7 Things For 7 Days 7/10/20

Words, pictures, music and random ephemera that guided me through the week


My current favorite weekly newsletter comes from Austin Kleon. Every Friday he shares ten things that he’s found remarkable, noteworthy and wonderful over the past week. I discover new books, music and ideas with each issue. His book, Show Your Work!, motivated me to share some things I’ve loved this past week. It’s a great opportunity to jumpstart my sad, ittle blog. I tip my hat to his great taste and good advice and thank him for his inspiration.


These two 70s albums by Miles Davis are stunning in their breadth and musical daring. Both find Miles in the fiery jazz-rock fusion period that divided fans then and now. 1971’s Live-Evil is half live/half studio and a continuation of the journey he began with In a Silent Way. While Live-Evil is adventurous, it is still accessible. Dark Magus is in a class by itself. Recorded in 1974 at Carnegie Hall, Magus is loud, confrontational, soaring and searing. The record features four largely improvised two-part tracks named for the Swahili numbers one through four (Moja, Wili, Tatu, Nne). Here his jazz-rock palette expands to include funk and plenty of random dissonance. It’s mindblowing.


On another jazz note, Kottke.com tipped me to a lost Thelonious Monk live album recorded at a Palo Alto high school in 1968 that will soon be released. That story on its own is remarkable, but when I dug around for a little more information I discovered that Monk spent the last several years of his life just up the road in Weehawken. He was taken in by an heiress of the Rothschild family, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who was a huge benefactor to the jazz community. She and Monk had quite a history together. I’ve run past the house many times without realizing the story behind the walls.


One of my recent work projects included the 2016 movie with Bryan Cranston. In my research I discovered it was based on a 2008 short story by Ragtime and Billy Bathgate author, E.L. Doctorow. I found the story in The New Yorker and loved the tale of a high-powered lawyer descending into madness. The film is faithful to the story and Bryan Cranston brings a knockout performance to a movie that happens almost wholly in the deteriorating mind of the protagonist. My advice is to start with the story, then watch Cranston bring it to life.


Tom Breihan of Stereogum writes one of the best music columns right now. He is reviewing “every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958.” Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday he goes deep on one song’s background, merits and historical context in an effort to understand why a particular track became the biggest song in the country. Plus, he rates all of them on a scale from 1-10. While I may not always agree with every assessment, I look forward to each installment. Right now he’s trapped in 1983 working his way back to the future. Let’s hope he can keep this Herculean effort going. Like so many online outlets Stereogum is fighting to keep the business afloat. If you’re interested you can lend a hand right here.


I am at a loss as to how to describe the supreme weirdness of EXP TV, a new streaming site that has me mesmerized. Perhaps a 1979 post-punk version of Robot Chicken might be the closest I can get and I am still miles away. Dangerous Minds called it a “freaktastic new video channel (that) will rip your face off and eat your brain.” Combining old commercials, chunks of forgotten low budget movies, bits and pieces of public access tv, insane music videos and so much more amazing cultural detritus, it’s a mind boggling random acid barrage of words, images and music.


A week ago the two masks I ordered finally arrived and this week I scored one at my local Fleet Feet. I am thrilled to hide my aging mug behind masks honoring Sonic Youth’s Sonic Nurse and Dave Pell’s always incisive and insightful NextDraft. It may be summer and it’s easy to forget that there are 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day. Cover that beautiful face, please.

***Bonus Thing***


I love sweet cereal, but I try to avoid it. It’s far too easy to destroy a box in one sitting, leaving me in a stupor of bloat, sugar buzz and self loathing. It took half a lifetime to find the answer. For the past few months I’ve been enjoying the loopy goodness from cereal disruptor Magic Spoon and their high protein, low sugar, low carb cereals, It’s mail order only and not inexpensive, yet when I unload those bright, cartoonish boxes I forget the cost and dig in. My three year old is a big fan as well. Excuse me while we share a box and live to tell the tale.

Enjoy the weekend and I will be back bext week with more stuff that made my week special.

