Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Redux'ted

I know the economic news has been a bit grim lately, what with hordes of out-of-work Republican office-holders soon to be roaming the countryside in despondent packs (or perhaps PACS), but be of Good Cheer, it's time to cast all reality aside and celebrate-


We posted our first "Non-Stop Black Friday Coverage" last year, and our plan this year was to rev up the Datsun minivan and go back on the road today with "Return of Non-Stop Black Friday Coverage -We're Back, and We Have Fresh Credit Cards!". However, due to economic constraints (well, ok, the truth is that our staff ate so much yesterday that we can barely waddle to the keyboard to check our email), we are going to post an updated version of last year's coverage instead.

(Another good reason to stay home- our lawyer says that several of the restraining orders we received from local shops, as a result of last year's Coverage, have not yet expired.)


7 A.M. Black Friday begins at 4 a.m., when all the stores open, and if you're not in line at the front doors then you might as well stay in bed and wait 'till next year. So, wanting to do it right, we got up at 3, had a quick breakfast, scraped the ice off the car and headed out to the nearest Wal*Mart. I expected it to look something like this-

Imagine my surprise when it looked like this instead-

Ecstatic at our luck at being first there, we made a mad dash into the store, stopping only to kick down the doors (I'd been told this was traditional) and started loading stuff into our carts. The lights weren't on, but we started a bonfire in the Xmas card section, and soon had a dozen carts filled up, which is when the police arrived.

Apparently not all Wal*Marts open at 4 a.m., and not all Wal*Mart store managers have a sense of humor, at least not when they're gotten up at 5 to mop up the charred remains of their greeting cards display.

Despite this unexpected interruption of our Black Friday activities, we've got a call in to a bail-bondsman and expect to be back on the road shortly. I'll keep you updated!

Um, I need to wash up, anyone got any soap?

11 A.M. Finally out of jail. My cousin's friend Vince sprung us, free of charge, and he's going to send me on an all-expense paid trip to Turkey as well! All I have to do is pick up a suitcase of gifts for him from a friend at the Ankara train station and bring it back through customs. Vince is a champ, and really has the Christmas Spirit!

Undaunted by our ordeal, we got back on the road and headed for the next mall. I've got to say, I love the Christmas Shopping Season, it brings back such warm memories. Santa on the street corner smelling of cheap cologne and bourbon, bailing my uncle Fred out of jail for drunken driving after his office Xmas party, hurling on Santa's lap after too many Happy Meals...

Good times.

So when we drove in to the next mall I was ready for a special, All-American Christmas experience. Something like this-

But apparently my friends were right, and we should have gotten there before 10, because when we went in we found this-

Saddened but not discouraged, we decided to take a break and stop at a local roadside establishment for some lunchtime "fortification" before journeying on.

I wonder if they serve sherry?

5 P.M.
Oops, sorry, we've been having a fun afternoon at this bar. It's very Christmasy and festive, and there's a woman named Sherry (how's that for a coincidence?) who's giving what she calls "Holiday Quickie Specials" in the bathroom. Santa's even here!

Holiday cheer is great, but I suppose we'd better get back on the on the road now. Where the Hell did I leave the car? Did we even drive? What month is it?

HEY, where'd all my credit cards go????

8 P.M. We're bailed out, strung out, vaccinated and back! The third mall we stopped at had some stores that hadn't sold out yet, and we went into full Shopping Mode. There were some great bargains left, let me tell you!

For almost everyone on my shopping list I got the Ultimate Style-Up-Your-Ass Christmas Gift- monmogrammed toilet paper!!!! Look at the hand-crafted workmanship, and only $3.60 a roll!!!

For a few select friends, I got a bumper sticker that about says it all-

And, for my aunt who worships Martha Stewart as a God and shops nowhere but Macy's, I got the perfect garden ornament-

I think that takes care of my Crispymas shopping! I am honored to have been able to take part in Black Friday, and now I'm heading back to the bar.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Daze - II

OK, despite all your great suggestions (hairspray & lighter fluid didn't get the bird, but did roast the potatoes, and the couch) the "free range" (feral) turkey has resisted all entreaties to "get into the pan and swallow this damned bowl of stuffing".

Stupid bird.

On second thought, however, we realised that with 18 people here for dinner, the "free range" (feral) turkey isn't really big enough anyway.

So, the turkey and the cats have barricaded themselves in the pantry, singing "We Shall Overcome", and we are moving on to Plan B-

A Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends, and a Happy Thursday Even Though It's Just Like Any Other Thursday to all our other friends!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Daze - I

Well, the 2008 Thanksgiving turkey just got delivered, and I've spent the last hour chasing it around the living room with a hatchet. Free-range, my ass. This thing's feral. I'll bet they trapped it on the way over and threw it in the box.

And call me stupid, but I didn't think turkeys had teeth...

