Friday, January 27, 2012


Sometimes I like to look at my blogger stats just to chuckle at the keyword searches that bring unsuspecting folks to my blog. Most of these probably bounce out again, but it's fun to see all the varied subjects. Here are some I've gathered over this past month...

faberge..........................................................[it's this]

shadow the face with lamp on the paper................[this

1930's hollywood images................................[not sure]

lady weeping funny.........................................[not sure]

drawing of couples on a boat..............................[nope] 

eighteenth century duck......................................[um?]

a taste of the frozen moment..........................[ok, lots] 

fred astaire costume...................................[must be this]

[and the image that that unsuspecting person found...]

 snowflakes on windows.......................[well, there's this.]
...................................................................[and this]

how do i groom down there..................................[uh]
...........................[i have to thank b. frayn masters for that one...]

constructivist poster lenin...................................[this]
..............................................[one of my favorite displays]

world ends mayan banner..............................[no idea]

body benne girl...........................................[hmm...]

And most popular of all:

woman jumping out of cake......................................

woman out of cake....................................................

girl jumping out of cake...............................................

naked woman jumping out of cake...............................

naked cake woman.....................................................

girl naked calendar ....................................................

girls jumping out of kakes..........................................

[undoubtedly the biggest reason for hits on my blog. there are a million people out there looking for pictures of women jumping out of cakes. most of them are probably disappointed to find out that it's something to read, and more than half are probably disappointed to find out that the picture isn't that naked. the piece is here.]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a taste of the frozen moment: HOW TO DISSOLVE

[the book is THE FROZEN MOMENT. the publication date was DECEMBER 17th. here's a little TASTE of one of the stories...]

HOW TO DISSOLVE by Christine Calfas

the dark asked me to marry him this week, and i said yes. i kissed him on the mouth, and a sweet musky taste came on my tongue. like earth. wet earth.

[Christine Calfas is a professional actor, performance artist and singer. She also writes. See her in the film noir short: THE BIG BLACK DARK by Brian Padian. You can follow her work at ]

The Frozen Moment can be ordered through Publication Studio here or in person at Publication Studios in Portland, Oregon, Berkeley, California, Vancouver, BC, Toronto, Ontario, and someplace the Publication Studio website calls the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor. In Portland, look for the anthology also in select bookstores, including Powell's City of Books.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

frozen moment reading night

It was another lovely reading, last night, for The Frozen Moment. I was a little worried about the snow, of course, since we in Portland get a little nuts with any bit of a dusting, but we had a good turn-out. EAT at Crow Arts Manor is a cool spot for a reading. The event space is a nook just off from the bar and tables, so you have the best of both worlds - refreshment without too much noisiness. In our nook, we had church pews set up facing the stage [plus a tiny plastic children's set of table and chairs, which I kind of wanted to sit in] and great swaths of orange fabric swagged overhead.

Editor Colin Farstad was all stylish in suit coat and tie, giving everyone a sweet and personal and sometimes funny intro. I was first in the lineup, and as I stepped up on stage, there was a sudden scuffle of techs trying to figure out why we were getting that awful buzz from the speakers. I stood there at the podium. Someone in the audience called out, "entertain us!" I leaned into the mic and sang, "Let me entertain you..." and got a little laugh but was smart enough to not keep going. Colin stood and said, "Shall we do a song and dance?" and for one crazy moment, I thought he was serious, that we should think of something to sing. My impulse to sing in public is always so great that if I get an opportunity, even a teeny one like this, my brain goes blank of all the songs in the world. Tom Spanbauer was sitting right there in the front row, and at a recent party he and I did a lovely, if awkward duet of Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, but then Colin said, "I don't know how to dance," and I said "check, check, check" into the mic and some guy turned a dial, and the buzzing quieted.

I read the first ten minutes of my story "Book Club." Had a nice reaction from the audience, some good laughs. I loved that I'd been chosen to go first, because then I got to sit back down, relax and just watch the show...

Elva Redwood, all punk elegant in gown and feather boa with her bangs spiked up. British accent, saying the one thing you need to do is suspend your disbelief and picture that her narrator comes from Southern California. Reading slow and smooth - her voice matching her steamy-dreamy language - about a young woman's down-deep reaction to the baby inside her.

It was one of those nights I got pregnant. I know exactly when it was because it was my mistake.

Us awake in the late night. In the tacked on bedroom of our cabin, far from the wood stove. Hearing Doug fir and sugar pines, long feathery arms brush the roof. Big sops of snow slipping down. 

Holly Goodman reading her entire story, an intensely personal piece that got me choked up by about halfway in and left me in a bit of a state by the end. It's beautifully constructed and elegantly crafted, but it's also very close - to the hard time in my own life.

All of us standing at the ticket counter, checking luggage, but him not going. 

Security is the end of the line for Sam.

"I love you," he says. "I wish I was going."

He's hugging and I'm not hugging back.

"I know," I say.

I can't say I wish he was going too.

"That's it?" he says. "You know?"

He's crying into the glass wall of a newsstand, head against the window, when I look back, and I hate myself.  

Nora Robertson pulling me back into my body with two poems from her series Body-Making Cookery, a lush and visceral collection of poetry that explores the ties between food and sex, fertility, personal history, human connection, desire, belief... She read "Sun Tea," which is featured in The Frozen Moment, and "How to Boil an Egg," which was nominated for a Push Cart Prize and expanded into the short film The Body Show in 2010.

I would run my hands over and over my belly. I imagined it taut. I imagined the nine months of waiting, of growing rounder. I didn't care anymore about the kids who avoided me at passing time and or whether my thighs were too chubby. I whispered to myself, I am strong and I can give birth. On my futon, cradled in the lush black, I had a dream that a thousand small frogs tumbled from between my legs in a rush of gray-green water, tiny and writhing.

Kathleen Lane opening the second half after an interlude of music, with one of my all-time favorite short stories, "In the Jetway," which starts with one of the funniest first lines ever and then shoots out transcendent and keeps going. I could talk forever about the quirky greatness of her voice, but I won't. I'll let it speak for itself:

Right now, I could lick that bald man's neck. I could just stick my tongue out and lick that man's neck and no one could stop me.

A person could just lick another person's neck.

The bald man would probably jump a little, that's probably what he'd do. He'd probably whip around and look at me.

Did you just lick me, he'll say, more loudly than necessary because I'm standing right there. And I'll say, yes, I did lick you, because it would be a difficult thing to deny. 

[did you see what she did, there, with her verbs? how she went from i could to i would to i will? masterful.]

Gage Mace giving us an excellent impersonation of JFK in his intro and then launching into his piece with a dramatic flair. Reading about the disconnect between a father and a son, giving us, at least in this part of the story, a kid narrator - funny, real, without cutesy sentimentality. It's hard to write "kid," and Gage has got it down.

I'd been begging for a bicycle since first grade, but Mom and Dad wouldn't let me have one until I was eight. I kept telling them I'd been ready since before I was seven, but Dad said to stop asking or I wouldn't get one even when I was eight. But eight lasted a whole year, and my birthday went by with no bicycle.

Kevin Meyer, up on stage with his iPad, ready to read electronically until he realized the print was too small and had to grab a copy of the book. Power of voice [that confidence, that edge of dry wit, that sense of simple inevitability] pulling us from the announcement of a death, through the plane ride home, almost through a doggy door, and stopping just short of the blood.

Daniela's father, my father-in-law, died the kind of alone that left his body dead on the floor of his laundry room for two days before he was found. Wednesday, sometime in the morning, they think, he hit his head, bled to death. It wasn't until Friday we found out.

and further [when they find out]:

Daniela pinched her phone between her ear and her shoulder. She drank the glass of wine in one chug, then poured herself another. Tipped the bottle damn near upside down, and the wine came out in gasps that splashed purple on the tablecloth.

Christine Calfas rounding out the evening with two offerings. First a vocal performance from her one-woman show "Sounding Hecate," which she sang, accompanying herself on harmonium, her sweet, clear voice and her lyrics doing a lovely, languid dance around one, long droning note. Then her poem from The Frozen Moment, which is deep, dark and lucious.

an ancestor whispered in my ear. she huffed. blew smoke from her pipe. in norway it snows for months and the dark eats her family up, the dark swallows her house, and they live in its belly like a winter whale.

what a world of fools is this. none of us knows now to die.

Great turnout, great readings, great evening. Plus, I got to see lots of family and friends, got to meet an e-friend and fellow writer I'd been looking forward to meeting for a long time, got to do a little signing of the book, and at the end of things, a woman came up to me and told me how much she'd particularly loved my piece.

