Monday, December 31, 2007

My new "Bucket" List

Patty here…

Instead of the requisite New Year's Resolutions post, I decided to regale you with an article I read in the January 2008 Smithsonian magazine called “28 Places to See Before You Die.”

The opening paragraph goes like this:

We are all of us resigned to death: it’s life we aren’t resigned to,” novelist Graham Greene once wrote. A growing number of Americans of all ages are embracing that idea by renewing a resolve to live life to its fullest. Exhibit A is the recent popularity of “life lists”—itineraries of things to do and places to go before taking the ultimate trip to the Great Beyond.

Here’s the Smithsonian’s list:

1. Mesa Verde (cliff houses of the Pueblo Indians/Colorado)
2. Pompeii (Italy)
3. Tikal (ancient Mayan city, Guatemala)
4. Petra (Jordan)
5. Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
6. Taj Mahal (India)
7. Easter Island (2000 miles off the coast of South America)
8. The Great Wall (China)
9. Aurora Borealis (Alaska or anywhere above 60 degrees latitude)
10. Serengeti (Tanzania, East Africa)
11. Iguazu Falls (on the border of Brazil and Argentina)
12. Machu Picchu (lost city of the Incas, Peru)
13. The Louvre (Paris, France)
14. Zen Garden of Kyoto (Japan)
15. Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
16. Fallingwater (the Frank Lloyd Wright falls in Pennsylvania)
17. Yangtze River (China)
18. Antarctica
19. Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, East Africa)
20. Grand Canyon (Arizona, U.S.A.)
21. Pagan (Myanmar, formerly Burma)
22. Parthenon (Athens, Greece)
23. Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
24. Ephesus (west coast of Turkey)
25. Venice (Italy)
26. Amazon Rain Forest (spans 8 South American countries)
27. Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
28. Galápagos Islands (off the coast of Ecuador)

I’ve been to nine of the places on the list; they’re marked in red in case you’re interested.

Iguazu Falls

When I was young, I spent all of my free time and disposable income roaming exotic places. However, traveling is more difficult than it used to be: crowds, long waits, security concerns. Maybe that’s why in recent years I’ve limited my treks to book tours and the occasional sailing trip. I recently received an invitation to visit the Galápagos Islands but declined because I was too busy. My friends are back now. They just sent me a photograph of the two of them sidled next to a giant tortoise, which left me wondering if I should dig out the old passport again.

The ancient theater at Ephesus where my recitation of Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet Ozymandias could be clearly heard from center stage to the nose-bleed section.

I'd love to visit all of those places on the Smithsonian's list. Sadly, even if I start booking tickets today, I probably won't have time to see every one before I kick the bucket. So, if you’ve traveled to any of the areas I haven’t seen, please tell me if it was worth the trip. And while you’re at it, tell me which of your most inspiring travel destinations is missing from the list.

Aurora Borealis

Happy Monday!

Happy New Year!


Friday, December 28, 2007

And On The Fifth Day Of Christmas ...

from Jacqueline

Although I had traveled to the USA as a visitor on many occasions, it wasn’t until December 1990 that I came here for a more ambitious sojourn – yes, the six month “sabbatical” that went on for longer than I originally intended, and here I am now with a pile of papers awaiting attention on my desk marked “Application for Naturalization.” Well, there goes the Dame-hood!

But that isn’t what I had in mind this morning, as I reflected upon the waning festive season. The thing that most surprised me about the holidays here in America, next to the fact that people seemed to take most of their gifts back to the stores within a couple of days of December 25th to get a refund or to change the "stuff," was that as soon as the day was done, people began taking down their Christmas trees and decorations. Don’t they know this is bad luck, thought I? Where I come from the tree remained in place until January 6th, and then it came down. Admittedly, by that time it was looking pretty tired. You couldn’t walk across the room without getting a pine needle in your foot and the lights had either fused or had managed to take out every appliance in the house. Granted, when I was growing up the light problem was more to do with the fact that my dad overloaded the sockets, but you get my point. However, our tree was always the tree that went on giving, because as my Mum put it, “Now the birds have their Christmas.’ The tree, complete with the odd bits of tinsel that wouldn’t let go, would then be set up in the garden where we “decorated” it with bits of bread and turkey fat, threading them with twine and then dangling them from the branches where those baubles had been hanging just the day before. My brother and I would rush in and peer out of the kitchen window to watch the birds swoop down for their feast.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to that story, as they say. Just as when we read a book, we take from any story what we will, remembering the birds swooping to our leftovers makes me think about the swift passage of our season of giving, and that there’s still time to make (tax-deductible) gifts to the organizations that reflect the things I care about most. I know I’m getting boring about this, but hey – my next task this morning involves killing someone (in a writerly sense, you understand), so I know no fear. Here’s where I’ll be sending a few pieces of fat before 2008 comes in with its diaper flapping in the wind:

The Natural Resources Defense Council. Can’t stop thinking about drowning polar bears.

