Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lots of little lists.

* I just took a long nap with the TV on and during it "watched" The Third Man (on in the background). I was hearing tinny accordion music and seeing things on a 33 degree angle in my dreams. And I kept thinking harry lime harry lime...

* Well, the recent paucity of postings (whee!) is the result of a major medical crisis. Suffice it to say, in this conscribed (topically) space that 1) I shan't be anthropomorphizing drugs anymore; their side effects are too lethal 2) sometimes you do things you thought you could never do and 3) call me a naif, but the world of medical alert jewelry is much tackier and more complicated than I expected. And spendy. A lot of it is very...wiseguy. Not to mention that some of it, when too much like regular (ugly) jewelry, defeats the "alert" part of the equation.

* Hermione now appears to think (hilarious) that I bought the big new laundry basket so she has a ginormous, moveable cat throne that can be conveniently padded with dirty clothes for her comfort and where she can recline like a pasha out of the reach of Ursula (too chubby to leap into it without an assist). She's starting to look really annoyed if I need to, you know, use it for any reason. Very funny to watch. I'm expecting her to clap her paws together and ask for more Iams in a moment. She also these days climbs up and sits around my right hand while I'm on the computer so I'm forced to mouse through her legs. Cats, man.

* Let's get some obvious things out of the way. That have to be said. For no real reason except they do. Really obvious. 1) Is not "Claire de Lune" the most beautiful melancholy excruciating piece of music? Where lodged in the universe did that come from to arrive at Debussy's pen? SSoderbergh was kind of genius to use it the way he did because of the strong feel of coda--ending--denouement--finishing, elegiac something or other it has. Golly. It's weird and daring too. I love it. 2) Raoul Bova is so gorgeous. He's certainly pretty to look at in still photography, but he's much gorgeous-er in motion: that's where his real beauty lies, in his moving, expressive self. Good GOLLY. What a smile. 3) I love bagpipe music and, frankly, I never hear enough of it because you rarely hear a whole *song* ever--it's hinted at in movies, marches by you in parades. I adore its directly sad quality. It's this funny powerful thing and some people hate it, which I don't get. Okay, thank you, now I'm done. Love, Mistress of the Obvious.

* Maria Shriver has THE most alarming jawline. Concave in spots and in ways that make her look at first glance cadaverous and sick. Her jawline is especially distressing when it's moving around articulating things like, "I struggle with weight problems like all American women," which makes you realize that you've always wondered how the hell her kids might be surviving with Kennedy woman body issues on one side and Schwarzenegger body-building and childhood-fitness-crusading issues on the other. It feels kind of mean to say this about her--genetics are genetics and her very unfortunate mandibular construction is not her doing--but it's hard not to comment on when she's playing governor's wife about body issues. Her face feels like a very extreme version of the way women's faces are aging these days--ruthless. Hollowed.

* Let's talk about Luther Vandross: 1) I am tired of people singing "A House Is Not a Home" who aren't Luther. More specifically, singing it the *way* he did, rather than going back to the original song. He made that song his own with his particular interpretation, and it's tedious to hear bad versions of his superior version. 2) Having said that, I think it's interesting how good, and how long-lasting the Lalah Hathaway version of "Forever, for Always, for Love" is. It's wonderful. Quiet. Beautifully, almost masterfully sung. And it's in almost constant rotation--still--on V103 here. It came out of the same batch of kinda tedious Luther Tribute stuff in 2004 but just won't go away. Very cool.

* Also: I think I have to get the Anthony Hamilton album. I can never get "Can't Get Let Go" out of my head, and how can you not love a man who pens a song like "Sista Big Bones"? (too fab) And puts Monique in the video? (Note: yuck to see Angie Stone, about whom I think the song was written, on "Celebrity Fit Club" or whatever that show's called. Hate that show.)

* Sabrina is the most *lugubrious* movie, as is Random Hearts. Is there a particular chemical reaction that occurs twixt Harrison Ford & Sydney Pollack that causes this? It just doesn't work! And I like them both.

* Morgan Freeman was on oPraH yesterday and it was really satisfying to hear him answer "Fast Black" (from Street Smart) when Oprah asked him what his favorite role had been. Her face kinda fell and it was clear she wanted to hear him describe something uplifting and O magazine--she said a few seconds later, "but what about Shawshank Redemption?" I love MF in noble amazing roles, although I think he might take too many of them these days if I could ever watch any of those scary movies with Ashley Judd, but he's also fantastic when oozing cool menace, and I think it should be tapped into more. Like Fast Black. Oprah can be so...Obvious.

* It's partly the constant repetition, but the promo for the new Nigella show is starting to make her look like a dope with parodically posh accent. So obnoxious. Coy glances, teasy camera-work. They better get that show on TV soon.

* One gets the faint, but very constant feeling watching Tyler Florence on "Food 911" that he is a kind of Tom Jones, that he is, um, servicing these women in more ways than one. Traveling the country takin' care of the ladies. It's impossible to ignore, despite the boyfriends and husbands often in the background. It's like...they don't understand you, baby, I'm gonna rework your recipe and make you feel like a new woman.