Last Day Of Fourth Grade

I love to make up ridiculous stories for my daughter. She has had a fantastic sense of humor since she was a baby and has been arching her eyebrows and rolling her eyes for almost as long. Her last day of school was earlier this week and I made this story up on our walk that morning. It is silly and over the top, but thought I would post it just for fun. You only get to finish fourth grade once unless you are really lucky!

that crazy kid

Once upon a time there was a girl who didn’t get killed in an earthquake. She avoided being bitten by poisonous snakes. Fire didn’t engulf her whole school. There hadn’t been a major explosion lately. Even the serial killers had stayed far, far away. As a matter of fact she had managed to escape most of fourth grade with only a scraped knee, a bump on her head and a couple of mosquito bites.

But it was almost her last day of school. Something was bound to happen. It had been too perfect a year. She had made so many great new friends, become even better pals with her old ones, loved her teacher and even did pretty well in school, except for the spelling, and the math, and maybe talking in class, but really, it was an amazing year.

Something was bound to jinx it. She looked everywhere for black cats crossing her path, walked around instead of under all the ladders, shuddered whenever she heard the number 13, threw salt over her shoulder and kept her fingers crossed while knocking on wood. No precaution was too much.

She woke up on that last day. Something seemed wrong. She kissed all her stuffed animals good morning and looked under the bed. No zombies or creepers. Hmm, no scorpions in her drawers or vampire bats in her closet.

She got dressed and went into the bathroom. No broken glass or stray razor blades on the floor. No blood poured out of the faucet. No crocodiles in the toilet. She looked up, she looked down, she looked left, she looked right. It was too quiet.

At breakfast her brother was a little too nice. He didn’t try to stab her even once. She tasted just a little bit of her corn flakes in case there was poison. It seemed safe. Yes, it SEEMED safe. She quietly finished her cereal and put her dishes in the sink. Her suspicions were growing.

Her dad and brother took her to school. This was unusual. They had a plan. She knew it. Maybe they would leave her on the bus and run. Maybe they would push her in front of a car. Her brother was even nice to her on the bus and let her play on his phone. She listened to see if it was ticking. A bomb? Perhaps covered in cyanide? Maybe it was a distraction and they would bury her in an anthill and laugh while she screamed. She made fists just in case she had to start clobbering some guys.

They dropped her at school with a kiss and a hug. Have a great last day of school! Sure. They would be back. And this time they would finish the job. She warily watched them until they disappeared around the corner. Hiding a little bit behind the front door near where there was a kid buried under the sidewalk (or at least that was the legend) she waited for them to come back. With guns. Or switchblades. Or maybe poisonous frogs. But they didn’t. However, she was on to their plan and she would be ready.

crazy kid 2

The school day started and for a moment she let down her guard and forgot about the plot to kill her. Then she realized the day was half over and she was still alive. Her perfect year was almost over. Wandering over to the window she nonchalantly looked around to see if there were snipers on the roofs of nearby buildings or ninjas climbing the walls with nunchucks or katanas. Nothing.

The hallways was clear of Mongol hordes and the bathrooms were not crowded with werewolves and dead Barbies. Then she saw him. Chucky! She screamed just a little until she realized it was just a fat red-headed kid in first grade. The kid cried and ran off to his classroom.

Back in her homeroom, she looked around at all the other kids. Which one has the poison tipped darts? Which one was planning to push her down the stairs? Which kid had the chainsaw ready to carve her up? They all looked so guilty. She was watching them. All of them.

Then, the teacher said it was time to say goodbye. She felt a sad lump in her throat and almost forgot that her life was in very grave danger. They all held hands and looked at one another. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she kept them peeled for suspicious movements. A few of her friends started crying. It was a trick, she knew it. Then her favorite teacher hugged her and she broke down sobbing. This was it. This was the end of fourth grade. Her teacher smiled and cried at the same time. They held each other so tightly, then let go, then hugged again.

The bell rang and she gathered her things. There were no booby traps that left her with missing fingers or broken teeth. Slowly she made her way down the stairs and nobody tried to shove her. She looked above the front door for a guillotine and walked out. The fat Chucky kid farted and she jumped, thinking it was a cherry bomb.

She stood on the street. School’s out. Freedom. She had survived earthquakes, fires, crocodiles, serial killers, ninjas, snipers, vampire bats, knife attacks, snakes, scorpions, Chucky, farts, poison, creepers, zombies and bombs. She raised her arms in victory.

She wiped the last tear from her eye. Bring it on fifth grade!!

