Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Facts

Today is an amazing holiday. Especially being in the middle school, I get so happy when I see younger kids get all excited and into this holiday. I remember how ecstatic I used to be when I was young on Halloween. It's such a fun, special night where you can dress up and be anyone you want to be.

In my last post, I was talking about how strange traditions are and how we got to where we are now. Halloween is weird too--how did it get started? Where did these traditions and systems begin, and how did they evolve to what they are today?

I looked up some information online about the history of Halloween and some statistics/facts. Check them out; they're interesting:


-Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year."

-Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient Celtic pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them.

-The term Halloween is shortened from All Hallows' Even (both "even" and "eve" are abbreviations of "evening," but "Halloween" gets its "n" from "even") as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day," which is now also known as All Saints' Day.

-The first Halloween celebration in America took place in Anoka, Minnesota in 1921.


-BIGresearch conducted a survey for the National Retail Federation in the United States and found that 53.3% of consumers planned to buy a costume for Halloween 2005, spending $38.11 on average (up $10 from the year before).

-They were also expected to spend $4.96 billion in 2006, up significantly from just $3.3 billion the previous year


-Some games traditionally played at Halloween are forms of divination.

-In Puicíní (pronounced "poocheeny"), a game played in Ireland, a blindfolded person is seated in front of a table on which several saucers are placed. The saucers are shuffled, and the seated person then chooses one by touch; the contents of the saucer determine the person's life during the following year. A saucer containing earth means someone known to the player will die during the next year; a saucer containing water foretells emigration; a ring foretells marriage; a set of Rosary beads indicates that the person will take Holy Orders (becoming a nun or a priest). A coin means new wealth, a bean means poverty, and so on.

-In 19th-century Ireland, young women placed slugs in saucers sprinkled with flour. A traditional Irish and Scottish form of divining one's future spouse is to carve an apple in one long strip, then toss the peel over one's shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse's name. This custom has survived among Irish and Scottish immigrants in the rural United States.

-Unmarried women were frequently told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear.


-Jerry Ayers of Baltimore, Ohio has the record for the fastest pumpkin carver at 37 seconds.

-More than 93% of children, under the age of 12, will go out trick-or-treating.

-About 50% of adults dress up for Halloween, while 67% take part in the activities, such as parties, decorating the house and trick-or-treating with their children.

-86% of Americans decorate their house for Halloween.

-Halloween candy sales average about $2 billion annually in the United States. It is the largest candy-purchasing holiday, bigger than Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day!

-The first Halloween card was made in the early 1920's. These days, over 28 million Halloween cards are sent each year. U.S. consumers spend about $50 million on Halloween greetings.

-Over $1.5 billion is spent on costumes each year and more than $2.5 billion on other Halloween paraphernalia.

-About 99% of pumpkins that are marketed domestically are turned into jack-o-lanterns.

-90% of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids' Halloween trick-or-treat bags.

-Over 10% of pet owners dress their pets in Halloween costumes.

-The biggest pumpkin in the world tipped the scales at a whopping 1,446 pounds. This gigantic gourd was weighed in October 2004 at a pumpkin festival in Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada.

-More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces - enough to circle the moon nearly 4 times if laid end-to-end.

So, what do you think of Halloween or any of these interesting facts or statistics?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Getting into the fall season, I recently picked up a pumpkin to carve, and, of course, to bake and eat the delicious pumpkin seeds. If you've never tried them, it's a must-do.

Pumpkin seeds: After emptying the pumpkin, put the seeds in a strainer and run through with water. This gets all the orange pumpkin gook out. Then, let them dry for a bit. Either spray the bottom of a cookie sheet or stick aluminum foil down. Lay them all out and bake for 10 minutes (or more, until crispy) at 375. If you want some flavor, sprinkle salt on top and mix around. Don't let the crystals just sit.

But, as my roommate and I were carving the pumpkins, I got thinking about the whole idea of pumpkin carving in general. Where did this originate? Why is it so common for me to just pick up a pumpkin and carve a silly face in it? Why are we doing this?

So, being the curious girl that I am, I looked up the deeper meaning of pumpkin carvings on Wikipedia:

-Originating in Europe, these lanterns were first carved from a turnip or rutabaga.

-Believing that the head was the most powerful part of the body containing the spirit and the knowledge, the Celts used the "head" of the vegetable to frighten off any superstitions.

