Friday, December 30, 2011

Accomplishment #42: Make a Video (#51)

Like many delusional children, I had dreams that I would grow up and be a glamorous movie star. (And a writer. And a Broadway sensation. And an ice cream truck driver if those things didn't pan out.) I just knew I had that certain *something* that was special, and that I was destined for Greatness. Tatum O'Neal? BAH. Kristy McNichol? Pffft. Jodie Foster? No way! (Though one of my mom's friends told me I looked like her, in the era of Candleshoe, and I cried. What I wouldn't give to look like her now.) They were NOTHINGS. I, Karen Finlay, was going to star in movies, be a regular on The Love Boat, AND be on the cover of Dynamite Magazine! (And be a writer, a Broadway sensation and an ice cream truck driver.) I was going to take the world by storm!

This really should have been me. From Super Seventies.

Alas, I lost a few things along the way to my star on Hollywood Blvd: All self-esteem and ambition once hitting puberty and junior high school -- or middle school as they call it nowadays -- that time frame between 11 and 13 that should, really, be totally illegal. But I did discover a fundamental truth about myself at a young age while auditioning for a minor role in a school production of Blithe Spirit: I couldn't act my way out of a paper bag. I couldn't even lie convincingly to my mom when asked, "Who ate all the Girl Scout cookies?" Nor could I tap dance, sing, have a fashionable hairstyle, or do math. (Math has nothing to do with it, but I really can't do math.) I also can't drive large vehicles, so my ice cream truck dreams were dashed, too.

So I kind of stuck with the writing thing instead of the whole acting thing. But still, like most delusional people, I harbored a secret fantasy that someday I would become a famous movie star -- but without really doing anything like have talent or beauty or mad acting skillz. Though I don't think being famous is as fun as it used to be -- I have gathered that in the past few years, in order to be a movie star, one must go to rehab, enroll in upper division college courses, have a baby (or pretend to), get married (but only for 1 month to 1 year), engage in what is called "canoodling" with rap stars, have a clothing line with your name on it but designed by people with the fashion sense of sewer rats, and one's only form of self-expression is infantile Twitter posts, because there's no time to actually make movies while keeping oneself famous.

So being a movie star isn't quite as glamorous as it used to be, but some old dreams die hard. I can't help plotting my outfits and witty repartee for future appearances on the late-night talk show circuit and my Oscar acceptance speech anyway. A part of me longs for the greasepaint... The lights, the cameras, and the action.

Well, in 2011, those dreams came true! I, Karen Finlay, starred in not one but TWO films this year -- that's more than Natalie Portman, and she won the Oscar! (Though I know my Best Actress acceptance speech would be WAY better than hers. Harrummph.)

The first one was a super cool project by my friend Nicole Burch, who is an incredibly talented compositor and digital artist, and whose credits include Captain America and Thor! She had an idea for a 50's themed short she wanted to direct, and asked if we'd be willing to lend our house and star. Well, since I've wanted to be a famous movie star for like forever (and really, because Nicole is a dear friend and I was super honored to be asked), we jumped at the chance!

And it was so much fun -- a REAL film crew came to the house, with lights and sound and all that professional equipment!

Nicole and Kyle giving the thumbs up!

And we did real takes and everything, and Nicole directed me on mad acting skillz:

"So, like, it should go there? How should I play it? Should I look happy? Sad? What would Zsa Zsa do?"

And then when it was all over we were sad and were going to miss our new friends:

Jon, me, Nicole, Simranjit, Kyle and Jackie

And then Nicole added 3D animation, the multi-talented Ryan Rorie added the soundtrack, and voila! It's Fantastic!

What's For Dinner? from Nicole Burch on Vimeo.

I LOVE it! I wish I were a better actress (maybe I should have kept those dreams alive and taken a couple of acting classes for my Big Moment) for Nicole's sake, but wow! It was so cool to be part of it, and so awesome to see the final outcome. What a huge honor!

But I didn't just take a hiatus and fly off to an exotic island vacation and canoodle with a local rap star, oh no. I jumped right back in front of the camera! I was thrilled to collaborate with my BFF Carrie Swing, whose blog, Carried Away With Vintage Gourmet is one of the best blogs out there. (Have you checked it out? If not, BOOKMARK IT NOW!) A girl after my own heart, she re-creates vintage recipes and blogs about it, with often hilarious results. We were talking about how we could bring the world of vintage recipes AND Tupperware together (yes, I'm still selling the fantastic plastic!)and we decided to make a video!

So after getting Jon to be the cameraman (and bartender), we filmed ourselves making "Best Oven Hash" from the 1963 Better Homes and Gardens So Good Meals cookbook, using all Tupperware products (except for my mom's 1963 Fire King casserole dish -- don't ever put Tupperware in an oven!) and it was so fun!

Here's Carrie's blog entry that includes the recipe -- it really IS delicious!

We didn't even practice OR edit! Not bad, I say... But if I were a movie critic, I would have to say that Carrie and Tupperware are the stars of the show, and I need to go to rehab and get on an intense Jillian Michaels workout routine and get rid of the weird lisp I just discovered I have. But you know what all that means? I am totally on my way to becoming a REAL movie star and on the cover of People and US Magazines! And isn't Julia Roberts married to her cameraman? See, I'm totally on the right path!

Now, I know that the book said to MAKE a video, but don't worry, I did THAT, too!

CHECK OUT THE ARTISTRY. MARVEL at the technical aspects! Look at the zoom ins, and the sweep of terrifying food wreckage. See how the Sterno flames from the cabbage hover in the center, with Vienna sausages orbiting outwards? That is symbolism for the heat and passion within the artist's heart, and the ideas and creativity emanating like planets, representing crystalline thoughts realized from... Oh WHATEVER. It's 13 seconds of a flaming cabbage dish from this year's Mid-Century Supper Club Potluck, but honestly it looks a lot better than most of the "arty" films I've endured. More festive anyway.

So I'd like to thank the Academy, errr, Nicole for asking us to be part of her special project, which was such an honor and so much fun; Carrie for being my BFF and fabulous collaborator, Jon for being an awesome boyfriend, bartender and cameraman, Tupperware for just being terrific, Mona San Filippo for the flaming cabbage, and all of YOU for reading my blog!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to The Vanity Fair Oscar Party, because that's the fancy one, dahlings. I've chartered my own ice cream truck limo, and I can't wait to say, "In your FACE, Kristy McNichol!" Maybe we'll get on the cover of Dynamite Magazine together. And don't worry, I'll totally Tweet about it.

Forty-two down, 55 to go.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays from 97-Land!

Just checking in to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kooky Kwanzaa, Fabulous Festivus or December 24th... Whatever you celebrate, hope it's a great one!

I don't know about the rest of you, but Christmas is a bit of a challenge for me every year. I always want to Accomplish tons of stuff, like decorate with real fir boughs and holly, bake peppermint macaroons and cook figgy pudding, find perfect presents for everyone I know and wrap them beautifully using twigs and glitter, and eat things like goose. So, basically, do all the things I have never done before and that I am completely incapable of doing. And then I never do ANY of those things and suddenly it's Christmas Eve and I'm all, "OH NO. I still haven't finished shopping for the 3 people I DO have to shop for and I don't even know what figgy pudding IS!" I blame Martha Stewart, Charles Dickens, Lexus commercials and Pinterest for my inadequacy.

This is where I SHOULD say, "But I'm not inadequate! Because those things aren't the true meaning and spirit of Christmas!" Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get enough "messages" forced upon us this time of year, so I'm not adding to that. Maybe I'll rant about it in July. Right now I'm just going to chalk it up to not finding the right balance between busy and lazy, and figgy pudding will just have to wait. Until July. (Or never. I think it sounds weird.) Besides, I'm doing laundry right now, and that's Accomplishing something!

So today, I'm finally going to stop berating myself for lack of figgy pudding and macaroons, put on sweatpants, drink some nog and not do much of anything. Except get some last minutes gifts, brave the market for food for brunch tomorrow, bake cookies for Santa (I'm so glad he likes those Pillsbury dough rolls), make lunch for two trying-not-to-be-cranky children who I've already told that they have to do EVERYTHING I SAY ON CHRISTMAS EVE OR ELSE I'LL RAT THEM OUT TO SANTA, fight the crowds at Santa Claus Lane, go to a party, find all the presents I hid all over the house and don't remember where they are, and wrap them. THEN I'm putting in sweatpants, a tiara, and hitting the nog. Ahh well. It's tradition!

But if you want to feel Accomplished and Christmas Spirit-y and stuff, you can donate to the blog's online food drive here.

But my main Accomplishment in writing this post is wishing you all Happy Holidays, and to say thank you for reading this sporadic blog. I'll let the glamorous Gabors illustrate it more beautifully than I ever could:

Happy Holidays, dahlings! Go be merry and bright! xoxo

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Love this.


