Cyber Monday, communicatrix-style


Am I still doing my heavy lifting? Yes, I am! Is it still kicking my ass? Yes, it is! Did I let that get in the way of posting today?


Because today is everyone's favorite shop-on-yer-ass day, Cyber Monday. Deals galore, and all from the comfort of, well, your ass! But where to start?

You probably have some ideas of your own, but in case you don't, or you're looking for a little sumpin'-sumpin' different, here's the best of the best stuff I found this year which would also make good gift-y stuff.

Some of the links are Amazon affiliate links, because Colleen is going to get herself a NEW Kindle 3 and would very much like to fill it with books for her travels in the coming year. As always, I appreciate when you shop through my general Amazon link, because MONEY is AWESOME.


Books to give for the holidays

Tiny Art Director, by Bill Zelman :: [art/humor] An artist's young daughter gives him directions on what to draw. Charming and hilarious, two words that don't often nestle up together in a review. After the blog of the same name.

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb :: [spiritual/graphic novel] Probably not for your super-religious Aunt Adele, but quite wonderful for almost anyone interested in "cover" versions of things, especially the graphic novel enthusiast on your list. (My full review here.)

Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern :: [memoir/humor] Beautifully written and quite endearing, this collection of life lessons disguised as personal essays showcases a very different (although still hilarious) side of everyone's fave Twitterdad, Sam Halpern.

All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, by Lan Samantha Chang [fiction] :: You would not think that a story about the lives of two poets who meet in an MFA program could be so utterly engrossing, but boy, is it ever. About success and failure and the meaning of life without ever, ever being schmaltzy, trite or pretentious. Also, great characters. This may be my favorite book I read all year; it's certainly the one that still haunts me.

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen :: [fiction] Sweeping, epic, incisive, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly engrossing tale of modern-day America and how we got there from here.

Food to send for the holidays

Flan King makes the best flan I have ever had, EVER. I told my friend, Greg (a.k.a., "The King") that his tagline should be "Even people who don't like flan love Flan King flan." He has still not taken my advice, but he is now shipping in the U.S. So. There you go.

Meadowfoam honey from the Bee Folks tastes like marshmallows. Let me repeat that: honey that tastes like marshmallows! Even if you are not on the SCD, this is probably a good thing. But if you are, and you can't eat Flan King flan anymore? It is dessert, baby. This honey costs a bazillion dollars a pound, and is 100% worth it. The site is a little '90-retro-fabulous, but everything works. And Lori, Chief Bee Folk, is good people.

Miscellaneous gift-y stuff

Nikki McClure's 2011 Calendar is so great, I buy them three at a time. My obsession is your gain: Buy Olympia now offers a "three pack" because of my polite haranguing. You can see how I use my three calendars here, but hey, if you're a normal person, you can buy ONE calendar for yourself and have TWO to give as gifts. Lucky you!

Pacifica Candles are made in Portland, OR, which is where I discovered them this year, on my last trip there. They smell super-delish, and are all crunchy-delicious and stuff. My favorite scent is the Mediterranean Fig, which is, most conveniently, green, so you can burn it during your hoodoo moneymaking ritual-type stuff. Or just make things smell nice. (P.S. The roll-on perfume is great, too, and very travel-friendly.)

Field Notes make you want to write stuff down. They are simple and perfect, which, as anyone who knows anything will tell you, is the hardest combination in the world to pull off. They are the perfect size. They have the perfect weight and grain of paper. And (oh, joy! oh, rapture!), they feature the perfect grid: not too light, not too dark, just enough to give a little shape and order to your crazy-brilliant mental meanderings. (Apparently, they come in plain and lined version. Whatever.) I bought a subscription this year and I am a bit embarrassed over how happy it's made me, those little three-packs showing up in the mail once per quarter. But just a bit. Because hey, THE PERFECT GRID.

The Bird and the Bee (A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates) was eeeeeasily my most-played CD of the year. Insanely great covers of Hall & Oates classics, these hip arrangements with sexy chick vocals work for parties, singing in the car, cleaning the house, and, I'd imagine, seducing pretty much anyone with good taste. So, yeah, pretty much the perfect gift. (And since I know you're just going to buy it for yourself, here's the direct link to the insta-download MP3 version on Amazon. It's the cure for all that crappy Christmas music that ails you.)

