Earth Day 2014 – Long Lost Post

Hi! I found this post in the Drafts section of my blog – something I started with all good intentions, but never finished. Story of my life. Anyhoo, I like looking back, and I made some 2017 Updates, all in bold. Happy Earth day everyone! get off the computer and into the world!

1st Earth DayPogo-We_Have_Met_the_Enemy_and_He_Is_Us-colorHopeful, 2009Gas Mask

Hooray! It’s Earth Day! It’s the perfect holiday for me, because I think the planet is groovy and I have loved all the days I have spent on it. This year’s Earth Day is blue-skied and mild, part of the two weeks of fantastic weather we get in my city before it gets too hot to breathe. The garden is coming in; I have asparagi waving in the wind, my strawbs are berrying, and my Japanese Maple is flirting elegantly, dipping and and nodding graciously to anyone who passes. To celebrate, I think I will be outside all the doodah day, doing good deeds and spreading the love. So, to start off right, here are some things to check out on Earth.

2107 Update – The Japanese Maple died, because I live in Hell and its delicate leaves fried to a crisp. I got a new one and planted a bigger tree over it, to give it some shade. So far, so good.

1. Babies– Babies are really cute, especially if they are happy. They have tiny fingers and perfect little mouths, and their noses always tilt up. I have a lot in common with them – I like to eat and nap and have people do things for me, just like they do. The newest baby in my life is this one: McDorableGuess who she is? Making her debut on the Smaller Adventure stage is McDorable McAdams! That’s right, McAdams and Big Poppa had a baby! She really puts a crimp in my vacation adventure plans, but I like her anyway. Welcome to the world, McDorable, and congratulations to the entire McAdams family.

Happy First Birthday, Baby Peri!

Coming soon: Baby Girand, due Thursday!

Also, to all the Aries babies that I grew up with- Happy Birthday, y’all!

UPDATE, 2017: McDorable is now bigger than I am, as her mother is a giantess. She is, however, a sweet-pea, who calls me Auntie, and won’t go to bed unless I do, too.

Baby Peri moved to Maryland, where a fox visits her porch. She now has a brother and a sister, twins Haden and Cohen. Mom and Dad are very tired, but happy.

Baby Girand moved to Colorado, with her little sister and parents. They love being high in the mountains.

And, happily crashing the scene just two days before press time, welcome Sophie Meira, my newest cousin! I can’t wait to meet you!

So, yeah, babies. There is one being born right now. Birth is part of a beautiful cycle, non? Here is an artist who looks at the other end of that cycle and draws inspiration from it:

2. Art from Death:

Her name is Pesi Girsch. You should google her. I  like her photography. I also love woodcuts.

Gustave Baumann: Gustave Baumann was an American print maker, painter and marionette maker. He also served as an art coordinator for the WPA. He was big in color woodcuts, which are so vibrant and interesting to me, because the way the lines come together to form a balanced image appeals to my obsession with patterns.

The-Landmark-by-Gustave-BaumannHopi Corn, Gustave BaumannThe Shoemaker- Gustave Baumann

A long time on Earth Day, back in the forgotten decade, the 80’s, my best friend worked in DC on Capitol Hill. She volunteered to coordinate all the volunteers of that particular Earth Day year, whenever it was, and I scored a gig in the hospitality tent, where I got to bring Woody Harrelson drinks. He was parched, so I saw a lot of him, and now I remember Earth Day as the Day of the Big Woody. Now he’s in this TV show I like, True Detective, with Secret Genius Matthew McConaughey. Woody plays this police detective ( a true one, no doubt) named Marty Hart. Like all good tv detectives, he is a deeply flawed man; he wasn’t that way when we were together, though. True Detective fans might like this:   

Update, 2017: It wasn’t in the ’80’s, but the 90’s. I forgot them, too. 

Turns out maybe Matthew McConaughey is not a secret genius.

Turns out maybe Big Woody is:

The second season of True Detectives turned out to be True Disappointment. Also, I don’t remember why True detective fans might have liked that link.

My friend, who just marched forth and celebrated another birthday, now lives in Austin, where she raises her son, is active in politics, sleeps late, dances in the kitchen, and makes my time on this planet better, richer and more meaningful just by her being in it.

3. On Earth, we watch a lot of tv.

UPDATE 2017: I don’t know where I was going with this, but I probably wanted to write about what I was watching. These days I’m watching some fine TV – Fargo just started again, and Better Call Saul, and I like a show called Crashing. I’m sad Girls is ending – I really liked it. I watch a lot of documentaries – damn, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know! So TV on earth – Huzzah! Sadly, some of the best of it may not be around for long…

4. Talkin’ the talk: Earth Day 2014 followed the release of the United Nations study on Climate Change, which was grim as hell. ; tv version:  Bottom line: we are fucking up and we need to get our shit together. We are running out of time, and in some cases, we’re too late. This news was met with what appears to be almost universal apathy. Maybe we care, but we feel defeated and overwhelmed. I don’t think that’s it, though. We just refuse to see, to deal with what is impending. We’re not hurting now, so we can’t envision future pain.

UPDATE 2017: This is only getting worse. It’s overwhelming and depressing, or as our science-denying, fact -defying, anti-environmentalist president would tweet, “sad”.

And so, mi amigos, this is where I left it in 2014. Much has happened since then; much has stayed the same. The world is still full of beauty, wonder, chaos, pain, death, birth, hope, and possibility. My hope is that I don’t squander my time here, or leave the magnificent marble in a worse state than I found it.

