaded recipient.

Get Your Mojo Workin'

Hoodoo Mojo Bags containing various herbs and charms, dressed with "lucky" oils. Order the Memphis-style "Nation Sack" for women, the "Blues Boy Special" for items specifically mentioned in traditional lyrics, and many more. The deluxe "Three Johns Master Hand Jack Ball" is personalized with your name (send sample of hair when ordering).


Tree Hugger
Flat porcelain ornament. Comes with red ribbon for hanging.


If You Only Buy Your Writer Friends One Book This Year...

...Make it Ariel Gore's
It's chock-full of all "the secrets they'll never teach you in fancy MFA programs," including:
  • "It is a great paradox and a great injustice that writers write because we fear death and want to leave something indestructible in our wake and, at the same time, are drawn to all the things that kill: whiskey and cigarettes, unprotected sex and deep-fried burritos... choose your vice wisely."
  • "You rip an intern a new asshole and not only does she turn around and tell her boss what a jerk you are, but you bungle a sale that would have taken place five years down the road. Editors remember when they were interns."
  • "Because capitalism knows no bounds, you can actually upload the text of a rejection letter you get from a publisher and, for ninety dollars, will print it on four rolls of toilet paper for your wiping needs."
  • "You are totally entitled to your mental breakdowns. But when you get into that bookstore or cafe or bowling alley for your reading, I want you to look everyone in the eye who showed up and assume that they drove two hundred miles through a blizzard to come out and support you. You'd be surprised how many of them actually did."
$13.95. Buy two, they're small. Plus, Ariel is a goddamn genius.

Road Trip!

Beautifully restored vintage 1947 Westwood "Tahoe" trailer. Gut reno with all the mod cons--make your next book tour in style!

$45,000 OBO You know you want it.

We Wish You a Cheney Christmas

To hell with all that peace-on-earth and good-will-towards-men crap. Shotgun shell tree lights, string of 20.


Cash Machine

Original 45 of Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" from the vaults of Sun Records.


Never Mind the Lunchbocks

Ham-and-cheese in the UK. We mean it, man.


Drink Up!

Yummy Latke, Apple Sauce, Chocolate Gelt and Jelly Doughnut flavors. (Trust me, you do NOT want to know about the Gefilte version in the Pesach collection).

$12.99 for the gift pack.

The Gift of Gotcha!

"The Party's Over" gift wrap is a must for all those in favor of impeachment.

Features "festive facsimiles from Jack Abramoff's American Express expense records and emails; indictments of reporter Judith Miller, Vice President chief of staff Scooter Libby, email correspondence from Michael 'Brownie' Brown, checks from Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay and many others."

Printed on silver and gold foil paper. Each roll contains 2 sheets measuring 25 x 20 inches. Volume discount available.

$7. Includes shipping and handling.

Not a Creature Was Stirring...

Best. Xmas Card. Ever.

$26.99. Box of 20 (no greeting inside).

Come to the Duck Side

Nothing says "You are the wind beneath my wings" like light-up evil Star Wars rubber duckies.

£6.95 each, available in Duck Vader or Storm Duck models.

Elvis Pezley

You'll have a blue Christmas without him. Three-pack of the King comes in commemorative gift tin with a three-track CD.


Steampunk, Baby...

If they'd had laptops on the Titanic, they might have looked like this. "Steampunk" artists make high-tech gadgets out of magnificently anachronistic parts. The following is the work of "Datamancer":

Price on request, custom orders available.

Mama in her Kerchief, and I in my Cap...

Why should Rudolph have all the fun?

$3.95. Three-pack.

Maximum Dreidel

A set of 12 Israeli Defense Force dreidels, with a Merkava tank display rack. This is what my huband will be getting for Christmas, probably. He's a Methodist. Go figure.

He has been asking for the camouflage IDF kippot, but I draw the line at outfitting a giant blond goy with a military yarmulke. Especially in Berkeley.

Includes paratroopers, Golani, Air Force, Border Police, Sayeret Matkal, and many more!


Let Them Eat Lollipops

Marie Antoinette's head on a stick. It doesn't get more noir than THAT, my friend.

Box of 24, $27.95

And Maybe A Subscription to This...

For the GOP crowd.

$14.95 for six issues. What a bargain.

Take That, Margaret Atwood!

In the market for a truly distinctive way to commemorate your next book-signing event? Look no further! Eyeball pens, two per order...

Best T-Shirt Since "Cher Quevara"

Words fail me.


Rancho Loco "Crossbones" cowboy boots ( "large skull inlays, leather lacing and ornamental bone inlays").

Be the best-shod author EVER in the history of the Edgars banquet, this year.

$700. Various colors.

...And Indians

Thank You, Masked Man: reproductions of early Navajo chief blankets, in luxurious 12-ply cashmere and cotton quilts edged in suede. Newly available rendered on silk scarves, and as cashmere serapes.

Quilts $385, Cashmere Blanket $2600, Scarves $70. More info and designs at High Desert Concepts.

Joyeux Noir

First edition of Thompson's signature paperback-original title, in "very good +" condition.


That's Gotta Hurt!

Nothing says "mystery writer" like crime-scene-tape bandages for those paper cuts.

Box of 25, $4.95

Tiki-Tacky Blouses

Vintage Shriner's tiki aloha shirt, size small. All-cotton bark cloth.

Love, Actually

Anatomically correct gummi heart. Sure to win over your sweet thang.


You're Welcome... really.

Greet guests in style with this snappy doormat! They won't know whether they're coming or going...
$25.00, available in black-and-white or yellow imprint.

Book 'Em

Turn your blog into a book. Just download free software from, and you can automatically import and map blog text, images, comments, and links into professionally designed page layouts--then edit and customize to your heart's content. Works on Macs and PCs, and is compatible with a host of platforms, including Blogger,, TypePad, and

Professional binding and four-color printing on coated, semi-matte paper. Prices start at $12.95 for a 40-page softcover and $22.95 for a 40-page hardcover with dust jacket--maximum size 440 pages. Delivery in 7-10 business days.

Go Speed Racer!

The Porsche 911 GT3 RS sports a 3.6L engine that generates a whopping 415 bhp @ 7600rpm, boosting it from 0-60 in just 4.2 seconds. Despite its specialized body, the “RS” is 20 kg lighter than the GT3, weighing in at just 1375 kg.

As Rae would say, "the long skinny one makes it go." Cha!

All I Want For Christmas

The last word. Maybe my mom will buy me this.

$90 plus $5 shipping and handling. Limited edition of 50.