-to be continued.

Monday, November 24, 2008



My cold is gone, but now I've got hay fever again.

I'm just going to sell my goddman nose on Ebay. I'm through with it.

Where the fuk did that other box of Kleenex go???


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Boy, that Moscow Mule Kicks...

My, my, my... digging through a box of ephemera we uncovered this gem from the mid 1960s-

Of course, vodka has made a comeback in the past 10 years, with lime-flavored vodka, cherry-flavored vodka, and pistachio-flavored vodka, but somehow this little pamphlet appeals to me more than all the over-priced, over-hyped stuff they are trying to peddle now.

Not that you could actually give a "Vodka Party" today- somebody would hit a tree on the way home and you'd get your rear-end sued off. But let's just take a look at some of the snacks they recommend-

-avacado dip (matches the color of your new fridge)

-broiled anchovies (I actually love anchovies, but nobody is going to want to enter the house after you get done broiling a batch)

-cheese sticks (remember, what's good for Kraft is good for America)

-cheese logs (in case your arteries survived the cheese sticks)

-camembert almond balls (actually, I'd try those. I've never heard of such a thing, but it sounds as if it might be good, especially after a few vodkas).

The pamphlet then roves over toward the more "dramatic" entrees, incliuding "Flaming Dishes". I'm not sure I'd stick around for that performance- the host and hostess have had a half-dozen Moscow Mules, and then attempt to set fire to the turkey...


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ANARCHY (oops, sorry- butter) IN THE U.K.!!!!

Here in America we have become sadly used to the sight of our former rock 'n roll idols, counter-culture heroes and youthful ne-er-do-wells selling their images or songs to shill pickup trucks and instant pudding.

But, you know, this is America. We're greedy like that.

But now the rot has officially come to England. I'm not sure if our friend the Manic Street Preacher is ready to see this (though he probably already has), but Johnny Rotten is now flogging-



Monday, November 17, 2008

You'd Think It Would Go Without Saying, But-

Got a cold. Feeling bitchy. Reading the news and wondering what some people are thinking.

You'd think it would go without saying, but-

-if you're going to walk along active train tracks, don't be boppin' to the tunes on your iPod headphones.

-if you're going to live in the canyons of southern California, make sure anything of sentimental value is ready to pack at a moment's notice, and decide beforehand that the rest of it can be replaced. facing a 50-foot wall of flames with a garden hose is 10xstupid.

-if you're shipping ANYTHING worth more than a buck-fifty Canadian, do NOT ship it anywhere near the coast of Somalia.

-if you were thinking most of that $700 Billion Wall Street bail-out was not going to end up in insider's pockets, I have some credit-default swaps to sell you.

-if you think Citibank's CEO is not going to get a big-fat bonus for laying off all those working stiffs a month before Christmas, see above.

-if NASA thinks it's going to get promising young candidates for the next generation of the space program with headlines like "Astronauts at International Space Station Drink Own Urine", see above.

-according to the US government, the healthiest US city is Lincoln, Nebraska. All that news does is make me want to order more cheesy fries.

-one more headline: "After Meeting, Obama, McCain Agree to Work Closely Together". Uh huh. At what, keeping Sarah Palin out of the White House? If that's it, I'm sure they'll have plenty of bi-partisan support. I see Mitt Romney has his hand up to volunteer already...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Can't Get Fooled Again

Sarah Palin told an interviewer yesterday that she would be "honored" to work with Barack Obama (despite still being concerned about his "palin' around with terrorists") because we all need to work to "progress the nation".

Query: What if the nation doesn't want to be "progressed"? It sounds suspiciously like being SimonizedTM.

Never mind the fact that her form of "progress" is really "regress", her statement sent me into a ten-minute Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome panic attack brought about by suffering through 8 years of listening to a president who had declared Jihad on the English language. I finally recovered for just long enough to put food on my family.

Watching Barack Obama give his election night speech, and then his first press conference, was a pleasure simply because I had forgotten what it was like to listen to a President of the United States speak proper English in complete sentences.

And now Sarah Palin, the "Disastah from Alaska", is climbing back into the ring, ready to pummel the still-recovering Grammar Fairy into quivering submission once more.

All I ask of Americans between now and the 2012 election is this- in the immortal words of a President-Who-Will-Remain-Nameless- "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day-

-John McCrae


Well how'd y'do, Private Willie McBride?
Do you mind if I sit here, down by your graveside?
And I'll rest for a while in the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day now, and I'm nearly done.

And I see by your gravestone you were only 19,
when you joined the Glorious Fallen, in 1916,
well I hope you died quick, and I hope you died clean...
or Willy McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back in 1916,
to that loyal heart, are you forever 19?

