February 15th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Photo on 2010-02-15 at 08.31
Here I am reading the big sprawling old fashioned color comics section from the latest issue of McSweeney’s. McSweeney’s is a literary journal whose physical form morphs peculiarly from issue to issue. One number resembled a stack of junk mail held together with a rubber band. This one takes the shape of a multi-sectioned Sunday newspaper, a vast 320 page broadsheet. Which includes the above funny pages with cartoons by a whole mess of cartoonists, including me.

Here’s the piece I did for it. It’s based on The Game of Life, which I played obsessively for a while as a child, often by myself. (the colors come out really garish here…sorry)

Life low res

I think if you click on that, it’ll take you to Flickr, where you can see a larger version.

Anyhow, I just wanted to put that up. Now I’m off to give a talk at the University of Chicago. If you’re in the area, come by! I’ve also updated my events page. Maybe I’ll be in your neck of the woods sometime soon. Apparently I have nothing better to do than travel around talking about myself.

160 Responses to “funnies”

  1. NLC says:

    Note on the above:
    As AB says, if you click on the image above, you are taken to the Flickr site.

    There you can see the larger image if you click on the “All Sizes” link. However, you only get the “All Sizes” link if you are logged in to Flickr.

  2. NLC says:

    (P.S. It’s worth the trip)

  3. Thanks, NLC!
    I meant to add, the piece was really designed to be held in your hands on a sheet of newspaper, so you can turn it around and around as you go. It’s kinda frustrating reading it on a screen.

  4. Ginjoint says:

    My neck hurts now. But totally worth it.

  5. --MC says:

    My friend Kelly just got back from Vegas, where she ate deep fried Oreos and Max ate a quail. The place has sure changed a lot, I can’t see Sinatra doing that.

  6. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    We went to Vegas in my favorite shoes and got BLISTERS! That place is bigger and steeper than you think it is. Found a great Japanese buffet and ate assembly line sushi that was surprisingly good. I LIKE vegas, and I neither drink nor gamble.

  7. Acilius says:

    I love it! I played Milton Bradley’s game of Life as a one-player one afternoon when I was about 11. I used to be interested in one-player games until I found out about Conway’s Game of Life, which improves on them by being a zero-player game.

  8. Acilius says:

    And Vegas- I’ve gotta go there, just to visit the 3DStereo Store.

  9. Tom Geller says:

    When’s the last time you did Oberlin? Would you like me to talk to folks here about having you in?

    Regarding the comic: At first I thought you were referencing the other Game of Life: . Couldn’t imagine how you’d work that into a comic.

  10. Stacey says:

    Thanks for updating your events page. You really need a reason to come down to New Orleans. The weather is just on the cusp of absolutely perfect, and once the Mardi Gras tourists leave, it’s pretty fun for the next few months. You can stay with me, I have an awesome dog and an evil cat. And my girlfriend runs this underground lesbian organization that throws parties every month and is not to be missed. So, okay, you’re officially invited to the Big Easy. Hope we see you soon.

  11. Bechadelic says:

    Oh my gawd, there’s a game that makes kids simulate their journey through life? Is this game any fun? Since I’ve obviously never played it, I’ll settle for your cartoon version of it which IS fun and I love it.

    Meanwhile keep talking about yourself. Some of us can’t make it to see you in person, but we eagerly watch / listen to any recordings of your talks and interviews on the Internet. Some of us being me 😀

  12. I never played Life alone but am now intrigued by the idea — nobody sending you back 10 spaces or stealing $100,000 (I hated being sent back more than losing the money because I always wanted to be the first to reach Millionaire Acres). And how much brain space am I using to remember those details?

    I used to dare having two pink pegs in the front of my convertible, if it was just me and my little brother playing. I’d say “Girls only!” He understood it as the tendency toward gender segretation of kids, and would sometimes retaliate with “boys only” in his car. Didn’t mean what mine meant, though…

  13. CCC says:

    I had not played “Life” in a long time until we played it in my sociology class 2 years ago. I didn’t know getting married was a requirement of the game! I had picked a little blue person, and when I landed on the marriage space my classmate helpfully jammed a little pink person into the plastic car next to my blue person. I found it quite fascinating.

  14. Dr. Empirical says:

    I spent about a week obsessed with the Conway Life game back when I was atill a bench scientist. I spent a lot of time building stable structures and then shooting mobile self-replicating patterns at them, just to see what would happen. Wikipedia now tells me those mobile patterns are called “gliders.”

    I theorized that a stable glider generator was possible, but was never able to build one. When I hit Wiki a moment ago, the first thing I saw was a design for a simple “glider gun.”

    I don’t think I ever played the board game, but I remember the ads: “You learn about life when you play the Game of Life!” Apparently, you learned that everyone HAS to own a car and get married, and that a person’s ultimate achievement was to become a millionaire.

  15. NLC says:

    If I can be forgiven dropping into geek-speak for a moment:
    Dr E: It’s interesting that you phrase it like that, because legend has it when Conway and his students originally played Life it was as a “board game”. That is, they had floor full of markers which they went through and flipped/manipulated by hand.

    Also, as I’m sure you know, one cool feature about the existence of the glider is that can be used to demonstrate the GoL if fully Turing Equivalent.

  16. Ellen says:

    Now I know what the iPad for born for. To read Alison’s Game of Life cartoon!

    An iPhone is easy to turn but too small, a laptop’s big enough but hard to turn (though I managed, just now), but an iPad would be perfect.

    Unless, the image kept righting itself with each move. Hmmm.

    Best to stick with the paper version. Smells better too.

  17. Feminista says:

    I remember AB doing another satire on “Life”,only it was an alternative/lesbian life game. Example: get social work degree,go into student loan debt,and get a low-paying job OR become an auto mechanic,get a good salary,and stay out of debt. Then there were therapy bills,relationship ups and downs,deciding whether or not to have a child via alternative insemination. At the end the main character,still feisty, was in a nursing home.

  18. Kate L says:

    So, while A.B. played the game of Life (I remember the affirming television commercials of the day), I played games like Risk! (the game of world conquest) or Monopoly (need I say more?). I wonder what these different choices say about us as individuals?

  19. --MC says:

    I never have played Life but my sister and I played endless rounds of “Which Witch”? You make your way through a haunted house, trying to avoid being turned into a mouse, and if you reach the Charmed Circle first, you win. It seems to have become a metaphor for my life.

  20. Feminista says:

    @20 Kate L: I played Monopoly,too,with my sister,with a board and set,ca.1937,that had belonged to my socialist paternal grandparents! Yep,complete with wooden playing pieces and a board that are still useable. The game,first manufactured during the Great Depression,actually was ANTI-capitalist! No,my sister and I didn’t realize that at the time,but she realized this as an adult.

    Think about it: one of the depictions in the Clue cards,who I’ll call Mr.Moneybags, was was a characature of a capitalist! Remember how the railroads and utility companies were good investments? And if you spent beyond your means and got in debt,or just drew the wrong card, you’d end up in jail! Lots of people lost their houses and businesses in the 30s (sounds familiar,eh?)

    Anyway,I enjoyed playing the game,but was hesitant to get into debt by buying too many properties,which could happen if one got too greedy. It was a game of strategy as well as luck.

    In the 1980s some leftists made a board game called Class Struggle,which clearly spelled out
    how monopoly capitalism operates. Of course it wasn’t widely distributed,but I bet there’s someone on the blog who’s heard of it or owns it.Due to a fluke at Xmas,both my sister and I ended up with our own game.

    …Feminista goes off to do a Google search….

  21. Feminista says:

    OK,here we go…Monopoly the game history Wikipedia. Turns out the origins date to the early 1900s,was invented by a woman,and called The Landlord’s Game. By the 1930s,socialist econ prof Scott Nearing at Univ.of PA used the game,called Monopoly by then,in his classes to demonstrate how monopoly capitalism works.

    (Not from Wiki):
    He was fired for his politics but subsequently bought property with his wife in Vermont where they ran a working farm and wrote a book,called I believe Living the Good Life. People came to live with them; each person shared in the work. They had an equal number of hours for physical labor,intellectual work,and free time.Their model was an early inspiration for the back-to-the land movement in the early 70s.

  22. Bechadelic says:

    I learn something new each time I visit this blog. I played Monopoly with my family when I was very young. But I had no idea it was connected to economics. I just thought it was a game where you had to amass money, build properties on land you bought, charge rent and avoid going to jail LOL. I’m so clueless!

  23. UofCPostDoc says:

    I’ll be there on Wednesday! (looking forward to it! 🙂

  24. Ready2Agitate says:

    I call Vegas my “anti-place.” Ewwwww. Not enough O2, trees. I’m so Mo.

  25. hairball_of_hope says:

    I was so-so at Monopoly, but I loved the real metal pieces and wooden houses (we had a mix of two sets, one with plastic houses and one with wood). I did much better with Risk and Scrabble. And best of all with Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. ;).

    (… goes back to her real game of life, do not pass GO, do not collect $200 …)

  26. Feminista says:

    #26 Ready: I’m with you on that. Have never been and have no desire to do so.

    #27 HoH: Oh yeah,I remember Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. Scrabble was OK. My favorite games as a youngun were Checkers and Chinese Checkers.

  27. Kerry says:

    I’m so happy to see that you’ll be at Penn State in March! That’s close enough to my neck of the woods for me to come hear you. I’m the guy who used your Fun Home as one of the texts in a philosophy seminar on forgiveness a couple of years ago at Gettysburg College.

    Can’t wait for March.

  28. Acilius says:

    Monopoly- for a couple of months when I was in college, some of my friends were obsessed with Monopoly. We had the idea of inventing alternative versions of the game to illustrate other economic systems. I remember two versions we came up with were Fascist Monopoly and Stalinist Monopoly. We played Fascist Monopoly once, it was so horrendous we had to laugh our way through it.

  29. freyakat says:

    @Feminista (#22): I bought a copy of Class Struggle back when it first came out, but it turned out that although I had liked playing Monopoly as a kid and as a young adult, my general lack of interest in board games had solidified by the time Class Struggle came out.

    The box sat pretty much unused in the hall closet of my small New York apartment for many years until I finally decided that it served no point for it to take up space. I think I bought the game at the long-lamented Wilentz’s Eighth Street Bookshop.

  30. Heidi says:

    I love both Monopoly and Life. I don’t own a Life set anymore, but my partner and I have a wonderful national parks version of Monopoly. The properties are all national parks, and the houses and hotels are wooden tents and ranger stations. The little pewter character that I choose to represent me is a hiking boot. We last played Monopoly just a couple of weeks ago.

    Like Maggie, I also remember choosing a little pink spouse for myself when playing Life, but I must have been in high school at the time.

  31. Mindy Dawn says:

    Uh, yeah, Alison… about that updated events page- I wish it would have been done last month. This morning, I saw the spring 2010 poster for psu lgbta events. Giving a squeal of delight and jump for joy, I positively embarrassed my partner in the middle of Webster’s this morning. But I just couldn’t help myself, it is a delightful surprise ! I can’t hardly wait!

  32. Kat says:

    When I was a teenager, I babysat a little girl who cheated horribly every time we played “Life.”

    I actually found that quite amusing….”She cheats at “Life”!!! Hahahahaha, how is that possible?”

  33. Feminista says:

    In the 80s and 90s I decided to get my niece and nephew,and later my foster kids and adopted daughter,cooperative games.(I was appalled at the consumerist and ultra-competitive mainstream board games,and I didn’t want Candyland around in order to encourage healthy eating.) These had to be mail ordered from smallish companies,but I’m all for supporting small businesses. Since everyone had to work together to play,there were no bad feelings about who won or lost.

    Their favorites were The Whale Game and The Secret Door. In the former the idea was to save the whales,dealing with the actual challenges whales have faced,and emphasizing the inherent cooperation whales exhibit in their pods. And everybody cheers when you get to the end. The latter is a mystery game using collaboration to solve the puzzles. Both are great for reducing sibling and other rivalries.

    My favorites were The Whale Game and Life Stories;the idea was to play with the whole family.We had three generations telling interesting stories,prompted by the cards they chose, during several holiday reunions.

    Then there’s TGABA,Trivia Game About Black Americans. Only my late husband,a fellow historian and I liked that,but I think it’s got valuable info.

    Yep,stil got all of these.

    Oh,I’ve forgotten Clue,which was a lot of fun. My sister and I had a joke about whodunit: “It was Col.Mustard in the kitchen with a knife.”

  34. My favorite cooperative game is Rivers, Rails and Roads. It’s equally fun for adults and kids.

    But the best board game ever, IMHO, is Scrabble as it was played by my friends Erinn and Elaine — ruined me for boring “regular” Scrabble. In their version, you draw 7 letters a turn as usual, but ignore the points awarded by squares on the board. You win prestige points among your linguophile friends and the game has no official end. Rules are:
    (1) Any word at all, in amy language, is accepted. But no contractions which require punctuation to be written.
    (2) On your turn, you can remove and rearrange ANY tiles already on the board as long as all tiles are returned to the board by the end of your play.
    (3) You may make as many words as you want in your turn as long as they intersect with adjoining tiles to make a real word.

    Eventually the board becomes a near solid square of interlaced words, like a cooperatively created, highly flexible crossword. The goal is to make your sister players gasp or sigh in approval as you lay down your turn.

    This bunch would be a blast to play with.

  35. Ready2Agitate says:

    can someone anyone? post an enlarged picture of AB’s Life board so I don’t hafta register w Flickr? (I know, I know, such special treatment, me…)

  36. Kat says:

    Maggie, the diction coaches at the Met (opera, not museum) play Scrabble in a similar way, but they limit it to “in any language that all the players speak or read” in order to prevent people making up words.

  37. Jain says:

    I’m in line behind R2A for that Life board post.

  38. NLC says:

    1] I like the Scrabble extensions. And, yes, I’ve always felt that playing for “prestige points” was the real purpose of Scrabble, and, double-yes, playing with this group would be a blast.

    2] Along these lines, a while back a friend introduced me to the notion of “house rules” for board games; you have to make the rules clear at the start, but they often make the games more fun or more playable.
    [For example, our house-rules include for Scrabble: a minimum play of two letters (or, if one letter, it has to intersect two words). That is, to prevent folks from doing something like using up all the S’s by simply pluralizing existing words. Likewise in Trivial Pursuit, if someone can’t answer a question they can challenge it, meaning that at least one person in the game has to legitimately know the answer. Again to eliminate those unfair questions which no one has a chance of answering.]

    3] As far as favorite games, does anyone else know Phase 10, or Sets? (But I have to admit that for a long snowy evening, it’s hard to beat a ton of popcorn and Uno…)

  39. NLC — LOVE the Trivial Pursuit house rules, very sensible. And it would have kept the Bubble Boy from habitat collapse over the whole “Moops” debacle, eh? (A trivia reference, let’s see who can name its origin.)

  40. R2A and Jain– pending further clarification from Alison, I copied her Game of Life photo to my blog (buried in the archive and without labels so it will never be found if you don’t have the direct link from this one comment here) which you can access here. I copyrighted it to Alison but if she asks me to take it down, I will instantly. Click on the image to enlarge it — I upped it another 200%. Also, if you copy it into something as simple as Paintbrush, you can rotate it in all directions for easier viewing.

  41. Acilius says:

    @Maggie: Seinfeld, mais of course.

  42. […] yesterday, Alison Bechdel announced on her blog that she’d drawn a comic for McSweeney’s magazine.  The comic represents a modified […]

  43. Antoinette says:

    Perhaps my distaste for dating can be laid at the door of Mystery Date, and many, many hands of Old Maid.

  44. Alex K says:

    Random information borement game: AUTHORS. I suppose that many of you reading this (is anyone reading this?) could name four works by James Fenimore Cooper. But I couldn’t, and I lost at AUTHORS, over and over and over again. I still can’t name four works by that loathsome man. DEERSLAYER, LEATHERSTOCKING TALES, two. Two. Not four. Those titles’ names are just picked up without internalisation, like so much cultural lint, crossword-puzzle false knowledge. I hate James Fenimore Cooper, although I have never read ANYTHING by him, and I shall hate him till I die, and I never EVER shall read anything by him, and that will show HIM, damn him, because when I was seven years old and was called away from what I was doing to fill out a four-hander of AUTHORS with my grandmother and my parents he made me lose over and over and over again.

