M | The Alphabet Julen

Troy McClure

My favorite recurring character on the Simpsons. You may remember him from such self-help videos as "Smoke Yourself Thin" and "Get Confident, Stupid."


It's interesting what sticks in your head; in my mind, Brussels sprouts were on of the great evils of my childhood. I really hated them. Yet, my mother was shocked when I mentioned this in her presence. She claims to have had no concept of this. I was a ham as a child. I'm sure I must have fallen off my chair while faking death by Brussels sprout. I was 30 before I discovered how good brussels sprouts can be. I've detailed a few memories here.

Mickey Mouse Lamp

My favorite childhood possession was a made-in-Hong-Kong bedside lamp, in which a large Mickey leaned against lamp pole. When the lamp is turned on, the bulb behind the lightshade lights up - and so does Mickey. It's utterly charming, and after 15 years on loan to fabulous family members, I got it back. Whoo hoo! I LOVE that lamp.


Schmillenium. (c. 1999 me would feel so vindicated.)

Joan Miro

The first time I saw The Farm, I stood transfixed before it for a very long time. (The museum guard was suspicious at first, but I think the combination of goofy expression of awe and my white girl countenance cut right through that.) It was the closest thing to a religious experience I'd ever had. I had written facilely about it for my Spanish class the previous month, and as I stood there, I realized that I hadn't even begun to really understand what I had written and what the painting said.

Most Hated Granddaughter

I am the only female grandchild on one side of my family, hence this title.


The best thing about getting my driver's license was that we no longer needed a parent to drive us into Charlottesville for a movie. Our patronage at the theaters went way up. That kicked my movie-going habit into high gear. It's never recovered. Between Netflix and TCM, I could go forever without seeing another movie in the theaters, but I still like to go see a good movie on the truly big screen if I think the movie will be worth it.


I am profoundly unmusical; my musical triumphs have been plunking out jingle bells with 1 finger on a piano and managing to sing a passable harmony if paired with a really strong voice that won't be led astray by my inabilities. That said, I love to listen to music, to sing along when no one else is around, and to create a soundtrack for my life. I like texture and story best. Sometimes, I can't resist a good hook, but I really like it when the hook is accompanied by something to create an atmosphere, a story, a vignette. Although I don't hate any genre (there are always good stuff in the mix somewhere), I naturally gravitate to the ones that make up the Americana banner - traditional, folk, country, western, swing, blues, rock, ... not to mention all sorts of varieties of soul, old school R&B, "world music", "vocal", jazz, standards, Broadway. Mainstream genre divisions are dumb; there's so much good music that pulls from multiple genres to create really interesting sounds and stories.

While I'm complaining about the corporations that own/drive the music industry ... don't get me started about much of what mainstream music is these days. Between record companies who create a focus-grouped, demographically-plotted, copy-cat cadre of photogenic stars powered by autotune and genre uniforms, and gutless imagination-free non-risk-taking radio/video stations, it's amazing anyone special makes it through the cautious corporate gateways - and maintains that which makes them special. It drives me nuts to see people with individuality and talent over-polish themselves into blandness to try to achieve a sanctioned kind of stardom. It's easy for me to say - I'm not trying to support myself as a musician. I don't blame them for making the choice that will them them survive in their chosen industry, but I wish it was easier for them to say "No, I'll do it my way" and be able to actually succeed doing it their way.

Words I particularly like: