Halloween without the props

Photo Annette Marie Hyder

It still

Annette Marie Hyder

Along a Minnesota street
that does not have a plethora of props —
pumpkins perched on every edge
purloined spider web
wart-pimpled witches
and “candy porn” —
it still looks like Halloween to me.

Halloween’s bones show through
the ragged dress of branch and leaf.
The night will wear pumpkins as earrings
dance down the streets
flirting with every scarecrow
ghost and zombie she sees
peer through the eyes
of every revelers mask
and drink fright in large gulps
as if it is an autumn brew
in a bottomless flask
and she just turned twenty-one.

Halloween is looking for a good time
and she is bound to get it.
But for now she quietly waits
for the sky to grow dark —
her timepiece that tells her what o’ the clock.
She’ll meet you at seven at every crossroads
and on every block.


Image public domain: Betty Grable 1942

Annette Marie Hyder

Absinthe and toadstools
Bat wings and goth
Heavy eyeliner
And all things dark

Cauldrons of candy
A chill in the air
Demons and wicked
Mask painted stares

Widdershins brooms
Aloft on the air
Bogeys and nightmares
Lurk under your chair

Fasten the windows
Douse all the lights
Leave no open ways
For the nicks and the frights

To enter or haunt you
Put you under a spell
Bring water and crosses
Paper and bells

Twirl three times in darkness
But in sight of the moon
Be kind to the shadows
When you enter a room

Criss you and cross you
On Halloween night may you
Have all of the fun
And just some of the fright!

If the 12 inch tall shoe fits

I love shoes,

but you couldn’t pay me to wear these enormoes

These Alexander McQueen shoes, affectionately dubbed the “armadillos” by the editors at Vogue Magazine, measure 12 inches tall and they remind me of foot binding and shoes for the bound foot for some reason. Maybe the overall fetishization and extreme angles?

Lotus shoe photo courtesy of morbidoutlook

The McQueens have inspired the following poem:

Annette Marie Hyder

temples to lotus shaped feet
you tower serene

one must be brave, surefooted
to ascend to your high peaks

Unemployment benefits extension

Link to YouTube

Banker, teacher, civil engineer…

This video, Ryan Star’s Breathe, is about the jobless in the United States. It features real people who have lost their jobs and at the website about this video, breathe4jobs, you can click on the images of every single person featured in the video and find out more information about them and their job search experience.

While congress debates (hedges, shuffles and weasels around the subject) an unemployment bill (H.R.3548) that would bring much needed relief to the 15 million officially unemployed Americans (source: The Wall Street Journal), observers note that the senators holding up the bill with their posturing and posing (see below for a list of the 13 lawmakers who voted against the procedural motion to bring H.R.3548 to an up-or-down vote), have food to eat, a bed to sleep in and health care if they need it.

Want to contact your senator? This site makes it easy. You can use the form letter as it is, or craft it to personally reflect your feelings.

Progress Illinois reports that:

5:45 p.m.: After a quick debate this evening, the Senate voted by a wide margin (87-13) in favor of cloture on H.R. 3548. While one more cloture vote will be required to bring the final bill to an up-or-down vote, the Senate is now expected to take up the bill in its current form, including the amendments added by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in the coming days. Open Congress has listed the 13 lawmakers who voted against the procedural motion, which you can see below:

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
Sen. Jefferson Sessions (R-AL)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Update October 30, 2009 via Progress Illinois:

Late last evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that his chamber will hold another cloture vote Monday on the final language of the unemployment benefits bill. The vote will be held Monday evening at 5 pm EST.

If the extension survives the procedural hurdle, Senate rules dictate that Democrats must wait an additional 30 hours before a final tally can be taken. That means the it could be approved by late Tuesday or early Wednesday at the earliest. The bill would then have to be reconciled with the less-generous House version or approved in full by the lower chamber.

Related link:
Bread poem


Why makeup works

A study has found that there is more depth to facial differences between men and women than previously thought

The study, by Gettysburg College Psychology Professor Richard Russell, found that female faces have greater contrast between eyes, lips, and surrounding skin than do male faces. This difference in facial contrast was also found to influence our perception of the gender of a face.

The study found that, given this sex difference in contrast, there is a connection between the application of cosmetics and how it consistently increases facial contrast. Female faces wearing cosmetics have greater facial contrast than the same faces not wearing cosmetics. Russell noted that female facial beauty has been closely linked to sex differences, with femininity considered attractive. The article at Science Daily reports that Russell’s results suggest that cosmetics may function in part by ‘exaggerating a sexually dimorphic attribute to make the face appear more feminine and attractive.’

