"Crap! I wish I hadn't seen Ricky on the sidewalk."

"You will be fine for 31 minutes. You will be dead in 32 minutes."

Sunday, July 20, 2014


For the longest time, I wanted a mannequin for The Museum of Stuff.

Not a mannequin for dressing up--I couldn't care less about fashion or clothing.  I wanted the kind of mannequin you'd see in an indie record store, the one next to the record player over by the cash register.

When it's time to play a new album, you stick the sleeve in the hands of the "now playing" mannequin.

You know what I'm talking about. Everybody knows this.

Anyway, mannequins are expensive and not the kind of thing anyone parts with willingly.

And then I met Tatianna.

Tatianna has a chip on her shoulder, just like every indie record store employee

I knew immediately that Tatianna would make a fine addition to The Museum of Stuff, but it wasn't until I hauled her home and stuck a record sleeve in her outstretched palm that I fully understood what I had.

Happiness is a quiet, unassuming mannequin who works overtime . . .

. . . who also reveres Brian Wilson . . .

. . . has a soft spot for Frank Zappa . . .

. . . and knows who Emitt Rhodes is.

And you should see the way Tatianna handles a 45:

Everybody's crazy  for those "Kinky Boots" (Honor Blackman and Patrick Macnee)

And Tatianna hasn't got time for people who haven't got time for Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross

Saturday, June 21, 2014


I met Courtney and Roxie for happy hour last Thursday. Work has been crazy and each of us needed to vent, so we made plans before inventory and met up around 7. 

We ordered drinks, we ordered appetizers, and the next thing we knew it was nearly 11.

When I got home, Courtney texted me:

Just take a minute to stand and take in how beautiful the moon is.

Sometimes Courtney leaves notes on my car and I'm always happy, always pleasantly surprised when she does.


My niece got married a few weeks ago so I flew into Colorado for the occasion. It was my first time back in six months.

Sara was a bridesmaid and Sammy was an usher. Sam flew in from Phoenix with his girlfriend and I finally got to meet Sara's boyfriend, Jeff. It was the first time we were together in a very long time and we made dinner at Sara & Jeff's my first night back in town.

Of particular interest to me was my nephew's first girlfriend. They'd only been dating a little while and it was already turning out to be a bittersweet story since she plans to attend college in another state.

I snapped a bunch of traditional pictures, but managed this one when the wedding party moved downstairs to dance.

They're both shy, sweet kids. She's into jazz, he's into dubstep. She hasn't seen any of the movies he talks about and she's still a little angry with him for getting a good grade in a class he never seemed to study for.

I've been back a couple of weeks and asked my sister how they were doing.  She said they'd broken up a few days earlier and even though it was a forgone conclusion, I felt a little sad when I heard the news.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


The other day I found an interesting book, the kind of book people leave wide open on their coffee table. 

Not the everyday coffee table in the den or family room. I'm talking about the coffee table in the room that nobody is allowed to go into, the room that's supposed to be kept clean for company even though company isn't really allowed in that room either.

It's a big, fancy-looking book called Our Islands And Their People. That's actually not even the whole title.

Our Islands And Their People As Seen With Camera and Pencil
Edited and arranged by William S. Bryan (N. D. Thompson Publishing, 1899)
The book happens to be the first of a two-volume set describing the people and exotic locales that became American possessions after the U.S. victory over Spain in the Spanish-American War: Cuba, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

The book is large, heavy as hell, and the illustrations are pretty amazing.

When I was younger, it used to drive me crazy when people walked into the bookstore holding a swatch, looking for an art book that matched their sofa. Didn't matter who the artist was, just needed to be, you know, kinda mauve.

Or when people would come in looking for an "important looking dictionary" as in "my son or daughter just graduated from law school and I need something for their office." 

This book isn't mauve, but it is important looking. 


I've been eating a lot of fruit lately.

I've never been a big apple guy, a big orange guy, a peaches and pears guy. Some fruit, yes. Who doesn't like bananas?  Who doesn't eat grapes? 

When I was working out a lot, going to the gym every day, I liked coming home to a can of chilled mandarin oranges. That's what I did, that was my routine. Cold mandarin oranges, straight out of the can.

The whole fruit thing sounds crazy, I know, but the produce here is so good. It changed my whole opinion of fruit and farmer's markets. I had some great strawberries the other day. Gorgeous red strawberries, abnormally large, like something out of a science-fiction movie. I bought some navel oranges for no money at all. Juicy as hell.

I don't want to hear about the skin of an apple. I know that's where the fiber is, where the vitamins are. I don't like the way the skin feels against my teeth. Peeling apples is fun, that part I like. I sat at work the other day with a potato peeler and a knife, peeling my apple and slicing it up. 