Bonus: A Spring Poem

What’s Up With Me?

Well, how nice of you to ask! It has been a minute, now hasn’t it?

Let’s see. Summer began and I went on two great vacations. First I visited McAdams and Jono in Cali (that’s what the cool kids call California). It’s a good thing I went when I did; since then, the whole place is on fire, complicated by a-holes flying their stupid big boy toy drones into the area, which is thwarting the efforts of firefighter. Drones are dumb. Anyhoo, my trip was great. I went to Hollywood, Temecula, Laguna Beach and through Pasadena, where I want to return. While I was there I was bullied by a baby and a black Marilyn Monroe, checked out the Church of Scientology (very friendly!) and a Hooters (gave me the cold shoulder. Maybe even a frosty nipple. I didn’t stay long.) in a 10 minute span, saw driveways that appeared to be completely vertical, and avoided all the human hating wildlife that stalks the desert areas all around San Bernadino County. Deserts are dumb. Dangerous and dry, too. McAdams and Jono were great though. I love them. Even the baby grew on me.

Brown MarilynLaguna Beach 2015Smile for the camera!

Baby has left the building! The kid was very busy – lots to see and do. None of those things were get dressed,though.

Then I went to Cleveland to see chmchm. We did lots of stuff and I had a great time. It’s true what they say, you know – Cleveland rocks! The whole family treated me like a queen, and I loved being a part of their every day.

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise, Sunset

Lennon's Guitar

 Kent Cry in Bronze How can ya run when ya know?

Thanks to everyone who hosted me! I loved summer vacations 2015! Who knows? If I’m lucky, I might even sneak in a few more!


Temecula Bridal Shower This was a bridal shower in Temecula. The ladies were drinking wine slushies when the dj played that Big Butts song, and the ladies got jiggy!People taking pictures of people taking pictures at the Hollywood sign

People taking pictures of people taking pictures at the Hollywood sign.

VoyeurI took lots of voyeur shots. I can’t help it.

Und now, ve prezent…(vait fur eet)…2015, ze preview!

All of my years have been good ones. I realize that I am very fortunate, but I expect no less from 2015. Here are some things to look forward to:

1. This new book of photographs from Ken Schles will be coming out later this month. I like his work; even though the pictures are from a certain time period, they feel timeless, and focus often on expression- he captures the eyes and attitudes of his subjects candidly, at moments when they seem transported by thought or emotion – and motion, in photos that are blurred with action or sweeping in composition. Cool, huh? Here is an article about him as well.

2. Lots of good tv is coming! I got an opportunity to preview the PBS schedule for new Masterpiece Theater, and there are three new shows I am interested in: Grantchester, Wolf Hall and Indian Summers.,

And that’s just the classy stuff I’m gonna watch! TV is my best friend! I love it so much!

3. Religious persecution and intolerance will increase and continue to be a destructive, divisive force.

Another prediction: I will continue to be a devout anti organized-religionist. Believe what you want to believe. Just don’t try to force everyone else to buy it.

4. Art. It’s out there – it’s everywhere! People’s imagination and creativity thrill me, and restore my faith in humanity. If faith is something that one believes even in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence, perhaps due to a simple inability to not believe, then I am a humanist.

There are so many links I could have added to this bit, it’s mind boggling. People are magnificent. Also, they are shitheads, but that is not the point I am trying to make.

5. Adventure! There are so many adventures upon which to embark! McAdams had a baby last year (she also moved, twice!) – that’s a life long adventure, even if it doesn’t always seem that way! Also, congratulations to Mollie and Robert, who will start their infantile adventure later in the year – I can’t wait to meet the new kid!

McBaby, 2014

Sushi joined the Peace Corps and now lives and teaches in Lesotho – betcha don’t know where that is, do ya? Lesotho It’s the pimento in the acid-soaked version of the misshapen green olive that is South Africa! Now that’s an adventure! Check her out at

Denichiwa is taking a long deserved vacay to NOLA. She goes there plenty, but each time she comes back with some crazy story about a feather boa or a one-way street. It’s always an adventure! Bon voyage, Nichi!

Toribelle is changing her life by writing. She is taking a Method Writing class and is loving it! Discovering what is inside of you is an amazing and often profound adventure, so enjoy that ride! Big, exciting writing news from my mom and Chmchm, both of whom are to be published this year! I’ll let you more know asap. Also, I look forward to hearing more from this guy, David Gianadda, who I think is brilliant,, and his wife, photographer Emily Stoker Jeez Louise, what a talented couple. So young and attractive, too. Kind of irritating, that.  Finally, I expect to hear much more from a teacher of mine, Gary Swaim, who just published a book of poetry, A Perhaps Line: Poetry of the Material and Immaterial Worlds. Gary is a poet, playwright, fiction writer, artist, and was the 2011 Senior Poet Laureate of Texas. He’s a real cool cat, and I hope to study with him again.

Also, my dad has a stalker. More on this as it develops.

Laurie and Tom are moving to Rome! That’s a huge adventure! Congratulations, you two, on having the guts to live a dream! I look forward to visiting, and while we are there, maybe we can go see Bonnie, who always has something interesting cooking.

6. Politics – There will be politics. I’m re-reading Animal Farm. It’s still incredible. That, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and All The Presidents Men should be required reading in every high school civics class. And maybe this documentary.

7. Finally I look forward to all of you, who make each year exciting and inspirational. You all make me feel good, and I love you. I don’t know who all reads this blog regularly, but Happy New Year to those who I know peruse at least now and again. You deserve to be recognized by name, or at least pseudonym, so here’s the shout-out list, with my apologies to anyone I leave off, and in no particular order, except for the first two, to whom I owe all of my new years.

Mom & Dad, Big Salty (or is it Lil Salty? I always forget!), Ed, chmchm, KB & Mr. S, ED, Mr. Lemonska, Denichiwa, Trixie, Shan, Jono, Robin, Jennifer C., McAdams, Brandon, Bonnie, The Heller Boys, Ms. Le Fave, Mario & Elise, Robert-from-across-the-pond (better than Pommy Robert, right?), Neil, Smurp, Paulie B., Dave, Toribelle, Biskit, and Kari.

May 2015 bring you every happiness!



A Bit of a List, 2011

Yay!!!! It’s New Year’s Eve Day! I love this time of transition, where possibility and hope go skipping hand in hand down Life’s Lane, past the corner of History Drive and Future Avenue, into the Park of the Present, and…well, the metaphor grows meaningless, from here, but the sentiment remains – yay, New Year! I like to celebrate by making lists, plans and resolutions that,  for a good two weeks after the champagne’s been popped (thank you, E.D.!) and the drunken midnight kisses have been exchanged (or forced upon…sometimes I get a tad over-enthusiastic), I vow to achieve Here is a picture of me from last New Year’s Eve:. 

They say that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Eve, you’ll be doing for the rest of the year, and I am pleased to say that this year, it was true! In 2011 you could find me dancing by myself in a Peter Pan inspired outfit pretty much any time of the day or night!

Anyway, in keeping with the time-honored tradition of looking backwards while forging boldly (and blindly!) ahead, I’d like to throw down a few lists for ya:

Things I Liked in 2011, In No Particular Order

1. Kale. Big fan of the leafy greens.

2. Liberal, elitist, pretentious, intellectual media : I like it all. NPR, you’re my best friend! You teach me, make me laugh, tuck me in and wake me up! New Yorker, you thrill me! I love your fiction, your overly-long articles, your incomprehensible poetry, and your sometimes-funny- sometimes-not cartoons! New York Times, you old gray lady, thanks for keeping me smart and on the side of the righteous! The Sun Magazine, 6o Minutes, The Daily Show, myriad bloggers who feel the same way about everything that I do, Matt Damon press releases…I can’t get enough of it! Rally on, Righties! We shall overcome, but in a dignified manner, and with a lovely glass of Pinot Noir!

3. Technology, In A Limited Kind of Way:  I love my computer, even though I use only 10% of it, like my brain. My Ipod is great; I walk a lot and it’s always in my pocket or down my shirt. I like to listen to podcasts – love my shows!- and count my steps, for no real reason. I just like to know. I love my camera, but I’ve had it for two years and still haven’t managed to read the manual. I’d probably like it even more if I knew how to take pictures with it. The newest addition is my Iphone. I call it Mike. Mike is so helpful to me, and has phonescrabble on it, and makes noises, and has a camera that takes good pictures and apps that do stuff and are free. I like when people’s pictures pop up when they call, though sometimes I make my sister look like this:  or use this photo for McAdams:

She’s kind of a veg.

I have a lot more to list, but I have to go get ready for New Year’s Eve. I dyed my hair “I Love Lucy” red and painted my fingernails glitter green, because I want to look like an elegant lady tonight. I am either going to year my Morticia dress or this little ensemble I’ve pulled together that’s kind of an homage to Stevie Nicks meets the Frito Bandito. I’ll let you know what I decide.

In the meantime, be safe tonight and whatever you do, smile- remember, what you do tonight could set the tone for the whole year.

I’ve told you I love you, right? I do.   May your wishes come true …

May your travels lead you to adventure, enlightenment, opportunity and epiphany …and may your imagination soar in 2012.

Happy New Year!



Zippity-zeke! My oh my, it’s a wonderful week! The BSISD just announced that we would have another snow day! One snow day is a precious gift, to be savored and relived throughout the year. Two days is unprecedented glory. Three snow days… I can’t even begin to describe the joy I feel right now. It’s like a unicorn in a tutu, or a porpoise dancing on a cloud made of rainbow mist. With chocolate. And valium. Valiums. (Vali-yums! Yes, please!)

