Monday, December 17, 2007

Last night on the news crawl on E!, in between news about--I forget--Tom Cruise and Britney, I think--was the fact that Dianne Middlebrook had died. So bizarre. It was like a grieving intern with an English background had gotten ahold of the keyboard for a minute.

Friday, December 14, 2007

squeeeeee

Some really rockin panda photos in the news this week (new cubs, some fossil discoveries).

The last one of the adult panda group lolling and eating is a decent demonstration of why I love them so.




Wednesday, December 12, 2007

lil lit'rary spasm

Well. I finally got a copy of Robert Lidell's book about Barbara Pym (A Mind at Ease), but it seems incredibly...tame. Pointless, kinda. YET another analysis of the bad boys and clergymen, no personal dish at all, at least at first glance. It's funny, the way people love to tear her books apart psychologically. Not sure they can stand it, and I am obsessed enough to have attended at least one conference, so I don't really know what I'm saying, except that that stuff couldn't bore me more. It's all right there. Nothing to take apart.

Lidell was friends with Pym at Oxford, a critic who lived the ex-pat life in Athens and was good friends with Ivy Compton-Burnett and Elizabeth Taylor the writer. He wrote a book about them too that I haven't read, now I'm kinda wondering about that one. (In that weird lil sparky convergence way, of course I got Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont from Netflix and the Lidell book in the mail the same day, partly the reason for the overflow into bloggitude here). I've never been able to get wholesale into Taylor, partly because the first book of hers I ever read was Wreath of Roses which is so disturbing as to have made me run hard in the other direction. Even the cover freaks me out now to look at it. (Apparently Elizabeth Jane Howard--K. Amis's 2nd wife--refused to write Taylor's biography because she said not enough had happened in her life. !! If indeed that's the whole deal, probably more complicated. But still....gah!. Everybody's life is complicated when you look at it.) And Compton-Burnett...I love, and have several books of, but my mind is so lazy and needing of path markers that I have to work hard to let my synapses be mauled by -- even 1/2-understand -- her brilliant, totally weird prose. Same thing with Ronald Firbank. I think my brain's a little too flat-footed.

I wonder if it's more or less so, two months out of the journalistic grind. My brain, I mean. If it's squishy and malleable, more willing to wander down funky paths (I also hate sci fi--this is related), or I'm just more low-functioning and E!-saturated. All I know is the Lidell book seems pretty boring, and reactionarily so, given that it came out after Pym's journals were published and it was clear that she was a real, living person with passions and love, and he had a front row seat for some of it. Almost like the farcical intro that Anne Tyler wrote to her books full of reductive assumptions (at least as I remember it) about Pym's life and character.

Which I guess is a theme to this entry, although I didn't start out with it in mind. First rule about life: you have NO IDEA what's going inside someone's else's life, someone else's head. As Dorothy Sayers said, with the mildest of folks, sometimes something will go off "like a depth charge," and you are left wondering and collecting floating debris. About the merit of dashing about collecting debris (i.e., writing biography), I can't say. But still.

Think that's enough UK writers for one overloaded entry. I feel better though.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A steamy cup of rich dark soy cocoa + berber carpet + your Macintosh + vagaries of physics = not good. This is 1/100 of the carnage, so if I'm offline for a few weeks, you'll know why. The cocoa against the white is kinda reminding me of a Gerhard Richter watercolor, which is the analogy I will use to try to find it all charming. FUCK!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

ships, books, starch conveyence devices

Two fat lolling winter cat hulls, rolled over out of the water for all to see. Cat versos, at it were. Or really, like dumplings in a pot of chicken stew, turned over to reveal their fluffy undersides. Fluffy fluffy!
Title:
Too Lazy for Photoshop (No. 1 of set)
Can You Guess Where the Two Zits Are?
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iSight photo c. 2007, property of the artist
















Title:
Blemisha Obscura (No. 2 of set)
Now Can You Guess Where the Two Zits Are?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
iSight photo c. 2007, property of the artist

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

bougey musings about forks and wangs

Dee Snider & Anthony Bourdain...startin to look a lil alike, ifyouaskme.

I liked Shortbus. Was I not supposed to? Twarn't perfect, but it had that thing that I loved best about Hedwig--a really emotionally sophisticated sense of humor, snarky and delicious, faster than the viewer. I think its companion large-scale moments of swooning drama were less well-defended than H (oy, the crying hotties), but still. Funny! And such a relief to see wang on the American screen. And, of course, a shot of a naked fat body seemingly involved in the pursuit of pleasure, although it was hella brief and sorta...swept off the screen a little bit, it felt.

Speakin o Wang, how did I manage to not hear about the nawtynekkid AB photo for My Last Supper? Like Marcus Samuelsson and the blender.

The concept for the Bourdain book sent me back to look at the Roald Dahl cookbook (Memories With Food) me darling Hanne gave me, where RD did the same thing with a few writers (a lot of books have done this; AB's asks the last supper question specifically of chefs). Very interesting answers, especially PDJames, and why did I know hers would involve duck with sage and onion stuffing and peas. (I hadn't looked at this book, which has some interesting English and Norwegian recipes and was written by RD and his last wife, since I learned more about how he left Patricia Neal for her...feels odd. *gossipy literary spasm*) Speakin o Hanne, she sent me an adorable lil letterpress book with cook-ish quotations in it recently, one that's raising the tone around my keyboard considerably as I thumb through it. My favs so far are very conservative quotes from Julia Child about doing the classics right and a funny simplistic lil quote from Paul Prud'homme: "Food is best just when it's cooked, at that point there's nothing else you can do to it to make it better."

It kinda makes sense; I am in a weirdly Catholic--reactionary--conventional--those would be the negative terms--phase about food and its doings these days. I'm craving...the best from the past? The things you can't count on anymore? My excitement centers around the classical French repertoire (I don't care if I ever see/read/hear about a "new twist" on anything again--show me how to make pate a choux! again! and again!) and silverware with the right heft and tine spaceage and it's like I'm turning into the stuffy old gouty lawyer I will be in my dotage with the skimpy but respectable wine cellar and little stool covered in Oriental needlework for my foot. Some of it is what DL Sayers calls the "new delight in formality" as one gets older, but I am just craving...substance. Longer meals at the table. Beautiful little meals, thoughtfully served, china and glass that...is as sensual too. I feel kinda silly talking about all this--more than a little silly, it's all so bourgeois and consumerist at its core, and the sad result of too many English novels, but still, I long for delicious pretty things with this weird fierce intensity. It's not like I didn't live off a pot of chili I all weekend that I microwaved in batches, and why not, it fuckin rocked--I'm not actually sitting down after dinner with a mother of pearl fruit knife and a perfectly ripe hothouse peach that I carefully peel on a Crown Derby plate--but the point is...it sounds nice. And why not sometimes. And I can tell you more about fruit knives than I used to after this all surged anew with an idle thought about silver ice cream forks and ice tea straws a few months ago, help.

Now I feel kinda naked, naked as AB, sayin all that. Especially because I'm really not sure what I'm saying. I'm admitting to a fantasy of sorts, which is always embarrassing, only it isn't that simple.

