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31 posts from March 2008

March 31, 2008

Declaration of Blah Blah

Declaration of Blah Blah
by Harley

I’m in hell.

I’m facing my bête noir, that which is hanging over my head, worse than getting my teeth cleaned, worse than mucking out the rabbit cage (my 2nd grader is in Maui), worse than doing my taxes. I’m filling out a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, Schedule of Assets & Debts and Income & Expenses Declaration, with accompanying exhibits.

Or, as I lovingly call it, the Declaration of Blah Blah.

Why am I doing it? My divorce lawyer told me to. Honestly, why not just hand me a copy of Mein Kampf and a German-English dictionary and tell me to translate it? I’ve been working on this thing (i.e., staring at it) for weeks. I’ve filled out my name and address, which leaves only nine pages to go. I’ve written novels faster than this.

Life used to be simple. I worked. I paid off my credit cards every month, paid the rent, spent what was left, saved some, gave some away. When I graduated from waitressing, I found some scary guy in NYC to do my taxes. When I moved to LA, Scary Guy was replaced by Nice Laurie. One day Nice Laurie told me to buy a house and I asked her how much to spend and she told me and I bought one. Then I got married and sold that house and my husband and I bought a house together and he did all the money stuff and Nice Laurie was replaced by Husband’s People, and for a decade I had babies and cooked stuffed calamari and grocery shopped and wrote novels and forgot what a mortgage interest rate was. I was the Cautionary Tale on the Suze Orman show. So of course I came to a Bad End, staring into the black hole of the Declaration of Blah Blah.

“I shall reinvent myself!” I cried, and signed up for a Personal Finance class at UCLA. “I’ll read stock prospectuses for entertainment, and always know the Blue Book value of my car!” But my big challenge was staying awake, even though the teacher, a Bob Marley lookalike, was a personable guy who did everything but puppet shows to illustrate his points. I learned what a poison pill is, who Freddie Mac is, and what the deal is with junk bonds, but I have to consult my notes, which are lovely, lots of doodling and possible plots for novels, alongside memos to self, such as “Uh-oh!” and “Where’s the ELECTRIC BILL!?” and “Compare your co. toothers using index.” (no idea what that means.)

But Costco is my undoing. My fatal flaw. The Declaration of Blah Blah insists I itemize expenses into groceries, clothes, gifts, eating out, but it’s all Costco! Costco! The only thing I don’t buy at Costco is my lawyer and my hair colorist and I have no receipts, only totals. So shoot me.

Here’s what else I don’t get: if a million divorces are underway this year, why is no one else whining about their Declaration of Blah Blah? Where is my tribe? My people?

Anyway, I’ve called in my brilliant friend Margaret, who’s coming over this week to wade through boxes of color-coded files (I find filing soothing) whilst I weep and eat chocolate.

BTW: my daughter has left a note on the bunny’s cage. There’s a fee schedule for holding or petting Dixie; one dollar for siblings, a nickel for parents; no charge for friends. By the time she returns from Maui, I’ll be $.90 in the hole. What budgetary category does that go into?

Happy Monday!

March 30, 2008

Political Monkey Sex

Political Monkey Sex

By Sarah

It's always a little off-putting to read scientists' discoveries of how we, intelligent advanced humans, are Monkeysex really nothing but shaved monkeys on the make. For example, our natural attraction to beauty is based largely on survival - large eyes (the better to see predators with), long strong shapely legs (the better to run away from the predators one has just seen), ample breasts (the better to feed offspring should one manage to run away from predators) and a great ass (the better to...oh, we'll just leave that one alone.)

Which brings me to Carla Bruni Sarkozy, the former Italian supermodel turned singer turned mistress turned wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. A woman with her Carla own groovy website. Last week, after a whirlwind romance of sex and more sex, the Sarkozys got dressed and crossed the Channel as if seeking approval from the stiff upper cousins, those dowdy German, no-fun-at-all, Windsors.

Poor Camilla.

Carla_and_camilla Anyone who's setting up family portraits knows the first rule is NOT to stand the pretty trophy wife next to someone's battleaxe and though it was clearly orchestrated to keep them apart, there were moments, sigh, when Camilla and Carla were side by side for easy comparison. Ouch.

