Friday, December 18, 2020

Here is what I am living for today, part three.

 You made it this far, you might as well keep reading. 

8. Stickers: Stickers stickers stickers stickers sticker stickers stickers!!! Ever more and ever stickier mountains and piles of stickers! Did you know you can subscribe to have loads of stickers sent to your home (or that of someone you love--or hate, I guess. They probably don't care either way.) every single month? I did! Currently I subscribe to the following sticker delivery services: PipSticks, Stickii, Mrs. Grossman's, Violette Sticker Club, and Four Bears, all of which I recommend highly. But wait, there's more! Etsy has a swath of sticker makers who want to help you cover your world in happy, colorful stuff, and Ebay is my go-to for vintage stickers--sheets of Hallmark Snoopys, Dennison foils and patriotic booklets of Presidents' heads, Scratch-n-Sniff candycanes and pizza slices, rolls and rolls of Suzy's Zoo watercolored critters and Boynton characters who reminded me not to let the turkeys get me down long before Offred did. These are the ones that got me hooked as a defenseless child. Do I have an unhealthy obsession based on a trigger installed deep in my spongy elementary-school brain by teachers and parents who rewarded my earliest achievements with sticky bits of paper? Don't be silly. Will I stab you if you rip me off in a sticker swap? No one knows...or at least, no one who lived...

9. Attitudes!: Once known as Throwing Shade, Attitudes! with self-proclaimed "FemiNasty" Erin Gibson and "HomoSensual" Bryan Safi is all kinds of loud, obnoxious fun as they share their opinions on the news and pretty much everything else, too. Warning: This is a left-leaning ball of political goofiness and not for everyone, however, their non-political podcast-in-a-podcast, Groceries!, is good clean (ish) fun for everyone who buys food on a regular basis. They visit different grocery stores and report back with their take on the stores themselves, the food they carry, the people who shop there, and the people who work there. If you are like me and you can easily lose *hours* in the aisles of even the most run-of-the-mill corner Food Lion, give it a listen. This is my favorite thing to listen to in the shower, broken into little bites to entertain me as I clean this mess up into something that won't frighten the villagers each day. Join me, won't you? 

10. And finally, there's the underappreciated and at least as maligned by 2020 as the rest of us U.S. Postal Service: Please support the very essential workers who deliver the mail despite rain, sleet, snow, hail, Covid-19, and giant orange tornados spinning a path of postal destruction from Mar-a-Lago to everywhere absentee ballots are mailed. Please, do your part to help and make someone's day at the same time by mailing nice things to someone you care about. There are so many people who are feeling isolated right now, a quick note on the back of a postcard or a ripped-out magazine article you read and really liked stuffed inside an envelope has the potential to make someone feel less alone while supporting the service that can bring a physical something from you to someone a thousand miles away for way less than a dollar. I've been a Mailbox Maven, pen pal to many, avid letter writer, and regular card and thank-you-note sender since my best elementary school pal moved away when I was eight, so I clearly have a vested interest in keeping the U.S. Postal service healthy and functioning, but it's not just mail nerds who benefit. Many people, including many handicapped and/or elderly people, rely on the postal service to bring their prescriptions, to communicate with the outside world, and to pay their bills when getting out of the house is extremely difficult all the time, not just during quarantine. It's also the only delivery option all of us have that safeguards our privacy by law and guarantees delivery under penalty of prosecution. Not to get all serious, but please think hard about what that means when it comes to protecting our most vulnerable citizens as well as ourselves. Then go out and buy a book of stamps. Or better yet, one of the crazy cool totes made from old mail bags or any of the other neat things you can find in the Postal Service Gift Catalog. And tip your mail carrier. It doesn't have to be something big, but if you tuck a gift card to a local grocery store or coffee shop into a nice note, I bet you could make one of the six days a week that they venture out into that big, germy world for you a happier one. :)

So that's my list of ten things I'm living for at the moment. I'm happy to share them if your list is a little light right now. I'd also love to know what made your list that I missed. It's always good to have a few extra on hand. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Here is what I'm living for today, part two.

 Okay, there was more of a time lapse between part one of this list and part two than I intended. I know the quarantine was supposed to bring a ton of extra time to explore all sorts of leisurely pursuits, but for me, things somehow got busier and busier as the pandemic marched on, plunking it's germy boots all over our pristine snow-white shag. When the rest of the world became shut-ins like me, suddenly world was delivered direct to Couch Island, where I reside. Just this week I had multiple virtual visitors, a live crafting class, and an entire cat convention sit in my lap via my computer screen, not to mention a kitty-themed bingo tournament (I won blackout, of course. It's the gothiest way to bingo.) Anyway, before I make you wait any longer than you already have, here's part two of what I am living for today and, of course, goofy face pic #2, as promised. 

4. Creeptown USA: The sound quality is terrible and occasionally it's impossible to discern what is going on, but I still think all TV should be *exactly* like this YouTube show, 24/7, every single channel. The music is wonderful, the jokes are terrible, the costumes and puppets make The Mighty Boosh (which I adore, no shade intended) look like Jim Henson Studios. There's so much punk rock heart in this show, it's been diagnosed with cardio myopathy and could go into full arrest at any moment so watch it while it lasts. 

5. Hercules Candy:  It's not just about the candy, though the candy is good enough to live for on its own. A little shop in Syracuse that's been making handmade candy since the 1910s, this vegan-family owned business makes outstanding vegan and non-vegan treats, though I can only vouch for the vegan stuff. For all I know the non-vegan candy could taste like poison. All the more reason to choose vegan, right? Nearly as addictive as their candy are their live-cast videos that can be found in droves on YouTube. Watching someone pull whole batches of candy on the hook as it turns from shiny topaz to mother-of-pearl is hypnotizing, and I could spend days just watching them stir color into the freshly poured boiling-hot surgary syrup mix, but it's also oddly soothing to hear the cooks chatter away about Rick and Morty or see the store's matriarch shop the aisles of a bulk merchandise store for the perfect bag of potato chips to run through the enrober. I like to turn on the videos while I'm toiling away at the computer and pretend they are my co-workers. They ship all over mainland USA, so don't miss their dark chocolate covered vegan marshmallows. Like their videos, they are so much more than the sum of their parts. Also, order the ribbon candy. I've never had any as good as theirs and I have loved great ribbon candy since forever. They don't guarantee it will arrive unbroken, but I've had good luck with it so far (and besides, I'm going to break it up to eat it, so I'm not going to be all that picky even if it does arrive in shards.) Also not-to-be missed are the "accidentally vegan" nut brittles (I'm partial to the pecan, but you can't go wrong with peanut, cashew, or mixed nut.) with or without chocolate. 

6. Tsum Tsums, Molang, and other painfully cute things: When my soul requires cleansing (and in this political climate, it frequently does), I look to these guys to clean it up like those tiny fish who pick carrion from a shark's mouth. Tsum Tsums are a generous gift to all of us from the minds of Tokyo Disney. Tsum tsum (pronounced "zoom zoom") roughly translates to "stack stack" which these characters always seem to need to do to get out of the wacky situations they encounter. Imagine all of your favorite Disney characters in Tic Tac form. Now imagine that they can change their size from regular Tic Tac size to the size of a small hassock. You get the idea. There are a slew of the most "awwwww" inspiring videos starring these creatures on You Tube, and there's a smattering of adorable merchandise available that makes me squeal uncontrollably in its presence. Now, onto Molang who is a similarly shaped character, though a bit more chubby and turned upright. He speaks in garbled nonsense and giggles uncontrollably about 50% of the time he's on the screen. He has a best friend who is a tiny chicken and they do all sorts of adorable things in 15 minute segments on Prime and Hulu and NetFlix and probably YouTube. I cannot emphasize their cuteness and how desperately you need it, enough. What have you got to lose? 15 minutes and the world doesn't look quite so rough around the edges. What else in your life promises something so necessary, achieved so quickly. Give it a try.