Medecins San Frontieres: Doctors without borders – they go where no man wants to go, and they get to work when they get there.

American Civil Liberties Union: It says something about free speech in that pile of papes on my desk, hence the donation.

The others on my list are more local organizations connected with literacy, the humane society, the homeless ... kind of reminds me of those words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve a lot of form-filling to get on with.

Happy New Year to you all!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's Over. For now.

It’s the holidays and my blog days are jammed in after Christmas and on national hangover day. I have to resort to the oldest, most clichéd topics of all time. Makes me feel a little like I’m writing episode of Nash Bridges.

Let’s start with Christmas. An important day to most Christians, despite it’s origins and arbitrary date, it represents the birth of Christ and that’s a big deal to some of us. Whether it has meaning to you or not does not give you a reason to recuse yourself from this vital question: “What’s your favorite Christmas song? And what trivia can you give us about it?

I love Christmas songs, I admit it. But it has more to do with childhood memories than anything else. I like most of the remakes as well, except the ones where the current crop of singers feel the need to show off their vocal dexterity or deep soul. I call it the Alicia Keyes syndrome. It’s not enough to sing the words but to prove they can emote as well. Ms. Keyes is to singing what Charleton Heston is to acting. If a little is good, too much is better.

The my favorite two songs both come from sixties TV special still running on the network today. From Rudolph the Rednosed Raindeer is Burl Ives version of Holly Jolly Christmas. Love the simple message sung by a truly jolly voice.

Next is the somber Little Drummer boy. The broadcast of these puppet or whatever they were, stories signaled to all the Born children that Christmas was on it’s way. No school, good food and presents. (It was only later I grasped the deeper meaning in the holiday).

Here’s the trivia for Rudolph:

Although the animations were filmed in Japan, the entire soundtrack for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was recorded in a studio near Yonge Street in Toronto, Ontario; most of the singing and speaking cast were Canadian.

Burl Ives' "Holly Jolly Christmas" was a seasonal standard long before it was used in the film.

When Santa's sleigh finally takes off into the storm near the end of the film, it's being pulled by SIX reindeer instead of eight, with Rudolph leading the way.

Now it’s your turn.

What song do you like and what’s something we don’t know about it?

Here’s looking forward to the next Holiday, whatever you celebrate.
Next week we’ll look at -- you guessed it – New Year’s resolutions.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

So, You Want to Write Noir...

By Cornelia

Does anyone remember now whether it was Fran Liebowitz or Nora Ephron who wrote the great series of quizzes with titles such as, "So, You Want to Be the Queen of England..."

and "So, You Want to Be the Pope..." (My friends call me: a)Sparky b)Bubba c)Supreme Pontiff)

I don't currently have a clue, and I can't seem to find my copy of Field Studies to check, but I thought it would be good to offer a similar aptitude test for those considering a career in the Noir Services Industries(tm).

So, You Want to Write Noir...

1. Who killed Roger Aykroyd?

a. Ken Bruen
b. Leonardo Da Vinci
c. I can't tell you, it would be a spoiler
d. The knitting cat

2. "They threw me off the hay truck about noon" is the first sentence of which classic novel?

a. The Secret of the Old Clock
b. The Woman in White
c. Princess Daisy
d. The Postman Always Rings Twice

3. You come home to find your significant other doing the nasty on the kitchen table with the private investigator you hired. Do you...

a. Pour yourself a slug of bourbon while full of angst.
b. Close your venetian blinds while full of angst
c. Straighten the seams on your stockings, stand dramatically backlit in the kitchen doorway, take one deep drag off your cigarette, and then exhale while full of angst
d. Slap yourself across the face repeatedly, yelling "My mother! My sister! My mother! My sister!"
e. All of the above.

