Category Archives: HeeHee

Newspaper Names: Read all About It!

I sport some newspaper genes. Many of my McArthur ancestors were journalists, my father spent his career producing the very paper on which your daily is printed, and, I, in my small way, write a regular column that appears on newsprint. I remember when there was a morning paper and an evening paper in most towns of any size, and when I first moved to Chicago there were four dailies: The Tribune, the Sun-Times and the Daily News. We’re down to two. (**Edited to mention that the fourth paper was the Chicago Daily Defender.)

But this isn’t going to be one of those nostalgic pieces full of millennial gloom and doom about the disappearance of the daily rags. (I am glad to see my hometown journal,  Le Nouvelliste is still around with all the lurid stories filed under “Faits Divers.”)

Those who know me well know I have a weird kick in my gallop about names. People names, pet names, place names, botanical names, brand names, grocery store names — I roll my tongue around a good name, then store it away in the rental storage unit my brain’s become.  A discovery of a great newspaper name among all those ho-hum Timeses and Posts and Gazettes and Suns and Newses makes me happy, well, forever!

Among the big market papers are some really good names. How about The Cleveland Plain Dealer? I have no idea about the paper’s politics, but it just sounds so solid. So plain. The there are the portmanteau names, where the second word dispenses some character to the blah first word: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Should I ever become a newspaper magnate I’ll rename my paper to include the word Picayune.

In fact, there’s a paper in Texas that I might need to save up some apron money and buy: The Beeville Bee-Picayune. The Rochester, New York daily Democrat and Chronicle has some nice old-fashioned newspaper name heft. But hey, all these guys don’t make the cut, or would have to qualify, to get into the Best Newspaper Name Tournament.

I don’t have to drive but a couple of hours downstate to Bloomington-Normal,( home of the Redbirds!) to find a beaut: The Pantagraph.  Then there’s the Laramie Boomerang — what the heck? The Nome Nugget ? Perfection! I’d love to shake the hand, backward over the years, of the wag who named The Tombstone Epitaph.

Go pour yourself a big fat flute of champagne, stand up, and shake out the folds of your de la Renta gown. Drumroll. Ladies and gentlemen, the award for the best newspaper name in America goes to the Linn, MO Unterrified Democrat!

Do you have any nominations for next year’s ceremony? Or maybe you’re like Lou, who’s been making up names of his own while I’ve been writing this. He likes: The Rockford Files, the St. Paul Epistle, the Ledger Demoines, (yeah, it takes awhile and isn’t that great,) The Lincoln Log and the Aspen Tablet. Send them this way, and we’ll read all about them.


Filed under Collections, Free, HeeHee, History, How Cool is That?, Library Card

Site of the Day:

See dat? Folks are walking through an art gallery enraptured by photos of me and my family. That was in Santa Monica last year, and yes, there’s a seventy dollar catalogue of the show you can buy on line.

Not! It’s an example of the photo mash up fun you can waste weeks at if you call up

Wanna see yourself on a billboard, a stamp, a watercolor sketch, Lara in Dr. Zhivago furhatted, staring out a train window? As Santa Claus? Inserted into a Klimt painting?

On a hundred dollar bill? Made from Lego?  Hee — as the star of one of those dreadful Motivational posters that anyone who’s done time in a cubicle will snarl at till they die?

Now, geeks, I know this is kindergarten stuff — my son-in-law was probably creating things like this in tenth grade. But for the rest of us, it’s so cool to see your picture on a billboard over Times Square!

Have fun.

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Filed under Art, Free, HeeHee, How Cool is That?, Site of the Day

Carjacked by Carl Hiassen

I have more lists going on than Santa gets at Christmas. Preparing for our trip to my Nation’s Capital is never easy, involving as it does: organizing the bucks, renewing prescriptions, mailing off aprons, quality time in the laundry room and at the ironing board, laying in bulk cat food, planning road trip picnics and trying to make the house presentable for our beloved cat sitter, Charlene Simpson. (Hey, Char, Lou painted some kitchen cabinets for you!)

I swung by the library yesterday, to avoid late charges, clutching eight books to my bosom. I dropped three on the floor as I walked to the circulation counter, and my kindly librarian said: “Lady, you need a bag!” She handed me , for free, a cloth Warrenville totebag, which I’ll forget I own next time I go to the libe.  I won’t need it next time I swing by with my returns, because I’ll be toting just  one volume.

The Tom Jones classic “Mama Told Me Not to Go” has been rattling around my brain since I  watched( online) Bristol Palin’s tacky turn on DWTS. I had promised NOT to check out New Releases, because I have enough on my multiple lists that I should avoid any reading except a turn through The New Yorker or Martha Stewart Living.

FAIL! I strolled up to the New Releases and glommed onto the H authors. My God, there it was, as irresistible to me as a pile of horse poop to a Pomeranian.

The new Carl Hiaasen.

I checked it out in a hurry and buried it in my purse so Lou wouldn’t snatch it from my hands as I walked through the door. Carl is addictive as the white powder most of his characters in South Florida inhale as often as Jane Austen’s ladies drink tea. Hiassen is an award-winning journalist for the Miami Herald, a passionate Floridian who mourns the cooption and corruption of his state by real estate sleazeballs, drug dealing, and corruption. A collection of his journalism on Florida is called (one of my fave ever titles) Paradise Screwed.

His over-the-top “crime” novels are what’s got me as hooked as a starlet on Vicodin. They are environmentalist agitprop for south Florida, and the greed and excess it attracts. They always include a cynical good guy, an intelligent woman, a crazed outta control enforcer , and Skink, a mentally ill Viet Nam vet, ex-governor of Florida, with great teeth,and  one eye: an environmental enforcer and road kill gourmet.

Carjacking in Miami is an everyday thing in Hiassen’s novels, and he carjacked my to-do list today. Not entirely: I heard the dryer tumbling as I willingly gave up a day of my life to one of his profane, outta control , hilarious romps. Chemo, the crazer with a weed whacker attached to his stump of an arm, is back. There’s a feisty heroine (Carl likes smart women, always) an obese South Beach paparazzo, a real estate scam, a Brittney/Lindsay clone, press agents, plotting, and lots of roadkill.

Yeah, he kinda made me his literary bitch today, and I loved every minute. I’ll get up earlier tomorrow and tackle that list.


Filed under Books, Free, HeeHee, Library Card

Site of the Day: Hyperbole and a Half

Your bloggiste has a headache, a deadline and a noisy cat who just can’t believe that I refuse to open a fourth can of cat food tonight — that would be two over his dinnertime average. He’s pushing my left elbow with his head as I type, because that usually bends me to his will.  Oh, go eat your Iams kibble!Yeah, him, Ajax.

This is a plea for patience,Dear Reader, a whining roundabout suckup and apology for not writing a proper blog post tonight. But I’ll point you towards a site that’ll entertain you more than I ever could.

You see, when I’m on Facebook, and someone I respect  “likes” something, I’ll check it out. Thank you, John Nguyen, for turning me on to It’s been around for awhile, but I didn’t meet up with Allie and her crazy art, skewed world view, and mad funny writing until yesterday afternoon. Yes, I could have written my column and two blog posts, expanded my apron empire and cleaned the powder room in the time I spent giggling.

It was worth it. Thanks John! Now I’m gonna let the Advil kick in.



Filed under Art, Free, HeeHee, How Cool is That?, Media, Site of the Day

Site of the Day: Passive Aggressive Notes

I had a dream (nightmare?) last night that included employees from every job I’ve ever had. As far as I can remember, we were putting on a talent show and everyone, from Miss Neel at Holt’s, Les Lingelfelter at Unisys, Steve Ligeza at Ameritech Cellular, Joanne Maxwell at Attention!, Brian Speadling at Sprint PCS and Charolette Guilford at Paychex were all on the same page: I was such a loser I couldn’t appear in the talent show.

I hasten to add that these people, in real life, were nice to me. Some are still friends. Some were important role models. If I had an analyst,I’m sure she’d have something deep to say about this, unemployed as I am. For myself, I have no clue.

I’d forgotten about how much I loved those notes attached to the microwaves and fridges in break room kitchens, the screeds in Comic Sans in the Ladies Room. Yesterday, on Facebook, my eGullet buddy Chris Amirault posted a link to this fabulous site. Be prepared to waste at least an hour and ROFL.


Filed under Free, HeeHee, How Cool is That?, Into the Mystic, Media, Site of the Day

Postcards from “The Onion:” More Suburban Dadaism

Do any of my peeps not know The Onion? Its silly, comic, twisted empire started as a giveaway paper, like the humble Village Chronicles where I write about food every two weeks. The Village Chronicles covers small town stuff like city council meetings, the latest 5K Run for something and exposes about local drinking water. Give it a clickity and you’ll have a fair picture of my fair ‘Ville. For those of my readers who live abroad, don’t waste their time on explosive goofiness or are highminded (um, I’m reviewing my buddy list for highminded types — I think a couple of family members qualify) here’s a sample of Onion land.

