12 reasons why I won’t be giving Mark Rayner’s new novel to my mother-in-law for Christmas

The cover of a book I will not be giving to my mother-in-law.
Mark Rayner’s new novel, Marvellous Hairy, has gotten some great reviews, and some marvellously entertaining press. It’s been published just in time for the major gift-giving holidays. The paperback comes in an attractive compact format, and it also comes in an economical ebook version. You would think this would make it an excellent gift.

In spite of this, I will most definitely NOT be giving a copy of this book to my mother-in-law. Here are the main reasons why:

The 12 Main Reasons I won’t be giving Marvellous Hairy to my mother-in-law:

  1. The novel contains “adult” language.
  2. The book uses colorful descriptive language, and I mean beyond describing a room as having been painted “belligerently pink.”
  3. I’m talking about sentences like the following:

    He had long greasy black hair that clung to his head like an octopus humping his skull, and then fell onto his his shoulders in oily post-coital exhaustion.

  4. The book has sex in it.
  5. The book has sex and monkeys in it.
  6. My mother-in-law would be fairly scandalized by something that induced me to compose a sentence including both the words “sex” and “monkeys.”
  7. My mother-in-law has probably never spent any significant amount of time contemplating what it would be like to grow a tail.
  8. It is extremely unlikely that the phrase “Release the monkeys!” would make her giggle.
  9. She wouldn’t know what to make of a playful romp of a novel that is described as “part literary fun-ride, part fabulist satire, and part slapstick comedy.”
  10. Especially one that has been called “deeply, unsettlingly weird.”
  11. She certainly would not take well to the suggestion that she get in touch with her “inner monkey.”
  12. She would probably much prefer some lavender-scented hand soap.

Disclosure: Since I’m a big fan of The Skwib, Mark Rayner’s humor blog, I was all set to buy a copy of this book. (Though not for my mother-in-law.) It was already in my Amazon shopping cart and everything. But then Mark offered to send me a copy. (For FREE! Sucker!) How could I resist? (The monkeys made me do it.)

(Monkey images from wpclipart.)


Something that you may not have known about me is that I have a bit of a soft spot for British cars.

I fell in love with the Austin Mini when I was 9 years old, living in France. Over the years, others caught my eye, like the little MG and Triumph convertibles I’d see from time to time in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was 16, I became enamoured of the Lotus driven by Mrs. Peel, my idol. And what fan of the Prisoner could forget 6’s Lotus 7?

So when John told me he’d heard of a British car show coming up nearby, I put it on the calendar. We went this past Sunday.

The car show was held on the lawn of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA, which is in an incredible park.

We picked a shady spot to picnic near this sweet purple MG.

Phoebe and Theo enjoyed the sunny day at the park.

John and I enjoyed taking pictures of the pretty cars, most of which were polished up to a high shine, like this Triumph GT6+.

little green berkeley
This little Berkeley, though, appeared to have its original paint.

spider paint crack
The paint showed some really cool cracking patterns, like this spider-like one.

There was quite a variety of unusual sports cars. Here’s an Allard and a Jaguar. Note the leather straps fastening the bonnet of the Allard (left), and the third headlight on the Jaguar (right).

3 3
I didn’t see any wicker seats, but there were a few wicker baskets, like the one strapped to the boot of this classic MG (left). There were lots of two-seaters at the show, and at least one single-seater, like this Lotus (right).

row of triumphs
Here’s a row of Triumphs.

I wanted to get a closer look at this (more humble-looking) Triumph, but it drove off as we were walking towards it. (Yes, it started!)

This new Mini was parked next to a hand-built reproduction of a Lotus 7.

This was the only classic Mini we saw. I wanted to take it home with me.

spaghetti day

This video just makes me happy.

p.s. Speaking of spaghetti, Holly¹ and I are cooking up the May Just Posts. We’re aiming to serve them up a bit early this time around, so send in your nominations soon!²


¹ …of Cold Spaghetti, mind you.

² You know, I really didn’t mean to work the cooking metaphor, but when there is a metaphorical door open, I have to walk through. Which sometimes leads me down predictable corridors.³

³Apparently this particular corridor led me to the kitchen. Where I put on water to boil.

over and under, all over again

As I was writing the post I put up Monday, I found myself having a bit of a soundtrack going through my head. Most prominent was “Over and Under,” by Joydrop. “Down Under,” by Men at Work came to mind. And at one point “Overpowered by Funk,” actually came up on the playlist I had playing. (Theo likes The Clash, so I will play it for him when he’s fussy. It’s good bouncing music.)

It may not shock you that I have, in the past, enjoyed putting together playlists by theme. (One of these days I will show you my question and answer playlist.)

So as I wrote my…um…poem…I found myself also jotting down song titles. And then I took it another step, and put together a playlist. Which made a sort of poem or story itself.

    Over + Under (Joydrop)

    Overachievers (Crash Test Dummies)
    Overkill (Men at Work)
    Blue Overall (XTC)
    Overpowered by Funk (The Clash)

    Under Control (The Strokes)
    Under Pressure (Queen and David Bowie)
    Overcome (Tricky)
    Pushover (The Long Winters)
    Under my Thumb (Social Distortion)

    Under the Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
    Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel)
    Under the Milky Way (The Church)
    Over the Rainbow (Innocence Mission)
    Head Over Heels (Tears for Fears)
    Overhead (Furslide)
    Undertow (REM)

    Under Water (Mary’s Danish)
    Underground (Ben Folds Five)
    The Ugly Underneath (XTC)
    Underwear (The Magnetic Fields)
    Underneath it All (Nine Inch Nails)
    Down Under (Men at Work)
    Underwear (Pulp)

    From Under the Covers (The Beautiful South)
    All Over the World (Pixies)
    Over There (The Housemartins)
    Over and Over (Camper van Beethoven)
    Over and Over (Morcheeba)

    It’s Over (Tom Waits)
    Over (Portishead)
    It’s Over (Filter)
    I know it’s Over (The Smiths)

    Over Now (Alice in Chains)
    All Over Now (Aimee Man)
    It’s All Over But the Crying (Garbage)

    Now the Day is Over (Innocence Mission)
    Over and Done With (The Proclaimers)
    I Am Over It (The Dandy Warhols)

I am a highly trained stunt procrastinator. Don’t try this at home.