    The Dead White Male cultural canon and its heavy hand on the yoof of today. Or of almost fifty years ago. Discuss, drawing examples from personal sufferings.

  45. Alex K, I was forced to spend one week of a teenage Christmas vacation slogging my way through Moby Dick. I loathed every paragraph of it — though I loved Faulkner, Trollope, many other logorrheic Dead White Males. Heresy for some, I know.

    On a personal note, today is grocery delivery day. With Sheldon’s help, I will have fresh fruit and salad at dinner tonight. I’m so excited I can’t think of much else.

  46. Ginjoint says:

    My junior high/middle school was named after Cooper. Two of the most miserable years of my life. Ugly, awkward, an outcast. If I live to be 700 the correlation will always be there.

  47. NLC says:

    Moby Dick is one of those books that always seem to get inflicted on young students because it’s Good For Them. I hated it too, even the couple of chapters that we were forced to read in high school.

    But I have to say that re-reading it (much) later (I think I must have been near 40) was a completely different experience. Broad, sweeping and –dare I say it– funny. Anyway, I wish that it hadn’t been forced down my throat, lo those many years ago.

    I guess the bottom line is that there are books that are for kids, and books that are definitely not for kids.

  48. Bechadelic says:

    ha ha this discussion reminds me of Alison’s graphic essay on compulsory reading, where she says – “If you really want your children to read something, for God’s sake, keep it to yourself. Guard that book like a precious secret. Shelve it judiciously. And under no circumstances put it on a list” – I love it, it’s just so true 🙂

  49. Ellen says:

    NLC #40

    But that’s the joy of Scrabble –saving your S tiles to link onto existing words (it’s called a hook), making the best use of a triple letter space if you corner you can really rack up the points), and learning new words like AA and QAT and QI. Sure, I make words for the beauty of them, “pinon” yesterday, but one can do both.

    It depends why you play board games. As a way to socialize with friends, to challenge yourself, to cultivate a very specific skill?

  50. Ellen says:

    I remember reading Jack London’s “To Build A Fire” and thinking, what idiot would go solo in Alaska (was it Alaska?) in winter. Our teacher said it was about hubris.

  51. NLC says:

    Hi Ellen#51
    Sorry, I guess my description wasn’t clear. The situation the rule is meant to address is where “dog” exists on the board, and someone simply adds a single “S” (making “dogs”), with no other interaction.

  52. Betsy says:

    Thanks for posting AB’s ‘life’ comic Maggie. Much easier to read!

  53. Dr. Empirical says:

    So many comment hooks!

    Maggie (42): Thank You!

    Alex (46): Last of the Mohicans? And how could you not love something called “Leatherstocking Tales”? I’ve read a couple of Copoper books, though, and dislike them pretty intensely.

    NLC (49) My high-school opinion of Moby Dick was that there might have been a good book in there somewhere, if Melville could have decided which book he wanted to write. He wrote a travelogue, an adventure story, a technical tretise, a political commentary and a religious allegory, but he didn;t write them as a coherent whole, he wrote them separately, shuffled the various chapters together, wrapped the whole thing in baling wire, and sent it off to the hapless publisher. A good editor could have done wonders for him.

    Ellen (52) did you know that there are two different versions of “To Build a Fire” extant? One in which he doesn’t survive, and a bowlderized one in which he does. What I loved about the better version was the protagonist’s constantly shifting priorities. He wanted to survive, then he wanted to avoid frostbite, then he knew he was going to die, then he worried about what his campmates would think, then… Every change in situation was also a change of goal. I found it very Human. The opinions of the dog made a nice contrast.

  54. Dr. Empirical says:

    Ooh! Look at all the typos!

  55. Ellen says:

    (55) Dr E — thanks for the insights. It’s been 30 years since I read it — sounds like it deserves a second look.

    As for (51) only adding an “s.” It comes down to how well one understands Scrabbl. If adding just an “S” is the best you can do, the most points, then it’s perfectly valid. But even a beginner knows to score points, you’d try to make so, as, is, sip, slice, slide, sinew, slip, smooth, soft, lips, or ten thousand others. Sounds like you might be playing with someone who’s not really into the game.

    Wow, that was geeky. My great-uncle wrote Scrabble books, so I guess it is in the DNA.

  56. I always enjoyed playing the Game of Life, even when real life had me down in the dumps. The linear progression of the game was comforting. I also enjoyed pretending to have a bunch of kids. It was easy to do, almost no responsibility whatsoever. And you got money for them, too! I too enjoyed pretending to be different people. As a person who is bisexual, the game was very liberating. It provided a safe way to explore being in a straight or lesbian relationship.

  57. Ready2Agitate says:

    ooh, ooh, Maggie – I hope you enjoy your fruit & salad tonight, and *I* will get to enjoy the enlargened (c) AB Life board for dessert later on 2night (if it’s still up – hopefully!) — THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

    ps I just saw “the Most Dangerous Man in America” abt Daniel Ellsberg & the Pentagon Papers. I loved it! (despite its obvious male-centricity) Feminista, am assuming that you (and AB) have already seen it. Splendid. Makes you wanna holler sometimes….

  58. cybercita says:

    am i the only one here who just can’t read it?

  59. Ready2Agitate says:

    good lordess, that was awesome, AB!!! well-done, mate!

    cybercita, go to maggie’s post #42 above for the special *click* that will allow you to enlarge and even enlarge more the game board, so you can enjoy AB’s ever funny brand of self-conscious brilliance.

    AB – I can’t believe you captured the colors of the original 4 letters, L I F E. I thought I’d never really played the game, but then I instantly recognized the game box from your drawing.

    That was worth the wait. Gracias again Mz Jochild & Mz. B.

  60. NLC, Dinah says any rule which discourages the change of dog into dogs is her kind of rule.

  61. NLC says:

    MJ: Now tell me the truth, did she ever eat a bat?

    [thump, thump…]

  62. Funnily enough, NLC, Dinah does bat-watch from my living room window in the evenings. There is a Mexican free-tailed bat who lives behind the rain gutter on my patio and emerges at dusk to eat her weight in insects. Dinah can see her quick movements much better than I do, and gives that throaty “you look so TASTY” chitter sometimes.

  63. Kat says:

    Thanks for posting the game, Maggie.

    On the game topic, a friend recently introduced me to a strategy card came called “Honor of the Samurai.” The only trouble was that his deck is in German.

    There was something very strange and fun about playing a game where you can acquire land in “Kyotoburg” and you can build up “stark” points….

  64. Land in Kyotoburg is very cheap now, I hear, since the collapse of the stark market there.

    Oh come on, like Ginjoint wasn’t going to make the same joke!

  65. Kat says:

    har dee har har…

  66. Feminista says:

    #61 Ready: The Ellsberg film hasn’t made its way to Portland yet,but I have read about it. However,I’m going to see some cool African films this month.Portland Community College sponsors a free annual fest,with films from Africa and the African Diaspora. Will report back.

    #66 Maggie: I can tell you’ve got your game back–great pun!

    Great job on Life,AB,and thanks to those who enlarged the image.

  67. hairball_of_hope says:

    Maggie, thanks so much for posting that photo of the gameboard. I opted to flip my laptop around this morning to read the thing instead of the software rotation solution. I’m into hardware. :).

    AB, I thought it was a brilliant self-referential trick to have the discontinuity at the top of the board which reads “Nothing was missing…” A visual reflexive joke. Oooh, you are so clever.

    Ellen, I could use some of your Scrabble DNA. Scrabble geeks learn all the weird words and their definitions, just in case of a challenge. Which is why I know that AA is cindery lava, AE is Scotish for one, and AI is a three-toed sloth. I have fun pluralizing/extending words with a single letter other than s, such as fovea/foveae. I’ve also found all that chemistry info is useful for high-value but hard-to-place letters, e.g. xylol/xylene/xylitol.

    (… goes back to chewing on qat, also spelled kat and khat …)

  68. Alex K says:

    @50 / Bechadelic:

    That tactic works for more than books.

