AB on Air America

February 23rd, 2007 | Interviews & Reviews

me & jim

Hey, I’m in New York. And I just met the awesome Rachel Maddow, of the eponymous Rachel Maddow Show on Air America. She interviewed me because I’m in town for the big Comic Con and it’s gonna air on her show later tonight.

Here’s a photo of me right now in the Barnes & Noble cafe where I’m posting this. The guy next to me just pointed out that this mural depicts great writers who are watching over us as we sit here slurping lattes, inspiring us to do something more productive with our time. That’s James Joyce in the middle but I’m not sure who those other people are.

171 Responses to “AB on Air America”

  1. Daña says:

    as we look forward to our first big’un in Madison (Wisconsin) this winter (10″-16″ of snow between now and Sunday), I’ll look forward to listening to Rachel & Allison on Air America tonight. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Deborah says:

    I can’t tell, but I think it might be Djuna Barnes on the far left.

  3. NLC says:

    unless I’m mistaken, that’s Nabokov whispering in your ear

  4. Pam I says:

    Or could it be virginia woolf’s nose on the left?

  5. bean says:

    i thought it was zora neal hurston.

  6. BlueBerry Pick'n says:

    This is so great.

    I’m such a wild Rachel fan (“gushing reviews” really? oh my!) I was very interested in checking out a whole new author.

    I love it when somebody I admire introduces an audience to a new author.

    BlueBerry Pick’n
    can be found @
    ThisCanadian
    Silent Freedom is Freedom Silenced

  7. Raffi says:

    I hope Catwoman shows up for you Alison. Be sure to have your pic taken with her if you do!

  8. cybercita says:

    alison,

    have a fabulous time here in new york! wish i could brave the crowds and come introduce myself this weekend, but the thought of fighting my way through is a little daunting. i hope you will have time to do some fun things, like go to a museum or see a show. sorry for the cold weather.

  9. Librarian Grrl says:

    Alison appears on Air America in the Big Apple!

  10. DeLand DeLakes says:

    I dunno…the guy sitting next to Joyce just looks like someone who would be shufling through the streets of Nordeast Minneapolis saying “Cold enough fer ya?”

  11. Silvio Soprani says:

    Does Barnes and Noble know they have an alter ego named “Bunns ‘n Noodles?”

    NLC, I believe you are right about Nabokov (but is he whispering in Russian, French, or English, one wonders?)

    And PamI, that could be Virginia drinking tea, although the tight waste of her dress looks a little more style-conscious than I remember her from old photos I have seen. The tea seems characteristic.(Virginia mostly wore those loose, low-wasted flapper-era dresses; I was thinking Emily Dickinson?)

    If nobody minds a slight digression, am I the only one who felt affronted at the portrayal of V.W. in Nicole Kidman’s portrayal in “THE HOURS?” She came off as a complete spineless, witless, flake (with a really bad and totally WRONG nose), and Leonard came off as a tyrannical despot. None of the trust and respect of the real relationship made it into that script.

    I know it’s a bit late to have this conversation but I don’t know any other Virginia Woolf buffs in my present circle of friends. (I was obsessed with her in the mid-70s when the first biography came out by her nephew, Quentin Bell. I read and re-read all Leonard Woolf’s memoirs. This was before all the feminist studies’ interest in her that happened in the 90s. But I saw plenty of good photos of her, and that was NOT Virginia’s nose they put on Nicole!)

    I am glad to learn about Air America. I had not heard of it before! I have learned about so many cool things for the first time on this blog: Count ’em: YouTube, Flickr, HERGE, roof rakes, Mao and his Cake, and now Air America!

  12. cybercita says:

    silvio,

    sorry i can’t comment on virginia woolf as my taste in british novelists runs to nancy mitford and barbara pym, but i wanted to share my own personal name for barnes and noble: bums ignoble.

    as for nicole kidman, for some reason, she annoys the heck out of me!

  13. --MC says:

    Hurrah for Miss Pym!

  14. Silvio Soprani says:

    Cybercita,

    have added Mitford and Pym to my list of authors to check out at the next junket to the library!

    Sorry I mispelled “waist” as “waste” at least twice in last post. Must have been thinking (Freudianly) of my own!

  15. cybercita says:

    hi silvio,

    nancy mitford was a member of the british aristocracy and wrote hilarious, scathing novels, using her own family as material {several of her sisters gained unfortunate nororiety for being nazi sympathizers; one sister was actually close personal friends with adolph hitler and the other spent most of the war in jail}. her two finest novels were the pursuit of love and its sequel, love in a cold climate.

    how i envy you, reading them for the first time! btw forgot to mention the queen of all british novelists in my original reply, jane austen. not forgetting somerset maugham and frances hodgson burnett.

    barbara pym i discovered through the writings of laurie colwin, another wonderful novelist. she was born and raised in philadelphia but lived in new york as an adult and set all of her books here. she unfortunately died back in the early 90’s, and i still try to collect all the cookbooks and novels she mentions in her writings {she wrote two books of personal/food essays} as a way to keep her alive.

    so many books, so little time!!!

  16. Feminista says:

    Silvio and others–I first read Virginia Woolf in a women’s literature class in ’73; started with Room of One’s Own,later perused Mrs.Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. Included Room and Lighthouse when I did the women and literature section of WS 101; glad when I got my own study with a door that locked. My daughter decided to put up a sign on the door: “This is Mom’s study.Please knock.”

    I saw The Hours with my late spouse Richard and our daughter; Kidman didn’t annoy me as much as you but I was very upset by the depiction of her bi-polar disorder and death,however true.

    I’m still puzzling over who the woman in the mural is–I was thinking perhaps Sylvia Beach,as she and her partner Adrienne Monier (sp?)were the bold first publishers of Ulysses (as well as mis-treated matrons of Joyce).

    If any of you get to Newport on the OR coast,include a visit to the Syliva Beach Hotel,where each room is named after and decorated accordingly of writers.They include among others Alice Walker,Agatha Christie,Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Mark Twain.

  17. little gator says:

    It’s not Freudian to think about your waist/waste. If you want to be Freudian, I think you’re supposed to think about your cigar, wthere you have one or not.

    Though I suppose if one was wearing a dress, one might have a Freudian slip under it, aroudn one’s waiste.

  18. cybercita says:

    i vote for the woman in the mural to be zora neale hurston.