I just wanted to wish all of you a Happy Halloween! I myself have not done any of the crazy hi-jinks I used to do in the days of old, thanks to being sick the week before this grand holiday. And, well, thanks to being kinda old. TP-ing sounds awful, as does doing shots with spooky names, and I don't find sexy zombie costumes sexy. But hey, this is coming from someone who is dressing up for work as Little Edie Beale from "Grey Gardens," so only about 4 people there will know who I am. The rest will think that I am a crazy homeless lady clutching a bag of Wonder Bread. Sigh.

In any case, this is an Accomplishment because I've wanted to be Little Edie for so many years and I haven't done it which is stupid because it's the one costume where I don't have to buy anything, except the aforementioned Wonder Bread. However, last year I was Zombie Tupperware Lady which wasn't sexy but it was kind of AWESOME:

And to revisit the ghosts of Halloweens past, please click here.

Have a fantastic Halloween, everyone... And you have my full permission to trick anyone who hands out toothbrushes and/or little boxes of raisins. UGH.

Huurrrrryyyy baaaaaack! Huuuurrryyy baaaaaack!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Still working on #41...

Look at these awesome people.

Those are my awesome coworkers at The Alameda County Community Food Bank!

Today's the last day of National Food Bank Week. I must admit, all I've done is buy a few cans of food and donated, but I wish I'd done more.

But one thing I can do is alert you to my last post, and if you'd like to donate to The 97 Things Virtual Food Drive, click the link! I'd like to reach $970 by the end of the year, and we're not even at 10%. Won't you please help? Even $5 goes a long way. And you feel TOTALLY Accomplished.

Thanks, all!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Accomplishment #41: Feed The Needy (#70)

Among the many things on my To-Do List (for example: win the lottery, write a best selling novel, canoe down a lava bed in a titanium canoe), one of the things I've been meaning to do forever has been to volunteer at a local food bank. I've always thought it seemed like such a good and necessary thing to do, and something that would not only help others, but be rewarding, too. I had a friend who could never do anything on certain nights, and she never said why -- she just couldn't -- and would change the subject. When I finally pressed her long and hard enough (I was SURE she was having an affair), she admitted that she was volunteering at the local soup kitchen, and even taking Spanish classes so she could talk to a lot of the people she was serving. The way she spoke about it when her secret was revealed was so inspirational, and it made me want to help, too. (I wasn't even disappointed to discover that she wasn't having an affair. That's how happy she was.)

But, as usual, life got in the way. Weekends are always busy. Work is tiring. Too broke to donate. And HOW does one even go about doing anything? The closest I ever got was Jennye and I collecting donations at The Mid Century Supper Club Potlucks, which yielded a lot of cans donated in a barrel at work, which was actually really great. But it wasn't until my BFF Leslie created a volunteer day for our work, and motivated 2 groups of us to help out at The Alameda County Community Food Bank that I finally got to do what I've been meaning to do for years.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew you had to dress for warehouse conditions and wear close-toed shoes (which I always do anyway), but other than that, I had no idea. Would we be hauling cans? Sifting? (Jon had sifted, so he told me all about that.) Sorting?

Turns out, it was none of the above. It was bagging celery.

Lots and lots of celery.

But by doing this:

(This is Leslie in action, BTW. She gets a Big Blue Star in my book.)

We wound up doing 6,082 pounds of this:

And that, my friends, is an awesome feeling.

The Alameda County Community Food Bank serves 49,000 people a week. One in six people in our county is hungry and can't afford food. And it's not just in Alameda county -- there are 49 million people across the United States struggling with hunger.* And if the economy doesn't get better, it will just get worse and more people will be relying on the food banks for help. We had an information session, and I don't know if there was a dry eye or a throat that didn't have a lump in that room. We were told stories of teachers who had always been fine financially, but like so many, they had gotten laid off and finally in desperation had to come to the food bank. And stories about fathers who couldn't afford to have birthday parties for their children, and the food bank made it possible. (Just thinking of these stories makes me well up all over again.) And there are many, many more stories on the news, on the internet, and even from the people you walk past every day. They may not necessarily be holding signs, but they're there. The food bank makes it possible for them to eat, and gain something just as important: dignity. I think we all walked out of there feeling really good that we had helped, and even more -- we were ready to do more.

Around the same time that I volunteered, my awesome friend Mary started a virtual food drive called "Feed Oakland" through the Alameda County Community Food Bank and made it fun -- each neighborhood in Oakland "competed," and at the end of 30 days, she had raised $1500! The Food Bank is able to stretch dollars so that for every dollar donated, they can distribute $5 worth of good, nutritious food to families in need. Mary's great idea turned into $7500 worth of food!

