Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Word Jumbles

Especially for my friend who loves word jumbles, I hunted down this site today.

You may need to download an active x control to run this page, but it's kind of fun once you do. Also, for the total jumble addict, there is a merchandise page where you can buy t-shirts and stuff.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tag, Apparently I am It.

I was tagged twice today (update: three times!) for the same meme. And as I sadly wasn't able to keep up with the last two tags earlier this Spring, I feel doubly (triply!) obliged to behave myself today.

So thank you to Jen and Michele (and Susan!) for the tags, and here goes....

First, the rules:

Each participant lists eight facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning of the post, before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags eight people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

And now, on to my 8 things:

1. I've lived in 12 different places since graduating from college 17 years ago, including 6 in Los Angeles, 3 in Massachusetts, 2 in New Jersey and 1 in Pennsylvania.

2. I was in Los Angeles during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and rode out the quake under my desk (after a very stumbly run across the room to get to my desk). Later, while waiting for our building to get the "OK to re-enter" sign (and the power to come back on), I went to the Westin Bonaventure with friends, and we camped out in their basement shelter where we were treated to pastry, sandwiches, coffee and clean cots with blankets and pillows. Note to self: pricey hotels have back-up generators AND snacks.

3. During my 7 years in Los Angeles I had a reasonable amount of star sightings: Brian Dennehy, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael J. Fox, Donald Sutherland, Virginia Madsen, and Bill Pullman. I helped Donald pick a blouse for "an 80-year-old-woman," shopped for toiletries with Virginia, and pretty much just avoided coughing and sneezing all over Bill Pullman.

4. I do word puzzles every day. There are 10 quick puzzles I do early in the day, and one hard puzzle I do every night at 10PM. My mother does the same puzzles, and we compare notes by phone.

5. I'm a Leo. I'll be 39 this August, and I'm starting to look forward to turning 40 just as much as I looked forward to turning 30. I mean that sincerely -- I loved turning 30!

6. Living authors I admire: Stephen King and John Irving, as well as many authors of children's books. Not-so-living authors I admire: C. Bronte, Nabokov, C.S. Lewis.

7. I am a terrible impulse shopper, especially for antiques or odd objects. My worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) was buying an old record player in a wooden cabinet that stands about 3 to 4 feet tall. It is one of the ones with the huge arm, and the crank on the side, and it plays the really thick old records. Terrible music, but cool furniture.

8. I spared my pear trees this year, though they're cut way back. You'll probably hear more about them in several weeks, when the pears start pelting the passers-by and the cars on my street. And when the squirrels start getting angry at me again....

And now, I am going to stand up for my right to not tag anyone! Because so many have already been tagged.

Though if featherbee and stidmama wanted to take part, they could consider themselves tagged.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: May 28 - June 3

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

May 28: You have to DEcrypt using the numbers below.

May 29: Pretty easy as long as you do first things first.

May 30: Be sure to pay attention to the impurities on the back end, not just in the middle.

May 31: You have to do this in 3 separate steps... step 1, step 3 and step 5.

June 1: Count on the second half of the quote to tell you how to start.

June 2: In the last step you'll need to wait till the eclipse is over.

June 3: This was incredibly hard. Your best bet is to solve the numbers first without worrying about the letters, and only then apply the letters. The big hint: For each step, you want an 11-letter word/phrase/set of numbers.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Memorial Day

It's Poetry Friday, and the start of the long weekend. I hope you all enjoy the break.

Here's a poem to remember the Memorial Day holiday.

Memorial Day for the War Dead
by Yehuda Amichai

Memorial day for the war dead. Add now
the grief of all your losses to their grief,
even of a woman that has left you. Mix
sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,
which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day for easy, convenient memory.

Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding."
No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.

Go here for the rest of this poem.

Be well!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pictures that Make Me Happy

Thanks so much to Miss Erin for pointing the way to another fabulous blog: Artista Blog.

This picture made me particularly happy.

Lives in Letters: Postcard from a Bride-to-be

I spent an hour sorting through my postcards tonight, trying to get organized to present the long-promised family postcards of the attorney from a few weeks ago. I'm now organized, and I realize that getting these postcards all photographed and ready to post is going to take an afternoon. Maybe the coming holiday weekend will afford me the time. I promise it will be worth it when all is said and done.