-The name jack-o'-lantern can be traced back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy, gambling, hard-drinking old farmer. He tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him by carving a cross into the tree trunk. In revenge, the devil placed a curse on Jack, condemning him to forever wander the earth at night with the only light he had: a candle inside of a hollowed turnip.

-The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkins were readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.

-In America the tradition of carving pumpkins is known to have preceded the Great Famine period of Irish immigration.

-The carved pumpkin was originally associated with harvest time in general in America and did not become specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.

Interesting, huh?

I've seen some funny pumpkin carvings, some clever, some very detailed, others that are inappropriate. I think it takes talent to get those really detailed ones that took more than just a carving of two triangle eyes, a triangle nose, and a chunky mouth (which is mine this year). I've been feeling real creative lately.

Anyway, that's the pumpkin's story. Below I have some carvings from this year and other years, along with Marley this year. This was her first Halloween and she was very curious about these pumpkin things. She did grab a seed in her mouth, but I don't think she liked it very much.

What do you think of pumpkin carving? Any good, unique carvings?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Will Ferrell Returns to SNL

SNL is gaining more media attention than ever before for their political portrayals. Sure, maybe some single episodes in their past gained much attention and was discusseed for weeks, even years after its airing. But, they have never held onto the public's eye and scrutiny for this long consecutively. They really have something going for them.

Since there is this new heightened eye on them, they have been calling back stellar cast members that had long retired, i.e. Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph, Chris Parnell, Bill Murray. These are also big signs that something good and special is happening at 30 Rock.

Will Ferrell's portrayal of President Bush last Thursday night, for the weekend update special, was impeccable, as it was when he used to do it regularly when he was a cast member. He is so multi-talented, and he does a great Bush impression. Many people try to do it, but only some can really get it down. He's really the only SNL cast member that does an effective job at it.

Watch the video clip here.

I think it's a really big deal when you can get two of the most talented comedic artists on stage together like this, when they don't even work for the same show. They aren't even performing live on Saturday either--it's the Thursday night special! Good for SNL, and good for these cast members who don't forget where they made it.

So, what do you think of last Thursday's performance with Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Darryl Hammond?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frida Kahlo

My best friend is really into Frida Kahlo. She even was her for Halloween a few years back. She looked kind of freaky, but it was impressive to see how many college students actually could recognize who she was. I really didn't think anyone would have a clue, but I think the unibrow gave it away.

I think I really started to get into her in high school when my art teacher would show us her paintings. But, once I saw her movie, I really was hooked. Salma Hayek played an incredible Frida, and it really shed light on her background story.

The artist who solely paints self-portraits is really interesting. Her work is so unique and different than other artists; perhaps this is why she fascinates me so much. Each self-portrait reveals different sides of the self, and I think that the self does have this many sides for an artist to paint a life's worth of paintings. I just find her riveting and fascinating.

Frida Info: 1907-1954. She married Diego Rivera, famous muralist, and was fascinated and inspired by him her whole life. After an accident that left her bed-ridden for months, Frida took up her career as a painter and abandoned studying medicine. She chose self-portraits because, "I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best."

From Wikipedia: "Drawing on personal experiences, including her marriage, her miscarriages, and her numerous operations, Kahlo's works often are characterized by their stark portrayals of pain. Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."

Frida was bisexual and often had affairs with both men and women. Her marriage to Diego was rocky and eventually ended when he had an affair with her younger sister. They later remarried even though that part was a bit rocky as well.

Frida's death: "A few days before Frida Kahlo died on July 13, 1954, she wrote in her diary: 'I hope the exit is joyful - and I hope never to return - Frida.' The official cause of death was given as pulmonary embolism, although some suspected that she died from overdose that may or may not have been accidental.[3] An autopsy was never performed. She had been very ill throughout the previous year and her right leg had been amputated at the knee, owing to gangrene. She also had a bout of bronchopneumonia near that time, which had left her quite frail."

Here are some Frida paintings. Let's see which ones you like.


The Little Deer

The Two Fridas

In the Broken Column

My Nurse and I

Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick

My Grandparents, My Parents, and I

Diego in My Thoughts

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Frida in Bed

Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace, Hummingbird and Unibrow



Without Hope

Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky

Tree of Hope

What do you think of Frida and her paintings?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Apple Picking

One of my favorite fall activities is going apple picking. There's something about it that's so sensual, so seasonal, so exciting. It's authentic; I love just meandering my way around the fields in search of different apples. It's fun to sample them too.