Speaking of all this...look at this bizarro fork (from a set) I got recently. I haven't run a test on the handle to see if it's Bakelite yet, but I can't for the life of me figure out quite what it is or even if it's old or new, and I'm usually pretty good at that. It seems like an oyster fork with the three tines and the slight flare to them, but the tines are really long. They are also strangely sharp and thick. The whole fork is much smaller scale than a dinner fork or even a salad fork. The most likely bet seems a cocktail fork, but still, how odd, and what the metal is I really don't know yet.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

serious TVish ge-mish ge-mosh

I saw NY Rep Charles Rengel on Charlie Rose the other day....awoke from a nap, and there he was, with his old-fashioned but familiar and tough and responsible/ethical political rhetoric. In that sleepy vulnerable state my heart unclenched about 150% and I thought...maybe we are going to be okay. Maybe the fight is not all wheel-spinning.

The reason that hippos are so...so? Their LITTLE FLIPPITY TWIDGETY WIGGLEPUSS ears. Tiny expressive fluttery ears at the intersection of enormous sculpted tonnes of flesh. The scale is insane. And yet it works. The ears are tiny punctuation, transition, at the join in the shape of the animal, but also saying...hello! Little flippity ears! Wee flags on a cruise ship.

Isn't it odd that there are at least two movies out there that feature somewhat yicky close-ups of Alfred Molina's moist lips to make plot points? Enchanted April, where they are the locus of Josie Lawrence's frustration with her clueless, demanding, hidebound, middle-class husband (pre-transformation), chewing away thanklessly at the meal she's provided, and then Chocolat, where they seem to want to symbolize his release from his bourgeois cage of denial and descent into pleasure (post-transformation) as he lies in the window of the chocolaterie after his orgy, although really that latter movie is so smug and simplistic it's hard to give it even that much credit.

Last week on DinersDrive-insandDives they went to a good, very standard-issue Chicago-style restaurant (burgers, Italian beef, Polish, etc.). He was oo-ing and ahhh-ing over the crowds and the food (it looked great), and I found myself full of an unusual, for these days, sense of relief. Because that place is one of like 25 I know of, right off the top of my head, which are that good/crowded/yummy/full of food like that in Chicago, and I didn't have the usual thought of yeah, well, it's the last of a breed, or just one of too few of something, or a place that's too much promoted and I worry there's no back up. There really are bizillions of places like that in Chicago, and THANK GOD. LOTS of people here know about garlic juice.

Speaking of Italian bif (why, how do I like mine, you ask? Dippednopeppersnochiz, thank you), I had *the* most amazing pizza from Rizzata's, my local joint, the other day. I get pizza from them pretty often, but I have now squawked fussily enough about delivering it hot that they're getting pretty good at it, and this time....it was just EPIC. Sooooo thoroughly hot, right out of oven, tender all through the crisp crust, just the right cheese and sauce and pepperoni... It was GOOD, empirically good, za. Not just for delivery za or downtown za or Chicago za, I mean, it just rocked my world. Highly recommend that joint. I was impressed.

No job + clean kitchen + onset of cold weather = more cooking. I'm trying to decide how to deal with the (I've suddenly discovered) 18,000 chicken breasts in the freezer in a wholesale fashion, but some recent things to note, heavily chocolate-related:
  • Success: a leftover 1/3 c. of flakes/dust from Schokinag drinking chocolate added to oatmeal/chocolate chip cookie dough. Very good indeed. I basically now always want oatmeal with my chocolate chips. So good! Mini chips work best. And regular oats, definitely. Can't be quick-cooking.
  • Best way to cook 1-bowl brownies, I now think: In a very solid high-sided circular 9" cake pan, with a few milk chocolate chips thrown in. Comes out perfect every time at 35/40 min. Good crispy edges, but not too much. One-bowl brownies are not a *super* cheap dessert (building blocks are spendy--bakers chocolate, butter--compared to my usual wacky cake that involves vinegar and cooking oil), but so simple and pleasing, thank you XB. Good thing to know how to make.
  • Yummy mock bolognese/stroganoff, a la not thinkin about it too much: In a pan flung a few lardons of frozen bacon, frozen organic ground sirloin, a lil tomato sauce, Worchestershire, balsamic, oregano, sage. Cooked until...not uncooked, kind of shreddy and thick. Tossed with mini penne rigat (very good pasta choice for many dishes), a little cream cheese to loosen (hence the strog)....yum!
  • Continuing to find that if you put any chops or cuts of meat in a your enormous Le Creuset frying pan and sear them in a little butter, add a bottle of beer or cider, a big spoon of grainy mustard, and maybe a little honey/balsamic/Worchestershire, it is always good. Beurre maniere is good for the sauce, citrus of any variety (one time I finished them in the oven with a pat of butter and slice of blood orange on top), whatever herbs turn ya on, I've even thrown a dollop of grape jelly for a little sweetness if the beer's too bitter, but basically 1 bottle of something + 1 spoon of grainy mustard is enough. With brown/wild rice...yum.
  • BTW it's now officially cocoa weather, so make sure you stock up! I'm pretty much a Hershey's girl, but the Scharffen Berger cocoa...really luxe. And remember that one of the perverse rewards of soy or rice milk (soy esp) is how frothy you can get the drink.

I make a (kinda stupid, ineffectual, but whatever) point of rarely saying "Oh, I love that commercial." It's mostly perverseness. I know advertisers want me to, companies want the buzz, even if I don't buy anything, but I ain't gonna give it to them. Me no commodify my nothing! This has been building, though: I have to say...I LOVE THE CANON DOGGIE COMMERCIALS with Maria whatshername!!!! LOVE THEM!!! I love when the dog says, "No...YOU come on!" Love it love it love it. Gawd help me. They can't show those enough. Watch that link!!!!!

How does Nigella get her sweaters to stay on/stick under the bubs/follow the tum like that? I can really see how she needs them to do that, to not trail her cardies in the puddings, but...how? Busty ladies wanna know.

This is a book, not a blog entry, but: I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW KEITH MOON DRUMMED. His gestures...if you watch footage of him drumming, what he did and WHAT SOUNDS CAME OUT...you almost might think he was (drum-)synching. He was FULL of all this gratuitous and oddly-directed, non metronomic, gesture, at least his arms. And yet he was thundering out all this stuff. His touch, despite the constant Animal-like flurry of motion, almost looks LIGHT. It's frothy, frostingy, flurry-filled. Bizarre. He comes at all his high-hats with his sticks really oddly-held, like he's just swiping at them in weird gentle touches from above. I've been trying to figure this out since I was 16 and I am glad I am now saying so, because I know what I see and I know what I hear and they need to be better knitted together for me. I love his drumming, don't get me wrong. Just full of unreconciled visual/aural information. His drumming...with that cherubic face, it's bizarrely sweet. Innocent. Not thundering grohl monkey-arms clubbing. It's so weird.

There must be a term--from liberation theology or something--for the stage that society perceives/wants to keep whatever persecuted groups in, until an understanding of their worth/need for retribution becomes large-scale accepted. The early/opening/learning/beginning stage that goes on too long. That is...I'm glad Carson whatshisname from Queer I is doing a show empowering fatties, but will we ever in my lifetime get to a point where WE'RE NOT STARTING FROM SCRATCH? Where it's not brand-new all the time? Where people don't consantly have to be convinced of its necessity (fat acceptance) over and over? They're not, btw, we're not even really that far in this world. But still. Fuck. Do I have to be happy every time a celebrity comes out with clothing for the (oh so superbig) size 14s in this world?

Best thing about Fabulous Baker Boys (check it out): Beau Bridges. He's not moody and doesn't push his hair out of his face in that incredibly sexy way that Jeff B does, but I am convinced that his performance is actually the most daring and galvanizing in that film. And underrated, 'cause he's the schlumph. Oh, he's good, though.

On HGTV they were featuring a guy's house who was a major arts & crafts collector; EVERY piece was a Stickley or somebody. Everything. It was beautiful, as were all the beautifully framed pieces of art, but way too much on a room-by-room basis. Too much psychic pressure, too much unrelenting dark wood. It actually seemed fragile, not sturdy, in such concentrated amounts. The hilarious part? In one uncommented-upon segment, the owner's cat crossed the room stinkeye-ing the camera. Heh. Totally hilarious. Begging...pleading...the question: how the hell do these things coexist? My cats would turn a living room-full of Stickley furniture into toothpicks in about a week. Tear it up in a day. No way that cat wasn't declawed. Wearing a buzzy color around its neck. Something.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One Reason I Feel Different From Everybody Else

A slice of "fall"/"harvest"/"Thanksgiving"/"apple spice" cake is put in front of ye and you probably...ooh and ahh. It has apples and walnuts and dried cranberries in it, and a dusting of powdered sugar on top. You see the description on the menu and think oh I want that, you see a photo of it in Gourmet and think oh I'd like that, it's put down in front of you and you think oooh wow that looks good.

Every single thing about cake like that makes me recoil in horror. Every texture, flavor, interaction of texture, I find just gross.

However. This is not about food separatism, but if you put all the elements of the cake in front of me--a pile of nicely-chopped Granny Smiths, some roasted walnuts, the plain cake with nothing in it and just a dusting of sugar--I would LOVE them. That would be my idea of heaven, I'd be oo-ing and ahhh-ing and feeling so well-fed and expansive and excited. Together, though....yick.

?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Portrait of two kitties fighting the Bissell SpotBot automatic carpet spot removal system. Heh.
















oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god
Flocked clothes hangers are one of the great inventions of the last 10 years--I'm in love. However, just two words: CAT FUR. The hangers are full of static electricity and...yoo doo the maf. Hrmph.

Strangest mish-mosh ever

1) I learn over and over: YOU CAN ONLY START FROM WHERE YOU ARE. Because that's true. You never know where you may go from there, but still...ya ain't starting anywhere but right here, right now, jebus jones. Maybe the problem is the word "start"; nobody wants to think they are "starting" oh, say, their life's work, every single day (hour, minute). But I guess we are.

2) Latent materialistic longings (neg. interpretation)/love of antiquities (honest yet positive interpretation) combined with an existential when if not not now entitlement surfaced with huge *blurp* last week. Things 2 note:

- I think I love William Morris' 'African Marigold' design more than almost anything, only then it's immediately subsumed by another (usually a plainer one, 'Tulip & Willow' or something). They just make my heart hurt.

- Silver has gotten expensive. Not sure whom to blame about this, but it's heartbreaking to realize you are competing against people who just want beautiful old things for scrap (!). The silver I love the most, most of the time, is severely severe, old, and therefore the most spendy, and therefore I can paddle around in the...salt cellars area. Heh. Which look really beautiful and clean, but are really .58" across and minimally helpful. But anyhow, oh do I love, the simpler the better (boxes, cigarette boxes, capstan inkwells). I don't know to explain this--it's not wantiness, it's like it makes my heart hurt and my head dizzy. One of those seriously closely-held, unbelievably strong feelings that feels stupid with any air/light on it, but that's who I am. I have no words for the pleasure that things I like bring me. (Tea strainers? Bizarrely expensive. Goddang, what the heck.)

- Have decided for the mo, after an very educating surge in eBbayyitude, that what I need to it to regroup and get some great silver *books*. Learn more, scratch the itch with pictures, etc. No way to be in auctioning but ruthless, btw. Without it...you end up with 'silver' box of pretty but questionable origin such as the one I look at right now.

3) I was on a three-month sick leave this year for treatment of lymphedema (look it up). I ain't gonna make myself a martyr to laundry when there are so many people worse off than I in this world, but I had to wash a batch of lymphedema bandages today, the way I did every day while I was in treatment and was really reminded of BLEAH! What a hassle it all was.

It turns out this condition, especially now that I am out dealing with this on my own, would be much easier if I were German or Italian. It is only really about maintenance, nothing else. Keeping it in check is about getting massages (that I can't afford) and being in a pool (which I'm still figuring out). In those countries, they are much clearer on how you treat lymphedema (it was invented in Germany) and you can just kind of...go there and get treated. It is so much easier there to have treatment be part of your daily life without having to hugely stiff-arm of the rest of your life and spend too much $ and deal with hassle. I have to make that life for myself here. I have to be an Europaische in Bush-land! With Cobra!

4) Is it possible for your subconscious to earn PhDs? I am working on a couple.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cat #2 with the white tuxedo front (Hermy) was chewing on a red ball-point pen last night. I was so hypnotized watching her huge polydactyl paws manipulate and hold the pen, all 14 toes or whatever, that I didn't notice right away when she chewed the point of the pen and red ink went everywhere! She looked like a thug in a 70s cop show with an unconvincing squib exploding over their white T-shirt. She was quite hilarious, running around, licking her (red, pink) front. Poor pain in the ass Hermy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

fatties on Miami Ink

On Miami Ink tonight they are featuring two people I am acquaintanced with from bouncing around the size acceptance community. One is a great woman named Deidra I met at a NAAFA convention involved with Big Moves who gets a tattoo by the ever-fabulous Les Toil, whose work I love and adore; the other is a guy, an FA (fat admirer for all your civilians), who gets a groovy chubby girl pin-up girl tatt on his arm. Nobody's seen how the episode got cut, but size acceptance is supposed to be woven within it in some fashion, thematically. I really hope it's good! I will be squalling loudly if it is to let the show know I liked it.

Looks like the one-hour episode is on at 9 CST on the Learning Channel. There's also another older episode after, but I'm fairly sure the stuff I mentioned is only in the 9 o'clock ep.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sometimes Sweeps Rocks

Turner Classic Movies is doing the greatest thing for November: every night this month there is a guest programmer, which means that the movies really get mixed up from their usual programming, you get to see some great films, and peer enticingly a bit into people's heads about films (Renee Fleming, Neil La Bute, Thelma Schoonmaker, Mark Mothersbaugh). Tonight is three incredibly hard to argue with choices from (yick) D.Trump-man: African Queen, Gone Mit der Wind and Citizen Kane.

All you do is go to their front page and click on their (as ever, super-fabulous graphic) on the first page and see what's on for that night/that person. That's my idea of the right kind of power/fame: being asked to be guest program TCM! Oh, 'twould be so delicious.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Maxxxassholesxxxim magazine has named their "Five Unsexiest Women Alive" list, Sarah Jessica Parker being at the top. I don't even want to repeat some of what they wrote, it's such a hostile mix of mean magazine list-writing gone nuts/male gaze woman-hating/the stuff you hope guys don't say in locker rooms but they do and it's so much worse than you think/casual postmodern misogyny/'hilarious' celeb-bashing and cannibalism of the very young female focused contemporary variety. Everyone in the list--whom I would guess all exist in the same 25-lb weight range--is too skinny or too fat, too horsey, whatever. Amy Winehouse's skin is "openly hemorrhaging," Britney has 23 lbs of "Funyun pudge," Madonna is "Willem Dafoe with hot flashes," Parker is a "Barbaro-faced broad"; "pull down your skirt, Secretariat."

Fuck them. What possible virtue can there be in eviscerating womens' looks like that? From a godly distance like that? There is a snideness, a meanness, a personalized exasperation to the tone of the piece--God, stop shoving these ugly women in our face--that is begging to be whipcracked into place. It takes my breath away.

In some ways, though, this list is no different than their very popular 100 Hottest list. Nobody wants to admit it, because it makes our ogling seem mean and excluding, but it is. This is how that list is built, these are the exclusions that "shouldn't" have slipped through into fame. You could even say that Hottest 100 list is not the 'cream of the cream' these days but the zero sum 100, period (this sounds kinda nuts, but it feels right). Good-looking women are all just variations of these famous people.

In another way? (this sounds bad) I understand the feel of that list. Especially because as a fat woman, I basically don't see anybody like some of the people I really think are beautiful out there in fame-land, and so yes: among the women they tackle are people whom I always have thrust in my face as beautiful whom I would not necessarily call so (although the point is that's true of all the people they talk about). Either way I understand better than most, as someone who doesn't qualify at all, what the rules are about how to fit the (very very narrow) beauty ideal. I could write a meaner list than Maxxxim. People wouldn't think so, they'd think I don't "get" it, but that is not the problem.

In some ways too this about earning fame and having fame these days without a studio system for protection, yet with much increased marketing and guessing at what the public wants. In some ways this is about how images are created through photography, not recorded. In yet another way this is sort of about the clash of women's fashion ideals vs. men's sexual ones. Women like Parker for being such a style icon, yet most women out there chafe under the insane fashion demands and trip in the high-heels from Sex in da City. And on the other hand, the most conventional babe is aging out of the boy shorts from Muxxim shoots as we speak... Ah, real women. Where do we fit in all this.

Which is why this is still really about how MaaxxiM are pigs! Yich.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

For those of you waiting in your nightgowns crosslegged for the universe to bring you more DorisDayiana, the culmination of a big publishing year is arriving soon in the form of But Not for Me (saddest bio title ever!!), a new biography of Doris, a heavily-researched book by D. Kaufman. This month also brought a book from a former assistant and earlier this year was Considering Doris Day, which I GOTSTA read. ALL ATWITTERS. New info? Not?

I really like the new Mary J. Blige song...makes you kinda wonder what she could do with more pop, in a way. Eees good! (Unrelated R&B news: I never knew "Love Under New Management," the Miki Howard song, was about Gerald Levert! Wah. Sad.)

I seem to be triumphing over cold (after about a solid week of misery) with that happy sense of immortality...the kind quickly dashed by the cold-related mess, but still. I survived!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I trod on my glasses! Pulverized, to quote Ralphie. Fug.

Monday, October 29, 2007

When I have this kind of a cold, I always feel like a hamster. Or a gerbil. Buzzing my way through Kleexes, flinging them in a growing pile around me like in a hamster cage. A giant, mouth-breathing, red-eyed, TV-watching hamster.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Must read the new Judith Jones book (boy, talk about a Zelig-type...I think there are photos of her in every food book I own). Always kinda curious about her and that hottie husband. I really like the title and the use of Brillat-Savarin...a blessed respite from the usual over-useds.

Nuture, Love and Respect

Marvin: Ah, yes, but I have to replace them every month or so.

Kermit: Flat? You mean, out of tune?

Marvin: No. Flat. Like teeny pancakes.

Kermit: What happens to them then?

Marvin: That is something you don't want to know.

---

I highly recommend the Marvin Suggs Muppet Wiki entry. Hilarious. There's no point to this, btw, I just had forgotten about Marvin Suggs and somebody reminded me and boy did I miss some Suggssubtext as a kid, although I loved how he danced around and the idea of mashing the Muppaphones.
My grandmother's china was featured on "Antiques Roadshow" tonight. Woo! That is to say...a more valuable, non-faded, non-chipped set of it, full of cool unusual serving pieces and lidded dishes I don't have. It was still kind of neat/weird to even see the pattern on TV, familiar as it is.

I'm really bummed. Right now I'm supposed to be partying on down with the fatties in the suburbs wearing a hastily flung-together Hallowe'en costume, but instead I'm hanging around home, dozing fitfully/feverishly as I fight this cold. It's amazing, I haven't gotten any of the colds floating around the last few months, when there were a lot of stressy reasons I should, but still. What? I don't need to get this sinus infection now to prove any kinda point! For now: Lots of zycam and water and sleep. (I am all about the Fiji water these days. That stuff is one of the bottled waters out there that makes me think it's not all Lake Michigan tap water. It has a very different texture, soft. It goes down really fast and doesn't make me hiccuppy and heartburny, which still water sometimes can (strangely).) Anyhow...I'm disappointed! I would much rather be partying than at home with one nostril watering as a spot under my eye buzzes with sinus pain. I mean that sincerely, and not passively-agressively I-just-wasn't-in-the-mood-ily, either. This was not a massive scheme to stay at home and wish I did housekeeping. Although I do wish. I did housekeeping.

I'm feeling sort of materialistic these days. Right. Very handy, that, given that I am not entirely employed. Regardless, I'm full of sat-on longings for a few things: silver, especially severely plain silver boxes (old, English), flatware (I'm dying for a good set instead of my un-ergo dinged-up Ikea set), textiles. Just having some nesty hankerings for things like that (also craving a garden and a porch). "Materialistic" is such a loaded term, but I think it's the right one? Maybe that's not what I want to say.

TV is full of horrible scary horror movies right now, how boring. I should note, though, that I, through a long series of events, finally, intentionally saw a scary movie (B. Witch Project) to see how it would go, with a chaperone, natch. Two keys were that it was 100% scary/0% gross on the scale of such things; also that as a fake documentary I had the leverage of knowing more than normal it was all fake (a fake doc being fake-r than fake fiction, somehow). And I handled it fine while I was watching, didn't leap out of skin or anything, but what's funny is that it's gotten scarier in retrospect. I was pretty creeped-out at the time, but now I am more so when I think of it, or when it's on TV, as it was today. With commercials, and I still got all freaked out. Weird, eh? Raises (duh) distinct possibility of psyche's collusion in being scared. Although with the gross/scared combo...all bets are off. I can't even watch the commercials for Saw IV. YICK. Seriously. Anyhow, slowly isolating the factors at work here.

I finally got my professional website up and going...'twill post a link to blogroll on right shortly.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Can't lie, I'm not feeling the bangs thing. Tyra, Halle. I think the look is dopey, not sweet or chic.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sandra Lee was dressed up as Barbra Streisand this past weekend. I don't really know what to say. Also other singers like Madonna, but that's all I could take, about 4 seconds of that. It really scared me. See?