* Okay, now here's what we really need to talk about. Ross Hunter. I'm suddenly obsessed with Ross Hunter. I've known who he is for a long time, of course, as befits a Doris Day fan (who can ever forget his epic line, "Doris, you have the wildest ass in Hollywood"), but I never really *explored* just who this guy was. Now I'm totally fascinated. I can't think of anyone else like him, especially in the time when he was working--he was a gay man, with an intense camp sensibility, who wasn't just an appreciator of things, didn't just worship Lana and Doris, but he MADE MOVIES for them. He created movie thrones for these women to occupy, influenced style and perception. I mean, I think the man was wielding irony--*then*. Not just in retrospect. And not irony *only*, because he's more sincere than that, he'd have to be. But. Who knows how he contributed to the hopelessly gay undertone of things like Pillow Talk? I'm starting to think the really naked (not even)sub-text of that movie might have his pawprint on it, that he might be winking at us. And seeing the potential in Doris' ass takes a certain kind of vision! That sounds incredibly inane, but I don't know how else to explain it except that he seems somewhat ahead of his time, despite the turgid dated qualities of his weepy films. And he had a long Hollywood marriage with an art director. He just seems really fascinating to me all of a sudden--I want to find out more about him. How can you not wonder about the man that remade Madame X? Just insane. That photo is him (on the right) with Doris and her no-goodnik mooching third husband. I wonder how much all this has been explored?? Oh the biographies I want to write!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I have to say, I'm unsurprised to hear that Forest Whitaker is so good as Idi Amin; I think he's a much better actor than director. And the first half of The Crying Game, in which he was so heartbreaking, is the best part. Anyhow, rather exciting.

Another little prediction: I think Marc Antony/*shh* Jennifer Lopez's husband is going to be proved a good actor, quite good. Better than ye'd think. How odd. It's kind of impossible for him not to, with all that melancholy.

A wish: People who were average-sized would call themselves that. Body dysmorphia is so rampant that you have to navigate an ocean of hyperbole and exaggeration in everyday life, and I find it wearing. Boring. And frustrating, in my nerddom and fatness, but mostly in my nerddom. It's ever-so-interesting that you think you're enormous as a size 14, but please--take responsibility for a little measured (hah) examination of the world around you. Call things what they are. And if people could only differentiate body type from body size...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Anthropomorphizing medicines is fun.

Okay, so Yasmin has left me; now my constant nauseating companion is, well, Lois. Lois is, of course, the secretary at the local high school. She sighs unthinkingly a lot in a way that sounds angry, wears the classic Embarrassed double-knit fat lady top-and-pants outfits of my yoot (RIP), has a too-short older-straight-lady dyke hairdo that's always a little sweaty at the back and wears glasses on a chain around her neck. Only maybe it's not Lois who's making me sick...maybe it's the conflict of her and CeeCee, drug #2. Yes, that's it. CeeCee, who is younger, transferred from another high school where she worked and now she and Lois are deadlocked in a battle of the embittered martyred employee. A battle of whispered angry conferences in the hallway, teary-eyed lunches in the break room, partisan birthday card passing, when all the time their real enemies are the awful students. I hope they resolve their difficulties soon.

* The current E coli outbreak in commercial spinach production is making for some hilarious visuals on TV news. They have to have imagery to fill in during voiceovers, of course, and what they end up with is a lot of...spinach. Very passive spinach. Lying in piles, sitting in bags, being sprayed with water, perhaps being hesitantly fluffed by anonymous human hands. In a bowl. On a plate. It can make for a long 30 seconds.

* Newsflash: Kim has just informed me that Cole Porter's hometown is pronounced Pee-roo. I had implied that it was Pair-oo in my last post, by my fondness for orthographic spelling in all sorts of inappropriate contexts. Pee-roo. PEE-roo.

* What book has had the most effect on my life at the moment, do you ask? Why, High Heels for Jennifer, of course. Arguably the least great of the Jennifer books by Eunice Young Smith, but one with an enormously valuable life lesson: how to deal when something you've created and care desperately about is destroyed. How to do it over. Suck it up and do it over. Keep doing. My mercurial web browser just ate in an instant 1,500 of the most carefree happy words I ever threw together for this blog with all the benefit of backed-up energy and it felt like somebody stabbed me through the heart. You know the kind of prose where you're not looking right at it, but just leaning back and tapping effortlessly into a deep, free-flowing vein of exuberant expression--more importantly, with content and form in place too? Rare. Non-reproducable. Devastating. But you know what, you gotta keep doing. And doing over, which is the same as just keeping going. Plod back into it. The kicker: you never know, it may be better the next time around (not in this case; I'm catatonic. But still.). And it's my damn fault for doing it on the web and not in a text edit prog.

It's like Dog comma the Bounty Hunter--you know? You gotta follow the rules. I can't fundamentally fault him for going after Andrew Luster, but if Luster goes free because he took matters into his own hands, nobody knows better than Dog that you gotta follow the rules. What if he barged into innocent people's houses in Mexico and extradited them? Many years of Sunday School makes it clear that that kind of gesture--Dog's--can't be free of ego. However, there's morality and then there's morality--I'm glad Luster's in jail good god, what evil.