I went yesterday, which is pretty late in the year, but it was fun to walk around the field when no one else was there. It was awesome to have the whole few fields to ourselves.

Here are some pictures from yesterday. Gorgeous weather, gorgeous views.

Do you like apple picking? What are the best apples in the fall?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Take a Quiz: The "F" Word

Here is another literacy quiz, for those of you who like to take little quizzes to test different ways you can think. It's pretty clever. See how well you can do.

The "F" Word

In this puzzle every answer involves a familiar phrase in the form "_____ & _____" in which the first word starts with the letter "F." The end of the phrase is proivded as your clue.

EXAMPLE: Father & son

1. ________ & foremost
2. ________ & square
3. ________ & fortune
4. ________ & fiction
5. ________ & dandy
6. ________ & stream
7. ________ & loose
8. ________ & chips
9. ________ & brimstone
10. ________ & away
11. ________ & games
12. ________ & blood
13. ________ & center
14. ________ & forget
15. ________ & hounds
16. ________ & drink
17. ________ & starts
18. ________ & aft
19. ________ & a day
20. ________ & far between

Don't look below if you want to do this. The answers are below so cover up!

(ANSWERS: 1. first, 2. fair, 3. fame, 4. fact, 5. fine, 6. field, 7. fast, 8. fish, 9. fire, 10. far, 11. fun, 12. flesh, 13. front, 14. forgive, 15. foxes, 16. food, 17. fits, 18. fore, 19. forever, 20. few)

So how did you do; what did you think?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin

I have been mesmerized by this poem: it is so intricate and dense. Every time I read this thing, I find different meanings and ideas. Every stanza is loaded in itself. I see talent in this poet. I see a lot of different ideas merging into one.

It almost reminds me of a modern-day "Prufrock," but much more understandable and relative to our generation. It's not as dry and boring as I find "Prufrock" to be. I'm not ready to appreciate that poem just yet.

Here is the poem "Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin" by Frederick Seidel.

This jungle poem is going to be my last.
This space walk is.
Racing in a cab through sprintime in Central Park,
I kept my nose outside the window like a dog.
The stars above my bed at night are vast.
I think it is uncool to call young women Ms.
My darling is a platform I see stars from in the dark,
And all the dogs begin to bark.
My grunting gun brings down her changing warthog,
And she is frying on white water, clinging to a log,
And all the foam and fevers shiver.
And drink has made chopped liver of my liver!
Between my legs it's Baudelaire.
He wrote about her Central Park of hair.

I look for the minuterie as if I were in France,
In darkness, in the downstairs entrance, looking for the light.
I'm on a timer that will give me time
To see the way and up the stairs before the lights go out.
The so delicious Busby Berkeley dancers dance
A movie musical extravaganza on the staircase with me every night.
Such fun! We dance. We climb. We slip in slime.
We're squirting squeezes like a wedge of lime!
It's like a shout.
It's what minuterie is all about.
Just getting to the landing through the dark
That has been interrupted for a minute is a lark.
And she's so happy. It is grand!
I put my mobile in her ampersand.

The fireworks are a fleeting puff of sadness.
The flowers when they reach the stars are tears.
I don't remember poems I write.
I turn around and they are gone.
I do remember poor King Richard Nixon's madness.
Pierre Leval, we loved those years!
We knocked back shots of single malt all night.
Beer chasers gave dos caballeros double vision, second sight--
Twin putti pissing out the hotel window on the Scottish dawn.
A crocodile has fallen for a fawn.
I live flap copy for a children's book.
He wants to lick. He wants to look.
A tiny goldfish is his Cupid.
Love of cuntry makes men stupid.

It makes men miss Saddam Hussein!
Democracy in Bagdad makes men think
Monstrosity was not so bad.
I followed Gandhi barefoot to
Remind me there is something else till it began to rain.
The hurricane undressing of democracy in Bagdad starts to sink
The shrunken page size of the New York Times, and yet we had
A newspaper that mattered once, and that is sad,
But that was when it mattered. Do
I matter? That is true.
I don't matter but I do. I lust for fame,
And after never finding it I never was the same.
I roared into the heavens and I soared,
And landed where I started on a flexing diving board.