Meantime, here's a cute one that I've been hanging onto for a while. See what you think....

La Gare des Invalides
et le Pont Alexandre III
Paris, France
December 10, 1908

Addressed to
Mr. & Mrs. James D.
Sidney, New York
U. S. America

So pleasant to hear from
H. that you have
arrived home safely --
Am very happy to tell you
that I am engaged to our
English friend. Altho' no
doubt you have heard it. Am
only at No. 30 for half time now.
My very best wishes to you both.
Billie M.

The postmark is from the Grand Hotel in Paris, which was built sometime around 1870, and like its counterparts in other parts of Europe, is still today a truly impressive hotel structure.

In case you're in the mood for a quick summary of all things Paris, here's a link for you. I found nothing in particular about the hotel, which was a disappointment.

I like that Billie addressed the card to U. S. America.

I also like that her name was "Billie." You may be able to see from the photo that she signed the front of the card too.

La Gare des Invalids - history of the original design and construction at Wikipedia. Napoleon Bonaparte is buried there. Many other military leaders are buried there as well, though some have just their hearts buried there, which I find a little disturbing. A large esplanade in the front makes the surrounding structures seem like a palace.

Pont Alexandre III - brief history of the bridge at Wikipedia. Also, here are some great pictures from other postcards. These will give you a better sense of how pretty the bridge is, and there's a bit of history at the bottom there too.

I liked this message, especially the part about being engaged to "our English friend," because something about the language makes me believe that Billie is truly happy about it. I think it's the use of "our English friend" and the shortened version of "although" that make me believe that, though I can't put my finger on why.
I'm not sure what "Am only at No. 30 for half time now" means. Well, I understand it in a generic sense, in that Billie must have been lodging at #30 X street, and now she is only there half the time. But why? Where does she go the other half of the time?

Tanga Puzzles: May 21 - May 27

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

May 21: You only need the top monkey for this one.

May 22: There's an error in the second line. It would work better if it were 74 85 68.

May 23: I had to reflect on this a while before it became clear.

May 24: You can probably get this from the puzzle with the bull and Crete, and the columns puzzle.

May 25: Read up on the letters on the right. Be prepared to google.

May 26: God, this was fun!

May 27: You have to get your order right here.

Well What Do You Think About That?

How great is it that HipWriterMama named this blog as one of the blogs that make her think?

Pretty darn cool, just like HipWriterMama.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This Just in...

Congratulations Nancy!

You have been chosen to receive a free copy of the Knopf National Poetry Month Collection as a result of sending us the correct answer to our poetry contest question.

You should expect to receive this audiobook within the next week.

We hope you’ll enjoy this listening experience!

A Little Poetry for You: Rexroth

Happy Poetry Friday!

I went wandering idly, not knowing what type of poem I was looking for this week. I tried a few key-word searches, and somehow found myself reading a selection of Kenneth Rexroth's poems for the first time.

This is the one I thought most appropriate to share.
by Kenneth Rexroth

I pass your home in a slow vermilion dawn,
The blinds are drawn, and the windows are open.
The soft breeze from the lake
Is like your breath upon my cheek.
All day long I walk in the intermittent rainfall.
I pick a vermilion tulip in the deserted park,
Bright raindrops cling to its petals.

Go here for the rest of the poem. You will also find three others at this spot, all equally good. My favorite line from the poems here is from the first peom on the page, "Runaway":
I wish I could be sure that deep in you
Was a magnet to draw you always home.

That bit alone makes Rexroth worth a deeper investigation I think.

After you grow a good appreciation for Rexroth, and have developed a healthy respect, only then should you go listen to these audio selections, which are purely HORRIBLE but highly amusing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Great First Lines

Here are some good words for you this Wednesday.

From the editors of American Book Review, we have this list of the 100 best first lines from novels.

Check them out. See if you agree. Personally, I think some of them were chosen based on the quality of the book rather than the quality of the line itself. Like this one, which was ranked #37:
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.

What's so special about that first line? I don't see it.

Suggest others if you like.

Thanks so much to Stidmama for the link!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Remember when Joanie called Potsie "Dren"?

Many thanks to Michele for pointing this out. I had a feeling I'd come out pretty nerdy on this test. I'm just relieved my Geek and Dork scores were under 50%.

Your Score:

Pure Nerd

65 % Nerd, 39% Geek, 43% Dork

For The Record:

  • A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
  • A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
  • A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

Okay, now you try:


Oh, and 10 extra points if you understand the title of this post.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lives in Letters: Postcard from the Hippodrome

Okay, I just loved the picture on this postcard. The message isn't bad either.
I'm putting up two pictures of this postcard tonight. One is clearer than the other, but has a white flash-mark in the middle. The other's a bit too blurry to satisfy.

The Hippodrome,

New York City

New York, NY
October 3, 1912

Addressed to

Miss Edith C-
Springfield, Mass

Dear Friend
We are now
on board ship and
expect to sail some
time this afternoon.
Where I don't know
at the present time.
Were in Hoboken. We
didn't land at all. Just
transfer from one to
the other. As ever
Joseph P.


Here is the write-up about the Hippodrome from the back of the postcard itself.

The New York Hippodrome occupies an entire block on Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets. It is the largest playhouse in the world. Has a seating capacity of 5200. The depth of the stage is 110 feet, the width 200 feet. Noted for its distinguished visitors, such as the President of the United States and Governors of every state in the Union. Royal visitors, Foreign Diplomats, and European official representatives have been pleased spectators at the Hippodrome.
Here's one site with good pictures and a write-up about the Hippodrome.

And here's one that's even better. If you only have time for one link, go with this one.

Fun facts about the New York Hippodrome:

  • Built in 1905, it was at that time the world's biggest theater.
  • Harry Houdini made an elephant disappear during a show there.
  • It was used for big theatrical productions, and live animal shows. It gave the Barnum and Bailey Circus a run for their money.
  • It was thought to be a very democratic establishment -- offering high culture and good entertainment at bargain prices. Unfortunately in this case, democracy did not pay the bills, and the theater closed just over 30 years after it was opened.
  • The building was torn down in 1939.

There's not a lot to say about this message, only what kind of adventure must Joseph have been on? Transferring from one ship to another, not knowing when his ship would leave, or where it was going. Was he in the Navy and that's why he didn't know where he was going?

And if he didn't land, how did he manage to get this postcard to send?

Tanga Puzzles: May 14 - May 20

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

May 14: You need 4 two-letter words to get to the answer.

May 15: Hopefully the cure for this puzzle won't elude you. If so, call your mother's sister.

May 16: This one has a fun twist at the end, like a riddle.

May 17: Thanks to Greg over at GottaBook, I got this one in a snap. No lie.

May 18: Challenging one. I couldn't solve it until I was pretty much ready to fold.

May 19: You have to click each icon to get to these puzzles. The easy one doesn't need a hint here. The hard one you need to sound out. Twice.

May 20: You need to focus on the columns and use those to select your letters. By the way, ignore the column with the red letters.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Little Poetry For You: Mother's Day Poem

It's Poetry Friday, and coming up on Mother's Day! To all of you who are mothers, or who have mothers, enjoy the weekend and celebrate please.

Here's a poem I just discovered tonight. I love how the poet makes his mother so absolutely human in telling about her one small mannerism. Don't forget to check out the audio on this.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day MOM!

Dinner with my Mother
by Hugo Williams

My mother is saying 'Now'.
'Now,' she says, taking down a saucepan,
putting it on the stove.
She doesn't say anything else for a while,

so that time passes slowly, on the simmer,
until it is 'Now' again
as she hammers out our steaks
for Steak Diane.

I have to be on hand at times like this
for table-laying
drink replenishment
and general conversational encouragement,

but I am getting hungry
and there is nowhere to sit down.
'Now,' I say, making a point
of opening a bottle of wine.

Go here for the rest of the poem, and of course, the audio.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Mind Play

Here's a site that's chock full of fun mind games.

I checked out the typing tests, and the word games. On the word games, "Hangmind" was pretty easy, but the other two ("Broken Words" and "Falling Jumbles") kicked me clear across the room.