From that flowed other comparisons. Carla Bruni Sarkozy was the next Princess Diana.Diana1(Considering how Diana met her demise, Carla might want to buckle her seat belt.) Suddenly, she was hailed as captivating an entire country and trumping her husband and whatever foreign policy gestures he might have made - like sending troops to Afghanistan. French troops. Oui. Oui!

All because she, what, wore Dior?

Or because we're monkeys. Monkeys on the make.

The English and French are not alone. Here in this country we can't get over how sexy the Obamas are. Michele is slim and gorgeous. Barack not too bad, either. Together, they're grrrrr.

EekWhereas Hillary and Bill? For that, I have two words. Martha's Vineyard. Also two other Michele_and_barack words. Thunder thighs. Nope. Those who love Hillary (and Bill, if possible) will have to squint and rise to their highest selves. They will have to supersede the monkey factor to concentrate purely on the intellectual. In my opinion, that's at the root of the Hillary vs. Obama dispute so overplayed in the press these days. Those who support Hillary are proud to say they have shed their monkey beings while that can't necessarily be said for all the Obama supporters. (Of whom I am one.) Some of us like him cause he's hotttt.

Onto McCain. Okay, he tried to appeal to the monkey factor with a young(er) extremely blond wife with excellent bone structure. But Cindy McCain ran into her own problems (Keating Five, Percocet, Vicodin, DEA, drug theft) which tarnished the platinum. Also, they're Republicans. And no matter what you think of them, there's no getting around the fact that while Republicans might be hawks and, supposedly, dim on the power of the federal government and all for letting banks and corporations run rampant without checks, they are not supposed to be sexy. Rich, maybe, but not cute.

Banana And to that I say, "Ooh ooh." Banana anyone?


March 29, 2008

Chimpunk Punks

Chipmunk Punks

By Sarah

Recently, I adopted two cats from the local humane society, thug sisters who cannot be separated, to take Cat care of some business matters. Namely, to rub out a chipmunk who's been living in my car for two years and creating havoc with my intake air filter.

While it's not exactly unpleasant to turn on the heater and smell the quintessentially Manhattan aroma of roasting nuts, it is disconcerting to be cruising at 70 mph while a small lump floats around the ceiling always threatening to drop down and run under your foot on the gas pedal.

As for the air filter? Bottom line, it's costing me cash. Every tune up, some wiseguy mechanic holds it up to show his buddies. White fluffy filling from under the seats (which have begun to sag). Brown pieces of dog  food. Sunflower seed shells. They're all there in a cozy home. It's amazing I've got any air to breathe at all.

Enter Patches and Tiny. Those are their real names, like they were born to kill. They're ruthless and Img_2847suspicious. Lithe and evil. And once their delicate paws can handle the snow and cold concrete floor of our garage, I'm setting them loose in my Pilot.

Look - I don't like cats. Our last cat was diabetic and overweight and cleaning up her litter box was a daily nightmare. Cat urine is akin to ricin, in my book. Deadly. Smelly and impossible to cure. They are vengeful and irritating. Dogs are much more trustworthy. Dumb, true, but loyal and generally happy. When they pee on the carpet they're so ashamed they can't make eye contact. A cat enjoys watching you clean it up. That's half the fun.

So perhaps that's why I get secret joy out of this video. Warning: do not watch this if you are a cat or animal lover in general. Even so, I can't help it. It gets me every time.

But don't show it to my cats. At least...not before they put out the contract.


March 28, 2008

WTF Did You Say?

WTF Did You Say?

By Me, Margie

Blog_iseedumbpeopleig0Okay, we all say stuff we shouldn't. Even someone with the communication skills of Me, Margie, can blurt out something idiotic once in a while.

But seriously? Some things are just beyond belief. So let's play a game. I am going to list some of the stupidest-ass things I have ever heard, and you can guess who said it. Then you can do the same. I mean, there are plenty of moronic statements to go around. To be fair to all you people who are, you know, not really old, but are older than me, I am going to include boners from before I was born. Ready?

1. "The Internet is not a dump truck. It's a series of tubes."

2. "Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours."

3. "The word ‘genius’ isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

4. "If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life."

5. "I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police."

6. "I always listen to ‘NSYNC’s Tearin’ Up My Heart. It reminds me to wear a bra."

7. "Politics gives guys so much power that they tend to behave badly around women. And I hope I never get into that."