...Then the woman started talking all about narrators licking people's necks, but I didn't tell her she'd gotten the wrong brunette.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

a moment in the day: mane

I walk Nicholas in the Portland snow. When I woke up, it was fairy tale snow with big confetti flakes, but now it's just a shaker of salt. Snow used to be another of the games I played. Snow was a contract with a circus we wanted to work for or a favorable letter in the mail from a literary agent or a promise that, if that letter in the mail was just another of those tiny pre-printed slips, at least sometime in the future what I wanted was going to happen.

It was an easy game, because at the time I lived in Wisconsin.

I've been trying lately to wash all of those games out of my head, but when I saw the snow, first thing this morning, I had to stop myself and remind myself that snow is snow is snow.

Nicholas doesn't think anything of the bits of ice falling from the sky, just walks down the sidewalk, sniffing. The streets are wet. The only place the snow is sticking is in the black mane of the tiny toy horse tied to the hitching ring at the edge of the sidewalk.

a dream of reading

Morning of the second Frozen Moment reading. I dreamed the reading took place in a church. After some of the contributors had read, the thing had turned into some sort of open mic reading, and it had gone on so long, the audience was leaving. Now there was just a scatter in the pews. I hadn't read yet and Kevin Meyer, all the way from San Francisco, hadn't read yet, and there was a woman on stage talking in a long monotone with words I didn't understand.

She started walking down the side aisle, still reading, getting quieter and quieter like the fadeout of a song, and everyone started applauding, but she said, back at her seat now, "I'm not done yet!"

But she was, and she got up and put her whole hand on top of my head and said, "I want her to read next."

Up on stage, I somehow had decided to read from one of my children's books instead. The lights were in my eyes. I looked down at the [blue-purple] fingers of my hand and wondered why I couldn't see the words written there. I tried to recite from memory. I looked up and Kevin was gone.

a taste of the frozen moment: BOOK CLUB

[the book is THE FROZEN MOMENT. the publication date is DECEMBER 17th. here's a little TASTE of one of the stories...]

OK, so I keep forgetting to do one for myself. Here's a piece of my story Book Club.

I figured the whole thing with the affair was okay, because, when it came down to it, I wasn’t doing it for myself.

Kimbo was the one who wanted the sex.  Oh, I’m not saying I didn’t get anything out of it, but mostly I was doing it for him.  He really, really wanted it, and I didn’t like disappointing people.

That day, I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed either.  It was a Monday, of course, and he was always better on Mondays than on Thursdays.  Sometimes I thought about asking him why he was good on Mondays, but I figured that would be like saying he wasn’t good on Thursdays, so I didn’t.  I just lay back against the lumpy mattress of the fold-out couch—he liked using his fold-out couch because, he said, that way he wouldn’t be disturbed by dreams of yearning for me when he slept alone in his bed at night.  Now, he lay long down the length of the mattress, tipped up on one side, elbow in the pillow and his chin in his hand in a way that said his smile was so heavy he had to concentrate to keep his head held up.

Kimbo looking at me, Kimbo beautiful in the way I figured that guy who played Alfalfa was probably beautiful when he grew up—little boy eyes and too many freckles.

“So, here’s what we do,” he said.  “We seal our secret love with a tattoo.”

I'll will be reading along with contributors Kevin Meyer, Kathleen Lane, Christine Calfas, Gage Mace, Nora Robertson, Dian Greenwood, Elva Redwood and Holly Goodman at Crow Arts Manor on January 15th. You can also order The Frozen Moment through Publication Studio here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

the north plan

So, there was a moment somewhere in the middle of The North Plan where I laughed that kind of laugh that shoots out of your mouth and echoes over the heads of the people in front of you and you miss the next couple lines because you're thinking about how embarrassed your husband is.

I want to admit that as we were sitting in the theater waiting for the show to start, as I was reading the Director's Notes in the program*, and Rose Riordan wrote that, "the unleashing of the character Tanya Shepke will go down in PCS history," I thought, oh no. I thought,  this is going to be some overdrawn, overacted, overblown caricature who everyone's going to think is hilarious and who's going to get on my nerves. Nothing against Rose Riordan; anytime a character is lauded like that, I get ready to be annoyed. But she was thoroughly enjoyable. Total off the wall ADD motormouth, shooting f bombs with perfect timing. When she was hilarious right away, I thought, OK, when's this going to wear thin, and it didn't wear thin.

Kate Eastwood Norris as Tanya Shepke. So good. [you can't see it, but perfect costume too.] [oh, i just realized she's flipping off the camera in this picture...]