Good luck! Have fun!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Thoughts on A Drowned Maiden's Hair

Did I mention I loved it?

What I loved:

It felt old-fashioned in a very cozy and familiar way. It captured perfectly that age of orphanages and spinsters and little girls who would rebel.

And yet, it was very fresh -- a totally unexpected story that made me laugh and cringe in surprise.

I loved the title. Including the "melodrama" description as part of the title was a stroke of genius, in my opinion. It tells you from a distance that this will be (as I said) both old-fashioned and a little saucy.

Maud's vulnerability is touching. [Spoiler!] Her betrayal is almost heartbreaking. Her spunk is exhilarating.

Muffet is a true heroine. If I didn't already have a great mom, I'd want Muffet to be my mom.

The carousel and the ocean , and the image of the bedraggled little girl moving between both, were visually effective.

[Spoiler!] It ended in exactly the right way. Wrapped up in the perfect bow, as this kind of book must be. Bravo!

Oh, and it won a Cybil this year too. Check out the Cybil write-up and author interview here.

Blogging Blackout Over at Last

Sorry for the prolongued silence!

I've been travelling, and entertaining visitors, and enjoying the good weather, and spending quality time with quality people, and have barely been able to turn on my computer these past two weeks. It's been a great two weeks, but I've missed the blog too.

Thanks for your patience!

Lives in Letters: Postcard with Marine Slang

I know I promised to post more postcards from the District Attorney but in a cleaning frenzy last week I put my camera somewhere very safe and now I can't remember where that is. So I've fallen back on an older card that I've had ready to post for months. Wish me luck finding the camera, and all the other things I hid in the last minutes of "cleaning."

This card struck me both for the picture on the front, and the timing and message on the back.

Enlisted Men’s Barracks,
Camp Lejeune, Marine Base
New River, NC Marine Barracks
October 15, 1943

Addressed to

Mr. & Mrs. Howard S-
Slatington, Pa.

I’m sure enjoying
myself. It is a
beautiful camp. The
Hostess House where I’m
staying is 3 blocks from
Marvin’s barracks.
Marvin said
“hello.” Ellen


The first thing that struck me about this message is the date. Right in the middle of World War II. Ellen's message is so cheerful, almost jarringly cheerful, considering all that was happening at the time. Of course, cheerful optimism was a standard of the time.

Here's some World War II timeline information for the months leading up to Ellen's postcard. A few highlights, if you'll excuse the term:
  • Battle of Kursk
  • Battle of Kula Gulf
  • Allied invasion of Sicily
  • Battle of Vella Gulf
  • Bombing of Hamburg
  • Firestorm in Hamburg
  • Allied invasion of Italy
  • Italy declares war on Germany
What was a "hostess house?" Quite simply, a hostess house is a hotel on a military base. Luckily, I found this glossary of Marine slang to help me out there. I must add that the glossary was much more polite than I expected. I may have to searching for a more comprehensive glossary to get some of the fun acronyms and catch phrases. For now, I enjoyed seeing the definition for JOB (junk on the bunk), which is field gear and uniforms laid out for inspection and gungy, which means enthusiastic, or I imagine, gung-ho.

So, my guess is that Ellen is Marvin's wife, and she was staying at the Hostess House while Marvin was in some sort of training at Camp Lejeune. The postcard is to Marvin's parents, and it's cheerful because 1) Ellen is a naturally cheerful sort; 2) Marvin is not in Europe or the Pacific, but relatively safe stateside right at the moment; 3) Ellen gets to see Marvin regularly; 4) Ellen doesn't want Marvin's parents to worry about where Marvin is going next.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Next week I really will try to get those family postcards up here.

Tanga Puzzles: May 7 - May 13

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

May 7: The last step of this requires you to think.

May 8: At last, an easy one!

May 9: I almost had to flag this one and come back later -- it took me a while to pick up on the signals.

May 10: A printer makes it much easier to connect with this puzzle.

May 11: Those hyphens are minus signs.

May 12: I have no idea what the heiroglyphics at the bottom mean, but the answer just floated out of the puzzle.

May 13: I had the right approach, but did not apply it to the right key. The key will set you free.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Travelling Again

Sorry for the quiet. I'm travelling again this week.