8. "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

9. "You mean they've scheduled Yom Kippur opposite Charlie's Angels?"

10. "Whenever I watch TV and I see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I would love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff."

11. "It could take six days..six weeks-- I doubt six months."

12. "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"

13. "(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

14. "I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship...There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' "

15. “I can honestly say, all the bad things that ever happened to me were directly, directly attributed to drugs and alcohol. I mean, I would never urinate at the Alamo at nine o'clock in the morning dressed in a woman's evening dress sober.”

Okay, your turn. Once somebody guesses correctly, I'll confirm it. And I left out a LOT of good ones, so you guys have no excuse for not adding to the list.

MID-DAY UPDATE from Me, Margie

We did so well, that it's time for more fun - as you know, some of you (okay, us) only come here for the sex. So here are some classic funny quotes about - what else? Here's a hint - for a change, none of these are from politicians. Those kind are more nauseating than funny.

A. “I know nothing about sex because I was always married.”

B. “Bisexuality doubles your chance of a date on Saturday night.”

C. "When the authorities warn you of the dangers of having sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities."

D. "There are a number of mechanical devices that increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief amongst these is the Mercedes-Benz 380L convertible."

E. "Sex at the age of eighty-four is a wonderful experience. Especially the one in the winter."

F. "Sex is one of the most wholesome, beautiful and natural experiences that money can buy."

G. "When I'm good I'm very, very good but when I'm bad I'm better."

H. “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.”

I. “A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp.”

J. “I'm too shy to express my sexual needs except over the phone to people I don't know.”

K. "Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship."

L. “Hell, if I'd jumped on all the dames I'm supposed to have jumped on, I'd have had no time to go fishing.”

March 27, 2008

Spring Clean Up

Spring Clean Up

by Nancy Martin

You already know this is not my first rodeo. So it shouldn't shock you that I broke down in a moment of weakness and bought the book HOW NOT TO LOOK OLD while I was on tour last week. If you have refrained from buying this book, I admire your self esteem. But I bet you're dying to know what's between the covers, right?

Take this warning from one who's in the know: Crow's feet hook their claws into you long before age 40. And if you have a baby or two, other things besides your eyelids start to sag--things you assumed would be perky for at least another 25 years.  And I'm not even going to discuss chin hair, varicose veins or fallen arches, but really--they're probably in your future. It's not to early for you to buy this book.

Have I drunk the Kool Aid as written by Charla Krupp?  Yes.  Gallons of it.

Here's some of the skinny, according to Ms Krupp's book, if you want to make the world think you're a long way from Social Security:

Cut yourself some bangs. This suggestion caught me off guard, since bangs tend to make me look like a turtle. But I've been studying bangs for a week now, and I think she's right.--Bangs lift a face that might otherwise need a forklift.

Next up:  Throw away all your dark lipsticks. This advice comes with photo examples of no less a fashion icon than Sharon Stone.  Go to fullsize image OKay, okay, she's a nutball, but she looks great and she gives major money and effort to AIDS research and curing malaria. Plus it's spring, and what could be more springlike than shopping for pink lipsticks? I forget the rationale explained in the book, but I bought some, and the author is right.--Pink is better. My new shade is the same color as Britney's bubblegum.  That's got to lift the level of serotonin in a girl's brain after a long winter.

This one's old news, but here goes: Start whitening your teeth.  The book shows so many photos of celebrities with Chiclet smiles that I have to think the real advice is to start saving for veneers, but for lesser beings who are still paying our kids' college loans, break out the baking soda. Yellow teeth make us look like villains in old episodes of Gunsmoke.  (Steady, William.) But white teeth make us look as if we just need a pair of black leggings and we're all set to go clubbing with Lindsay Lohan. Which is a good thing, right?

For the under-40 set, this suggestion comes around like the cycles of the moon:  Once again, it's time to reduce eye makeup to the bare minimum. The book shows you how to apply a thin layer of liner that is now de rigeur unless you're Phylis Diller.  For those of us over 50, no more "smokey eyes" or thick swaths that look like they've been applied by a Bollywood makeup artist. (Guilty!) But somebody tell me what a girl's supposed to do if I can't see to draw a microscopic line around my lashes?  My bifocals don't help because I can't manipulate the pencil around the glasses. But I'm working on it. The alternative is to get the line tattooed on my eyelids, but I'm already nearly blind and besides, what happens if the fashion changes and I'm stuck with last decade's style? Meanwhile, I get my lashes dyed at the salon, which is illegal in most states, but I'm not going to turn anybody over to the local Barney Fife. I do tip really well--which could be considered a contribution to the bail fund, I suppose.