  19. Jain says:

    Let’s not forget the terrific Nancy Mitford’s fabulous sister Jessica Mitford, the American Communist. I’m sure AB’s familiar with her classic “American Way of Death” but my favorite’s her memoir “A Fine Old Conflict”.

  20. cybercita says:

    little gator, how many freudian analysts does it take to change a light bulb?

    two. one to put in the new bulb, and the other to flip on the pe… er, the switch.

  21. little gator says:

    cybercita,

    *giggle*

  22. Sophie says:

    but the light must really want to change though.

  23. Silvio Soprani says:

    Ha! It must be the punchy hour of the day!

    Feminista, I have heard of the Sylvia Beach Hotel with its female literary decor. There was a review of it on NPR some years ago. I still would love to stay there!

    The name “Nancy Mitford” sounds so familiar to me. I have read many biographies of British 20th century figures; no doubt there was some connection somewhere…but thanks for the info, Cybercita. By the way, I share your regard for Austen, Maugham, and Burnett.

    To be honest, I always found Virginia Woolf’s life and friends much more interesting than her novels.

    I am particularly fond of the short stories of Katherine Mansfield.

  24. Ian says:

    Actually, my first thought on the identity of the woman in the mural was Daphne du Maurier. (Murals are always called, ironically, Muriels by me and friends after an obscure british comedy character even i’ve forgotten.)

    I’d have to disagree about Nicole Kidman’s performance in The Hours. Though I’d have to say I think she was performing a mental state as defined by contemporary understanding (i.e. barely) more than a specific character. I so love that film: it’s got so many of my favourite actors in it: Julianne Moore, Miranda Richardson and yes, Nicole Kidman 🙂 . I’ve never been that keen on Meryl Streep. Wasn’t her girlfriend in The Hours the press secretary in the West Wing? If so I love her to bits!

  25. reed_maker says:

    Alison looks kind of angry and stressed out. Welcome back to New York. (I always thought that woman drinking tea in the B & N mural is Ms. Woolf–the nose was the key factor for me. But maybe I need to take a closer look.)

  26. reed_maker says:

    Ian said, “I’ve never been that keen on Meryl Streep. Wasn’t her girlfriend in The Hours the press secretary in the West Wing? If so I love her to bits!”

    Yes! Allison Janney! Hot Hot Hot!

  27. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Silvio-

    I totally agree, though the thing that annoyed me most about Kidman in that role is the fact that she seems to think that “serious” acting means constantly looking deeply confused. She’s a mouth breather, too.

  28. shadocat says:

    reed-maker: my gf has a total celebrity crush on Alison Janney; I’ve even told her if she ever comes to town, Cyndi has my permission to hit on her. I get Catherine Zeta-jones, but she’s got to drop the hubby and wear that wig she wore in “Chicagp”…

    silvio-I share your opinion of Nicole Kidman in “The Hours”-even though I liked the movie in general. And that nose was godawful—I mean surely there are some naturally “proboscisly gifted” actresses out there that could have done a better job. I always though it would’ve been better if she and Meryl couldv’e just swapped parts in that damn thing…anyway Kidman just was not Virginia enough for me. And as far as portraying bi-polar, or any other mental health condition, I’ve never seen that portrayed realistically on screen—they always distort or downright lie about things just for some cheap dramatic effect.

  29. cybercita says:

    can’t help bragging about this: about a year before the hours was released, i was invited to see it as part of a focus group. we were given a very nice meal, shown the film, and then given surveys that asked detailed questions regarding our reactions.

    in the version i saw that evening, there was a long scene between meryl streep and jeff daniels that i didn’t like. so i wrote that the scene didn’t work and should be cut. they did cut it, which made me feel like a powerful hollywood insider for about five minutes.

    jain, i think i have that decca mitford book around somewhere, i’ll have to dig it out and read it.

  30. bongobunny says:

    I’m sorry I missed it! BTW Alison, because of you, EVERYTIME I refer to Barnes & Noble it’s as “Bunns & Noodle.” I get a lot of weird looks. I have been doing this for so long I forget I’m doing it!

    Have fun in New York!

  31. Jana C.H. says:

    Perfectly androgynous thoughtful observer, here. Shall we form a club?

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  32. louise g says:

    So did anyone see Alison at the con today? How was it? I tried buying tickets at Midtown Comics but they’ve been sold out for years.

  33. Aunt Soozie says:

    Is that the Sylvia Hotel that Cheryl Wheeler sings about?
    I’ve recently become obsessed with that song.

  34. Maggie Jochild says:

    Tonight I went to a Mardi Gras party at our local women’s bookstore, BookWoman, celebrating the 60th birthday of Susan Post who has kept it going 32 years since it began as a “committee” of the Austin Lesbian Organization in 1975. I read my poetry, along with a few other writers, but I also presented a herstory of Austin dyke activism, including the unbelievable list of that the Austin Lesbian Organization accomplished in 1975 alone. Several generations were in attendance, several different expressions of dyke/queer/lesbian/gay woman/straight woman/girlhood, different classes and races and arts, all communicating across boundary lines. And at one point, Lisa Rogers of the Therapy Sisters took the mic to talk about what BookWoman offers, holding up The Woman’s Guide to Anal Pleasure (Second Edition, she stressed) and the Cunt Coloring Book by Tee Corinne and exhorting us “Do you really think you could find these at your local Bunns and Noodle?” The whole crowd cheered — EVERYBODY knew what Bunns and Noodle meant. Way to go, Alison.

  35. Lizzie from Londn says:

    I’ve been lurking on this for a little while and on the whole I’m not into the on-line community thing. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring together two recent themes: cakes and Virginia Woolf. See

    http://www.pamisherwood.co.uk/cakes/liz.htm

    for the spectacular cake that my good friend Pam made for my 50th birthday. The Owl and the Pussy Cat go To the Lighthouse with me. As you will see, she has made many over the years and generated infinite delight in the process. As for VW, I think I’ve read nearly everything she’s written – certainly the novels. And yes Nicole Kidman was appalling. Barbara Pym is a delight. I also love Willa Cather and recently read the Small Room by May Sarton which I enjoyed since I went to a conference at Smith a couple of years ago. I don’t know if she had Smith in mind but the book reminded me of the campus there. But enough though I will say finally, Alison, I was deeply impressed with Fun Home – put in my way by cake-making Pam.