4. Your landlady, a slatternly old drunk, is banging on the door demanding the three weeks back rent you owe her. Do you...

a. Invite her in to join the party
b. Shoot a man in Reno, just to watch him die
c. Tell her you don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies
d. Unbutton your shirt, open the door, chuck her under the chin, and ask her where she's been all your life

5. Of the following, who's the most noir?

a. Rita Hayworth

b. Jessica Rabbit

c. Gloria Grahame

c. Claire Trevor

e. Frances Farmer

6. In order to avoid bruising that might harm business, pimps often beat their "girls" employing

a. a towel filled with oranges
b. a roll of nickels in each fist
c. coat-hangers wrapped in cotton batting
d. dressage whips

7. If you're "on the gooseberry lay," you have been...

a. stealing clothes from clotheslines
b. picking fruit as a migrant worker
c. trying to score some heroin
d. breaking into chicken coops after dark
e. Shooting men in Reno, just to watch them die

8. Of the following, who's the most noir?

a. Charles Bukowski

b. Tom Waits

c. Prince Philip

d. Sylvia Plath

9. The line "reader, I married him" appears in which novel?

a. Jane Eyre
b. The Grifters
c. They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
d. The Magdalen Martyrs

10. Eddie Muller is

a. the fourth Pep Boy that Manny, Mo, and Larry don't talk about.
b. the Czar of Noir
c. The Sultan of Swing
d. The bastard love-child of Barbara Stanwyck and Charles Willeford

11. Why does "she walk(s) these hills in a long black veil"?

a. because she shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die
b. because her lover's alibi for the night of her husband's murder was "I'd been in the arms of my best friend's wife"
c. Because she was a man in Reno, before the surgery
d. Because she looks good in hats

12. How much does an eightball weigh?

a. one half pound
b. an eighth of an ounce, give or take the weight of the baggie
c. the same as a cueball
d. two keys of Lebanese blonde hash, man

(Lucky Number) 13. What color is a typical nickel bag?

a. silver
b. the same color as a Nation Sack
c. green
d. manila

14. What is the perhaps apocryphal real-life reason that Orson Welles included the word "rosebud" in Citizen Kane?

a. He was a fan of Miss Marple, and gardening generally
b. He still missed his boyhood sled
c. It was William Randolph Hearst's pet name for a rear nether-portion of Marion Davies' anatomy
d. He was deeply moved by the poignancy of allegorical chivalric love poetry

Bonus question:

15. Complete the following sentence: "Third boxcar, midnight train..."

a. "...drinkin' wine, spo-dee-o-dee"
b. "... destination: Bangor, Maine"
c. "...falls mainly in the plain"
d. "...beads and Roman sandals won't be seen"

Answers are written in white, below. Highlight them to check your score, giving five points for each correct answer.

1. a 2. d 3. d 4. b 5. e 6. c 7. a 8. d 9. a. And you lose five points for knowing that. 10. b 11. b 12. b 13. d
14. c 15. b

How you rate:

0-10: Stick to "cats that knit" as protagonists
15-25: Cheese it, you're about as noir as Nanny and the Professor
30-40: Go home and memorize some Bukowsky
45-55: Pack your bags, you've won a free trip to Angst-erdam
60 and up: Step away from the bourbon... and don't ever go back to Reno

14. c

Peace on Earth

It's Paul on Christmas morning, and I'm filled with good cheer.

Okay, so I'm filled with egg nog.

Still, I have a very simple message. Peace on Earth.

That's us, folks. The "Blue Marble," as as seen from the Terra satellite. The photo says it more eloquently than any words I could muster.

Good will to all,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Naked Authors in the New York Times and Christmas Dinner

Patty here...


Check out this December 20, 2007 New York Times article by Amy Virshup, in which she displayed her impeccable taste in books by mentioning two upcoming releases written by the Nakeds:

By Cornelia Read
328 pages. Grand Central Publishing. $23.99.

At the start of Cornelia Read’s new novel Madeline Dare is teaching at the Santangelo Academy, a “therapeutic boarding school” for troubled teenagers run by the charismatic if more than a bit loony Dr. David Santangelo. Madeline is not without troubles of her own, as she tells readers early on: “I wanted to believe Santangelo could fix me, while he was at it. Who among us does not want to be shriven, to confess all, in the hope of being made clean and whole and new?” But when two of her students reveal their secret to her, Madeline gets drawn into a whole new set of complications.

By James Grippando
326 pages. Harper. $24.95.