    Right hand up to God, my parents used it for liver’n’onions and for creamed spinach.

    The five of us kids would have hamburgers put onro our plates. Maybe some peas and carrots. Whatever Mrs Birdseye was cooking that evening.

    Mom, Dad, Grandma: Fegato alla veneziana, epinards a la creme.

    What IS that?, we would enquire anxiously, pointing at their plates with our chins. Or, for the younger ones, who hadn’t been slapped across the paw enough yet, with our fingers.

    Never you mind. Not for kids. Too good, too expensive. You have hamburgers, eat those. No, you can’t have any. Stop asking and let us enjoy our dinner. You wouldn’t like it, you have to be grown up to like this kind of food, you’re just too young. It would be wasted on you.

    And we teased for a taste and showed how sophisticated and grown-up we were by teasing for more and one day being taken into the Guild. We all now LOVE liver. We all now LOVE spinach.

    We were MANIPULATED PSYCHOLOGICALLY and it’s not fair and – and – and – and they did it in a MEAN WAY.

    I think that every family should budget not for therapy, but for reparations.

  69. Bechadelic says:

    LOL @ Alex # 70
    In my family it was very simple – if you didn’t eat what’ on your plate you went hungry and there was nothing else to eat 😀

    But my cats use reverse psychology on me all the time. The more I encourage them to eat what I put out, play with a certain toy, go to sleep etc., the more they make it absolutely clear that they want to eat something other than what’s in their bowls, play with anything but the 150 million toys lying around and pretend that cats don’t know the meaning of sleep ha ha. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite got the hang of doing it to them just yet. I always cave and yield to their demands!

  70. Bechadelic says:

    typo above – that should be “what was on your plate”

  71. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Feminista (#35)

    “…and I didn’t want Candyland around in order to encourage healthy eating.”

    Somehow, I don’t think Tofuland would have the same appeal to kids. I would have gone for Spinachland, but not many of my peers would have followed suit.

    Alex K’s story about spinach as a desirable grown-up food brought back memories for me. I always liked spinach as a kid, probably because I had only ever tasted fresh spinach, and even nibbled on raw spinach as I helped my mother strip the stems and wash the spinach (in the ancient days before bagged pre-washed baby spinach).

    One of my friends invited me to dinner when I was a kid, and her mother asked if I liked spinach. “I love spinach!” When I saw this pile of grey ooze on the plate, I asked what it was. “Spinach. Creamed spinach.” said my friend’s mom. It was creamed spinach out of a can. I had never tasted canned spinach before. It was vile. I had no idea spinach actually came in cans, except in the Popeye cartoons (yeah Max and Dave Fleischer!). I tried to be polite. I said I liked spinach, but not creamed spinach.

    I went home and told my mother that [friend’s family] ate canned spinach and it was disgusting, no wonder [friend] didn’t like spinach. My mother was most concerned that I didn’t insult them. I assured her I was polite and fudged the situation by saying I had never eaten creamed spinach before and wasn’t crazy about it. Pretty easy fudge, since adding cream to spinach would have meant it couldn’t be served with meat in a kosher household.

    To this day I won’t eat creamed spinach.

    And I’m with Alex K on the reparations. I could have purchased several brand-new Mercedes (what is the plural of Mercedes? Mercedeses? Benzes?) or put a hefty down payment on real estate with my therapy bills over the years.

    (… goes off to her over-priced analysis, where she will spend some of that expensive time fretting over her mounting bills and shrinking income …)

  72. Sarah says:

    Totally off topic, but I read an arc of Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s new book, “Big Bang Symphony” after Alison suggested it. It was wonderful! If you live anywhere near North Mississippi, she will be signing at my store, Square Books, in Oxford MS on May 17th at 5pm. 🙂

  73. Feminista says:

    #73 HoH: When my daughter joined our family,she’d been used to foster homes that used candy and other sweets as rewards and served unhealthy foods.We wanted her dental,physical,and mental health to improve,not worsen. We banned candy and McDonald’s but allowed desserts in moderation,never insisted she clean her plate,compromised on some things,and gradually her eating habits improved.

    We must have done something right,because at 21 she’s eating mostly healthy foods,getting more exercise,and has asked me about organic produce. She’s lost 30 the past year,which she’s very happy about because she’s struggled with obesity for years. She’s also serving her baby and toddler nutritious foods and keeps them current on medical exams and immunizations.

  74. Suzanonymous says:

    I need to do a nit pick on the events page. Ramapo College is in Mahwah, NJ, not Ramapo NJ.

    In the 1960s and 70s, which is also when the college was built, that location was part of a town called Darlington, NJ. Ramapo college is right down the road from the private grammar school my grandparents sent me and my sisters to.

    [Freed from spam-filter limbo. (Not sure why this message was trapped.) -Mentor]

  75. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Feminista (#75)

    Good for you and good for her. I suppose it’s all in the life context whether Candyland would promote unhealthy eating habits. I can see why you didn’t want it in the house.

    By contrast, junk food was limited and controlled in my house, and food was never used as a punishment or reward. I was a very skinny teenager, and 40 years later, I have only gained 20 lbs at my heaviest. These days I’m about 15 lbs over my high school weight, and I usually drop another 5 lbs or so in the summer when I’m out and walking more. I guess Candyland didn’t have a lasting effect on me.

    I could see Stuart trying to get JR to play Tofuland instead of Candyland, and Lois slipping the kid M&Ms. Boy do I miss DTWOF.

    (… goes back to her chocolate-dipped dreams …)

  76. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Alex K., _The Deerslayer_ just may be the worst book I have ever read. I would have burned it if book burning were not an inherently fascistic gesture.

    Maggie, I have never attempted _Moby Dick_, but I will recommend a chapter in Jennifer Doyle’s _Sex Objects_ called “Moby Dick’s Boring Parts.” It’s quite good, and, worked with Ms. Doyle, I can attest that she is an amazing person.

  77. Kait says:

    Oooo! I’d gladly listen to you talk about yourself. You should come to London and do a talk here! I’ll take you for a cuppa and ensure you don’t get loast on the tube.

  78. Acilius says:

    @h_o_h #73: I just did Google searches for “Mercedeses” and “Benzes.” The first page of results for “Mercedeses” didn’t produce anything legit. There were lots of results for “Benzes,” though.

  79. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    oh NO, Hairball of Hope is revealed as a ectomorph, who still weighs what she weighed in high schoool. My husband is the same, and as an endomorph, I hate you both. LIke the Diet Koala hanging out in the eucalyptus tree, a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips…

  80. Kat says:

    @75 and 77 (HoH and Feminista)

    Environment must have a lot to do with one’s reaction to Candyland. I never had it (only child, no one around with whom to play board games), but when I played it at friends’ houses, I have to say that I never really made the connection between the game and real, live, sticky, sugary candy…

  81. geogeek says:

    Another Scrabble variant:

    Taught to me as “Speed Scrabble” and since then played as “Popcorn Scrabble (i.e. quick and fun):”

    Set-up: Toss the board away. Turn all tiles face-down in the center of a decent-sized table. Each player draws 7 tiles. When all have their tiles, one person says “Go!” and everyone turns their tiles face up and begins play.

    Play: Each player arranges their tiles into a word or interlocking words of two or more letters independently. The first person to use all 7 letters in complete and interlocking words calls out “Pull!” and all players draw a new tile from the pile in the middle. Each player attempts to incorporate the new tiles into their grid. Repeat until out of tiles.

    Incorporation: at any time, any player may re-arrange any or all tiles. So you can stick an “s” or a vowel somewhere in a cheap two- or three-letter word, and go back and get it later for another purpose. You want to be careful about this, though, because if you see a really cool word but you need the “M” from the middle of you grid and you tear it all apart near the end of the game, you could get stuck holding a lot of unused tiles. Also, if you almost have a word and can’t finish it, you can’t yell “Pull!” but must wait until someone else has a complete grid and can call “Pull!”

    Stalling: If during any turn all the players get stuck, you may agree to all pull a tile to continue play. This sort of depends on the personalities involved: people who want to play fast are more likely to agree to pull when stalled, people who are sure they have an interesting word in there if they could just breathe for a moment are more likely to keep playing without the pull until they get all their tiles in place.

