I like things made from felt. Colored balls of felt strung together make the best necklace.[1]  When I’m really playing dress-up[2] I prefer neckties, but although there are a quajillion felt crafters in this world (try doing a “felt” search on etsy), none of them made felt neckties.  And then I found her: LeBrie Rich.

LeBrie Rich is the proprietor and felt artist (feltrist?) of Penfelt.  Once I saw the variety of hand-crafted felt items on her website, from wearables to objects d’art, I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “this crafty craftsperson may be up to a custom order.” And indeed, HRH Ms. Rich, the self-titled (and deservedly so) Duchess of Felt, was game for a challenge.  As per my input she designed for me a skinny, pumpkin-orange felt necktie.  Adorned with little orange felt balls. My happiness knows no bounds.

You may say I’m a dreamer….

More stories like this, about river otters returning to formerly uninhabitable habitats ,  is what I want to see in 2013.

*   *   *

Holiday detritus

♫Peace on earth and mercy mild/goddamned sinners reconciled♫
Ahem…that would be,
Peace on earth and mercy mild/god and sinners reconciled.  (Hark the Herald Angels)

While scanning radio channels a couple of weeks ago, I caught the tail end of a program that had apparently featured a Holiday version of Mondegreens.   You know what a Mondegreen is, even if you’ve never heard that particular term.  A Mondegreen is a malapropism of your ears. Instead of mis-saying the wrong word or phrase, you mis-hear it.  The neologism is attributed to writer Sylvia Wright, who in a 1954 Harper’s column wrote about her chagrin at discovering that as a young girl she had misheard the last stanza of one of her favorite Scottish poems, “The Bonny Earl O’Moray.”

What Wright heard: They hae slain the Earl O’ Moray, And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual line was: They hae slain the Earl O’ Moray/And laid him on the green.

Love the experience, hate the name.  Mondegreen?  Such a delightful oops phenomenon, the kind that makes us certain we heard John Fogerty giving an antsy concertgoer helpful directions on where to recycle his beer:

“There’s a bathroom on the right”

when he was actually singing, There’s a bad moon on the rise,  is deserving of a more interesting appellation.  Suggestions, anyone?

My all-time, personal favorite Mondegreen in personal to me in that I might be the only person alive who swears she heard the song this way.  A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I thought rocker Billy Squire was singing an ode to the love that dare not speak its name – that of Liberace for his favorite lighting fixture.

 Turns out Billy Boy was not crooning, “My Candelabra,” but rather, My Kind of Lover.  Yeah, suuuuuuure.  Take a listen for yourself , and then tell me I was mistaken.

I’d love to hear your favorite aural mishaps.  Here are some of mine, listed by “Mondegreen,” accurate line (song/recording artist)

♫ “Midnight after you’re wasted.” Midnight at the oasis. (Midnight at the Oasis/Maria Muldaur)

♫ “The girl with colitis goes by.” The girl with kaleidoscope eyes. (Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds/The Beatles)

♫ “I got no towel, I hung it up again.” I get knocked down, but I get up again. (Tubthumping/ Chumbawumba)

♫ “Excuse me, while I kiss this guy.” ‘Scuse me, while I kiss the sky. (Purple Haze/Jimi Hendrix)

♫ “Let’s pee in the corner/Let’s pee in the spotlight.”  That’s me in the corner/That’s me in the spotlight.  (“Losing My Religion”/R.E.M.)

♫ “She’s got electric boobs/her mama, too…” She’s got electric boots/a mohair suit… (Bennie and the Jets/Elton John) 

♫ “Are you going to starve an old friend?” Are you going to Scarborough Fair? (Scarborough Fair/Simon & Garfunkel)

♫ “Baking carrot biscuits.” Takin’ care of business. (Takin’ Care Of Business/Bachman-Turner Overdrive )

♫ “Four-headed woman.” [3] More than a woman.  (More Than a Woman/The Bee Gees)

♫ “Ham on rye.” I’m alright.  (I’m Alright/Kenny Loggins)

♫ “I’ll never leave your pizza burning.” I’ll never be your beast of burden. (Beast of Burden/The Rolling Stones)

