Category Archives: Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff

Who formally entertains anymore? Accoutrements and why you still need them

Leaf Accoutrements

I got these at Pier 1, mostly for accompanying my Thanksgiving set. I consider these my fancy ones (they’re glass), so I don’t use these much the rest of the year unless I have friends over for a spread of hors d’oeuvres.

Recently, a friend and I spent almost an hour on the phone talking almost exclusively about our passion for accoutrements.

What are those, you ask? Accoutrements are Read the rest of this entry

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Sinister Settings: FORDLANDIA

Fordlandia Riverside near Tapajos River

Riverside Avenue in Fordlandia, which was near the Tapajos River. This image was printed in Grandin’s 2010 book, FORDLANDIA.

If you’ve read my work, you know that settings are something about which I’m passionate. A unique, vibrant setting always makes for a more interesting piece.

I’d always wanted to write a story involving a place called Fordlandia—a city Henry Ford built in Brazil in the late 1920s so he could have his own supply of rubber for his manufacturing; a place that is now abandoned and overgrown. I finally got the chance when I wrote “Attempted Delivery,” which appears in my forthcoming collection, The Shadows Behind.

Never heard of Fordlandia? Lots of people haven’t (when I mention it I usually get “what the hell is that?”) There’s a reason for that. The experiment in a utopia, meant to mirror a factory town in the Midwest—complete with a school, movie theatre, dance hall, church, modern hospital and paved roads (but no alcohol or tobacco)—was an unmitigated disaster.

“The houses sucked for the environment, the food made people sick, the rubber trees wouldn’t grow or just plain died of a strange blight,” notes the marine biologist, Juliane, in my short story “Attempted Delivery.”

That’s the short version. The land was infertile, cargo had trouble reaching the city unless it was the rainy season, and Amazon wood—which Ford had hoped to sell in order to cover costs until rubber trees took hold—had no value. At one point the workers rioted. By 1945, Fordlandia was abandoned, nothing more than a broken dream.

Fordlandia house ruins

One of the houses that remains in Fordlandia today. This is a screenshot from a 2008 Spanish documentary on the subject.

Today, there are people living in Fordlandia, Read the rest of this entry

An ode to something old…

Old Journal 1

This old memo book reeks of mildew, but that’s part of what makes it magical for me–it smells like my dad’s old den.

It’s spring, and for many of us, that means the deep clean: dusting the baseboards, washing the curtains, Q-tipping between the floor tiles. For me it means cleaning out junk, too, especially in my basement, which seems like a never-ending project.

What’s cool, though, is when I find something I’d forgotten I had that I can still use. Back in the late 1990s, I was buying Read the rest of this entry

Lines on the loss of Steve Manzino

Manzino Balloons Xmas Cocktail 2002

Manzino in the smoking jacket, A Christmas Cocktail, December 2002.

My dear friend of twenty-three years, Steve Manzino, lost his battle with cancer on December 4, 2018. I am absolutely devastated, and my life will never be the same, but here is how I choose to remember him.

Steve Manzino—I called him Manzino, though, everyone in our group of friends did—and I used to have the strangest and most entertaining conversations, especially when we were prepping in our dressing rooms for whatever show it was we were acting in at the time.

“When I die, I just want people to get up and tell the truth about me.” He shrugged into the tweed jacket he was wearing in his role as Frank in Educating Rita. “Because I hate Read the rest of this entry

It’s finally hit me: I miss record stores!

Recently, a friend and I were going to spend some time in the car driving to an underwater archaeology lecture at a nearby college. We had just seen Bohemian Rhapsody and were dying to listen to Queen.

The only Queen music we both owned was still on cassette, believe it or not.

“So…how are we going to listen to it in the car?” she asked.

I went through a whole thing about streaming on the phone and hooking up the Bluetooth and all of this other complicated stuff. And then it occurred to me, for the first time in probably years, that I could just go to the mall on my lunch break and get a CD!

Then I thought…wait, who still sells CDs around here? FYE is gone, Best Buy’s selection is nil if it even still exists at all, and there are no more specialty stores like Record Town (remember THAT?) or The Wall. I called my housemate Charles, but he really didn’t have too many ideas either—except for Gerosa Records. That was probably worth a shot, but it was too far for me to go on a lunch break.

In the past few years, I haven’t really missed being able to just run out and buy a CD; I’ve gotten incredibly used to Amazon Prime and having them arrive in a day or so or downloading an MP3. I like the new way of doing things: yes, there’s instant gratification, and yes, I can simply purchase only one song and not all of them (there were singles and Cassingles, but most of those were for the popular tunes only. You wanted something that wasn’t released as a single? You had to buy the entire album). But it’s not the same as getting into your car, unwrapping that cellophane and inhaling that plastic and new disc smell, slipping it into your stereo and mmmm.

What did I end up doing? I dashed home after work, downloaded some MP3’s, and burned them to a CD. But I gotta tell ya—nope, just nope. Nothing would have been more magical than to go to a record store at lunch and pick up exactly what I wanted.

Bummer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m grateful fo all of my readers! Thank you so much for supporting me.

From our house to yours … wishing you a happy day spent with loved ones.

~ Krissi, Charles, Nathan and the cats, Poe & Mikey

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

Celebrate with me!

Writer John Palisano recently posted the following on Facebook:

Just got an email from NanoWrimo stating that ‘every’ writer would rather ‘have written’ than ‘write’ and that writing is painful and such.

