Thursday, June 29, 2006

Domesticity



I call Abby early in the work day, early for any day. My body has decided to wake itself up at 5:30am, pretty much regardless of bedtime. I'd spent a week or two trying to force myself back to sleep, but it's fitful and thin, so the new policy is to leap out of bed upon awakening and head to work. This, so I figured, would teach my body a lesson. If you want to wake up early, you're going to tire early. Tire yourself out for a few days and the early rising will become less of a factor.

It backfired. I have the kind of job where as long as I do my 7.5hrs I can come and go as I please, and of late I have been materializing at 7:30am and becoming extinct at 3:30pm. As was today. Abby's early morning call asks her to drown some of the frozen chicken breasts in enough white wine to aleviate their suffering and marinate them on a countertop as they thaw.

Survive the day. Lunch with Burton at the pub, and watch the skies turn from black and raining to pale and raining, with that strange sepia light that lets you know you're in for one hell of a storm. Head home early and find Abby making curtains, pale linen to match the couch (bought recently at a trip to everyone's favorite Nordic furnishings establishment with the caveat "These are cheap, you couldn't buy the fabric for this little", and she would know).

Matthew stirring. The young gentleman chewing his fingers and attempting to relay the fact that teething, once forgotten, is different than teething as we speak. I put him in a teetery play-saucer and perch him in the kitchen to watch me turn the chicken breasts into something diabolic.

Literally. The recipe I'm using has thousands of variations. It's simple and this one is vaguely French - Poulet à la diable. Or call it whatever variation you want in the language of your choice, since the breadcrumbs or flour or corn meal that coats the chicken is liberally dosed with black pepper, or cayenne or chipotle or whatever is hot enough to be associated with the devil in that culture at that time.

This batch gets paprika and cayenne. The devil could be Eastern European or Portuguese this evening. I mix a few healthy spoonfuls with a cup or so of breadcrumbs with a chopstick (smaller, mixes the spice into the crumbs faster than a spoon). A few eggs are cracked and whisked in a separate bowl. The young Matthew cries- the sight of Dad cooking this evening holds no appeal.

A brief experiment with a puppet and sing-along DVD does equally as badly, so, fine; I pack him into a back carrier. You want to be close, young man? Your wish is granted. He looks confused at first, then content, leaning over my shoulder as dishes are washed, lettuce is torn, soaked and spun dry, carrot shaved into strips and dropped into the salad. A lime is squeezed into olive oil and black pepper, a few grains of sea salt.

Time to relieve the chicken from its winey grave. I drain the wine, pat the chicken dry. Two large breasts, one on, one off the bone. They both get slit up the middle. A cursory glance through the fridge finds a hunk of baby Romano a few slices of smoked ham. The ham is wrapped around matchsticks of Romano and stuffed into the chicken. The chicken is closed with toothpicks, covered with dijon mustard, dipped into the egg, dropped into breadcrumbs, and baked for 45 minutes in a hot oven.

I take Matthew out for a stroll to the local dog park. It is loaded with Black, Chocolate and Yellow Labradors, a fat Pomeranian, a scruffy Wolfhound, and a pair of whippets, tall and supernaturally thin.

We come home. A brief consultation takes place between Abby and I, where we decide that the young Matthew would benefit from a pre-bedtime nap. He goes down with little protest at 7:45pm and stays down for the rest of the evening.

Calabrese rolls thawed from the downstairs freezer. Olive oil for dipping the bread, and the chicken is removed from the oven, browned and crispy. We eat it in the sun room, with an after-rain breeze blowing past the curtains.

Dessert- a blueberry in a frozen shot of Moskovskaya. The rest is the scent of ironed linen and the occasional sigh from the sleeping Matthew. Father Ted on DVD, and the quiet of an evening filled with as little as we can manage.


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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Remembrance of Trash Past (un homage de Proust, or somethin')

Never read a lot of Proust. But 'Un homage de la introduction au Proust' seemed a bit long for a title, and my French is dodgy at the best of times. The picture is just here because, say what you want about his literature, the man did the whole contemplative, finger resting on the cheek in contemplation, staring into the midddle distance thing with the best of them. Really, it's best that we just move on.