After taking a break from his Jack Swyteck series, James Grippando returns with another tale featuring Swyteck, a defense lawyer in Miami, and his best friend, Theo Knight, a former gang member, falsely convicted death-row inmate and now owner of Sparky’s Tavern (“a true dive, but it was his dive,” as Theo thinks to himself). Theo’s life seems to be on track, until Isaac Reems, one of his former gang compatriots, shows up at Sparky’s, fresh out of prison. (“I put myself on the early-release plan,” he tells Theo in the course of robbing him.) But who is going to believe that Theo had nothing to do with the jailbreak? Certainly not Andie Henning, the F.B.I. agent who just happens to be Jack’s former girlfriend. Both Mr. Grippando and Cornelia Read are members of the Naked Authors blog group.

Yay!!!! Go Team!!!!!! You make us proud. Coming up: Jacqueline Winspear's next Maisie Dobbs novel AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE and James O. Born's BURN ZONE are both set for release in February 2008.


Every year I throw a dinner party on Christmas day for a group of friends—the same friends. This has been going on for more years than I can count. And every year I waste a good deal of time reviewing recipes and contemplating a menu that I will never serve. This year I seriously thought about spiced crown pork roast with glazed root vegetables, mainly because of an article by Russ Parsons in the Los Angeles Times that began like this:

“It’s late Christmas morning and all of the presents have been unwrapped. Even if just for the moment, the kids are lulled into quiet. Southern California’s bright winter sunshine floods in through the window. Now it’s time for the grown-ups to relax into a long, slow afternoon celebrating their own holiday. And that, of course, means dinner.”

His scenario sounded so much like Walden Two, that it almost lulled me into a butcher shop. But who was I kidding? That doesn’t even come close to describing my household. Relaxed? As if. There's food flying in my kitchen. The floor, not to mention my apron, is crusted with gravy, flour, and olive oil residue. The green food coloring I just added to the frosting on my Christmas ginger cookies has gravitated beneath my fingernails, resembling jolly holiday fungus. Trust me. It's not a pretty sight.

The truth is I always serve turkey with Mrs. Cubbison’s dressing, cranberries, and Minnesota wild rice with mushroom duxelles. I make the gravy from scratch, starting with the stock. The only thing I change from year to year are the vegetables and the dessert. I'm feeling a little green beany this year, and instead of my usual plum pudding with rum sauce, I’m making a traditional pumpkin pie.

Perhaps the reason I never change the menu is that my friends seem to love the food. I'm not a brilliant cook, but I know how to follow a recipe. I find most of mine in Julia Child's book The Way to Cook.

Of course, the positive reviews of my cuisine might be attributed to all that vermouth Julia makes me add to almost every dish. By the time my guests leave the table, they’re so tipsy they can’t remember what they ate, only that they want to eat it again and again. And it's all good.

Wishing you peace, health, and happiness this holiday season and always. And here's hoping you've made your LAST last-minute trip to the grocery store before tomorrow's dinner.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My People

from Jacqueline

I once had a conversation with my friend Diane, about the virtues of the computerized calendar/address book – your Palm Pilot, Treo, Blackberry, or whatever – in comparison with the more traditional pen and paper method of keeping your life straight, which for both of us was the trusty Filofax. At that point I was on the verge of transferring my allegiance – I know, me, of all people – but Diane made me think again when she said, “You know, the thing that worries me is that, when I’m flicking through my Filofax to get to a certain day, I suddenly come across the name of someone I haven’t seen for ages, so I give them a call, or I see that note I made about a book I wanted to read, or a play I meant to get tickets for. I’m afraid I’ll miss those things if I have a means of going straight to a date and the time.” Good point.

I was reflecting upon Diane’s insight this week when, surrounded by a box of Christmas cards, my current Filofax and two old address books, I began to write my cards. You see, I’m a collector of people. Not in a Terence Stamp in “The Collector” sort of way – you won’t find anyone locked away in my garage – a but in the way of wanting to keep people with me even when it’s time to let them go, even when they’ve gone. It could be this reflective time of year, but I get rather sad about it, sad that they’ve moved on, that I’ve moved on, and we’re just memories to each other now.

