Oh, and Incidentally   

Yes, I am aware that the previous post is a bunch of self-indulgent drivel - but I've got a head cold which means I don't have the appropriate attention span to focus on the book I'm currently reading - and there was nothing on tv.

Also, it's my blog, so pbbbbttt!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, August 30, 2005
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What's Up Your Alley?1   

My brain has a tendency to visualize language in a very literal sense. When I heard a woman admonish a young child outside a business to keep his hands to himself once inside the establishment because it was a "big people store," I immediately imagined the inside of the store stocked with towering giants. And when aI friend recently described both an event and an article as being "up [my] alley" 2 I found myself trying to imagine what my "alley" would look like given corporeal form.

Not a quick shortcut, my alley run deep in between looming old buildings of rust-colored brick - (their walls so high you can't see where they end without craning your neck so far it hurts) - ., but it turns off up ahead - so you have no way to know how far it goes, where it lets out, or what lies beyond the bend. And it is wide - wide enough to walk three abreast, or at least it would be if trash bins; stacks of wooden crates stamped with unfamiliar and exotic names and / or indicators of distant origins (some forced open and surrounded by disintegrating straw and hay); discarded musical instruments; piles of leather-bound books with deckle edges (having been cut with a paper knife), loose pages but no titles; discarded frames of sepia celluloid and various other bits of detritus didn't litter each side. At best, you could walk down with a close companion, your shoulders touching - and you should really - because it is an alley and as such, it lies off the main drag, and is not the safest of passages. Alas, I know, it's in your nature - your curiosity will get the better of you and if you can't find a friend to traverse the path with, you'll brave it alone.

You'd be wise to stick to the center, especially is you come alone, because alleys are not well lt, by definition, and mine is in a state of perpetual twilight. Yes, there is the occasional ray of artifical, yellow light pooling on the uneven and crumbling cement, and the faint natural light is bright enough that you can make out the dust motes floating past your nose if you pay attention. However, although this makes the path more navigable, it also casts deeper shadows in the corners. Did you see those corners, full of inky darkness? Were those eyes shining back at you there, from unfathomable depths? You almost hope there were - because otherwise the darkness back there is so complete it might swallow you, itself, and anything that gets too near it. Ah, but it's just your imagination, certainly? A errant, ferral animal? The loose, careless rustling of the wind? Common sense and that sense of dread in your stomach won't stop you from persevering on. There's probably nothing to worry about anyway. I'm sure it's the fog that makes you feel so restless.3

Laughter breaks across the alley with some frequency - it's source is unknown, but that's an indifferent factor, since the sound echoes and fills the urban chasm until it surrounds you; so that you could not tell if it came from a window above, from around the blind corner, or from someone suddenly standing behind you. Most often, it is the body-deep guffaw of unfettered joy, celebration and amusement - but there is also the dark laugh painted with pain; the maniacal twitter that twists coils in the pit of your stomach; and the flat laughter that comes when one must acknowledge that sometimes one's life is the joke sometimes, and it is better to laugh than to weep.4

There are some unmarked doors along the way, but any windows you can see are too high to reach. To you left, there's not a door, but a hastily boarded up doorway; cool air comes out of the blackness within. To you right, a heavy wooden door, intricately carved and inset with a pane of glass, thick with dust. If you peer in, there you can see the rows of shelves - and the old brass bell that hangs at the top of the door jamb. A painted wooden sign creaks above your head - but it is too weather worn to be read. If you stood on your toes and stretched, you could probably unhook it, take it down in order to examine it more closely - but if you do the age and damp will cause it to fall apart in your hands. Straight head there is a door made of reinforced steel and painted red. I could tell you whether it's locked on not - but the handle is right there on the outside, so if you really want to know, you'll have to give it a try. 5

You can hear the whir and then steady click of a film projector - and, if you're lucky, you might catch the ghostly flicker of of dancing images, but they're too far away for you to discern what's going on and/or who's involved. What you can see are props and costume pieces from previous and future productions: a plumed Admiral's hat; tall leather boots that have hugged a muscular calf; an eye patch; a set of broad, leathery wings; a halo; a broken halo; a simple sundress; fuzzy socks; provocative underthings; flannel pajamas; a map with a corner missing; a college degree; a robotic exoskeleton; a steamer trunk covered in stamps; the perfect skipping stone; a star map showing the exact time and location one can seek Orion over the local highschool football field in my childhood neighborhood; countless band-aids, their edges curled and dried, having fallen from skinned knees; Blackbeard's flag, singed with gunpowder burns; a shark's tooth; a full set of fingerprints (mine); a full set of fingerprints (unidentified); the Hope diamond; a faded movie poster with my name in the credits; the libretto to a forgotten opera; artwork conceived entirely in fingerpaint; a hippity-hop Mickey Mouse; a one-eyed monkey with a cutlass who speaks elegant English and swears vilely in Hungarian and Italian; an overclocked PC; a pair of Victorian era sunglasses; a poison ring with an unfortunate and despairingly broken hinge; a thick stack of perfumed letters tied with a grass green ribbon and written under an assumed name; a sloppily-handled fountain pen, covered in old ink; a broken wax seal; a limerick written in the Caesar cipher which is perfectly sensible when read as is and extraordinarily risque once decoded; a corsage of lavender, flattened and dried between the pages of a massive dictionary, writ all in Latin; a box of loose buttons; and a tea bag with a witty saying on the tag; perfectly perserved photos of everyone I've ever loved...all of them laughing.