Alice in NYC's post about TV has reminded me that I don't have cable. I don't really require it. I have the internet and broadband for up-to-date-news (keeping CNN was a former justification for cable) and I have been, er, acquiring feeds from various internet sources of anything that I really miss, primarily Lost episodes. Iron Chef. News Radio reruns. Home Movies. Futurama. The occasional Discovery Channel documentary (had to throw in something marginally highbrow).

I have an unfair advantage over most media-starved people in that Burton has a DVD collection that film students would kill or die for, and is more than willing to loan me anything I'm looking to see. I also have access to one of the better video rental places in Ontario, a friend behind the counter has given me free run over his staff membership so I can borrow anything free of charge.

This is a dangerous spree for a former film student who carried around Danny Peary's 'Cult Movies' all through Jr. High, getting weird looks from other students (there is a long list of reasons for that, we'll get into that never). There's going to be a interesting disconnect in the future between those old enough to remember (and there was such a time) when one could not own a favourite movie.

I was working in a video store with Burton in the summer of 1988, when sell-through titles on VHS were just taking hold. The rule of thumb at the time was that new releases were priced high ($80.00 and up for a new title) until a rental window was over, then the price would drop. Almost 20 years later (and that in itself is a frightening statistic), sell-through dominates. You can get a new DVD with bells and whistles for around 20 bucks, or wait a few weeks and find a used copy for 10 depending where you go. Sell-through isn't new, but for those who grew up in a time when you had to scrounge for obscure titles or wait for the Rep screenings, the idea that you can own something might fire off some synapses.

At the very least, access to this video store and the generosity of Burton has allowed me to see a great number of movies that I'd wanted to see for years just to figure out what all the fuss is about. A lot of them have been grave disappointments. Still more have been thrilling. And ther rest fall between the two. I have hours of material on DVD- I could watch every disc I own back to back for 24hrs a day over 2 months, and barely get through it. Even with that, the new-release or classic-release section of The Digital Bits or a good copy of The New York Times' video section still makes me covet titles more.

Burton's collection is the superlative- literally thousands of DVDs. Why keep so many? "I might want to watch them someday" is a perfectly reasonable answer. I can't match the numbers but understand the compulsion. Why go to the Bloor Cinema and stand in line on a rainy day to see Wings of Desire when you can buy the DVD and listen to Wenders warble his way through it, if you wish? And that said, I would rather like to see it on a big screen again, partially because the crisp black and white plays beautifully, and partially because its a film that is best to be locked-up with. It's a slow movie (my wife has never been able to get through it on DVD without snoozing) and you're more likely to fall into its rhythyms if you're in a theatre.

Wings of Desire is a perfect cult movie because it's hard to explain and not necessarily easy to get into.

"What's it about?"
"It's a 3hr black and white German movie about angels."
"Can you be more specific? I'm sure I've heard of hundreds of such movies..."
"Angels over Berlin. One of them wants to become mortal."
"Tired of the harp and wing set?"
"Nah. They all walk around in overcoats and scarves. He falls in love with a French acrobat."
"And what else happens?"
"Really, that's about it. They float around Berlin, listening to people's thoughts, occasionally offering spiritual guidence."
"3hrs you say?"
"Oh! And Peter Falk shows up."
"As Columbo?"
"No. As Peter Falk. But everyone calls him Columbo."
"Is he an angel?"
"No. As stated before, he's Peter Falk."
"Don't you have a copy of Die Hard somewhere, instead?"

The above description either makes you want to see Wings of Desire simply to figure out why anybody thought it was a good idea in the first place, or to watch Die Hard again. I was drawn to Peary's Cult Movies because the films all looked strange and exotic and I had no idea why they were so revered, or why they were made in the first place. Explain Eraserhead. Explain why anybody would want to see it more than once.

Or see anything more than once. You can take the high-road and say that a particular movie impresses you on artistic merit, or the low road and say that it struck you as really really cool when you were 15. That kind of appeal can work backwards later in life- I had no patience for the X-Men movies because I thought I would have loved them dearly at 12 or so. Never got into Trainspotting because I knew too many people who would have worshipped it at 19 or so.

And full disclosure - I gave into Hellboy after around 20 minutes, veering from "I'm too old for this sort of thing" to "Actually, that's pretty cool." And I worshipped Withnail & I at 19 and still today, maybe the cool factor seguing into an appreciation of a painfully funny and eventually sad mood piece.

Or maybe I need to get out more. That has been brought up on several occasions.

There's got to be a line between appreciation and nostalgia. In the early, glory days of Napster when there was a sudden free-for-all, I was amazed at both the amount of crap I was downloading (I really really wanted to hear dreadful 80's pop songs that I'd erase seconds later, just for the wave of memory) and the amount of loving care that had gone into some tracks. You'd hear pops and clicks from an obviously well-played 45 that somebody felt was important enough to share. I spent weeks trying to find the Pukka Orchestra's version of Tom Robinson's Listen to the Radio and finally found a clicky, home-mastered version (it has since been released on legit CD) that somebody, for reasons of their own, decided was worth sharing.

I erased most other such tracks because I don't need to own that nostalgia, I just wanted the mainline of either fond-memory, or all-out kitsch. I haven't heard this for years. Where was I when I heard this? Did I, in good consicence attend this concert? Why? Who was I with? WHy did I think this was a good idea, exactly? And so on. Nostalgia and heavy-duty irony fit wonderfully together. Each audience will take half of the product and claim it as their own.

I'm all one for a good mashup. It's easy to mash dialogue into an existing film. Over a decade ago, it was Apocalypse Pooh (Brando and Sheen voicing Winnie and the gang), or Blue Peanuts (Dennis Hopper making a very very disturbing Snoopy, Kyle MacLachlan doing a fairy solid Linus) and the like. Most - all - of these are juvenille and filled with cheap laughs. Which is fine. Some work better than others - the Brokeback Mountain parodies with the soulful guitar music and languid cinematography grafted onto Top Gun, Heat and Back to the Future were more subtle (and much funnier) than they sound.

(the 30 second version of Brokeback Mountain as told by bunnies manages to hit most of the touchstones of the film itself, and has a much funnier ending, wait for the last beat - their version of The Big Chill improves on the original as well, far less whining)

But there is a line between nostalgia, ironic humour, and, well, something there might not be a word for...I've just discovered that somebody in 2002 created a fan-film based on The Electric Company's traffic sign song.

Everyone has a dream, I guess.

I bought the DVD set of The Electric Company, ostensibly for my son (who will get into them in the near future), and because my wife's eyes lit up when I mentioned I'd seen the boxed set. The sight of her sitting on the couch, contentedly singing the aformentioned traffic sign song was something else (and she never really watched the show but had one of the records way back when).

I bought the set out of curiousity and I suppose some wave of nostalgia (and it was fairly cheap) - I liked the series as a kid, hadn't seen any trace of it for literally decades, and didn't expect the visceral response that I had upon viewing. It wasn't entirely pleasant, which is hard to explain. The program, if you watched it, hasn't dated as badly as you might think. It was weird then. It's still weird now.

The best way to describe it is to picture some bloodless amalgam of grammar lessons delivered with the feel of early 70's Carol Burnett Shows, or some of the earlier Saturday Night Live episodes (with Belushi, Ackroyd, and Radner during the boozy days rather than the cocaine days, Belushi notwithstanding).

The true weirdness stems from exactly how straight so much of it is played. Watching Morgan Freeman in a wetsuit, bobbing in a bowl of alphabet soup, talking to the camera about how he's trying to salvage letters is not played for laughs, not even 8yr old laughs (but damn, do I wish I had a screen-grab). It's just there, rather matter of factly, as if this sort of thing is commonplace. Somewhere, at least.


The viscera for me came from the backward-engineering of the songs into my subconscious. I knew a lot of them, but hadn't considered them for over 30 years. Hadn't known that I knew them. I was immediately brought back to when I'd watch that show on TVO or PBS, and the memory of that context and others (often as simple as lying on my living room floor, in winter, 1976) was vivid. Not negative but far too detailed for my liking. I don't need to remember what I was feeling the first time I heard Silent E (delivered by Tom Lerher, no less), and the accompanying schoolyard memories of that and other times.

Past irony, past nostalgia. There are dozens of other bits of TV from that time which would make me shudder (it was the 70's after all), but few other products would bring sense-memories, simple as they were, back to fast. Why an educational TV show? Why not? It was always on, and was always that cloud-cookoo land of looking like a grown-up TV show (the Carol Burnett vibe gets stronger as the series goes on), but without the same kind of jokes. And with information about sounds and learning and reading.

For the Buffy fans (which I've never managed to get into), one of the Electric Company creators was Joss Whedon's father. That explains Buffy's musical episode< I suppose.

There are snippets of complaint on the net that samzidat Electric Company mp3's have been removed at the request of the Sesame Workshop (one comment suggested that they never discussed the show other than to slap Cease and Desist orders on websites), which suggests that there are people out there who covet the old material. I'm amused by the set, and wonder why this bit of history is revered. The weirdness? The 70's kitch? Or just the sense (for some) of well being, having those dormant synapses fired off by almost forgotten songs.

Anyhow - for the faithful, enjoy.





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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Oh...really?

I guarantee that if you click here, you will see something you don't expect. It's primarily work-friendly, but anyone peeking over your shoulder will probably wonder about the company you keep.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On the damn page, if you please.


“Write one true thing. Write the truest thing you know.”



It’s a great sentiment, admittedly overquoted. Let’s ignore the fact that somebody, somewhere is going to bring up the point that Hemingway was frequently an overrated jerk. And I agree, but have always thought his short-stories were succinct and pure. Let’s make this issue all about YOU. What if the truest thing YOU can think of on short notice is that you had a really great frittata at that Greek place near the old bookshop on Queen St. East last Saturday afternoon?

There are two choices at this point. You can either write about it, and illustrate how it truly was God’s own frittata, or you can choose not to write anything that particular moment and wait until something more interesting occurs to write about, and meanwhile go back to working on that cure for cancer or whatever it is that fills your hours. And the glory of a frittata is not a cure for cancer. Few things are.

All that said, even if you're not working on that cancer cure, and all you feel like writing about is that fritatta, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about your perfect frittata, it just means that you don’t have to.

And that explains my attitude towards blogging at the moment.

A film-critic friend of mine (we’ll refer to him as Burton) has recently started his own blog. I’d suggested this site and gave him the name of my blog, which surprised him. “I didn’t know you had one,” he said, “Why didn’t you tell anybody?”

I explained that the purpose of a blog for me was to write out anything that was on my nerves, good or bad. A blog allowed me to write something once and post it more-or-less unedited. And if I read it later and cringe (and oh heavens yes, I do), I at least won’t make the same mistakes more that a dozen times or so.

And the line between reportage or commentary or amusing anecdote or all-out self-indulgence is thin, and I tap-dance across it from time to time. So I haven’t told many people. But that idea contradicts itself immediately by posting anything at all. I guess I am working in a public forum because its easier to force yourself to write something if there is an audience somewhere (or potential of same). And being unedited to strangers is different than being unedited to friends.

Good excuse for sloppy grammar and spelling, somebody murmurs.

The product is offered ‘As Is’, I counter.

It’s an irrational response, I admit it. The blog itself represents an exercise in at least getting something out into solid pixels, whether it be random memories, issues around about my father, brief notes about my son and the whole festival of new-parenting, film criticism, rants about job searching, what have you.

Burton told me that he’d read through my blog, and said “Some of it was quite compelling. I was worried thought you’d stopped writing entirely.”

Compelling? Works for me. Beats banal. And I haven’t stopped writing entirely. I keep a fictional blog in another location. Creating a different, unreal life and forming a narrative is a piece of cake. However, the purpose of this blog is to not have the safety of fiction. And that said…it's easier to create stories than it is to sit down and think ‘What’s happened recently, or ever, that’s worth discussing?’

If I don’t write about baby Matthew, it’s because I’m too busy living that experience to know what’s worth recounting. Or maybe it’s enough simply to be part of the wave of relief that comes each morning, when the baby stirs, alive and healthy. It either takes it out of you, or puts you into a space where little else is important.

So, to the wee Matthew. Want a short history? He’s teething. He veers from hours of whining to being supernaturally quiet easily, and so much of his behaviour is summed up simply as “He’s a baby.” Speak to any parent of grown children for advice, you’ll get the same response.

He’s yowling unless he’s in arms. Why?
He’s a baby.
He’s falling asleep at 7:15am in his clothes. Is that normal?
He’s a baby.
Why is he so good one moment and inconsolable the next?
He’s a baby. I could write this down and you could frame it and hang it in several prime locations in your household so you can consult it at will.

