‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Smashing Pumpkins

Sugarplum wanted to be a pumpkin this year. I was all set to spray paint her orange when Cotuit Center for the Arts came through with a costume. Yet another reason to support the arts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


This is not a post about health care reform. It's a post about why I wasn't on the debate team.

Last night I crashed a biotech company's dinner party. This could have been awkward, considering my stance on the pharmaceutical industry. An industry I have traditionally considered evil.

These are my pet peeves:

Peeve 1: Advertising. Makes me crazy.

Peeve 2: I can see no ethical value in giving doctors a kickback for prescribing a certain drug. Seriously, how is this practice okay? I want to know I'm getting what's best for me, not best for someone's bank account.*

Both of these relate to the big business aspect of the pharmaceutical industry. I find that aspect annoying.


Last night I picked up a friend at the airport and scurried her to her hotel for the conference she was attending. We only had a couple hours to chat before her welcome dinner and, wouldn't you know, her flight was delayed an hour and a half (snow! rain! acts of God!). The hosting company was kind enough to let me tag along at dinner, so I could at least see my friend while she did her thing. I'm letting the company go unnamed because, well, would YOU want to find yourself named in one of my posts? I thought not. Also, I can't spell it.

My friend works for a non-profit organization that builds awareness of Hep C, and helps people get treatment. She's in town to get funding from Unnamed Company.

I hadn't thought about biotech companies funding things like her non-profit. I thought they mostly funded penthouse apartments overlooking the park. See? My debate points are starting to slip. I'm sitting on my side of the table going, "hmm, good point."

We were introduced to one of the scientists working on the drug they are testing. His heart is in the right place, wouldn't you think?

And then I met my professional counterpart, the person who does for them what I do for art and live music. Know what? He's just as passionate about working for his client as I am about mine. He's also friends with the guy who did the book signing last night, which is just plain weird.

The world, it is small.

It is so small, in fact, that if we all used our powers for good, not evil, we'd really get somewhere. And that, my friends, would be some fine health care.

*Most doctors are admirable people and can be trusted to do the right thing. Really, the rest of us should be taking Hippocratic oaths, too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chris Brogan and Geek Girl

You know when you buy your ticket, you get your sitter, you drive your car, and you arrive without getting lost only to remember, as you walk in the door, that you hate these things?


Geek Girl had a fundraiser book signing thing tonight and I was all "yay! I have no idea what this is! Let's go!" I use the plural in the schizophrenic sense, not the more than one person sense. Which means that I went to a social networking thing by myself. Which I hate.

Honestly, if I were good in social situations would I be spending all this time on my couch in the dark?

I had never heard of Geek Girl, but with a name like that, who needs to know what it is? Also, I'm sorry, Chris Brogan, but I don't get out much and I had not heard of you either. I have remedied that, stat.

Usually I go to these things for the cheese platters because oh my lord the actual content never NEVER applies to me. Ever. I don't even totally know what I do for a living, so how can what they say apply to my job?

That said, if Chris Brogan is ever doing any kind of anything within a 100 mile radius of you, get off your couch and go. Seriously. He was funny and smart and everyone in that room was all "dooooode, why didn't anyone ever TELL ME THAT?"

And? Wonder of wonders, it applied to my job. I cannot wait to get back to work. Coffee is brewing as I type. Clients will not know what hit them. Hopefully in a good way.

Geek Girl, thank you so very much.

Chris Brogan, I would kiss you except you specifically asked us not to.

Everybody else, get Trust Agents if you want to be as smart as I'll be once I read it.

Oh look, it' been a NYT bestseller. Ahem. (I knew that.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Where is my trumpet fanfare?

The first thing I heard as we approached the gates of King Richard's Faire was a bagpiper, playing the theme to Star Wars. I had a vision of the piper's home life.

Piper's mom: honey, your father and I can't send you to D&D camp and Trekkie camp this year. You'll have to pick one.
Piper: (looks baleful and goes to basement)
Piper's mom, yelling: You are 23 years old and critically vitamin D deficient. Come out of the basement, now.

If you were feeling some sort of solidarity, some kind of like-minded kindredness to humanity, I suggest you take a trip to a renaissance festival. It will wobble your mind in wonderful ways. And I speak not only of the mead.

There are some PEOPLE out there, people.

The minute we walked in, Sugarplum and Studley's jaws went slack. They looked just like the kids in the Disney World commercial. Starry eyes and all.

They did not dig the jousting. I did. Not as much as a demolition derby, mind you, but as entertainment goes, jousting is quite passable. It made me think I was living in one of Sugarplum's puzzles. I wished, in fact, that all the people around me had been more conscienscious about dressing to period. As it was, about 70% of them were renaissance-compliant.