The farmer's market has more than fresh produce. You can buy flowers and goat's milk and bee's honey and garlic naan. 

There's also a guy selling spices, but you have to be careful when you walk past his booth. If you make eye contact with him, if you admit to cooking protein at home, he will launch right into his spiel. He says things like, "if you slice it, we spice it" and "if you eat it, we treat it." He made me smell the pork rub, had me try a whiff of the lemon pepper.  

I asked him if he'd ever been convicted of assault.

The spice guy looked stunned and stopped talking mid-sentence.

"Don't you get that a lot?" I asked. "I figured people made that joke all the time." 

Apparently, the spice guy doesn't have much of a sense of humor. He screwed the top back on the pork rub and we moved quietly to the next booth.

The farmer's market is a great maze. We bought some leeks and some broccoli, some carrots and kale. I was coerced into smelling some flowers, but I made no move to buy them.

As we headed out, we couldn't avoid passing by the spice booth. "Hey," the guy said, trying to catch my attention. "I just figured out what you said before."

I looked at him and nodded. "I'm going to have my boss put that on a shirt," he said. 

I told him that sounded like a good plan.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I've had pretty good luck lately, finding things of interest. 

Sometimes I'll see something I already have and wonder if the copy I own is as good as the copy in front of me. It's not easy finding older books and records in pristine condition, but it happens. With records, there's always the added attraction of liner notes or inserts. With books, you never what someone will stuff between the pages. Newspaper clippings and letters are fairly common, but I've also found photographs, check stubs, and plane tickets.

The other day, I found this Elektra folk sampler from 1958.

Folk Sampler 5 (Elektra SMP-5)

I'm a sucker for early Elektra vinyl and I already own several of their samplers.  What put this particular $3 record over the top wasn't the presence of Theodore Bikel or Josh White, or even the version of "Day-O" recorded by Lord Foodoos. 

It was the tiny printed songbook tucked in the sleeve.

I've never thrust my fist in the air and shouted "score" when I find something nice, but I've seen others do it and I'm almost always embarrassed by it. Instead, I quietly walked up to the counter and paid for the record. 

Hot on the heels of the Elektra sampler, I found a copy of Margaret Crosland's biography of Jean Cocteau. 

I previously purchased a copy of the book in Denver, but this one contained a copy of Cocteau's obituary from the San Francisco Examiner (October 12, 1963). 

If you've forgotten that Edith Piaf died the same day as Cocteau, and that the news of her death supposedly triggered Cocteau's fatal heart attack, now might be a good time to brush up.

Here's the quote, according to the newspaper article:

"I have an awful fever and the death of Edith Piaf chokes me up," he said. "Piaf had genius, she was inimitable, there will never be another Piaf."  He lay down on a couch and was dead when a doctor arrived.

The book was just one of several things I bought at Goodwill on Saturday morning. There was a signed copy of Robin Lampson's epic verse novel of the California Gold Rush:

A Modern Library version of Women in Love that I don't already own:

And a dirty novel by Gil Herbert, published by Midwood:

I paid for the books and peeled off all the Goodwill stickers while I sat in the parking lot. Then I whispered "score" and drove away.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


I didn't know what to expect when I moved, but I knew I would no longer have access to all the old bookstores and thrift stores in my neighborhood.  Places I'd spent a decade or more digging in crates, scanning book spines, flipping though vinyl.  

It seemed quite possible that the Museum of Stuff would go on indefinite hiatus.  

But if you enjoy digging, you're going to find something no matter where you are.  There's a fairly unremarkable thrift store near my home, but I recently found all four sequential issues of Astounding Science Fiction (September - December 1957), featuring Robert Heinlein's juvenile novel, Citizen of the Galaxy.  

All my old science fiction magazines are in storage, but I was pleased to find these in good condition.  I always thought the cover art by H. R. Van Dongen on the September 1957 issue looked  like an aging, one-eyed Bill Murray with his hand on a Mick Jagger puppet.

I realize I'm probably the only one.

Astounding Science Fiction (September 1957)
A few weeks later, in Grass Valley, I picked up two copies of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  One issue (February 1957) features Walter M. Miller's "The Last Canticle," the third in a series of stories that would later be published as A Canticle For Leibowitz.  The issue also contains new stories by Fredric Brown ("Expedition"), August Derleth ("The Dark Boy"), and Poul Anderson ("Journeys End").

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (February 1957)
The other issue has new stories from Alfred Bester ("Will You Wait?"), Ray Bradbury ("The Shoreline at Sunset"), and the grandfather (pun intended) of all time-travel stories, Robert Heinlein's gender-hopping "All You Zombies--").

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (March 1959)
I guess things are going to be just fine.