SodaStream makes things that let you make soda water at home. I sampled the goods at my pal Heather's place, and can give it an unqualified thumbs-up. Given that seltzer delivery ain't comin' back anytime soon and I'm starting to wake up to the horror that is "recyclable" (hahaha) single-use plastic, one of these is in my future. This would make an awesome household or everyone-chips-in gift, I think.

Image by Robert McDiarmid via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Referral Friday: Groupon

vinyl banner with homer simpson holding donut and words "woo hoo"

I am mad for deals, especially when they converge with my guilty desire for self-indulgence and my weird attraction for making a game of whatever I can.

Groupon, a daily deal for some various local goody, neatly satisfies all three needs in one digital swoop. After signing up for your city's deals at the main website, you receive a daily email with a deal which you can buy into for a specified window of time, 24 hours, usually. The trick is that the deal gets "unlocked" (i.e., available for purchase) only after the number of people willing to commit to purchase reaches some predetermined critical mass. (Here's more about the "why" behind it and the inspiration for it, The Point, on Groupon's "about" page.)

Not every deal will appeal to everyone; then again, how much money and time does any one person have? It seems like I've got less of both with each passing day. But I've scored some sweet deals for taking a small risk, not only delighted with the savings, but happy to have been introduced to some terrific new resource I might not otherwise have found out about (which is pretty much the incentive for offering door-buster deals as far as the vendors go).

One word of warning: if you're a hoarder-of-happy like I am, beware, those expiration dates creep up more quickly than you'd guess. In the last week, I've gotten a haircut, my car detailed, and $20 worth of expensive takeout. Thank the heavens the relaxation types at the place I still have a massage coming to me get that some of us are foot-draggers (especially when the feet in question have a plantar wart we'd just as soon eliminate before humiliating ourselves in front of a total stranger...)


Available Groupon cities as of this writing:

(All of those city links? Also SHILL-FREE.)

Image by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. Especially good story and comments thread on this one, too.

Referral Friday: 11:11

Referral Friday is part of an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week.* For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

the communicatrix logo on an 11:11 vinyl bizcard holder

Well, it happened again, South By Southwest is just around the corner, and once again, I'm going to be scrambling to get my new cards done in time.

Honestly, though, I only care about the cards because I'm so screamingly, trippingly excited to whip out my brand, spankin' new, super-foxy card holders from 11:11.

Who to the what now?

Don't worry if you haven't heard of them yet. You will. Jamila Tazewell & Patrick Ladro, the wife-and-husband co-owners of 11:11, makers of the world's cutest ready- and custom-made vinyl hold-y products, will be well-known soon enough. Oprah-known, if I (and you, only you don't know it yet) have any say in it.

The weird backstory

Patrick and Jamila found me in the most normal of modern ways: via Chris Guillebeau, when he announced his L.A. visit (which I helped pull together, as I am a crazy-mad fangirl of young Mr. Guillebeau). Only...he remembered me from somewhere else, like acting. Because he used to act in commercials, like I did, so he used to read my L.A. Casting column, and, well, you get the picture.

Speaking of pictures

This is where Jamila comes in. She's been designing these adorable business-card holders and checkbook holders and other groovy holder-type things for awhile. A-dorable. And since we all have all this stuff in common, and they like my stuff, as a kind of thank-you Jamila makes me a custom business-card holder and Patrick sends it to me. And I go NUTS for this thing because it's everything I want in something like that: cute, small, light and plastered all over with my picture.

So I say, "Hey! We need to make this a Referral Friday feature and get the word of this out there: can you give my readers a deal?"

And Patrick is like, "Hey! Righteous!" And even offers to send me a bunch more, so I can show them off at SXSW and totally make all the other cool kids jealous. HA. Take THAT, cool kids!

Anyway. Here's the deal.

Fabulous deal for readers of communicatrix-dot-com only! Go to the 11:11 shop on Amazon and...

BONUS-EXTRA! I have it on good authority that if you buy two or more items with this code, 11:11 will throw in a random cardholder as a free gift. Rock the hell on, mighty soldiers!

Make sure to enter this promotion code at checkout: COMX9999

(Look, Ma! My own special checkout code!)

