Thursday, January 28, 2010


I love the feeling of Ashley's femmspiration posts, so continuing on with that theme I'd like to offer up my female role models of today and yesteryear as well as the stories that helped to shape my personality! Yippyyyy grab a comfy seat...this is a long one.

Where to begin...
Obviously, the biggest impact on my self are my parents and family and the events that occupied my younger years...but I'd like to focus on my personality and spirit. The little voice in my head pushing me to get in trouble...that kinda stuff. I guess I'll start by noting my childhood influences. Ramona Quimby was a big force in my young life. I asked for my hair to be cut just like hers. The Never Ending Story and The Last Unicorn were weekend staples, but two movies in-particular really shaped my idea of what I wanted my life to look like as well as what I wanted my heart to feel like.

I'm not sure if the theme for these two movies were indicative of the time or a trend in movie-making, but I really felt them. I worshiped the lead characters. They were everything I wanted to be. Both of their stories take on adventuring and being alone...finding friends along the way and coming of age on the road. I've always fancied the idea that I can do anything on my own and that I don't need anyone's help. That's not the case, but if you've ever tried to teach me something or show me a better way, you've probably noticed that I still hang on to this idea.

It's strange to me now that there were a few good movies like these that featured young girls as MAIN characters who were very brave and capable and now...well there is Hanna Montana, which is fine and all, but from what I've seen it deals with fame and celebrity...which is WEIRD! It's weird to me that little girls aspire to be famous. I never ever thought about that. Anyway that's a post in itself... Without further ado my top two choices for female role models of my childhood:

Natty Gann of Journey of Natty Gann

I loooved this movie. It's about a young girl during the depression who's father has to go for work and she is left with her nanny or a neighbor or something (because her mother died) who is nice to her, but she really wants to find her dad. So, of course, she runs away...befriends a wolf and then an older boy (John Cusak)...hops trains with said wolf...finds herself in dangerous situations (dog fighting events where she meets the wolf, hobo camps, etc) and basically makes her way across the country with this wolf and part of the way with this older boy. She defends her Dad's honor when some kids say he's a communist. Some folks find her wallet and think she's dead. Her Dad is heartbroken...they find each other in the end though. I LOVE this story. I wanted to do all of these things.

I was actually a hobo in my baton class and though I guess my Mom and I didn't know what a hobo looked like, I still loved it because I was closer to being such a bad-ass girl like Natty Gann.

Senora Webster of Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

Senora works so hard for her dreaaamsss!

UGH this movie...It's my depression lifter. I've possibly seen it more than Footloose because it makes me feel so good. I love this story and after my hobo phase, I delighted in the rough and gritty glamour that Senora embodied. Again, set during the Great Depression (based on a true story--side note--I tried to buy the book on ebay for $4 but the seller realized its value of around $400 and took it down) Senora's parents both died from some great sickness and she and her sister are left with their shitty Aunt. The Aunt is awful to her...basically no one gets her quirkyness. Whatever, we can all relate to that. So....she runs away and joins a traveling show! UGH I DIE. Seriously, if I could have painted a life for myself at age 12, this would be it. I mean wow. She was sweet and fun, but determined and ambitious. I loved Senora. I relate to this movie and that character like nothing else. I still quote her sometimes when I say, "heck noooo". I wanted to run away and lean out of the back of a wagon while peacefully enjoying the countryside. I think you may know the rest of the story. She weasels her way into employment with Dr. Carver and starts training to become a diving girl. She falls in love with his son Al and after a while ends up in Atlantic City (her dream). She has an accident on a dive, is rendered blind, learns to dive again against everyone's wishes..lives happily ever after. the end. I can't even tell you. I"ll just end there because I can go on and on.

So, looking back, I only ran away once with my dog which led to sitting in my Step-Mom's old Jaguar for 6 hours until I got bored. I only threatened to hop trains because I got too scared I'd get mugged. What can I say? I was too safe and too timid to carry out my childhood dreams. Plus, the hugest obstacle to me getting my wish and traveling through the countryside, guardian-less and free while discovering my talents...I LIKED my parents. So, naturally, I couldn't leave them. I still daydream about changing my identity and roaming the countryside taking up odd jobs to get by. Perhaps, joining some kind of traveling act and settling into my new talented family. Like I said though, I love my real family...I could never leave them.

That brings me to my adult female rold model:
Neko Case of Neko Case fame

She's got tons of great live performances, but this one is clean and smooth and you can hear all the wonderful sounds and voices that go into her songs. I feel like a 4th grader writing about Debbie Gibson with my "I love her because she's really neat" type comments, but I seriously love her and feel my heart getting tender when I listen to her.

She makes me feel lucky to be a lady. She doesn't need anyone...but she does a little. Plus, basically she's lived my dream life. I have to say here that the prior two role models and their lives have been romanticized heavily and I bet it's actually no picnic to run away and hop trains...I don't want to disrespect anyone that has actually lived that life. I won't go on and on about her and her life, but basically she ran away from what she felt were ill-equipped teenage parents and got into music, was in several bands and then went out on her own.

This is an excerpt from her bio on

Alternative country singer/songwriter Neko Case won a steadily growing cult audience for her smoky, sophisticated vocals and the downcast beauty of her music. Born in Alexandria, VA, Case moved around often as a child, spending the largest part of her youth in Tacoma, WA. She left her parents at age 15, and three years later she started playing drums for several bands around the Northwest's punk rock scene. Case moved to Vancouver in 1994 to enter art school, and simultaneously joined the punk group Maow, which released a record on the Mint label. She also played with roots rockers the Weasles and eventually formed her own backing band, the Boyfriends, which initially featured alumni of the Softies, Zumpano, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.

I feel like this part of the post lacks the awesomeness that Neko deserves, but I don't feel I can put it in words at this juncture.

Fellow Spinecrackers...what or who shaped you? Inquiring minds...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

if i were napoleon, you could be my josephine

ok, so i have this idea to have a mademoiselle/madame french party on february 20th to celebrate the end of an era with our current book, and cheersing to our new prospects. think gruyere, edith piaf, croissants, chocolate mousse, framboise, love poems, brie, eiffel tower, crepes, caricatures, love, stars, moonlight, creme brulee, francoise, etc.

My proposed ideas so far: make french food of your choice to bring, chose an alternate french name for yourself (antoinette, etinne, claudette, marvella, blanchefleur), dress in full french attire wearing blue, white, red (not to be confused with red, white, and blue), berets, moustaches, photo portraits, caricatures by sarah (or whoever else can draw). we can sit around and read love poems from napoleon to josephine, fiddle faddle around with my mini accordion, romantic guitar soloing with possible humming. and one of the most important things, which you can either choose to embrace or reject, is to bring some form of art that you want to share, like ANY form of art. wether it be knitting, photos, jewelry, drawings, short stories, collages, anything your oui oui heart can muster. i feel overwhelmed by how much talent each one of you ladies has to offer, and i would love to see what everyone could come up with. please share your feelings on the matter.

bonne nuit!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Hello Crackers,
I am feeling rather uninspired at the moment, but I don't want that to be misconstrued as disinterest in this fabulous blog! So I thought I would share a little website/tool that has made my menstruating life a million times more convenient! The website is called Mon.thly Info:

It's so simple. Signing up takes about 20 seconds and believe me it's worth it! Every month when I start my period I log into mon.thly info and click that date on the calendar. The website tracks my cycle and then sends me emails!!! I get lovely period emails every month! I cannot even tell you how reassuring it is to be going apeshit and feeling like a crazy person and then get a sweet little email that says, "Just a friendly reminder from monthly info, your period is 2 days away!" Those emails are always followed by a big sigh, and an "Ohhhhh so that's why I'm eating cool whip from the container and sobbing watching project runway!!"

Also, any ladies interested in making a baby/trappin' yo man, you can sign up for ovulation reminder emails as well. So spread the word ladies!! Mon.thly Info is where it's at for women with working uteri! This website has changed my life and I hope it makes yours a little easier. Love you.

EDIT: 3:06
I've used this website for about 2 years now and so I have a good history/tracking built up, so I'm adding some screen shots so you can see the pay off of regular useage. Also, as Megan will attest to, you have to enter your period every month or else you will not get emails. They are a god send, but they are not uterus-readers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

surprise ending

in a nod to both the objective of the spinecrackers, and the tone this blog seems to have acquired, i've been working on a post concerning a cemetery visit.
anytime i drive through salinas and see the turn-off for the john steinbeck center, or john st. for that matter, my heart flutters. i have mom to thank, east of eden being handed off to me on a camping trip 6 years ago after she finished. i was looking for something to take my mind off dinner, as it was being prepared on the gas-stove (we do drive-in camping), so this was perfect. i nestled into my uncles warped hammock and dug in. and in and in and in... i couldn't believe when i finished! it was a slap in the face, the end of a turbulent, and yet so fulfilling, relationship. anytime i pick up a steinbeck, i gorge, forget to chew, and choke it down before i can savor the flavor, then its on to the next! the wayward bus added mystery to road-side cafes; travels with charley got me from san francisco to nashville, curious to observe everything in between. there are only so many more i can inhale, so i've allotted them to every five books or so. shane, a fellow steinbeck enthusiast, and i decided to stop by and pay our respects, and brought paul along for educational purposes. though the general grave direction was marked with an arrow, i was shocked at how simple the graves was. the man who gave us grapes of wrath, i assumed, would have a huge marble headstone, with bust likeness, sprouting from carved flora, and a quote from one of his books, right? do they KNOW who he IS?the cemetery was empty, so we helped ourselves to a few rubbings, in gratitude we left behind a 50cent piece and a rock with a heart drawn on. the lamb was on guard upon arrival. i hope to go back one day and leave a worthy charm, though i feel that the rubbing's careful placement in my kitchen makes up for it...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here's a story for ya...

