Friday, June 3, 2011

This Is It

I, Free Lauren Marsella, do hereby officially announce my cessation to exist commencing July 3rd, 2011 at dusk. Over the course of the next 30 days I will be selling off my entire Free Lauren Marsella inventory, which includes earrings, necklaces, magnets, keychains, envelopes, bolo ties, handbound notebooks, postcards, Valentines, you name it. You may purchase a piece of art history directly from yours truly at the Clark Park Flea Market on June 18th in West Philadelphia. In addition, I will be posting sales online throughout the month. Finally, I am always open to all private inquiries/sales. Please e-mail me at

This will be it. When I say this is it, it really means this is it. I am liquidating my entire inventory and burning the unsold works. This is the final curtain call.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Make lemonade

Holy crap, I didn't beam up.
Pretty awful when NPR is the first to inform me that Judgment Day is around the corner. Even worse, if not for them, I would've received word of our impending annhilation from glimpsing this week's cover of the crappier of the two free Philly newspapers, The Philadelphia Weekly.  Saddest of all was overhearing Judgment Day's exact date pass between the mouths of my Whole Foods cashier and bagger yesterday afternoon. In case you somehow didn't get the memo, the world was supposed to end today, May 21st, 2011. Honestly, I expected Arnold to get us out of this, cuz I'm pretty sure that's what happens in the awesome movie, "End of Days."
Isn't that movie about really big fire all over the place brought on by the apocalypse? Wait, lemme check....

Ohhh, now I got it. It's about Arnold calling Satan a "choir boy," then Satan getting mad and stomping on Arnold's hand while he dangles from a broken window, and finally Arnold overpowering Satan and throwing him out said window, as if Satan can't fly. Shyeah, right.
I was way off. Either way, Arnold must be way too busy announcing his scandalous love child's existence. My brother broke the news to me yesterday on the telephone. He went on to say that the baby mama is none too attractive. What did you say, Chris? She looks like "a mound of turd"? Or  she's a "big ugly turd"? There was something about a "turd" in there to convey how unworthy she is of Arnold's sex. Welp, I dunno about the mom, but their secret love spawn should be down in the basement eating Baby Ruths with Sloth:

This photo makes me wish today was my last day on Earth, which as I mentioned above is what Family Radio followers are were prophecising. It's worth listening to this segment just to hear a woman with a 2 year old daughter defeatedly state, "We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won't have anything left." Yeah me too, except I'm broke not on purpose.
My favorite part about their version of the end of the world is the part about the Tribulation, which is supposed of take place after all the good people are beamed up into heaven today. In case you were not fortunate enough to have your Sunday's Best scared off of you as a child in Sunday School, the Tribulation is a brief period of worldwide hardships, famine, war, natural disasters, and pain and suffering, which will wipe out more than 75% of all life on the earth before part deux of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ takes place. However, many scholars and intellectuals (myself among them) believe that we have always been in the Tribulation. I have proof (as if Arnold's freaky love child was not enough evidence).
Exhibit A: Checker's lastest ad campaign recently sighted plastered across the ass of a Septa bus. Apparently I'm not the only soul who's taken note of this particularly vulgar sign of end times.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade...or challah...or a Wells Fargo customized debit card. Holy crap, have you WF account holders been informed of this incredible serviceIt has increased my quality of life at least two fold, and I demand you take advantage again and again. Not only is it free, but you can do it forever. Er, well until Jesus comes back.

Baby's First Last Challah
adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum*


1/2 liquid cup
118 grams
old starter

75 to 85 grams
unbleached all purpose flour (use Harvest King)
3 cups
424 grams
instant yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons
8 grams
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 teaspoons
10.7-11 grams
2  1/2 large eggs
used the remaining for glaze
4.2 ounces          120 grams
(weighed without shells)
3 tablespoons (1-1/2 fluid ounces)
60 grams
corn oil or
Vermont butter
1/4 liquid cup if oil
54 grams
65 grams