I would really like a nice boy to buy me See's Candies, and you may parse that sentence/put the emphasis wherever you'd like.

There is this funny, buzzing crackle you hear just in one corner of my bedroom. It sounds exactly like the fizz from a carbonated beverage after you pour it, and it's making me kinda crazy because it's constant, and that sound should End. I'm not quite sure what it is.

I think it's hilarious how Bob Blumer has re-arrived at the Fud Network all re-jiggered and macho after his sensitive Surreal Chef years. Now his show intro is all...glutton for punishment! Risk-taker! Adventurer! Bourdain-manque! And now he has biceps.

Did anybody see the story of Jessica the Hippo on Animal Planet? Oh GOLLY. This couple in South Africa adopted a one-day-old orphaned hippo who has now become a 750 lb house pet who sleeps on a mattress on their porch and enjoys aromatherapy sessions. The sight of this hippo being all out-sized yet cartoonishly adorable yet enormously threatening all at once, not to mention opening doors with her hoof and clopping into the kitchen for a treat is fairly unbelievable. Just amazing.

The Kashi commercials have been driving me nuts. Yes, okay, whatever, but still. They have. One in particular uses language about how food comes from nature ready to eat, we just need to try to stay out of the way of it. Which...is true, yes, but 1) is hard to take from a company that's still doing what Nabisco does, no matter how you slice it and 2) and actually isn't *entirely* true. Nuts taste better toasted, fruit goes bad if not preserved, etc There's this kinda coy idea that in our natural state we walk along plucking green nuts and wriggling live fish for our delectation. Not...quite true. Especially if you want us to go to a grocery store to buy yer product.

Because The Sopranos is new to me: 1) Did David Straithairn's character really have a Carleton banner in his office? 2) It is amazing how Polly Bergen's voice HAS NOT CHANGED. It even freaked me out a little to hear that voice coming out of an older version of PB in a recent episode of the Sopranos, because she sounds just like the PB of yore. More power to her, and how wild. Voices really almost always age, but hers...I suppose it helped that hers always had a slighty middle-aged buzz to it, but still. Amazing!

I've been trying to drink beverages with acai berries in them but apart from their intense spendiness they are just a very intense flavor to drink! Like tutti frutti gone mad.

More things relating to coveting and the Fud Network: All of a sudden I was really jealous of Ina Garten's all-male gay army (as a friend once called it), all of these successful, sweet, solvent men who can show up with hundreds of dollars worth of rare tulips at the drop of a hat. How nice is that.

I saw not as much of the Louis Malle marathon as I wanted but to note: How freakin wonderful is Zazie dans le Metro (that's 1) and 2) I watched a fair amount of God's Country, his look at life in Glencoe, Minnesota, in 1979 and again in 1985 and it almost did me in. All these small farm-farmers battling the vagaries of the Reagan administration which in retrospect seems so terribly thin edge of the wedge...this bit of American life that's vanished in my lifetime. I suppose I am an enormous sap, but it just about stopped my heart I was so overwhelmed with feeling. I knew a little of that Minnesota, just a very little.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

10-film, 2-night Louis Malle festival on TCM this week, all uncut/commercial-free. YAY!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

"No exaggeration, I could not love a human baby more than I love this brush," is when I really started to laugh (3:00 a.m.).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Deborah Kerr died...oh geez. I just saw a movie of hers recently I had never seen before (Please Believe Me) that reactivated my Kerr-like. Plus I recently finally saw Tea and Sympathy, saw what the fuss was about (definitely one of those old-fashioned yet shocking films...I really liked her in it). And...she was cool. Smart, pretty, cool, didn't give everything away, yet was vulnerable.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

crazy quilt

• How do moderne womens acquire that timbre to their voices? Wholesale, I mean? That nouveau Valley Girl up in the top of the palette nasal ohmigod...thing? It's kind of an inch back toward the throat from a babytalk sort of position. I dunno. All I know is if you have the TV turned to WE and can't find your remote...it's ringing in your ears.

• I have now eaten these!

• First thing I do when I get richnfamous? Acquire a car and driver. Why...why... Wait. Let me say this again...WHY do famous youngsters insist on driving on their own cars? E! Daily News has basically become Celebrity Car Accident Round-up. I know sometimes you just gotta feel the wheel under your hands, but if I were one of thse folks in the Military/Proactiv® Solution industrial complex, with my first paycheck from a first 2-line speaking role on Two and a Half Men I'd buy a bullet-proof sedan and a fierce terrorism counter-trained Israeli driver and let them handle it.

(BTW, I hate to be lugubrious or even weigh in on this shite, but the celebrity machine is really not gonna be happy til Ms. Spears is dead. That's what we see through those lenses, fame eating her. Why do we think this has no implications for regular folk? Why do we think this isn't gonna happen?)


• Congrats to Skip! She's engineered a super-cool and expected life development with a grace and power that is nonetheless incredibly inspiring. Go darlin freundin, go!

• I'm starting to be overwhelmed by architectural ghosts in Chicago. I was in a cab going up Ashland Ave. this weekend and it was downright haunted. In the most classical ghost-like way. I saw spectral outlines of buildings everywhere--also signs, and businesses, types of architecture and types of city resources, everywhere, all torn down, turned into either empty lots, condos or new-old Irish pubs. Sometimes I think it is this, more than anything, that will make me leave this city. I didn't know where to look, it was very unrestful.

• Over the last year my taste in pasta has become ruthlessly al dente; less-than, really. I like it almost under-done. Throw out the over-done stuff. Weird.

• People who abuse ellipses on the internet...what, she says, employing them herself, can we do to stop this travesty of modern life? The way some people create prose with ellipses as their sole conjunctive device is fairly homicide-inducing. Drifting from topic to topic...limply...like an annoying overcome attention-getting woman lying on a chaise...expecting you to follow from idea to idea or even from listening mode to doing mode...listen to me...do this for me...laugh with me about this...ah here I comment on myself...freshen my drink, would you... They ought to be sent to boot camp.

• A seal on a fairly cavernous chasm has been breached: I saw my first Law & Order! Ever! (Did I mention I was unemployed?) It was Law & Order: Spinoff Twelve or something. L & O: Bad Bad Things. L & O: It's All Over in an Hour. L & O: I Want an Emmy. Whatever. But you know...I kinda liked it. Worried I have a way now to do nothing else.

• Really fabulous exclusive shots of Abby the orphaned otter at cuteotters.com, back through the end of September. Oh that otter... She is just the most!! Kills me. Those on the left are some of the news photos that came out when she was first rescued.

• It is an odd experience, the reading of Martha Stewart Living sometimes. Sometimes it feels like she's working her way through all the domestic phenomena of your past. Like, right now? She's reinvigorating crewel work. It doesn't always make me feel good as one after the other she tackles these things. Raspberry fool. French ivory. Chintz-covered sofas. Whatever. For one thing, she makes everything more expensive. And...she didn't invent this stuff, but somehow she gets credit for it. Oh, I'm being cranky. I like looking at the pretty photos. But somehow I hear my grandmother when I read these articles, debunking all the gushing descriptive language and reinventing-the-wheel smugitude. What MStew has in the market she's cornered is an inexhaustible supply of Topics, working her way back through the history of antiques, decorative arts, crafts, housekeeping. Nobody else puts their proprietary stamp on them quite as she does.