* Jon Stewart recently identified something that has always bothered the crap out of me about Fox News and their "headlines"--bottom-of-screen text. They use the most partisan, lurid, BAITING rhetoric, but try to make it look thoughtful or even vaguely journalistic or just let themselves off the hook by putting a question mark at the end of it. He totally nailed them for it. Very satisfying. Some of the things they say are so far-out I wonder if I'm remembering them right--a very Fox phenomenon, that. (Clinton: Skirt-Chasing Sinner? We Want Iran So Bad We Can Taste It...Can We Take It, Can We?) I think sometimes that's why I can't watch Jon Stewart, as delicious as his show is, esp. when I'm unwinding from work--it's almost TOO delicious. And on the spot, which puts you--well, me--in touch with this enormous well of frustration and nondirected energy that the last six years has brought, even though it scratches an itch.

* To wit (today's political thought Better Expressed Elsewhere But I Don't Kare): I am thinking more and more these days about the enormous, looming similarities between the Christian right and the Christian left, as far apart as they are. How the ends of that circle dangle open. How when you hear a fundie preacher and your basic heathen Episcopalian talk about the need for less commercialism, more personal responsibility, less sex selling product and compromising people, more QUIET...all the ways in which they echo each other stand out more and more. It's hard to imagine those ends ever knitting together, but still. What if?

This is exactly what watching Joyce Meyer is like--watching the ends of that circle dangle open. She says things I don't agree with, and things I do agree with, but they're all right there in that area. Her latest outfit, by the way? Almost Kenny Kingston-like. Hilar. Well, okay, not that extreme, but with a stand-up collar and brocade embroidery. It made me want to call her Marchelin, for some reason. I really must find somebody to share this Joyce Meyer obsession with, somebody who can be both dead serious about and totally amused by her at the same time. Ali? You want to start a club?

* I doubt I'm the only one who can't take the word "zesty" very seriously because of over-exposure to Bloom County in their formative years, right? Hehe. Zesty.

* Note to self: once I finish the dissertations I wanna write on period films, friendships in threes onscreen and the evolution of language in cooking shows, I would like to write one about the imagery of women escaping from life in ads for "treat"-like foods. I will call it: Cal-GONE, Man. And then because this is academe and there has to be a colon, I will call it: Cal-GONE, Man: A Feminist Look at Imagery of Snacky Snack Fuds in TV Commercials.

* There's something so moderne sometimes about early music, isn't there? I listened to Couperin's La Menetou today (really cool) and it was just serious HARPSICHORD BOMBARDMENT. Highly structured, but bashing. Very satisfying.

* I know I'm a horrid crank, but I finally identified something, an obvious something, that had been plaguing me in all this Croc Hunter coverage: why the noun adjunct? Why Australia Zoo, the two words just sitting there next to each other, hoping to rub off on each other but too lazy for one to take an adjectival form? Why not Australian Zoo? The Zoo of Australia? Australia's Zoo? Is this why Australia was a penal colony--grammar issues?

* A truly grotesque episode of Fast Food My Way with Jacques Pepin this week in which Jacques, bless his heart, killed a worried, claw-waving lobster by severing his spinal cord, then cut him up into pieces and made a fricassee. He did it with phlegmatic French calm, for, as he said, whether fishmonger or restaurant or cook, "SOME-bodee [has to] keell the lobstuhr." And he's right, it was just horribly nasty to watch. He proceeded to disembowel the thing into all its slimy parts after killing it, and I kept wondering why it was okay to show this and not a cow being cut up. Seemed arbitrary, like permitting cussing in foreign languages but not your own. Still totally disgusting, even if I admire JP, and I do, for knowing how to do things like this and not flinching from them. Man, I hate shellfish. It's just too insecty.

* I have finally learned to like Michael Chiarello's cooking show. His manner, not his food, had always put me off--it felt pushy and cheffyego-ish--but having watched it a bit it seems more like innate enthusiasm. The man talks a lot with his hands. It's almost like those old fake "3D" shows on SCTV, waving things at the camera all the time. But he's a good cook. The other day he made cappellini in brodo, one of my fav dishes, and it was more like a Vietnamese pho than the way I've seen the dish usually prepared--interesting. Boy, did it look wonderful. He also made a polenta pound cake with berries I coulda dived into.

* I have been craving for months foods that I finally have decided to call ur-fuds, for lack of a better term. Foods as I first had them, learned to like them, first ate as a child. Not, necessarily, foods that I had often; I might have, but sometimes we're talking about foods I had only a few times. The first foods. It's partly a result of being so sick to my stomach recently and not having satisfying food experiences as a result, whether from too little/too much hunger, hunger that is going to be hard to satisfy regardless. Ur-fuds...strong clean flavors I can taste easily in my mind.

So recently I've started to crave: Real Texas chili, no beans, no onions, just lots of tender chuck in a sweet spicy ancho chili/cumin/oregano sauce base. Preferably served with basmati rice. Also tabouli, made the way I first had it, by the Palestinian husband of my mom's best friend from high school: NO tomatoes, just a very dark parsley/mint salad with lots of bulgur and lemon juice/olive oil. Maybe a little very thinly sliced scallion. Also on the hit parade: hush puppies (onion powder, please) and fried flounder, sausage gravy and biscuits, peppery grits, really lean, non-gristle-y and juicy ECarolina BBQ with slaw on a squishy bun. And aioli. Craving aioli. And hummus made with cannellini beans. Oh well, we'll see what Lois can do for me.

* Turf wars: Hermione, who of course in the last few days had found a way to get in the new laundry basket and was enjoying its protection and comfort, has been usurped by Ursula, who thugged her chubby way in with the help of an ottoman nearby. She's now lying in it, licking her paws, and Hermione is sitting on the ottoman plotting her next move.

* From a voiceover for an ad for a Julio Iglesias album: "One of the most iconic voices of our time." This made me feel bad about overusing the world myself! It just doesn't sound's 3rd/4th word definition correct, but Wrong. One of the most melodic painters of our time.

* More than a lil MFK Fisher in this entry. Sometimes you just gotta. To wit: I *must* press on with this gastronomy/taxonomy article, if nothing else because I have discovered in the research process that calling Spain is expensive and I'd like to make that worth my while. Also: hang tight for a flurry of Keith Preston appreciation to be showing up soon. Due to the joy of online second-hand book sellers, I am going to indulge in some KP ownership for the first time. Can't wait. Little pet obsession flowering.

* One of my favorite quotes, speakin of favoritin' quotin' authorin', has floated to the front of and been firmly lodged in my brain the last few weeks, due to its relentless and growing relevance in the life of a woman. It's from a film by Eric Rohmer and I'm grateful every day I thought to write it down when I first saw it. It's the way of perceiving it describes that I find so dead-on, as well as, secondarily, the maturity of the attitude expressed: Now, when I see a woman, I'm no longer so quick to classify her as one of the elect or one of the damned. . . In their most mundane tasks, I grant them that mystery I used to deny them.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Pride of Per-oo

It turns out there's a perfect place for The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter: the *shh* bathroom. Perfect spot for that kinda leisurely perusal, although it's not good for the book, which was already hurtin (curled covers, cracked spine). Plus it weighs about 15 pounds. But still-- fun. And I finally looked up where Peru, Indiana actually is. It really is kind of in the middle of nowhereindiana. So far my faves:

from "Si vous aimex les poitrines" (from Nymph Errant, 1933)

Si vous aimez les poi-trines
come to Gay Paree
si leur beaute vous a-nime
come and call on me.
I will show you how di-veene
Parisiennes poi-trines really are,
If you promise me, you naughty boy,
not to go too far.
Si vous voulez d'la ten-dresse
et d'la volupte,
let me give you my ad-dresse
for a rainy day.
And when zat feeling comes a-stealing
you know what I mean?
Mais oui, monsieur,
come and play wiz me in Gay Paree,
si vous aimex les poitrines.

(What is it with gay men and the belle poitrines? I wonder if Patrick Dennis knew that lyric)

And for Hanne (this is the first verse):


Listen, my dearie,
out on Lake Erie
I know the grandest town,
Cleveland, Ohio,
Oh me oh my-oh
a place of great renown.
Cleveland--that's the title of my ditty.
Cleveland--it's the famous Forest City,
Cleveland--where they have the ammunition,
Cleveland--to prohibit Prohibition.
Cleveland--praise the Lord and sing Hosannah.
Cleveland--it's the home of Hoyt and Hanna.
Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Yes, sigh, kindofasucky week. I am in the middle of donning my 1-2x/yr Stressy AllergyCold/Sinus Infection, which proceeds in such a speedy fashion that I have problems explaining it in a belevable way to others. I'm literally in stage 3 after about 8 hours (congestion and drip, after runny nose and sore throat). I am living in a fountain of flying kleenex like a hamster. I knew it was coming, unfortunately, for a few days in its low-simmering pre-game state--no Emergen-C stemmed the tide. I've learned not to fuck around with this illness, whatever it is, because it has a bad habit of turning into bronchitis at the same frightening speed as the rest of the process and at that point there's just no way I can not talk about the astonishing, claustrophic quality of the phlegm I experience, and who needs to hear that. Needless to say, this illness has arrived at the worst possible moment, days before my first vacation in months if not years, when I have tons of stuff to do to get ready, and no ability to take time off from work as needed. I'm lookin at my face in the mirror and I think I literally have no melanin. It's just gray. Yes, sigh.

Okay, so it was a nassy week and to top it all off the Esquire Theater is closing. It was multiplexed a decade ago and has not been taking care of very well in recent years, but it also has one of the most beautiful Art Moderne facades in the world and I worry for its existence. It's *daring*. It has very strong architectural gestures--grand expanses and smaller bits--the kind of space-wasting nobody has time for on a street full of primo real estate like Oak St. (Real estate...what fucking bubble? The value of real estate seems to be driving so many horrid business decisions these days. Would the Berghoff have closed if not for that? Even a constantly-packed restaurant doesn't pay off in comparison.) This city talks a good talk about architectural heritage, but in reality nothing's changed since the days of the Fire. Slash and burn, slash and burn.

