B | The Alphabet Julen

Bankhead, Tallulah

Ho. Ly. Cow. You have to admire someone so committed to being hell on wheels. She really went for it. Sometimes, when I see her in things like Lifeboat, I wonder if she would have been different if she hadn't gotten so addicted to rebelling so young. Some people debate what the world would be like if Germany had won World War I; I like to imagine what would have happened if Tallulah hadn't grown up as the spoiled restricted daughter of a powerful southern politician.


I will take my shoes off at the drop of a hat. I think better barefoot. I work better barefoot. This was fine when I was sitting at a desk for 12 hours a day; not so much when I'm cutting lots of small pieces of glass and breaking china. Here's a free tip: if you've gotten a shard of glass in your hands or feet, one of those small air cans used for cleaning keyboards works well to pop out and free most of those shards.


I love college basketball. Having grown up in ACC country with season tickets to UVa games (My top five players list starts with Kenton Edelin. That is not up for debate.), I've grown up with a particular appreciation for the ACC, even after the league decided to sacrifice basketball supremacy for football bucks. I will also take U Hall over JPJ any day of the week. March really is the happiest time of the year; I'm a decent prognosticator, but sometimes let my heart override my gut that in turn overrides my head. I tend to come in second (or fifth) in my March Madness pools, with 1998 being the glorious exception.

Battery Park City

I lived in Battery Park for six months in 1999, from the winter through the spring; I lived opposite a little grocery store, and could walk to work every day. It was beautifully landscaped, and as spring went on, I had a small steady stream of visitors: I took my mom to see Ragtime, and Ellis Island (absolutely worth a visit); Cathleen came up to see the fundraiser for our company's AIDS ride team; Meg wanted to go to the Cloisters, and who am I to pass up a chance to see my favorite artistic depiction of St. Barbara? Battery Park is nestled in the crook of the Financial district, which was still basically deserted on weekends (despite a small steady increase in residential areas). On a Sunday morning, I'd cruise down and mingle with the neighborhood brunching, jogging, skating, enjoying the sun, and walk around the curve of the land to the Park, where tourists would be lined up, buying tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and cut up to Broadway, past the Old Customs House and the branch of the National Museum of the American Indian (a lovely small museum), and over to Broad Street and our offices. I have mixed feelings about New York (Reason #4 why I'll never be a true New Yorker), but I'm very fond of my Battery Park memories.


Julia on Julia. There have been almost as many updates to the biography as to the site design. The amount of insight to be gleaned varies from none at all to a smidge past a bit. I've read enough autobiographies to know that I haven't lied, implied, or fudged events enough to make them exciting. One day I will make this biography worthy of the greatest autobiography ever written: Zsa Zsa Gabor's One Lifetime is Not Enough.


When I worked in RTP, the Mac sat in a room with bigh bold windows, and in the fall, the geese would stop over in the deep puddles in the grass, and dance in their foraging for food and their splashing around. In the grey rain, their dusky white and slate-colored feathers would shimmer. There's something beautiful about birds, whether it be the subdued pink of a galah bird, or the bright blue jay leaping across the snow. There was a heron who come to visit the fishpond behind my suburban townhouse. These days, cardinals, blue jays, doves, and woodpeckers stop by to beat the local squirrels to the bird food. In the late 1990s, one of the Audubon chapters reprinted an old blog post of mine, A Confluence of Birds.

Blues Brothers

"This mall has everything!"
I can quote the movie practically straight through.
"We've got both kinds - Country AND Western!"
Any situation can be met with a quote from this movie.
"Our lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail us now."


Everyone called him the Boogie Man. That's how they described him - that mythical villain who lurked at night to scare small children. My own encounter with the Bogeyman came in the seventies. Sadly the Boogie man did not get down, but his spectre scared me into sleeping in the exact middle of the bed for a decade. (Eventually I started sharing my bed with library books, and I started sleeping closer to the edge of the bed.)


The game of choice among my family (the younger set prefers 12-and-counting). A person is it, and announces they are a famous person whose name begins with a letter. The others ask questions trying to pinpoint the identity of "it" while the person has to respond that they are not a famous person who matches the criteria and the letter declared. "Are you a famous Italian Renaissance Painter?" "No, I am not Botticelli." "Do you date a hunk of plastic?" "No, I'm not Barbie." If they stump you, they get to ask a yes/no question (Are you female?, for instance). I had my brother going for 3 hours with Barney the Dinosaur. "Are you white?" he asked me. "Black? Asian? Latino? Arabic?" Hee. Hee. Hee.

Words I particularly like: