Thursday, April 29, 2010

Productivity Linked to Laziness: Studies Show That...

Yes, I made that headline up. But I believe it's true anyway. People often ask me, "where do you get your energy?" I have to laugh because I am definitely NOT energetic. I am seriously lazy. I like to sit on my ass and read. I also like to nap.

But I do tend to get a lot written, so it looks like I am highly productive. And I'm also very loud in public, so I frequently appear to be fueled by some kind of inner lithium battery. I'm not - I just really, really, really like coffee.

But coffee is not what really makes me productive. It helps, that's for sure, and so does regular infusions of chocolate. But what really makes me productive is that I am LAZY.

I'd rather sit on my ass and write than do laundry. Or cook. Or grocery shop. I'd rather type this blog than make the ortho appt. for my son or take the dog to the groomer. I'd rather sit and write than do just about anything else other than sit and read (truth told- I prefer to read lying down.).

Since writing stuff is now technically my job, I can get away with this. When my kids ask me to do something for them, I have the bestest excuse in the world: "Later, I'm working." This is not actually parental neglect - it is positive reinforcement of both the importance of the work ethic and a fostering of independence and maturity in my offspring. We all know that coddled kids grow up to be obnoxious adults, and insecure to boot since they can't even fold a pair of socks without assistance. I see my "laissez-faire" style as a positive antidote to this tendency.

So I delegate, highly effectively. My two sons have long been calling me "boot camp mommy." They do their laundry, look after the dog, and cook dinner 2-4 times a week. And not KD dinner - real food dinner. Roast chicken, Barbecued salmon, fresh homemade pasta in bolognese. I direct from my corner "office" - the fluffy chair in the kitchen. Do they mouth off and resent it? Sometimes, but not as often as you might think. They actually appreciate that they have skills their friends don't. Their competence has helped mitigate the typical teen angst (they're 15 and 17 now, but they've been doing lots around the house since they were itty-bitty boys) which comes with this stage in life.

My husband, too, does his share around the house. Reluctantly, in the past, but he got tired of me shrugging my shoulders when he tried to lay on the guilt. I'm a feminist, and I know there is nothing about these female hands that makes them better suited to household tasks than his manly ones. Besides, he is NOT lazy. He is restless - a perpetual motion machine. He likes getting out in the garden and pulling up weeds. I'd have to tie him to chair in the afternoon to get him to NOT do household chores.

So I've managed to reduce my household tasks to those of a typical man, which means I can get in a solid 8 hours of writing a day if I choose. Lazy is good, if you want to make a living as a writer.

But even so, I find that life squishes the time available both for productive writing and for fun. Since those are my two top priorities (along with regular exercise), everything else has to go. Adios, blow dryer! Adios, makeup (A quadruple timewaster, in my opinion: you spend time buying it, applying it, repairing it when you sweat, get rained on or go swimming, and then you have to take it off or find it all over your pillow - blech! Dumb dumb dumb). Fashion is dumb too, so I got rid of all my stupid clothes that require finicky care and stick to comfy stuff that can all get thrown in the wash in one mixed heap.

I've also given up buying stuff I don't need. Of course, that avoids the dispiriting, soul-sucking time you waste in the mall or the big box store - shoot me dead, please before making me wheel a megadrone wagon around Costco! - But the acquisition of useless stuff is just the tip of the time-eating, consumption iceberg.

The more crap you have, the more time it takes away from the important stuff, like, drinking coffee with your pals under the wisteria. When you've got stuff, you've got to clean it. Fold it. Find a place for it. Put it away. Take it out. Clean it again. Plus pay for it, insure it, protect it, dispose of it, move it from house to house...ack!

No, I say. GONE GONZO, GONEORAMA.  Better just one plate, one cup, one fork. And one really, really great smileyface bandana.