Don’t get me wrong; I feel badly for the rest of the states. I know it’s vicious cold, and people don’t have power, or live on the streets, and there is snow suffocating the city, with no real way to dig out, and trapped, and frostbite, and icy danger, and misery everywhere. Poor, poor Chicago! Are you OK, Oklahoma? Coldorado, I feel you! Do you feel ConnectiCUT off from the rest of the world? Poor babies, everyone!
The nightly news keeps me in a state of awe and fear. Only one inch of ice can equal a TON of weight on a power line! Yikes! This is the seventh storm since mid-December, and there’s more to come… Zoinks! Wind can blow you down and ice can cause you to TOTALLY LOSE CONTROL in your car, or even on foot! Shizowie! So horrible and scary! But…
right now I am so happy I could pee all over myself! No school! Yayyy! School sucks! Boo school! Yay, no school! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
These snow days haven’t been like the snow days of yore. (Here’s what I wrote last time there was a snow day, which was way back in yore:
For one thing, it’s cold up in here. My house is old, weak and full of crevices – much like my body, actually- and is therefore unable to keep in the heat and keep out the chill. Blizzard brrr comes in through the windows, carpets the floor, and wraps itself like an icy cloak around my shivering shoulders. I have on tights, sweat pants, double socks and two sweaters. I look like a wool sausage, but it’s frosty in the living room. I could turn up the heat, but in my city the companies that control warmth are imposing rolling blackouts to conserve energy for the rich Superbowl fans who clog the hotels and bars like so much greasy hair in a big, suckhole drain. I don’t want to call attention to myself, so I keep the heat at below-the-radar levels. Smart, right?
Also, I don’t feel so well. The flu is going around -not to mention the TB – and I’m afraid I may be standing on the the corner of Puke and Rhea; believe you me, I don’t want to cross over! My nephew was sick on Monday, and my niece is ill now; it seems like just a matter of time. So far I’m ok, because I’m sticking to my routine of rigid denial; I know this isn’t really the flu, just allergies, but if I succumb for just one moment, I’m afraid snow day will turn into sick day, which is UNCOOL, FOOL!
Furthermore, I have been wasting my time! I have been so non-productive during this special unforeseen break that even I am ashamed of myself. I haven’t changed out of my pajamas in three days. I wake up only to take naps. Instead of reading all of the fantastic books I have stacked up near my bed, I’ve been catching up on TMZ and drunken Hoda Kotb. Instead of exercising, I’ve been watching The Biggest Loser and eating cheese. Every day before I go to bed, I say to myself, “Tomorrow, things are going to be different.” In fact, I said that last night. And yet today, I:
* Had a dream that I was hanging out with my good friends Alec Baldwin and Justin Bieber. Turns out, we’re not as close as I thought we were, because they started making fun of my stereo (do people still call them ‘stereos’?) and then said I wasn’t funny. Bastards.
* Woke up and spent 45 minutes on the computer trying to find a joke that would put Baldwin and Bieber to shame. Spent an hour watching Mitch Hedberg clips I have already seen.
Mitch Hedberg. Never not funny.
*Called McAdams to tell her I was lazy. She too has snow days, and was already on her second Bailey’s Chai Latte. I told her about Baldwin and Bieber, and about how this friend of mine works in a hotel, and Justin Bieber allegedly stayed there. Apparently, the Biebster had a late night visitor whom my friend knows as a frequent visitor of hotel patrons, if ya know what I mean… a frequent paid visitor of hotel patrons… let me sing it for ya, just to make sure it’s clear: Justin Bieber had a ho, doo-dah, doo-dah! Somehow, this got us talking about Bieber wiener (McAdams: “But, he’s ten, right? It’s gotta be tiny!”), which, as I’m sure you can discern, is not the type of conversation a person has to make herself feel better about wasting her time.
*Found two dry, scaly places on my leg when I was putting on my socks. Either I have a touch of the eczema, whatever that is, or I’m turning into an anaconda.
*Made an enormous vat of soup to replace the enormous half-vat of soup I just had to throw out, because really, how much soup can one girl slurp?
*And…that’s about it. For the whole day, up until now.
Still… even a wasted snow day is better than no snow day. And I’ve been given a second chance! Really, tomorrow things are going to be different! Yay, snow day!
Here is a picture of Atticus Shaffer, adorable star of the ABC comedy “The Middle”, when asked to estimate the size of the Bieber baton:

I think he looks a lot like David Sedaris, world famous author, commentator and funny man. They have the same teeth.

Here is a picture of Sedaris imagining Justin Bieber’s monkey, but not really feeling bad about it:

Special BONUS for all those men and women out there working on the electricity lines during the Great Snowstorm of 2011:

Thanks, and don’t cut my power!

Saddle Up, Sucker!

After writing that last post, I had a mighty strong hankerin’ to do two things: finish telling you about the trip I took last summer to the great state of South Dakota, and stand on the corner of a busy street and scream,with the joyful abandon of a drunken banshee, a certain word that will remain untyped in this post. Can you guess what it is? Go on…guess! Perhaps you could if you had something to lubricate your mind a bit, massage the old membrane, if you will… not that membrane and not that kind of massage, Ass Nasty! I’m speaking, of course, of a drink, a restorative beverage, a rum drink perhaps, a rum cocktail, a cockrum, a …uh-oh! I almost wrote it! I was so close! Must not write the word! Must be careful!

Anyway, I forgot where I left off in the tales of my travel and the saga of McAdams and her quest to avoid human contact and 50’s music. She doesn’t like people, generally, though she is fond of bears, and she is unreasonably afraid of any music that even approaches doo-wap, as she believes those smooth soul stylings are harbingers of doom. Other than these and a few other idiosyncrasies, she is the perfect traveling companion.
OK, so I told you about Mount Rushmore (boo!) and The Crazy Horse Memorial (yay!), Keystone and the shacklet, Porter Sculpture Park and the 1880’s train. That brings us, without further doodoo, to Deadwood! Yay! FINALLY!

Like all things that get an unnecessarily long introduction, are much anticipated, and over-hyped, Deadwood itself was kind of a letdown.
The historic part of Deadwood is mostly torn down, burned up, or remodeled, nowadays. The area was severely economically depressed until 1989 when gambling was legalized, and the gaming industry gave the city a much needed financial shot in the arm. Unfortunately, now Deadwood is filled with casinos that are dimly lit and tacky, like I imagine all of Reno to be. I don’t know why, I just do. The HBO series also did much to generate interest and tourism to the city, so there are a lot of cheesy souvenir stores and uninspired eateries, including one that is owned by Kevin Costner that is crammed with memorabilia from his movies. That was kind of weird. Deadwood is a little out of the way, because it was bypassed by I-90, and I found its sister city, Lead, to be more interesting and charming. Even the famous whorehouses are gone, the victims of a big raid in 1980. The last one to close was called “Pam’s Purple Door.” There’s some trivia for ya! After some industrious sleuthing, I did happen to spot a sinful roundheel strumpet plying her wares in front of a “slot house”…

If modern Deadwood lacks a bit to be desired, its history is still fascinating, and we loved the tiny Adams Museum – no relation to Mc- which had artifacts like chairs, scissors, hardware, blankets and old, yellowing ledgers behind ropes or under glass.