7. Hallmark bullshit: It's that time of year when several Hallmark channels (along with a vast array of knock-offs) play nothing but absurd, relentlessly Christmassy rom-coms until January. I can't quite explain why, but I love it. I don't like rom-coms any other time of year, and yet I will consume these like they are oxygen and I'm having a panic attack in a crowded elevator crammed full of diseased Santa Claus impersonators. My favorite kind are the ones where two people have to pretend to be in love until Christmas for some reason. Nothing precludes timeless love like deception.

Stopping here again because my right pinky is sending searing pain up to my elbow and I need to go stuff the whole arm into a brace right now. I will return with a conclusion to this list in a far more timely fashion than its previous components' deliveries. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Here's what I'm living for today. Part One.

 In a Herculean effort to avoid the looming reality at hand, I present to you a list of ten things I am living for today, just in case you, too, might be needing something to live for in the coming days. So, in no particular order, punctuated by photos of Scott and I making goofy faces at you, here they are. Enjoy!

Ten Things I am Living For Today

1. VCR Party Live Hello Melindas! Every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. eastern time, Nick and Joe (and Steve and George) light up the screen with a variety of found vhs (and occasionally more modern media) gems and other assorted Nice Things in a show that has more corners than a dodecahedron. To name a few, there's Nick's Excitement Corner, Joe's Tedium Corner, the highly controversial Joe's Filth Corner (personally, I'm a Filthie, but I get it. Some people can't hack it. [Or maybe not everyone likes their entertainment occasionally peppered with surgery footage and student art films from the cat box. I can accept that. That's why they give fair warning for the squeamish and morally opposed. {Check out these crazy parentheticals. I'm letting it all hang out today, grammar and usage fans!}]), George's Creep Corner, and many many more. I am also including, under the VCR Party heading, the rich tapestry of entertainment they provide later in the week as well, with additional programming like Willie's Garage--an ALF fan show that's fun even if you've never seen the show before (just ask George!), and Shaturday Morning Cartoons with lively discussions over Saturday Morning Cartoons from the golden age of predatory child-targeted advertising. Grab your favorite technicolor cereal, (It's an important part of a balanced breakfast!) and be careful not to choke on the prize inside! You're in for some wholesome sugar-fueled fun! 

2. Video Fireplaces: Is it okay to shout "fire" in a crowded home theater? You bet it is! One of my favorite soul cleansers no matter the season is spending a long afternoon in the sheltering glow of a video fireplace. Rainy days are my favorite time to turn to the flaming screen for comfort, but because these flames emit no heat (or they *shouldn't* anyway. If they do, please unplug your television now and seek assistance) you can curl up for a cozy nap in front of them in the dead of summer if you like! Even Disney is getting in on the action with their Arendelle Castle Yule Log available year-round if you subscribe to Disney+ (and you know I do.) For those without streaming aps, I recently found (thank you, Ebay) an older Disney Yule Log on DVD from the early 2000's that I haven't even unwrapped yet. (I'll be sure to post a review, but I'm saving it for a holiday treat, so come back December-ish.) You don't even have to have a television anymore. If you're really hardcore you own at least a few analog alternatives like the tiny faux tv on my coffee table that broadcasts nothing but the soft glow of electric flames 24/7, or the wax melt burner Scentsy sold a few years ago that looks like a fire place for rats and guinea pigs with dancing flames and everything. You want flames that smell like gardenias because it's Easter...I can do that! It's incredible. If you think I'm the only person obsessed with year-round Yule logs, just look at the comments on pretty much any of the video fireplaces available via Amazon Prime. There are people who can tell you who directed them just by looking at the flames. We call those people gods. Seriously. That's some badass fandom skillz. 

3. Dinosaur Dracula This one's new to me, so I'm not going to say a lot, only that I've lost many hours lately to his website and podcast, The Purple Stuff (look for it wherever you obtain your podcasts.) 

Hopefully these will keep you busy today. Come back for part two. My Ehlers-Danlosed-up wrists are, as they say, dah-dah-dah-done, but there's so much more to live for, I promise! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Oh Poor, Neglected Blog. I'm So Sorry.

 I realize I am rather abruptly posting on my sad, dusty little blog after years of ignoring its existence, however, I do find lately, that at least once daily I have had something of interest I wanted to share with anyone who might be listening. Hence, my renewed hope that this will not a be another one-off post in the echoing emptiness that is this blog. 

Dangling bits of string in front of my cat's nose: 
one of the many things I've been doing instead of posting here.

I have always loved the idea of journaling daily. I so admire those with the discipline to sit down once a day and put down the thoughts and events they've collected over the last twenty-four hours in a book, preferably hard-bound and hand-written. Sadly, every time I have tried to become one of these people, all I end up with is one or two entries, each the size of a novella. The problem is, I don't know how to stop. I sit down at the end of the day, full of enthusiasm and practically glowing self-congratulatory serenity knowing that I am about to become a more self-aware, reflective, purposeful human being the very minute my pen hits the first page of the fancy new Leuchtturm1917 notebook I spent an hour and a half choosing, 15 minutes ordering, and 4 days dreaming about and all the wonderful, introspective sort of things I was going to write inside it once it arrived. The first evening of the day it does, my pen hits the paper and instantly I feel regretful that I've inevitably made some sort of aesthetic error right away (and M with 3 humps or a D that's too portly) but it's too late to stop now. I furiously scribble my every inner thought, and every remotely significant incident of my day. By the time I look up, it is 4 a.m. The next evening, the same thing happens and by evening number three, I've fallen asleep at 8 p.m. from the sleep deprivation of the last two nights and the spell is broken. The notebook joins the legion of its kind on a dedicated shelf in my home library that brings me deep feelings of shame every time I glance in its direction until sufficient time has passed to make my latest failure seem like a fault of past-me that current-me feels ready to conquer again.

My attempts at blogging don't involve the fancy paper goods or the handwriting anxiety issues, but the results tend to be similar.

So, here's current-me once again. Stopping here before I get out of control again. 

P.S. (Oh no. I found a loophole. I promise just a couple more sentences.) Here's a link to a poem I just fell in love with, from the pages of Cultural Weekly. It's by Laura Grace Weldon, who not only has a marvelous way with words, but also one of the best author photos I've seen in a while. Enjoy: 

Laura Grace Weldon's "Heat" 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Review: Rough Beasts: The Zanesville Zoo Massacre One Year Later

Rough Beasts: The Zanesville Zoo Massacre One Year Later Rough Beasts: The Zanesville Zoo Massacre One Year Later by Charles Siebert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a case I find rather fascinating, as I do most cases of individuals who keep wild animals captive less as simple lapse in judgement about these animals' desire to be one's companions (though that is part of it), but more due to having one's identity wrapped up in a belief that, as their owner, they are more powerful, desirable, interesting, or intelligent than everyone else because of a perceived special ability--an almost magical thrall--they alone have because they have caged (and thereby controlled) these "dangerous" animals. Often this extends into a belief that they either have a unique strength or dominance over the animals they've obtained, or that they have developed a kind of pseudo-scientific "system", that allows them to interact with wild animals without being considered food, obstacle, or playthings by them, as one would normally. This belief is so firmly entrenched in their psyche that it frequently remains despite repeated accidents, injuries, close calls, or even deaths of friends or acolytes.

For the true crime junkie, I think this is a particularly lurid and bizarre story. While not entirely unique, few attempted mass murderers carry things out to quite as dramatic an end as this man did, having used (spoiler? Sort of? It was all over the news a few years ago, and I think the fact that this is a retrospective you are supposed to know this. It may be on the back of the book, even.) the animals (he claimed to care so much about) as attempted murder weapons.