Special Equipment: An insulated baking sheet or two baking sheets, one on-top of the other, lined with parchment. A baking stone or baking sheet
1) Mix the dough In the mixer bowl, place the water and tear in the starter. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and yeast; then the salt.
Add the eggs and honey to the liquid in the mixer bowl and the corn oil or butter. Add the flour and with the dough hook, mix on low until moistened. On medium (#4 Kitchen Aid) beat for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and shiny. Add flour if necessary until it almost clears the bowl The dough should be just barely tacky. (The dough should weigh about 30.2 ounces / 856 grams.)  Form the dough into a ball.
2) Let the dough rise Place the dough into a 2 quart dough rising container or bowl, greased lightly with cooking spray or oil. Push down the dough and lightly spray or oil the top of the dough. Cover the container with a lid, plastic wrap or a damp towel. With a piece of tape mark on the side of the container approximately where double the height would be. Allow the dough to rise, ideally at 75 to 80 °F., until it has doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (to 2 quarts). Gently deflate the dough by pushing it down, give it 2 business letter turns and allow to rise a second time. (The second rising takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
Flatten the dough gently by pressing down on it, so as not to activate the gluten, making it stretchy. If desired, for best flavor development, the dough can be placed in a larger container or wrapped loosely with plastic wrap, placed in a 1 gallon plastic bag, and refrigerated overnight -- in which case give it a turn or two first. Allow it to sit a room temperature for 20 minutes after dividing in 4 pieces and preshaping into logs.

the remaining 1/2 of an egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons
33 grams
3/4 teaspoon
Optional: poppy seeds
1 tablespoon
9 grams
3) Shape the dough, glaze it, and let it rise Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (214 to 217 grams each). Shape them into little logs, cover them with proofer or greased plastic wrap—no need to rest unless refrigerated overnight as they get more gluten development. Start by rolling one piece of dough on the counter into as long rope, 13 inches.  (Keep the rest covered while working with one-at-a-time.) Taper both ends of each dough rope to about 4 inches down so that they are narrower than the rest of the dough rope. (Allow the ropes to rest covered if stretchy.)
Starting from one tapered end, (middle, if doing a 3 strand braid) braid the strands. Pull the dough more as you come to the ends of the braid so that it comes to more of a point. Pinch the strands together at the end of the braid.
Don't allow too much bulge in the middle, i.e. braid tightly so that it doesn't spread when rising and baking. Push the ends together a little so that the loaf is about 14 inches long by 4 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches high. Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with glaze and cover. Let rise to 15 x 5 x 3 1/4 inches high—about 1 hour.
5) Preheat the oven: 45 minutes before baking preheat the oven to 325°F. Have the oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.
6) Glaze and bake the challah.  Remove the plastic wrap and brush the challah all over with the egg glaze, going well into the crevices of the braid. Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds if desired, tilting the pan slightly to have access to the sides.
Quickly but gently set the bread onto the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn it around and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes (tent loosely with a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil after 30 minutes of baking time or if the top is getting too brown). Leave on parchment as very tender. The bread should be deep-golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. (An instant read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 180°F.)
7) Cool the challah on a rack.
*I cannot tell a lie. This is actually an updated version of the recipe I used, though both are by the same lovely baker lady.

And now,

Until the real rapture comes I shall be spending my time enjoying the three activities I love most and do best: playing with the software that came with my webcam while making into my potty-mouthed slave reciting words such as "poon tang" and "tit mouse" as I listen to Nilsson.

One last thing, I just wanted to tell you that when I typed in the word "pooper" on, it came back with this-and I quote:

Pooper definition

  1. n. 
    the buttocks. :  How is she going to get that humongous pooper into the chair?

The hilarious fruit I pull from the cornucopia known as the internet.
This is Lauren Marsella saying, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Obscene Post

A couple of weeks ago I made one of my routine stops at the Free Library with the simple objective of giving the DVD section a quick how's-your-father, on guard for Spinal Tap, The Ron Clark Story, Mannequin 2, or some such cinematic gem. I guess I should have learned by now that, although these trips are well-meaning and intended to be ten-minute endeavors at most, they are never the in-and-out procedures I tell myself they will be. Soon, I discover my hands flirtatiously running up and down spines as I amble on down each aisle, eyeballing the titles, waiting for something to strike my fancy. Before I know it, hours have passed, the sun has set, and it's time for me and a hefty stack of books to mosey our way on home. The cream of that particular day's book grazing was an attractive hardcover titled The Englishman Who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects, which looks a little somethin' like this...