  36. Pam I says:

    Hi Liz, that’s it, you’re in now. Pam xxx

  37. Ian says:

    I’m feeling a little left out with all the Bunns & Noodle stories as they’ve not yet arrived in Britain. What we HAVE been inflicted with is Borders. I keep confusing friends by forever calling it Bounders as in the strip. I’d first heard of the company in AB’s strip so I was curious to see what they were like. Plus it’s physically impossible for me to walk past a bookshop, even the franchise ones.

    I was amazed. For the first time ever I entered a bookshop with absolutely NO atmosphere at all and NO character. It should, politics apart, have been Heaven for me. For the first time in my life I walked out of a bookshop not buying a single thing. Bounders it will be forever more! Bounders converted me from someone happy to shop in chain stores to someone who actively seeks out independent stores of all walks of life.

  38. bean says:

    we read a room of one’s own and the yellow wallpaper around the same time in my intro to women’s studies some 20 years ago, and as VW did in fact commit suicide, i always understood that Leonard WAS in fact a despot, although it’s entirely possible that i’ve conflated her life with the yellow wall paper (written, of course, by Gilman, not by Woolf).

    i LOVED the novel The Hours, and really liked the movie. It’s important to remember that this is a fictionalized portrayal of VW. The author imagined what might have happened to her on the day of her suicide, as he ties her story in with the fictional stories of two other women. I think the literary quality is brilliant, and for this reason, I don’t hold factual innacuracies against Michael Cunningham. However, I am not a Virginal Woolf expert by any means, couldn’t even make it through Mrs. D. although i really liked Orlando.

    I will say this; I think they could have chosen a better actress than Nicole Kidman, but i don’t think she did a bad job, and i don’t find it at all inconceivable that Woolf would be confused and angry while being cloistered away, barely permitted to take a walk or even to write. I don’t give a damn one way or the other about her nose. As for Meryl Streep, she rocks my world and don’t understand those who feel differently, but that’s what makes the world a big beautiful diverse place. However, I only have one thing to say on that: Angels in America.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I read The Hours before it got famous, and way before the movie. I should know better than to watch films of favourite books – they always disappoint. I loved the book, with its back-and-forth plotting. I was pissed with the film because it gave no inkling of VW’s genius. She just came across as miserable and flaky and victimised. Maybe it would have sent some people to the books though.

    Angels in America was great but most people here would have missed it, it was on at some obscure late time and undersold.

    Ah Meryl – I can never forget Bet Midler’s mimicry of her Acting – “Aaaaah am the Frrrrench Lieutenant’s Whooooore……”

  40. Pam I says:

    I am that Anon – trying out new browsers.

  41. Silvio Soprani says:

    The thing about Virginia Woolf is that if you read accounts written about her by her nephews and nieces, her sister, and all her acquaintances (most of whom spent long weekends at her country house amusing themselves before the onset of television, records, or other electronic sources), they all uniformly comment on how funny she was. How quick, how witty, how sometimes wickedly accurate in descriptions (gossip) of other people. NONE of this came through in the insecure, weary and cowed portrayal the scriptwriter and director coaxed out of the probably blameless Nicole Kidman.

    That’s what turned me off the movie.

    Regarding her husband Leonard, he was brilliant economist, an intellectual, a political insider in the British government, but a believer in world peace through networking. He loved Virginia and married her knowing that her doctors had diagnosed her mental state as making it dangerous to her health to ever have children. (I translate this as meaning they could not have much, if any, sex, since there was no birth control in those days. )So their marriage was not from being “in love,” (although Leonard was in love with her.) He was offering her an economic security and a license to lead her life safely away from her parents’ home. (She was doing this anyway, but it gave her a legitimate platform.)

    They had a true intellectual and social partnership. He felt responsible for her. It was not that he was on a power trip. He felt truly responsible for her well-being. If you read his autobiographies, he kept detailed daily records of her behavior and state of mind.

    Considering that he had a “respectable” career in the government and was probably very busy, it is remarkable how he managed to stay so connected to her.

    I just don’t understand how the screenwriters could have gotten it all so wrong. I suppose part of it is that the novelist was using a historical moment in time to weave a fictional story around.

  42. Silvio Soprani says:

    I just got that “slow down, cowboy” [it’s “cowgirrrrl” to you, Bub..] even though it’s been about 24 hrs since my last post! what gives?

  43. Silvio Soprani says:

    Okay, 3rd post in 5 minutes:
    Pam I–Breathtaking cakes! Now I understand it is not “Pam the First” as I was imagining; it is “Pam Isherwood, Queen of Cakes!”

  44. --MC says:

    Wow, a fast paced thread!
    My favorite book by Miss Pym is “Excellent Women”, although the only line I can quote from her work is from another of her novels, and which one I can’t remember — a scene where a couple are ordering in a British restaurant, and the waiter tells them the special that evening is toad in a hole, and the woman says, “Oh no, my husband can’t take toad.”
    I have a collection of Jessica Mitford’s magazine writing, “Poison Penmanship” — she had a reputation as a muckraker, and had a great technique of lulling her targets into thinking she was charmed by them, then suddenly asking them the tough questions. Her biggest expose comprised the book “The American Way Of Death”, which exposed the excesses of the American funeral industry, and which was used as source material for the film version of “The Loved One” (So I blame her for the nightmare vision of Rod Steiger singing “Mama’s little Joyboy loves lobster, lobster .. “)
    And I have stayed in the Sylvia Beach Hotel .. we stayed in the Sigrid Undset Room. I had no idea who she was before we went, and although I now know she is one of Norway’s finest novelists, I still haven’t even started to read “Kristen Lavransdatter”, and probably never will ..

  45. cybercita says:

    willa cather, me too, everything she wrote but especially song of the lark.

  46. little gator says:

    Willa Cather me three.

    It’s been ages since I read “Kristen Lavransdatter” and all I remember from it is heaps of Roman Catholic guilt and Scandinavian judgemental self-loathing.

  47. Jana C.H. says:

    I was just thinking about “Kristen Lavransdatter” this morning while cogitating aimlessly on names, surnames, and Scandinavian naming customs. This somehow arose from some passage or other I had just read in (forgive me!) one of the Harry Potter books. One does strange things on a rainy Sunday in Seattle when the catbox needs cleaning. I’ll clean the box when I finish here, I promise. Or maybe after a nice cup of tea and one more chapter of Harry Potter.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith James Boswell: Gentle herb! Let the florid grape yield to thee. Thy soft influence is a more safe inspirer of social joy.

  48. Feminista says:

    The DTWOF Western OR meet-up group (or fan club,take your choice)had a wonderful Sunday brunch at Old Wives’ Tales in Portland. Five of us enjoyed great food,scintillating conversation,laughter and sisterhood. We talked about DTWOF characters and the blog,families of origin and choice,books,films,politics past and present,work,play and travel. Sounds like a salon,but without any pompous,ponderous pontificators.

    Yay for the Sylvia Beach Hotel–I’ve stayed in the Sigrid Undset,Alice Walker,Gertie Stein and Maridel LeSueur rooms over the years.My late spouse took photos of me sitting next to the mural of Beach and Joyce in the main lobby when we spent part of our honeymoon there. Had read works by all before staying there,though Walker and LeSueur are on my favorite authors’ list. And the library upstairs is a great place to read and watch the waves.

    Be prepared to have several choices if you make reservations–the rooms fill up fast,particularly the large rooms such as Christie,Collette,Melville. A room of bunk beds is available for groups,and for kids there are the A.A.Milne and E.B.White rooms.

  49. Deena in OR says:

    We missed you today, Deb! Thanks to Feminista for organizing today, and for bringing the book. Great food, great conversation, great company. I’ll be thinking about pink frilly aprons all evening

  50. Deena in OR says:

    “An Inconvenient Truth” just won Best Documentary!!! Whoo-hoo!

  51. Jana C.H. says:

    So is anyone interested in a Western Washington DTWOF meeting?

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  52. cybercita says:

    jana,

    i’m a proud harry potter fan, and it comes in handy. i work with children and one of the things i do is handwriting remediation. they’ll write for hours if i dictate harry potter words.

    here’s a book recommendation for everyone here: eat pray love by elizabeth gilbert. it’s a memoir of her divorce and how she coped with her resulting depression: with the advance she got for writing the book, she went to italy to eat, india to pray, and bali to balance pleasure and prayer {meanwhile falling in love}. it’s an enormously charming story. i went to a reading she gave in new york earlier this month, and she announced that the movie version will star julia roberts.

    {i’m a big julia roberts fan, too. there’s just no accounting for taste.}

  53. Silvio Soprani says:

    cybercita,

    What exactly is “handwriting remediation?”

    The first real book I ever read all by myself was Alice in Wonderland (8yrs old or so.) Then later “The Wind in the Willows” was my long-time favorite.

    Many many years later Harry Potter occupied that same favorite place. What all three books have in common is the great variety of memorable characters with interesting names.

    The character names in Harry Potter have great associations. I recently discovered that a “dumbledore” is some kind of insect. (Thomas Hardy has a poem called “An August Midnight” that mentions one. I still don’t entirely understand what kind of insect it is.)

  54. Deena in OR says:

    Silvio,

    It’s a bee. I’m enough of an obsessive HP fan to know, unfortunately.

  55. AK says:

    Rachel Maddow is amazing! That’s just my two cents.

  56. Maggie Jochild says:

    The information available on this blog!! A BEE, no less. And I suddenly recognized the assonance between bumblebee and dumbledore (similar to the original flutterby and what we now call a butterfly) and went looking, and found this at “World Wide Words — Michael Quinion writes on international English from a British Viewpoint”: Dumbledore — A type of bee…Its first part is one of a set of rhyming words from English of some centuries ago, the others being bumble (from a root meaning to drone or buzz) and humble (from an old Germanic word meaning to hum). All three have been used to form names for those furry, blundering, slow-moving bees that are so large you wonder how they get off the ground (bumblebee is now the usual term almost everywhere, humblebee was once common in Britain but is now much less so; dumbledore is the rarest). To some extent all imitate the insect’s buzz; the final dore of dumbledore is an Old English word for any insect that flies with a loud humming noise.

  57. cybercita says:

    hi silvio,

    handwriting remediation: i teach children how to turn their illegible handwriting into good handwriting.

  58. Ian says:

    Cybercita: I could probably do with signing up for your class! After mostly (touch)typing practically everything for the past 10 to 15 years and only using a pen to make my signature, I’ve almost forgotten how to write!!! 🙂

    I sat down to write an old-fashioned handwritten letter to go ‘snail mail’ to a friend. I got called to the phone and came back an hour or so later and even I found it difficult to read what I’d written. The shame of it. Particularly as I used to be very good at calligraphy. Signs o’ the times, my friends, signs o’ the times.

  59. silvio soprani says:

    Fascinating! Bumble/Dumble/Humble…dore buzz buzz. Who knew? Thanks Deena and Maggie!

    Cybercita, that’s wonderful! I did not know anybody still cared about children’s penmanship (as they called it in the 50s!) When I was a senior in high school, one of the Sisters sat me down one afternoon and told me that when I got to college, none of my professors would bother to read my terrible handwriting, and consequently, I would fail, UNLESS I took immediate steps. So once a week I stayed after school with her and an osmiroid pen and she taught me how to write in italic, which is still my preferred form of handwriting.

    At the time I just did it, but looking back, I feel very grateful that she took the time. (Plus, I loved my pen!)

    Just so you know.

  60. cybercita says:

    there is actually an epidemic of bad handwriting these days, since teachers don’t teach it anymore, just pass out the handwriting workbooks and hope for the best. i have actually volunteered to show teachers how to do it, and they inform me that there is no room in the curriculum to teach handwriting. no time to teach the basics! what an incredible disservice we are doing to the futures of our children with this attitude! and it’s not just in public schools, but in all the fancy private ones here in new york, too. i get tons of calls for handwriting help.

    to tell the truth i didn’t have such great handwriting myself, but about ten years ago, when i took a class called “handwriting without tears,” i was able to not only analyze the problems i was having in print and change them, i was able to teach myself cursive, at age 40. i now have a good, neat, legible cursive. i had never learned it as a child because as was required at the time, i was trying to write with one of those old fashioned fountain pens {very smeary for a lefty, since your hand constantly drags over the wet ink you’ve just laid down} and my mother passed away while it was being taught. {i’m still quite shaky on my multiplication tables for the same reason.}

  61. NLC says:

    This is about as far off-topic as I can imagine, but since someone brought up “Dumbledore” –both in its original meaning and as used by J.K. Rowling– it’s interesting to note that J.R.R. Tolkien (of all people) uses the word in the poem “Errantry”:

    “He battled with the Dumbledores,
    the Bumbles, and the Honeybees,
    and won the Golden Honeycomb;
    and running home on sunny seas…”

  62. Olivier says:

    To all those discussing female british writers of the edwardian period, I have one suggestion for you: Ivy Compton-Burnett. Now here’s someone who deserves to be better known or, rather, rediscovered for she was famous in her days.

    Pam, where and when did Bette Midler do her sacrilegious number on Meryl Streep?

  63. geogeek says:

    Jana – Western Wash. D2WO4 meet-up yes! I’m in Ballard and would appreciate getting to meet some of the geeky queer set in Wash.

    NLC – I’d forgotten that particular Tolkien poem. When I was a teenager I read a bunch of non-Baggins Tokien stuff and really enjoyed it. I particularly recall a novella called “Tree and Leaf” which I’ve never found again.

    I also have a recollection of a line of poetry that said “humble, dumble, bumblebee”, from a rhyming poem, probably for kids, but can’t recall anything else about it and couldn’t turn anything up on Google. Might it have been A.A. Milne? Does it ring a bell for anyone else?

  64. silvio soprani says:

    Who is the fellow who takes care of the forest in the first part of Fellowship of the Rings? Tom Somebody?(They cut his character completely out of the movie, to my disappointment.) He sang little songs all the time. I love him. I would like to have him for a next door neighbor. (I would not mind living in a forest!) ( I don’t mind snakes, spiders, or furry creatures…come to think of it, I am describing the settin of WIND IN THE WILLOWS!)

  65. Jana C.H. says:

    Geogeek–

    Ballard! Me too! Three blocks north of the new library, within walking distance of practically everything, even with my bad hips. We need to meet at the Floating Leaves Tea House or Mr Spots Chai House (depending whether we want good tea or comfy chairs) and thrash this out.

    I have an account on Smirking Chimp under the name Jana (no initials). You can contact me directly there.

    P.S. I have “Tree and Leaf”.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith Stan Boreson: Who hid the Halibut on the Poop Deck?

  66. geogeek says:

    Jana – I looked at Smirk but don’t really understand how to reach you/find your account. Do you mean that there’s a smirk server on which you have an e-mail account?

  67. Pam I says:

    Olivier – the Bet Midler riff must be on one of herlive LPs which include her scurrilous intros. This is not a good time in my reorganisation project to start sorting out my vinyl – maybe s/o else know it?

    Silvio – Tom Bombadil. When I was a wifey living in a hamlet in Wiltshire, the house was full of people with guitars who had put music to Tolkien’s songs. It was sweet. It was also 1972. Of course: it’s googlable:

    Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
    Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
    Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

    I can still hear it. There’s more online…

  68. Jana C.H. says:

    Geo– Go to Smirk and do a search for “Jana”. You’ll get a list giving some of my comments on various articles. Go to any one of them and you can send me a message. I’ll keep an eye peeled for it.

    Jana C.H.
    Ballard
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  69. silvio soprani says:

    Queen Pam,

    Yes, yes, it’s Tom Bombadil. Thank you!
    There is a little poem in Beatrix Potter’s MRS TIGGY WINKLE that I used to put to music when I read it to my daughters a million years ago.

    “Lily-white and clean, oh!
    With little frills between, oh!
    Smooth and hot; red rusty spot
    Never here be seen, oh!”

    Yes, I know it’s about ironing, but Mrs. Tiggy Winkle DID take such pride in her skills! And she lived in a little hut up the side of a hill (not too different from Alison’s basement that looks out onto the sunshine…although I don’t know if Alison enthuses about her ironing in the privacy of her studio…probably not.)

  70. --MC says:

    Jana — don’t you have to sign up for Smirking Chimp before you can contact people through it? I know I tried to send you a note through there, and couldn’t for some reason. (I could have signed up for Smirk, but if I don’t that’s one less thing for the NSA to put in my file..)

  71. Jana C.H. says:

    MC– You’re right! One does have to be a registered Chimpster to contact someone there. I’d forgotten. You managed to track me down by just googling me, as I recall.

    Geo, if you don’t want to sign up for Chimp, we’ll find some other way. Can you be at the Floating Leaves Tea House tomorrow night at 7:30? Same for any other Seattle area bloggers. I’ll wear a red hat.

    Can’t make it Wednesday; that’s my opera night. “Julius Caesar in Egypt” by Handel, with a contralto in the title role, another as Cleopatra’s brother (the bad guy), and a mezzo as Pompey’s son. There’s a countertenor in there somewhere, too. Handel liked high voices.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith JcH: Do whatever you like with Wagner, but mess with Gilbert and Sullivan and you die!

  72. Pam I says:

    Silvio, not _all_ Englishwomen are queens, tho it does seem like that this week.

  73. geogeek says:

    Jana – I haven’t been in to Floating LEaves yet, so this will be a good excuse. I don’t have a red hat… Maye I can find a red scarf or something. I _do_ some some red long underwear (they’re warmer than any other color). See you tomorrow, along with anyone one else who picks up on this.

  74. cybercita says:

    olivier,

    i keep seeing books by ivy compton-burnett but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet, thank you for the nudge in that direction.

  75. silvio soprani says:

    Queen Pam I: Handsome is as handsome does. Purse or no purse.

  76. little gator says:

    The part I remember is:

    Old Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow,
    Bright blue his jackey was and his shoes were yellow….

    or something like that.

  77. --MC says:

    Well he fought with the goblins!
    He battled a troll!!
    He riddled with Gollum!!!
    A magic ring he stole!!!!

    Oooopps, wrong song.

  78. NLC says:

    I’m so ashamed….

    Not only do I actually recognize the song MC is quoting from, but to make matters worse, I still have the 45 around here someplace…

  79. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hey, ABBlogers from the Emerald City — how did the Ballard meet-up go?

  80. Jeffster83 says:

    The four branches of Bunns and Noodle near my house all have the same mural in the coffee area (Fourbucks, of course), and if I am not mistaken, the lowest edge of the mural has the names of the portrayed authors. They won’t appear in the photo of AB because of the angle. I’ll stop by there sometime this week.

  81. geogeek says:

    Maggie J: Well, for a rainy weeknight the turnout was fine – myself and Jana. Jana, btw, has great hats. I had run into her the previous week at the local ACLU conference because of her hat that day, so it was pretty funny to see someone I had already sort of introdcuced myself to.

    We had tea, talked about books, and I, at any rate, would like to invite any and all interested Jet City people to set/attend another such meeting sometime in March, though I’m not sure AB wants us taking up her blog space to plan such things.

    Oh, and since Jana”s a geographer/cortaographer and I’m a geologist, we played an entertaining game I would call “Freehand Map Nuttiness”, where people take turns drawing adjacent states/countries. I would have an easier time drawing physiographic areas, but we did the contiguous US with some Canada pretty well. We _did_ switch NB and KS, but my excuse is that I haven’t been sleeping well and so was not firing on all cylinders. Jana tried to start with Europe, but I’m a total failure there, I’d have nbetter luck starting in Asia.

  82. little gator says:

    KS is a blobby rectangle, while NB has a corner cut out.

    Vermont is New Hampshire standing on its head, and vice versa.

    LA is an old boot with a hole in the toe. Ohio is a baggy shirt pocket.

    and many more….

  83. bean says:

    wow, MC and NLC, that video is really disturbing…

  84. silvio soprani says:

    MC and NLC, the late 60s/early 70s were a wacky time! Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner both tried their hand (voice) at psychedelic groovy recordings. I had never seen this particular thing about Bilbo…Bilbo! It reminds me of the late 60s show, “SHINDIG,” where the world first saw white go-go boots! 🙂

  85. Jana C.H. says:

    I have no excuse for mixing up Nebraska and Kansas. I’m supposed to know this stuff. (Why am I supposed to know it? Because I say so!) We started in Washington State, of course, and got seriously scrambled as we reached Texas and the South, but did our best to repair the East Coast. I think starting in the middle would be better than starting in one corner. Next time, Asia starting with Mongolia.

    Another cartography game I picked up in grad school was Mixed Labelling. It began when someone drew an outline map of Alaska on the blackboard of the grad student office for some reason and didn’t bother to erase it. Someone else came along and labelled it “Delaware.” Then someone put a dot where Anchorage is and called it “Wilmington.” We ended up with a whole series of them: Africa as Washington State, Canada as China (which became particularly interesting when one student started labelling it in Chinese).

    By the way, this post is not off-topic because AB likes maps.

    I say YES to a March get-together in Ballard. Geogeek and I will pick a date, okay?

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith JcH: Those who can’t write poetry write prose; those who can’t write prose, write free verse; those who can’t write free verse use emoticons.

  86. Lizzie from London says:

    Just in case anyone’s still reading this the dumbledore debate reminded me of the game battledore and shuttlecock (an early type of badminton). Anyway I just looked it up: Middle English derivation and originally it meant a beetle used in washing (a beetle ???? sic), also for mangling linen clothes, then extended to any similarly shaped instrument, and so to the racket(1598). But perhaps the beetle and the racket both have in common that they hum. Nothing I like more than a bit of pedantry with word derivations and the like.

  87. Pam I says:

    Stories of washing beetles read like pantomine scripts – but now they would be about rolling pins. Here’s one you just missed on ebay: search http://www.ebay.co.uk for 260087796544 , a snip at 3GBP.

    In carlisle cathedral “The carvings of angels, a hyena devouring a corpse, mermaids and a wife vigorously beating her cowering husband with a washing beetle were possibly there to warn the clergy of the danger of indulging in carnal pleasures.” Now which clergy do we know who would benefit from these reminders?

    And in Dublin in 1828,in a case of seduction, one Mr F was chased across the garden fence, dropping his expensive new wig as he ran, by Mrs B the landlady of Miss Anne Auchmuty, the said Mrs B who slept in a room over the kitchen having been alarmed by the sound of voices proceeding from that quarter. She immediately arose and armed with a washing beetle, the only weapon of defence she could at the moment procure, she descended to the kitchen where she encounted Mr F who was hastily making his exit.

    One even features in a witch trial: in 1621 “Agnes Ratcliffe was washing one day, when a sow belonging to Elizabeth Sawyer licked up a bit of her washing soap. She struck it with a ‘washing beetle.’ Of course she fell sick, and on her deathbed accused Mistress Elizabeth Sawyer, who was afterwards hanged”.

    I love this blog.
    NB Do you have rolling pins over there?

  88. Lizzie from London says:

    Great stories Pam. Thanks.

    I suppose a washing beetle must have been a bit like a carpet beater for whacking the washing. I own (and use) a rolling pin so I must obtain a washing beetle forthwith. The OED does suggest batedor – beater as a posible derivation but I can’t quite figure the insect connection. Maybe it’s coincidental; what in translation is known as a false friend.

    There is an essay by Virginia Woolf on the subject of The Servant and the Washing Beetle. If there isn’t there should be.

  89. Pam I says:

    And of course AB is in the habit of washing beetles after she rescues them from the sink trap….

  90. Dinah Jochild says:

    Wow, Pam. You’ve send me/us off on another word scavenger hunt. I was struck by the description you gave above of the Carlisle Cathedral misericord depicting a wife hitting her husband over the head with a washing beetle. Yes, we do have rolling pins here in the U.S., though precious few make pies with them any more. According to Wikipedia, “Rolling pins are the stereotypical weapon of angry housewives and are frequently employed in cartoons as an instrument for inflicting cranial injury.” The centuries-long association of domestic arts with the need to wield a club is telling.

    There is a beetle (i.e., insect) named the Washing Beetle; a photo can be found at http://lifeunseen.com/index2_item_818.php but it’s a rather plain sort of Alexander beetle, I’d much rather see it as drawn by AB.

    The Nimoy video was so unsettling, I haven’t had the nerve to go look at the Shatner one. The kind of pop culture I don’t want to see my tax money spent on. (Said with a grin.)

    I can of course draw Texas maps rather well (part of the 7th grade curriculum here, used to be at least, was to memorize all 254 counties and locate them on a map or else you didn’t pass — and since Texas is four times the size of all New England, can I count that as knowing 24 states?) and the South, but I find New England very confusing. The Western states are reassuring, with all those straight lines as manifest destiny gained steam. Not to nitpick, but the abbreviation for Nebraska is NE, not NB. NB means nota bene, as Pam Issyvoo used it.

  91. Maggie Jochild says:

    That was NOT Dinah’s comment, it was mine — she could care less about maps or human culture. But she left her name in my cache. She never picks up after herself.

  92. Pam I says:

    The photo of the Washing Beetle (bug) is cute. It even has built-in washing beetles (devices) on its hind legs.

    Those bug sites give me a chance to click through to Spiders to test my new post-arachnophobic state. The page there is fine except for one type – Stiphidiidae, Crinoline Spiders, where the old adrenaline kick still comes through. It’s got that classic eeeargh-take-it-away leg pattern. Weird things, phobias.