One thing in particular has twanged my strings so hard I can't even look at the article! It's about the Mercer Museum/Henry Mercer House in Doylestown, a place that I credit with sparking about 85% of the major interests in my life, including decorative arts, lettering, and a desire to own/decorate an architectural folly made of stone. I just don't wanna hear what Martha has to say about it. Yet. Even looking at the website for Fonthill makes me so hyper I can't breathe.

I think this is a fairly lame part of my personality, this "caring too much I can't even look" thing. For instance, for somebody who cares terribly about calligraphy or cooking or whatever, I avoid writings about these things in enormous clumps. Sometimes it's a strength, to avoid the blah-blah--and after seven years at a newspaper I am dying to swim out of the information stream and just let things go by--care about what I care about and not have to know a little about everything--but at the same time. Shite. Could read a paper every once in a while. Oh well, enormously complicated, whatever.

• Will I ever escape the long arm of Grease? Ever? I had no idea when I saw it for my 12th birthday party that it was planting the seeds it was. It didn't feel like it. It felt inevitable and huge and big, but it didn't feel life-changing. But now it's just constantly around! Still! I've seen it more than a few times recently and I am startin to think I can't avoid a think-piece about the ending. Again. Maybe it's payback for loving all the time-telescoping improvement montages in film, but the ending, in which Sandy must Slut, is too fraught and huge to just Watch. Oh, okay, I dunno what to say here and now, but...GAH. GAH!

• If you never have...you must. Actually had this happen to me recently and couldn't stop gigglin.

• Another thing dying to write about? The bizarro, Woody Allen-manque, barely Eric Rohmer, here-are-the-adults world of the Alan Alda film of the 70s80s, films which in retrospect are less well-written than your average sit-com. The Four Seasons is so BAD! I mean...really bad. Hilariously, fascinatingly bad...the Vivaldi is the best thing about it, hands down. Would be kinda fun to tackle that ouevre.

• The best shot in The Natural? Three-second clip of the grey scoreboard as the number "2" is slowly put up after Roy's first big hit. The music in that movie doesn't age well, but some of the editing in those sequences is still really amazing, with bits like that interspersed with other elements at different speeds and feels. Like the series of shots interleaved in the sequence when Roy pitches for the hell of it when you see the Duvall character, twice, then from the same POV his empty seat... Really good.

• I had a tarot reading recently!!!! Thank you darlin Hanne. I am still...metabolizing it. Really interesting.

• Needed on men's personal ads: a small designation (maybe "+ NH"/"-- NH") to show whether men are either before or after di rigeur heterosexual male transformative experience to connect them to demands of Domestic Life and human connection. K? ("NH" = Nick Hornby)

• Been craving donuts recently, must really be fall. The whole-wheat ones from Gibson's in Oberlin. Pppppliiiiiiiz! Also gebakener Camembert and good brie and spaetzle and other German fuds...it's the fall. Nostalgia + the climactic whip to the appetite. Calvados...sage.

• Went to a lovely reading by John Porcellino Friday night that was to do with his new King-Cat anthology. It's a really beautiful book, I highly recommend, as I do all of his work. So great.

• With unemployment: more laundry, not less. Why?

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My apartment is getting somewhat....little Edie. Why does it take so little time for this to happen?
Love Me or Leave Me is on today...oh frabjous day. A happy happy thing for Doris Day lovers. It ain't a happy movie, though.

The movie is interesting/anomalous for several reasons, maybe most because DDay gets to be sexy. She didn't start playing the virgin until later in her career, so it's not so much that as that she pushes past cute into sexy/kinda venal to play ambitious and not entirely nice Ruth Etting. It's also fabulous 'cause Jimmy Cagney is so insanely great in it; how can you not love somebody willing to be so horrid? So horrible and grasping and insecure and hyper? It's also great to get to see Doris act; she matches him step for step, I think. She was always a lot better than people gave her credit for. This is one of the few times it shows. Plus...the whole Marty Melcher thing...hard not to think on THAT, hm. I'm not saying anything new here, just...appreciatin'. There is something real and naked about this funny film that is fairly unconvincing as a period piece but still so good.

I think Love Me or Leave Me was the first DDay album I ever owned (that makes it sound like I was eight; I think I was around 30), and I got to know it way too well from constant overuse. Once I realized how different her singing is here from other times I figured I should treat it as more of a one-off, but the truth is I like her singing here better than almost anywhere too. It's partly how good the songs are, but her use of lower register...being 'somebody else' while she sang...pushing past/using differently some of her normal tricks...it's a great soundtrack. And nobody, nobody ever sang "10 Cents a Dance" like she did. Although I think I like her "Sundown" best; wish you heard all of it. Anyhow...go Doris go. Yer the best.

The Angel in the House

A new laundry animal has entered my life. It's sold under various names, but the version I bought is called the Wonderwash. It's been in my head to do so for a long time, a through-line amidst my never-ending laundry dissatisfaction ever since I saw the infomercial, years ago now, and I finally decided to get one. As someone with enormously strong feelings about laundry, well...this doesn't escape either.

I'm sorrry to say it doesn't cure every laundry ill. I'm still waitin for the big front loaders of my dreams which will spirit me away to a beautiful life in fluffy mules and pegnoir sets to do that.

It's pretty handy for what it does, it's just...you know, another gadget in the end. Not *the* gadget. Here it is crowding absoluely everthing off my bathroom counter. A tub with a screw-on lid with a hand-crank, with the drainage tube in place.

It's a fairly clever, although not completely realized design. You put the laundry in, with not much water/soap, the air expansion from even a little heat in the water helps force the dirt out/through the fabric as you spin the tub. You loosen the clever pressure-controlling lid, and drain the water out the bottom (it's kinda cool to see physics in action and the water speed up as you loosen the top). Repeat with plain water to rinse.

Problems? You need room to do this, really. The Wonderwash is popular in crowded Asian cities and in campers, but it's really best for outdoors where the water has room to drip and spray. And speaking of centrifugal force...it's very hard not wish/wonder why this thing can be designed to use its force for spinning dry. Retrofitted in some way. If the drainage tube weren't blocked by the supports, you could spin it with the tube in, but as it is...dripping laundry.

I think it's gonna be great for small loads of delicates and pre-soaking things. I haven't yet given it a whirl for something like super-dirty socks in need of sanitizing and I'm not sure I would. But it pre-soaked a sheet really well and did a good job with some stockings. And I do like that it saves water, and that you don't need to plug anything in. But why do I feel that I just spent $45 in the wrong direction? Yet another thing I'll be selling at a garage sale someday should I be lucky enough to have one?