What we mostly did was walk around and oggle people. The costumes! Some people obviously worked at the fair, but most I'd say did not. They came, they costumed, they caroused. There were orks and Mongolian ninjas and merry maids a milking. There was one woman dressed (quite convincingly) as a fairy. She moved like a bird and made cooing, chirping noises. There was a man on stilts who had his legs camouflaged and instead had small, puppet arms and legs, to make himself look like a baby sitting in a very tall chair. A baby with a grossly large head and a nightmare-inducing smile. The kids loved him. I said "anyone need the loo?" and rushed them off.

There was a ladder thing that you could climb for $3. If you made it to the top, you won $10. As we walked by, the man running the ladder thing was saying to someone, "congratulations! you have the grace and agility of a falling rock!"

There were knife throwers! There were drummers! There were pasty-faced teenagers in black leather!

King Richard's Faire is set in a pine grove. Half-timber buildings house the candlemakers and cloakmakers and horseshoe clangers. It is very much like walking into a medieval market. Which, it occurs to me, is the point.

I have read enough historical fiction to know that I don't want to hang out in a medieval market. You get thieved and bullied and you never get a fair price for your wool. But I would like to be a fly on the wall long enough to see the juggling and piping and rabble-rousing. Also the dude with horns.

King Richard's Faire let's you do that. People are pleasant and say charming things to the kids. None of the orks threaten to eat them. This is because there are turkey legs and "pigge sandwiches" so the orks aren't hungry.

So now I just have to ask, do you hang out at renaissance festivals wearing a serving wench costume? Or are you more the king's court sort?

Either way, we had no idea how much we dig you.

(This post inadvertantly brought to you by the Cape Cod Chronicle. Thank you for a lovely day, Chronicle peeps.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

in the tall grass with the big dogs

When I first moved back to Cape Cod, I was invited to join a group of fiction writers. We met once a month and handed out copies of our recent work so our fellow writers could flay us. It was fun.

I was, shall we say, the odd man out. I was working two jobs and was not a professional writer. The others, ALL the others, were retired. They all had published work under their belts. I think I was invited to join them for my baking skills.

They were very, very professional. I learned how to format my work for submission because that's the way they wanted it printed out. It was not okay to skip a week because you had been out too late the night before.

I lasted about a year.

I've been thinking about that group a lot lately, because yet another writing group has made the mistake of inviting me to join them. Its been 10 years, so the last one must not be on my record anymore. This one is exactly nothing like the last one. This one is like that one, on steroids.

I've been following Polite Fictions since it started last summer. Some of my favorite writers on the internet are participating. It's a "write your bit and pass it on" kind of thing. I would be lying if I didn't admit to secretly wishing I had been invited. Kind of like how when I was 12 I thought it would be fun to be a guest child star on Charlie's Angels.

Except the producers of Charlie's Angels never sent me an email invitation.

I think that would have been easier. Frankly, I am terrified. It's a story I'd never attempt myself and I'm suddenly running with the big dogs. I have never felt more like a papillon.

On the plus side, I can't spend my week thinking about what to write next. It's a pretty safe bet that if you think of some great lines for someone, that character will be dead by the time it's your turn again.

Also, I've gotten really spoiled with this blog. I can write in my own voice all day long. If you haven't noticed, my voice isn't particularly gangstery.

To say the least, it's a stretch.

And I've never been happier.

p.s. If you're here finding shelter from all the swearing on the internet, do yourself a favor and don't click the link. Trust me. I mean you, mom.

p.p.s. A big fat thank you to everyone at Polite Fictions. It was a horrible mistake inviting me and I'm really glad you made it.

Tracy Chapman

There was a group of women at the coffee shop today, mostly all strangers. One heard a Miami Sound Machine song and said "they were the band at a wedding I went to ages ago."

And another woman said, "we almost didn't sign up Tracy Chapman at a talent show."

She described being at the Pied Piper in the '80s, surrounded by flashy drag queens. Tracy showed up in jeans, looking "like a tiny refugee," according to this woman. "Yeah, yeah," they said. "We'll get you signed up. There's the line." She barely made it in.

When she sang, the room went silent.

You just never know when you're in a room with something golden. Until the gold shines.

I'm awfully glad I was out of coffee at home this morning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

duck season... rabbit season...duck season... rabbit season...

I love this little town so much I want to lie on the sidewalk, all stretched out like a starfish, and smile.

But I can't do that because people around here are hip to their sea life and would be all "SEA STAR, please."

On the other hand, I could do that because no one would step on me. Because there is no one here.