You don't have to venture in, of course, one can always turn around and leave the way one came. Stick to the bright lights and the main thoroughfare. Be safe, go to all the good restaurants and shops, content yourself to the polite smiles and surface conversations. But what's the fun in that? Me, I've always been an off-the-beaten path kinda gal...and alleys, byways, unmarked paths and such have always held me in a their thrall. I'd even take a trip up your alley given half-a-chance 67 just to have a poke around (and maybe get some decorating tips).

1Or, "Writing While You're in One of Those Moods." This started out much more silly than it ended up. Seriously. Blame Billie Holiday and "Gloomy Sunday."

2The event being an eclectic found footage festival, and the article being about Jodorowsky's plans for a surreal film adaptation of Dune - he was absolutely right.

3Oh - did I not mention the fog? There's fog, but it comes and goes. Rarely thick, it's more like a perpetual, cool, fine mist that clings to you. It will leave your hair damp and unruly, and if you are very still, you will be able to sense the moisture mixing with the air molecules in your lungs.

4Sometimes there is weeping too, by and by, but the average visitor could easily dismiss it as the plaintive cry of nervous animal, and probably will.

5There are hidden passages as well, but I'm hardly going to tell you where they are.

6This is, of course, a not-so-subtle invitation to go nuts in the comments.

7Also, I realize the phrase "I'd even take a trip up your alley" is extremely suggestive, but that's not how I meant it. Honestly.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, August 30, 2005
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Monday Morning Madness   

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, August 29, 2005
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Friday Follies   

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, August 25, 2005
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Continuing Studies   

I'm a bus commuter; and recently on my daily rides, an advert for The Fairy Tale Academy caught my eye. A little due-diligence has taught me that this establishment is some sort of pre-K, child educational center. But in the universe in my head, The Fairy Tale Academy is a venerable, castle-like structure; where ivy climbs the highest crumbling tower, where every animal in the moat can talk (and most can grant wishes), and where potential princesses and soon-to-be scullery maids alike meet in the quad to discuss their desires to become a member of the Fairy Tale Kingdom over a cappucino1 .

Fairy tales must have a high rate of turnover, requiring an almost constant influx of well-trained, story-enabled characters to come in once previous characters quit, move on, or retire2. Consider Snow White - even with proper diet, adequate hydration and every beauty philter on the market, a girl can only be expected to keep that sort of complexion until she's in her early twenties; then she'll need to be replaced3. A wise, corporate saavy Snow White will have spent her casket time emailing and SMSing her contacts in the kingdom to help pave her promotion to Snow Queen or Fairy Godmother, while a less aggressive Rose Red might find herself demoted to Baker's Wife or Woodchopper's Wife, or in the unsavory role of an oft-immolated witch4. Meanwhile Jacks tired of climbing beanstalks may aspire to be the wiley old wizard or the wealthy, grumpy father who spends all day long planning arduous and impossible tasks for his daughter's suitors...while Jacks who perhaps fell off the stalk a few times too many would have an excellent chance of being a town fool. Former dashing young princes, on the other hand, could aspire only to king, or fear a future of drudge work or worse, getting demoted to...well, Jack.

Clearly, there is a need for such an educational institution. Here is how I imagine their brochure reading:

Thank you for your interest in The Fairy Tale Academy. Established on the eve when the first fairy plucked the antecedent knight from his horse to become her paramour, when primeval wizard uttered inaugural curse, and when the primogenial dark-haired prince laid eyes on the premier maiden fair; The Fairy Tale Academy has an illustrious tradition of educating young men, women, and wild animals in the fine art of being Fairy Tales.

For centuries, our professors, story-tellers, dungeon-masters and creature-wranglers have been guiding our students down forgotten paths, over steepest mountains and (thanks to our very successful placement program - over 85% of our graduating classes report finding the position of their choice!) into throne rooms all over Fairy Kingdom.

Our patented "Happily Ever After" Program has four major tracks: Disney, Grimm, Perrault, and Andersen, with each track offering students the ability to specialize in Hero/Heroine, Villain/Toady, Wizard/Fairy Godmother, Warlock /Witch, Pauper, Fool, or General Townsfolk. (Please note that students who are interested in pursuing roles in Eastern, Classic or Alternative vocations may apply to our sister schools (Scheherazade's School of Storytelling, Aesop's Academy, & The Bullwinkle Institute of Stinky Cheese) after completeing 15 credits of Folklore Fundamentals at Fairy Tale Academy).