Knock Knock

This is another piece from One Month’s 30 Day Writing Challenge. The assignment was to write a story about an eight-year-old and an eighty-year-old. Again, it’s a bit of a risk to share my writing, but I want to ship it and see what people think. Thank you for reading.


I tiptoed across the carpet of crisp pine needles. Each step filled the dark cathedral of trees with a terrifyingly loud crunch. Once there had been grass and flowers, but the undergrowth had scaled the trees blocking all possible sunlight. It was only fifteen feet from the sidewalk to the front door, but once I entered the canopy of shrubs and trees I was alone with the house. The street noise disappeared. I crept forward. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

I had never seen Mrs Blackholler before. I had only heard the rumors about her haunted house on the corner in the middle of an otherwise unhaunted neighborhood. She was 80, 90, maybe even 100 years old and nobody had seen her in years. We knew she was in there because her children (who looked to be in their 70s) visited occasionally. Neighborhood dads loved to pile it on about her eating children and burying them in the yard. Kids shared those stories and embellished them further. Some heard screams in the night. Others told tales of disappearing kids. Bad juju. Most people under 14 or 15 would walk to the other side of the street or dash by quickly, particularly if they were alone.

My mom asked me to take her a plate of cookies.

What? I shrieked. Are you crazy? Her house is haunted, she eats kids, nobody get outs alive, I will never come back, you hate me, why, why, why, the horror, the horror!

Nodding slightly as if she understood my reservation, but standing firm in her demand that I take her the cookies, she repeated the request.

After delaying with every possible ruse, trick and deferral technique in my 8 year old playbook, I grabbed the tin of cookies and slowly walked the long hard slog to the sidewalk kitty corner from her house.

In the hot late morning summer sun her lot was a dark blot on a bright, cheery block. The blue sky and blooming flowers seemed to stop at the edge of her property. I surveyed the entrance to her yard from every angle. I walked up the sidewalk on the opposite side listening carefully for creaks, screams or howls. It was quiet. I counted to 30. Not quite ready. I counted to 45. Nope, still not ready. I started to count to 60. 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…

My mom stepped out the front door and yelled for me to get a move on.

I looked both ways in hopes of many cars to impede my progress. Nothing. One tentative step into the street. And another. My breath was short. My heart beat a fast rhythm in my chest. Even a drip of sweat rolled slowly down my forehead.

I put one foot on the sidewalk in front of her house. A car whisked by and honked. I started and stumbled up onto the walk. I was so close I could smell the bodies buried in the yard. Was that a scream?

The 15 feet to the door seemed impossibly distant. That was 180 inches of potential mayhem and even death. Her front door was a blurry gaping mouth in the still darkness of the yard.

Inching closer I could hear the blood pounding in my veins. I tried to hold my breath. The snapping pine needles were oh-so-many tiny breaking bones. Minutes…hours…days seemed to pass and the door was still miles away. Left. Right. Left. Right.

Three small steps led to a tiny porch of peeled paint and splinters. Creak. Croak. Crack.

I help out my hand.

tap. tap. tap.


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Still nothing.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Absolutely nothing.


A shadow passed behind the curtain. I swallowed hard holding the railing with white knuckles. I could feel myself starting to weaken. My stomach churning. My knees buckling.

The door opened with a long, sustained cry.

A tiny little voice whispered hello?

The tiny little voice came from a tiny little woman.

I’m I’m I’m I’m B B B B B B illy from m m m m m ac c c c c rosss the street, I ha ha ha have c c c c c c ooookies for you.

Come in dear.

Mothballs and grandma perfume filled my nostrils. She grabbed my free hand with a tiny little scale of a hand and tugged me gently inside.

So nice to have a visitor. I love visitors. She whispered. And I love cookies.

I sat in a very ornate fancy chair covered in afghans. Two or three cats lurked in the gloom. I searched the room for weapons, anything to defend myself.

She shuffled off into another room and reappeared with the cookies on a plate and a glass of milk.

Do you like milk?

Poison. I assumed.

It’s so nice to share cookies with you. She dipped hers in a cup of tea.

I watched her closely for fast movements and nibbled warily on a chocolate chip cookie, assuming it was safe since my mom had made it. My dry throat was getting drier and I could feel it closing up. In desperation I sipped the milk knowing that I would either choke to death or die of poisoned milk in that dusty, dim parlor.