    Finish: The first person to complete a grid and not have any tiles left to pull yells “OUT!” (usually in a pretty loud voice, because adrenalin is heavily involved). All play stops. The potential finisher then reads off her grid to the group, and everyone has to agree that all the words are real (within whatever rules you’re using for “real”). If there’s anything wonky in the grid, like misspellings, accidental words of two letters that don’t exist, etc., play resumes until there’s a complete grid. The group then goes around the circle and each person reads off their grid. “Ooh!” and “Aah!” are acceptable during this phase, also making up stories that use as many words from a grid as possible. If any grids have incomplete words the person must remove tiles until the grid has all complete words. No player may add or move tiles at this stage, only remove them. This is a real bummer if you have a screwed-up word somewhere in the middle and must strip off half of your grid, but them’s the breaks.

    Scoring: You can just play for glory! Or you can score as follows: Each player counts the face value of her tiles in each word. The easy way to do this without accidentally missing one or double-counting is to count all of your “across” points first and then all of your “down” points. In addition, the person “first finished” gets the face value of all the loose tiles from all of the other players. Note that the finisher might not end up with the highest score. Them’s also the breaks.

    Winning: If you’re playing for points, the group decides ahead of time how many points they’re playing to (I know that ended in a preposition, but oh, well). 1000 or 1500 points is pretty standard. 500 points is a quick game if you’re playing before dinner. 5000 points is for the truly dedicated.

    Handicapping: If you’re playing with a strong imbalance in the speed of the players, a pretty good way to keep things even is to make the required word length longer for the fast person/people. I sometimes play with a group where I don’t use two-letter words, and playing with kids I don’t use three-letter words after the first “Pull!”

    Players: This works best with three or four people. Two will frequently get stuck with no-one having a finished grid. If you go over four, there are too few tiles per person – simply add another set of Scrabble tiles until you get to 9 people, then add another. If you have really big Scrabble parties you can play this with as many as four tile sets on a loooong table with everyone yelling and reaching and usually standing up.

    Oh, my God, that was more than I had intended to write… Sorry!

  82. Kate L says:

    One of my favorite books is a lesser-known work by Robert Heinlein, The Door Into Summer. It features a cat that, in the depths of winter, keeps expecting to find, yes, the door into summer. I knew a cat like that. A 22-pound burmese (not his real name, btw)that, in winter, would stand by the back door as you held it open for him, looking at the falling snow. Then, he’d change his mind and walk over to the front door, only to act surprised to find that it was snowing THERE, too!

    He was the finest and wisest cat that I ever knew, despite this regretable behaviour. And, did I mention that he tried to speak? He always had trouble making the “t” sound in my name. Oh, and once he went through his door into summer routine with my mother, who quickly lost her patience with him. He looked up at her and said, “R-r-a-a-i-i-n?”. My mother was unimpressed. She told him, “You stupid cat, don’t you know the difference between rain and snow?!!”

  83. Dr. Empirical says:

    geogeek: I’ve been wanting to post about speed scrabble for days, but wasn’t sure I remembered all the rules! It’s more fun and fast-paced than regular scrabble, but I suppose it all depends on why one is playing in the first place. If you’re there for the socializing between turns, it’s not the game for you.

  84. Marj says:

    Kate L, #84, my cat used to do that. She didn’t speak, but would fix me with an accusatory glare, as if it was my fault that it was raining.

  85. Jain says:

    My first speed scrabble experience was this very last New Year’s Eve (between sweats in our little homemade sweat lodge, which is our New Year’s tradition) and I just loved it.

  86. I had a very enjoyable conversation with a really close friend of mine today. His cat Moe tried to get in on the conversation several times. My friend would say something, then immediately I would hear MIAOW!!!! This reminded me a lot of Phranc and her parrot Pickles. If you haven’t seen Phranc’s YouTube show PHRANC TALK, it is well worth viewing.

  87. Betsy says:

    Speed Scrabble sounds similar to the game “Bananagrams”. It’s in most stores now in a yellow banana-shaped zipper pouch. It’s great fun!

  88. geogeek says:

    Dr. E – I play every couple of months, and it’s a hoot. I gues you/re right about the socializing part, but I have to admit that I grew up playing normal Scrabble with my Dad, and he was not a big talk-between-turns person.

    Betsy – I think I saw Bananagrams last summer, and it was the same basic game. I liked the little banana carrier for the tiles!

  89. Bechadelic says:

    @ Kate L # 84
    That story of your cat was so funny.

    @ Mrs.Believer1Acilius #88
    I discovered the awesomeness that is Phranc, through this website, as AB has a link on the home page. I adore everything about that woman from her pithy and witty music (I’ve only heard 5 songs though), to her brilliant cardboard art that’s so lifelike, to PhrancTalk that I’ve watched several episodes of and I can’t get enough of her saying at the end “Remember it’s never too late to come out and be exactly who you are”!

  90. hairball_of_hope says:

    Kate’s and Ms. Believer’s stories reminded me of a friend’s dog. He was a very large Doberman, and I used to dogsit when my friend went on business trips.

    On my first dogsit, I had to become something of a dog whisperer in a hurry because Barney was so big and powerful (and not properly trained) that he was dangerous to walk on snowy/icy streets. That only took a few days using some cheese and praise, then switching to praise alone. I trained him to sit at each corner and wait until I gave UP and WALK commands to cross the street.

    The highlights of my dogsitting stay were on the weekends, when we took very long walks to McDonalds’s as a special treat. I got him a hamburger (no ketchup, onions, or pickle), and fries for me (yeah, I don’t want to know what they were fried in, it’s a treat, ok?).

    I would ask him, “Do you want to go to Mickey D’s? Do you want a hamburger?” He couldn’t do the hard consonants, he would reply excitedly, “Ham ra ra! Ham ra ra!”

    He would be extra attentive to his behavior on the walk, sitting at corners without question, never tugging at the leash.

    Barney would sit outside McD’s at perfect attention, drool pouring down his mouth, staring into the store while I got the order. We sat at the outside table, I asked him again if he wanted a hamburger. “Ham ra ra! Ham ra ra!” He watched as I put a piece of his burger on the ground and didn’t touch it until I gave him the ok to eat. Repeat until burger was gone. Then we shared the french fries.

    My friend came back from her trip and couldn’t believe the changes in Barney. “How did you ever get him to sit at corners?” she asked. I didn’t tell her about the McD’s trips until long afterward, when I demoed Barney’s mastery of the word “hamburger.” She laughed really hard at that.

    Barney is long gone into the dog run in the sky, but I’m sure his spirit is still asking for “ham ra ra.”

  91. --MC says:

    HoH, that’s a beautiful story, but I hear Barney’s voice being done by Don Messick, who voiced Scooby Doo. “Ham ra ra!”

  92. little gator says:

    I used to have a cat whpo called me(and no one else) Ma.

    I one saw a dumbed down comic of London’s story, renamed “To Start a Fire.”

    sound bite of the story, stolen from a friend:

    man: oops.oops.oops.oops.oops oops. Here, boy!

    dog: FOAD, NOOB.

  93. Ian says:

    Talking of cats (and talking dogs), I’ve just come back from a city break in Edinburgh (Scotland). While I was there I ventured out of the city to Roslin Chapel. It’s in the Da Vinci Code, but that’s not why I went! If you’re ever there I recommend seeing it as it has the most astonishingly carved interior I’ve ever seen.

    When I walked in there was a large black cat on one of the wall pews, curled up in a circle and sleeping the most determined sleep I’ve ever seen a cat, well, sleep! Nose to tail, he wasn’t next to a heat lamp, there was a constant stream of visitors, most of them making a fuss over him (he looked like a Tom). Ten yards away, restorers were using pneumatic drills to dig into the floor and there was a fairly constant sound of hammer and chisel coming from the roof. It was the most unlikely snoozing place for a cat I’ve ever seen. Yet he slept away like nothing else. I was questioning whether he was alive! (He was). Just extraordinarily wonderful.

  94. NLC says:

    Concerning speaking to dogs, we can’t, of course discuss the topic without recalling Gary Larson’s take: Ginger.

  95. @Bechadelic #91: I too can’t get enough of Phranc saying “It’s never too late to come out and be exactly who you are.” My favorite Phranc song is “I like you” on the POSITIVELY PHRANC album. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend it.

    @h_o_h #92: I don’t normally condone giving people-food to dogs, but that is a very funny and touching story. Food can be a strong reward when training dogs. However, it is very difficult to use because you have to be able to give it to them quickly enough that they can make the connection between the good behavior and the food. I am impressed with your obvious ability to do this.

  96. The descriptive skills of folks on this list are extraordinary. Rosyln’s tom, speed scrabble, “Not her real name”, etc. I woke up wishing I had a fresh ham-ra-ra. With bacon, of course.

  97. Bechadelic says:

    @ Mrs.Believer1Acilius # 97
    Thanks for the direction, I’ll definitely check it out. I love all the songs I’ve heard but I particularly like ‘M.A.R.T.IN.A’ and ‘I”m Not Romantic’ and Bloodbath!

  98. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ms. Believer (#97)

    In my experience, the key to making food work for dog training is to use it sparingly, and only in the initial training. It has to be closely linked with praise and pleasing the human, and then remove the food cue and provide only praise for the desired behavior. Straight out of Pavlov.

    Dogs are usually very eager to please, but if there’s too much food given gratuitously, they will work for the food and not for the praise/pleasing.

    Dogs also need to understand who is master/top dog. In the case of Barney, I established myself as top dog very quickly, and he behaved accordingly. If he tried to get away with something he knew he wasn’t supposed to do, he never challenged me when I corrected him.

    On one occasion, we were walking on a crowded street in Manhattan (6th Ave in Greenwich Village) when he snarfed up a piece of a roast beef sandwich that was on the pavement. I jerked his collar back, he sat, I pried his mouth open, inserted my hand up to the wrist, and retrieved the piece of sandwich.

    “Bad boy! Bad boy! We don’t eat food on the street!” I scolded him. He looked sheepishly at me, avoiding eye contact. He knew he had done wrong. I gave him the UP command and we started walking again. Then I spotted a woman who had been observing the scene, looking horrified that I had just stuck my hand in the mouth of a 100 lb Doberman without incident. “He knows who is top dog,” I told her. “He wouldn’t dare bite me.”

    Of course, if Gary Larson is to be believed, all Barney heard me say was “Blah blah bad dog blah blah.” Dogs mostly respond to intonation, you can say, “Smelly dog, you smell like $#^&” in a cutesy praise voice, and the dog will wag his/her tail and act all happy.

    Cats, on the other hand, have their own ideas. They couldn’t care less about pleasing others, they are interested in being pleased themselves.

    I used to catsit for a pair of cats, one of whom was an aloof creature who avoided human contact. He sat on top of cupboards or bookcases all day, only coming down to eat and use the litterbox.

    One day I spied him grooming himself on my hairbrush which I had left on the table.

    I bought a cheap hairbrush, used it a bunch of times so it smelled like me, and left it on the table. When I found him grooming himself on the brush, I did a quick swipe brushing of him as he scooted away. Within a few days, he figured out that it felt good, and if he didn’t run away, I would brush him.

    By the end of my catsitting stay, I could get him to jump down from his perch and come to me by riffling the bristles of the brush, and he would happily sit in my lap as I brushed him.

    My friend couldn’t believe it. She credited me with turning him from an aloof cat into a lap cat.

  99. --MC says:

    I discovered once, and don’t ask me how because I can’t remember, that Isha the cat would retch whenever I riffled the tines of my pocket comb. I’d give it a couple of scrapes, and she’d start to hurk. It was too mean a trick to do.

  100. cd in Madison says:

    @ –MC #101

    I can’t stop laughing! The image of Isha the cat is too much.
    And the word “hurk”…….

  101. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    St J loves to groom himself with a wire brush I got him. I leave it on the bed and he scrapes it on his chin, both sides separately. When I use it, I stroke his bellly with it. St. Jerome loves the wire brush.

  102. When I saw that the Believer had posted (#97) in response to a message about talking dogs, I was sure I knew what it would be. I take it upon myself to tell this story about us.

    One day about a year and a half ago, the Believer and I were going to take the dogs on a walk to a nearby store that allows pets. As a service animal, the Believer’s assistance dog Phoenix is allowed to go anywhere, but it was a special occasion that our pet dog Bingo could go into a store with us. When they saw me get the leashes and the Believer get into her wheelchair, the dogs got excited. They showed their excitement by moving around, not by making sounds. Bingo is a beagle and very vocal; it was unusual that he didn’t make any sounds. Phoenix is a retriever, and a trained professional. He goes weeks on end without making an audible sound, so it was unsurprising that he was quiet.

    I leashed the dogs and asked the Believer if she was ready. She said yes. “All right!” I said. “Let’s go to the market and sell Bingo!” At that moment, Phoenix widened his eyes and exclaimed “RRRRO-owww!” It sounded for all the world like Scooby-Doo saying “No!” I assured him I was only joking.

  103. Acilius says:

    Er, that was me above- I’m borrowing the Believer’s computer, I didn’t realize she was still logged in.

  104. Acilius, your blog is always a great read, but the Sulphur video had me in stitches. (Write that down in your copybook.)

  105. Acilius says:

    Thanks very much for your kind words, Maggie. Coming from a blogger as accomplished as yourself, they mean a lot.

    The Believer and I were puzzled when we first read your comment last night. What sulphur video? We didn’t know that blog founder VThunderlad had posted such a thing. It’s hilarious. I feel that I should thank you for letting us know it was there.

  106. Ready2Agitate says:

    Share the mirth, friends, and post the sulphuric link for all to see!

    Meantime, in the who’d a thunk it camp (I can’t believe Hairball hasn’t already posted this) – Joe Lieberman leads the charge to change DADT???

    ps Hairball, your name is apt: your way with animals is indeed full of (hurk) hope!

  107. R3A, Acilius’s name is orange which means you can click on it for more info. That’s how I found the blog in question, and other wonderful blogs. However, here is a direct link to Panther Red. The Sulphur video post is two down — I recommend reading Acilius’s essay about George Washington at the top as well.

  108. C. says:

    “Bechdel’s reminiscence and rumination on The Game of Life…is particularly winning.”
    -R. Fiore, The Comics Journal

  109. Acilius says:

    Thanks again, Maggie! Let me also add a link to the news story that I summarized in that blog post:

    @R2A: One of the things that’s so maddening about Lieberman is that there are so many ways that he seems like one of the good guys. A senator like Ben Nelson or Blanche Lincoln or Evan Bayh would never want to lead the fight to end discrimination against same-sexers in the military. On the other hand, if Nelson stepped down as senator from Nebraska, he would likely be replaced with a far-right firebrand. Likewise with Lincoln in Arkansas and Bayh in Indiana. Connecticut, on the other hand, could be expected to have liberal senators. So Lieberman adds less value to the Senate than those three do, even though he may be better on more issues than any of them.

  110. Aunt Soozie says:

    Was trying not to listen-in while my kid was playing the Game of Life with some friends at a friend’s home some months ago. The said friend’s dad was in the room with me and we were watching the World Series game.

    From the next room I hear my kid saying, quite loudly and exuberantly, as she’s describing her little peg in the car and who that peg is going to be in this version of the game…
    “I’m a gay tennis player. I’m a gay professional tennis player named Olga. And my wife’s name is Stephanie… and I’m REALLY butch. Yeah, I’m a gay tennis player named Olga and I’m really butch!”

    I look over at the Dad who is stretched out on the couch watching the game … he hasn’t flinched. I say, “uhm, didja hear what my daughter just said?” He gets a sly grin on his face and says, “yeah, whatever, we’re used to her.”

    Sometimes it’s fun being a token lesbian-headed household in these here suburbs and seeing how much our neighbors get all used to us…. and start finding us so matter o’fact and ordinary and dull even… well, especially dull compared to watching our Phillies in a World Series game. and note how they’re still “our” Phillies even if we don’t live in the city.
    Yeah, I’ll say it… the game of Life is good.

  111. Aunt Soozie, I’m APPALLED at the stereotype revealed in your daughter’s statement. You knowwhat I mean: That famous lesbian tennis stars must have an Eastern European name! 😉

  112. Feminista says:

    @112: Aunt Soozie: Great to have you back! Bring on the jokes and more amusing stories.