The book also provides a long, helpful list of clothes I need to throw away, but since the list includes many of my wardrobe staples, I'm resisting.  But also on the list are full-length fur coats, cargo pants and acid-wash jeans, which just added J-Lo to my fashion purgatory, so I'm in good company.  (Hey, I like salsa music! And really, those babies are adorable. Admit it.)

And those of us who have been known to wear our hair long and parted in the middle? We're definitely looking older than we need to. Me, I've spent the last couple of years flashing back to the days when I wished my VW bug could make the trip all the way to Woodstock (see photo above) but I gather that hippie hair is gone, baby, gone.

So I spent the weekend cutting out pictures of middle-aged celebrities with age-appropriate, yet flattering haircuts. And I took them to the salon.

Here's my new, younger 'do: Go to fullsize image

Well, all right, that's really Jenna Elfman, but our digital camera isn't working at the moment.  This is the picture I took to the salon, and Laura did a great job giving me the same haircut.   

Okay, a new haircut and pink lipstick won't change the world, won't elect a good president, won't end a war, but dammit, it makes me feel better about me at a time that's really hard for a writer----the weeks when my agent is showing my new book proposal around New York.  I need all the self-esteem points I can gather.  No, I'm not wishing I looked like Britney or Lindsay, and I have no desire to go back to that time of my life. (Hey, I really do think 50 is the new 30!)  But it's spring, and I feel plenty perky.  I'd like to look as good as I feel.

I hear you, TLC readers. You're asking, "Nancy, is that HOW NOT TO LOOK OLD book worth the cover price?"  Uh . . . yes.  I love this book.  I also bought the new book by my favorite TV personality, Tim Gunn. But his book is a real disappointment. (Sorry, Tim.  But a book about fashion with no pictures??) Check out Charla Krupp's book at your favorite bookstore.  I bet you buy it.  (Well, maybe not you, Josh.  And please don't pick it up for your wife.  It would not make a good gift.)

And although we discourage publishing house publicists from sending the Tarts books that we might mention here, I will gladly accept more like this one.  And please hurry.  I'm not getting any younger.

March 26, 2008

Man Sandwiches

Man Sandwiches

By Elaine Viets

I found out about the major difference between men and women on the fourth day of our honeymoon. Don and I were staying at the Plaza Hotel in New York, before it was Trumped.

The night before, I’d polished off a bottle of champagne mixed with four bottles of Guinness stout. Don called this concoction a Black Velvet.

It went down smooth and wicked. It woke me up, mean and nasty. At two in the morning, I didn’t feel like I’d been drinking Black Velvet. I felt like I’d been eating old carpets. My stomach heaved and churned like the storm-tossed North Atlantic. A gale of acid indigestion was going on down there.

I crawled into the bathroom and lay down on the cool tile floor. The hotel housekeeper would find me in the morning, dead. I could wear my wedding dress in my coffin. Right now, I just wanted to throw up and die.

Don poked his head in the bathroom and said, "Are you all right?" He was repulsively cheerful.

"Uhhhh," I groaned, like a creature from a freshly opened tomb.

"Reuben’s deli is open all night," he said. "Can I get you something to soothe your stomach?"

It wasn’t fair. The man drank more than I did, and he looked like he’d spent the night swilling soda water. I summoned the strength for a deathbed request.

"Just a little white meat of turkey," I said. "On a slice of white bread."

I put my head on the rim of the cool white commode and fell asleep.

Next thing I knew, Don was back with a disgusting, smelly, paper-wrapped mound. He had an innocent, proud look, like a retriever that had just brought a dead rabbit into the living room.

In this case it was a dead turkey. A full pound, covered with pickles, onions and sour cream, all of it swimming on a raft of Russian rye. My stomach lurched.

"You beast!" I screamed. "How could you do this?"

"You said you wanted turkey," he said, looking puzzled.

I slammed the door to the bathroom. The sandwich smell was so strong it invaded the whole room. While I lay dying, Don not only ate his pastrami, he also ate the monstrous turkey, onion and sour cream sandwich.

