Category Archives: Uncategorized

Europe 2017: The Trailer to the Movie of the Same Name

Mom & i went on another European adventure this year.  No schedule, no clock, no need to rush to the next place, no reservations.  Just our car and the road in front of it.

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Is thumb-biting a thing now?

I only ask because i ran across this on the news-stand, un-posed, while picking up my current issue of Quilting Quickly.  Because, really, WHO has time for quilting at NORMAL speed??thumb

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Vagina is for Lovers <3

This in honor of the Womens’ Marches throughout the country this past Saturday.vagina

How I Made It Into The New Yorker Magazine

For those not familiar with the New Yorker Magazine’s “Caption Contest”, a quick overview:

The New Yorker is one of the best and most-respected magazines in the world (J.D. Salinger was first published there, plus hundreds of other famous writers).  They’re also famous for their cartoons.  Every week, on the last page of the magazine, they have their “cartoon caption contest” in which they publish a cartoon without a caption.  It’s up to the readers to come up with suggestions for a funny line that will work with the drawing.  About 8,000 – 10,000 people submit captions for each contest.  The assistant Cartoon Editor weeds through them all, selecting about 20 that he thinks are worthy candidates.  Then the captions are presented to the Cartoon Editor himself, Bob Mankoff, who chooses the three captions he likes best.  From there, all three finalists are published in the magazine, and then it’s up to the readers to cast their votes for the best one.  The winner, of course, will forever be able to refer to himself/herself as “John Doe, New Yorker Caption Contest Winner.”

So in July 2013, my issue of the New Yorker arrived in the mail.  As I always do, I immediately flipped to the back page, where the contest lives, and saw this:

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(All images can be clicked on to embiggen)

After opening a beer, sitting down, and studying that week’s challenge (at the bottom of the page), a punch-line popped into my head that I thought might be pretty funny.  I jumped online, went to the NY’er website, and fine-tuned the wording of my submission, my hand hovering over the “send” button for ten minutes, and clicked.

A few weeks later, I got an email from the assistant cartoon editor, one of my favorite emails ever:

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Yeah, my hands were shaking as I replied.  I couldn’t believe it.  And I realized that, even if I didn’t end up winning, my name was still going to appear in print in the fucking NEW YORKER.  Where JD Salinger’s name was first printed.  I counted the days until the July 29 issue hit the stands.  On that day I went into Chaucer’s Bookstore, pulled it off the stand, opened to the last page (still sure that somehow there was some mistake, they’d changed their minds, or at least that they would spell my name wrong).  But there it was:

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Holy. Hell.  My name.  In their font.  Yes, good.  Hands shaking again.

The next week I spent emailing, texting, calling, and messaging everyone I knew, with one request: VOTE FOR MY CAPTION!!!  Seeing my competition for the first time, the other two finalist’s captions, I was fairly confident that mine was the best.  But not entirely certain.  The topical Edward Snowden-inspired entry about the Moscow Airport was sure to have a short shelf-life — but historically the New Yorker likes timely and topical ideas in their caption contests.  The other entry: “I need someone without baggage,” was even more worrisome.  It was maybe better than mine?  If I’d thought of that one before I thought of mine, I might have submitted it.  I thought that one was my biggest threat.

But I liked the sweetness of my own caption best.  Just by looking at the woman’s eyes, you could tell that she was a nice girl who was just trying to make the best of an awkward situation and make her date feel at ease.  She was a good person.  I felt that she should be saying something comforting to the guy with the bag on his head.

The three weeks between the publication of my caption as a finalist and the actual decision were gut-wrenching.  As I said before, just being chosen as one of the three finalists was an amazing achievement, but that was bullshit — I really Really REALLY wanted to win!  When the decision day came, I couldn’t bear to look at the New Yorker website.  But my amazing friend Sarah logged on shortly before midnight on decision day, and faithfully kept clicking “refresh, refresh, refresh” until the page finally updated.  She texted me in an instant:

YOU WON!!!!!

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My hands were shaking again as I texted her “Are you SURE???”

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I looked myself and there it was.  So I got my name (and joke) published in the New Yorker TWICE!  Such an amazing thing!  My prize (besides the recognition) was a matted print of the cartoon, with my caption, signed by the artist (Carolita Johnson, a lovely and brilliant girl).

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In the aftermath, I received emails and letters and texts from people I hadn’t heard from in years, offering me congratulations.  And the Santa Barbara Independent interviewed me about it too.  Click here to read that:

BRIER RANDOM’S NEW YORKER MOMENT

And I still enter the caption contest every week, determined to be the first ever two-time winner!

Hike and Hollywood

TJ’s haul with hand-made bag courtesy of Sarah’s dad:

Winner winner:

Romero Canyon hike:

On to Hollywood:

The National Lost Mitten Registry 2011 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Berlin Wall

Crazy that in Germany, in 1961, they built a CEMENT WALL dividing the city of Berlin, dividing it to keep East Berlinners from leaving the city. Even more crazy, the wall existed until late 1989, which is in most of our lifetimes. Imagine… a WALL keeping people penned inside an area, keeping them from leaving their own city, and preventing them from even communicating with anyone outside of it. A country imprisoning their own people. Even into the late 1980s. That’s like 2 years before Clinton was elected. Can we imagine such inhumanity? Incredible that this was allowed to happen in our lifetime. Learn more about the wall, via Wikipedia HERE.

I was in Europe when the Berlin Wall fell, living in England with my friend Rusty. One of my biggest regrets is not taking a train over to East Germany while the wall was falling. The BIGGEST party in Europe since the end of World War II, and possibly EVER, was taking place just East of us. People dancing on the wall, breaking it down with sledge hammers, popping champagne, and hugging their family & friends who they hadn’t been allowed to even communicate with in 28 years… I was 577 miles away. Shorter than the distance from Santa Barbara to Portland, Oregon. Damn. Why didn’t i go? I missed the biggest party of the century. Well, we were having fun in England, so it’s ok. But still… damn.

I did get to see what was left of the Wall when i visited Berlin in 1992. Germany was unified but parts of the wall still stood as a testament to the unjust past:

Excellent short doc on the Wall here:

Footage of the fall of the Wall here:

Sometimes history happens right before our eyes.