♫ “I’m the god of Velveeta.” In the garden of Eden. (In-a-gadda-da-vita/Iron Butterfly[4])

♫ “Pretty Woman, won’t you lick my leg.” Pretty Woman, won’t you look my way. (Pretty Woman/Roy Orbison)

♫ “Secret Asian man.” Secret agent man. (Secret Agent Man/Johnny Rivers)

♫ “Since she put me down there’ve been owls pukin’ in my bed.” Since she put me down I’ve been out doin’ in my head. (Help Me Rhonda/Beach Boys)

*   *   *

Holiday detritus: The sequel

Despite having abdicated my presidency of the National Sarcasm Society,[5] I have sometimes been accused of viewing the world through jaundice-colored glasses.  But my inherent skepticism re sentimentality goes on hiatus for Misty River‘s poignant, Don’t Take Down the Mistletoe. Even a reputed cynic like me can become teary-eyed when I hear this song, with its beautiful harmonies and the theme of appreciating that which so often seems unnoteworthy – the simple joys of what is (and who are) right in front of you.  It gives hope to Old Married Farts® like moi.

*   *   *

That’s enough for a heart-warming interlude.  Leave the mistletoe up, sure, but it’s time to get re-pissed about something.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, former astronaut Mark Kelly phoned his wife, the former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who as we all know was gravely wounded in the 2011 Tucson shooting.  As per an interview with the Washington Post, Kelly said to her, “Gabby, we can’t just put out a statement anymore….If we just talk about it, things won’t change. We need to try and help.”

I applaud Giffords’ and Kelly’s launching of an anti-gun violence organization to take on the NRA and pro-assault weapons lobbyists and push for legislative changes in America’s gun laws.  This is a pathetically long-delayed baby step[6] in addressing an incredibly complicated issue[7]…but all the legislation in the world won’t make a difference until there is a critical mass of attitude adjustment. This country needs a movement to change awareness and perception re firearms, ala MADD.

I’ve heard it said that the slack jawed and simple-minded good-hearted denizens of Droptrou, Alabama will never understand the benefits of regulating civilian ownership of military weaponry, and will cling to their guns like cheap, zero-ply, recycled environmentally-friendly toilet paper to a dingleberry.  But there are reasons for hope.

Can you picture today, in 2013, someone bragging about how he consumed three six-packs at ____ (Thanksgiving dinner; Joe’s Bar; his mother’s bat mitzvah), then drove home and took out his neighbor’s lawn jockey when he tried to park in his own garage but ended up on their front porch?

Uh…you can imagine that?  Yeah, me, too.

Okay, there are still yahoos like that, and probably always will be.  But the number of fatalities related to DUI has been declining in the past 30 years and continues to fall.  This is due in large part to a radical change in societal attitudes towards DUI since Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980.

It may be hard to remember that prosecuting attorneys used to defend themselves for not pursuing drunk drivers because they could rarely get a conviction. The P.A.s (and the drunk’s defense attorney) could count on at least a couple of jurors thinking to themselves, “Gee, I’ve driven ‘under the influence’ and I’m not a bad person – besides, the defendant didn’t mean to crash into the station wagon and kill that woman and her daughter and injure her husband and two sons[8]….”

Society needs a MADD-style movement applied to guns.  We’ll never be fully able to reason with a truly deranged person; I got that.  But I think that the alteration of the association of machismo and even patriotism with civilians having and using guns for anything other than sport shooting and subsistence hunting[9] is possible.

Many hunters hold nothing but scorn for their so-called peers who use semi-automatic or other assault style guns.  They consider it ungallant, unsportsmanlike[10] to say the least, and note that no “true hunter” should need – or want – an Uzi to bag a deer.

The drunk driver, once an inspiration for comedy and boys-will-be-boys type excuses, is now an object of revulsion.  In addition to the criminal penalties and civil liabilities resulting from a DUI conviction, I think the vast majority of Americans would be horrified, ashamed and humiliated to be known as someone who drinks and drives.  Imagine the change, if the same could be said about guns.