  I laughed through the whole show. All the characters were funny in their own way, all had this great mix of ridiculous and real. The writing was so smart, and the actors each were so good, there was such - again - pitch perfect timing. One of my favorite moments was a great deadpan back and forth between Tim True [always love him in PCS productions] and Ashley Everage in which he said ___ and she said ___ - oh, heck, I hate spoilers. Just go watch it. The play is a modern screwball comedy about conspiracy theories and renegade government, and going into it, I worried that I'd get lost in the plot-line, that I'd have to remember and interpret all sorts of complex and convoluted twists. When the pace of the show seemed so fast right off the bat, I again worried that I'd get lost in things. But in the end, it's a simple plot and the candy in this particular show is its craft. The thing you're sitting there devouring and loving is the craft of the writing, the craft of the acting, the craft of direction.

Brian Patrick Monahan as Carlton Berg. Just enough edge of panic in his portrayal that you were reminded that, as the conspiracy theory guy, he might be crazy. [who set up these pictures? i love how his eye is looking at the camera.]

 At intermission, I told Stephen that now was the time you had to worry if the show was going to jump the shark. All the set up was smart and hilarious, but as the plot started gathering steam and winding toward its conclusion, it might start to strain and become the wrong kind of ridiculous. There was a moment just as the second half started, when Tanya entered the scene, where a few lines were an expected kind of funny, but then it took off again, and new particular, funny characters were introduced, and things were different enough to be fresh.

If I had to take issue with anything in the play, I could take issue with the ending - it was definitely audacious but was it right or wrong for ___ to ___ and then for ___to  ___? I wasn't completely sure. Stephen and I left questioning and discussing, and in the end, isn't that what you want to do as you're leaving the theater? I'd love to hear what others think of the ending, and I'd highly recommend the show. It's at Portland Center Stage through February 5.

*Can I mention that I love the PCS always includes a couple features in their program - the Director's Notes and at least one background article about the show? When I go to plays at other theaters and don't get this extra stuff in the program, I'm always disappointed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

a moment in the day: green star

I get on the elevator with my cart. The cart is empty now but for the last month or two it’s been sitting in the middle of my workspace full of holiday detritus - bits of garland, holiday shelf talkers, wrapping paper rolls. All through the holidays, the cart and the empty holiday decoration boxes, all the clutter have been making my brain feel itchy, but now that the decorations are down and packed away and I’m getting it all out of my workspace, I feel a little sad. At the place where the top shelf of the cart meets the wooden back, the crease is scattered with tiny bits of tinsel and a single green foil star.

There’s one other person on the elevator, a young guy wearing a bright green t-shirt and looking at his cell phone. He looks up and smiles like you do when you forget you’re supposed to avoid people’s eyes on elevators.

“Having a good workday?” he says.

“Yes,” I say, and pick up the green foil star. “I found a star.”

“Nice,” he says.

“It matches your shirt,” I say. “You should have it.” I reach the star out.

“Hey, thanks,” he says, and takes it. The doors open, and he leaves the elevator, looking at the star on his finger.


It wasn't late, but it was dark. Nicholas had the leash on the woman with the lap, and he was leading her down the sidewalk.

Up ahead a Christmas tree lay on its side at the edge of the road. Nicholas stopped short, sniffing. Even on its side, the Christmas tree was much taller than Nicholas, much bulkier, much pointier, but Nicholas put up his hackles and lowered his head and growled his most menacing.

The Christmas tree lay in the shadows, quiet but ready.

a taste of the frozen moment: DISCONNECT

[the book is THE FROZEN MOMENT. the publication date is DECEMBER 17th. here's a little TASTE of one of the stories...]

DISCONNECT by Holly Goodman

I’m on the #75 bus with Baby Lila smelling like a pancake breakfast beside me the morning The Zone slips its hot little hands around my phone and ganks it clean out of my pocket. Way I was always losing things Sam used to say I had a Zone of my own, a personal wormhole that sucked in my things and spit them back at me ages after I stopped needing or wanting or looking for them. Said there was meaning in the things it took and if I listened close I’d get the message. The last three years of our marriage, I wished it would open up and suck him in.

Never came through for me, though. I had to end it the old fashion way with therapists and texts and a double-long U-Haul in the driveway. I got a new apartment for me and the girls and we got to know city bus schedules down to the minute.

Weekdays the #75 runs every 15.

[Holly Goodman lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Her short stories, essays and reporting have appeared in The Journal, Literary Mama, and various magazines and newspapers. She is a past winner of The Journal's Alumni Flash Fiction writing contest and is currently at work on her first novel.] 