So I am totally stealing Mary's amazing idea for this blog (thanks, Mary!), and it just so happens that October 16-22 is National Food Bank Week -- I had no idea until I sat down tonight and started writing this blog. What perfect timing!

I created a virtual food drive with Feeding America, so that anyone anywhere can donate. Feeding America is the leading domestic hunger relief organization, with network food banks serving every state. Feeding America’s nationwide network of over 200 food banks provides food and groceries to 33,500 food pantries, 4,500 soup kitchens and 3,600 emergency shelters. This extensive network helps feed 37 million Americans each year -- delivering over 3 billion pounds of food. Each week nearly 5.7 million people receive emergency food assistance from an agency served by a Feeding America member.

And what's great about them is that for every dollar donated, they can provide SEVEN meals for hungry individuals. That's amazing!

So if you can, please donate:

The 97 Things Virtual Food Drive

I made the goal $970. Get it? 97 Things = $970? Yeah, okay, it's cheesy, but I like it. And it's a good goal. That means if we can raise that money, that will be 679 meals for people who would otherwise have to go without. And please, spread the word! Email the link! Facebook the link! Blog the link! Learn and love the link!

And there are other things you can do, too. Find your local food bank, call them, and ask them for a barrel for your workplace and ask your co-workers to bring in non-perishables. Leslie did that at our work, and now, every time I go to the grocery store, I buy 2 extra cans of something to donate. So easy to remember! This is Alameda County's list of what they need and take, and I'm sure it translates everywhere:

Canned fruits and vegetables
Canned meats and fish
Peanut butter (in plastic jars -- no glass of any kind)
Canned soup (low salt)
Low sugar cereal and oatmeal
Tomato sauce
Powdered milk

And, of course, you can volunteer at your local food bank, too. Just remember that the holidays are usually booked up(which is a good thing) -- but they always need help the rest of the year.

So in honor of National Food Bank Week, please help! It would be fabulous if you donated to the blog's food drive, but really, anything anywhere helps. I myself am going to forgo MY favorite snack, Taco Flavored Doritos, and instead of buying that delicious treat I am going to donate the money I'd spend on them instead. I know I sound flip, but I am serious. And plus, it's good karma, and an even better feeling knowing you're helping someone who needs it. What an Accomplishment that is, right?

Forty-one down, 56 to go.

*Feeding America, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Knock knock.

Who's there?


Oh dear. I did it again... TOO MUCH TIME BETWEEN POSTS.

But! That's about to change, because I'm about to update aaaaalllll of my many (okay both) Accomplishments! Yes I am!

But I want to say a big thank you for following me, and if you just joined the 97 Things Party Bus, welcome!

And I am thrilled to have so many followers, and one very special "fan":

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... But hmmm.


Monday, February 28, 2011


First of all, I want to that EVERYONE who entered! It was so much fun reading all your posts, and I was very impressed with all of you. You should all be very proud of your Accomplishments... And you're ALL winners as far as I'm concerned.

Second of all, picking a winner is hard work, especially when you decide to film it. There's hair and makeup and lighting and camera and endless uploading, and when you have no people, it's hard. People, I had no people. And no script. I'm a total dork.

So without further ado, the Jel-Ring Mold goes to:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the winner was SHONA!

So Shona, please email me at nsparkle at and send me your address AND your favorite flavor of Jell-O!

And everyone else, I'd love to send you a thank you for entering -- please email me your addresses, too!

Again, thanks so much to everyone who entered -- it was so much fun! So much so that I'm thinking of doing it again soon. Wheee!

Thank you, all!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Last Day To Enter The Contest!

What's more thrilling than winning an Oscar?

Winning THIS, of course:

Because then you can Accomplish Great Things like this:


And that's better than some statuette that just sits on your mantel, isn't it?

But HURRY! Contest ends Feb. 28th at 8pm! That's when I'm going to pick the lucky winner. Which is thrilling for me because I get to say, "And The Jel-Ring Mold goes to..."

Enter HERE for your chance to win! (And don't worry. Years of tap, ballet, voice lessons, acting and elocution classes, plastic surgery and relentless diets are unnecessary. You can even enter while wearing your pajamas if you want. But if you send me a picture of yourself wearing this, I'll send you a special prize.)

See? My contest is WAY better than The Oscars.

Good luck!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Accomplishment #40: Redo Your Bedroom (#1)

When I was in high school, I switched bedrooms. The room I had up until 10th grade had a single bed, flower and strawberry motif bedspread and curtains, and close proximity to the kitchen but it lacked the most important tool in an 80's teenager's social life: a phone jack. It also had that fake French provincial furniture (which for some reason is hip now) and embarrassment of all embarrassments -- my dollhouse. No self-respecting new wave teenager had dollhouses in their rooms, so I tried to hide that baby-ish fact by taking down my unicorn and baby harp seal posters and replacing them with something much more sophisticated, similar to this.

Mine was worse, if you can believe it. It had 2 ladies with rainbows coming out of their mouths. GROSS. From GBPosters' Flickr.

But in 10th grade, I was in business. My mom and dad let me move into my sister's old room, which had not only a phone jack, but 2 beds for sleepovers AND I got to leave my rainbows, unicorns, fake French provincial and dollhouse behind. I was going to have the new wave bedroom of my dreams! (As long as I ignored the wicker headboards. They had to stay, much to my chagrin.) "I want gray walls and black bedspreads and black and white striped sheets," I told my mom, much to her chagrin.

"Are you sure?" she asked. "It could get sort of... well, depressing."

"Oh no," I said. "I'm going to hang up posters and record covers and stuff." I think she sighed.

But even though I was going to get my walls painted a tasteful dove gray, it wasn't going to happen right away and my parents gave me permission to draw and write on the walls. I envisioned a cool mural, something so amazing that I wouldn't even want to paint it over. Budding artist that (I thought) I was, I embarked on drawing a life-size picture of Twiggy that I copied from my dad's "This Fabulous Century: 1960-1970" book. Only problem was: I wasn't really a budding artist. After not getting Twiggy's hair (or face or body) right AT ALL, I drew a big bouffant instead. That didn't work very well, either, and since it was on the wall, I couldn't exactly crumple it up and start over. So I did what any dorky teenager would do: I changed the go-go girl into Boy George.

See how that works? The hat and the hair over one eye totally fixed the misshapen bouffant and lopsided face, plus he wore tunics so that took care of the badly drawn body.

So I had an ugly Boy George on my wall, plus my friend Karin and I wrote deep and meaningful Soft Cell lyrics everywhere, plus stuff like "I heart Bob" and my favorite band names du jour. Basically I treated my room like a giant Pee-Chee folder, and let's just say I wasn't exactly bummed to see Go-Go George and everything else get painted over. And at first it looked great -- my dad got my 2 favorite posters of The Beatles and Warhol's Marilyn framed, and it looked streamlined and cool (except for the dumb wicker headboards). But then, true to my word, I junked it all up with album covers, flyers, photos, clippings from magazines, books, knick-knacks, clothes everywhere and my bed was unmade more often than not. It was a total pit, but I totally loved it.

Now, a couple of decades later, things haven't changed much. I still junk up every bedroom I've ever lived in, and this one's no exception. Poor Jon has a dresser and the side of the bed, but our room is filled with all my stuff. Okay, no album covers and clippings -- just nicely framed prints of Avedon, Man Ray, Louise Dahl Wolfe and a few others -- but still. Everywhere you look there seems to be a ceramic poodle or a hatbox or shoes and jewelry and books tossed about. He is the clean one, and I am the cyclone, with bobby-pins and poodles flying in my wake.

Stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

But I did sort of re-do the bedroom -- Jon hung up these nice shelves for me, and a few years ago, I traded our leopard comforter (which had seen better days)for a brand-new Target faux mod-atomic-something-or-other design.

My "office." And Norman.

And that's as far as we can really go -- since it's a rental, we can't paint or do much to it. And with my decor sensibilities, well, who would notice anyway? You'd be too busy fighting off the sensory overload that's already going on. Sometimes I'll go over to my friends' houses and see their beautiful, spare, Mid-Century style and get a pang of envy, but sometimes I meet people who are more like me -- people who have even more stuff than I have and I love it.

In fact, a few weeks ago I was invited to Dame Rusty's house for a kitsch party, and the guest of honor was Allee Willis, who is not only a Grammy winning songwriter, but a Kitsch Aficionado and "curator of The Museum of Kitsch! It was fabulous, and her website and blog are so much fun! Click here to read all about the Kitsch Party, and check out the link on the right to read about and see more of Allee's fun stuff and life. She is such an inspiration, and I was even honored to submit a photo to the AWMOK's Kitschenette! Click here for the coolness!

In any case, while I would love to redo my bedroom, the new bedspread and cleaning stuff off my dresser is about as far as I can go these days. So instead, today I redid my blog!