  93. Jana C.H. says:

    Our problem with the map seemed to begin when we made Montana the right size (big), but not Texas (bigger). The Mississipi developed a strange westward bend south of Illinois, the northern tier states became larger than the southern tier, and we compensated by making Georgia slightly bigger than Idaho.

    Oh, and the woman who sang Sesto in “Julius Caesar” was AMAZING! (Boris, stop biting.)

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith Simone Andrus: Geographers make the world go ’round.

  94. geogeek says:

    I’m actually not all that fond of the straight-line borders in the Wester US, primarily because they result in such stupid poiciy decisions. John Wesley Powell (leader of the first two expotitions of white people down the Grand Canyon) wanted the Western States to be drawn along watershed lines, and I think that would have prevented a lot of bad water and farm law. I think that it might have lead to less stupid federal policy in regard to Indian lands, too, since many of the traditional borders were watershed related. I admit it makes them simpler to draw, though….

    All this map business reminds me that, to stay locatin-relevnat here on Alison’s blog, one of the things I appreciated about Fun Home was the use of maps and cross-sections in describing her home town. USGS topo maps are something I’ve lived and breathed since about age 8, and looking at the maps at different scale popped me into a three-dimensional comprehension of the landscape she gew up in. I re-experienced some feeings of early adolecense, particularly from the maps in combinasensation of ation with the descriptions of hearing the highway over hte ridge. This brought back the mysterious and mythic “noise-in-the-distance” sensation I used to get from hearing the freight trains late at night. It was as though the sounds of passage just out of reach should have had tales, even though they seemed so prosaic to adults. The closest I’ve seen to “fairy tales” that touch on that feeling are the Rootabaga Stories.

    Love the washing beetles! This is great. My new Word Of The Week is zymurgy, the study of food-related yeasts, i.e. beer- and bread-making yeasts. From the Greek root zymo-, yeast.

  95. Maggie Jochild says:

    I agree with you, Geogeek, about the “straight borders” idiocy — I was being sarcastic in my previous post. When we refuse to let geography shape us, culturally and personally, we are in dire trouble. Have you read “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin? Rocked my world. And as a child, when I heard Frost’s “The Gift Outright” read at JFK’s inauguration, even then I partially understood the complexity and challenge in “The land was ours before we were the land’s.” I still think of that poem every time I engage in a meaningful discussion about immigration or urbanization. More than 50% of the world now lives in cities…scares me to death.

    I loved your connection of topo maps to freight train sounds. (Speaking of poetry — ESVM’s “Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take / No matter where it’s going.” — yeah, me too.) For me, when I read in Fun Home about the narrow ridges that isolated communities in Pennsylvania for centuries, I flashed to the rule-of-thumb we use in genealogy when trying to trace migration and marriage in pre-1900 America, which was almost all rural: To find who a boy or girl married, draw a circle five miles in diameter around their farmstead. Five miles was as far as a boy could walk after a full day of work and still make it back home in time to get up before dawn for the next day’s chores, so he could only court within that region. And, of course, girls couldn’t go out courting at all, had to wait for whoever showed up on the horizon. No wonder we ditched that system as soon as we could, moving to towns where there were schools, socials, churches, ANYTHING.

    Interestingly, the Bechdel family has a genealogy online that goes down as far as Bruce and Alison (although Alison is not named, because living individuals’ data is not given out), and there were a lot of Bechdels marrying Bechdels way back when. But that’s common, not a reflection on her family. We are all far more closely related than most people realize.

  96. Anonymous says:

    According to the NY Barnes and Noble store–the authors that are depicted in their murals are Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Franz Kafka, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Pablo Neruda and Rabindranath Tagore.

    Too bad no Willa Cather–she was my first introduction in college that it was possible that women could love women openly (or as openly as was possible back then). I loved how bold she was for that time and her writing still makes me cry.

    I’d venture to guess that the picture is either of Zora or Virginia but it’s odd as I am sure that is James Joyce but that wasn’t on their list. Hmmm?

  97. Lizzie from London says:

    Yes I agree Maggie Jochild about the perils of surrendering our attachment to the land. Just read a review of Planet of Slums (Mike Davis) about megacities and hypercities (20million inhabitants +). But I fear for most people it’s lost (or been taken away). Was watching the total lunar eclipse last night in a suburb of London and were there ather groups of people in their gardens marvelling at the visible proof of this ball of rock speeding through the night ? No there were not. But eventually global warming will force a few of us back to dependence on what land remains – and the decaying remants of our technological culture (see Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, for example). OK remote rural communities in Pennylvania (or anywhere) were tough on individual choice but that’s not a priority in terms of survival of a species.

    Willa Cather makes me cry too though I can’t quite work out how she does it. The best writers do love and its painful pleasures full stop and who it’s between is an irrelevance I think. The heartbreaking bit in Song of the Lark for me is the death of the engine driver who loves the girl who the sings. James Baldwin for example does gay and heterosexual love equally well – though not, I think, love between women. And in Fun Home AB’s realisation/struggle towards of her love for her father is very moving.

  98. Pam I says:

    I’m afraid that in choosing between watching eclipses and watching Lea de Laria do her thang, L de L won. A beginning of the week of IWD events here – a march of Iranian women, pro-choice rallies, a big bash at City Hall, and the birth of an anti-porn campaign group. This one week always feels a bit like the olden days.

    I’m thinking of putting my name down for an allotment, which will then come up in about 3 years. Do they exist in the US? Apparently there’s a recent surge (!) of interest – we all want our little patch of mud after all. I want chickens on mine. But I’d need about ten other people to share the great expanse of mud + weeds you get given. Liz?

  99. little gator says:

    My shameful secret-when I was 15 or so I went through a phase of calling her Willa Catheter just to annoy my mother.

  100. Silvio Soprani says:

    Our lunar eclipse in Baltimore was totally obscured by clouds, alas.

    Regarding trains, I wish they were still cheaper than airfare, as they were years ago. When I “left home” for good after college, I took a train from Florida to Colorado (3 days on a train! Heaven!) I just had a seat, not a compartment, but i sat next to a very nice young lady who was an enthusiastic follower of Mary Baker Eddy. (Christian Science, right? I always get that mixed up with the Mormans/Latter Day Saints.) We had fun drinking beer in the club car and talking about life.(It is the Latter Day Saints who don’t drink alcohol, as I recall.)