I knew a beauty named Dawn Green.
I used to wake at the crack of Dawn.
I wish I were about to land on Plymouth Rock,
And had a chance to do it all again but do it right.
It was green dawn in pre-America. I mean
Great scented forests all along the shore, which now are gone.
I've had advantages in life and I pronounce Iraq "Irrock."
The right schools taught me how to tock.
I'm tocking Turkey to the Kurds but with no end in sight.
These peace tocks are my last. Goodbye, Iran. Iran, good night.
They burned the undergrowth so they could see the game they hunt.
They made the forest a cathedral clear as crystal like a cunt.
Their arrows entered red meat in the glory
Streaming down from clerestory.

Carine Rueff, I was obsessed--I was possessed! I liked your name.
I liked the fact Marie Christine Carine Rue F was Jewish.
It emphasized your elegance in Paris and in Florence.
You were so blond in Rue de l'Universite!
The dazzling daughter of de Gaulle's advisor Jacques Rueff was game
For anything. I'm lolling here in Mayfair under bluish
Clouds above a bench in Mount Street Gardens, thinking torrents.
Purdey used to make a gun for shooting elephants.
One cannot be the way one was back then today.
It went away.
I go from Claridge's to Brands Hatch racing circuit and come back.
To Claridge's, and out and eat and drink and bed, and fade to black.
The elephants were old enough to die but were aghast.
The stars above this jungle poem are vast.

To Ninety-second Street and Broadway I have come.
Outside the windows is New York.
I came here from St. Louis in a covered wagon overland
Behind the matchless prancing pair of Eliot and Ezra Pound.
And countless moist oases took me in along the way, and some
I still remember when I lift my knife and fork.
The Earth keeps turning, night and day, spit-roasting all the tanned
Tired icebergs and the polar bears, which makes the white almost contraband.
The biosphere on a rotisserie emits a certain sound
That tells the stars that Earth was moaning pleasure while it drowned.
The amorous white icebergs flash their brown teeth, hissing.
They're watching old porn videos of melting icebergs pissing.
The icebergs still in panty hose are lesbians and kissing.
The rotting ocean swallows the bombed airliner that's missing.

So what do you think of this poem?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sarah Palin Comes to SNL

I was extremely excited when I heard that Sarah Palin was actually going to be on SNL after weeks and weeks of jokes and torment. It really was only a matter of time. However, I was quite disappointed in the sketch, but maybe that's because it wasn't as hard-core as it normally is. I guess they can't really punch too many jokes when she's standing right there.

Watch the video here.

I thought the sketch could have been more clever, but it was easy for her to deliver. I heard on a local news station on that Saturday that she didn't even know what the sketch was until she was going to arrive later that night. That's strange, if it's true.

Do you think it's a good thing or a bad thing that she went on SNL?

I think that it shows that she can stand up to jokes and take them on, but with all of the negative publicity it's drawn for her, I don't think it was a good idea to partake in. I think it shows how further weak she is; she does what she always does: she just says what other people write for her. So this gig wasn't too out of the ordinary.

I bet it still drew in millions of viewers. I feel bad for Tina Fey because she's getting so much attention for her impersonation. What might have started as just a one-time skit for SNL now is a career changer that puts her on the show almost weekly. And SNL is a commitment. I know what she's saying when she says that, if the McCain/Palin ticket wins, she's leaving Earth. Yikes.

The Star published this: "she acted more as a prop than a performer, reflecting the continued reticence of the John McCain brain trust to free her from the campaign leash which has led to a growing buyer's remorse on the right in the final days of the presidential campaign."

So what did you think of the SNL skit with Sarah Palin herself?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Young or Old Artist Genius?

Yesterday, I read this very interesting article in The New Yorker on geniuses and when genius artists produce their best work. Is it early when they are young and creativity is fresh, or is it later on when the artist has matured?

Do you think that genius comes earlier or later, or do you think it's different for every person and every situation?

This article, "Late Bloomers" written by Malcolm Gladwell, believes that it can come earlier or later. His two main examples were Pablo Picasso, who started creating at twenty years old and his greatest some of his greatest masterpieces were created just then, and Cezanne, who made his greatest works after the age of forty and beyond.

He also focused on two current writers, Ben Fountain who was a lawyer and, who later on in his life, began publishing a lot of popular books, one being Brief Encounters with Che Guevera, and Jonathan Safran Foer, young author of the best-selling book Everything is Illuminated that he wrote when he was nineteen. Genius must be relative.

I think the argument was very interesting to read about, maybe because I'm a younger person who wants to consider herself an artist. I like to dream that I have talent and could someday produce something with meaning to a larger audience. This article is inspiring for younger people (and older people) like me who have dreams and aspirations of becoming a recognized artist but struggle or don't have enough confidence to get there just yet.

This article makes me want to sit down at my computer and pound out a novel, novella, or short story. It's just that passionate and touching.

The article also had some very interesting facts and studies, as other people have tried to research this very question on artist genius, young or old?

Look at the following artists who published early on in life:

-Orson Welles produced Citizen Kane at the age of 25.

-Herman Melville wrote his first book in his late twenties, which culminated to write Moby Dick at the age of 32.

-Mozart wrote his smash symphony Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat Major at 21.

-TS Eliot wrote "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" at 23.

-Picasso created Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas at age 20 and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon at 26.

The University of Chicago came out with a study to try to answer this question. They surfed through poetry anthologies to pick out the top 11 poems. They then determined the ages of the poets when they created the poems to see if there was a pattern. Here is what they found, in order from 1-11:

1. "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" by TS Eliot: 23
2. "Skunk Hour" by Robert Lowell: 41
3. "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost: 48
4. "Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams: 40
5. "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop: 29
6. "The River Merchant's Wife" by Ezra Pound: 30
7. "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath: 30
8. "In a Station of the Metro" by Ezra Pound: 28
9. "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost: 38
10. "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens: 42
11. "The Dance" by William Carlos Williams: 59

You can see that it's all over the place. No conclusion was drawn from the study.

Here are some artists that produced later on in life, to support that end of the argument:

-42% of Frost's anthologized poetry were written after the age of 50.

-44% of William Carlos Williams' poetry was written after 50.

-49% of Wallace Stevens' poetry was written after 50.

-Alfred Hitchcock peaked later on, producing such films as Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Pyscho between his 54th and 61st birthdays.

-Mark Twain published Huckleberry Finn at 49 (after laboring 10 years over writing and re-writing it).

-Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at 58.

So, now that you've read some facts and considered your own ideas and knowledge, what do you think: Do artists perform better earlier or later on in life, or does it all depend on the artist?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


This poem appeared in a recent issue of The New Yorker. This poem took me a few times of reading through to grasp the significance of it.

Later on, I looked up the meaning of the poem's title, "Eclogue," and an eclogue is a pastoral poem, usually in the form of a dialogue between shepherds or a short poem descriptive of rural or pastoral life. Read the poem first without this and then read it knowing this afterwards. It can change the meanings of the poem.

So, here is the poem by Spencer Reece:


In Juno Beach, on Pelican Lake,
Joseph Saul ate potato chips off a paper plate
and fed the broken bits to a duck.
He was accompanied by Laurie McGraw,

whom he met at the Alzheimer's Support Group--
she had been a caregiver, he had a diagnosis,
and together their eyes vacantly connected.
Laurie spelled her name with a large dot

or a star atop the "i." A born-again,
with two failed marriages so far,
she sent Joseph pamphlets in the mail
about Jews who could be saved by Christ.

On her day off, she washed her blind dog
with soap. The two discussed the pleasure
of naps. The duck strutted in uniformed plume,
greasy black-green, speckled red plate,

sated, companioned, unbundling with poop,
the duck thrust with the thrust of youth;
interior decorator of the lake, the duck
was flush with floor maps. Joseph oversaw

the duck's scufflings as Laurie made a note
to arrange another semidetached date.

What do you think of the poem? What does it mean?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Steven Kasher

When I was at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, they had this fantastic display of Steven Kasher's photography. He blew me away with how many famous people he had the pleasure of taking portraits of. His photographs start as early as the 1950s and span from artists like Albert Einstein to Ernest Hemingway.

I can't imagine that being my life: taking pictures of celebrities. I wish. How would one get that good and be that recognized to get this kind of a gig?

Here are some of his photographs. Check them out:

There really isn't too much online. It's a must-stop if you're in Boston.

What do you think of his artwork?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Possible Side Effects

One of my favorite authors, Augusten Burroughs, has a remarkable, unique, and hilarious style of writing. I really enjoy all of his books, from his true-life short stories to his memoirs. He's one of the most talented writers today, I would surely argue.