I hadn't updated since August 2009, and it was time. So today I had some time on my hands and messed around a little bit, and here it is. I cleaned up the links and the layout and then started getting cuckoo with colors. It's a bit misleading because it looks like a vintage blog (or like the movie poster of Hairspray or something like that) but whatevs. The background is the same fabric as my favorite purse, and I like the pink and blue and green accents. In short, it's sort of cluttered and busy just like my bedroom, so there you have it. Plus, like the one I did back in 2009, I think Zsa Zsa would approve of this one, too.

I can only imagine how Zsa Zsa decorated her mansion! And we're not that different -- she just had real glamour dogs, and mine are all fake on my shelf.

And you know what? By redoing my blog, I feel totally Accomplished, even if I didn't get out of my pajamas all day. Which is my most favorite kind of Accomplishment.

Forty down, 57 to go.

PS Don't forget to enter THE CONTEST!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Contest Time!

Hello daaaahlings!

OVER TWO HUNDRED FOLLOWERS? How did THAT happen??? Now THAT is an Accomplishment! Especially since I've been so bad at updating these days...

But to express my undying gratitude, it is time for a contest!

Look behind Door #3 for this VALUABLE prize!

Will it be:

A new electric oven and stove combo?


An Alumilux Water Heater?


The World's Ugliest Lamp?



Whatever that is... But No.

Behold... It's THIS!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is correct. The grand prize is A TUPPERWARE JEL-RING MOLD!

You will also receive a vintage 1940's JELL-O "cookbook"... and a sweet apron so you can serve your Jell-O in style!

And that's not all... You will also win a free made by me CD of special songs to serve Jell-O by!

What, you think you're done? Nope! I will throw in your very own BOX OF JELL-O! (Winner will get to choose the flavor.)

And Turtle Wax!

(Okay, not really on the Turtle Wax. But they always had it as a prize on game shows when I was little and I had NO idea what it was -- I thought it was to wax turtles. How bummed I was when I figured out it was for dumb old cars.)

What is all this worth, Monty? Well... about five dollars, but really, it's PRICELESS. Because not only can you serve Jell-O in this, you can make a MEAT RING, TOO!

Totally stolen from one of the best photostreams in the universe, Charm and Poise's Flickr.

Okay, here are the rules:

-- Leave me a comment on here, telling me one of YOUR Accomplishments. It can be anything from a Mother Teresa-like endeavor where you saved an entire village of starving kittens from drowning (to make the rest of us look bad) or simply getting out of bed this morning (which I barely did, so there you go).

--Spread the joy! Post it on your blog, your facebook, your Twitter, a billboard in your hometown... I don't care. But any of that would be awesome -- the more the merrier!

-- Sit tight! I will choose a winner at random on Monday, Feb. 28th at around 8pm PST.

-- And good luck!

Seriously, you guys -- thanks for following me and being so fabulous. I appreciate all of you... you're the wind beneath my wings. If I had wings.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Accomplishment #39: Write A Real Letter (#62)

As I've told you before, I am a terrible correspondent. (You think this blog is bad? You should see my horrible inboxes on facebook, email, and probably myspace and friendster, too.)

But I looove getting mail. These days all I get are bills, coupons, and today I got the lovely whammy of a $260 "parking" ticket that I wasn't even aware of. (Curses on you, secret cameras at bus stops when I only stopped for ONE SECOND!)

The last crazy thing I got in the mail was THIS:

I mean sweet jeebus, what IS this? I'm sorry, there is nothing more frightening than what could very well be the 4th Horseman of the Apocalypse rendered as a wistful, unfinished clown. I was certain it was a death threat. Turns out it's some sort of circus thing that the previous tenant belonged to so it wasn't even for me, but I certainly enjoyed the delicious terror I felt and paranoid speculation I made upon receiving it.

But other than that, there's been nothing good in my mailbox for a long, long time. I got quite a few lovely Christmas cards, but considering I haven't sent seasons' greetings since the last century, receiving those are bittersweet. I always feel terrible because I know I'm never going to get around to reciprocating, and it makes me feel like a bad friend/cousin/niece, but I love getting cards and I tell myself, "Next year!" Or that perhaps I'll send Groundhog Day cards instead. Oh. Whoops.

The thing is, I love the whole idea of mail. And if you know me at all or have followed this blog for a while, you know that I love the whole idea of printed words on paper -- books over Kindle, etc. etc. etc. I love the feel and even the scent. I love beautiful stationery and lovely crafty letterpress cards, and marvel at pretty penmanship. I get excited when I see cute stamps. I love the idea of life stories in letters, preserved for future generations.