She talked about summer and flowers and her children and growing up in that house, laughing and becoming more animated as the minutes passed.

I sipped the milk again and told her about baseball and the Beatles and Batman and my brothers.

She offered another cookie and I gladly accepted. Her cats sauntered out slowly and rubbed against my legs. Tin Man was silver and Freckles was a tabby. I scratched their heads and both jumped in and out of my lap at times.

Another cookie. Another glass of milk. More conversation.

A clock struck. I realized I needed to leave for baseball practice. I excused myself and the look of disappointment was clear. I told her I would be back with more cookies soon and she said she would make sure there was plenty of milk.

I held her hand as she walked me to the door. Goodbye. Thank you. And a big smile from her tiny face.

My brothers were shocked that I had lived. I told tales of cobwebs and bats and rats and bones and buried bodies. I trembled and shivered in mock terror, making sure they would never step foot near her property. Ever.

Why ruin a great friendship and a new cookie supply?


Fridgy the Gombor

This is another piece from One Month’s 30 Day Writing Challenge. The assignment was to create a monster. I also tried to write it in the voice of my crazy, hilarious daughter. Again, it’s a bit of a risk to share my attempts at writing fiction, but I want to share it and see what people think. Thank you.


Fridgy is big, fat and gentle. Or at least mostly gentle. When I say mostly gentle I mean he hasn’t killed anyone. This week.

Fridgy likes ketchup. Big bottles of red ketchup. Not so much with the catsup. Can anyone tell me what exactly is catsup? But back to the ketchup. Fridgy pours ketchup all over his food. Food becomes a ketchup vehicle for Fridgy. Like a pickup truck filled with ketchup. Slurp. You can’t imagine how much he likes ketchup. Especially on people.

But I did say he hadn’t killed anyone. This week. Last week, hmm. Let’s talk about that in a bit.

First you must forgive me. I got ahead of myself. Let me tell you more about Fridgy. Fridgy is a Gombor. Not your typical Gombor, all bad manners and farts and burps and bits of people stuck between the teeth. No, Fridgy farts and burps a bit, but he flosses and knows not to do his business in the house. Well, he knows not to, but it has happened. That’s why I have that shovel. And that bucket.

So I said he wasn’t your typical Gombor. Nope. Fridgy used to be a plain old, regulation, run of the mill Gombor, hiding under beds and in closets and in nightmares and old abandoned houses. He burped, farted and ate skunks and squirrels and scared old people and kids for fun. Naps. Snacks. Pranks. Naps and Snacks. Snacks and pranks. Pranks and naps.

But he stepped on my skateboard.


Huh? Well, maybe not huh, but I don’t think there is a word for what went through my head when I felt the weight. Or was it the smell. The problem is Gombors are heavy. And they stink. Like worse than poop stink. So a loss for words isn’t really right. It was a can’t even before we couldn’t even.

And I couldn’t even. Breathe. Scream. Move. But I could punch. And I did.

Gombors could be confused for Golems. Big. Brown. Scary. Until you punch them. Golems don’t cry. Gombors do. Bigs tears and lots of snot.

Which is why I can say murderous and gentle. Or murderously gentle. Gently murderous? An oxymoron of soft, damp Gombor with a big goose egg on his head on my bed. Because of the skateboard.

Or because Gombors can’t skate. Or at least not very well. They are good at stepping on skateboards. And good at achieving a high rate of speed. And good at stopping. Abruptly. Headfirst. Just bad at not hitting their head and getting knocked out and winding up on top of me. Waiting to get punched. In the head. By me.

And they are good at eating old ladies. But would that be good or bad? Bad for old ladies. Good for Gombors. And people who sell ketchup. And tomato farmers. Unless they are old ladies.

So Fridgy cried, but he wasn’t named Fridgy then. That came later. Before the old lady and after the punch.

So using Kleenex is not a thing Gombors do well either. Or using them the right way. They are good at using them the wrong way. And I don’t think the box shows the right way and Gombors can’t read. Unless it says catsup. So never give a crying Gombor Kleenex.

And the old lady was kind of an accident. Gombors like to eat. I mean really eat. Like eat the guys who eat the hot dogs for the world championship eat. Or a six pack of biggest losers eat. So one old lady was like a toothpick. A toothpick with ketchup. And she was kind of dead anyway. From the scaring and the screaming and the falling down and the Gombors get hungry and some stuff happened.