Makeup: a cosmetic sleight of hand that has been employed through the ages

Our ancestors may not have known the science behind wearing crushed carmine beetles, pearlescence (a substance found in fish scales) and beeswax for lipstick, but they knew what it did for the look they were going for.


Annette Marie Hyder

lip’s ambassador
to kisses and eyelashes’
flirtatious hello

a lipstick and mascara
make your date face good to go

From Science Daily:

In the photo, “Illusion of Sex,” two faces are perceived as male and female. However, both faces are actually versions of the same androgynous face. One face was created by increasing the contrast of the androgynous face, while the other face was created by decreasing the contrast. The face with more contrast is perceived as female, while the face with less contrast is perceived as male. This demonstrates that contrast is an important cue for perceiving the sex of a face, with greater contrast appearing feminine, and lesser contrast appearing masculine. (Credit: Image courtesy of Gettysburg College)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2009) β€” Beauty might seem to be only skin deep, but Gettysburg College Psychology Professor Richard Russell has found that there is more depth to facial differences between men and women than presumed.

In a study published in Perception, Russell demonstrated the existence of a facial contrast difference between the two genders. By measuring photographs of men and women, he found that female faces have greater contrast between eyes, lips, and surrounding skin than do male faces. This difference in facial contrast was also found to influence our perception of the gender of a face.

Regardless of race, female skin is known to be lighter than male skin. But Russell found that female eyes and lips are not lighter than those of males, which creates higher contrast of eyes and lips on women’s faces. By experimenting with an androgynous face, Russell learned that faces can be manipulated to appear female by increasing facial contrast or to appear male by decreasing facial contrast.

Read the entire article here.

Use of Color by Leaves: Various Artists

By Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Steel Point Quarterly

They feast on photosyntheses
get drunk on wine of sap
and raindrop stout
with excitement
at the news wind tells about:

There is to be a show
at La Galerie de la Terre et le Ciel –
the establishment with clout –
a presentation
of their collective works
(a retrospect no doubt)
for this colony of artists
free spirits; bohemian hang abouts.

The latest gossip in their rustle?
Did you hear that it’s a performance piece
and what the theme is all about?


Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Empowerment4Women

I love fall.
The air is spiced with wood smoke and chill.

The trees are heart stopping bouquets of color
and the color that I love the best is yellow.
When I first moved back to Minnesota
from my brief return to Florida
I was introduced to a photographer.

He talked about going to Plymouth
for a day of photography.
I pictured a picnic lunch
some wine, some fruit, some cheese
amidst the stunning leaves.
“Let us go soon. The leaves will not stay yellow for long.

They are the most beautiful when they are yellow
but they disappear so fast…”

He spoke in that formal contractionless way
that many non-native-English-speakers do
and which is always charming.
He spoke of the leaves changing
with such poignancy and longing in his voice
I wanted to say “Let’s go now! I’ll go with you
and we will look at the leaves
while they are still the color we love.”

But we both had schedules that bossed us
and dictated when and where we could
exercise this pleasure.
We kept scheduling a time to go
and then something would come up
and we didn’t see
the yellow leaves of Plymouth together.

I am thinking about him today.
There was a sadness about him
a feeling that ‘the widdershins winds
pugilistically pushed
your skies black and blue’
but a sadness flashing with brilliant sunlight…

and I want to tell him
that the only way to really see
the colors of the leaves
is through the lens
of spontaneity
which must be free of its cap — obscuring scheduling.

Head out the window vs. iPhone weather app

I groaned this morning when I saw, on my iPhone weather app, that it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I couldn’t believe it! Sure, I live in Minnesota but October is way too early for a cold like that.

I told my daughter, “Better bundle up baby, it’s cold outside!” So we bundled and bulked and larded ourselves with layers against the cold. We topped our layers off with hats and gloves and waddled out the door (all those layers make a person less than agile.) And discovered once we were out there that in fact it was not 8 degrees Fahrenheit — it  was 49 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the way in to dropping Jasmine off at school (and as I experienced the gentle sauna of my many layers) I thought about how sometimes you just can’t improve on the simple low-tech approach. I would have been better off just sticking my head out the window. I don’t know why my weather app was malfunctioning (and I know I’m not the only one to have experienced this problem), but I do know I’ll be utilizing a more primitive approach to determining the outside temperature from now on. It’s called ‘open the window and see.’