Or are you a stranger, without even a name?
forever enshrined, behind some glass pane,
in an old photograph- torn and tattered and stained,
and faded to yellow, in a brown leather frame?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

Now the sun's shining down on these green fields of France,
the soft wind blows gently and the red poppies dance,
the trenches have vanished long under the plow,
no gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.

But here in this graveyard it's still No Man's Land,
as thousands of white crosses in mute witness stand,
to Man's blind indifference to his fellow Man,
and a whole generation that was butchered and damned.

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

And one final question, young Willie McBride,
do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the Cause?
Did you really believe that that War would end wars?

For the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
the killing, the dying, it was all done in vain.
Young Willie McBride,
it all happened again...
and again
and again
and again
and again...

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lonely?
did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles play the "Last Post" and chorus?
did the pipes play "The Fields, and the Forest"?

-Eric Bogle

Friday, November 07, 2008

(Not Really) the Bulwer-Lytton Contest Winners-

“It was a dark and stormy night!"

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, [1803–1873) was a popular Victorian writer, perhaps best remembered today for his florid, over-blown style. He was the author who penned the infamous opening sentence-

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

He is immortalized by the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which contestants vie to supply atrocious first sentences to imaginary novels. The following entries have appeared on the internet and are not actually contest entries, but they certainly capture the spirit of the whole thing!

So, we are proud to present-

(Not Really) the Bulwer-Lytton Contest Winners-

10) As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the sound chamber he would never hear the end of it.

9) Just beyond the Narrows the river widens.

8) With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.

7) Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the east wall: Andre creep... Andre creep... Andre creep.

6) Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back-alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.

5) Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store.

4) Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.

3) Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.

2) Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word fear, a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.


1) The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, she screamed madly, "You lied!"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wednesday News Headlines You May Have Missed-

I suppose that most of you have already heard that Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency last night, but our crack staff at MMB has been hard at work and, having finished off all the beer, have found a few other election-related stories the major media seems to have missed-

George Bush told reporters this morning that he has offered his congratulations to "that other guy, the one who, yuh know, beat John McCain, the same John McCain who was a prisoner of war and has served his country all his life, and uh, well, you know, I guess the country just got all Democratized on us and we gotta roll up our arms and fool me twice, right, you know? Anyone have a pretzel? I wanna give that Obama guy a pretzel."

A spokesman for Governor Sarah Palin announced that as the Governor was packing in her Arizona hotel room this morning she found an entire box full of "g"'s she has been dropping for the last two months. The spokesman said the "g's will be donated to poor, g-deprived Republicans in George Bush's home state of Texas.

Joe The (not really a) Plumber has issued a press release stating that he never liked John McCain that much anyway, and that his new 'Joe the Plumber Action Figures(tm) are now available on his website, and that his new country single, "I've Got a Plunger for You, Baby", will be available at Wal*Mart next week.

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin notes in her column this morning that, after a full twelve hours as President-elect, "B. Hussein Obama" has not yet solved the financial crisis, made America energy-independent, or attacked Iran, and termed his Presidency "a miserable failure".

Vice President-for-Life Dick Cheney was unavailable for comment, but trucks of canned food, bottled water, and rolls of barbed wire have reportedly been streaming into the Vice President's compound since midnight last night.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told reporters last night that he's moving to "either Iowa or New Hampshire, or maybe both" and will begin campaigning for the 2012 election tomorrow, taking a firm stand on "all the issues that are important to everybody, whatever the polls, I mean the people, tell me they want me to be for, which I already am anyway, 100%, and always was, even when I wasn't".

Tina Fey was last seen doing blueberry jello shots in Times Square, table-dancing nude with Susan Sarandon and burning her Sarah Palin wig.




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Modest Proposal-

As Election Day rumbles into its final hours we are once again hearing reports of voters being mysteriously dropped from their local voting rolls, fouled-up machinery, and long lines, up to 6 or 7 hour-long lines in some places in Virginia.

I submit that this is a disgraceful state of affairs for the country that is supposed to be setting the standard for other nations to follow. I have therefor assembled a trio of Modest Proposals I hope the next President and Congress will consider-

-Automatic National Voter Registration. If you are a US citizen, you are a registered voter. Start a Federal Voter Database which is tied to your social security number. When you move your registration is automatically forwarded to your new precinct and deleted from your old one. No need to register, check local voter lists against federal lists, etc. Just a clean, everyone-is-registered system with one list.

-Apportionment of Voting Machines Based on Local Voter Registration. It's a disgrace that there are such wildly disparate waits to vote across the country. We're going to have a fairly high turnout in our town, and FB and I waited five minutes to vote this morning. Federal Law needs to require that an appropriate number of voting machines are available in every precinct based on the number of voters in that precinct.