Last but not least, I don't multitask. What a ridiculous idea that is - if you do three things at one time, you will do all three poorly. Well, maybe not YOU, but I will. I'm a focused kind of gal. So when I write, I don't get up and wash dishes or take phone calls (besides, people know not to call me coz I  hate the phone). When I have coffee with a friend, I drink coffee and talk with my friend - Period. I don't check my 'berry, call my husband, or make a grocery list. You will get my full attention, which is also why I might smash into someone on the sidewalk when we are taking a walk, and why you really don't want me to drive you anywhere, since if I focus on you, I'm not gonna watch the road.

Ultimately, I have only three rules for myself, which I find tough enough to follow. Write as well as I can is rule one. The other two? Show up places I'm supposed to be clean, and on time.  Everything else is optional.

So that's where my energy comes from. I don't waste what limited resources I have on matching my purse to my shoes or dusting tchotchkes. And I have a fab family that pitches in and doesn't expect me to be their handmaiden. I'm lucky, I know. Because to be a truly successful lazy person requires tons of hard work!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't blame Powerpoint - Blame the Slidemakers for Poor Writing

A U.S. general recently heaped the blame for idiotic speeches on Powerpoint, the innocuous slidemaking tool that's part of Microsoft's popular Office software package. He said, "Powerpoint makes us stupid." (Here's the full article at the New York Times).

Sorry General Jerk, you do that all by yourself.

Powerpoint is a tool, not unlike a pencil, or even the laptop in which it resides. It is intellectually neutral. Its value is entirely dependent upon the information plunked into it by - OMG - a person.

The person who makes the powerpoint slides can be bright or moronic. He can be an effective and intelligent communicator, or a simpleton who misses the point. The slides he makes can be mind-numbingly rote, or inspiring and illuminating. I'm thinking now of that all programming rule, garbage in, garbage out. GIGO.

Ergo, you can't blame powerpoint for meaningless lists of bullets that overlook synergistic connections between each point. Nor can you blame powerpoint for a "bowl of spaghetti" flowchart that leaves the graphically-challenged flummoxed. You can only blame lazy, sloppy thinking and poor communication skills.

That's why the U.S. army needs me. No, I'm not enlisting, but I think, as a writer, I can teach General J a thing or two about how powerpoint - and good communication - works.

 #1 - Give a shit about what you are writing. If your aim is to put people to sleep for 45 minutes and collect your fee, write blah blah bullets. If you actually want to communicate, you have to care.

#2 - Respect your audience. If you think they are as dumb as all that, skip the  presentation and serve milk and cookies. Save your simplistic presentation for the generals, and give your audience a cogent, well-thought out, clearly organized and dramatically inspired presentation. You can even use powerpoint, if you use it properly.

#3 Can the jargon. The euphemisms. The PC blather. We all know when you are saying nothing. We are tired of it. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, in as few words as possible. Then go home.

#4 General J - you can't take stuff out of context and not look like an arsehole. That bowl of spaghetti graph? From my admittedly quick read of the NYT article, it was intended to show graphically the complexity of the Army's situation. “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General J  said, missing the point that the slide was supposed to be incomprehensibly complex.

#5 If you  are too busy or too communication-impaired to do a good job at your presentation, hire a writer.

It sounds like, in the final analysis, that Powerpoint is not the U.S. army's real problem. Rather, it is a culture that seeks routinized ways to handle information, people and situations, then applies those methods at every opportunity even when all sense is lost. If your top staff is spending all its time making meaningless slides for meaningless presentations so they can check of the "Done" box on their tasks lists, yup, you've got a problem. But it ain't powerpoint- it's empty-headed orders.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Considered Theory on Why Children's Authors Get No Respect

Now that I got my rant out of my system, I want to follow up with a more thoughtful post. Why is that authors of children's books get so little respect? From our friends and relatives? And even from writers of adult literature (they make us sit at the "kids table" at conferences - 'struth!)

I think it's because our society really does not respect children. Think about it - even with all the lip service given to education, and the importance of the next generation and how critical the early years are in human development, kids don't really count.

Why is it that high school and university teachers get paid more than elementary school teachers? Is their job harder? Does it require more knowledge? No it isn't harder - teaching elementary school well is about as tough a job as it gets. And it doesn't require more expertise or knowledge either. You need plenty of training and  years of experience to really get good at turning 6-year-old wild things into functional humans. So why do ivory tower types get the big bucks? Because of the implicit notion that littler people are worth less, and so are the people who work with them.

Take a look at policies regarding day care. How much money do we allot to looking after our youngsters? Generally less per kid than an average car owner pays to maintain their car per year. ($4k-10K for day care, $9K for the car, including depreciation, insurance, gas, maintenance and fuzzy dice.) I'm not a social policy expert, so don't harangue me about my figures - my point is simply that we don't devote much to looking after the little ones.

The simple truth is kids are as equally complex and as equally deserving  as we old folks are, and should be treated no differently than the rest of society. But it's been easy to disregard kids because they've traditionally been the province of women - another disregarded and disrespected group. When men don't deal with young children, it's easy to overlook their essential humanness - children are us, after all, in the make-over "before" pic.

I think, too, children remind us adults of our own essential vulnerability. A lot of the grownups I know spend a lot of time shoving down this realization. They no longer remember what it was like to be a child, or if they do, they hate what they recall and wish it had never happened. Lost dreams, dashed hopes, broken hearts - these happened to us. So we don't want to be reminded of a time before that, when the world was still new. Instead, we turn away, dismiss, ignore. We confuse youth with a lack of complexity. Ignorance with stupidity. Small size with small needs.

When you diminish the value of children, you can then diminish the value of everyone else who deals with them - teachers, day care workers, parents, and yes, writers. So what I experience is just the tip of the iceberg, really.

So this turned into a rant too! Oh well!

So you want to write a kids' book! Congratulations! Now Go Away.

Ok, maybe my title for this post is a bit harsh. But let me lie here on this fluffy, virtual shrink's couch I've constructed, just for a moment. I'll tell you about what it's like being a writer for children.

It's all about disrespect. (Shove on over Rodney D - my whinecellar is bigger than yours.)

Writing for kids guarantees a lifetime of total, constant, usually unintended but nevertheless wince-making disrespect. From everyone. Even my own kids don't think I actually DO anything. So it's true - I don't often LOOK like I'm working. I spend large parts of the day sitting in a fluffy chair, feet up, sipping coffee, petting the dog and tweeting my writer friends. Every once in a while, I get out of my fluffy chair to go sit in a different fluffy chair at a coffee shop, where I sip coffee and chat with my writer friends in person.

The rest of the time, I take naps. (Maybe the kids have a point...)

I can handle the kids' disdain. What parent hasn't felt that? Worse is the "support" from all the loving relatives. The ones who have been asking me since 1985, "Are you still doing your little business, dear?"  Yes. I am. Would you like to read one of my books? Didn't think so.

Or the acquaintances who ask me, ever so brightly, "Can I buy your books in stores?"  Of course not! I'm just the crazy, ego-mad lady with the printing press in my basement, hand-binding stories about talking possums. Surprised you didn't notice I'm wearing a clown suit under my sweatpants.

And please, do you know how many people have asked me when I'll be as rich or successful as J.K. Rowling? Oy. When are YOU, oh-so-superior and condescending computer programming functionary, going to be as successful as that guy, whatshisname again, Bill Gates???

But nothing bugs me more than the guy who shoehorns me into the corner at the Christmas party (this happens every year), scotch in hand and sour breath in my face, and confides, "I've got a book idea. Should I get myself an agent now?" 

Gasp and choke.

Now I'm perfectly happy to help a new author learn the ropes. I love to see others make their dreams come true. I like "mentoring." All I ask is that anyone hoping to start a career in children's books start out with a healthy respect for both the writers who do it and the seriousness of the industry. And, yes, with a little respect for me.