I just finished reading Possible Side Effects, a collection of true short stories, that vary from absolutely hysterical to witty and clever. The absurdity of these stories are so engaging; I couldn't stop reading this book. I would often think of it because it deals with very true and real subjects but talks about them in such a strange, bizarre way. What a strange guy, but strange is very cool.

I actually read the book through audiotape that he actually reads. I really enjoy hearing authors read their own books because you get the inflection and the tone they intended for. You also get to hear the voice of the author, which is not always what you think it will be. I didn't picture his voice to sound like this at all, but he read his stories very well.

Below, I am going to briefly describe the true short stories with a brief synopsis. Even if you have no interest, read some of the descriptions because they might interest you.

"Pest Control:" Augusten visits his grandmother who lives in the south as a child. It is his first experience losing his tooth; he is terrified of the tooth fairy.

"Bloody Sunday:" A trip Augusten takes to London to promote his new book. He ends up with a nosebleed on the flight and spends the whole time in his luxurious hotel room. Much commentary on the British.

"The Sacred Cow:" Augusten and his partner buy a second dog who they buy for the sake of their first dog. This story shows the differences between having two pets (or children) and the struggle of getting used to it.

"Team Player:" Augusten enjoys collecting college t-shirts only though he has an elementary school education. He gets called out on it, but it soon becomes okay because he starts speaking at colleges about his books. (Commentary on Skidmore College and Saratoga).

"Killing John Updike:" Talking about all the strange items one will sell of famous people when they die.

"Attacked by Heart:" Augusten visits the cardiologist.

"The Wisdom Tooth:" Augusten breaks a tooth while eating clam chowder on vacation. He then has many tooth problems and dreams of suing companies for millions so he can never work again.

"GWF Seeks Same:" Augusten's lesbian friend puts an ad in the paper that costs her thousands of dollars. She is a "lipstick lesbian," which he talks about, and then talks of female/female relationships.

"Mint Threshold:" On a Junior Mints campaign when Augusten worked at an advertising agency.

"Getting to No You:" Bad first dates that Augusten prolongs because he doesn't know how to say no. A horrendous date with "Alex."

"Kitty, Kitty:" Augusten gets a dog after rehab but cannot take care of it. He gives it away and feels remorse.

"Peep:" About watching others through their windows: Uma Thurman and another sad couple having an affair.

"Taking Tests, Taking Things:" Augusten takes tests to become a policeman because he is tired of his job. He then talks of working security and watching the videos. He watched tons of people shoplifting without doing anything. On shoplifting and when it's okay and not okay.

"Unclear Sailing:" A failed attempt at a job cutting sails for sail boats. The boss makes him feel inferior on his first and last day.

"Moving Violations:" Augusten's crazy waitress friend he calls Druggie Debbie. They drive around after shifts to smoke. The rest of the piece is on bad drivers and Augusten's dirty solution to curing bad drivers.

"You've Come a Long Way, Baby!" Old movies, smoking, and Augusten's addiction to Nicorette chewing gum.

"The Forecast for Sommer:" Augusten's mother's girlfriend, Sommer, who lived with them for a while during Augusten's childhood, kills herself.

"Try Our New Single Black Mother Menu:" Augusten's take on African Americans in the 70s and continuing racism to present day. Also, commentary of race and fast food industries. Augusten says he was the first Super Size Me candidate without the cameras.

"The Georgia Thumper:" On Augusten's other mean, old grandmother who he despised and tortured.

"Little Crucifixions": Augusten's cracking hands problem, his encounter with the mis-shapen dermatologist, and his problems later in life with his hands.

"What's in a Name?" Augusten's strange older brother (who has Aspergers) who did the strangest expirements and needed Augusten's help. Also on names his brother gave his family members.

"The Wonder Boy": The Wonder Bread expirement. Augusten plays a trick on his mom and she thinks he's psychic for the rest of his life.

"Fetch:" Augusten gets his first dog as a child when he watches men by the pond, who are breeders, and works cheaply for them. Augusten coerces his way into getting a dog by pretending to kill himself in the bathtub.

"Mrs. Chang:" On Augusten's reading instructor who spoke with a thick Chinese accent. He then thought all children's stories had Chinese characters and even thought Santa Claus was Chinese, jumping on a man in the doctor's office and calling him Santa.

"Julia's Child:" Augusten pretends he has his own Julia Childs cooking show.

What do you think of Possible Side Effects or Augusten Burroughs' works?