The next morning, I nibbled soda crackers for breakfast and wondered if it was too late to have the marriage annulled. I’d been married five days and I’d made a terrible mistake. Any man who would bring a sandwich like that to a dying woman was too insensitive to be married.

That was my awful intro to the man-made sandwich. From what I could figure out, a man-made sandwich has nothing to do with the sandwiches that women make. We prefer dainty creations made with healthy whole-grain bread, lettuce, watercress and other vegetables, free-range chicken and white meat of turkey, and when we’re feeling reckless, fat-free mayo.

A man-made sandwich looks like the guy cleaned out the fridge and put it on bread. It may have leftover pot roast, barbecue, chicken, pork chops, cole slaw, or potato salad. Pickles, relishes, onions, red pepper, black pepper and strange objects floating in vinegar in the jars on the side shelves are acceptable. Real mayo is a must. Hot sauce, hot mustard and spicy ketchup will do. Butter is always better. Deep-fat frying, in the finest Elvis tradition, is the making of a man’s sandwich.

Lettuce belongs in a salad bowl. Whole grains are for rabbits. Rye and dark bread are good, but should be used sparingly. They could be borderline healthy. Spongy pillow bread is ideal.

Back when I did television, I ate a pig-ear sandwich on camera. That’s a deep-fried pig’s ear, covered in barbecue sauce and potato salad and served on a white bun.

"I can’t eat that thing," I told my agent.

"Shut up," she said. "People have eaten worse to advance their careers."

March 25, 2008

Joshilyn Jackson's Mysterious Affair

HEY! Now, it's a contest with prizes and everything....See Joshilyn's comment in the comment section. And then click on her site tomorrow.....!!!

Joshilyn Jackson's Mysterious Affair

By Sarah - And Joshilyn

Joshilyn Jackson is quickly becoming the go-to girl of Southern writing. Her two previous books - Gods Better_girl in Alabama (which begins with the best opening line ever*) and Between, Georgia - have been #1 Booksense picks. Her latest, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, in which a happily domesticated suburban quilter is visited by the ghost of a girl who turns up dead in her swimming pool, is that rare combination of page turner mystery and literary novel peppered with characters who leap off the page - Jackson's trademark.

Before we get to her post below, however, I'd just like to note a few of her responses to my nosy questions: Jackson does not believe in ghosts; she believes in physics.

"That said, I have been places that felt haunted, and even physics believes that no energy is ever lost," she said. "Energy just changes form. So. There are more things in heaven and earth, etc. etc."

As for the Southern suburban existence she brings so vividly to life in The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Jackson knows it well having lived in a suburb of Atlanta that was once "in the cotton" and is now being gobbled up by the usual accoutrement of more comfortable living - box stores, Chili's restaurants, malls. In her latest book, Jackson sets up two parallel universes - the suburb Victorianna and the old mining town DeLop - that are more haunting than the ghosts. DO NOT MISS THIS NOVEL!!

And now for Jackson's blog:

The Mysterious Affair of the BicycleJoshilyn

Since February 28th, I have been on tour for The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and today is the tail end of a 40 hour break at home before I head up to do the east coast. Last night I was SO happy to be in my own personal bed with own personal husband with my own personal cats tucking themselves in around the edges that I slept for twelve straight hours straight, and yet, even while entirely unconscious, I could not quite stop mulling over The Mysterious Affair of the Bicycle in my dreams.

Let me present the facts of the case to you:

While signing at a west coast bookshop, far from home, the Event Co-coordinator brought me a slip of paper and said, “You had a phone message earlier, and Kate, the manager, wrote it down for you.” The slip of paper said:

“Todd for Joshilyn Jackson: Bicycle of hers was left in his garage. Please tactfully pass this message on to the author.”

CRYPTIC! I do not own a bicycle! I do not know a Todd! And why would this message need to be passed on to me in a TACTFUL manner? It doesn’t sound PERSONAL or EMBARRASSING? Unless we assume it is a EUPHEMISM. It sounds like one, doesn’t it? If I were a man, and somewhat sexually indiscriminant, and if the message was from, say a “Toddina,” I would assume I had gotten someone pregnant.

