Slow leak kind of week

If you find yourself saying “psshhhht” a little too much throughout the day, you might want to check your psi. Turns out I just had a screw in my tire. Pep Boys patched it for free.

Word of the day for Thursday, October 16th

Looking through 1860’s A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words is a great way to waste a large amount of time. You’ll learn that a bitch party is merely a tea party, cheesy used to be a good thing, and there have always been lots of words for drunkenness, prostitutes and money. My favorite words in the book, however, are the ones that are slang for something that you don’t see much of these days. To wit,

Glitter Texta “mush faker.” That’s an itinerant umbrella repairer. “Mush” was short for mushroom, which was slang for umbrella, and I guess a faker is somebody who patches something up so it works all right. That’s all well and good. The thing about this, though, is that there used to be guys going from town to town fixing umbrellas. That is a high level of specialization. That’s like being a person who fixes the end of your shoelaces (the aglet, you know), and he only sets up shop at train stations. Sure, if this was the only thing you did all day you’d get really good at it, but variety, spice of life and whatnot. Maybe this is why I’ve never seen a mush faker. I sure hope I don’t break my umbrella any time soon.

Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Animal Farm

Some animals are more equal than others. Those are probably the one that get more lollipops and terrycloth polo shirts.


I’m pretty sure this came to my attention via the proprietor of filledwithchocolatepudding
Published in: on October 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I am the rat king, I can do anything

Henry. Code name Kiké. Escaped from Solano and is back on the mean streets where he learned to keep running. HENRY. Eight pounds of tan wire hair and survival skills. Go see Henry, The Rat King. Rated PG-13 for language and intense situations.


Published in: on October 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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999 hoppy haunts

My young ward and I were walking about the neighborhood recently when we noticed something interesting happening at Bunnybury – the house with the hundreds of rabbit figurines in the yard. Mainly, there were no more rabbits. There were, however, quite a number of ghouls and ghosts and skeletons and such.

Note young ward’s tongue lolling about in terror. Wow. What happened to all the rabbits?

Oh, there’s a couple. They look terrified. I guess I would be too if I found myself in this unsettling landscape. Maybe they had been invited to a wedding

or had season tickets for basketball

in their formerly pleasant hamlet and nobody bothered to tell them that their world had suddenly turned into Night of the Undead Lepus. Or something. I guess those don’t really look like rabbit skeletons. Maybe just the ghosts are rabbits. Regardless, pretty darned scary.


Fancy notions, Gilbert and Sullivan edition

You know me. About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news, with many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse. But one thing I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do is count the number of items this neighborhood notions store French General has on its shelves. Fabric and ribbons and antique bingo cards and umbrella charms. Beads and buttons and little bits of chain. There are just too many things. Infinity plus one things.

I’m rather proud of myself for not buying a lot of stuff there, but as soon as I got home I felt the need to offer up a Fancy Notion  here, and now I’m worried that this is my subconscious trying to make rationalizations: “If I get rid of these thing here, I can buy ten umbrella charms.” What am I going to do with ten umbrella charms? Of course, this is what started the blog – the irrational collection of things like ten umbrella charms.

So anyway, let’s not worry about my subconscious and get to what I’m offering today: ten carved wooden buttons.


I don’t know what kind of wood they are. Teak? Monkeypod? Something. the big ones are 1 1/2″ in diameter and the smaller ones are 1 1/8″ in diameter. The quarter is there for comparison; you don’t get the quarter if you get the buttons. You never get the quarter.

If you would like these notions for a project of yours, just write in to the comments section. The first person to write in that can explain why someone would rhyme “animal and mineral” with “modern major-general” gets the notions sent to them free of charge.


Driving around today, I saw a license plate holder that was supposed to say “Failure Is Not An Option” but it was broken so it only said “Failure Is Not,” and then I saw a bumper sticker that was supposed to say “There Is No Excuse For Elder Abuse” but it was faded so it only said “There Is No Excuse.” For a while I thought the cosmos were trying to tell me something about cowardice or laziness or the importance of carpe dieming, and then when I was almost home I saw these mattresses:

Hm. Now I’m quite confused.



Etiquette & superstition: flannel

Flannel is one of those words that starts looking funny the more you look at it. Flannel. Shouldn’t flannel be a dessert? A soft dessert? I can’t find any evidence that there is such a flannel dessert. The word “flannel” is derived from the Welsh word “gwlanen,” which I guess is also funny looking, but that doesn’t sound like a very good dessert at all to me.

ETIQUETTE: Flannel used to be one of those confusing fabrics where it seemed like it would be appropriate for winter wear just like flannel sheets and nightgowns, but it was actually used more often for tennis outfits and white suits that men would wear to garden parties. Suddenly around the mid-20th century or so, however, flannel stopped being primarily identified as a sporty fabric for summer gadabouts and started aligning its character with the conformist businessman. Geoffrey Beene even named a men’s fragrance Grey Flannel.

Regardless of this current identity, flannel is an excellent fabric that keeps one warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and if you don’t take your fashion cues from the Urban Dictionary, you should consider wearing it in seasonal-appropriate colors and weight whenever you like. Think of the wondrous thing that is summer-weight wool.

SUPERSTITION: If you want to cure gout, smear the afflicted foot with treacle and wrap it in flannel. Hard breasts can be remedied by applying mashed turnips mixed with rose oil to the breasts and keeping the area warm with a flannel wrap. If you wish to attract love, put a lock of your hair, a heart-shaped piece of dried lemon peel, and a piece of dried ginseng root into a pink or red flannel bag. Dedicate the bag to your purpose and wear it from a gold chain around your neck.

Photo of Stinging Flannel Moth Caterpillar by Andreas Kay on Flickr

Slapping the pigskin

It always confuses me when anthropomorphized animals have other animals as pets or livestock. Why does Richard Scarry’s Kathy Bear have to feed the pigs? If she put a bowtie on her pigs, could they feed themselves? What would happen to Flip the Frog’s football game here if a similar bowtie adornment occurred?

Published in: on September 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A retraction

Polly Bergen died over the weekend, and this gave me a little more impetus to scour through my library to try to find my copy of Polly Bergen’s Book of Beauty, Fashion and Charm. Lo and behold, I did indeed find it, and while I was looking for a tidbit in the book to perhaps help with a Polly Bergen tribute post, I discovered that 1) there was very little in the book about charm, other than the ersatz “charm” I was subjected to in charm school (posture, makeup, walking and talking), and 2) in an earlier Polly Bergen post here on Fancy Notions I completely mischaracterized her remedy for sunburn. I must make amends.

Dear readers, Polly Bergen did not recommend applying “the thickest globs of milk of magnesia to your skin” to relieve your sunburn and avoid peeling. That is just absurd. She recommended that for shrinking one’s pores. For sunburn, Polly’s solution was to “Mash a few tomatoes into about a cup of buttermilk and spread it on your damaged skin like a paste.” There you have it.

My apologies, Polly and readers, for the error. My additional thanks to Polly for providing the world with this image in her chapter on fashion:

Invisible ladies and invisible hovering poops. Or maybe that’s just an invisible party hat. The guy does look a few sheets to the wind.

Published in: on September 23, 2014 at 5:34 pm  Comments (2)  
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