So I am going to try to note some good things.

1) I got some nice little opera swag at work, a few things I actually wanted. That was lovely and hadn't happened before, I don't think.

2) There was a prize-winning Pomeranian on TV tonight that thrilled me to the gills and made me squeal. I think his name was Tyler. It's the way they WALK. Furry nubs twinkling as they float along and the goofy look on their face. I often think I might get one if my life becomes dog friendly and I have a yard. I was not built to pick dog poop off the concrete three times a day. God bless those who do, but hain't for me. I'm still dreaming of the perfect hands-free affordable self-cleaning cat litter box, as it is I feel like their litter bitch most of the time. I wonder: do you have to spend 20 hours a day brushing your Pomeranian to get them to look like that?

3) I have finally achieved something I need in the area of Laundry. It took money, of course. I've tried a bizillion carts and carriers over the years that don't work, fell apart, were hard to maneuver, you name it, but I finally bit the bullet and bought an industrial strength, jumbo-size laundry cart from an industrial laundry supply co. The kind of cart laundromats have, only even bigger and sturdier. It arrived in reassuringly heavy boxes, has huge solid wheels, is big and well-made enough to resist Cat encroachment, and didn't take that long to put together. Although that part was satisfying. I LOVE my Ryobi cordless drill. It just is so well-made and handy--I love doing stuff with it. The cart is damn BIG. It even has the ugly but useful rubber protector around the top. This is great. Now I can fling my laundry therein and fling it back in once it's done and not have to do any silly packing and hoisting to make things fit or worry about what's wet.

Since I started writing this I have literally progressed a stage with my sinus infection--more congestion, no sense of smell. I am going to embrace pharmacology without my usual trepidation and hope it saves me.

(p.s. Is the world ready for the Rachael Ray show? The Megan Mullally show? Must they alliterate?)
(p.s.s. Love to you, Skip, in tha Midwest.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I really like my silly ride to work. It's about 5 minutes long, and in it I pass the deep, water-bed roots of the city. I go through the "lower" part--the streets below the false bottoms of Michigan Ave. and Wacker Drive, where the tall buildings are really anchored. So I see the real bottom of the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Building--all these buildings that you think you're seeing all of when you're above ground. I go by loading docks and employee entrances and boat-boarding spots along the river, past smoking hotel employees and TV interns and people in hair nets sitting on crates. I go by the city impound lot, by the Billy Goat, by media vans, down unusually twisty streets that hug the river and its banks. And every single day, except in winter, I hear the squawk and tweet of some renegade group of parrots (I guess?) who live under Michigan Avenue and whose calls echo weirdly throughout all the rivets and steel. I emerge in natural light at Wabash, in the cluster of valet parkers.
This has been a rough week. Monday morning started early with the lugubriousness and unavoidable pain of 9/11, as of this weekend Marshall Field's is no more, Ann Richards just died, Iran's looking inevitable, I worry stupidly about Iraq from all sides all the time... Not to mention, a former coworker who never looked anyone I knew in the eye except those he found worthy of starfucking has written a tell-all with (as I am told) annoying innacuracies, and that didn't help either. A few things he said sound just Incorrect and worthy of correction, but I suppose it's also that *I* wanted the last word.

TV was just *dangerous* on Monday. I try hard to avoid the images of the towers--it's like watching somebody being beheaded--but it was just...unavoidable. Very slippery slope. It's a terrible thing that TV has enough imagery and hoo-ha to fill that many rehashed hours of straight horror and sadness without having to stretch very hard (either way it's awful). After 20 minutes or so, I decided that I needed to shut it off in a big way. So I listened to all of Ravel's Bolero, which had just started. I figured--this will take me somewhere.

The key art for The Black Dahlia is really effective, clever and just YUCKY! Which is the point.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hermione and Ursula alas!

The cats who are currently parked inconveniently near my computer and ogling my dinner while they shed and give each other the stinkeye have namesakes. They are named after the "two plain strapping sisters (Hermione and Ursula alas!)" of the hopelessly femme, self-styled super-annuated jeune premier of the Mapp & Lucia novels by E.F. Benson, George Pillson. Hermy and Ursy show up in the first book and terrorize poor needlepoint-doing Georgie, an incredibly good sport, with their brusque, hearty, otter-hunting ways: make fun of his toupee; play golf; beat him at bridge; unmask his yoga guru as a line cook from an Indian restaurant in London; then take off again. "Usually this month when Hermy and Ursy were with him was very fatiguing," Georgie says. Right.

Ursula and Hermione turn out to be pretty good names for me cats. I named Ursula first because she looked so much like a little bear cub (she still does sometimes) and then burdened poor Hermy with her pretentious name when I got her later--having a matched set just was too delicious to pass up. (Luckily the Harry Potter books mean that people usually know how to pronounce her name). My cats are incredibly fatiguing sometimes--they are in constant, gyroscopey motion, in tandem with each other, the world of sounds around them, me, dust bunnies, whatever, despite sleeping 23 hours a day (how do they do that?). Hermione, the one in the photo above, is older and theoretically more mature, but she's the one who is into heights, knocks books off my shelves (she is super-duper polydactyl and able to thwack things with big paddle paws) and the one who can't stay off my computer keyboard. Ursula is a baby thug. Her middle name is Entropinator, because she just can't bear the slow rate at which things disintegrate--she has to hustle it along by spilling, biting, tearing. Scratching. Tipping things over. Whatever it takes.

They get along, they are sisters, but in addition to sitting companionably and looking out the window this means that they constantly chase each other around, groom each other until the process disintegrates into hissing fights, indulge in what looks like kitty Greco-Roman wrestling, roll around rabbit-kicking. I've been very aware of one dynamic between them driving all this recently, the fighting and the non-fighting both. That is, despite the window-sitting, when they're just hanging around they rarely just are together, in any companionable, equitable way. Literally. Somebody is always higher, somebody lower. Somebody is always closer to the fud dish, somebody is farther. One is always closer to the big cat (that's me), one is farther. If I blink slowly it's a series of constantly changing tableaux: cat up, cat down. Cat down, cat up. Hermy is on a shelf, Ursula is higher. Ursy's higher, Hermy's lower. Always a power struggle. They are constantly colonizing any cardboard box I bring into the house for this reason. I'm higher. No, I'M higher. NO, I'm closer. No, I'M-- It's like a living binary code.

Today it refused to stop reminding me of an exercise in a modern dance class I took in college. (Suddenly in my minds eye, despite the fact that we are talking about the mid-1980s, it seems as far-off and sweetly innocent and palmy as The Group or a Victorian photo of punters at Oxford or something--the little dance studio at the back of the 60s? "women's" gym, surrounded as I remember it, with incredibly lush greenery all around through the glass windows, all of us young and earnest and unaware of cell phones and compact disc players and worshipping our charismatic long-limbed dance teacher.) Anyhow, the exercise in this class was that there was one person who was leader and the rest who had to follow her doing The Opposite--if she raised herself up, we crouched down--and vice versa. When you really get going with it, it's tricky and fun, not knowing which way to go and moving all around while you do it.

That's what my cats do---together they are a constantly morphing organism that is balanced only in the presence of both. My cats do, as I say, sometimes just sit with each other. But it's not when I'm not here--when I walk in the door they usually emerge from different spots in the apartment. What they do, I think, is be together when I'm around but they think I'm not looking. Sometimes in the middle of the night I'll wake and they'll be curled together in (as B.Pym described sleeping cats) a great "clot" of minky fur and whiskers. One time I swear they were stretched out next to each other like two kidney beans, holding paws. This evening when I woke up from a nap, they were both (an unheard-of level of accord) parked on their new favorite cardboard box that hitherto Ursy had appropriated with much hissing and fistfights. I keep thinking--am I dreaming this? Is that really both cats? Do they know what they're doing? Why aren't they hissing? It doesn't last long, in any case--once they know I'm paying attention, then it's back on the gyroscope. One of them got booted off the box (can't remember which).

All this is one reason why living with cats is not the purely decorative activity that it appears in an Ikea catalog. Cats look like they are just sitting there, but in reality you are living in the middle of constant, complicated series of movements and counter-movements, a nest of sometimes invisibly articulated challenges and nose-thumbings and power struggles. And since you are one of the planets around which these little satellites orbit and change, it's not that relaxing. Sometimes you wanna say--can't you just sit there?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

5,001 Nights at the Remote.

* I just finished reading BBC Good Food cover to cover. It's an interesting magazine; I can't quite figure out where it falls in the socio-economic/periodical/foodie hierarchy on the newsstand. It's definitely not as posh as Gourmet, but doesn't seem Woman's Day either. Maybe more like Bon Appetit? (The cover to the left is not the one I just read but very similar--crowded, not elegant and spare.) I guess the point is that there isn't a definite US comparison, since it's nicely subsidized and there aren't as many ads as in other magazines. Much nicer.

I drew a few conclusions from reading it: 1) British food photography has not reached the same feverishly glossy spritzed fluffed quality as American. This is probably not quite true--I'm probably comparing it to the wrong things--but it still seems different somehow. They let things look simpler (plain white noodles?) and just kinda lie there, not so spectacularly lit or lacquered or whatever, compared to an American magazine. Maybe. 2) I really want to try salt marsh lamb. 3) There wasn't one chocolate-based desert in the whole thing, I think--everything was seasonal, down to the bizillions of berry-based desserts. It felt a little more genuinely tied to nature's ebbs and flows and unprocessed food. 4) I saw very little fear of carbs--whether covert or manifest in the recipe design, however: 5) They seem just as concerned with healtheee-Eeeeeting, but in different ways than us. For instance, there was one raspberry tart for which you crumbled up shortbread WITH butter (shortbread already being 99-44/100% butter) to make the crust. Go Old Blighty! (It looked fantastic--their soft summer fruit there really is epic.) 6) Delia Smith is really England's Food Queen. There was a contest for what basically an Audience with her at her Food Centre. Hilarious. She has to be popular/powerful to bend other people's interests to hers (football, the Catholic church)--I mean, I wonder how many of these folks care about football to begin with?