Here is a brief account of the city of Deadwood:

Deadwood Gulch, as it was originally known, was so named because it had a bunch of dead trees in a gulch. (What exactly were you expecting?!) It was an illegal settlement, because due to the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, it was part of the Black Hills territory ceded in perpetuity to the Lakota Sioux, and early on, the government sent troops to several forts to keep people from entering the Hills.

The Black Hills are magnificent and rich in minerals and resources, and settlers took notice and sneaked in to exploit them, despite the military presence. By 1873, the U.S. government began trying to buy the land back from the Sioux to open it for mining. In 1874, the coc – the conquered commander George Armstrong Custer was sent to investigate rumors of gold, which instigated the rush.
(A word here about Custer… I don’t like him. After barely graduating at the bottom of his class at Westpoint in 1861, he was known for not obeying rules and playing assholey practical jokes on his fellow soldiers – just the kind of guy you’d like to serve next to in a combat situation, right? He excelled in self-promotion, travelling with a 16 piece band, a small group of journalists, and dressing up in stupid costumes, like buckskins and boots. He wore his blonde, flowing hair down and loose, like an 1800’s Jim Morrison, and more than once his recklessness caused unnecessary danger to his troops. He was only made a general because of social promotion; his title was an honorarium from a high-ranking fan, and it was temporary. After the Civil War, his permanent rank was that of captain. He invented fancy-pants social events for his inner circle, which included young and dashing favored officers and his family members. This group was known as ‘the royal circle’ by resentful enlisted men.
He was sent to scout the Hills because he had already fought and won some battles against small bands of Sioux, when he was charged with protecting railroad interests. Prior to this, Custer had skirmished with the Cheyenne at the Battle of the Washita River, where he claimed to have killed 103 warriors. The Cheyenne estimated their own losses at 11 warriors and 19 women and children, plus Custer took 53 women and children prisoner, and shot most of their 500 plus ponies. Dick. Because he was arrogant, he assumed a quick and easy victory if he met up with the Sioux again.
Custer took about a thousand men into the Black Hills, and he took his time doing it. He hunted and shot a grizzly, hiked (but didn’t scale -wuss!) Mt. [Me So] Harney, played a lot of baseball, and threw nightly champagne parties for the winning teams.
By the time Custer and his men encountered the tribes, tensions between the Indians and the U.S. government were running high, on account of constant treaty-breaking and continuing American advancement on Indian landed. The government decided that all remaining free Plains Indians be rounded up and “corralled.” Instead of willingly reporting to designated areas, Sitting Bull gathered together the largest ever gathering of Cheyenne, Lakota, and Arapaho Indians at Little Big Horn River, to discuss what to do about the white devils that were destroying their way of life, stealing their land and murdering their people.
Custer had no idea what he was getting into. His famous last words were: “Hurrah, boys, we’ve got them! We’ll finish them up and then go home to our station!” WRONG!!!)

Right. So back to Deadwood. In 1875, a miner found gold in Deadwood Gulch, and it was on like Donkey Kong. In no time a-tall, the population of the still-on-the-DL town reached an estimated 5,000. In 1876, Charlie Utter and his brother Sam rode up in a covered wagon train filled with prostitutes and gamblers. That same year Wild Bill Hickok (Hickok-sucker?) was shot in the back of the head in the Number 10 Saloon, and shortly after that Calamity Jane began making up rumors that she had been romantically involved with the famous marksman, though by all accounts he was said to have found her somewhat repugnant. Al Swearengen (I admit, I just said it, LOUDLY, but I didn’t write it, so it doesn’t count!) opened up the Gem Variety Theater in 1877 and quickly cornered the opium trade. The Homestake Mine, the largest and most profitable in the area, thrived, and Sheriff Seth Bullock kept order, if not law, in town. 1878 saw the first telephone exchange in Deadwood. In 1879 a fire almost destroyed the town (this would happen three more times, the last being in the 1950’s), by 1880 there was a Chinatown, and in 1883 Deadwood was almost wiped out by a flood. In 1890, the railroad pushed through the Black Hills.
I know all of this stuff is true because I read two books, a bunch of pamphlets, and consulted the Internet.
The coolest part of Deadwood is Mt. Moriah, the cemetery, which was created between 1877 and 1878. You can see famous graves like these:

You can see less famous graves like this:
Ms. DuFran was the most profitable madam in Deadwood, and also had brothels in Belle Fourche and Rapid City. The one in Belle Fourche was called “Diddlin Dora’s” and was advertised as “Three D’s – Dining, Drinking and Dancing – A Place Where you Can Bring Your Mother!”, which is especially convenient if your mother is Elliot Spitzer, Jimmy Swaggart, or Hugh Grant. Calamity Jane worked for Dora DuFran as an occassional cook and maid, and it was from Diddlin’ Dora’s that Jane went off on her final bender. The little devil planter in the corner of the photo is one of four, that represent Dora’s four business establishments. Also buried at Mt. Moriah is Dora DuFran’s beloved husband and her pet parrot, Fred.

Mt. Moriah has a big section for children, many of whom died in epidemics, one headstone for an unidentified Chinese man, and a large Jewish section.

All right, my precious co- umm, concubines, that’s about it for Deadwood. My fingers are tired and my mind’s half worn from thinkin’, so I hope you’re satisfied, coc- Caucasians and other racial groups who read this blog. I’m out! Signing off from Deadwood,

Your COurageous Correspondent, Queen of the DaKotas…
So long for now, SUCKERS!!!!!!!!!!!

Weekend Updates

Really, SNL, are you going to use my superclever made-up word as the crux of your “aflockumentary” skit without giving me credit! How can you sleep at night? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! I blame Lorne Michaels, who I once saw in New York. I had been drinking rather liberally, shall we say, and I walked right up to him and said, “Hey! Hey, Lorne Michaels, creator of the long-running and ground-breaking late-night tv sensation Saturday Night Live! Hey! I just gotta ask you – How ya doin’, Lorne Michaels?” He completely ignored me, as if I was just some drunk stranger, some slurring, swaying cray-cray, intent on starting a long, rambling conversation about absolutely nothing with him. As if he didn’t have time for that kind of thing! Rude, Lorne! He acted like he didn’t recognize me then, just like he is pretending not to recognize my work right now!
You will pay, Lorne Michaels and entire cast and crew of Saturday Night Live! Plagiarism is a crime! I will not be wronged by the corpocracy of the National Broadcasting Company or any of it’s powerful affiliates, like Halliburton and the makers of Peeps marshmallow animals (have you noticed how they are now ubiquitous at every holiday, instead of just Easter? They don’t know their place, and they’re taking over, I tell you!) I will have justice! Prepare for an epic lawsuit, you bastards!*
In real news, I spoke to McAdams. Her school re-opened on Friday, and while she was apprehensive about returning, she had some good things to report. In a show of support for the school and its administration, almost 100% of the student body showed up for classes. They arrived early, wearing their school spirit shirts, or dressed in red, their school color. The students waited outside until the bell rang, and then together, as one group, they crossed the threshold and entered the building. Other schools sent pictures and videos of their students wearing red, or holding signs that said “We are Millard South.” Local businesses donated food and flowers. Substitute teachers from the surrounding districts volunteered to cover classes so that teachers from Millard South could attend the funeral services of Vicki Kaspar, the assistant principal who was killed. People were kind and gentle with each other, and there was a spirit of healing and fellowship in the halls. I am so glad that on the heels of tragedy, McAdams and her colleagues and students were able to have a life-affirming experience. Of course, things are nowhere near normal, and the repercussions of this tragedy will be felt for years to come, but it’s nice to know that after one person acted in a way that was so selfish and unfeeling, hundreds of people are responding with empathy and communal goodwill.
My friend Smurp hipped me to this great interview from W. Earl Brown, who played Dan on Deadwood. Fans, you’ll love this:,49370/ . If you don’t want to read it all, here’s a bad news/good news summary of what’s going on Deadwood and beyond: BAD NEWS- The much anticipated and oft-dreamed of movie finale of Deadwood is nothin’ but a fond, fruitless fantasy. Since the show hasn’t been on the air since 2006, you probably figured that. I was still clinging to hope, because that’s how I am, but now it’s official – I have been DENIED!
GOOD NEWS- A new Milch series is coming up this year! It’s about horse racing and has an all star cast, led by…wait for it…Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Richard Kind, who you might now from Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s in post-production at HBO as we speak!
So, yay! I’ll drink to that, cocksucker!**

*Full disclosure – I stole the Aflocalypse thing from an article I saw in a newspaper story on the Internet. And, as far as I know, NBC is not in anyway affiliated with Halliburton or Peeps. Curse my unwavering honesty and commitment to journalistic integrity!

** I can’t help it! It’s like he has some Svengali-like hold on me! Swearingen makes me swear in general, even when it’s not appropriate, shit-sticks! Doh! I did it again! For fuck’s sake, make it stop!

Not again!

I got this email from McAdams, who teaches in Nebraska, this evening: “Survived my first shooting today. Both of my principals were shot in the main office. Both in critical condition. The shooter was a senior. He committed suicide.”

At this posting, one of the victims has died. McAdams described her as “..nice to everybody, a real grandmotherly type.”
McAdams is fine, and I am so grateful I want to cry.
My local news didn’t mention the incident, but instead led with the fact that a regional chain store was going to offer its merchandise online.
The student, the son of a police detective, was apparently angry because he was suspended earlier in the day for an infraction of school policy. I forgot what McAdams said it was, but I thought the suspension was reasonable. ABC news reported: In a rambling Facebook post filled with expletives, Butler warned Wednesday that people would hear about the “evil” things he did and said the school drove him to violence.

He wrote that the Omaha school was worse than his previous one, and that the new city had changed him. He apologized and said he wanted people to remember him for who he was before affecting “the lives of the families I ruined.” The post ended with “goodbye.”