I think the book is honestly awfully easy on this guy, offering a sometimes-sympathetic view of a man who exploited the animals he purportedly deeply loved, yet ultimately killed them all in an attempt to take his rage out on everyone around him. He ignored these animals' needs, deprived them of the ability to express even the most basic behaviors normal to their species', then used them as disposable killing machines. His firm belief in his ability to keep his friends and family safe from attack by avoiding feeding the animals any blood...followed by the act of opening every cage before smearing himself with blood and killing himself so that the animals would eat his body, shows that he had every intention of sending them on a bloodthirsty rampage to attack the neighbors (who complained about his neglect and negligence), their animals (those boring domestic animals the neighbors argued were in danger), and the animal control workers and police he held in such contempt. He knew his animals would be shot and killed, and yet he used them as pawns in his revenge plan, because ultimately it was all about his ego, no matter how many times and ways he tried to convince himself and others that he cared so much about these animals that he had to break the law and endanger everyone around him. Misunderstood, antisocial individualist? Hardly. Sociopath, indeed.

I am grateful to the author for writing this book because I think it is extremely important that we understand this basic criminal profile. If we are to attempt to mitigate the damage done to the people and animals who suffer the type of abuse this sort of crime simmers in, we need to be aware of what it looks like in infancy. This kind of toxic belief system isn't exclusive to the exotic animal trade, though I do think it thrives a bit more easily among those immersed in very lucrative trade in endangered and threatened animals-as-status-symbol. Similar crimes and variations on the theme have been unleashed (no pun intended) on individuals and communities via the breeding and training of fighting dogs and certain types of innately abusive attack dog training that encourage a magical "dominance" thinking: that belief that they--and only they--can control and interact with an animal they've made dangerous. They believe this makes them stand out, are better than all others, and ultimately gives them the very toxic power high that other killers find when they amass arsenals. These weapons, however, are thinking, breathing, sentient, abused, and broken animals who make mistakes in judgement or simply do what they would normally do had they not been taken from their homes in the wild--or what they've been taught to do every waking moment by the people who trained them to kill. It's one of the very peculiar cases where the weapon is the victim, too. Interesting stuff.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Voices Project features "Anything But Summer"

If there can be an Ebenezer Scrooge of summer, I would proudly accept that title. This isn't the first time you've heard me whine about summer. But this very well may be the first time you've heard me complain about it in poem form! Thanks to The Voices Project, more people than ever will get an earful of my feelings of dread and distaste for that season everyone else seems to adore. Hopefully this time I've made my annual rant a little more fun to listen to. Please, if you would, visit The Voices Project and give it a read. If you enjoy it and really want to make my day, leave me a comment.

Anything But Summer

Summer: Best viewed from behind glass.

While you're there, stick around and flip through some of the other pages and poems that are there for you to peruse through. For now, I've got to go shake my fist at the last remaining days of the season, lingering about on my lawn. There are still a handful or two before autumn officially begins, and you can bet which of my handful of fingers I'll be waving them off with. So long, summer!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Review: Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon

Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent book. Extremely well-documented and it avoids the common problem of scholarly works going dry. The author chose a hot topic right now, not only in the dog community and the humane community but also within the general public. I imagine if you simply look at her star rating here and on bookstore sites, you'll end up seeing a falsely diminished score due to people who may or may not have read it downgrading it simply due to its subject matter. On the contrary, Dickey handles the subject in a calm, sane manner that doesn't always lean to a single side of the issue. Her interviews are especially interesting since she speaks with people of all types who work and play with these dogs. There are times you'll cringe and times you'll be saying, "Yeah! Exactly!" out loud, or you will if you're as prone to talking back to the book in your hands as I am.

Even if you think this book doesn't apply to you because your dog is a golden retriever mix or rescued chihuahua or purpose-bred doberman, trust me, it does. The best part is that it won't be a drag to read. It's intelligent non-fiction that reads like a juicy biography, and it should since it's really a biography of a breed that everyone has an opinion about.

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