* This weekend on Food Network they're airing a special about Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken called "The Chef and the Architect," in the promos for which they are heavily leaning on the whole "I Married My Partner's Ex!!!" True Hollywood Story angle. Wha? I didn't know for sure that MS had married S's ex until I read Juliette Rossant's Super Chefs, and even then I would argue it was fairly softpetaled. In general I don't think it was ever a secret, but it doesn't seem like they advertised it either. Either way, the point being that it's Old News, yo. But now...hmm! Salacious! The show, according to FN website, is about Mary Sue and Josh building their dream kitchen...wonder what happened to their old LA home? That was such a cool building, the one that was in AD or whatever. Goss goss. Pardon while too much curious goss spills out the edges.

* Junk food roundup. Um, well, news isn't the right word, but I'm excited.

1) I can't find grape Laffy Taffy anywhere, so I finally just bought a box of individually wrapped from a candy wholesaler. Cool! The web rocks! I adore grape Laffy Taffy. What IS it, you say. Well, it's, um...squishy. Loud, really. Tangy. Chewy! Artificially all of the above, really. But good.

2) Totino's makes these cheap pizzas called Party Pizzas that I love. They used to be $.99 ea, but now they're more, although you can still usually get them on sale for a dollar. They are really good in a really bad/good way. To make the circle fit in your (rectangular) toaster oven, you crack the pizza in half and fit the sliding halves off-set together inside, crank the heat up to 400something and in 12 minutes--blam. Very crispily-crusted, not too cheesy pizza. Don't get me wrong--it's not artisinally thin Neapolitan pizza or something, but in its fakeness it's closer to good pizza than those enormous Tombstone cheese weights.

all mooseeck

* I watched some parts of the 2-hr American Masters program about Leonard Bernstein tonight. (Wished I had known it was on earlier--I dislike when post-work open-mouthed torpor keeps me stuck on semi-crappy stuff when there's something substantive on I would prefer to watch, had I just a little more energy to go a-cruising on the remote!) Managed to miss entirely the segments about West Side Story and Mass, his pieces that had the biggest place in my childhood (I have the sense that I'm supposed to say it's Candide or Kaddish or the Chichester Psalms, but I've never really considered WSS second-rate or semi-classical or whatever--think it's astonishing music--plus those were the LPs that got worn out in my parent's living room in my youth) but managed to bawl all the way through it anyhow.

[Now that I'm feeling a little less bawl-ly, I'd like to note that that man was photographed more often than any celebrity I can think of; not only that, the photographs of him--and there were many tiers/kinds, including the super iconic face-with-two-hands-the-rest-mostly-black Conducting photos, and the sweaty intense before/after photos, the smoking/composing ones, the face-on/thoughtful/craggy-faced ones with that face that always remind me of my grandfather with that big nose and white hair, the Social photos--are unusually crucial to our experience of him as a celebrity. All that still photography is a larger-than-normal aspect of how his personality was communicated to the public, which is interesting since his fame was--somewhere, fundamentally--about sound, not visuals, not to mention all the years of moving pitchers on TV (that I never saw). But still. I find it impossible to think of him without simultaneously seeing those photos...]

There's a lot to bawl about watching the program. Apart from my personal and family feelings are all the obvious ones: his childhood, his joy, his intensity, his amazing gifts, his precociousness, his aging, the scenes of him in Israel, his sense that he didn't use his talent completely, all the agonies of being gifted, the well-worn story of his last performance at Tanglewood (I had only read it, not heard it told out loud by a participant--it was very moving plus good GOLLY do I love Beethoven's 7th), his connections with people, the fact that all the music on the program was either composed or conducted by him, when he lived and how he handled it, the overall *largeness* of his life. Anyhow, they're repeating the show and I'm going to tape it. It was hard not to yearn for a big enormous existence watching that program--I know he suffered from many demons, but he bit off such big hunks of life... Makes you want to live differently.

* So, the Met announced yesterday that it will be simulcasting operas in movie theaters next year! I think this is a pretty great idea--*I'll* go, shoot. Chairs will be more comfortable, I bet. Their choices are quite interesting--they're opening with an English-language (bleh) adaptation of Magic Flute, the Julie Taymor production. I can see why they'd choose it, but all I can think of is what a *long* movie that made when I saw the Ingmar Bergman version as I a kid and my poor sister got sick to her stomach, but we'll see. Then I Puritani (!), the premiere of Tan Dun's The First Emperor, and how fucking COOL is Placido D. for continuing to expand his repertoire...I really love him for that, Eugene Onegin (!!) with Renee Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky--I actually saw them both in Onegin at the Lyric--v. pretty, The Barber of Seville (!!!) and Il Trittico (!!!!). Good golly. I wonder how casual the environment will be? It will be cool to be able to snack during the program! Whee! The Met's also doing podcasts and all sorts of stuff--I think it's a highly sensible way to push on, and doesn't seem like it's as horrid as some of the compromises opera has to make these days, like parking a Lexus in the lobby or cutting experimental works to throw in another ABC opera.