In fact, on that topic, here's a side note digression about a letter that was the best story I heard in 2011. I was in Nashville, talking to an author about how I wanted to go to Monroeville, Alabama, to see Harper Lee's hometown. The man told me that he had bought a used book, a copy of Gerald Clarke's biography of Truman Capote, and inside he found a handwritten letter signed, "Nell." That's Harper Lee's real name. The letter was from Harper Lee to a close friend who had passed away (his estate sold his books to this store), and it explained why she cut ties with Capote, which is something she has never discussed. So not only did this letter found under the most unlikely circumstances clear up a literal literary mystery, but it has turned out to be a treasure for this man as well. And a story that made me writhe with joy. (If you ever want to see my mad love for Harper Lee, go here to watch me babble -- I talk how I write, or vice versa.)

Anyway, I love mail, even if I'm not good at it. But a few weeks ago, my friend Carla lamented on facebook (oh, the irony!), I think it would be nice to drop out of the social network and go back to sending real letters on real stationery with real photographs enclosed. I, along with a few other people Liked it and agreed with her, and as facebook comments evolved into conversation, it was decided that postcards were the way to go. Quick, quirky and fun, cheaper to buy and send, and not a long letter commitment. And everyone loves getting postcards, unless they're of scary Apocalypse Clowns. (Though some people like scary Apocalypse Clowns, I'm sure.)

And thus,The Great Postcard Project was born!

Here is the Mission and Vision statement from Carla:

Not so very long ago, people communicated in ways that did not require clicking a Send button.
Pen pals, family members and businesses used handwritten messages to send information.

Sending postcards may not change the world but they cause us to connect with each other in a tangible way that gives the recipient more than just another message in their email account Inbox. And after all, who doesn't like receiving postcards in the mail?

The possibilities are almost limitless!

The basic guidelines are simple:
Send a postcard to someone you know.
Send a postcard to at least one person you've never met (you may have to enlist your friends/family/coworker/neighbors to help with this part)
Put your return address or the address of someone else on the postcards to keep the Project going.
Keep it friendly. It is a criminal offense in most countries to send obscene or threatening messages through the mail.
Be creative! Make your own postcards or customize existing ones.
Finally, tell your friends! There was a time when people had pen pals instead of 900 virtual friends. Let's see if there is some value in real written communication.

The Great Postcard Project began in January 2011 as a global experiment to see if an expanding network of people will connect with each other in a non-digital way that involves just a small amount of energy, effort and sincerity. Postcards were chosen as the primary means of communication due to their availability, reasonable cost and potential for creativity.

Just a few weeks ago, I was cleaning out my desk and I found a box of postcards -- a stack of received ones that I read over and it was so nice. It was almost like a journal: Oh, this is from when Leslie moved to Brooklyn and This is from Lara and Leah from Prague and That was the year Barb and I went to Vegas for Elvis's High Holy Day and What was Scotty on when he wrote THIS? It was so fun going through them -- feeling nostalgic, but also happy that my friends took the time to write me a postcard.

Also in the box was a HUGE stack of un-mailed postcards. A bunch of them were from when bars used to have those free advertising postcard kiosks, and I'd grabbed a bunch I liked and for some reason held onto them -- maaaybe I'd send them someday. But then there were lots more from when I worked at the bookstore -- simply images I loved and had held onto, thinking I'd never find them again. And more beloved images that had hung up on my bulletin boards and on dorm room walls, kept for sentimentality. But then I realized I was hoarding these postcards. Now with the internet, all these images are in easy grasp, and the ones that aren't I can scan if I needed to. I made up my mind to eventually deal with it, and put the box away and finished cleaning my desk.

Just a few weeks later, Carla posted her idea, and I was thrilled. An excuse to send out these postcards and free them into the world and make people happy! I jumped in feet first -- SUPER enthusiastically.

So far I've sent about 40 postcards to friends and strangers, and have gotten some really fabulous ones back -- some from people I know, and some from strangers which is fun. And I still have a list of people who will be getting one -- I decided that instead of doing a bunch at a time, I'll do a few a night to stretch the project out for a while, and I won't burn out.

Some of the postcards I've gotten, and some to send

Even the most fabulous publisher ever (and publisher of the most fabulous postcard books ever, Chronicle Books, got wind of our project and featured it in their blog! Click here and check it out!