You should see what my laundry room is going to look like some day. It will be so beautiful... I just don't wanna be all Miss Havisham about this thing that will never happen. Maybe I can get front-loaders on the Dem ticket for 2008.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I just found a grain of Reza's Persian dill rice in my hair. Strange how very identifiable it is.
Cannot get over Snowball's crazy bird dance.
On my Yahoo headline scroll this a.m.: "Stiller's 'Heartbreak': Not No. 1 at box office." Note: This the (raging definition of) non-news, so many ways, includin whothefuckcaresaboutbenstiller.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

err...cats

Cat #1 (middle name: Holepunch) really likes boxes. They both do, but she is a little obsessed, both with punching holes in them with her teeth, but also just squishin herself in em. Here she is 1) squashing herself in a priority mail box 2) after ousting cat #2 for some coveted carboard box territory, enjoying her victory 3) seemingly all stoned after a big doobie, but lookin very cute.





























Cat #2 (middle name: Polydactl) is more obsessed with colonizing the laundry basket. Here she is 1), 2) lolling amongst in the laundry cage, making me insane by shedding all over stuff and 3) stretching out her paw for help (seemingly), although look at all those freaking TOES! Now that is a paw. That cat coulda boxed professionally. That's all one paw in pic #2, too. Insane, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bread and Jam for Frances RAWKS.

Monday, October 01, 2007

There is something about the new J-Lo video that makes me wish the Baffler were still being published. It is so....crafted. Envelope-pushed, in the most empirical, yawning, shocking ways. Fetish fetish fetish. +1 +2 +3. Oh, and I like the samples much better when Mr. Cheeks was using em! Love that (his) song.
Heh.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A good thing to eat: piles of frosted spoon size shredded what, maybe a little Cheerios mixed in, filling a Crate and Barrel 8" bistro bowl (the perfect bowl, finally found it), scooped up with one of my great-grandmother's soup spoons from C.D. Peacock back when it was still on State Street, so sad when they moved, really. All swamped with lots of rice or soy milk, until the dance of cereal/milk is complete.

Monday, September 24, 2007

sondheim blasphemy and ponderings

Little Night Music: I really think I like Elisabeth Welch's "Liaisons" better than Hermione Gingold's. Seriously. I just...do! [Inneresting: Sian Philips was Desiree A in the 1990 recording based on the London revival--with Welch; in the 1995 London revival Judi Dench was Desiree and Sian Phillips then became Mrs. A....] I do, however, love Glynis Johns as much as S Phillips. Send in tha youknowwhats made a lot more sense when I learned it had been written for GJ and her funny, pixie-ish but squeezebox voice.

Follies: I definitely like Millicent Martin's "I'm Still Here" better than Yvonne de Carlo's, now that I've gotten to know them both (MM is hella cool).

Dick Tracy: I have loved "Sooner or Later" for a really long time and sung along with its accessible-to-altos small-ranged melody at the top of my lungs thousands of times, but I NEVER knew what the lyrics were until today!! And they are few and quite uncomplicated, although pithy and clever, being Sondheim. That Madonna. Needed some diction lessons there. Kiss-this-guy territory ("I'll hover/I'll plan" = "I wonder/out loud"!?). I also recently re-acquired "More," which is an obvious little song from materialgirlmadonna analysis, but a fun one. I really like.

I'm branchin out realllly slowly w/ SS. Seems to take a while to really absorb.
I'm listening to The War...getting sucked into all 230,192 hours of it sorta despite myself (easy). I was trying really hard to guess the narrator from just listening to his voice and, duh, it's Keith David, one of my favorite voices ever, shoulda recognized it, and good. I find him more amazing to experience walking and talking, if you see what I mean, not just a disembodied voice, it's such a cool phenomenon to hear coming out of a human...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Becoming a very big fan of: the tagliatelle alla Bolognese at Quartino. Ohhhhh so good. When you get it at the restaurant it's so hot you can barely eat it, which works. The homemade pasta is so good with the rich shredded beef and sauce...epic.

A new purchase (left) which I hope facilitates a better, happier, more peaceful relationship with my cats, esp. cat #1, that is to say, one in which I might not be winging her into the lake in frustration. Plus, you know, cool.
I bought some violet pastilles today. Which made me think about my late Aunt Kathleen, who had them and other fancy foods for me to marvel at as a kid, and then about Inspector Maigret who I think is always eating them in Simenon's books and then about my college friend Jean who loves Maigret and then MFK Fisher who did too. The tin the pastilles come in now is only 1/2-tin; the bottom is plastic.

I've written about this before, but the things I buy at the fancy-pants, cram-jammed grocery store across the street continue to crack me up in their total lack of necessity. You almost can't shop for staples there--the most staples-y thing I get there is grainy mustard, which I can't find anywhere else nearby, and I do love it dearly and need to have on hand at all times, but that's about it. As it is I wander in and always end up reaching inexorably for things like...violet pastilles. Mini bagel dogs. Green apple licorice bits. I wouldn't know how to buy a sack of flour there if it was the only open place in town (and it'd cost about $10).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Page 147 of the July 2007 Martha Stewart Living has a photo that is really very sexual for an article about desserts. The division of divinity in charge of the design of stone fruits must have been very horny when they did their work. Or perhaps did their training elsewhere.
That previous posting was really more about people than a place, and should, sentimentally but sincerely, be dedicated to FK, BU and especially JM, with lots of Luv and purple hearts.
Why do we live in a world where the need for parks, for green things in the city, ever needs to be explained again?

Yesterday they--yes, I don't know who 'they' are; this is definitely just 'they'--started knocking down trees in the park across from our office. They're building a hotel, I hear, on this tiny sliver of land that's the only breathable bit of space in this neighborhood: a funky little landscaped park with benches and trees and a little river of a walkway that curves through it in a couple directions. There is grass where dog-owners chase fresh dog poop with their plastic bags, a few swollen protuberances that in Chi almost might be called hills, lots of poured concrete seating that skateboarders sand the edges off of after hours, a couple fountains, a few little beds with rotating plantings of annuals. It exists in the nexus of a lot of pedestrian traffic to the El and to other buildings, at the bottom of a deep well formed by the man-made creations around it.

The park has a feeling, as all such spaces in frantically up-building neighborhoods, of both great necessary solidity but then a horrible vulnerability when you are forced to think about it. I mean, it feels solid. Or at least it did. It should be, because it is. Psychically it provides a desperately-needed sense of openness, some decent feng shui in a block of funny herringboned buildings and land usage. The open air allows you orient yourself amidst the grid of streets which bounce up and down around the park in odd ways. The park is the reason there is natural light in our building, the open space it protects.

The park is across a street that, right in front of our building, dips down below sidewalk level, so that the flow of traffic suddenly turns into a monolithic river of motion rather than a herky-jerky collection of speeding city cars, as drivers come together and go faster toward the lake. You lean on the the railing at the edge of the walkway as cars go by below you like a rushing river, as if you could throw a stick in it and watch it float by, with this little of bit of respite in the form of the park across the way. The park, the flow of cars, are like shadow versions of bigger natural elements: the street is our river, this park our open field.

I've spent thousands of hours in that park, or so it feels, sitting on the wooden benches, dodging pigeons and stinky smells, hanging out and talking with coworkers or desperately trying to absorb sunlight or fixing my future in my head, me along with homeless people and office workers and dog walkers and tourists. Knowing it was there, even when I didn't avail myself of it, was tantamount to feeling okay and safe in the space I was in. I had a steam valve, a little breathing room, a place to be, a time-out.

