let’s have dinner with the highbrows (or not)

Ahem. It’s time to sit up straight, place our napkins in our laps, and make polite conversation at the table.

Or, we can fling meatballs at each other.

I leave it to you to decide which would be more fun and/or politically correct. ūüôā

To help make up your mind, why not take a bite or two of Dinner with the Highbrows: A Story About Good (or Bad) Manners (Henry Holt, 2014) by Kimberly Willis Holt and Kyrsten Brooker?

Bernard could hardly wait until next Saturday. He was invited to eat dinner with Gilbert Highbrow’s family. Bernard had never eaten at a friend’s house.

Bernard’s mom is all a-fluster. The Highbrows live in “a fine house” and only the best manners will do for such posh people. She coaches Bernard all week on the essentials: compliment and thank the hosts, say a blessing, no elbows on the table, don’t talk with your mouth full, no singing!, help clear the dishes.¬†Bernard practices and practices, hoping he’ll be able to remember all the rules.

Art ©2014 Krysten Brooker

On Saturday, he’s excited but nervous. When he finally gets to the Highbrows’, he’s greeted by shouts and cheers and quickly whisked off with the family to Antonio’s restaurant in a white limousine.

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friday feast: not exactly amy vanderbilt

“Love me like a wrong turn on a bad road late at night.” ~ Kim Addonizio

Kim playing blues harmonica at last year's LA Times Book Festival.

Sit up straight, fasten your seat belts and brace yourselves.

Today’s poem is some kind of wild ride. It may amuse, even shock you. One thing for certain, you won’t be quite the same after reading it.

Kim Addonizio’s poems have a way of doing that to people. Unflinching, street-smart, and gritty, she addresses the reader directly and tells us just what we need to know. In this case, a lesson in manners. How else to navigate your way through a world gone mad?

by Kim Addonizio

Address older people as Sir or Ma’am

unless they drift slowly into your lane

as you aim for the exit ramp.

Don’t call anyone dickhead, fuckface, or ass-hat;

these terms are reserved for ex-boyfriends

or anyone you once let get past second base

and later wished would be sucked into a sinkhole.

Yelling obscenities at the TV is okay,

as long as sports are clearly visible on the screen,

but it’s rude to mutter at the cleaning products in Safeway.

Also rude: mentioning bodily functions.

Therefore, sentiments such as “I went balls to the walls for her”

or “I have to piss like a chick with a pelvic disorder at a kegger contest”

are best left unexpressed.

(Rest is here)

~ from Vol. 40 No. 5,  2011 September-October Issue of The American Poetry Review


Love her sardonic wit. It feels good to be roused from a pablum-induced coma once in awhile.

‚ô• The beets-and-popcorn-loving Sara Lewis Holmes at Read*Write*Believe is this week’s Roundup host. Be on your best behavior when you visit her blog, and remember not to interrupt if she is, by chance, eating roast chicken.

‚ô• Other Kim Addonizio poems featured on this blog:

“Eating Together”

“What Do Women Want?”

‚ô• All 2011 Poetry Friday posts on alphabet soup.

You know what to do.

photo credit: James D Kirk/flickr


**photo of Kim by Solnabanya/flickr

Copyright ¬© 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

going to the dogs with leslie mcguirk and alex von bidder

Note: This is a polite post about a very polite book. Please wipe your paws before reading and wag your tail whenever one of our guests says something especially witty or charming.

Leslie and Alex at Books of Wonder, NYC, September 2009.

Welcome, friends!

Thank you for grooming yourselves and arriving precisely on time. Your table is ready!

Today’s menu features a mini-review and chat with the creators of this year’s most fetching picture book,¬†Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant (Candlewick, 2009).¬†The story of how author/illustrator Leslie McGuirk and restaurateur Alex von Bidder¬†let the Four Seasons go to the dogs¬†has set tongues wagging on Bark Avenue and beyond.

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