And it's been so great -- I've heard from people that just getting the postcards made their day better. Isn't that what it's all about? And personally, opening the mailbox and seeing something nice (instead of scary clowns and parking tickets) has made me so happy. I don't even care if I get many back -- it's the sending that I've enjoyed so much. Even actually GOING TO THE POST OFFICE to buy stamps has been fun, which is weird.

Please join the group and join the fun!The Great Postcard Project on facebook And it's easy -- just send postcards to people from whom you already have addresses (you MUST have your old non-digital address book around somewhere!) and ask your friends for their friends' addresses and send some of those along, too. And hey, if you want me to send you a postcard, send me an email -- nsparkle at

If this project picks up steam (and I really hope it does!), postcards will be mailed all over the world. Think of how many people that can be affected in a positive way -- that's a nice thought. And the USPS will LOVE YOU FOR IT.

And maybe you'll be lucky enough to receive a 3D POODLE!!!

And yeah, okay. So this Accomplishment was supposed to be "Write a Real Letter," but I feel Accomplished sending out a bunch of little ones. Baby steps, I suppose. Hey, there are stamps involved. That counts, right?

Thirty-nine down, 58 to go.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2011 = My Sheila E Year

Hello, dear Followers!

Wow. If this blog's archives are any indication, I Accomplished ONE thing in 2010. Which, actually, sounds about right. Okay, let me think. In 2010 I... Um... I... Hmmm.

Yeah, pretty much right on the mark. Though I did win the Batter Blaster contest which was awesome and did The SF AIDS Walk again, which does my heart good. And I've sold some Tupperware, so that's an Accomplishment -- even though I'm not exactly the busiest Tupperware Lady on the planet. I wish I could do it more, but life gets in the way of Fantastic Plastic and Accomplishing stuff.

But as far as a personal Accomplishment, this was a highlight: I got to stay at The Algonquin Hotel which has been a dream of mine since I was a freshman in high school and discovered Dorothy Parker and wanted to be JUST LIKE HER. They even gave me a FRUIT PLATE and a stuffed Matilda cat, but I have a feeling they thought I was someone else. Like someone famous or important, and I didn't want to correct them and have them take my fruit plate back. But I did become quite a bit like Dorothy Parker after a few drinks in the lobby, so actually that fruit plate came in quite handy the next morning when I wasn't feeling so hot. I love The Gonk!

I bet Dorothy Parker never got a fruit plate.

But, honestly, I did make it another year and had a good time. My family and friends are well, and I am thankful for them all. I read a lot of great books, went to a very special wedding, traveled a bit, eliminated baggage, and got a new couch. So 2010 was pretty good, even if it was LAZY. I blame GETTING SNUGGIE-FIED.

In any case, my resolutions for this year are actually attainable, so that I can Accomplish them. One of them is to get dressed up more often, which I already have:

Taco Bellas

My friend Carrie (in the middle, and you MUST read her blog) had this genius idea to celebrate her birthday at Taco Bell, with a Black Tie dress code. How fabulous is that? Champagne and chalupas are super bueno, and it was so much fun!

My second resolution of the year is to wear more hats, and I've gotten to do that, too:

The Dames!

My friend Dorinda started a fun new "club" called Les Dames Du Gateau. It's a West Coast chapter/homage to The Dames du Boeuf, a fabulous New York gathering of ladies who dine in old school restaurants. My friend Pearl is a member of that group, and I've always thought it was a wonderful idea -- so when Doe invited me to join the Bay Area bunch, I was thrilled. I have to say, it's my most favorite thing that has happened to me in 2011 -- an excuse to get dressed up and dine in fancy old restaurants with such wonderful company and sparkling conversation? YES, PLEASE! We've gone twice now and each time I've felt as if I've been walking on air. I didn't wear a hat last time, but still, look how marvelous:

Ladies in the swanky I. Magnin's Ladies Lounge, THEE place to meet. Photo courtesy of Doe.

So basically, my New Year's Resolution is to be more like Sheila E and live the glamorous life. And to win a million dollars and lose like 50 pounds and get invited to Kate and William's wedding, but whatevs. All in good time.

And, yet again, to get back on this blogging train. It's kind of like yoga. I sort of dread it because it's kind of hard and awkward but I love it while I'm doing it and then I feel even better after I'm done -- it's just the motivation to hunker down. (Hunker downward dog? Okay, that was really bad. I couldn't resist.) But I've got some tricks up my sleeve and Accomplishments Accomplished, so stay tuned.

Enough with the blathering -- onward and upward, whatever that means. Wheee!