Well, actually, do try it. It’s fun. Just go to your iTunes library, or whatever source of songage you choose, and pick out song titles that write a story or a poem. (This is not unlike Magpie’s book stacking task, which I keep meaning to try. You should try that, too, while your at it. Because you need more distractions.)

bucket list

Late last year, a movie came out called Bucket List, which then inspired a bunch of people to write their own “bucket lists”. Somehow I missed all of it. However, having seen the movie poster hanging in a video store window a few days ago, I’ve had that title running through my head. Running through my head and collecting things in a little bucket, as it were. Things about buckets as it turns out. So I present to you a ThThTh list of buckets.

A Bucket List

  1. kick the bucket: an expression meaning “keel over”, “bite the dust”, or “buy the farm”.
  2. bucket list: a list of things one hopes to accomplish before one’s death. (As in before one kicks the bucket.) The term may have originated with the screenplay from the movie (below).
  3. Bucket List (2007): a movie directed by Rob Reiner and starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. About 2 men who write a bucket list and work on accomplishing the items on the list. Said to be a tear-jerker. You can watch the trailer (YouTube).
  4. “There’s a hole in my bucket”: a folksong, possibly with German origins.
  5. mercy buckets: an English distortion of the French merci beaucoup, meaning “thank you much.”
  6. a drop in the bucket: an expression meaning “an inconsequential amount in relation to a larger quantity”.
  7. sweat buckets: an expression meaning “perspire copiously”
  8. Mr. Bucket: a game/toy (by Milton Bradley) from the early 90s. The commercial, (which you can watch on YouTube, if you like) had lyrics which apparently raised a few eyebrows:

    I’m Mr. Bucket put your balls in my top.
    I’m Mr. Bucket, out of my mouth they will pop…

  9. Buckethead: a musician noteworthy for performing with a bucket on his head.
  10. bucket drummers: percussionists, typically street performers, who use upended buckets (usually plastic paint buckets) as drums. Buckets are often supplemented with pots, pans, and other improvised instruments. There’s a blog on bucket drummers. You can also find a bunch of short clips on YouTube of some very impressive bucket drummers, like these guys:

  11. lolrus: A pinniped, usually a walrus, featured in a lolcat-style image. The captions of these typically feature commentary about buckets, especially the loss of buckets and the seeking of buckets. (Or, in the language of lol, buckits or bukkets.) To explore lolruses and their buckets (and to see the original), i can has cheezburger has the tag “bucket” for your convenience.

    funny pictures

The picture at the top of the page is Phoebe with her bucket. Well, it’s small for a bucket. Really more of a pail, by comparison. (I’m sorry. I had to say it.)

Happy Pi Day!

pi.jpgIt’s Pi Day, people! Woohoo! It’s 3-14. And I didn’t even see it coming. (And here I just mentioned a book called Life of Pi yesterday. Of course, that was a pi-free Pi reference.)

Here are some tasty pi goodies for you to help you celebrate your day:

  • Be sure to check out the official Pi Day website. (Thanks to Tina of Omphaloskepsis (one of the grandest blog names out there) for pointing me there.)
  • I highly recommend the musical pi stuff, like pi rap videos, and the pi(ano) song, where someone has converted the digits of pi to a melody.
  • You can also see a hundred thousand digits of pi. Here’s a preview:


  • Not enough digits for ya? How’s about a million?
  • Kate Bush has a song called “π”. Or “Pi,” if you must stick to ASCII. In it, part of the refrain is seeing 150 digits of pi. Shockingly, it seems that she has, according to Confusablility, gravely erred in her digits:

    I got hold of the lyrics and checked them against an online version of Pi. All was well for the first 53 decimal places but then Kate sang “threeeeee oneeeee” when she should have sang “zeeeeeeerooo” instead. She recovered for the next 24 digits but then it went to hell in a handbasket when she missed out the next 22 digits completely before finishing with a precise rendition of her final 37 digits.

  • Inga of Arbitrary Ruminations is celebrating the day with a list of Pie quotes, which may be safer.
  • Or you might want to watch a movie. Like Pi (1998). A movie sadly lacking in pie.
  • I think that later today, I will have to bake a pi. I mean, a pie. Seriously. I’ve keep meaning to bake a pie, but haven’t found the time. But now the pi forces are conspiring to make pi a piority. I mean, priority.
  • Finally, let me leave you with this classic pi joke:

    A young man goes off to college from his rural home. When he comes back for a visit, his less educated father wants him to show off his fancy learning. “Say something smart, son,” he commands.
    The young man thinks back to his classes, and figures a formula from math should sound impressive enough. He offers up the formula to calculate the area of a circle. “Pi r squared,” he says.
    His father looks embarrassed, and shocked. Shaking his head gravely, he says, “What are they teaching you, son? Pie are round, son. Cornbread are square.”

π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π π