(nobody has actually said that, but it must be tempting)



Matthew is almost 8 months old. Can’t walk, but has finally started to roll with a vengeance. Might skip crawling altogether and start toddling, which will be tiring and just fine (we live near a nice big park and around a 20 minute walk to a nice long boardwalk). The developmental stages you read about in parenting books are all being hit pretty much on time. He is looking to have green eyes, and is always up for a stroll. My wife rolls him around on an old-fashioned pram, I strap him to my back in a large carrier and wander Queen St. and the boardwalk when either of us gets fussy and need to get out of the house.

All this, and more. And nothing. What’s worth writing about? I don’t write about work, because nothing happens there that’s worth writing about. The pay is good, the people are nice, the location is just fine. If it drove me crazy, I’d write about it. In fact it does drive me crazy from time to time, but not enough to write about. Keeping up?

Write about what comes to mind. Write about what you don’t understand. Or take a deep breath and write about transcendence and beauty, since they're so big that you're bound to hit some corner or curve of them. The broadside of a barn, as it were, if the barn were, like, the ultimate barn, or prettiest barn, or some such.


Transcendence can be very cheap:

Elvis Costello’s ‘I want You’, sung through gritted teeth in 1983

Jackson Browne singing a simple arrangement of 'Linda Paloma'with Warren Zevon on piano, 1978

Andre Previn conducting Barber’s 'Adagio for Strings,' 1978

Bruce Springsteen with a guitar, singing ‘Shut out the Light’, bootlegged in 1982

Neil Young’s ‘Stringman’, solo piano from an Unplugged special, 1990

Nirvana’s arrangement of ‘Jesus Don’t Want me for a Sunbeam’, released 1992
Disagree? Be my guest.

And beauty? Maybe it fills a vacumn. When my father was sick, I was carrying around (of all things), a Japanese cookbook. It provided an unusual, but effective escape - I hadn’t planned on making anything ambitious from its recipes at the time, but the structure and presentation of the dishes intrigued me and kept me, as much as was possible, from fixating on my father’s upcoming death.

I liked the fact that those dishes existed at all. They were something that wasn’t frightening and sad. I’ve always had a weakness for Japanese design, and the idea of taking the time to boil down the same clump of kombu and bonito flakes twice for a particular dish (second-dashi for miso soup) struck me as exotic and far away from mouth-swabs and my father sleeping for 18hrs a day, wasting into something less than living.

Years later, I don’t associate Japanese food with my father’s illness or death. But when I am depressed or under some other kind of pressure, I’m lurk around Japanese restaurants. I want to see something drawn with care.



















More transcendence. Bored at work, listening to Nino Rota’s jazzy and ethereal circus music for Fellini’s films. They’ve dated well in that they never quite belonged in the first place. La Dolce Vita’s finger-snapping bass segues into lush strings or cymbals and chimes with a smooth, disconcertingly ease. It sounds like a juggling act in musical terms, but the fling from form to form never overwhelms. Madman. Artist. Both Rota and Fellini.





Transendence. Writing one true thing.




Mamet's Oleanna is a nightmare to produce, act in, direct, discuss, or walk away unscathed from. It's ususally attacked, championed and dismissed with acid, which is enough to get my attention. If you haven't read it, do so. Ignore the movie, and ignore most productions (I've seen 3 in Toronto, all horrible).

If you read Oleanna and think “Yes! This proves my point!”, you really should read it again. Oleanna is a notorious favourite of people who are convinced that Mamet didn’t go far enough in painting academics as pseudo intellectual, or students as being easily led and filled with rage at having to fit into somebody else’s paradigm.

For my part? It’s a great nightmare. And I don’t think Mamet is particularily sympathetic to either party. I’ve always wanted to see a production where the director flips the sexes. Let a female prof were approached by a Men’s Group member, and make that group a bunch of entitlement junky frat-boys who’ve decided that the average white male is under attack. Or the touchy-feely-hidden-facist types along the lines of the Promise Keepers, or one of the Men’s Rights groups that suggested that Marc Lepine had a few valid points to make. The play becomes a hell of a lot scarier.