Offer good on orders placed from today, Friday, February 26th - Tuesday, March 2nd, and only on orders from the Amazon store. If you want custom items, well, you'll have to take it up with Jamila and Patrick yourself. And no discounts. That I know of, anyway.

This is my first special communicatrix offer and I am so excited to offer it. Don't be a jerk, order a bunch. Make me look good. For yourself! For your friends! Because how cute are these as gifts, right? You're gonna get one free if you buy two!

Full disclosure: the kids have thrown me a few of these for free, because that's how they roll. But I'm'a order me a jet-plane passport holder and a Siamese kitty checkbook cover anyway, full boat (minus discount!). Because that's how I roll, mothatruckas!


Full set of photos available to view at Flickr.

*And so you know, the SECOND ANNUAL Make-a-Referral Week kicks off on Monday. Hop to it for the info, and get on board the get-this-goddamn-economy-moving-for-the-little-guy train!

Referral Friday: Harry & David pears

Referral Friday is an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby! I've mostly given up on giving gifts for the holiday season.

Personally, I have everything I need, and most of what I want; the rest, I am being very careful to let into my life only after careful consideration. An intense bout of decluttering does nothing so well as point out how very much your stuff can own you if you stop paying attention.

I also am of the belief that while it's lovely to receive and give gifts, it's stressful for most people in the context of this season of high expectations. If you have kids, fine: you get a pass. The BF has gotten some lovely gifts for his kids, but even those are much more carefully chosen "big" gifts they've thought about for awhile: an iPod Touch (with an accompanying email address, which may be the biggest deal) and a "today my son, you are a man" gift to the World of Warcraft. (Ugh. But I liked enough weird stuff when I was their age that I can't really say anything.)

What I want most around the holidays, or any days, these days, come to think of it, is time: to think, to noodle, to dream and rest and frolic and plan, and to do it all as the spirit moves me, solo or in partnership.

But I also want pears.

Big, fat, juicy, golden-with-a-blush-of-pink pears, each wrapped in its own foil jacket, nestled in its own green-tissue-papered cubby, delivered to my door from magic trees in Medford, Oregon by fruit elves. Okay, the USPS, by way of Harry & David.

We have given these pears to each other in my family for, well, I forget. Long enough that it's unthinkable to give up the tradition. I may have skipped a year right after the Great Giver of Pears, my dad, passed on to that pear orchard in the sky, but it just ain't a holiday without those ungodly delicious, indescribably glorious, HEAVY pieces of What Heaven Must Taste Like.

Today (Friday, December 18) is the last day you can get free Christmas delivery on your Harry & David purchases. I suggest you jump on it while you can.

Ho ho ho.

And you're welcome.



The Whore of Babylon has some books she'd like you to buy


I read a lot of books. Not as many as I did when times were simpler and Internet access spottier, but still.

In my ongoing quest to (a) point all y'all toward the good stuff and (b) make some goddamn money, it occurred to me that I might neatly combine those two things with a page of links to reviews in all the various places I write them, along with affiliate links so that if you want to support me and my crazy habit of taking stuff in and writing about it, you could. Hence, this "Books! Books! Books!" page.

So we're clear, I buy a lot of books second-hand or check them out from the library. I also buy new at indie booksellers where I can, to support, and I hope you will, too. I <3 Powell's in Portland, Elliott Bay Booksellers (Seattle), and Vroman's, Chevalier's and Small World here in Los Angeles). I used to love Barbara's in Chicago, Scribner's in NYC...well, sadly, I could go on and on. QED, right?

But sometimes, it's easier to buy through Amazon: for gifts, for people in remote towns without good bookstores, for the 3 am shoppies. Also, for making me a few bucks (via affiliate links) which I then pump back into the economy. (Here's a direct link to my Amazon store, if you're a rural, gift-shopping, insomniac. Or also want to shop for SCD supplies.)

Short answer: buy when you can, where you can, as you can, to support authors. If you can support your local economy, too, awesome. But if you can only afford the library, there's no shame in that. Read away. It's what most writers probably want, when you get right down to it.


Book links on communicatrix-dot-com

Quick links to critical pages referenced in this post

Image by Jon Feinstein via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.