About 6 years ago I picked up an old Kodak Hawkeye (Flashfun to be exact) at either a thrift store or a yard sale in Grover Beach. Sarah has the exact same camera.

Mine is super busted like and cracked in places, but I loved it and wanted to try to use it for something. After I bought it I noticed that there was film in it. This thrilled me more than the camera and I couldn't wait to finish out the roll and develop it. Like I said, this was about 6 years ago.

Skip ahead about 3 years to thanksgiving in Fresno with Kate at our Aunt Mel's. In full Megan fashion, I waited this long to even start to finish the film. We took some shots for our fake band "jealous orchid" and had a good ol' time.

Come along with me to last year. I don't remember when or what the subject was, but I finished the roll...

Keep up for just one more year to about 2 weeks ago. I FINALLY sent in the finished roll with all of the photos that I've never seen from 50 years ago + our Fresno pics + whatever else I took pictures of. I sent 11 rolls of film to be developed. Nearly all 110 film from my favorite camera I've ever minolta. Anyway, that's another post. One of the rolls was the 127 film from this camera and I nearly forgot that there was a whole mystery waiting to be seen. I fantasized about how someone might have taken pictures of a scandalous scene or perhaps finding the one camera that was in Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated that could be the smoking gone and reveal everything we've all wondered. I imagined all of these dramatic photos and then forgot about it and sent them off.

(the big reveal)

I nearly cried when I saw these:

Two men sitting on what looks like a train. The gentleman in the foreground looks to be a conductor eating his meal.

This one features a woman with dimples smiling slyly in a controlled fashion, smoking while riding the train.

Now we see another conductor? and his lady sitting side by side with--this really got me--the open road behind them from the back of the train. I love that she's looking at him and he's looking forward. I like to think that this is the conductor's car and perhaps she's going on a long date with him.

I can't even express how these made me feel. I instantly felt like I was peering into something I should never have seen, but am so glad I did. I'm also really happy they didn't turn out to be pictures of a park or something. I love the election poster in the pictures (I can't endorse it without knowing what it is, but I love that it's there and think it's done quite nicely). I want to be on that train with them. I want to find their grandchildren or grandnieces or whoever and give these to them. Or maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe it only serves me and my self-indulgent sense of nostalgic adventure for a time from which my Mother came of age. I don't know, but it really thrilled me. These photos sat undeveloped for nearly 50 years and they made their way to me and, though it took me 6 years, I helped them along to finally be seen.

The other crazy thing that blew my mind was that of all the photos (13 i think) the only additional photos to turn out were these:

Darling Miss Kate

and myself

Two lucky ladies who got to share a roll of film with some traveling folks from 50 years ago when things seemed slower and better, but likely were more difficult for different reasons. We hitch-hiked onto their roll of film and I kind of feel weird about that, but also totally happy about it. I don't know what to say! I wanted to share it with my ladies.


I need to re-scan these with a cleaner/better scanner

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Urban Decay

Spoiler alert! This post is not about nail polish!

I've long said that I'll watch just about anything with an apocalyptic/heavy doom premise. I have sat through the crappiest movies just to see stuff get destroyed or to some two-bit directors vision of an abandoned metropolis. As a kid, I loved reading about ancient Egypt and the Titanic. In other words, I'm a #1 giant-foam-finger fan fallen giants and always have been.

This beautiful and fascinating photo essay of abandoned mental asylums on the New York Times has left me completely enthralled.

Autopsy Theater, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington

Aesthetically, the photographs are stunning (side note: look at those gorgeous modern plastic shell chairs - someone needs to rescue those babies!). Loveliness aside, I'm fascinated by how the essay illustrates the literal abandonment of the asylum approach to mental health. The "beauty salon" photo suggests attempts to make asylums more personal, while the collection of "patient toothbrushes" shows that they were anything but. These once very private and personal institutional spaces now lie dormant. The remaining, but decaying fixtures tell us tales about the treatment of mental illness not-so-long-ago; the empty rooms offer a distance - as both viewers and as a culture - from these approaches.

'Bathtub', Fairfield Hills State Hospital, Connecticut, USA

The accompanying text and stories are an interesting a quick read. Summed in a few words:
"Society can be judged as much by what it abandons as by what it builds."

