Mash Note Dept.: Diana Vreeland


I went through puberty in the mid-to-late 1980s, which to this day still feels like a rarefied hell of impossible tight dresses and supermodels with large teeth and big strange hair at odds with gravity. Read on, Reader!

Mash Note Dept.: The Dick Van Dyke Show


I am trying to keep hold of my sense of humor with both of my sweaty strong little hands. To do that with alacrity, I need to reach into my secret arsenal of books and movies and stories told with the curtains closed and the fans going strong and the dogs panting. Read on, Reader!

Mash Note Dept. : Elizabeth Gilbert

Colorful WPA poster from Iowa recommending summer reading.

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert used to be known as a “man’s writer” until her memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” became a runaway success and pushed her off into the chick lit ghetto. Let me tell you just why Gilbert is one of the contemporary greats and a real writer’s writer. Read on, Reader!

Mash Note Dept. : Wes Anderson



I am sprawled across the tomato bisque colored couch listening to the soundtrack to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums.

One song slides into another, creating a flawless, cool-hearted, melancholy mood— the handiwork of Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo who has become a composer and film arranger in a big way in the last 25 years).

There’s very little crash or bang in the soundtracks that Mothersbaugh created for Anderson, which makes them ideal for writing.

They build a solid mood.  You can slide forward with them.  And they will go along with you, anywhere.

Wes Anderson’s films, notably Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, are three touchstones that I return to again and again when I am trying to figure out some intangible in my own work.

Anderson’s films inspire a really strong reaction in most people.

Folks either lovelovelove his flicks or they hatehatehate them.

One trait shared by the fans and dissenters alike is being LOUD about their feelings about the Anderson oeuvre.

I’m one of the lovelovelove folks, so please forgive me my adoration.

And now, before you commence with your eye-rolling exercises at the mere thought of watching an (insert expletive here) Wes Anderson film, give me a few minutes to tell you why I adore his films as much as I do.

I promise to stick to the basics.  I promise not to go overboard.  And I promise that I won’t hold it against you if you don’t agree.

Just hear me out.  That’s all I ask.

(You may commence with the grousing and the grumbling in the comments section at the end.)

Okay.  Give me a second to get this sleeping dog off of my legs.

Ah.  Much better.

My personal story about Wes Anderson really has to do with the three films I mentioned:  Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

In my head, these three films are an informal thematic trilogy about discontent, transition and age.

Rushmore represents …. Read on, Reader!

Mash Note Dept. : My Friend Phillip


NAB Seal of Good Practice

I came late to television watching as a pastime. Very, very late. 

In fact, I didn’t own a working television set until my mid 20s, and I really didn’t watch that television set with any serious intent for at least three years after its— and my husband’s— arrival in my life.

Before you get weirded out by my limited television upbringing, keep in mind the following facts that are germane to this discussion:  I grew up in the 80s and 90s, a time when TV provided such scintillating offerings as Full House and Charles In Charge. I was raised during the end of the era where television went off the air after a certain hour and every TV set sported a spiffy pair of rabbit ears.

Frankly, TV is not that interesting when there are only four channels available and three of them have sitcoms where the lead actor is wearing suspenders and the fourth has the Murfnerp-Larrer Newsing Hour for two hours each evening.

Despite these soft-serve shows, my mother put strict parameters around my television viewing so that I would not mindlessly watch whatever was on the screen.  (Also, there were limits to my mother’s patience with bad television.  She exercised veto power gently though.)

The best answer I can provide about my limited television watching as a child is that I was so busy doing the things that I wanted to do and I never felt as though I was missing out on much of anything.
Here’s the short version of my childhood:

I had six hours of dance classes a week and practiced at home every day.

I had piano lessons, which meant I had to budget time for practicing piano.

I read a great deal and I made things and I listened to a lot of music and went to the library every week.

At seven, I started …. Read on, Reader!

Mash Note Dept. | Ernie Kovacs

Take A Good Look Adams Kovacs

Back to my apologies in fake beat-poet form:  “Ernie Kovacs!  You are the king!  Of modern television, both comedy and technology!  We owe!  A great debt!  To your freewheeling genius! And I’m sorry!  That!  I just! Found out!  About youuuuuu!” Read on, Reader!

Mash Note Dept. | Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson at the height of her writing powers

Women writers are given a lot of dumb advice, but the worst advice ever is this:  You cannot be a great writer and have children. (Of course you can.  Men do it all the time. )  Writer Shirley Jackson broke this mold for the best of us. Read on, Reader!