Holly will be reading along with contributors Kevin Meyer, Kathleen Lane, Gage Mace, Nora Robertson, Dian Greenwood, Elva Redwood and Gigi Little at Crow Arts Manor on January 15th. You can also order The Frozen Moment through Publication Studio here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

a taste of the frozen moment: THE HOLE

[the book is THE FROZEN MOMENT. the publication date is DECEMBER 17th. here's a little TASTE of one of the stories...]

THE HOLE by Gage Mace

Dad had a Hole he carried around in him and passed on to me and my brother and sister. It was kind of an heirloom, handed down from generation to generation. A cold, black, raging Hole that was a prison with enough empty space to trick you into thinking it was freedom.

[Gage has been a broadcaster, visual artist, and teacher besides being a writer, and has held every kind of day job from limo driver to museum guard. He is a member of Tom Spanbauer's Dangerous Writers group and is hard at work finishing his first novel, The Big Happy Later On.]

Gage will be reading along with contributors Kevin Meyer, Kathleen Lane, Holly Goodman, Christine Calfas, Nora Robertson, Dian Greenwood, Elva Redwood and Gigi Little at Crow Arts Manor on January 15th. You can order The Frozen Moment through Publication Studio here. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

a taste of the frozen moment: YOU SAID BOY

[the book is THE FROZEN MOMENT. the publication date is DECEMBER 17th. here's a little TASTE of one of the stories...]

YOU SAID BOY  by Tori Malcangio

You were hardly showing that day. The minor bump under your t-shirt could have easily been mistaken for a large meal. Though at five months along, you’d probably already Googled “Down syndrome” every morning, every night, every moment the reality grew physically intolerable. I imagine you let your long fingers tap, tap out the two words on your keyboard because it was the closest thing to regurgitating them. In your desperate search did you secretly hope to run across an herb or yoga pose to stop the Syndrome, wherever it was at that point, and hold him steady at almost, not quite full-blown Downs?  Though at that point, everything had already been cast in flesh and bone. 

[Tori Malcangio is a freelance advertising copywriter, mom, cereal expert, ninja, etc. in San Diego. Current Pushcart Prize nominee; Winner of 2010 Waasmode Fiction Prize; Finalist in 2010 Iowa Review Fiction Contest. Publications: ZYZZYVA; Passages North; Smokelong Quarterly; Pearl Magazine; Literary Mama; The Reader; and more. Story forthcoming in Cream City Review. MFA candidate at Bennington College. Oh, the mom blog that's anything but:]

Tori and fellow The Frozen Moment contributors Nicole Vollrath, Andrew Printer and Judy Reeves will read from the Anthology on Sunday, January 21, at The Ink Spot in San Diego. Publication date for The Frozen Moment anthology is December 17th. You can order books through Publication Studio here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

new year's picture

And one more picture, to finish up my last post. Actually, this doesn't completely belong, as it was taken after midnight on January first.

We spent New Year's just the two of us, doing what we like to do. Champagne and good food and a movie. For me, the food was cheese. For me the food is always cheese. A bit of delice de Bourgogne, (more than a bit) (and then more), a bit of mimolette, a bit of morbier. Stephen had two things. The first was bacon-wrapped steak. The second was bacon. Oh, and plantain chips. The champagne was two kinds. Cava, actually, for most of the watching of the movie and Veuve Clicquot for the New Year's toast. We opened the Veuve Clicquot at the start of the movie to be ceremonious, had a toast and a glass, and then saved another glass for the end. [hmm, that sounds like we drank two bottles. i want to go on record saying we didn't finish either.]

The movie was Yankee Doodle Dandy, the James Cagney biopic of George M. Cohan. Maybe it seems like a better movie for the Fourth of July, but the pageantry of musicals is always good for New Year's Eve, and there's nothing like ringing out the old year with James Cagney tap-dancing down the White House steps.

I like to play a game where the image that's on the screen when we clink glasses for a New Year's kiss is going to represent the coming year. I did it last year and got Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing cheek to cheek. [wrote about it here.] This year, this is what Stephen and I got.

If you look close, in the foreground are two glasses of the good stuff, and in the background are Cagney and costar Joan Leslie as an old couple drinking tea.

Two toasts for 2012. If you wanted to interpret this image, you might look at the whole film and note that in this moment this couple is looking back on a lifetime of accomplishments and about to embark on their greatest accomplishment of all. Or you might note that they're two old people drinking tea. Either way, it's cozy.