It would be a dream come true if The Onion staff  guest-edited an issue of Village Chronicles, and trust me, they could put that paper to bed in the time it takes me to write this post.

Because my #1 anti-aging maxim is “Immaturity keeps you young” it will surprise no one that when I spotted a recipe box- styled package of 100 postcards featuring Onion headlines I took it to the cashier without even checking the price. Postcards! The Onion! One hundred Onion postcards! Or as the box reads: “100 rectangular postal cards suitable for the futile act of corresponding with other miserable inhabitants of earth.” Some of you miserable inhabitants have already received one from me — more will find them in their mailboxes. Of course, I’m already trying to figure out how to convert them into Christmas cards, but that might be a challenge too great for even the geekiest card freak — most of the content doesn’t scream “Peace on Earth.”

I figure that in five years I’ll have forty unsent Onion postcards. That would be a shame.

The solution: my further adventures in what I call Suburban Dadaist  Guerillism.

You may have read about my crocheted car antenna sleeves here:

Or my ongoing origami toilet paper campaign in public places here:

Here’s the deal: I’m going to add a short stack of Onion postcards to my purse and quietly slip them under the windshield wipers of unsuspecting citizens on the street where I live, (I’m proud to say one of my crocheted antenna sleeves still adorns a neighbor’s car) the mall parking lot and any other opportunity that arises. I’ll edit the collection, saving the more offensive cards for my near and dear, and choose clean fun silliness for strangers.



I think an anodyne handwritten message  on the back like “Love your Prius!” or “Have fun tonight”! would be a good idea. Or would it be creepy? Nah, I don’t think anyone would be afraid of a stalker that leaves postcards from The Onion.

So why has a  woman in her very very very very very  very (thank you, Garrison Keillor)late  forties become a benignant juvenile delinquent? I suck at self-analysis, but here goes. I have too much time on my hands. My thoughts fly from branch to branch without settling down. I was a serious child, happy but aspirational . The middle kid, or the youngest, is the prankster, never the eldest. But to tie it all into the Cheap and Cheerful mission statement, I think I just wanna have fun, to give others a happy puzzling moment and be a tickled-with-herself practical joker.


Filed under Free, Giveaway, HeeHee, Media, Paper

Free Fun for Everyone: After Dinner Games

Last week when a few units of the family got together in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we were as unplugged as any of us has been since summer camp in the 60s. Yes, we had electricity and hot water so we weren’t roughing it, but we had no radio,television,internet, or cd player. We didn’t get bored:there was stuff to do, conversation, neighbors to visit and a few after-dinner hours whiled away at a blackjack table at a Chippewa casino.

I wonder how long these amusements would have satisfied us if we’d stayed a week longer? I’m guessing the tribe would be winning way too much of our money, and we’d be reduced to sitting in the forest in our respective cars listening to the radio with an after-dinner drink snug in our cupholders.

But not for too many evenings! I would have remembered Parlor Games, the traditional best fun around the table or the campfire since time immemorial. (I like to think about the first homo erectus to sign “Woolly , tusked mammal, eight syllables .) It’s a shame I forgot about games when we were in the UP, because I haven’t had the numbers after dinner to indulge in their competitive goofiness for a couple of years.

Growing up we played parlor games at any largeish family festival, but they were as compulsory as plum pudding at Christmas. They were as compulsory as wearing the paper hat from your cracker throughout dinner and beyond — it doesn’t matter if a guest shows up in head-to-toe Hermes duds, dignity must be sacrificed in the headwear department. Here’s a snap of my family two Christmases ago — have you ever seen a group so focussed on its dinner?

The minute the dishwasher was humming it was all hands herded  to the living room (parlor,if you prefer,) for what my mother called Mandatory Fun. And it was, for every man woman and child, whether stone cold sober or smashed to the eyeballs. Because of age disparities we kept it simple — Charades and Who Am I?, but the hilarity, cheating and cunning that ensued  — the only props being strips of paper, a pencil for all, and dressmaker’s pins  — was epic. A limited repertoire of amusements, but it worked for us.

