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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2003-12-18 ... 2:21 p.m.


This past weekend I saw Harvey Sid Fisher perform. Harvey is always fun, but this time the backup band was Cheer Accident, which really made the evening a standout. At about midnight some audience members were leaving, and when aggressively questioned as to why (Harvey Sid Fisher takes audience participation to new heights), they said they had to catch the last train to Schaumburg. Immediately Cheer Accident swung into a slightly psychobilly cover of "Last Train to Clarksville Schaumburg," which lasted for nearly fifteen minutes, so long that Harvey himself wandered off to use the bathroom and get another beer. I love anarchic, lengthy performances like that. It meant that my poor sister-slash-babysitter spent a few more hours than originally planned drowsing in front of the television and baby monitor, but it was well worth it.

The concert was held at a gallery of "outsider art," and I learned from the curator, who introduced the show, that an outsider artist is someone who has never had art training or art lessons. That is all it takes! You donít have to be retarded! For some reason I thought you had to be retarded. Under these conditions, technically I could be an outsider artist, which does not seem quite fair! Since I would be competing for outsider-artist fame and publicity with the retarded! And let's be honest here, I would probably win! Even if only by virtue of knowing how to get stuff xeroxed, and how to get interviews with art critics, and so forth!

To me, there are so many problems with this outsider label: on the one hand no one wants to call it "retarded/crazy person/homeless/paranoid kook art." On the other, no collector of outsider art is ever going to be interested in my scribbles or sculptures, no matter how interesting or unschooled, since I am just some boring articulate college-educated white girl who has never taken an art class. Where is the cultural cred in that? Thinking about this too hard makes one want to pose as a retarded or schizophrenic outsider artist, and then be exposed as a fake, just to cause a scandal in the art world and force art-school types to confront the tangled mess of this genre signifier. Maybe that will be my project for 2004. Must practice shuffling, and sticking small twigs in my hair.

*Really convoluted joke title, added after I started blabbing about all the "outsider" stuff. Revel in unnecessary pop-cultural allusions with me!

Speaking of retarded, some people have been e-mailing me the Deep Questions about the Smartypants book thing, and how I feel about it, and the answer is "rather embarrassed, really." Just once I would like to do something on purpose. Instead I just played around on my unobtrusive subdomain and suddenly my diary is positioned as chick lit. No disrespect to the publisher, they gotta do what they gotta do, but it is a little unsettling to have yourself discussed as a "character," and to be asked for an ending to your diary. I was really tempted to submit some ridiculously dramatic ending, a big shootout in my garbagey alley with a gutshot Mimi Smartypants gasping out one last wisecrack, just to see how tactful HarperCollins would be while reprimanding a new author.

So yeah, if I saw my own book on a "New Releases" table I probably would not pick it up, just based on the cover and the somewhat-frightening jacket copy. And if the book tanks or languishes in mid-list obscurity, you won't find me weeping into my Old Style. You still should buy it, because even the royalties from mid-list obscurity could possibly buy Nora a new pair of shoes, and every time I strap that velcro onto her fat baby feet I will say, "Thank you Anonymous Book-Buying Public! Thank you for being so supportive (if you know me), or for being so thoroughly trusting that you buy a bundle of neurotic lunchtime tomfoolery wrapped in a fluffy tortilla of girly book marketing (if you don't)!"


Why is there not an outcry in the streets that there is a Brigadier General in the US Air Force named TACO GILBERT???? PERMISSION TO SPEAK, SIR: YOUR NAME IS TACO. This feels unsettling, and we should not let the terrorists learn of it or they will tease us on the playground until we cry.

Okay, I don't have anything cute or funny to say about this, in fact I am in the fetal position chewing on my own fist about it, so here. Share my pain. It's a hoax, but even the mere thought of Madonna studies gives me chills.

If you sent Nora something really cool in the mail, but you sent it sort of direct from the manufacturer and did not include a note so I could contact you personally, thank you. It is really cool.

"Ideal Taste of Sea Goodness and Mayonnaise!" Japanese pizza page.

In the ongoing saga titled "Damn, I Never Have My Camera When I Need It," I recently saw a child-molestor-style conversion van with detailing that proclaimed it to be "The Midnight Creeper." Also, a butcher on Devon is selling both "Cow Feets" and "Baby Goat Leg." (Just one? "Baby goat leg, hardly used, best offer.")


Nora had a studio portrait picture taken recently. Originally I had vowed never to do this, never to drag her into a Sears or Olan Mills and tell her to smile pretty, because I have traumatic memories of my own regarding forced unnatural positions on a carpet-covered plywood box. (Oooh. That sounded kinky. I am still referring to professional kid portraits, in case you had the dirty imagination there.) But then my mom got to me, appealing to my sense of nostalgia and love of documentation (diary-keeping being a case in point) and, even more importantly, pointing out to me that Nora's studio portrait would be a great, cheap, Christmas present for relatives and such. So we went. Or rather LT went, and I really have to give him Mighty Dad props right here for wrangling tights and a little plaid dress onto a ten-month-old by himself.

Of course the photo is so cute it gets your innards in a twist, and later that week I am at Crate and Barrel looking for some picture frames, to help turn this adventure in watch-the-birdie into holiday gifts. Crate and Barrel on Michigan Avenue is a very disorienting place at holiday time, not only because of the consumer frenzy but also because---if you have a white, stylish, fifty-something suburban mom like I do---every fifth shopper looks a lot like your mom. It was like some Freudian/Martha Stewart nightmare, with a "Jingle Bells" soundtrack. I find some photo frames that are the right size, but they are displayed as if they were holding a horizontal photo. I think "oh Nora's photo is oriented the other way, that won't work" and wander around the store for another ten mom-doppelganger-anxiety minutes until slowly---duhhhhh---I think, "wait, the little easel works in either direction on a picture frame...." For fuck's sake, I'm losing my mind. Thank god I did not ask a store employee for a "vertical picture frame" and totally embarrass myself.

On the other hand, there are times when it would be less embarrassing to speak up. Like this morning, when I woke up at four and absolutely could not get back to sleep, so I decided to do laundry. After I got it in our washer I decided to grab some more bottles of wine from our little laundry room, which also functions as our fake wine cellar. You know, anticipating the weekend and all that. So I am coming back up the hallway stairs in my bathrobe, before dawn, with an armful of Pinot Noir. Of course I run into my neighbor-the-nurse, who nods at me in an "it's too early to speak" way. She is right of course, but it might have been a good time to make some laundry-related remark, so she doesn't think I needed three bottles of wine for breakfast.

However, I just read the employee policy manual again, for an unrelated reason, and the language about working under the influence of drugs or alcohol is worded in a very careful, nebulous way. Unless I am reading it wrong, it seems to say that as long as my supervisor determines I can do my job, showing up wasted is not necessarily against the rules. This is dangerous knowledge.

---mimi smartypants is softening to the devitaminized mush inside the soup-stock of her own words.


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