This must be some former Todd? Some long forgotten bicycle? And yet, I can only dredge up two past Todds of any note, and they are so far back in the misty past that I can remember NEITHER’s last name.

1) Cupcake Todd. This Todd was circa fourth grade, and he was my first love. Well, he was my first Spock REAL LIFE love. Before him I had crushes on Spock (Yes. That Spock. Pointy ears and all.) and Lurch (the Adams Family’s groaning butler) and the constellation Orion (I know, that one is especially weird, but, come ON! He fought BEARS!!!) My type was apparently Tall, Dark, and Totally Emotionally Unavailable, so it surprised no one more than me that when at last I fell for a Real Alive Boy, he should be a sunny dispositioned, white-blonde object, two inches shorter than me with a face as round and smooth and white as a Vidalia onion.

I expressed the depths of my Todd-ian adoration every day at lunch by taking ONE of my hostess cupcakes and kissing it surreptitiously. Then I would offer the kissed cake to Todd, and I would pretend to be very busy and important as I peeped sideways in little sipping glances to watch him eat my kiss. For the record, let me assure you it was a blameless kiss, close-lipped and chaste, and yet it was as fervent as possible for a girl who had not yet even HEARD of how they bussed their flaky pastries in the wilds of debauched France.

Within ten days, rumors of my secret dessert-kissing went from best friend Yvonne down a long chain of other girls, until a vicious little hussy named Lisa (who liked Todd herself) TOLD him what I had been doing, and then it worked its way back up the chain and right before lunch, Yvonne told me in hushed tones that TODD KNEW. (!!!!!)

That day, terrified but too in love to quail, I kissed the cupcake and proffered it as usual, and Todd took it and ate it as usual, which was to me and my gaggle of friends and the bitterly disappointed Lisa proof positive of his reciprocal devotion to me. In retrospect, it occurs that he may have only been expressing a devotion for cream filling, but at the time, the general assumption was that Todd and I were “going together.”

I did have a bicycle in those days, a pink one with streamers on the handlebars, and I may very well have left it in Todd’s garage a few times. And yet I can’t imagine he would search me out at a bookstore in California and ask a manager to TACTFULLY tell me so via phone message, lo these thirty years and change later.

2) Beautiful Gay Todd.

He was from my last college days,and he was MASTER of the bon mot. I LOVED talking to him. My relationship with Beautiful Gay Todd mostly consisted of running into him at parties and spending an Bicycle hour gabbing with him and laughing ourselves sick, and then we would circulate onwards. For the rest of the night, I had to tell about 50 single girls who had seen me talking to him and wanted an intro that he was gay, and then they would sigh and say, “Oh. What a pity,” and if my friend Steven was near enough he would pop into the conversation juuuuust long enough to say, “Well *I* don’t think so,” and waggle his eyebrows.

I have no memory of any doings with Beautiful Gay Todd beyond these and certainly no memories of him having a garage or me having a bicycle that I would have put in it and abandoned.

The Abandoned Bicycle remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma served with conundrum sauce, and I keep waiting for something to happen to clarify it all, and the something keeps not happening. This is VERY unsatisfying, but, to bright-side here, it’s one of those little niggling things that keeps intruding into my imagination. I find myself making UP plausible Todds, plausible bicycles, plausible reasons for TACT.

I strongly suspect that unless an explanation is offered, in about ten or so years of mulling, I will have the makings of another novel, in much the same way that six enigmatic sentences in a short story started Gods in Alabama, nine years before I wrote it. It was an inexplicable piece of graffiti that started Between, Georgia, a good eighteen years before I wrote THAT. THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING began seven years before I wrote it, when I saw a particular quilt by fabric artist Pamela Allen, and started trying to imagine the sort of mind that would need to take quilting—a traditional cozy big-bosomed Amishy female mother thing---and turn it into an edgy statement about women’s roles without EVER losing a sense of humor.

Joshilynj Of course I want to know, WHAT BICYCLE??? WHAT DAMN TODD? But at the same time, the writer in me hopes I never find out.


*As for that best opening line, ever? "There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits and also Jesus."