To Wit:

1. Kids' publishing is a real business. With real businessy things like supply chains, trade shows, unique market conditions and an ever-changing field of play. You may be king of the hardware wholesale business, but you probably know squat about the book biz. In the same way I wouldn't go into business selling, say, toupees, without a knowledge of the men's hair replacement business, don't even think about writing a kids book without learning about the kids book biz. Do you know how a book is made, what a standard picture book page count or word count is? Find out FIRST.

2. Being a writer is equivalent to being a sole proprietor of a small manufacturing firm. You wear all the hats: producer, quality control manager, sales rep, publicity director, bookkeeper and purchasing agent. If you don't have any business skills to handle all these roles, you are going to have a tough time making a go of it in the publishing world. At the very least, you need basic sales skills. If you don't know how to find and identify your customer, then qualify them (and if you don't know what "qualifying the customer" means, uh-oh), you are in for a toughie. If the idea of calling an editor on the phone and pitching your book makes you break into cold sweats, double uh-oh. Not that you can't hit it big without any sales know how, but let's just say you'd be better off betting on 00 in roulette.

3. Here's a biggie: Go to a bookstore. Stand in the kids' section. Read some of the books. Surprise! The most popular ones may look very very different from the one you are considering writing. Most of the people who tell me they want to write kids' books are remembering books they loved when they were kids, or when their kids were young. Or they have a "sweet" idea based on something they told their grandchildren. Or a terribly horrifying didactic idea about flushing after you poo.

Standards and styles in children's literature have changed enormously in the last decade, and they keep on changing at an ever-faster pace. Learn what current books look like before you invest your time or my patience in your project.

4. If you haven't been writing for a long time, you may be surprised at just how tricky writing for kids is. Many of us think it's a lot harder writing for a young audience than it is to write for an older one. First of all, most grownups don't lie down on the floor and go to sleep when they don't like your writing, or shout out "BORING!" when you present your work at a school library. Believe me, a kid will not put on a polite smile and pretend to like your sucky tale. Neither will most editors, who've seen more crap than you'd ever want to imagine in one lifetime. Learn to define "crap" the way both a kid and a kids' editor does (Psst: it's your first draft.).

One reason kids' books are harder to write is because they are shorter. Just like haiku, shorter books, have fewer words than other forms of writing. That means every single one has to be perfect. EVERY SINGLE WORD.

And a word to all would-be Leonard Cohens of the Kindergarten set: If you want to write verse, look up what the word "scan" means in the dictionary. Ten-to-one your poem about your cute Pekingese doesn't scan - which means it's a dog.

5. So here's my bottom line: Sure, I'll help you with your great idea - IF you have already shown me that you treat kids and kids' authors and kids' books with the proper respect. If you've gone to the trouble to learn about the business, connect with other writers or book people through the vast resources currently available, honed your business and writing skills, AND actually read my books, well then yes, let's talk about your project. But you've got to take those first baby steps on your own.

I have coffee to drink now. And the dog needs petting. So come back later, ok? I promise I won't be so cranky.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Update: New additions to the all-time funniest words in the English list #language #fb

We've got new words!!!

Kidlit doyenne Vicki Grant (Pigboy, The Puppet Wrangler) has offered two: Crepuscular and carbuncle. I should have thought of carbuncle myself, since it appears in my picture book ms. that's now out on submission, How Dragon's Learned to Fly,

                                "Doc Dora trilled, "Say 'Bob's your uncle!'
                                 And toodle-oo to that carbuncle!"

Crepescular, on the other hand, would have never made it on to my list, since I'd never heard it before. Thanks to Vicki, I now know that this super-hilarious word refers to the quality of twilight, the half light of dawn and sunset.

My husband contributed both Hyperbole and Parabola. He was eating a bolasupe at the time, har har.









Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to Stimulate Scientific Curiosity in Your Kids

A lot of people - parents and teachers - ask for my advice on how to get kids interested in science. My answer: It's easier than you think.