Even more of Christopher Payne's Asylum photos on his webpage:

More urban decay:

Flickr Urban Decay group

Yves Marchard & Romain Meffre - The Ruins of Detroit

Alan Weisman's book The World Without Us

I think we're just gonna have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that.

I know Margot Tenenbaum is a little 2001, but I re-watched it not too long ago and wanted to be her best friend all over again. Her style, poise, rolled cigarettes, missing finger, black eye liner...they all add up to be an acclaimed playwright & adoptee, like so many of us wish we were. The scene dearest to my heart is when she is in the bathroom, painting her toes, watching tv, on the phone, in her undergarments, all while enjoying a smoke (hopefully it's bali shag). I adore the idea of discreetly being alone in general, but anything becomes more romantic to me when you add underwear and cigarettes. So pinky's up to Margot, for being the most tame, yet feral fictional lady creature with one of the most valued traits....the ability to keep a secret.

These are what I imagine her favorite things to be...

Butterscotch Sundae recipe:
two scoops butter pecan ice cream (fav=Rite-Aid) OR vanilla. OR praline.
1/2 cup chopped toffee heath bar OR if you're a nut-a-zoidal maniac like me, then make candied pecans. (put 6oz pecans, 2tbls sugar, 2tbls melted butter, & 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl & toss to coat. then bake on a cookie sheet for 10 mins)
whipped cream (just take a little heavy cream & whip the shit out of it)
maraschino cherry (if you must, but i say no)
*Butterscotch Sauce*
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add bourbon and vanilla extract, stirring well. Get really cozy and depressed and serve warm over ice cream.
favorite album to listen to in headphones while writing a short story

favorite actress: dorothy dandridge
favorite movie favorite photographer: diane arbus favorite book/author: zelda fitzgerald all time hero: eva braun

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I like it a lot


I am writing to inform you that I am way into some music by Marina and the Diamonds. I think you might like her if you don't already. Some songs that stand out are Hollywood, Obsessions, and I am not a robot. She kinda sounds like Shakira sometimes, she has GREAT hair, and her videos are just darling. Anyway, if you're bored tonight take a peek at her videos via or check out the blog/website at Loves ya!

If you follow this link you will find a nice acoustic version of Hollywood, but the regular version is admittedly more fun!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tell 'em, Gram.

A few years back, my dad suggested that we add a little country to our repertoire and work on a song by The Flying Burrito Brothers. Outside, I was nodding and saying that I'd look it up, but inside, all I could think was "terrible band name." As Spinecrackers, we're well-versed in the adage "Don't judge a book by it's cover." But this was a pre-Spinecracker-era for yours truly, so all bets were off.

For weeks, my dad would ask "You listen to that song yet?" and there were only so many times that I could change the subject or pretend I was losing my hearing before it became Crystal Pepsi clear that I was just being a lamewad. So finally, I listened. And I listened. And I listened...

I couldn't get the albums my usual way (downloading from the seemingly all-you-can-eat music buffet that is the internet), so I actually purchased the two Flying Burrito Brothers albums and proceeded to listen to them non-stop. One of those Burrito Brothers was Gram Parsons.

Naked ladies on the lapel, weed leaves on the breast - ZZ Top was right about a sharp-dressed man

As it turns out, he had a memorable life and (in some circles) an even more memorable death. In addition to the Burrito Brothers, Gram worked on an exceptional Byrds album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo...

He also had a some stellar solo albums and a pre-Burrito project with an equally terrible name, The International Submarine Band.

Jog a few paragraphs back and you'll see I'm talking about years ago here, ladies. That's how much I love this man...

"Luxury Liner" - The International Submarine Band

"Christine's Tune" - The Flying Burrito Brothers

"A Song for You" - Gram Parsons

my whole life is a darkroom. one big darkroom.

Lydia Deetz has been my hero ever since I can remember, which by my IMDB calculations, is 1988. She's neurotic, dresses in black, and takes pictures. Three of my favorite things. Growing up, I either was told I looked like "Lydia from Beetlejuice" or "Wednesday from Addams Family." Both warmed me to my black metal core. Even the cartoon Lydia was a thrill to watch. That amazing spider cape, her high ponytail (which I still think of when I put my pony up that high), those glorious purplely insomnia eyes. And she even went to private school and had to wear a uniform !!just like mee!! and the few times over the years I've fashioned my baby bangs, it's in honor of her. Here's what I imagine her favorite things to be.... favorite song: Cocteau Twins - cherry coloured funk favorite tv show: night gallery favorite poet: Sara Teasdale favorite photographer: Weegee celebrity crush: Rod Serling