March 24, 2008

Death to Pantyhose


Death to Pantyhose

by Michele

Recently I was thinking about head gear.  The heroine of my favorite series of time travel books, a thoroughly modern Twentieth Century woman, found herself in the Eighteenth Century and absolutely refused to wear a kerch.  What the hell is a kerch? I wondered, and why would she rather piss people off than wear one?  I'd just had a similar experience trying to visualize the racy "French hood" made popular by Anne Boleyn -- until the movie poster for "The Other Boleyn Girl" came out and I saw Natalie Portman wearing a kind of saucer thing on her head.  Wouldn't you know, my kerch question got answered in the same way.  Last weekend I watched the premiere of "John Adams" on HBO, and there was the admirable Laura Linney wearing a stupid little scrap of lace that I wouldn't be caught dead in either.  Aha, kerch!, I thought, no wonder.  Even worse were the men in their ridiculous wigs. I'm sure everyone's happy we dispensed with that nonsense centuries ago. 


Kerches and French hoods naturally set me thinking about JFK's inaugural address and its great unintended consequence -- the death of the modern millinery trade.  One guy takes off his hat to give a speech, and suddenly sartorial history is cut into two parts.  The part where you wouldn't any more leave the house without your hat than without your shoes or your pants, and the part where wearing a hat marks you as a weirdo.   Think about it, who just wears a hat any more?  Monica Lewinsky in her black beret? Proves my point; Miss Fashion Savvy she ain't.  The fedora and the pillbox have gone the way of the French hood and the kerch.  People reading about them in the 22nd Century won't even be able to imagine them without visual aids.

I'd been ruminating about head gear for a while when I had a sudden revelation.  Hats aren't the last thing to fall into the fashion black hole, and they're not the most important either.  A week or so ago, I was admiring the pedicure of Kelley from the Lee County Library System at an event in Fort Myers.  (There's your shout-out, Kelley.  Now you'd better post!)  Kelley had elaborate designs painted on her toes, flowers in black, white and silver.  Fancy pedicures were de rigeur in Florida, she explained, since women no longer wear panty hose.

She was right.  We've been liberated!  I was born and raised in the era of pantyhose, and I have lived to witness its death.  This, to me, is a much greater historical moment than the fall of the powdered wig.

I'd sort of realized this a number of years earlier, based on my experiences as a woman lawyer wearing  -- or not wearing --pants to work.  The year I started in the U.S. Attorney's Office, Bill Clinton was President and Janet Reno was Attorney General.  My boss in General Crimes was a tough woman, a liberal and a feminist.  My first week on the job, she called me into her office.  "You're pantsuit is beautiful," she said, "but you can't wear it to the office.  Pants are not appropriate for a woman in the courtroom."  I was pissed, but I listened, especially since she told me that certain male judges might refuse to let me appear in their courtrooms if I was wearing pants.  Who wants to risk humiliation like that, even at the hands of some crotchety old geezer whose days on the bench are numbered? 

For the eight years that I served, I heeded her advice and wore skirts to work without fail.  Then one day toward the end of my tenure, I made a bunch of arrests on a big case and spent some time doing bail hearings in magistrate's court, a place that as a senior prosecutor, I rarely visited.  All the baby prosecutors were hanging out there, stuck with bail duty.  I didn't recognize them or know their names, but one thing I couldn't miss.  The young female prosecutors all wore pants.

I looked down at my outfit -- skirt suit, with the skirt hitting above the knee, and heels.  I look like a slut, I thought.  They look like professionals. It was obvious.  Women in pants are taken more seriously.  Women in pants are de-sexed.  Nobody's looking at your legs while you're arguing legal precedent.  And moreover -- no more pantyhose!!! No more huge runs just when you have to stand up to deliver your summation.  No more feeling like your nether regions are tied up in a strait jacket.  No more wading through the pile of ratty old hose, none of which are presentable to wear.  No more freezing legs in winter time.                                                


March 23, 2008



By Sarah


Lilies Whether you believe the story of Jesus's resurrection or not, Easter at its most metaphorical sense is a celebration of hope. Of life overcoming death, of light conquering darkness and joy triumphing over despair. And for that reason alone, it's a wonderful excuse to stop, take a deep breath, find the croci or the daffodils or, in our case here in snowy Vermont, the determined reddening buds on the maple trees and rejoice.


It's been a horrible year for some of us - divorce, illness, health scares. The winter has been interminably long and violent with floods ravaging the Midwest and blizzards isolating whole towns. But it can't last forever and that, to me, is the message of Easter. Spring will come. Flowers will bloom and the snow will melt. That green grass will not be denied.


