The Entertainment Weekly review of my next book comes out this weekend.

I'll be over here, throwing up.

(G)Nat has a piano recital tomorrow. She might join me. Life: an endless series of performances before a largely uninterested audience, with judgments from the same.

A fine vacation day. Posted three times to, which I suppose doesn’t make it a vacation day, and I suppose I’ll do the same tomorrow. But somehow the mantle of Obligation felt as though it had slid to the floor, and that’s welcome.

O such a great and heavy mantle it is, you know.

I don’t know when the tidal surge is supposed to smash Albion, but I went to the BBC page for more information. I expected some live tide-cam; during Katrina I remember reloading a webcam on Bourbon Street over and over as the night went on. There was a news report that described how some people are preparing their homes for the storm: they’re stealing sandbags. Some agency had delivered five pallets of sandbags and stored them behind a locked fence; the locals went over the fence and took the sandbags. You can’t blame them. But it’ll be interesting to see if the storm causes any significant damage, and whether anyone suggests that locking sandbags behind a fence a few hours before a flood constitutes adequate disaster management.

This chart is horrifying, if you’re in the newspaper business, and contains some circulation numbers I didn’t expect. (Nobody expect the Spanish Circulation Numbers! Our chief weapons are dismay, denial, acceptance, and fine-tuning of the font size on the subheads!) Having sampled some of those papers on my various trips here and there, I can see why they sunk. One paper, which I won’t name in case I ever want to move to that city, struck me as the worst daily I’d read in a major metro area. Story selection + banal writing + legacy staffers cranking it out + fluff-tastic celeb drivel that was nine days behind the web gossip sites + anemic over-edited wire copy on national and international issues all added up to a paper that was done before I’d finished my bowl of cereal. On the other hand, the chart doesn’t include any Seattle papers, and I was impressed by those when I picked up a few copies last July. The difference? The former had no sense of place; the latter did. You could say the same thing about the cities they covered, frankly. Maybe that’s part of the problem.

The other part being that vast thick swaths of the target market don’t buy newspapers, of course.

What surprised me the most? The fifteen-points-and-change decline at the Washington Post. If there’s any town that should see steady or increasing circulation numbers, it’s DC. It probably has the greatest concentration of wonks, policy nerds, smart dorks and info-junkies in the country, and every issue bulges with stuff directly relevant to someone in town. And if “Darfur Dilemma Reveals Fissures in International Chlorine Agreement”  isn’t relevant to you, it’s relevant to your spouse, whose best friend works for the Chlorine lobby. It’s like publishing “Highlights” in a town where everyone’s seven. They’re either Goofus or Gallant, and in either case, there’s something in the latest issue for them.

But I’m basing that on my 1990s recollection of DC. If you can get the WaPo on your wireless device, why get the print edition? Save the trees.

Maybe there’s another explanation. I’ve appeared in 13 of the 20 papers listed.

Jeez: sorry, everyone.

More covers and pictures to get you in the mood for Gastroanomolies, my new book on retro food ads.

This 1958 book shows a homemaker in the uniform of the day – or perhaps the uniform of a day 20 years before, since I don’t know when women actually wore those ruffled tops except in black and white romantic comedies about charming rich drunk people who had long-suffering servants.

Freezing foods at home must have sounded attractive to people who sick and tired of taking the bus downtown to do it.

Every day, a new piece of information to clutter up the brain: Quaker Oats had a partner.

Mother’s Oats. Nothing is better than she for thee.

What could possibly be the difference between the two?

It’s still around, although Quaker now sells it as “Mother’s.” The website’s main picture shows a kid reacting to Mother wandering down from the upstairs bedroom, hungover, with her robe undone. Again.

As Stanley ‘Olloway sang in My Fair Lady: Oi’m getting’ marinated in the mornin’:

So I guess Gourmet magazine is the lady here. The text says that Gourmet called B in B (stands for Broiled in Butter) mushrooms “Dark Darlings,” so I suppose we’re lucky the mushroom doesn’t have giant white lips and a watermelon slice in one hand. The back cover  shows Mushy, the Animate, Self-Aware Fungus, heading over to consume his insensate brethren. At least he has an excretory aperture.

How I hated mushrooms as a kid. They looked slimy and inedible, like stiffened slices of ruminant sputum.

A few more examples from the 500 Tasty Sandwiches presents 500 Tasty Sandwiches book:

What is this? It looks like small animal bones discovered after a house fire. (Bacon and cheese on bread, if you're curious.)

It’s a SAMwich! Fire all rockets!


Says the description: “A creamed egg and asparagus sandwich for the children’s lunch will solve many problems.” So would some arsenic nog, I suppose.


I’ve no idea. Dog-logs and melted-cheese-over-broken glass, I think. Serve with with fur medallions.

Oh: Buy the book! If the link below doesn't show up, well, this should do it. Have a great weekend; see you now - and Sat & Sun as well - at