I own this book and you should too. In fact, I think the government should provide one for every citizen at birth:

Lagoon Books, 1996, and still available at Amazon, new for about two bucks. It’s British, and the editors divided it into four sections: Table Games, Lively Games, Riotous Games, (“”Most are team games and entail a lot of shouting and hullaballoo”) and Late Night Games (“As long as players have some control over their bodies they should enjoy these.”) I’ll offer one new-to-me game per section.

Table Game: After Dinner Speeches : Everyone makes up a speech topic, the sillier the better, writes it on a strip of paper and places it in the proverbial hat.  (I like “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”)One player is ref/ timekeeper. In turn everyone picks a topic and must speak fluently on the subject for one minute. The tricky bit is that the other players can object for repetition, deviation, or hesitation. If the ref agrees, the person calling the penalty takes over the topic. Whoever ends the topic at the minute mark gets two points. Oh, how I’d love to play this with my brother Ian around!

Lively Games: Guess Who? (AKA Analogies) I can see that this could ruffle some tempers. One player chooses another but doesn’t let on. The other players try to guess using analogies: “What kind of flower is she?” What kind of cheese is she?” “If she were a Beatles song, which one?” If you guess right you get to pick next. If you guess wrong, you’re out of the round. You can see the danger here: if you were thinking of me and answered “Skunk cabbage” “Kraft Singles” and “I am the Walrus”I might be a teeny bit hurt. It’s safer played using say, movie stars, but not as much fun.

Riotous Games: I Spy The host has to suspend a blanket over a doorway, leaving a two foot gap at the bottom. One group stays in the room, the other retires behind the door. These folks roll up their trousers or hitch up their skirts and stand behind the blanket in turns. The other team writes down who they think the owner of the legs (or ankles, or feet) is. Points are awarded for correct answers. Then the teams switch.

Riotous Games: Are You There, Moriarty? Rather than typing directly from the book, I present the rules via  Wikipedia:

“Are you there Moriarty? is a parlour game in which two players at a time participate in a duel of sorts. Each player is blindfolded and given a rolled up newspaper to use as a weapon. The players then lie on their fronts head (Note: my book says blindfolded and lying on their backs, which sounds funnier to me)to head with about three feet of space between them The starting player says “Are you there Moriarty?”. The other player, when ready, says “Yes”. At this point the start player attempts to hit the other player with his newspaper by swinging it over his head. The other player then attempts to hit the starting player with his newspaper. The first player to be hit is eliminated from the game and another player takes his place. The objective of the game is to remain in the game as long as possible.

There is a small amount of strategy to the game. In order to avoid being hit, each player may roll to one side or the other. The decision of which direction to roll, or whether to roll at all often determines whether the player is hit by his opponent. A player who can quickly roll out of the way after speaking or striking will have a definite advantage in the game. However, like most parlour games, the appeal of this game largely lies in its spectacle and humor rather than its strategy. “

Whoo hoo ! As my book says: “This is one of those games of almost sublime simplicity which is probably more fun to watch than to perform. It may seem ridiculously simple on the page  but has to be played to be properly appreciated.”

Do any of you play after dinner games? Which great ones have I missed? Be warned: next time you come to dinner I’ll channel my mother and you’ll be in for some Mandatory Fun.


Filed under Free, HeeHee, Holidays, Home, On the Street Where I Live

Fake Food, Site of the Day, and Amigurumi Banana Lucheros

I don’t know what the heck has happened to my right shoulder and my neck. I can’t turn right without screaming. I suspect it’s because I dragged an Ikea bag from the library over my shoulder with a twelve volume thirty  pound payload. It can’t be that I was propped up on my elbow in bed last night tackling the new Elizabeth George, because I’ve been propping and reading in bed since I was seven.

The only checkbox I managed today was Call Patty. Yeow, it hurts.

But even as my shoulder screamed as I leaned over my laptop, I did my minimal  internet strolling. I read the New York Times. I checked in at , my daughter’s tennis site And Rachel’s And Dean’s


And my own secret guilty pleasure: This is a girly site born of the Gawker/Gizmondo Empire, and I think it’s fresh, funny and smart. Their “Midweek Madness” feature, where they read and evaluate the gossip mags is must read hilarity.

Thanks to Jezebel I found this amazing amigurumi pix of crocheted bananas turned Mexican wrestlers. I am in freaking awe.

It’s fake food, it’s funny, it’s irony, it’s felt, it’s crochet and it’s Mexican wrestling. I am not worthy.

So I’m gonna have a glass of wine and try to remember if it’s ice or a heat pad.