The hero of this true story went by the name of W. Reginald Bray ("Reg" for short), and let me tell you, this guy was hilarious. At the turn of the century, the 21-year-old Reg purchased a copy of the Post Office Guide, a publication outlining regulations set by British postal authorities. In short, he studied these rules, then sent loads of mail to challenge them. This included posting a wide variety of random objects such as a turnip, a rabbit skull, starched shirts, a frying pan, a penny, seaweed (my favorite), his dog, and finally himself (thrice). He also amassed the world's largest collection of modern autographs through the mail, thus dubbing himself "The Autograph King." This was accomplished simply by posting cards to celebrities and unknowns alike, requesting them to sign the card and send it back. This system worked thousands of times, though it failed to bring back an autograph from Adolf Hitler, even after five attempts (what an asshole!). It doesn't end there. He also played with addresses, writing them in verse, illustrating them, or posting mail to no one in particular at all, just to see where the postcard might end up.
Here, Reg uses a photograph of a street in place of a written address & circles the house the postcard is to be sent to.

The Post Office didn't do too well with this riddle & declared the postcard "NOT ADDRESSED." It reads "361 Broccoli (Brockley) Road, Near LadyWell Wood, and Lewisham".
The Post Office didn't seem to find this one very funny & returned the card to Reg marking it "Insufficiently addressed".

This postcard was successfully delivered though the address had been written backwards.
"To a Resident nearest this rock." Stop the hilarity!
I believe Reg truly accomplished what he set out to do, and them some:

 Some time ago it occurred to me to venture on the post office authorities a number of letters, curious both in form and address. This course I did not enter upon without much consideration and hesitancy, for it would be most unfair, to say the least of it, to cause a lot of unnecessary trouble, merely for the sake of playing a senseless prank. My object from the beginning was to test the ingenuity of the postal authorities, and, if possible, to vindicate them of the "charges of carelessness and neglect." Should these lines come before the eyes of any official through whose hands my "trick letters" have passed, I hope he will accept this explanation as an apology for any extra trouble that I may have caused him.
~"Postal Curiosities," Royal Magazine, 1904

Now, some of you are aware of my street cred in sending my own curiosities through the mail, from envelopes stuffed with the contents of a dustpan after sweeping my entire apartment,  packages booby-trapped with mounds of glitter posted to known glitterphobes, Free Michael Jackson Campaign propaganda, an 30 day-long art school project in which I anonymously mailed suspicious items to the Tyler School of Art photo department which ultimately got me into trouble with Temple Security (it was a post 9/11 thang), postcards only large enough for a tiny printing of the address and a stamp, mailings to Jaleel White and the Wu-Tang Clan, the now famous message in a 2-liter bottle which fetched me a husband, or my more recent focus: counterfeit stamps. I've played the game Reg played for many of the same reasons Reg played it, but I never actually sat down and read the rules. So, I e-mailed the United States Post Office requesting a mailed copy of their official regulations, and promptly received this e-mail in response:


 to me

Thank you for your inquiry to Postal Explorer.  Postal Explorer, at is an online resource providing guidance when mailing through the United States Postal Service.

The United States Postal Service’s Domestic Mail Manual what you will need to find the answers to your questions.  The direct link to the DMM is

We hope this answers your questions and provides you with an available resource to make your shipping easier.  Thank you for contacting the United States Postal Service. We look forward to serving you in the future.