Kids are naturally curious, and science, in my humble opinion, is simply the Art of Curiosity. Getting kids to be interested in scientific topics and to develop scientific know-how is less a matter of turning them on than not turning them off.

Here are some of my suggestions for giving kids the science bug. I'm basing my ideas on the zillion and a half classroom presentations I've done to date. And no, I'm NOT exaggerating (ok, maybe it just feels like a zillion...)

1. Don't pretend to know everything. Don't think you have to  know everything. When your daughter asks a question you can't answer, such as, "Why does grandpa have so much hair growing out of his ears?" admit you are puzzled too! Then hunt up the answer together. Sometimes, this will entail a bit of research at the library or on the Internet. Other times, it will require direct observation and analysis - Aha! You're now doing an experiment!

2. Get out of their faces. Kids need time to think, to muse, to ponder and to wonder - just like adults. That's where intriguing questions come from: How do fireflies light up like that? Are rocks alive? Do dogs feel happiness or anger? What makes Jello jello-y? Children can't let their minds go down paths that interest them if you are constantly guiding them, directing them, or just bugging them.

3. Similarly, don't overprogram your kids. Guess what - sending your kids to science camp may be less helpful to developing a scientific-minded kid than letting them hang out at the park. Time is critical to developing critical-thinking skills (sorry for the bad pun!): Compulsive busyness is the death of thought.

4. Develop your own spirit of science inquiry.  Get in the habit of questioning whatever you hear, see or read. Is anti-bacterial cleanser really better than the ordinary stuff? What about organic food - will it really affect your health, or is a scam? What does "a 25% increase in childhood obesity" really mean? Then find out the answers to your own questions. Discuss with your kids, so they see how asking a question is the first step toward learning. Just like - drumroll - science!

5. Let 'em muck about.  Ok, not on your heirloom dining table. But let your kids explore everything and anything - mud, eggs, tree bark, the underside of a cockroach. You can help them by providing tools that will turn random exploration into productive creativity: notebooks for jotting down questions as they arise, or findings; sketchpad to make drawings, field guides, magnifying glasses, etc. The more varied the materials and experiences kids are exposed to, the richer their thinking will be; it's hard to be curious about how seeds are formed if you've never planted one.

6. Honor their efforts, more than the results. You can't do science without making mistakes. Blind alleys, false findings, and just plain screw ups: these are not only part and parcel of the scientific process, they are the very foundation of it. Graham Bell made more mistakes than you can throw a cell phone at. Edison tested thousands of new inventions, and most of them failed - he made something like 900 previous attempts at his light bulb before he hit on the one that worked. Remind kids that in the world of science, there is not always a "right" answer, just "better" answers. (In fact, you can't actually prove a hypothesis is true, only that it is not false!)

One of my favorite activities to do with kids comes from my book Science on the Loose.  We lay a jump rope on the floor in a circle, then draw it tighter and tighter until a watching "victim" thinks it's the circumference of their waist. The victim steps into the circle and we lift up the rope to see how accurate the guess. No one has ever guessed even remotely correctly!  I ask kids to develop a hypothesis - a guess - of why this might be the case. And then I tell them that any of their hypotheses may be right, because no one knows the answer, even though this activity has been replicated thousands of times all over the world.

Trying to discover the answer to this puzzle - That's science.  We're all capable of doing it. Whether or not our children find the answers isn't the point of science learning. Instead, it's all about asking the questions. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Top Ten Funniest Words in the English Language

It's entirely subjective, of course. But some words just make me laugh. Some words make kids laugh too - reliably, and at great length. For some reason I cannot comprehend, grade 5 kids find the word "saggy" absolutely hilarious. Grade 2s, on the other hand, respond by falling over in giggle-fits every time you say "underwear."

Saggy and underwear, great as they are, are not inherently funny (ok, maybe saggy has a nice, amusing ring to it). But some words are totally giggle-worthy, even when divorced from their meaning. Pickle, for one. It's hard not to laugh when there's a pickle under discussion.