Take Jennifer, my friend from the age of six. Jenny protected me at school when I was teased about my lazy eye and, loyal to the core, she was waiting at my house when I came home from the hospital after the corrective surgery, complete with bandages around my eyes. My mother had taken down all the mirrors so I wasn’t scared by my own painful reflection, with bloody eyes and bruises from my eyelids to my cheeks, and she told Jenny to try to not show surprise when she saw me. I remember arriving at the house and when mum took off the bandages, Jenny pressed her lips together and said, “Oh, Jackie, what beautiful eyes.” Then when I went to the bathroom she buried her head in my mother’s lap and cried her heart out. She emigrated to Canada when we were both thirteen, but we managed to keep a friendship alive until we were about thirty-two. I last spoke to Jen about twelve years ago, and it was wonderful. I’d love to see her again, would love to have a chat. But I don’t know where she is now, just that she still lives somewhere in Ontario, I think.

Then there’s Helen and John, and along with them, there’s Ade. We were all caught up in one of life’s hurricane’s about eighteen years ago. I don’t know what I would have done without their friendship. It was the worst of times, to tell you the truth. But talk about laugh! John and Helen were two of the wittiest people I have ever met – thank heavens they married each other. There were times when we laughed until we cried, and there were laughs when we should have been crying, and we all did just that too. What I wouldn’t give to have just one more silly dinner with those lovely people. I remember once, driving to an appointment with Ade – I was the marketing exec and he was the designer, and our client was in the business of “women’s sanitary wear.” So, along with Ade’s designs (this was before you simply sent a computer link), multiple copies of my proposal and boxes of aforesaid sanitary wear, off we went to the big meeting to make our pitch. The weather was dreadful and although I was zipping along, I also had to keep my eyes peeled to the road. We were bantering a bit, talking about this and that, and suddenly Ade says, “Let’s just hope we don’t get into an accident with a condom lorry – can you just imagine the headlines?” So we did, and it was all we could do not to giggle throughout the whole meeting. We got the job though.

I miss Peggy because she was my first real friend when I came to America. She knew my brother and he’d said that if she wanted someone to ride her horse when she couldn’t, well, his sister would do it. We became firm friends, going to movies together, taking her daughter to Catalina Island for the day, riding horses – nothing spectacular, but lots of fun. Peggy eventually went back to Minnesota and within a couple of years she was married. We traded a few letters and calls, then one day I realized she was one of the lost ones. Her name and the last address I have for her are still in that book, though. Just in case.

Then there are the people I miss because they just aren’t here any more. The ones who’ve died, and whose addresses are still in my book. I find that quite surreal, in a way. My very dear friend, Pat, passed away last year at the age of 73. I had known Pat and her husband, Ken, who died a couple of years earlier, since I was a toddler. They were like family to me. I loved going to their cottage, which seemed not to change from the time I first ever visited as a small child, to my last visit, a woman in her middle years. The cottage itself was Ken and Pat, it was part of them. I remember Ken saying to me, just before he died – we’d been reflecting upon the fact that they had lived in the house some 42 years – “People just don’t seem to stay long anymore, do they?” I wish they could have stayed longer.

All my people are still in my address books, though more recently I seem to collect email addresses rather than those of actual bricks and mortar homes. Perhaps that’s what we are now – people who carry our addresses with us, like snails or turtles. I miss them all, my past people, but know that – as I said at the beginning of this post – not all relationships are meant to last forever. Yet, at the same time, when I send out my cards to friends and family I look at those old names and addresses and hope the ones who I’ve lost, perhaps, out of the blue might recall a laugh, a joke, a good time shared, and know that they are remembered and memories are cherished.

I did finally get a Palm Pilot, but managed to drop it in the driveway and ran over it in the car. So I went back to my Filofax. Much better. You never know who you’ll find as you flick through those pages.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holy Crap, It's Christmas. I know where you can buy a great present; An Independent Book Store.

I’ve talked about how I love librarians, and I do. If they get behind an author you feel like you can accomplish anything. Another group that’s vital to a new writer is the independent bookseller. I wrote an article a couple years ago about one of the most endangered species in Florida: The Independent Bookseller. We’ve protected the rare Florida Key Deer, slashing the speed limit in their tiny sanctuary in the lower Keys, teaching the pubic about this small, genetic offshoot of the White Tail Deer and regarding them with a sort of awe and wonder with which we really should view all of God’s works of art.

But the independent book seller is also dying out. The wonderful Black Orchid of New York was the latest to slip into the La Brea Tar Pit of retail stores. Joe and Bonnie made me feel special when I would visit. More than once I’d meet someone who bought their first James O. Born novel from the Black Orchid.

I travel a lot now, especially when I have a new book out. The stores in Florida are universally supportive. Circle Books in Sarasota and Haslam’s in St. Pete push my books all year long. And I appreciate it. Joann Sinchuk of Murder on the Beach near my house has me speak to large book clubs all the time. I’m on great terms with most Florida booksellers through my travels and attending the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show. SIBA gives publishers a chance to introduce their writers to the people who’ll be selling their books and it’s a great chance to get to know one another.

Last year on tour I stopped at the L.A. Mystery Book Store (mainly so Linda could make fun of me), Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks, The Poisoned Pen and Houston’s Murder by the Book in the west and loved every minute of it.

All of these stores are just great. McKenna Jordan and David Thompson of Murder by the Book, are true crime fiction experts. To give you an idea of how they hand sell and push good books, our own Paul Levine had all four of his Solomon VS. Lord series on their yearly bestseller list. If that’s not good taste, I don’t know what is.

What can we do to help these fierce, non-corporate stores? It’s simple, shop there. If you’re an author, when you’re on tour, stop at one. Recommend them to your friends. Barnes & Nobles will understand. I’ve never met a B&N manager that was in favor of crushing a local, independent store. Spend a few minutes thinking about ordering a book from your own local independent bookseller rather than logging onto Amazon. I’m not a communist but Jeff Bezos has enough money.

In short, tell your local independent bookseller how much they mean to you and, if they don’t think it’s too creepy, give them a hug.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ten Things Times Two

By Cornelia

Ten Things I Hate

1. Durian

File this under "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head." World's smelliest fruit. Like, so smelly you're not allowed to bring it into taxis or hotel rooms in most Asian countries.

And seriously, doesn't it look like something that would attack Sigourney Weaver in space? Why would you eat that? We make Intrepid Spouse consume it outdoors. Preferably in the rain.

2. The Smarmy Child-Molester Way That Televangelists Smile.

Even when they're dead. (Thought I pity the cat.)

3. Zamfir...

...And "Spa Music" generally. Reminds me of being forced to listen to WPAT ("Beautiful Music for Beautiful People") in the back of my Grandparents' Lincoln, as a kid.

4. Palmetto Bugs

Your basic flying durian.

5. That Hotel Skank Who Shall Here Remain Unnamed.

Never thought I'd miss Cornelia Guest. Enough said.

6. Movies With Roman Numerals in the Title

If it feels like you should microwave it before you watch it, it never should have been greenlighted.

7. Captain Beefheart


8. Kissinger

Yes, still.

9. Robert Moses

The guy who destroyed the South Bronx, drove the Dodgers and Giants out of New York, and whose underlings boasted they could keep African-Americans out of public swimming pools by "keeping the water too cold." But most of all, the guy who got Penn Station torn down.

I mean, who in their right mind would sacrifice this:

and this:

for this:

What a maroon.

10. Creationists

William Jennings Bryant: what a baboon.

Ten Things I Don't Hate

1. H.L. Mencken

"I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don't want to meet them."

"It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry."

2. Roz Chast Cartoons

3. Todd Snider

For writing the following lyrics:

Conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American males,
Soul savin’, flag wavin’, Rush lovin’, land pavin’ personal
friends to the Quayles.
Quite diligently workin’ so hard to keep the free reins of this De-mo-cracy
From tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, barefootin’ folk-singin’ hippies like me.
Tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, porn watchin’ lazyass hippies like me.

4. The Idea of Hillary in the Whitehouse

Because nothing would tick off your average conservative Christian right-wing Republican more, and I totally love that.

5. Raclette

Because nothing says "Winter" like hot cheese.

Except latkes

But do yourself a favor and don't have them at the same meal.

6. Barbara Stanwyck

I just saw Double Indemnity again for the first time in years. The woman rocks.

7. Gustavian furniture

Kicks mid-century butt.

8. The Royal Tenenbaums

Watched it tonight on DVD. Exquisite. Like a Franny and Zooey visual cocktail.

9. Sally Mann's Photographs

10. Money

I finally got my advance check, and Wells Fargo finally took the hold off it. As Sophie Tucker used to say, "I been rich, and I been poor, and rich is better."

"Rich" is of course relative, but let's put it this way: I gave a buck to a homeless guy a couple of months ago, and he had a cellphone and I didn't. So at this point I been down so long it looks like up to me.

And as my sister Freya once said, "better nouveau riche than no riche at all."

Unless you're a Hilton.

What are you guys hating and not hating, at the moment?