You get the idea from the name of the weblog itself — Fragile Industries — that its writer knows how to put words together. No smokestack, not even a cottage, this is a fragile business.
And indeed, Lisa Lorea Bailes knows how to use words, everything from a bon mot to blunt hyperbole, which is why hers is the latest addition to our blogroll of well-written sites.
I mean, where are you going to find a blogger who uses the word ‘rictus’? Or even knows what it means? I’ve read millions of words for a living, and I looked up at least three words as I read Bailes’s blog. What’s more, she uses them all just so.
Rictus? In her March 12 entry, Bailes describes the tribulations of a wedding she helps run. As the bride enters the aisle, one of the church planners, an elderly woman, drops the bridal train, which promptly . . .
. . . folds up on itself and looks terrible. I am too far away to throw myself on this grenade. One biddy notices the crumpled hem and, being less than nimble, makes a futile grab for it. The bride is moving on and the hem is out of reach. The biddy then decides to kick at the flawless white satin with her shoe. Not only does she step on it, leaving a mark, the bride abruptly comes to a halt with a sickening backward sway and nearly tumbles. As the congregation snickers . . . the bride finally proceeds up the aisle, a rictus of tension replacing her smile.
A rictus is a rigidly open mouth, like a bird gaping.
One of Bailes’s more gentle passages is an open letter to a reader who had taken offense at her June 2006 entry about the Collyer Brothers, a pair of Manhattan recluses who died in 1947 amid tons of trash choking their house and thus became symbols of obsessive-compulsive hoarding. The reader’s father was suffering similarly:
My heart breaks for you. My post made light of a serious, terrifying condition. I did so because I saw its seeds in myself . . . I reveal this to you to try to speak for your dad. I am at a midpoint between sanity and not, between you and him. I don’t have any answers . . . But if it would help to correspond, if I can be a midpoint, a medium, please write back. Your post was a plea, and I hope I can offer some insight. You are being such a good son — even if your father doesn’t recognize it, is incapable of that recognition, I can see it and I admire you greatly . . . I would be honored to talk to you again.
Not to mention her Nov. 7 entry about her cat, Rupert Pupkin, as he was dying of lymphoma and she decided that forcing four doses of medication down his throat every day wasn’t right:
I want to at least calm the stomach and spare him pain, but if one dose a day still makes him unhappy, it’s out the window . . . When I first held him, I vowed to give him a life of love and comfort. It’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
And now the bluntness: In an entry Sept. 6 subtitled ‘Pen!s! C!alis! V!agr@!,’ Bailes complains of getting 300 email messages, not to mention 5,000 in her bulk folder, in less than two days:
Obviously, some enterprising spammer used the mail linked to my domain name as a launch pad for a major campaign to capitalize on little, limp penises.
Talk about pricks.
What does it say about our society that the biggest bane of online communication is almost entirely driven by male sexual anxiety? When was the last time you received spam related to female sexual dysfunction? We have a lot to complain about, but there’s no magic pill to teach men about foreplay.
She’s equally blunt about herself, noting in the same entry that someone was Google-searching her name along with the terms ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian.’ Rest assured, she tells the individual:
I’m queer as a 3 score on the Kinsey scale. That means I’m bisexual. That means I fall in love and in bed with men and women . . . In the meantime, I could forward some of my recent spam if you have any personal anxiety on sexual topics.
An artist who specializes in ‘altered art’ — a mixed media of paper and other common materials — Bailes, 50, is a former lawyer, twice married and divorced, and lives in midcoast California with her terminally ill mother. Her father died with Alzheimer’s disease.
Her weblog goes back to April 2005. Be sure to click on the ‘ARCHIVES’ heading at the bottom of the righthand sidebar to get the full list.
– Sid Leavitt
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