  113. Acilius says:

    I second Feminista!

  114. Kat says:

    @ Maggie (#113)

    Well, you’re gonna HATE what I thought to myself when I saw the scores in the women’s hockey games at the Olympics. The Canadians beat someone 18-0 (which is an INSANELY high score in hockey), and the Americans beat someone else 16-0.

    Apparently the US and Canada are the only countries who have really well developed women’s hockey programs.

    I saw those scores and thought “Good God! Where are the East German women when you need them!”

  115. I was kidding, folks. I put a smiley face after it, did that emoticon not come through? It shows up on my screen. It was a Martina-esque lesbo inside joke attempt. I of course think Aunt Soozie’s daughter is very hip and hilarious and proud in all the best way. I hope at least Aunt Soozie knows I was not serious.

    Another reminder to stay earnest and not attempt humor when facial expressions are absent…

  116. Ready2Agitate says:

    i gotcha loud and clear, mags (and I think the others did too 😉 )

  117. Ready2Agitate says:

    BUT – I am appalled that you would call a winky face a smiley face – after all that winkies have done to earn a place in the emoticoniverse and to differentiate themselves from the dominant smiley majority power structure. sheesh.

  118. Antoinette says:

    #92, When my Abigail was suffering through kidney failure, McD’s double cheese “ra ras” were one of the few things that piqued her appetite. The vet’s not far from where I work; I’d take her cheeseburgers on my lunch break and after work.

    I knew it was time for poor Abby when she no longer had any interest in going for a walk (it’s about the joy of life, y’know?). She loved her walks and I loved taking them with her. I still miss her.

  119. Kat says:

    (yes, maggie, I knew you were joking. I wasn’t exactly being serious, myself!)

  120. Ah, well, missed cues on MY part, then.

    I will submit myself to reeducation camp for winkie vs smiley confusion. Can someone refresh me as to the Four Truths of Emoticons? And is Facebook penguin/shark symbology a natural evolution of emoticons or proof of Western decadence?

    On quite another note, I miss abby for you, Antionette. Doggie heaven must have ra-ras on every street corner, next to pissing trees and slower-than-average squirrels.

  121. --MC says:

    Oh, now damn it, I get the feeling that “ra ra” is going to enter our shared lexicon, and there will come a day when I’ll find myself actually saying it to somebody who’s not in the loop. “I was in a hurry so I got a ra ra on my way past Dick’s.” They’ll look at me like a lemur. NB, Dick’s is open in two minutes .. think I’ll go past there.

  122. MaggieGrace says:

    Just finding myself and finding you. 49 yrs old and coming out. What an awesome feeling!
    Have been catching up on you and others. TY so much for the inspiration.

  123. Aunt Soozie says:

    awww… thanks. Yeah, I got the joke too! 🙂 there, I even added a smiley face. Having an almost teenager is keeping me busy… (and also new love, you know how that is.. well, and balancing almost teenager and new love… that’s a whole graphic memoir in the making…) hard to get to the blog as often as I wish but I am here checking in and lurking… even when I’m too exhausted to speak up!

  124. Ready2Agitate says:

    Welcome MaggieGrace! We’ll be shipping your toaster oven to you shortly :).

    (dyke reference – will explain if need be)

  125. Khatgrrl says:

    It must be the recession…I remember being able to select cordless drill from the “congratulations for coming out” book. That was many years ago. But, hey, a toaster oven isn’t bad 🙂

  126. Acilius says:

    @–MC #123: I suppose we should de-clique-ify and explain that Dick’s is a Seattle eatery specializing in big greasy hamburgers. I’ve never stopped at a Dick’s myself, and I know a lot of people around this site are perfectly happy without any Dick’s in their lives. But lots of my Seattle friend tell me that when they get a craving for big greasy Dick’s, nothing else will satisfy them.

  127. --MC says:

    Acilius, this yes, I should have said. And you fans of Sir Mix A Lot will recognize the reference in his “Posse On Broadway” to the place. (NB, now the Taco Bell is really closed — they tore it down and it’s now a condo building –)
    Dag’s is also closed, and you used to go there and get a Bag of Dag’s to eat, which was filled with a dozen tiny burgers, analogous to those White Castle sliders I guess. Now that it’s gone, locals will tell visitors to eat a bag of Dick’s.

  128. --MC says:

    (Mentor, if the above is too rude, would you go ahead and delete it? I’m having qualms about its appropriateness. Thanks .. –MC)

  129. Bechadelic1 says:

    Darn, I hope this posts, I tried earlier and my post just refused to show up.

    @ Ready2Agitate #126
    Hey please explain that toaster reference to me too. I thought I was picking up on gay culture rather quickly, but apparently not!

  130. I myself love a bag of hot Schweddy balls, especially during the holidays.

    MC and Acilius, you are hysterical.

    Bechadelic, in the episode of Ellen where both the character Ellen Degeneres played and the actor herself came out as a lesbian, excuse me, “gay woman”, the Ellen makes a joke wondering if lesbians I mean gay women get rewarded for bringing someone out of the closet, and the erstwhile romantic interest Laura Dern responds by saying yup, she now has enough points to get a toaster oven. At least, that’s how I remember it, watching it at WATER House with a group of cheering dykes. I mean gay women.

  131. Bechadelic1 says:

    Thanks for explaining Maggie. I have a lot of catching up to do 🙂 I’m also missing out on something to do with “gay woman” Vs. “lesbian” labeling eh? Forgive the lack of knowledge. My story is too convoluted and complicated to try and explain.

  132. Ready2Agitate says:

    Try searching “Ellen comes out” on YouTube.

    The whole episode is rather hilarious (for mainstream TV). Tons of dykes and dykely-inclined folks gathered around TV’s in the US to watch how it would all go down. kd lang is in the episode, as well as, who else? can’t remember – other famous dykes.

    There’s a humorous reference to winning a toaster oven for coming out. As a denouement to the whole “oopsie-I-came-out-in-front-of-everyone-before-I-meant-to” slapsticky show, Melissa Etheridge goes over all of Ellen’s paperwork, stamps her pages, and then hands her a toaster oven (you can also search under Melissa Etheridge).

    For a good while afterwards, there were bumper stickers on many US cars that read: “One short of a toaster oven” or something like that.

    I was pretty excited about the whole thing. It may have been a first for prime time TV, but I think Ellen’s show was canceled not too long after that episode. (I bet you can search wikipedia for it too.)

    (ps “gay woman” can seem more mainstream, easier-to-allow, and aligned with gay men, than the word “lesbian” — and many folks are offended by the lack of courage implied in not using the real term)

  133. Dr. Empirical says:

    I was going to welcome MaggieGrace to the wonderful world of geology, and inquire after her toolbelt, but that would be awfully cliquish.

    My impression of the Ellen show, and I didn’t own a TV at the time, so my impression is based on infrequent glimpses, was that after she came out, the show got all preachy and heavy-handed. It stopped being a show about a (gay) woman, and turned into a series of stern lectures.

  134. Bechadelic1 says:

    Thanks Ready2Agitate. I love Ellen, but haven’t watched much of her show. I just did a google search and I’m heading off the watch the video that showed up in the result.

    To be honest, I don’t really understand all the implications, connotations and attached political significance of the different terms – “gay”, “lesbian”, “dyke” and why any of these would or wouldn’t be offensive or not, to someone. I only understand these terms in significance to my life and my immediate experiences. I also understand the intense feeling of pure adoration and love that one can feel for a woman, even a woman that one has only just met 🙂 Didn’t mean to upset or offend anyone with my use of the words “gay culture”. Honest.

  135. Mentor says:

    [MC #129-130: Yes, wholly inappropriate. Bringing up White Castles when some of us live in areas of the country where we can’t get our hands on a slider is terribly rude….]

  136. hairball_of_hope says:

    Real-life/off-topic Big Brother intrusion into our dyke catalogue shopping (I already have the toaster oven *and* the cordless drill)…

    Newsweek has an interesting article on how law enforcement is circumventing wiretapping and telecommunications laws via use of cellphone tracking. Apparently, some cell providers (e.g. Sprint/Nextel) are eager to provide the info without warrants. I’m sure other cell providers are doing the same, but they are keeping their mouths shut.

    (… hitches up her toolbelt and goes back to work …)

  137. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Mentor (#137)

    I’ve seen frozen White Castle sliders in various supermarkets, so you might want to visit the deep-freeze aisle if you’ve got that slider craving. I imagine that nuking some frozen hockeypucks is not as satisfying as getting a greasy sack of sliders directly from WC, but if you’ve got the urge and you’re all the way up in VT, that will be the best you can do under the circumstances.

    Also, thanks for taking care of our latest interloper.

  138. Aunt Soozie says:

    hey, that’s nothing. in our area a school remotely activated the webcams on the laptops they provided to students and were peeping in… supposedly to track stolen laptops… nice, huh?
    big brother-ish… ‘cept you could ward it off with a tiny piece o’masking tape over that camera lens. or some chewed gum placed just so….

  139. Acilius says:

    @DrE #135: I had exactly the opposite impression of ELLEN. I saw some episodes of the show in its first season because I had a crush on Ellen deGeneres (considering my track record, I should have known right then…) I didn’t like it at all, it seemed very false. After she came out, it improved tremendously. You’d expect a show with the leading player’s first name as the title to be about a character who is like that person. And once she’d come out, it was.

  140. --MC says:

    Aunt S @ 140 — yeah, I read about that — didn’t they pop one of the kids for drug use, but it turned out he was eating Mike & Ikes?
    The story broke just as I finished reading “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow .. I wondered if the story had followed me out of the book into the real world ..

  141. Marj says:

    The toaster oven ref went over my head, too. Thanks for clearing it up, Maggie.

    I’m amused you can buy burgers (sorry, ra-ras) from the WC! Round here they have a disconcerting habit of converting disused public toilets into fast-food outlets. It doesn’t exactly whet the appetite…

  142. I finally got my double-meat ra-ra this afternoon, with bacon! First bacon I’ve had since October.

  143. Dr. Empirical says:

    I don’t know, Acilius, every time I tuned it in seemed that someone was learning a Valuable Lesson about Tolerance.

    I OD’d on Valuable Lessons with Davey and Goliath.

  144. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Dr. E (#145)

    I always rooted for Goofus over Gallant…

  145. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Marj (#143)

    Yeah, I did see the WC connection and laugh, but since it’s a mostly UK euphemism for toilet facilities, I figured it was safe to use in this context (forgetting how international this blog community is – DUH on me).

    As for the transformation of WCs to fast food joints, I remember standing in a hospital room looking out the window and being reminded of a cartoon from the “Marginal Thinking Dept.” of MAD Magazine.

    In the cartoon, there was a funeral home located next to a dog food factory. You get the idea. Looking out the hospital window, I saw the Mrs. Weinberg’s Chopped Liver factory, located right next door to the hospital. Same idea. And no, I am not making up that product name. Mrs. Weinberg’s Chopped Liver was the ultimate Jewish convenience food of the 1950s and 1960s.

    N.B. “Marginal Thinking Dept.” was a series of wordless cartoons drawn by Sergio Aragonés in the margins of MAD Magazine around the other cartoons.

  146. Aunt Soozie says:

    I think they were vitamins? But i like the mike and ike story better.

  147. Ready2Agitate says:

    This is the only excerpt from the famed Ellen show that I can find. I hope the whole episode is on-line somewhere.

  148. Kat says:

    Ahhh, the toaster oven joke. I don’t remember how old I was when the “Ellen comes out” episode aired, but I do remember thinking that it was the funniest thing any human had ever said. I tried recounting the joke to my mom, but something was lost in translation, or retelling, or something, because she only thought it was ho-hum. I was MOST disappointed.

  149. Acilius says:

    @DrE #145: As I recall, the episodes of ELLEN were in two categories. One week, there’d be an episode where her character started finding her way in life as an out lesbian. The next week, there’d be an episode with little or no direct reference to her sexuality, which were apparently meant to appeal to a non-lesbian audience. These “finding her way” and “non-lesbian” episodes would alternate.

    I thought that the “non-lesbian” episodes were a disaster. Most of them didn’t seem to be about anything at all; most of the rest were full of Norman Lear-style “Valuable Lessons About Tolerance,” as you say.

    The “finding her way” episodes, on the other hand, contained the germ of what could have been a genuinely great show. That show wasn’t only about lesbianism, but also about what it means to make a decision. So in one or other of them, a handsome, likable man asks Ellen on a date. She declines. As she watches him leave, she has a big smile on her face. That smile was brilliant. Before her decision to come out, it might have seemed possible to her to build some kind of relationship with that guy. Now that she’s made her mind up, that possibility is foreclosed. At the same time, new possibilities have opened up. Obviously, those new possibilities are incomparably more appealing to her than was the struggle to fit into a heterosexual mold, and if she were just trying to teach a Valuable Lesson About Tolerance Ellen might have had her character respond to the guy with a sassy wisecrack. But she did something far more daring and far more human. With that smile, she acknowledged that growing up means making decisions, that making decisions means limiting your options, and that limiting your options leaves you with mixed emotions. That can be so even when the options you’re giving up are unappealing. To say “I will never” do a particular thing is to say “I will die without having” done that thing. Which is to admit to yourself that you are going to die. Which is not something most of us are in the habit of doing when there’s any alternative, but I think that if a work of art is going to last it has to begin with that admission. So with the “finding her way” episodes she may have been on her way to creating an enduring work.

  150. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m glad you found something in it that spoke to you, Acilius. The random glimpses I got at the time obviously weren’t enough for me to see what you saw.

  151. MaggieGrace says:

    Need all the reference I can get but I do own a toaster oven and love it!
    Thank you to anyone who has responded to my comment. I need all the support I can get at this moment. Family isn’t easy 🙂

  152. MaggieGrace says:

    Did I mention that I have beat the odds?
    Live in the Bible belt of NC and married to a Baptist minister for 24 years. UGH!
    Not an easy feat for sure. Just sayin’
    It has been hell but thank God that I have raised two open minded children. Boy/Girl…both in the medical field as is myself. Couldn’t be more proud.
    Just searching and looking around the web and happened upon this site. I’m sure there’s more to come and I’m an openly looking for more folks like myself.

  153. Betsy says:

    Wow MaggieGrace! If you can come out in that situation, you can do anything! I’m in the medical field too and thankfully my clinic system has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination. I’ve been able to cover my partner’s health insurance for years! Stay out and proud!

  154. Acilius says:

    Good luck MaggieGrace! I hope you stick around.

  155. MaggieGrace says:

    TY Betsy and Acilius! I’m trying to stick somewhere but not sure where 🙂
    Still live in the same city but only for my children. Son is at Chapel Hill, one more year to go. Daughter is RN at local Mercy clinic. Unfortunately, there are no same sex rights in this state but I don’t plan on staying here that much longer. Am applying at hospitals in New England states and waiting for replies. It seems to be the place to go. I do have a partner and she’s ready and willing to move.
    Betsy, I am out and ever so proud to be.
    Life is good!

  156. MaggieGrace says:

    Have one day off a week, Mondays. I’ll try to check in as much as I can. Am looking forward to conversation with you all.

  157. Betsy says:

    MaggieGrace: and to think my partner and I have been talking about moving to NC (maybe asheville or durham areas) mostly because we’re sick of long, cold winters here in MN.

  158. MaggieGrace says:

    Betsy: Asheville or Durham? I’d choose Asheville for sure. I don’t live far from Durham and for me, it’s way too congested. I am, and have always been, a country girl. The Asheville area is beautiful and much cooler as I hate the heat with a passion. Beyond Asheville, you have Maggie Valley, Cherokee, and Gatlinburg, TN. Yep, I’d choose the mountains!
    I’ve lived in NC for over 24 years and I miss the northeast. Mainly because of the cooler temperatures, snow, and longer winters. Some people call me ‘strange’ because most of my circle of friends look forward to spring/summer and I can’t wait for winter. I’ve always felt that way and now that hot flashes have entered my life, the urge to move to the coldest point in Alaska has crossed my mind!