Below is a just a sample of our extensive course listing:

From Baker to Burghermeister: Using your child's gifts and talents to climb your way up the social ladder. (Business - all tracks)

Curses, Capers and Cats with a Cutlass: A general history of the Fairy Tale Kingdom. (History - required for all tracks)

Postivie Negatives: How to make jealously, insecurity and passion work for you. (Core class for Warlocks, Wtiches, and Villains in any track)

Finishing Classes: Topics include: Keeping Pristine Clean in the Worst of Conditions, How to be Rescued with Good Humor and Grace (When You Could Have Gotten Up and Walked Away at Any Time Yourself), Getting Rid of Pesky Dishpan Hands, Basic Housekeeping Skills, Advanced Singing and Songwriting (with remedial "trilling" and "tra-la-laing") (Core class for Disney Heroines - please see related electives : I'm Sweet, Pretty and Kind - Why Can't I Fit In (non-credit, group therapy courses) and How to Look Interested (When You Realize Your "prince" is an Insipid Idiot))

Creature Enchanments:

    Level One:

    • Wooing Creatures to your Will (or Animal Possession and Enchantment): From doing the laundry, to basic banditry to carrying messages to and from the dead - the little creatures of the forest are an essential asset to anyone hoping to make their way in Fairy Kingdom.(Recommended for Disney & Perrault heroines & Grimm Villains)

    Level Two:

    • The Beast Within/Without: Useful for exacting punishment, finishing a disguise, or a simple change of pace- students will learn a variety of options on how to adopt an animal's mannerisms and its (literal) skin. (Please see related elective: Creature Dis-comforts: Animal, Anthropormized Characters and the Challenges of Modern Day Sexual Stigmas: Students who take this non-credit course will be treated to a live reading of Rose Red's husbands startling expose: For the Last Time, I Am Not A Furry, I'm ENCHANTED. Discussion and coffee to follow.)

Costuming and Changing of Appearnce: Topics include: How to Make your Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach (literally!) , Feet-to-Fins and Back Again (not so difficult as one thinks), Changing Fur Boots for Glass Slippers in Seven Easy Steps and more!

Real Estate Secrets: Getting an enchanged cottage conviently located near a palace, a small village, a remote cave and a haunted wood isn't about who you know - it's about what you know. Make sure your castle-in-the-cloud isn't a dungeon in disguise. (Business elective)

But My Father is King: Feminism may not have breached the fortress that is Fairy Kingdom .... but heroic Princes-to-Be are encouraged to take this social science class to help them understand why, despite their legal rights, title, good-looks and vast fortunes, they still may be required to best insurmountable odds just to wed a woman they don't know and may not like very much. (This is a pre-requisite to our second-year course : Jus Primae Noctis - Why It Is Not For You.)

If you'd like to learn more about Fairy Tale Academy, or to get a full-course listing, please collect the feather of a Phoenix, a swatch of silk the color of pure ivory, the splinter of an ebony shield and a loaf of bread (for the brownies) and place them all in a burlap sack at the crossroads under the corpse of handged man or call us at 1-888-FRY-TALE and one of our professional advisors will happily assist you.

Remember, every adventure starts with a single action. Burlap sack or Call Now.

See, now I'm sort of sad it doesn't actually exist. I'm quite certain I have a tower-climbing, dragon-slaying, bearskin wearing, curse-reversing adventure or two in me yet. Just in case, I'm getting my sack ready5.

1Of course at Starbucks. Even in the Fairy Tale Kingdom, they're ubiquitous.

2Not to mention an army of well-trained temps for when Rapunzel needs to give her voice a rest or The Beast needs a week in the Cayman Islands for rejuvanation and professional nit-picking.

3Ageist? Surely; but if you're going to buy into the land of patriarchal fantasy, you might as well buy in all the well. Besides, if your heronies have crow's feet, how are you meant to tell them from the crones (she asked, fully aware of her grey hairs and rampant laugh lines)?

4I can't even begin to imagine the logistical nightmares that surface when children of fairy tale couples grow-up wanting to become heros and heroines themselves. I can only suppose there's some sort of "absent parent" forced retirement community - a la The Prisoner. This is definitely not the family business one would want their child following them into.

5I'd call, but I really detest using the phone.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, August 23, 2005
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Here are some things I hoped to never see robots do1

Just in case this marks the beginning of trouble, Sarcasmo's Corner would like to make this official statement:
01010011 01100001 01110010 01100011 01100001 01110011 01101101 01101111 00100111 01110011 00100000 01000011 01101111 01110010 01101110 01100101 01110010 00100000 01110111 01100101 01101100 01100011 01101111 01101101 01100101 01110011 00100000 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01101110 01100101 01110111 00101100 00100000 01110010 01101111 01100010 01101111 01110100 00100000 01001111 01110110 01100101 01110010 01101100 01101111 01110010 01100100 01110011 00101110 - [gab]

1Unless, of course, they are acting as part of my personal robot army.

2I can't help but feel that if the Prime Minister had seen the boardroom scene in Robocop he never would have agreed to that demonstration.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, August 22, 2005
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Monday Morning Madness   

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, August 21, 2005
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Of Recklessness and Water (Shark Swimming)   

Swim with Shark Sign 2Today, I pried myself from bed at the crack of dawn, and fueled by some yogurt and a mere single cup of coffee, I set out to meet Vis Major, Aerenchyma, AlextheGirl and Mouserobot. Our mission: make our way to Camden, NJ, struggle into wetsuits and then, of our own free will, get into a tank of salty water that was both chilly and full of sharks - 26 of them to be exact (one of which - the ST7 -is puported to be over 700 pound and 7 feet long) - as well as a wide variety of other sea creatures. Oh yes, and did I mention there was an adjoining tank full of stingrays?

There was an adjoining tank of stingrays.

I am not certain when, a group of intelligent, (relatively) sane people thought that this plan was a good plan - but it was so a good plan.

To say we went "swimming" with the sharks is a bit of misnomer. It's much more like we went staying very, very, very still in the same tanks as the sharks, who swam wherever they wished. This is because sharks have lots of teeth, have been known to eat people, and, well, you really don't want to attract a shark's attention if you can avoid it. We stayed in our designated area of the tank (a four-foot wide pathway, submerged about four feet deep into the tank) The sharks (and other fish) felt free to come close - very close; sometimes swimming right up towards me and turning at the last second; others swimming slowly by - their cold, flat eyes staring right into my own, just to make sure I knew whose tank I was in. They were easily close enough to touch; but of course one does not touch - being anxious to leave the aquarium with all the appendages one arrived with.

And then - just when I began to wonder if the solitary sound of my own underwater breathing might drive me mad before my shoulder cramps caused my hands to slip (and thereby project me frenziedly into the shark tank proper), our fabulous and friendly lifeguard guides moved us into the stingray tank, where we were able to give in to our urges to touch, pet, feed and frolic with denizens of the deep with wild abandon.

Stingrays are extremely (and aggressively) friendly...particularly if you've got some chum in your hand. The best part of the stingray portion of the experience (for me, anyway) was not only were we encouraged to pet them - we couldn't help but do it. The rays swam up around us, into us, beneath our hands and around our ankles. They were the friendliest fish I've ever had the unbridled joy to encounter.

Then, petting need sated, we were returned to the shark tank for more (still, very, very still) shark viewing. After which, we were lucky enough to stay and watch the sharks being fed (this was a rare treat, as the sharks are only fed three times a week) - and seeing them going a little crazy for the fishes...I was glad we saw them fed after our swim, and not before.

Thankfully - the staff very kindly let us check our wet gear behind the info desk as we wandered around the aquarium....which is good for everyone - because my adrenaline was so pumped, if I had maintained access to my bag I would have worn my snorkel mask (we were allowed to keep them as souvenirs) for the rest of the day.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, August 21, 2005
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Swimming with sharks   

Survived shark (AND wetsuit). Photos and more details to come.

Possibly after a nap.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, August 21, 2005
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Friday Follies   

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, August 19, 2005
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We Interrupt This Blog...   

to say a fond farewell to the Pink Haired Girl, who is going to California so she can add all kinds of fancy letters next to her name to prove that she's a Super Genius (even though we all already knew that). I can't tell you too much about the sort of things she'll be studying (as they're highly technological and I don't really understand them) - but be certain that when I amass my robot army I'll be depending on her to ensure (1) they are fully functional and (2) have exceptional linguistic skills. Of course, this may mean they'll also be pink and sparkly - but I think that's a fair trade off.

I'll miss you, Cyn. Best of luck. Have a safe trip, be well, blog often, visit soon..and above all else - MAKE OUT!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, August 18, 2005
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Decorating the Den of Evil   

Curse you Think Geek - and your temptations. I realize I must get this jolly roger mug (rumrunners, represent, yo! Or-rather - yo, ho, ho!)- but how can I justify spending the money for this?

Because although I really want criss-crossing laser beams with an alarm in my apartment lair, I don't think I'm coordinated enough to duck out of their way when I'm all bleary-eyed before coffee in the morning.

Besides which, I think Trotwood might get jealous. (And there are few things more trying than a petulant robot. Particularly before I've had my coffee.)

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, August 17, 2005
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When You Believe in Things That You Don't Understand, Then You Suffer   

I don't consider myself a superstitious woman, but I do have my (copious) idiosyncrasies. Among them is the fact that I take special care in my day to day life not to taunt the Fates or the gods or any other master of the universe. For example: I would never invent the death of a loved one to get out of work or a social event, for fear that someone close to me would then die 1. I don't joke about breaking-up when I'm in a relationship lest the fire should fizzle. I never wish death on anyone.2. It's not that I think I have secret and horrendously inconvenient magic powers that will instantly render any negative thing I say true...but, well, better safe than sorry.

Why do I mention this now?

A couple of years ago, I was in an automobile accident, which resulted in some not-unsubstantial scarring on my arm. I'm quite proud of the scars now (scars give a person character - suggests they have a story to tell) but I was pretty self-concious about them when they were new, red and raw.3 I got so tired of explaining the accident to people that I decided to start telling people the scars were either (a) the results of wrestling a bear or (b) a shark bite. Both these stories seemed innocuous enough, as I don't run into bears much here in the Big City - and I rarely swim, so a random shark attack seemed unlikely.