    I still love trains but I can’t afford to ride them. It’s cheaper to drive–and I have an old gas-guzzling van from 1991. I would gladly exchange it for a more fuel efficient vehicle, but I can’t afford a new car. This seems like a social problem to me–If the people who are sensitive to helping the environment can’t manage to obtain the technology to support that commitment, something is wrong. I suppose in the long term, I could try to find a job in my field that I could walk to instead of commuting 50 miles round trip each day. But it was hard enough to hold out for three years as an adjunct instructor where I am until they created a full time position with health benefits for me. I don’t want to start from scratch somewhere new.

    On a nostalgic note, the first house I lived in (until the age of 3) had a train track running right behind my house, right over the fence behind my swing set. To this day, loud noises don’t wake me up at night.. I once lived for 7 years one block from the Firehouse!

    Queen Pam, could you please explain how a British “allotment” works? Years ago, I knew a woman in the mountains of Colorado who won a plot of land from the National Park Service in the Ute Mountain Range. She got to keep it for free as long as she built a dwelling on it within 10 years. She did, and raised Siberian Huskies. Each dog (about 20 of them) had its own little dog house. As I drove up her driveway in the nighttime, all I could see was the eyes of the dogs glowing greenish from the relection of my headlights. (It reminded me of jellyfish when you shine a flashlight into the ocean at night and stir the water.) I will never forget her wonderful cliff top home in the mountains.

  101. Lizzie from London says:

    Well Pam, as I have often told you I am not such a committed feminist/activist as you are. However, if I haven’t made it into a neo-pagan community in three years I will certainly pitch in on the allotment. You’ll need good strong dug in fences to keep the foxes out of the chicken coops. Are you allowed to keep chickens on allotments ? I suspect not so you may have to get your chicken feeding pleasures at my NPC.

    I had a brief acquantance wth a Siberian husky called Kiyak. One of the most good natured dogs have ever known – and furry.

  102. Pam I says:

    Allotments – go back a couple of centuries – pieces of land rented out (“alloted”) usually by the local government, to those with a desire to dig. Came in after the clearances, when landowners fenced off common land to grow sheep, leaving the hoi polloi hungry. Developed during the industrial revolution when millions migrated to towns+cities into housing with no gardens. Slumped a bit, revived during WW2 and became an important source of food – Dig for Victory. Declined, now reviving again. Long queues to get one, as many have been sold off to build housing.

    You get around 20feet by 30feet of land of varying quality,
    for a few pounds a year. They are part of urban folklore, often displaying eccentric improvised sheds and scarecrows.
    Formerly the province of old men in flat caps, they have got desirable again as they are cheaper than the gym and farmers markets, and my local one has loads of recent immigrants who miss their land.

    My neighbours have one and every time i see them in the summer they thrust bags of lovely fresh organic veg at me. Allotment holders notoriously don’t know when to stop, especially with marrows.

    So if I sign up now I may get one for when I can quit teaching. Maybe the idea of all that work will put me off by then tho, as reality hits this armchair farmer.

    Is there nothing like this outside of UK?

  103. little gator says:

    Pam I-here in the US they call them community gardens.

  104. Silvio Soprani says:

    Oh yes, we have community gardens in Baltimore City.
    Pam, what you are describing, I recognize from that British tv show with Patricia Routledge, “Hetty Wainthrop Investigates.” Her husband had an allottment. I just didn’t know what you called it.

    So your allottment will be in your urban neighborhood, right?

    Okay, next question: what the heck is a “marrow?” I get that it is some kind of root, but is it a vegetable I would recognize? We have turnips, routabagas, and even those bitter things called Jeruselem artichokes. Is it the same as any of those?

    Why do you have to wait until you quit teaching? You can’t make a living raising vegetables, can you?

    Most people around here with community gardens just work on it on weekends, for the most part. It does relieve the “I don’t know my neighbors” urban syndrome, for sure.

    I am lucky; I have a little walled-in back yard, so I can plant a garden there. But of course, then I don’t get the feeling of community with my neighbors.

  105. Pam I says:

    Marrow = “large elongated squash with creamy to deep green skins” – zucchini? Obsessives can get them up to three feet long.

    Allotments here are often a long way from home – you take what you’re given. They are on whatever bits of land were available 100 years ago – so it’s not a way of meeting your neighbours. Washing the car on the street is how we bond.

  106. Maggie Jochild says:

    Pam I says: “Obsessives can get them up to three feet long.”

    C’mon, Ginjoint, what’re you waiting for? Aunt Soozie? Bueller? Bueller?

    Yeah, you mean zucchini. And this leads to my favorite Marge Piercy poem, “Attack of the Squash People”. (Cybercita, we found a way to mention it!) Go read it online at http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1606.html

  107. Deena in OR says:

    “Obsessives can get them up to three feet long.”

    All I can think of is Sydney’s remark to Mo about her prediliction for crook-neck squash. (insert shocked, innocent expression here…)

  108. Pam I says:

    I did hope this would not lead us to the mindset as expressed, I’m told, in one SF sex shop – where there is a huge framed zucchini above the counter, with the legend: Yes, this is a zucchini.

    A sufficiently literary response from MJ has raised the tone, thanks.

  109. silvio soprani says:

    Maggie,

    Oh, wonderful, funny Marge Piercy!

    Oh, wonderful Maggie, with a poem for every digression!

    And now I finally know what a marrow is!!

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    Cybercita — dare I say that I find “Handwriting without Tears” cursive style (especially the textbook examples) harder to read than any other cursive I have ever seen?

    As a handwriting improvement specialist (like Silvio, I use Italic), I get a lot of clients who come to me with good evidence that, for them, “Handwriting without Tears” didn’t work — and did cause tears. To my personal knowledge, some of these people (or their teachers) had called/written the “Handwriting without Tears” company mentioning their non-success and/or tears: The company staff either hung up, left these letters/messages unanswered, or in at least some cases replied: “We don’t want to hear about problems. Go buy some more of our books and call back when you have a success story instead. Our company is oriented to success, not to failure” (or words to that effect).

    I don’t deny that Cybercita and presumably others have gotten what they wanted and expected from “Handwriting without Tears”: after all, as someone who gets the “washouts” from this and other programs I don’t expect high odds of running into the people that it actually worked for. It does seem to me that, no matter how high the success-rate of any program (even if it had a 100% success-rate), ethical concerns about the program management must arise if they tell the public that they “don’t want to hear about problems.”

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