But I called him Fridgy because he ate one. Not an old lady. A fridge. My fridge. Ice cube trays, the box of baking soda that doesn’t absorb odors and that jar of quince jelly that has been in the family since the gift basket of 1987. One bite. One crunchy  freon filled bite.

This week has been murder free. 7 days since our last on the job injury. No old ladies have been harmed in the making of this week. There was a raccoon. And a feral cat. A Christmas wreath. And some nachos. Well, more like a Taco Bell. But there were nachos inside.

And now I am stuck. With a Gombor. A big, fat and gentle Gombor. Good Gombor. Down Fridgy. Down boy. No, I don’t have any nachos. Fridgy, is that ketchup on my arm? Fridgy? FRIDGY!?!?

Home Run

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted, but not because I haven’t been writing. After a break for a couple of months I began to write every day. I started with One Month’s 30 Day Writing Challenge. Then I signed up for 750 Words. It’s simple. Write 750 words every day. Most of this writing has been stream of consciousness blathering and daily diary exercises. However, a few of the One Month assignments allowed me to write some fiction. The following started with an assignment to look into a book and use the first sentence I read. The opening line in this piece is from To Kill a Mockingbird. The rest is pure fiction with little basis in reality. It’s a bit of a risk to share my writing, but I want to share it and see what people think. Be gentle and enjoy! Thank you.

download (2)

Our father turned around and looked up. The baseball hit him right in the forehead, knocking his glasses off his head. He grunted slightly and sat perfectly down on his ass in the freshly-mowed grass. The silence was frighteningly loud. It was cartoonish, comical and a little bit scary.

Our dad hated the next door neighbors, so we followed suit out of respect for dad and hated the kids, too. My father had unilaterally appointed himself head of the neighborhood watch and didn’t like the way they let their grass grow a little too long. Their house needed paint and there was moss on the roof. They yelled outside a lot and honked the horn while waiting in the driveway. Rules were made to be followed and, in my father’s highly opinionated opinion, these folks were grossly negligent

My father was at war with these particular neighbors, a cold war to be sure, but a war. His angry stare and barely perceptible flinch at any sign of noise or motion from their side of the fence was a dead giveaway. It was more than a stare. It was a nuclear grade glare, a battle grimace, a napalm frown and an icy burn all frosted with a nasty meringue of Catholic disapproval.

It seemed highly unlikely he would ever act on this pent up volcano of seething rage. Nope. He nursed that anger like a baby. Whenever he was outside his posture and demeanor changed. He was on high alert, constantly assessing the clear and present danger, ready to strike. He was “get off my lawn” in its purest form.

This went on for years. He would rarely discuss his fury about the neighbors, but a few random comments and the omnipresent thousand yard glare made it abundantly clear. The people next door were to be feared, mistrusted and hated. My father thrived on his disapproval of anyone who was the slightest bit different. It wasn’t about race or gender. It was a silent moral crusade against anyone who broke rules or defied conventions. Rules were everything. The law was absolute.

Also, my father hated children. One thing he hated more than children was loud, ill-behaved children. The neighbor kids epitomized the kind of kids he hated the most. Sassy, loud, crude and all fuck you in torn jeans and bad attitude.

And when the baseball hit, things changed. Not slow, barely perceptible change. It was instant, terrifying change.

The neighbor kids were dicking around, throwing the ball against the rotting cedar fence between the yards. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. Each hit tensed my father further and further. A nail to the head. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. Finally he yelled that they’d better knock it off.

A giggle and a snort from the other side of the fence.

Silence. Nobody moved.

Then a sneering fuck you followed by suppressed laughter.

Our father turned around and looked up. Bam!

My father rose from the grass, wiped his nose, grabbed the baseball and marched to the fence. With one swift kick he crushed two rotting cedar planks without a hitch in his step. He ducked down and walked into the adjoining yard. The kids looked up blubbering and scared.

I remember his glasses lying abandoned on the lawn.

He glared. Silence.

He looked at the ball, looked at the kids, looked at the house. He wound up and tossed the ball through a large bay window. The smash of the glass was an explosion years in the making. Nobody breathed. Silence.

“Explain that to your fucking parents you little shitbags.”

He walked back through the fence, walked into the kitchen and opened two beers with a smile.