I know, for example, that comedians extol the virtues of the letter K, saying that words that have a k in them are definite laugh-getters. There's something to it - after all, "kumquat" is pretty darn ridiculous. As is "ridiculous." And whether or not they are made with vinegar, pickles always do contain a comic k.

So, in the interests of scientific inquiry,  I've decided to start compiling a list of the all time top funniest words in the English language. The rules are simple: the words can't be rude, and should be funny mostly because of the way they sound, not because of what they mean.

To get things going, herewith, my top ten offerings, subject to revision as more silly syllables spring to mind:

10. Corollary (especially the way Canadians say it, with the emPHAsis on the seCOND syllABle

9. Expunge

8. Persnickety

7. Blurb

6. Pulchritude

5. Tipple

4. Bladder

3. Pickle


and my favorite funny word of all time....

1. Nincompoop

Please feel free to argue with me and supply your own choices. I will definitely laugh while reading them, and may find nice use for them all in future poems.

The Amazing Frieda

This past week, I had the honor to visit a nearby school along with picture- and chapter-book author Frieda Wishinsky. Frieda is both a former teacher and a wonderful and engaging person, so I was looking forward to getting a chance to see her present to 4 groups of kindergarten and grade 1 students. I wasn't disappointed.
When I sneaked into the room (having just finished my own presentation with the grade 2s), Frieda was in the process of turning the grade 1 teacher  into a baby! She had the teacher act out the part of the crying newbie in her first picture book, Oonga Boonga.

In the story, nothing stops the baby from crying except her older brother saying the nonsense phrase, "Oonga Boonga!" You can see what happens as the kids shout out the words. The teacher's face shows their success.

Frieda kept the kids rapt for the entire presentation.

The highlight, of the day for me, was when she had the kids themselves act out the story of Please Louise, her current bestseller. (And one of my favorites, since it's got the most adorable illos by Marie-Louise Gay - I'm VERY partial to the dog in this book!!) Again, her technique was to get participants to act out parts from the book - the older brother, the younger ANNOYING younger sister (she wore a button that read, in large letters, "Annoying") and the dog. To make their acting jobs easier, Frieda used a magic wand to "poof" them into the story. You can see how seriously the big brother "Jake" took this magic.
I learned a lot from watching Frieda in action. I bet these lucky kids did too.

( own presentations went pretty well too!)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Celebrating Hockey Hilarity at the 'ockey 'all of Fame

Last week, to mark the completion of the first draft of my magnum opus, The Hilarious History of Hockey, I decided to make a much overdue pilgrimage to the Temple of Hockey, the Hockey Hall of Fame. Choosing to accompany me, because there really wasn't very much else to do that day, were my acolytes, I mean family members, Larry (my uncle, visiting from NY), and Moe (my 15-year-old ds, who's real name is Andrew, but because he is very agreeable when I am paying, said he'd answer to Moe for this event). Together, we became the Three Mostly Canadian Stooges - since, I, of course, am Curly.

I've produced this rough photojournalistic essay of our slapstick visit (or, if you prefer, our slapshot, hockey stick visit), complete with commentary from each of the Three Stooges, for your blog-reading pleasure. I hope you enjoy your virtual visit.

The Temple. Don't you just feel your heart beating faster looking at it? Actually, this impressive facade is the back door. You have to go around to the other side, through a mall and down an escalator to get to the entrance to the museum. Cheesy.

That's me, Curly, in the back.I have no idea who these other losers are, but they seem to be typically cold, hard-hearted Torontonians.

This is Larry and Moe.

The holy corridor through which one must pass before you can approach the Shrine. It reminds me of when Dorothy steps into Emerald City.
Or Chartres Cathedral. Take your pick of metaphors.

I call this photo "Stripes." (You can see why I'm a writer, eh?)


Moe's comment: Gretzky Shmetzky.
Larry's comment: Wayne Who?


Moe's Comment: They look like crap.
Larry's Comment: It gets cold up here in Canada. Gloves are important.