Now is not the time for preaching…but I can’t help myself.
1. When you care about people, or when they make your load a bit lighter, or if they do you some small kindness, you should let them know. I heard about this man who decided to write a thank you card every day to someone he wanted to recognize and acknowledge. I thought it was a nice idea, but a little over the top and hokey. I think I am going to do it, too. I mean really, how many times do I have to learn and forget the same lesson? Life is unpredictable and short. Our greatest gifts are the relationships and connections we are lucky enough to enjoy, and we should cultivate and nurture them.
2. In order to save money, many school districts are cutting teachers and increasing class size, even in elementary school. Vote no and protest vigorously against any law that forces students to have less contact with competent, concerned adults. A kid is at school for the majority of every day. If that time is wasted, we may never get it back. Teachers cannot bond with 10 classes of up to 40 kids each, and this sort of action is harmful to everyone involved.
3. Please remember that even though there are some bad teachers and administrators, most people who devote their lives to education want to be good, and they try, even when they really don’t feel like it.
4. We must guard against becoming desensitized by bad news or the feeling that we are being overwhelmed and always strive to make things better. Do good, and don’t give up.
To my friends who read this blog:
Dear Friends,
This is my first post of the new year, and I think it is fitting that it concludes with this thank you note.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to get to know me better than you already do. Some of you have been my friends since I was a kid; some have known me all my life. For you to still be interested in my thoughts, feelings, and bullshit rantings is so touching; I can’t tell you how much it really means to me. You make me feel special and smart. It’s everything to know that you care.
Thank you for your comments. I read them all. Twice, at least.
Thank you to those of you who are new, or who I don’t see often, for keeping up with me, even though I am not on Facebook.
I love writing this blog; it makes me feel better, and I like having a record of my thoughts. Still, I think if it weren’t for those of you who I know read it, I don’t think I would keep it up, and that would be a shame, because I learn so much from it. So thanks again.
I wish you all happiness, health, hope, growth and opportunity in 2011 and beyond. I really love you, and you know who you are – and you know I know, too!
Take care of yourselves.

Baby Snakes (and adults, too)

The other day I was walking, and I tripped over nothing, which is not unusual. What is unusual is that when my foot came down hard, it landed right on a baby snake. Normally, this would send me into paroxysms of terror, but for some reason – perhaps because the little bugger was skinny as a worm and about three inches long – I had a different reaction. I felt sorry for it. This feeling was immediately enhanced when it contorted itself into a tiny reptile pretzel and flipped onto it’s back. Then it had a snakey seizure. Then, nothing. I killed it. With my Converse-clad needle foot. Dead. That helpless little guy -or gal- didn’t stand a chance, didn’t even see me coming, and then: lights out, Lefty. The fat lady sang. And then stepped on your head.

I tried to cheer myself up by remembering that I hate snakes and also any kind of nature that gets close to me, and I tried to tell myself that baby snakes grow into big snakes, with hideous, dripping fangs and an unquenchable drive to squeeze the life out of you, crushing your ribs like toothpicks before they eat you by swallowing you whole. I tried to envision the townspeople rushing out of their homes to hoist me above their shoulders and prepare a celebratory feast for me, the brave heroine who saved the village from the enormous, hypnotic serpent, who chased the innocent, like a mindless, rippling, merciless muscle, terrorizing them with it’s relentless appetite and remarkable force. (Who among us hasn’t had that dream, Sigmund?!) It didn’t work. I felt so sad at the injustice and randomness of it all. Poor baby snake.

I felt badly for another snake once, but the feeling passed pretty quickly. One time, I was driving with McAdams – or, well, since McAdams was there, of course she was driving me– and I looked up at the sky, which was easy to do since McAdams has a way-cool convertible, and it was a thousand degrees, so the top was down, and guess what I saw? Clouds, you say? A bug? An overpass? All reasonable guesses, but WRONG! I saw a hawk, struggling ever higher, but laboring, because in his (or her) talons was a writhing Copperhead about the size and girth of a tree limb, which I realize is not the best visual, because tree limbs come in lots of sizes. Also, I’m not sure if it was a Copperhead, because I don’t know what a Copperhead looks like and it was far away, but I am positive it was very poisonous. Mayhaps it was an Anaconda. Doesn’t matter. It was curling in on itself and undulating in the air, trying to get a piece of it’s feathered nemesis. Anyway, I was just amazed, because even though you hear about stuff like that happening, when have you actually seen it? I just happened to look up at that moment – I had been watching in the rear view mirror the way my hair blew prettily around my face – and got to see the primordial life and death struggle that played out up in the sky and heading towards the sun, above a flat, endless highway on a blazing Texas day.
Damn! That’s pretty awesome, right!
I felt sorry for the snake for a minute, but that’s how nature does, and besides, it suddenly dawned on me that if the snake proved too strong for the hawk, it could fall, heavy like a stone, and land right in the car, on my head. Afraid and enraged, it would no doubt stab me in the eyeball with it’s poison fang and then eat my face off, as those Black Mambas are wont to do. And even if it didn’t happen right then and there, now I knew that it could happen at virtually any time, for I had seen it with my own eyes, and so I screamed for McAdams to raise the roof, but literally and not in a ‘woot-woot” kind of way, and she did, but that is why, now, because I know what could happen, I look up a lot when I’m walking, which is what I was doing when I tripped and crushed the poor little baby snake the other day.
Probably, the only thing I hate more than scary, creepy things like snakes, bears, nutria and pigeons are scary, creepy things that adapt or evolve. So you can imagine my horror when I saw this article from the Scientific American. It has a lot of technical things in it, like the phrases “six meters per second to four meters per second”, and the word “ophidian”, if that is even a real word. The article talks about this Asian snake that “jumps” or “leaps” out of these really tall trees and then “takes its whole body and makes it into a wing” so that it can fly up to 800 feet. It doesn’t just fall or glide; it oscillates it’s body specifically to create a “vortex-induced lift.” Bastards! I don’t even know what that means and they have figured out how to do it! Watch the video! Those assholes totally know what they are doing! 800 feet, people! I don’t really know how far that is, but I know that’s is too long for a damned snake to be airborne!

Horrifying, right?

The world is too small for me and snakes. Except for little ones that are kind of cute. When they are alive, that is. Not so cute, dead. Rest In Peace, Lefty. Sorry.
Photograph by !Shot By Scott!
BONUS: Look at these pictures by Guido Mocafico. They are frightening, but fantastic!

McAdams Goes Mobile

Before I continue with the South Dakota saga, a word or two – knowing me, it’s more likely to lean towards the two- about my travel companion, McAdams. We met several years ago when she came to my school, an enthusiastic and over-educated new teacher, excited to implement innovation, fling open the doors of opportunity, and make students’ dreams become realities. As this fresh-faced approach had already grown tiresome to me, I ignored her until she insinuated herself at the lunch table I share with my partner in gloom and defeatism, a man whose real identity I will obscure by making him Asian and giving him the name Chi Toh. Chi loved her instantly, as he is drawn to blonde women with open smiles and a nice rack. Or really any women who will sit at his table. Anyhoo, she came, she sat, she ate, and one day, a few months later, we discovered that we had both been chosen to go to Arizona with our principal and some other teachers for a boring educational conference. We decided to room together, and the rest is history.

Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona. Painting by Steve Simon–sedona-steve-simon.html
The Sedona trip became our first adventure together, and it was complete with unexpected drug trips (we got dosed by our principal), rampant nudity (it’s awful hot in Arizona), a precedent-setting hiking excursion that culminated in McAdams proving her willingness to carry me down scary, steep, rocky switchbacks, and an almost total disregard for the agendas of others. (It’s hard to focus on a boring educational conference when you are busy focusing on the way your thumb can be used to totally block someone’s head out of your field of vision. Did I mention that I did not intentionally ingest the drugs? Well, at least not the first time, anyway.)
Traveling with McAdams is great, unless she is hot or hungry. Then she’s cranky and bearish, like a grizz, not a Berenstain.

Most of the time she’s pleasant, easy-going, and willing, which is perhaps my favorite attribute about anybody, ever. She wakes up in the morning, does her thing, and makes me coffee. She tunes in to the Today show, because she likes to watch Kathy Lee Gifford get drunk in the a.m., and then it’s off to whatever the day has in store. She’s game for just about anything, unless it involves people – not much of a fan of humans, that one – but once we have a plan, she likes to stick to it. She will accept almost any challenge, and is STUB-BORN once she makes up her mind to do something. Whereas I like to consider myself “adaptable to alternate and less demanding options,” she is not what she would term “a quitter.” She sees beauty everywhere, but hates being duped by hype, like when we saw the Space Needle in Seattle. “That’s it?” she cried, dismayed. “It’s tiny; nowhere near space!”
Oh yeah, and she’s hilarious.
Lots of time she doesn’t speak, so I obligingly fill in any gaps with an almost constant and never-ending commentary on anything of import; what we are looking at, how I feel about modern geopolitical theory as it relates to post WWII literature, TV shows I’ve seen, songs that have the word “moon” in them, the fullness of my belly or bladder, how I slept the night before, how I think I may be falling out of love with Paul Rudd and more in love with Jason Bateman, and how one time I thought I was in love with Justine Bateman, back when she was Mallory Keating…you know, things like that. Every once in awhile, McAdams breaks in, and when she does, often she cracks me up. The following is a sampler of things she said during our recent South Dakota journey:
On packing: “All I need is this fishing shirt, some underwear, this bag of chips, and some green hummus. That’s it. Priority. And this salad dressing.”
On liberty: “If you’re not free, man…bummer.” (Deep, right? Sometimes, and for several reasons, travelling with McAdams is like traveling* with Matthew McConaughey. Alright, alright, alright.)
On being entertained in the car: “We went through a drive-through wildlife park once. There was a lot of screaming, crying, and flooring the gas. Man, those emus get pissed!”
On passing a sign for Round Up Weed and Grass Killer: “Mmmmmm, weed.”
Going past large rock formations in Custer State Park: “Those rocks look like dicks. Our forefathers’ dicks. Our forefathers’ foreskins.There’s Jefferson’s dick…”
“Oh, deceiving blue sky!” This was sorrowfully whispered to the windshield during a brief rainstorm.
“Remember that move? ‘Foggy Chimp Mountain’? Oh yeah, right. It was ‘Gorillas in the Mist’.”
On being stalked by a mountain lion: “What can you do, but laugh and walk a little bit faster?” (I suggested we not walk at dinner, Northern Mountain Lion Time)
And finally, the last word on a decade of American music classics: “Ooh, Fifties music! I hate it! So scary and creepy, right? Let’s get outta here!”
I just love McAdams. She is a true friend. I hope we road trip together forever.

* I hereby exert my right to spell travelling with either one or two L’s! Who’s gonna stop me, huh?

QUIZ: Who do you think would win in a fight to the death for my affections, McAdams or Mallory? McAdams is big and relentless, but Mallory is a scrappy little badass….

BONUS: New words! When you blog incessantly and narcissistically about yourself, just to hear yourself blog, it’s bloggerbation. Reading bloggerbation can lead to blogravation. Conversely, when you have nothing to blog about, you are suffering from blogstipation.
You’re welcome for the free of cost vocabulary increase.