-Voting Week. The right of an individual to vote is the basis of our country, yet in many states many citizens have to chose between voting and keeping their jobs. Incredible, you say? Tell that to the hourly worker at Walmart who has to vote during lunch hour and finds a six-hour line in front of him/her. Do you think Walmart, or perdue is going to continue employing them if they take the afternoon off to vote? That's highly doubtful (no matter what the law says). But why should the most important collective decision our nation makes every two/four years be packed into a single 9-hour period? We need to have the polls open for at least a week, preferably 9 days, to include an opening and closing weekend. The most precious right we have is the right to vote, and we should honor it by allowing our citizens ample opportunity to assert it. What would that hurt?

It's high time America left the 19th century behind in terms of local and state-control of the basics of voting. The Federal government needs to step in and set some real standards, and take over registration. To ignore this problem is simply going to mean a continuing set of crises caused by antiquated machinery, poor funding and local political skullduggery and party thuggery aimed at disenfranchising certain blocks of voters.

Here's hoping everything goes well this time, but based on current news reports, I'm not betting on it. Enough is enough.

Monday, November 03, 2008

R.I.P. Madelyn Dunham.

Senator Barack Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunhama, a central figure in his life who helped raise him during his teen-age years, died in Hawaii this morning.

Mr. Obama, who left the presidential campaign trail last week to travel to Honolulu to bid her farewell, announced the death in a statement released by his spokesman this afternoon. Her death comes one day shy of Election Day.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.”

Meet My Booky-

I am not, not, NOT going to write about politics today! So here's a great Booky Meme I stole from Mrs. Chili-

-Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?

Hardback! Hardback! Hardback! Of course, that can get expensive, but since I already sell out of print books for a living, I have easy access to used hardcovers, which are usually much less expensive than they would be brand-new. I also have accounts with Daedalus and several other scholarly remainder houses, so when I do buy new hardbacks it's almost always at a deep discount.

-Bookmark or dog-ear?

Never seriously ask a bookseller this question without expecting to get slapped upside your colophon- bookmark it, baby!

-Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?

Although our stock of for-sale books is organized by category, then alphabetized by author, my own books are shelved by genre, category, sub-category, and within sub-categories (such as mysteries) I put all the titles by one author together, but I don't alphabetize them. That seems too structured... ( <- irony)

-Keep, throw away or sell?

Yes- I keep anything I think I may want or need to read or reference ever, ever again. Books that do not fit that category are either sold or given to the local library sale.

-Keep the dust jacket or toss it?

I have never understood why anyone would toss a dust jacket. On some books it's the best part!

-Last book you bought?

Trick question- I buy books in groups when I go to bookstores or order online. My last stack was new books and consisted of-

The $64 Tomato (a true tale of backyard gardening gone bad)
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England (literary-mystery)
The Destruction of the Battleship Bismarck (history- latest addition to my fairly complete collection of books about this battleship)
The Jupiter Myth (historical mystery set in ancient Rome)
The Lobster Chronicles (Linda Greenlaw, the captain of the other sword-fishing boat featured in 'The Perfect Storm' recounts her life as a lobster fisherman in Maine)
The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine (A biography of Bernard Loiseau, one of 25 French chefs to hold three stars in the Michelin Red Guide, who killed himself in 2003)
The Root of Wild Madder (a newspaper correspondent travels the bazaars and workshops of oriental rug weavers in the Middle East)
Steeplechase (mystery)

-Last book someone bought for you?

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

-What are some of the books on your to-buy list?

Oddly, I don't have a to-buy list. I buy 'em as I see 'em.

-Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, or the velvety embrace of Death?

Harry Potter.

-Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?

Yes. morning reading while I exercise, afternoon reading for a break or two, and evening reading in bed.

-Do you read anywhere and anytime you can or do you have a set reading time and/or place?

Well, yes. Set times as above, but I usually carry a book with me...

-Do you have seasonal reading habits?

When we go on vacation to the seaside in June I take mysteries & history. Otherwise, no.

-Do you read one book at a time or do you have two or more books going at once?

heh heh heh... Two? What do you take me for, a piker? I have one book to read while exercising, usually two others for afternoon reading (depending on my mood), one I keep by the television for evenings, and another for bedtime.

-What are your pet peeves about the way people treat books?

All yellow-highlighters go to Hell.

-How often do you read a book and not review it on your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about a book?

I never liked writing book reports.


I'll tag anyone who wants to play along!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Well, Isn't That SPECIAL...

Michigan woman: Supporting Obama? No treats for you!

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit woman has decided to scare up the vote among neighborhood children by just offering treats to John McCain supporters.

Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., handed out candy Friday only to those who shared her support for the Republican presidential candidate and his running mate Sarah Palin. Others were turned away empty-handed.

TV station WJBK says a sign outside Nagel's house warned: "No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters."

Nagel calls Democrat Barack Obama "scary." When asked about children who were turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: "Oh well. Everybody has a choice."

Fax and phone messages left at numbers for Nagel were not returned.