Dude, you bought an AR15?  What’s the matter – the Viagra not working for ya?

 Disclaimer:  my support for the attitude-adjusting work of MADD is in no way intended as a slight against a related organization, D-DAMM (Drunk Drivers Against Mad Mothers).

“Speaking personally, you can have my gun, but you’ll take my book when you pry my cold, dead fingers off of the binding.”  ― Stephen King

*   *   *

One of these days I’ll gripe blog about yet another fiction writer’s dirty little secret: the lack of time to read other people’s fiction.  Here’s a recent read I’m glad to have found time for:  Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers by Pendred Noyce .[11]

(I loathe the “age range” rankings common to the (American) book selling biz, and although both Amazon and Barnes & Noble put this book in their 9-12 readers category I recommend this book for adventurous readers aged 9 to 90.)

It doesn’t seem right to be at a loss for words when describing a book with “Lexicon” in the title, but that’s where I find myself after reading Noyce’s unique tale. Nevertheless (however; even so; all the same; as Emily the llama might suggest) I’ll give it a try.

Cousins Daphne and Ivan get more than they bargained for when, attempting to relieve their boredom on a rainy day, they embark on a treasure hunt that takes them from a magical cupola in their Great Aunt Adelaide’s barn to and through the enchanting, mind-boggling and sometimes frustrating Land of Lexicon.  As with all remarkable treasure hunts, a quest is involved: all of the children are missing from the various bordering, bickering villages of Lexicon, and their disappearance has something to do with the extraordinary, shimmering lights in the sky. The cousins must keep their wits (and nouns and adjectives and verbs…) about them as they traverse the peculiar, charming worlds of Lexicon, where they must solve a succession of puzzles involving imaginative syntax and math mysteries …

Gotcha, you sneak! – you might say at this point – this is a book adults want kids to read.  As in, give ’em an alleged adventure story to stealth-bomb them into absorbing some grammar and algebra lessons? Yes, it’s fantasy with “educational elements,” but the learnin’ stuff is expertly woven into the story (it is the story), and there’s nothing sneaky about it. Occasionally the narrative is too clever for its own good (if that can be considered a criticism) and the cast of village characters can be hard to keep track of, but it is refreshing to find a book that entices, rather than insults, the intelligence of both its characters and its intended audience.  Plus, you gotta (okay, I gotta) love a cast that includes Emily the loyal, thesaurus-ical llama, the verb-loathing Noun Man, the Mistress of Metaphor, bee-keeping witches, Mr. Prosaic, and other quirky characters prone to spouting lines like, “These lands exist as theoretical constructs, not tourist attractions!”

Oh, and the kids save the day and survive getting stung by grammar-sensitive bees. Hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Because I say so, that’s why. Also, whenever I wear a felt ball necklace someone always asks if they may touch it, which gives me the opportunity to graciously reply, “Yes, you may fondle my balls”.

[2] And for me, it is playing.  Anything other than my workout clothes or tie-dye t-shirts is dress-up.

[3] There needs to be a special award for this one, because a four-headed woman would be more than (just) a woman…wouldn’t she?

[4] The band themselves, drunk during a rehearsal in 1968, botched the lyrics, and decided to keep them this way. That is, the in-a-gadda way, not the Mondegreen, cheese-product way.

[5] official fundraising motto: “Like we need your support.”

[6] Paging Congress: report to Giffords and Kelly to be fitted for your testicular implants.

[7] Is anyone willing to substantively address the failure of deinstitutionalization?

[8] Which is what happened to friends of my family, 11:30 on a Sunday morning, on their way to church.  A drunk driver blew through a red light. The surviving sons both suffered permanent brain damage.

[9] And those rare cases of real and specific threat to one’s self or family (e.g., being stalked by a gun nut)

[10] Until you arm deer or quail or whatever you target with equal weaponry, I consider all sport-hunting of animals to be the ultimate definition of unsportsmanlike.

[11] Disclosure: although I’m no relation to the author and have never met her, my book The Mighty Quinn is forthcoming from Scarletta Press, Lost in Lexicon‘s publisher.