This is what happens to super cute seaside towns after Columbus Day weekend. Or in this case, after OysterFest weekend. One week you're having to consult your magic 8 ball to decide what snack to eat from which restaurant. The next week you're looking at empty buildings and wondering if the people in the house next door made coffee.

I was all set for coffee and a scone from the Wicked Oyster this morning, but was not totally awake and came into town the wrong way. Doubling back, I ran into a detour. They've been fixing the water system (I have no idea what they mean by this) and have been closing bits of town, one bit at a time. This morning it's the bit in front of Wicked Oyster.

Wellfleet is like Peter Cottontail's dear old briar patch. What? You don't know about Thornton Burgess? You weren't raised in the Rocky Mountains by a mother who was in total denial and raised you on New England children's stories? I'm so sorry.

Anyway, Wellfleet has about a thousand and one ways in and out. Want to get somewhere? There are six ways to go. Wellfleetians like their options. Options such as going somewhere else for coffee.

So I turned around and headed for the Flying Fish (don't you love these names?).

Flying Fish is closed.

Since the nor'easter had ended, I walked through town to the Marketplace. A car stopped right in the middle of the cross walk in front of me. She said "oh, I'm sorry!" It was no big deal because it was a Prius and I could have stepped over it. That's another marvelous generalization about Wellfleet: vehicles either get 102 mpg or are work trucks.

A landscaping truck stopped in front of the bank. Settie stepped out and said "good morning!"

Flo Hoops was also in search of coffee, and said nice things about Sugarplum's mad hooping skills while we poured.

A man I didn't recognize came out of the Lighthouse and said "what a beautiful day!"

It's kind of like that time when Danny Meadow Mouse escaped from Hooty the Owl and fell from the sky into the middle of the Dear Old Briar Patch. Danny Meadow Mouse probably needed a cup of coffee and Peter Cottontail was all "here! wrap up in my Snuggi!"

The restaurants and galleries may have closed their doors, but the people have reopened their own.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

OysterFest 2009

I live in a place that has an oyster festival, replete with shucking contest.

There is, no lie, a $1,000 first prize. The dude who won it this year was the World Champion oyster shucker two years ago. You can call him Chopper. Everyone does.

Wellfleet is a teeny, tiny, two-street town. Over the course of two days, tens of thousands of people come to OysterFest. In other words, it is a walking anxiety attack.

anxiety issue 1
Parking! There's no parking. But there are buses to take you from the beach lots and into town. Also, if you work in town you might be able to park at your work and then get parked in but the people who park you in are friendly and leave their cell numbers on their windshields. They will not, however, return your calls when it's time to leave. You will get out anyway.

anxiety issue 2
Tens! of Thousands! of People!
There are people you know, and people you don't know, and people you know but you don't know how you know them and it's probably best that way. There are lines for everything. If you are smart and have done this before, you will arrive bright and early and get your oyster fritters before the lines form. And then you will go hide in the tent with your husband.

anxiety issue 3
Why is your husband in a tent? Because he is the sound engineer and the tent is keeping his sound board dry despite a nor'easter. At one point, they will need to tie the tent to a parked car so it won't blow away. The walls of the tent are blowing in on all four sides at once. Good times. I'm not so worried about anxiety issue #3, but I fully expect Chris to wake up in the middle of the night, screaming.

I didn't go on Sunday, when the storm hit. This means I missed the shucking finals.

Shucking finals? Are hilarious. You should see them sometime. I know this because
I listened to live coverage on the radio (thank you, WOMR), which was almost like being there. But dryer.

I don't remember putting "live in a place that has oyster shucking contests and community radio" on my list of things to do, but I'm glad it ended up there.

This was last year. It looked like this, but wetter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

bff stands for all sorts of things

Dear Sugarplum,

Up until this year, we drove you to a school far, far away, in a place where no one knew you. Now you go to school in our town and you think that's absolutely great.

You have no idea how wrong you are.

You think it's great because you are allowed to have friends now. Before it was just too far to drive for playdates. But now? Friends live right around the corner. You have a friend coming over tomorrow in fact! Which gives me just enough time to lecture some sense into you.

Rule number one.
Tell her nothing. And by nothing, I mean nothing. Everything you say, think, do or wear will be held against you for the next 12 years. Oh sure, she's your friend THIS WEEK but eternity (or the road to senior year) is a long time, my friend, and alliances change like Studley's underpants.

Do not tell her you like Justin. Justin is a year younger than you and that will get you a reputation as a...as a... I have no idea. But even as you step up to accept your valedictorian thingamajig, you'll hear a wave of sniggling and it will all be Justin's fault.

(Aside to the internet: Sugarplum does not have a thing for Justin. She thinks he's a silly little boy who sometimes tries to impress girls by catching dragonflies - girls like dragonflies! - and then inadvertently torturing them so the girls have to watch as the dragonfly writhes and DIES IN HIS SWEATY LITTLE HANDS. Oh, the humanity.)

If something dreadful happens, we cannot just up and move. First of all, what if we move to a house that is not named Trout Towers? What if it's The Snoggery? Will people find me on the internet? Will I have to pay yet another $24.95 to register a domain?

Furthermore, we can't physically move because we have too many books. The last time we moved, the movers said "we're sorry, we didn't know about all the books. Please don't ever call us again. Also, you have a pottery problem."

So we'll just have to stick it out and you'll have to hide in your locker, same as your father.

Rule number two.
You might want to jump a little higher when I ask you for help around the house. Otherwise, I might let it slip that you still sleep in your My Little Pony pajamas.

Love you,

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Giselle, and why she should have done an online background check

I saved my program so I could tell you who was magnificent in Boston Ballet's Giselle, but then I left it in the car and there are coyotes out there, people. My love for you (and name dropping) ends at coyotes.

There were no coyotes in Giselle. Not in the original story, at least. The story's about a girl who's in love with a nobleman but she doesn't know he's a nobleman and then the hunter-dude who digs her exposes him (not literally) and she goes a little crazy and then dies. Because she died with her love unrequited, she becomes a willi in act two. Willis are spirits who live in the woods and kill men by making them dance themselves to death. Or, they are the girls from town DRESSED as spirits, who randomly kill passers-by who anger them. It didn't say this in the program, but I recognized pretty much everyone from the the first act so it must be true.

The hunter-dude is the first to die. And then the nobleman shows up and Giselle saves him by... I don't know, doing the dancing for him? Don't quote me on any of this because my program has been eaten by coyotes and I read the story a very long time ago.

I think it's a little risky for the men to show up in the woods at night, knowing about the willis and all, don't you? It's like Travis thinking his love for Old Yeller will make the foaming stop.

Boston Ballet's willis were particularly dead-looking and a little ghoulish (though lovely! please don't show up at my house and eat the cat!). There is something especially stunning about a scene that is at once beautiful and eerie (a theme which pervades our decorating sensibilities here at the Towers). Melissa Hough danced the part of Giselle and was outstanding - both dead and alive. Jaime Diaz was the scoundrel who broke her heart. Nicely done, Diaz. I don't remember who danced the Queen of the Willis, but she was splendid. The Queen of the Willis is like the Sugarplum Fairy, if the Sugarplum Fairy ever ordered her minions to kill people.

This was the first ballet we attended in the Opera House instead of the Wang (not counting the Nutrcracker, because it doesn't count). We didn't think we'd like it because change, as you know, is bad. But then we noticed the opera house is like someone left the Wang in the dryer and we think we'll be okay with it. It's kind of cute. Also, the restrooms are more conveniently located and it's a block away from Penang.

And that, I believe, wraps up my ballet review for this evening. Goodnight, and for the love of all things holy, don't walk in the woods at night.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

the facade

This morning I told Chris I had been emailing Joey Mars. Chris (like you) said, "who's Joey Mars?" So I reminded him that Joey Mars is the artist who painted the front of Provincetown's Shop Therapy:

He's a cool dude.

"What were you emailing him about?" he asks.
"To see if he'd paint the front of Trout Towers," I answer.

One of the things I like about Chris is the look on his face when he's not sure if I'm kidding or not. If he's not careful, though, his face will freeze like that.

(I emailed Joey pictures I had of Evan Dando wearing his shirt. If there were pictures of Evan Dando wearing my shirt..... well maybe I wouldn't want it. Nevermind.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the critics rave

The Midnight Gardener came by on Sunday for "Studley's Birthday Party."

Stop twitching. I used the quotes properly. It was his party in name only, as I think I only remembered to invite two of his friends and 75 of ours.

The Midnight Gardener devoted a post to us this morning and we are very flattered. He covers the whole "yeah, right, it's a party for Studley" thing. Also, "the party invitation encouraged us each to bring a dish to share…and confessed that the party had only been organized because they were out of good snacks at Trout Towers."

I'm glad people are paying attention.

But really, my favorite part was this:

"Her Troutship is smart and funny and full of clever observations on all sorts of fun things in life from the local music scene and parenting to gardening and chicken farming and hula hooping. You never know what you’ll find at Trout Towers...."

I'm smart! and funny! and full of it!

He posted some fab pictures of the bits of garden I haven't killed off yet. Really, you should march over there now and see. That's the caterer, btw, not me. I'm taller and thinner and remembered to brush my hair.


And if you are here visiting from the Midnight Garden, the first thing you should know is that he has a longer attention span than I do.

The end.

Monday, October 5, 2009

operatic comments

Over at Opera Betty (where I have a new post, btw), I get lots of comments. They're mostly in Russian, so if anyone can help me translate I'd sure appreciate it.

And yes, chickens find rubber humans hilarious. Don't ask me how I know this.

The other comments crack me up. Valuable post? Really? I TOTALLY fell for that one, and now have a lifetime supply of something unmentionable and a pair of his and hers bathtubs.


This week I wrote about The Rake's Progress, first performed in 1951, on 9/11. The libretto would be way more hilarious if it weren't hitting so close to home, world-wise. I'll live up to those comments yet, darn it.

(I still don't know what makes the swishing sound between my ears.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

just, ew.

This one may get me into trouble. It's sort of like taking pictures of Chris' underpants and posting them. Which I promised not to do.

But I was looking through some old photos and was reminded of the crack house bathroom we moved into last year.

I will not dwell on this.

Chris has been working away - ripping out the medicine cabinet, fixing sheetrock, installing new lights. We are a reality t.v. show, minus the billions of onlookers. And budget. We also like to think we are cuter and funnier.*

But I digress.

Anyway, this was our sink:

When the plumber came to put in our new sink yesterday, I said something like "man, you should have seen the old sink" and he said "lady, I have SEEN YOUR SINK." I don't know what he meant by that, but it didn't sound flattering.

For my very fancy birthday, I asked my sister for a new bathroom sink. She said "not a manicure?" and I said "I want a sink or I will tell mom."

So she gave me a sink. And now we live in a Swedish crack house.

That's the robot vacuum, peeking around the corner in the hall, btw.

As long as I'm posting pictures of underpants, here's one I took of the corner of our dining room last year.

The entire room was that blue, with maps from National Geographic as wallpaper. May I back up a moment? This house has a rich and vibrant history, and there are probably some people out there who are all "but those maps were THE AWESOMEST." To which I say, no, they were not. They were also impossible to get off. Literally. Chris had to rip out the sheet rock.

Same corner, one year later:

I took pictures today because we were all squeaky clean for Studley's birthday party and the light was so gorgeous it made everything look like... I don't know... somebody else's house?

It doesn't look like this now because it's dark and also, we had a party. There are bottles and mostly-eaten snacks everywhere. Gift wrap is scattered all over the floor. Someone peed in a chair.**

Wild times, I tell you.

In non-underpants related news, the sun came out for our party. This was good because, as you can see, not so much room in the rooms. Although I suggested we have the entire party in the bathroom and that would have been awesome. I mean, if people can't talk about Trout Towers' parties in the old what-happens-in-Vegas sort of way, we can at least give them SOMETHING to talk about.

The other good news is the playlist we had going for the (mostly adult) kid's birthday party did not randomly choose to play Fun Lovin' Criminals' "Scooby Snacks," which opens with a delightful little clip from Reservoir Dogs.

No really, send your kids over! We can totally be trusted. See our sink?

*I don't honestly know if we're cuter and funnier because I can't remember watching a reality show all the way through. No offense to real life reality families. I am sure you are cute and funny.

** Studley's friends can't hold their apple juice.

Friday, October 2, 2009

girls' night out (or, a public apology)

The problem with girls' nights out is that the girls in question tend to congregate in lovely little wine bars, featuring jazz guitarists and owners who bring you dishes of olives that have nothing at all in common with bar mix.

If you have ever been privy to these nights out, you know the ensuing conversation has quite a lot in common with bar mix. The conversation, if it had control of its own car keys, would obviously rather be at a sports bar, if not a strip club.

As the night progresses, the conversation becomes more aggressive in its search for rowdier company. It offends. It regales. The women in question sometimes notice it rooting around in their purses, looking for phones to call cabs, and are briefly aware that the conversation is totally inappropriate. Its behavior is atrocious, frankly. But the goat cheese and walnut crostini beckons and another round is ordered.

Women are complicated creatures. We like artisan cheeses and olive tapenade. We like places that hire acoustic guitarists for our entertainment. We like chairs with hooks on them to hold our purses. We like beautiful spaces with art on the walls. We like lengthy conversations about Capt'n Frosty's Clam Balls.

We are women with lives that spiral in all directions. We have careers, babies, heartbreaks and crushes on men ten years our junior. Our worlds so rarely collide. But when they do? Please try not to be offended. It's the olives talking.