I disagree. I love being in the zone. I love tapping away at the keyboard, the story flowing out like music. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. It doesn’t hurt. It’s not painful. It’s not a struggle to make happen, most of the time.

I’m not the only one, am I?

No, he’s definitely not the only one. There is nothing like being in that zone. That vanishing into a world in my head and staying there with my characters, living out whatever fantasy I want (no matter how outlandish), the words just flying out of me as easily as drunken conversation. It’s almost like being on a magical vacation; the outside world recedes. I obsess over whatever topic, setting, or interesting object that the story is about. I avoid bills, cleaning, laundry and just about anything else I can get away with for the sake of art, and hey, if I have to function because I can’t get out of something, it’s an excuse to mentally tune-out.

On the flip side, if the fiction is really just a channel for something sad, stressful, and overwhelming I’m trying to process, it can be gut-wrenching. I fail to eat for however long it takes to get it done, I avoid correspondence or contact with anyone as much as I can, I question every single choice I’ve ever made in my life or even why I exist at all. And I usually cry a lot.

This isn’t the case with every piece I write, but it was the case with a piece I finished this morning. It’s been the greatest week of my life in a long, long time, but it’s also been balls-on anxiety and other not-so-pleasant emotions since Tuesday.

A few of you out there are aware of this. It’s official–the first draft is done, and I have set myself free! I’ve not only written a very solid story (yes, it still has to go through revision and critique, but I don’t invest in that on a spiritual level), I’ve emotionally worked through what I was processing. I feel completely unburdened and can have some fun now—I can focus on cleaning my house, doing the shopping for Thanksgiving, and wrapping some Christmas gifts (I shop all year, so it’s never really too early to start).

I’m having a glass of wine in a nice hot bath to celebrate. I encourage you all to celebrate with me in whatever way you see fit! If you’re waiting to hear from me, you will soon. And oh my God, where are the cheese and crackers because I’m starving.

Have a great week!

Jinkies! It’s a haunted toaster oven!

Haunted Toaster Oven

The toaster oven in question. I have no idea how old it is, but it’s…OLD.

Whether or not you believe in the supernatural, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve probably had at least one thing happen to you that defies explanation.

Do I believe in the supernatural? Yes, I do. I have since I had something I had no explanation for happen to me in college back in 1989 (which is too terrifying for me to write about. I think there’s maybe one interview someplace in which I bring it up, but that’s it); and in 2007, on a dark road late at night, a person in a white runner’s outfit ran in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes, and, heart racing, I leapt from the driver’s seat to find out if the person was okay.

There was no person in white runner’s shorts, and there was no sound of the crunching of leaves in the nearby woods.

I called “hello?” without response.

There was no one on that road but me.

No head-scratching experiences since then—until last week.

I was with my sister and brother and their families at my aunt’s house for what you might call an early Thanksgiving. In its glory days, the three-family house was the social center of a large Italian family. There were Sunday dinners, all-nighter New Year’s Eves, endless pinochle games, summer picnics in the screen house, fresh vegetables from the garden and jugs of plain awful homemade wine. The generations that were responsible for all of that are pretty much gone, but the house, built very early in the 20th century, still stands.

So does a bunch of stuff in the basement.

My brother and his family were rummaging around down there, finding things like original Burger King Star Wars glassware in mint condition, century-old cookbooks, and Disney board games no one’s seen since the 1950s.

I was standing in the kitchen. Just as I saw them emerge from the basement, I heard the bell on the ancient toaster oven go off.

My first thought was that my aunt—who is now suffering from a form of dementia—had perhaps gotten up and come into the kitchen and turned on the toaster oven. I knew, though, that this wasn’t possible—I’d just spent the past hour with her, and she hadn’t moved from her chair.

I said something to Maryanne. She said, “Sometimes that bell just goes off.” And it is possible someone could have jostled it earlier in the day, when we were all cooking in the kitchen.

Then I touched it, and it was hot.

Which would’ve been fine—except that it was unplugged.

I called my husband Nathan, who’s a retired paranormal investigator. He gave me a list of things to check, so we all discussed the possibilities: was it sitting in direct sunlight? No. It’s over the spot in the basement where the furnace is, so are the cabinets underneath hot from heat that could be coming up through the floor? No. Did Uncle Lou, who came over to the area a few minutes prior to get a glass of water, use the toaster oven? We asked; the answer was no. Had either of my brother’s sons played with it? We asked; no, and anyway, they were down in the basement the whole time. A toaster oven might retain heat. Has it been used in the past twelve hours? No; its last use was two days prior, and no toaster oven retains heat for over 48 hours. Could it have a short? Well, sure, yes, but how does a toaster oven, which doesn’t have any battery back-up, have a short and get hot when there’s no power source?

So there you have it. Absolutely no explanation. If anybody has any ideas, I’m all ears. Otherwise? I’m chalking this one up to the supernatural.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween, everyone! 

Puffer Fish Tank Cemetery

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s home for puffer fish and horseshoe crabs gets a sprinkling for the season.

…Oh no! Scary panties…

SHINING PANTIES 1 - Label

Halloween may be all about showing off your best costume…but that doesn’t mean the parts of you people don’t see shouldn’t scare up some fun, too!

I was surfing around on Hot Topic and came across this irresistible The Shining hipster panty set: https://www.hottopic.com/product/the-shining-hipster-panty-set/11428991.html Read the rest of this entry

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