Postal Explorer

Visit Postal Explorer at

My initial reaction was to feel saddened & dismayed to find I could not have a hard copy of the rule book mailed to me. Who wants to read this kind of material off a computer screen? I'm pretty sure when the Postal Service began opting for e-mail over snail mail, that was a sign of the impending apocalypse. But, if there's one thing l've learned in my 27 years on this planet, it's this-when dealing with the U.S. government, take what you can get. So, I clicked on the link and began browsing.
I started with Section 601: Mailability, Subsection 8.0: Nonmailable and Restricted Articles and Substances Generally. I feel maybe this is where ol' Reggie Boy would've begun. Allow me to sum up my findings for you... 
Sometimes it's okay to mail "live scorpions, switchblade knives, and poisonous drugs", but it is never okay to mail "disease germs or scabs, turtles, radioactive materials, or articled emitting obnoxious odors." Hmmm, interesting start. So, I guess if the live scorpion you are mailing to your arch nemesis smells like a stinky butt, then it's a no go. They're also really big on not mailing things that explode. I guess Ted Kaczynski didn't get the memo.
Moving onto Subsection 9.0: Perishables: 9.3: Live Animals. So, here I discovered that animals intended for fighting and betting (i.e. cocks and pitbulls) are a no-no, and pretty much all "warm blooded animals (e.g., hamsters, mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, squirrels, parakeets, and canaries)" are a no-no too. So, just when I was thinking what a party pooper the USPS is, what with their puritanical "No mailing hamsters" policy, my eyes beheld these glorious lines:

Small, harmless, cold-blooded animals (except snakes and turtles) that do not require food or water or attention during handling in the mail and that do not create sanitary problems or obnoxious odors are mailable (e.g., baby alligators and caimans not more than 20 inches long, bloodworms, earthworms, mealworms, salamanders, leeches, lizards, snails, and tadpoles).

Alligators and leeches?! YES!! This is the stuff mail dreams are made of. And wait, that's not all! Live bees are okay too! And the "dead bodies of wild animals (or parts thereof)"!!! 
'Member way back when I beseeched all of you, my loyal readers, for some friendly penpalship? Well, I think I'm ripe for some new penpals. I'm willing to bet I can get my paws on any of the above animals in at least a half-dead state for under 5 bucks in Chinatown. Piece of cake. In addition to mailing hungry snakes to you, I seek partners in testing this restriction:

13.5.4 Lewd or Filthy Matter

Obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy publications or writings, or mail containing information on where, how, or from whom such matter may be obtained, and matter that is otherwise mailable but that has on its wrapper or envelope any indecent, lewd, lascivious, or obscene writing or printing, and any mail containing any filthy, vile, or indecent thing is nonmailable (18 USC 1461, 1463).

This paragraph reminded me of an instance, years ago, in which I mailed a photograph of a naked woman cut out from a porno magzine as a picture postcard. It made it to its recipient without any trouble at all, so I tried it several more times with different cut-outs of women in various positions, performing rather disturbing (though sometimes admittedly humorous) sexual acts. They all made it through the mail just fine. This left me with two possible conclusions:
A) The particular postal workers who came into contact with this mail did not find the images to be indecent, lewd, lascivious or obscene.
B) No one noticed the images amongst the heaps of other mailings on those days.
If Conclusion A holds any truth, then what does that say about those people and the culture that helped form them? defines the word "obsene" as follows:


offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved:obscene language.
causing uncontrolled sexual desire.
abominable; disgusting; repulsive.

Hmmmm. This only raises more questions...How does the USPS define "obscene" if not the same way as the dictionary? Were those
images of those naked women simply not causing uncontrolled sexual desire in the postal workers that handled them? Yeah, that must
be the answer. The nudie pictures needed to be way sexier to be given the red flag. I wonder what else we can send through the mail to
test the Post Office's definition of these words. My own definition of "obscene" marks a picture of a McDonald's Filet-o-Fish or those
gross-out hairlipped baby charity ads as such, but would the USPS agree?
Reg tested the Post Office's ingenuity. I say let's take it a step further and test their morality.This is your mission, if you choose to
accept it. Write to me, and make sure it's disgusting, depraved, or causes uncontrollable sexual desire (bonus points for all three).
For your efforts, ye shall receive live bloodworms in your box, in honor of ol' Reg.
Now get to it, posthaste!