Filed under About a buck, Art, HeeHee, How Cool is That?, Site of the Day, Yarn

Toilet Paper Origami: This Guerrilla Girl will be On the Move!

Of course I had to buy this book:

Toilet Paper Origami by Linda Wright. Talk about cheap and cheerful; I worked my way through its pages without using so much as a quarter roll of cheap tp.  Rosebuds, sailboats, bunny rabbits, magnolias, butterflies — so fun to make  –as well as some tailored points. I hope these ghastly pix give you an idea of what can be done in five seconds. (The topography of folded toilet paper is darn hard to catch with a camera;the photos in the book are in black and white, which helps, but they’re not great.)

Can you see the origami diamond atop the point? I like this.

This is harder to see, but with a squint and some imagination can you make out the tuxedo pleats?

This book is aimed at the hospitality industry: “Hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, Cruise Ships” and, oh yeah “Creative Housekeepers.” I don’t fit into any of those categories. The only thing I have in common with those groups is that we all stock toilet paper. But this book has opened a brave new world of cheap and cheerful guerrilla giggles.(Yes, I’m still slipping pompomed crochet sleeves over random car antennas:)

Let’s put it this way: I will never again leave a ladies’s loo without  cheering up the end of every roll I can manage without discovery. And I mean every cubicle, not justthose at the Art Institute or Neimen – Marcus. In fact, the more unexpected the locale, the better — Walgreen’s, the grocery store, the library, a dive bar like the Old Town Ale House. My biggest tp folding fantasy is to somehow find one of the huge, gloomy Little Girls’s Rooms at O’Hare empty so I can nip into cubicle after cubicle folding each flapping end into a bunny rabbit.

That would take time. Then I started to think about adding a package of stickers to the antenna cozies in my purse. I could fold the classic Holiday Inn point and decorate it!

Or even leave an upbeat handwritten message:

I’ve always liked serendipity with a snippet of silly surprise. My pranks come in peace. Would you be freaked out if the roll in the restroom at Arby’s ended with a magnolia in full 2-ply bloom? Or will you consider joining my Toilet Paper Paratroopers? Men would be especially welcome — there are places even I can’t go!


Filed under Free, HeeHee, Home, Origami, Paper

Guerrilla Needlecraft: The Secret Life of an Antenna Tagger

Late at night, after my neighbor’s lights are out, I troll the streets armed only with a handful of fabric or crocheted yarn looking for a likely vehicle —  one that still has a radio antenna. I (carefully)slip one of my exclusive, hand-wrought, goofy sleeves over the aerial and run home giggling like a loon.

My name is Flowerbomba and I’m a suburban antenna tagger. (All us fabric guerillas use an alias.)

What in Sam Hill has come over me? Why is a respectable law-abiding woman spending time making objects like this and slipping them on unknown cars and SUVs while ‘Villians are drifting off to whatever late night show peeps are watching these days?

Well, it’s cheap. Like most knitters, crocheters and seamstresses, I have a boatload of weird ends of yarn, fabric scraps in acreage sufficient to mop up a major environmental disaster, stray buttons and a dozen fabric origami flowers and yoyos crowding the sewing basket.

It keeps me cheerful, and my hands always itch for a small, brainless, soothing project to keep them busy, like crocheting a few rows with fuzzy white yarn. and then hand sewing them into a tube. Um, and then decorating it with found trims.

I had a design breakthrough today! Check out the shocking pink dealio with little yoyos that’ll flutter in the wind:

Today’s other only decorated sleeve is the pink floral topped by a Japanese fabric flower and a button. I’ll dress up a couple of the others and leave the rest plain — they’ll slip into my purse for daylight wrapping, at the library parking lot perhaps, or the Police Station. I did see one minivan pull out of the grocery store with my calico tag still in place.

(Note: Please don’t call them Car Condoms — grrrrr! — or comment on their phallic shape. If antennas were pyramidal,the covers would be too. )

Then there’s the HeeHee Rush Factor — it’s the same adrenaline high of soaping someone’s windows or slapping a Kick Me sign on a fellow third-grader’s back with none of the malevolence or meanness. For the first time in my life I understand the motives of those middle-class arty teens with spray paint.

I’m a little afraid of what form of self-expression I’ll take up next. I wish I were young enough to find a road work job that would pay huge overtime and root out any of my mental moonbeams from sheer fatigue. Until then, remember my nom do guerre: that’s Flowerbomba, Homies!


Filed under Art, Free, HeeHee, On the Street Where I Live, Yarn