* I just received a second-hand book I ordered: The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter. What a great thing this seems to be to have. I very much hope that I get lackadaisical face time with it--it feels like the kind of book that's just begging for you to spend two-three lazy/wandering but completely nutritious hours with it on the couch, soaking it up. So cool! And God bless second-hand--would have been $60-some without it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cute drug names.

Newest ridiculousness: Yasmin, which is maybe supposed to make you think of jasmine rice, or pretty Arab women, or that Disney princess in Aladdin or something. Yasmin is, in fact, drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol from Berlex Laboratories, and it has been making me constantly sick (in a variety of ways) for almost three months now, this weekend in fact, being the apex and pinnacle of terribleness. Here's to a new drug, that will come, I'm sure, with a new strangely anthropomorphized quality that pisses me off, but maybe it won't have me illin'. BLECH. Stupid Yasmin.

Monday, September 04, 2006

This weekend has been all about Ketcheeng Up. From a long overextended week, with sleep and psychic energy. And feeling sick to my tum. So I write about: booze and aminals.

1. My favorite liquor is always Pimm's. It's the only bottle I ever have to buy a new one of for my liquor cabinet (except maybe occasionally gin or Maker's if I have a party)--the dusty bottle of rum never runs out. Sometimes I'll go for months without drinking it, like now, 'cause I don't like to drink alone, but it's definitely My Drink. I like it with tonic water (it goes all fuzzy) and citrus; I like the classic British Cup with lemonade and ginger ale; it's great w/ juice; I just like it. It's not really ass-kicking; I think the alcohol content is lower than some booze, but it's the greatest. I am very much looking forward to building a house, garden, veranda and spouse around civilized evening cocktails and my Pimm's bottle someday.

I found out this weekend that Pimm's--technically Pimm's No.1--actually had/have siblings, Nos. 2-6, based on different alcohol bases than No. 1, which is based on gin. They still make in addition to No. 1, Nos. 3 & 6 (brandy, vodka)-- No. 3 is "Pimm's Winter," as a marketing technique, since most Brits drink Pimm's in the summer, as in at Wimbledon, when they sell tons of it. (It is really a hot weather drink.) Who knew! Who knew. I can't find anywhere in US to get these variations. I'm not sure I'd want them anyhow, but I'm curious to taste. And see.

I also saw that in England that they've started selling pre-mixed lemonade and Pimm's in some packaging that I'm not quite convinced about. The can's okay, but the shrink-wrapped bottles look cheesy and Arbor Misty. Plus their website is just AWFUL. I don't hold that the English are okay only if they're all quaint and old-fashioned, but I'm just not feeling this whole "British BBQ" thing. Pliz. Too tacky. And unconvincing.

2. I saw some amazing animal footage this weekend that is still ringing in my head and I don't know how to explain well in its marvelousness. Just amazing. It sparked a whole spasm of internet animal festivities, including the black-footed ferret cam (is there ANYTHING as cool as the curve of their head? And their ears? It's unholy), Tai Shan checks, otter cams, fairy penguin sites...chaos. Porn. Polar bears. Baby cheetos.

Anyhow, the footage was of 1) a baby meerkat and 2) a colony (a group? a pride? a whisk? a wafer? a wince? a wince - that's good) of ring-tailed lemurs. In both cases they were both interacting with humans, and it was just bizarre since they're both vaguely bi-pedal. These tiny little humans around these bigger humans. Especially the meerkat...who was constantly vocalizing and scampering around a living room floor like a tiny housecleaner, and then had to be washed because apparently meerkats are very stinky (?). His *eyes* were a fuckin trip--downright human, almost. The lemurs were just as amazing, with their steady gazes and people-y paws and throne-like haunches and...they climbed all over the zoo-keeper but then sometimes collected at his feet in a Lilliputian way.

I guess all I'm trying to say on some level is that they are cute, but they are also just astonishing. I don't think I breathed watching them!

I never saw the Crocodile Hunter show. Frankly I thought he was annoying, and that was because he was. And I think that he took more than normal chances--he showboated, and baited the animals, as far as I could tell. But he was also incredibly enthusiastic and kept people from big game hunting in Oz, which is good. But good golly.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

hope tempered with world-weary caution and Teen Beat lust

Looking up in an open-mouthed haze, I admit that I just dipped my toe, oh-so-carefully at first, into spoilers for the upcoming Gilmore Girls season after determinedly looking in the other direction for months, now. Gobbled them up greedily until I am exhausted and lost. What's my name again? Where am I? Is this the televisional equivalent of sneaking down to your parents' liquor cabinet in the middle of the night?

Ohrrrr...I did care. I did care, I did. I still DO! Shit. Everything that's happened recently has conspired to kill my love, but yet it will not die! What if...what if next season is good? May I hope? Is it wrong to hope?

And I just don't think we're done seeing Scott Patterson without his shirt yet. There's got to be an erudite, well-written, witty way to make that happen, yes? More than once a season?

I think I'm going to be hungover tomorrow.