Scarier, but cut and dried. If you don’t read Oleanna as he-said she-said, it’s a much better play. The point isn’t that either side is right, the point is that they’re not speaking the same language while simultaneously defending the point that they’re entitled to their own syntax.

JOHN: And what would transpire.

CAROL: Transpire?

JOHN: Yes.

CAROL: “Happen?”

JOHN: Yes.

CAROL: Then say it.

It goes downhill from there. A great deal of political discourse does.


I read both Adbusters and National Review online, when one infuriates me I switch to the other. Adbusters usually gets on my nerves because of the free floating rage without compromise. National Review is the dead opposite, I can’t stand the free-floating smug and think the solutions are horrific. Both publications at their worst are like watching somebody tie a red towel around their neck and claiming to be Superman, for the cause. Acceptable behaviour up until the age of 8 or so, but a bit trying after that point.

That said, I support most of the muckraking that takes place in Adbusters, and I like the no-smoke-no-mirrors approach to advertising and double talk. This doesn't make them immune to it, however. I draw the line at being a full-fledged supporter due to this type of self-indulgent crap on their website:

We are a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age. Our aim is to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century.

Why are pranksters supporting social activism? The point of pranking is pranking, and once the red towel of social activism is removed, there’s just a guy defacing signs.

As long as he doesn’t deface their signs, I suppose Adbusters is quite content. Time will tell. Sometimes, defacing a Nike poster is culturejamming. And sometimes the damn cigar remains a cigar.

The ‘artists’ fold is a more slippery slope – I was involved in a long forum discussion a few years ago with a woman who was complaining that there were no reform-party sponsored poets. I suggested that the moment you put on the reform party towel, you’re a member of the party first and foremost. And the moment the party says that they endorse your poem, it’s agitprop.

She told me that poetry was free and to go to hell you liberal pinko monkey (or some such). I stand by my position – write the poem first, and if you put on the towel for the left or right, so be it. But the poem must be devised without towel. And if you never take off the towel, then you produce the product typical of a functionary.

Apparatchik.

Stooge.

(and off, off, off goes the karmic boomerang, looking for a fine reason to smack me on the head with a resounding echo of ‘Hypocrite’ – I’ve got the goofy optimism that it might swing close but not connect, and yet quiver at the idea that the boomerang’s swath is wide and still eerily precise upon return)

Or in simpler terms…having somebody insist that they’re an artist is scary enough. But a true artist takes the hit. They say “I thought it was a good idea” when you ask why they’ve decided to recount the life of Saul/Paul and his trip to Damascus in finger puppets. It might be brilliant or dreadful, who knows? In the eye of the beholder.

When somebody insists they are an artist working towards ‘the cause’, I get frightened because I think about Russian poets being compelled to write sonnets for the 5 year plan. Or German expressionism getting wasted over the Horst Wessel movie.

A political artist who defends the politics of their work over the rest of its merits has abdicated the right to be called an artist. Propaganda’s purpose is propaganda. Suggesting that ‘The Passion of the Christ’ or ‘The West Wing’ are important not because of their content but because of their politics irritates me, because oh heavens, those apparatchiks and what they called art. And what was burned quietly in the background.

What about the great, socially minded artists? Too many to mention. I’m just suggesting they were artists first. Using an easy example, I don’t recall any comments in ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ that suggested another 4 years of Roosevelt will improve things, or that Hoover should have been re-elected. Did I miss a chapter?

And anybody of any political attitude can claim a product as their own. My personal favourite is a dreadful National Review piece about Conservative rock here, complete with a proviso that the list means nothing:

“In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don’t hold any of this against them.”

The statement “It’s conservative because I say so,” rattles under it, or more importantly “It’s conservative now,” saving the song from its previous life as an anthem for something (anything) other than the glory of pro-abstinence and pro-marriage (Beach Boys), on affirmation of the Bush doctrine (Bob Dylan, with a song 12 years pre-Bush at that).

This is admittedly knee-jerk on my part. I hear the word ‘activist’ dropped into conversations by people who expect a brief genuflect towards the term, usually with the same self-satisfied reverence that the term ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘spiritual person’ is dropped in different circles. I have an equal contempt for all 3 instances. If it’s poison from the right, it’ll be poison from the left as well. Choose your poison, or choose not to drink either bottle.

And all that said...it's not a fritatta. Nor a cure for cancer. But here we are.

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