Fast forward to next Sunday, when I'll be voluntarily throwing myself into a tank of sharks.

Hmm. I really, really, really hope the Fates weren't listening.

Oh - and that they don't read this blog.

1I will, however, occassionally invent a headache or head cold - because there's over the counter medication to combat that should instant karma come and get me.
2 Which is not to say I've never thought about killing someone or written a detailed description of the evisceration of mine enemies (after all I have a an active imagination and a fully-functional hypothalamus) - but I'd never *wish* for it. Well - I did wish someone would disappear once - which I suppose is just a semantic quibble - but I'm fairly certain the forces of nature are fairly literal minded.

3That summer I wore more shirts with 3/4 length sleeves than I have in the rest of my life combined.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Wednesday, August 17, 2005
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Monday Morning Madness   

Before the links, I wanted to let those of you who are prone to call me know that my cellphone suffered the technological equivalent of a grand mal seizure this past weekend. It seems to have recovered, but considering it's unpredictable state, email may be the most reliable way communicate with me for the next week.

And now, the fun stuff:

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, August 14, 2005
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Friday Follies   

First, an announcement: After careful consideration, I've determined that I do actually like My Doorbell for its own merits (and not because of Keefer's subliminal messages). That song is groovin'. I know you were all worried after my last post - and I didn't want you to lose any sleep over my musical quandries.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, August 12, 2005
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When Ya Gonna Ring It (When You Gonna Ring It)?   

It's official: I've heard The White Stripes' My Doorbell so many times that I can no longer discern whether I like because it's good, or if I just think I like it because it has become so comfortably ensconced in my subconcious.

This troubles me.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, August 11, 2005
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On the Naming of Houses (or Whose House? Sarcasmo's House 

Several weeks ago I was walking through Center City Philadelphia with an old friend1, and in our travels we passed a particular block of Delancey Street. I believe it is my favorite block in the whole of this city.

If you had asked me a year ago about Delancey Street - I would have told you that it was a side-street that ran through Center City, which was most memorable for me because, for a short, mad time in the late 80s/early 90s, my friends2 and I would feel the need to announce "Hey, we're crossing Delancey," anytime we crossed Delancey thanks to some largely forgettable film from that era which had nothing to do with Philadelphia.

Recently, however, I stumbled upon a block of Delancey in my travels that I have become absolutely enamored with. Nestled near Rittenhouse Square - this block is serene and stately. Colonial homes, tastefully appointed with flower boxes and wrought iron flank the wide street. Trees line the wide, almost unnaturally flat sidewalks, and arch with eerie perfection over the evenly paved asphalt. This block of Delancey always seems perfectly at peace with itself and the world, and when I amble down this byway, I feel like an interloper - as though its tranquility is rudely ruffled in my winsome wake.

The one strange thing about this block of Delancey...it is always quiet and without evident signs of life. I never see anyone enter or leave the houses; nary a curtain rustles as though suddenly dropped when I pass by. There is part of me that is quite certain that it is some mysterious Potemkin town, and that Hollywood set-dressers visit daily to make sure there there are enough stray leaves littering the ground so they may be appropriately sun-dappled when the sun hits it mark.

And despite (or, perhaps, because of) its controlled, well-manicured splendor, I find myself wishing I lived there.

I was about to relate this fact to my friend as we go passed the block, but she turned to me first and says, "You know, I've always loved this block."

Sometimes its easy to see why some of us stay friends for so long.

I told her about my secret desire to live there and she nodded knowingly, but added, "Even if you combined both our salaries for a lifetime, you'd never be able to afford it." And I know what she says is true. 3

Since we're talking about future home fantasies, I let her in on another one. "What," I queried, "do you think you have to do to get your house named?" This is a question I had been considering for some time, partially inspired by the number monikered properties in Philadelphia, (The Betsy Ross House, The Bonaparte House, Franklin Court) but mostly because I started thinking about the hideous Upson family and their retreat "Upson Downs." Surely if a status-hungry, bigoted nouveau riche, fictional family can go around naming their estates, I can too.4

My friend pointed out that although anyone could call their house anything they wanted - having it universally recognized by that name probably had something to do with a combination of local tradition and the tacit agreement of the postal authorities.5 I found this revelation troubling, as I was sort of hoping I could accomplish this feat by a combination of sheer force of will and of carving the property's name in the stonework over the entryway (or, alternately: infiltration by robot army combined with a tasteful brass plaque near the front door).

These minor barriers of social acceptance and actual property ownership aside ...I find myself with a much larger problem: what would I name my home even if I could? "Sarcasmo's Corner" could work, if it were a corner property. And "Stately Sarcasmo Manor" has an elegant ring to it. However, rather than bearing my name, I think as a home has character, it should have a name of its own.