Young Mario Lemieux

Moe's Comment: He looks like a dick.
Larry's Comment: Mario Le Who?

Hockey "art." Notice the Rocket's eye on the puck? And that's supposed to be his foot in a really bad painting.

Moe: That's weird. And stupid.
Larry: The art is not, what you call, to my taste.

Original Boston Bruins jersey. Colors chosen to match the owners' grocery store logo.

Moe: Those are the ugliest colors I've ever seen in my life.
Larry: That's not, what you call, to my taste.

An old Leafs jersey. Study at it carefully - you see all those points on the leaf? They are significant. Look what happened to the points over the next years....

You see the difference??? The points on the leaf have disappeared!! There are only 11 points on the leaf in this jersey, which is - GASP - from 1967 - THE LAST YEAR THE LEAFS WON THE CUP.
So here's my theory: by eliminating the points from the leaf, the team accidentally also eliminated their points in the game....Fewer points on the jersey, fewer points on the ice!!!!

Moe: You are such an idiot.
Larry: I haven't the faintest idea what you are talking about, but if you say so, it must be right. You're a smart cookie, everyone knows that.

That's me trying on Ken Dryden's pads.

Moe: You look like an idiot, Mom. Again.Or should I say, Still.
Larry: I wouldn't want to go up against you in a dark alley.

A recreation of the Habs locker room

Moe: Don't say that H word in my presence again, Mom.(Yes, he's a Leaf fan, a congenital defect from having been born in Toronto.)
Larry: Hab a nice day.


Moe: Mom, you are SUCH an idiot.
Larry: That purse would go nicely with your outfit. Very colorful.

Iconic goalie masks - molded into beer kegs.

Moe: Now THAT is cool. Heh  heh.
Larry: Oy.

'Nine' flavors of tomato soup.

Moe: Shouldn't it be 'pea soup?'
Larry: Beans would have been more useful for someone named 'Rocket.'

Cool! - It's the Women's World Champs Plate -with a future Canadian hockey star in the center!!!

Moe: C'mon, mom. You're taking too long here.
Larry: Leave me out of this one, sonny.

The jersey of my all-time favorite team, the New York Americans, the 'Star-Spangled Skaters.' Owned by a rumrunner who was serving time in prison. And betrayed by Rangers owner Tex Rickard, who had promised not to let another team use Madison Square Garden, but then went ahead and started his own when he saw how much money he could make off of men on skates bashing each other with sticks.

Moe: (rolled eyes) You're lecturing, mom.
Larry: (nodded and rolled eyes too.)

A display case full of all kinds of Islanders crap. I took this picture specifically for my dear friend Jeff Weiss who tortured me all through the '70s with his Islanders obsession. We used to sit in his family's rec room and watch the games while he shot nerf balls at a net he'd set up next to the TV. He'd also periodically scream, "Mike Bossy is GOD!" in my ear, which is why I am partially deaf on the left side. If you want to know why I didn't just leave, it's because all the boys from the neighborhood were also in that rec room watching the game. I was stuck - spend the evening in Islanders-Freakland, or be a lonely gal, sitting around watching Masterpiece Theatre with my Mom and Dad.

Moe: (pointing at me) Ha-ha, loser!!!
Larry: I happen to know your mother and father. Very nice people, both of them. And I always enjoyed Masterpiece Theatre. Very good acting, I remember.
Moe is finally happy now that he can touch the Grail. I tell him about all the various players who have pooped, peed and barfed in it and he steps back a tad.

I, too, am awed by Its Holiness. Notice, though, I am not touching the filthy thing.

Moe: Let's go eat lunch.
Larry: Do you have any good diners in this town?
And so we bid a fond farewell to the Hockey Hall of Fame, having experienced the thrill of a lifetime. Or at least, the thrill of an afternoon.

Moe: That was cool.
Larry: I enjoyed it very much. But I always enjoy everything, you know.

Because: Science!