Two long protracted wars. A disastrous trifecta of economic woes - mortgage scams, credit crunch, oil prices - threaten to plunge not only our country but the whole world into a recession not seen since 1929. These are reasons not to give up but from what I've learned, this is exactly the moment when Newtulip hope is most important. This is when we have to trust that those running for President are doing so for the right reasons, to bring change and instill peace by next Easter and Easters to come.

My hope for all our readers and wonderful backbloggers is you stick with us for another year and chime in about your hopes for the upcoming year. Because you guys have made the dark days so much shorter.

Happy Easter!


March 22, 2008

Strike Three! But I'm not Out Yet!

Strike Three! But I’m not Out Yet.

TLC NOTE: Mary Jane Maffini is the author of the three mystery series and nearly two dozen short stories. She is also the former president of The Crime Writers of Canada. (There's a frosty bunch, eh?) Her latest book - The Cluttered Corpse - featuring professional organizer/sleuth Charlotte Adams, will be published by Berkley April 1. Enjoy!

By Mary Jane Maffini

I was so excited to be invited to guest blog on The Lipstick Chronicles last fall. What a great group of Mj_maffini mystery writers to rub cyber-shoulders with. I got down to work immediately. Things were going fabulously until my protagonists went on strike. Can you believe that?  All three of them! I was sandbagged. I think they got the idea from the writers. I knew I should have kept that damned TV turned off. Anyway, this labor conflict came out of nowhere and it seems like it’s been dragging on forever. I figured once the writers settled, the protagonists would come crawling back, but so far, no such luck.

I realize I should never have made Camilla MacPhee a lawyer. She’s the one who drew up the list of demands. And I imagine that snoopy little Charlotte Adams is getting them all organized. No doubt Fiona Silk is topping up their snifters of Courvoisier. If they’re not careful, she could burn down their house of cards.

Honestly, if they put half that effort into solving the crimes I set out for them, we could all retire. How could these people band together and turn against me?  Didn’t I give them life, love interests, jobs, pets, families? One of them even has a fabulous wardrobe, and I nearly always replace her designer shoes when disasters happen. Now it seems the three of them think everything is all about them. Frankly, I find it surprising that they were able to work together to form a so-called “guild’. It’s not like they have anything in common besides being single women who are inclined to stumble over cadavers and mess up their love lives in the process. I mean, is that my fault? What happened to taking responsibility for your own actions?

Luckily I had some scenes in draft form for my new book, Death Loves Your Messy Desk or I’d be up Messy_desk the familiar creek with my deadline. Even so, I’ll have to do something soon. I still can’t see how I can meet their outrageous terms and stay in business. I’m not running a charity here.

I know, you’d think I could count on the sidekicks for enough scenes to make a book, but they’ve standing behind the protagonists. Won’t cross the picket line. Some people can’t recognize opportunity banging on the door. Even my series proposal featuring one of them was met with stony stares. Honestly, what fan wouldn’t read The World’s Worst Office Assistant Mysteries?

In case you think I’m being unreasonable: take a gander at this list of demands:

·         Working conditions: maximum of three bodies to deal with in any given book

No midnight graveyard runs without back-up, no garbage dumpsters, abandoned mines, burning houses, nothing with Semtex, absolutely no children.

·         Equipment: no cell phones with dying batteries, no flat tires on lonely roads, no doors that lock behind you.

·         Overtime: Time and a half off for threatening phone calls, break-ins or personal physical attacks between the hours of midnight and six a.m.

·         Personal time: The right to a continuing stable relationship without recourse to the intensive care unit, arrest, or harassment from fictional relatives. In addition, no lovers will be permitted to turn into murderers.

·         Health: maximum one concussion per series

Oh puleeze, grow up. What author can live with these conditions? Now I’m stuck. I have to do everything myself. All to say, I’ll get back to the blog after I’ve visited the morgue and checked out the cemetery at midnight. 

Thanks for your patience!


Mary Jane Maffini’s latest books are Too Hot to Handle and The Cluttered Corpse.


Also - SPECIAL ALERT!!! - Award-winning, nationally bestselling author JOSHILYN JACKSON will be blogging here Tuesday, March 25th and talking about her fantastic new book THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING. Make sure to stop on by!