Where then, to turn for inspiration? I suppose I must consider the personality aspects of my dream home. Despite my allergies, somewhere on the grounds would be a garden. I would choose a combination of my favorite flowers, and then allow them to grow and propogate with wild abandon. It would be replete with lilacs (because I love the scent) and calla lilies (blame Katherine Hepburn) and dozens of wild flowers whose proper names I would never bother to learn. A foot-worn path would wind through them to a wooded enclave, in which one would discover a grass sofa (suitable for reading) tree spirits (for company) and faerie circles (which I would initially cultivate in hopes it would encourage the real deal). A small stream would trickle (peacefully, musically) nearby. If I am very lucky, fireflies would come there to gambol in the shade both night and day, so there would be no need for me to hang fairy lights or plant garden glow orbs. Somewhere, there is a tree swing, and a covered alcove so one can sit in relative dryness if it rains. (The path will lead from here to the mud room - so no one need fear if they'd prefer to skip the alcove and spend a rainy day squishing the mud between their toes.)

Inside, there are fireplaces in the sitting room, bedroom, and of course, library (which is massive, has ample winged-back seating and loads of natural light.) The bedroom is large and sparsely furnished. (Although the furnishings it does have are comfortable and just shy of lavish). It has large eastern windows that bathe the bed in the morning sun, allowing me to crawl, swathed in thick towels, back on my bed with a book after a shower and let the sunlight dry the errant water droplets that still cling to my skin.6

There is a large sitting room and dining room for the frequent entertaining of very welcome guests. (A modestly furnished 2nd bedroom is in a constantly state of readiness in case any want to extend their stay). The walls are lined with candle sconces and photos of friends, family, and our mutual adventures. There is a good deal of cherry wood and mahogany. In my den: many scattered papers - my computer, my writing books and an extra comfortable reading chair (something deep, with a high back and curved arms so I can nestle my back against one arm and throw my legs over the other). Stacked on tables on both sides are tables full of books I'm planning to read, am part-way through reading, am actively reading, or really want to read. They are stacked haphazardly - but enough room is left on the table top to accommodate the necessary, life-giving cup of java.7 The cellar is clean and swept, but suitably chill with just the hint of dank and lit by a mere single bulb in a swinging lamp - because a basement should give you the shivers.8 The attic will be accessed through a ladder in the floor,and will have a single half-rose window which will fill the room with enough light that it will seem the thin layer of dust stirred up by the flurry of human activity is dancing. In the attic: several large steamer trunks of period clothes; a tall, standing mirror covered with a centuries worth of grime; several pieces of perfectly serviceable, staggeringly large pieces of furniture that will make one question how they were ever transported up that collapsing ladder and through that tiny door in the first place; boxes of embarrassing love letters; a secret cubby hole full of family secrets and no less than three objects that could potentially lead to a grand adventure and/or hidden treasure if only the discoverer dare look.

The kitchen: a strange marriage of elaborately painted ceramic tile, cast iron, and stainless steel. It contains a breakfast nook beside a baywindow that looks out onto the garden. (The house will be situated near a bakery that serves the perfect lattee and the ideal chocolate crossaint - a power duo for Sunday morning idling over a book or newspaper in the breakfast nook or garden.)

Everywhere throughout the house there are small knooks and secret byways, allowing for a quick, comforatble and private escape from the world; as needed.

There will be a boot scraper besides the front-door, although I'll never remember to use it.

And in the foyer, a small dish for the depositing of calling cards.

And there will be books. Everywhere.

What does one call a place like this? "Rapturous Retreat? " "The Bibliophile's Domicile?" "The Ignis Fatuus Estate?" "Bedlamite Manor?" "That Crazy Lady's House?"

I need to know, so I can imagine it carried high on banners by my robot army (or quietly engraved in brass on a house-front on Delancey Street.)

1Old in that I've known her a long time, not in that she is elderly. In fact, I'm nine days older than she is. And yet, she is somehow often wiser, which I suppose means I probably wasted those precious extra nine days staring at my toes or something.

2 Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure the friend I was traveling with on this day was the same friend I used to giggle about "crossing Delancey" with. Hmm...maybe she's not so much the wiser after all.

3After all, keeping Hollywood set designers on retainer must be terribly expensive.

4With the full understanding that this would require my owning an estate, or some other piece of property first.

5Did I mention my friend is a teacher? Man, these teachers sure do know some stuff.

6Yeah, I don't know what that's about either. It's a habit I picked up as a kid.

7And since it's my fantasy house, let's pretend I've gotten off my duff and pursued this writing thing I'm always going on about but too busy goofing of to do: among the papers are printers' proofs, and title pages awaiting my signature. There are journals and journals worth of chicken scratch representing notes and research. Framed copies of my dust covers hang on the wall along side publicity photos (and I've got my tongue sticking goofily out in all of them).

8Except, of course, for the wine cellar portion - which will be technologically kept at the appropriate temperature and humidity.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, August 09, 2005
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Monday Morning Madness   

Posted by Sarcasmo on Sunday, August 07, 2005
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Movie Review   

This week, I teamed-up with Mike VanHelder (the Cranky Cocktail himself) to review The Dukes of Hazzard.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, August 05, 2005
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Friday Follies   

Last night I killed a fly. I feel badly about it, in a Karmic sense, but the fly repeatedly landed on me despite my many warning swats, so perhaps the heat had driven it to some sort of kamikaze delirium.

Later, as I pondered my crime against nature, I recalled the story of the Brave Little Tailor and his "Seven in One Blow" girdle. "How sad his life must have been," I mused, "that he felt the need to proclaim such a small victory to all the world."

And then, some evil sensible part of my brain whispered, "Look whose talking...blogger." And lo, I was humbled*.

Not humbled enough to quit spouting my inanities to the world, mind you, but humbled nonetheless. And now...to the links!

* Lest you think I've missed the irony in the fact that I'm recounted the tale of my killing a single fly as an introduction to an anecdote about how sad the tailor's life must have been for him to announce to the world that he killed seven flies, I haven't. I wouldn't have mentioned my fly at all if I hadn't had that revelation there at the end...the revelation, that was the point you see. Sigh. Never mind. My next blog is so going to be called "Seven in One Blow".

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, August 04, 2005
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The Good, The Bad, and The Sexy   

Monday evening, I joined some friends1 for some decadent dessert at a local gelatto establishment (it's a good thing I'm not partial to frozen confections, else this place would be a danger to my dollars) and our conversation turned to repeated behavior in specific sociological archetypes, as casual conversations over coffee and ice-cream often do. The topic we took on was a much-chewed-over one: Girls2 Being Drawn to "Bad Boys" (What's the Deal with That Anyway?)

I can't say that we broke any revolutionary new ground in this debate. As I recall, the ideas put forth (feel free to correct me if I'm misquoting, folks) were (a) it gives here-to-fore "nice girls" permission to be bad and explore their limits (b) the danger-is-sexy factor (c) there is no worry about long-term-commitment because everyone knows how these things end-up and (in what was perhaps the most well-articulated and clearly thought out line of reasoning) (d) historically speaking - the currency of women has been Sex and the currency of men has been Violence and somewhere on a evolutionary, survivalist level our mating instincts still revert to those options.

Oh - I almost forgot (e) Chaps.3

I've been giving it some thought since then,4 and I've come up with another reason for "good girls" to go gaga for "bad boys": Passion.

Let me back-up and say I basically recognize two flavors of the "Bad Boy" archetype:

  1. The Bar-Fight Bad Boy: The self-destructive, emotionally unavailable loner whose daredevil behavior is inspired not-so-much by lack-of-fear as it is by lack-of-will-to-live. Think Jim Stark6.

  2. The "It's Mine, All Mine and We Wants It" Bad Boy: The larger-than-life fellow who pursues the object of his desire without a thought for propriety, social morays mores, or to the cost and consequences to themselves (or those around them). Think pirate, activist, carpetbagger, super-villain, rogue, bandit, bank-robber, rock star, flim-flam man etc.

I think the appeal with the first type of "bad boy" is obvious; he inspires a maternal instinct. Some women believe this type of man can be saved (rehabilitated?) - and that if they are patient and caring their love will prevail. However, although I can appreciate the draw7, life's too short and I'm too fiscally irresponsible to bide my time and keep bail money on hand. Besides, someone else's blood is a bitch to get out of the standard white t-shirt, blue jean and leather jacket Bar-Fight Bad Boyensemble.

The second-type is my weakness, and their appeal is more difficult to come to terms with. Maybe it's because I have a tendency to initially confuse arrogance with confidence. Or maybe it's because I look at these men and think "they're shaking things up. I want to shake things up. We could shake things up together." There's even a small chance that since such men seem to have the ability to bend the world's will so they can be seen how they wish to be seen, that I think they'd be willing to accept me and my own personal fictions. However - I think the biggest draw for me is the passion with which this "bad boy" type pursues things. Whether it be the perfect painting, political office, world domination, an elusive melody or just a relentless need to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life - men of this ilk tend to treat the chase with an astounding focus and joie de vivre that is so powerful that it knocks aside everything else in its path.8

It is the same thing that invariably makes the villain of the story more intriguing than the hero. A hero needs be stalwart; he often must put aside his own impulses and desires in the name of Import Ideals That Start With Capital Letters (eg, Honor, Responsibility and the Greater Good). The villain, on the other hand, is beholden to no one and nothing but his id and ego (superego be damned!). And while the hero stately, calmly, rationally and diplomatically staying the course - the villain rushes forward, grabs what he wants, and takes no prisoners in its acquisition. Diplomacy is an ideal course of action when world peace is on the line - but when it comes to romance, I'm a "faint heart never won fair maiden" type of gal9. There's something unbelievably thrilling about being on the receiving end of a reckless passion. It can make one believe that the world really was created for us and us alone, and that anything really is possible.

I, of course, harbor the perpetual fantasy that if a man such as this and a woman such as myself were to join forces, we'd be an unstoppable universal anomaly, able to reshape the world in our own dynamic images. Alas - that which burns hot burns fast (and leaves some long tender-to-the-touch scars) so maybe theory (c) does apply. After all - what world conqueror do you know who ever said, "Ok, that's it. I've got what I've wanted, I think I'll take up water-colors now," the second he/or she laid waste to their first nation? It doesn't happen, because this is a devouring sort of personality, and there will always be another knee to force to bending (song to sing, mountain to climb, gorge to jump) in the ongoing pursuit on personal lfe empire.

This begs the inevitable question...why not the nice guys? Why aren't nice girls clambering to end up with kind, caring steady men who will respect them and honor them and provide them with equal partnership, love and affection? Where's the love for the used-car salesmen? Now, I for one like nice guys just fine, I think they're lovely. However, they may want to stand-up and demand to be counted once in awhile, because a tactful, quiet modesty waiting patiently in the corner can be easily overshadowed by some idiot shouting "Hey! Hey! I'm sexy! Look at me!" center stage.

And before you nice guys get all up in arms about how they shouldn't need to do anything and that nice girls need to look harder and be less distracted by loud, flashy fellows - let me turn the tables on you for a moment. The reverse of this is true - nice girls are often over looked for Bad Girls10. In fact, during the conversation that spawned this...whatever this is....the XXs at the table demanded of the XYs as to why Nice Guys preferred Bad Girls. The answer:

"Crazy in the head means crazy in the bed."

Which really sums the Bad Guy/Bad Girl dilemma up rather nicely.

Of course...just because someone's nice doesn't mean they aren't crazy. I'm just saying.

1I'm not going to identify said partners in crime as I'm about to make some (most likely inaccurate and conceivable offensive) blanket statements about humanity here and I wouldn't want them to get drug down in the resulting mire. So - ladies and gents - feel free to identify yourself and claim your personal philosophies at your own peril.

2It occurs to me that we never specified that the "girls" in this scenario were "good girls" or "nice girls" (or at the very least "smart girls") - but I'll take that as a given, as the idea of "Bad Girls" being drawn to "Bad Boys" doesn't seem like especially good fodder for an argument.

3Yes, you read that right: chaps. As in they're hot and bad biker boy types wear'em. On reflection, the chaps might have been a part of a different conversational thread - but I still think they have a place here.

4 Because that's what I do with my time instead of arbitrating world peace or finding cures for rare diseases - I think about things. Well, that, watch movies, play video games, plot world dominations and eat nachos. But mostly that thinking thing.

5Disclaimer: Obviously, I'm using my own goody-goody self as a basis here - a self, incidentally, who believes that it's a pity to pigeonhole people into rigid roles in order to maintain a well-classified society and that, as an individual I am attracted to individuals rather than to types - so be aware that your good girl, bad boy and passion mileages may vary.

6I briefly considered including the Danny Zuko sort in this category...but let's face it - boys like that who are bad out of boredom eventually grow up, get a mini-van, and become used-car salesmen. Which is fine - I mean - people need used cars. I just don't think this inevitable future garners them inclusion as a Bar-Fight Bad Boy.

7I must confess that I have a bit of the Rescuer instinct in me - but I've been trying to shake myself of this impulse when I found myself thinking that being needed was almost close enough to being loved. Feh.

8Additionally, since they are social rule breakers - men like this seem to live mostly by their wits...and man, do I dig smart, witty men. Rowr.

9I once had a beau who too often confused platitudes with romance. He liked to tell me that I was the greatest girl that ever lived. Ever the troublemaker - I usually countered thusly, "That' just silly. Did you know every woman that ever lived? What about Penelope?" At the time, I thought Penelope was a pretty ideal partner, because she was steady and true and took no other lovers during the 20 years her husband was absent. I've since outgrown this sentiment - and I now feel Penelope was a sucker, and I'd much rather be Odysseus. He may have been an arrogant prick (and he was definitely an early example of The "It's Mine, All Mine and We Wants It" Bad Boy, but at least he got to travel and do interesting things. Hmm..maybe I don't want to date the Bad Boy...maybe I just want to be him. Only, you know, pretty. Hey, a girl can dream.

10 In fact, chances are the Nice Girls didn't miss you Nice Boys standing there in the corner...you just didn't notice us smiling at you because you were busy oggling the Bad Girls..

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, August 02, 2005
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Technical Assistance Needed   

Because I live in tight quarters, my computer does double-duty as my entertainment center (thanks to the magic of DVD software and a TV card). However, whenever I use it to watch DVDs, every so often the video jogs ahead a second or two of its own accord. This happens regardless of which DVD drive or software I use. I assume it may have to do with my video settings - but I'm not sure what to change. (I've already tried switching the resolution to 800 x 600 - so that's not it)

Generally speaking this is not a huge deal - missing a second or two here and there doesn't stop me from following most plots. However - I'm a huge fan of movies replete with witty, fast-paced dialouge - and a second or two lost there is absolute tragedy.

This is why I need your help, smart people of the Internets. After all - The Thin Man collection was just released on DVD today. I need a functioning DVD player stat!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Tuesday, August 02, 2005
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