I lost my job last month, and my last day is next week. There have been many sadnesses attached to this process, but yesterday, seeing the park suddenly blocked off at the perimeter with big screens as they get ready to tear up the park, as if somebody owned it, felt like an unbearable attack on human need.

Why do we ever have to justify or explain needing parks? Isn't life supposed to evolve, not devolve? What argument--complicated, defensive, sad, desperate, trite, angry, well-thought-out--anything--can ever defend them, when we should just know? A place that allows people to just be is never in vain, only benefits us. We talk as if open spaces are frosting and frivolity, but they exist down in the core of things that make life navigable and keep us taken care of as human beings.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Things you see at the gynecologist, vol. I: fake aquariums displayed on plasma TVs.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Many signs of the apocalypse this week, but maybe the biggest? According to a friend of a good friend, filming has finally been spotted for the remake of The Women. This movie has been bouncing around in development for a while and I just kept hoping it would die, but...no. Meg Ryan is Mary Haines. Let us all ready our cyanide capsules and exit visas, for nothing now can ever come to any good. Seriously. God help us all.
Weird. Non-punch-pulling, realistic advice from Martha Stewart. I like! I've been mildly obsessed recently with the concept that housekeeping = getting rid of things, and this is good.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hey...a big ol l'shana tovah to those out there celebrating the new year! Happy noo-ness!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This li'l message is for XB, to say hi, hello, I miss you, I'm fine, we'll talk soon, I'm very sorry I've been such a bad communicant, I hope things are good there, this is all ending in two weeks and in the meantime enjoy these lovely otter photos! A group of otters--a romp, as it were--all suspicious about their new home a the Natl Zoo and a new otter mom with her pup.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sweet potato french fries: not an advance in the human condition. Put them away, please.

Idea #109,027 here at Cahiers du UnCool: Beaches coulda been a good movie. Yes, it coulda. Well, the horrid music woulda gotten in the way, regardless, and it needs tightening regardless too, but Bette Mider + anybody better than horribly miscast Barbara Hershey + a different tact could have made a good story redolent of women's movies of the 40s, I think. As it is...yoorrnnngf. Blimey. Barbara Hershey. Needles' full of collagen and a name change do not a character make. She's way too intense and idiosyncratic for that role. Plus the lips...she mugs her way through the film in a thoroughly exasperating way. Kinda wanna sock her. But it could have been kinda...Old Acquaintance-y or something. Ah well. I really don't think BM has ever gotten a non-Rose part that matches her oomph. Would be great fun to see what she'd do in a realllly well-written film. I thought she was great even in that lil bit in Get Shorty. Strangely intense sexual chemistry twixt her and GH.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

60 of my favorite seconds of pop music-scored film: "A Quick One While He's Away" in Rushmore (the revenge sequence). Makes my heart swell. The way the film goes slo-mo as the music speeds up, the focus the editing (and the quiet opening) puts on the crazy but satisfying jangling harmonies as the music starts, the barely held in check musical chaos and total thematic goofiness (adult vs. boy) played against the very carefully shot/edited nature of the scenes, the way the car floats to a stop as the song ends in a floaty trailing way. Pretty great. The song's already obviously pretty great, it's just contextualized in a super-neato way may I have my doctorate of film studies now pliz!

Me want!

Seriously 80s. None of this namby-pamby oh-it's-so-80s johnhughes blah blah pablum. Seriously dated. Only, of course...it was made in 1990. But still. 80s.

I saw the first minute of an Eddie Cantor film the other week and it was funny, you could tell right away it was pre Hays code. Like...in the first few seconds. So naughty.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Despite a sad heart, I wasn't able to rig my schedule for maximum Pavarotti mourning yesterday--I heard he died in the middle of the night and at that point clicking on various classical stations' streams wasn't providing much. I eventually caught a few things: the Tommasini piece in the Times my mom pointed me to was great--it addressed the inevitable and frankly informative comparison with Domingo well--as was their regular obit, and the Von Rhein piece in the Trib was fine if somewhat fabphobic (Pavarotti was fat? really? no way). It was great fun to hear some of a 1975 rebroadcast of a Studs Terkel interview on WFMT.

The rest of what I happened to catch (TV, internet news), however, struck me in its even lazier than expected cluelessness. There's this shape the media wants to give the careers of artists of a certain stature, whether it fits or not--blowing up huge right from their first moment in the public eye (LP didn't), a predictable bell-like curve of popularity that matches the worth of their work (the dude more or less sold out, depending on how you feel about it), a gradual decline with more sporadic performing at the end of life (ABC didn't even mention LP being banned from the Lyric). He also was often credited in these pieces with, as people chant, "reviving a dying art form," which doesn't work either (especially two months after the late Beverly Sills was credited with the same). Pavarotti was just very very popular; at times very very good; and after getting famous, very very Crossed Over. Which LP and his handlers made happen, of course; if he was opera's Michael Jordan, then he went way past buying and playing on the Wizards toward the end of his career.

One aural inevitability from the hoo-ha yesterday was hearing "Nessun dorma" 10,000 times (I swear Cynthia McFadden called it "Nessum dorma"); an aria which, I was surprised to discover from Diane Sawyer, means "Never Sleep!" Oh really. Well okay then. No victory for the sleeping! Insomnia for all! I love "Nessun Dorma," despite inflated usage that's threatening to squeeze it dry, but that is not what I was craving--my ear wanted something from Tosca or fuck, why not even "Ah! mes amis!" from Fille du Regiment, if you wanna hear something heroically huge. No, I am not a Three Tenors person, not a duet-with-Bono person--I mostly tuned that stuff out--but I loved Pavarotti, and yesterday (to say it again) made me realize that I still do, despite all the goofy shit he did. It was bothersome to watch in all the obituarial coverage his complex artistic life be fairly thoroughly yadda-yadda-ed. Although there's one thing people said over and over that is true--you never, having heard that voice once, mistook him for anybody else again. Very very good, sometimes too good to be believed.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rest in peace, big guys.

Here comes another sniffly elegy, but there's no way around it, down to the cornball libretto excerpt at the end, and it's just gonna have to be.

I didn't expect to feel so much a blubbering mess to hear that Pavarotti had died. But I am. It doesn't seem to matter what a cartoonish sort of person he became in the drawn-out end to his career, with the duets and the yelpy Nessuns and the futbol and the whatever. I'm still upset.

Someone who was once ever that good...is always that good. Vita brevis and all that.

LP is intimately associated with how I learned to love opera because of the age I am. He really started to get famous-famous when I was a kid, and through my parents' appreciation came my own, watching my mother watch him sing 'Recondite Armonia' with this expression in her eyes I'd never seen before and her shoulders up around her ears. That sounds a little precious, but that's exactly how it happened. Tosca was broadcast on TV and all of a sudden I was warbling the Act III Shepherd's Song to myself on the way to school, trying to figure it out, keening my way annoyingly through the melody of the Te Deum. I dunno, I think Puccini can be very good for young'uns. I remember it going straight inside me and just staying there. I am lucky I remembering hearing his voice that time, what it felt like to hear it for the first time like that. It was significant, seeing somebody as good as he was doing what he did--meaningful. He didn't make it look easy, but he made it look worthy, joyful. Transcendant, to drag out that tired term. It was exciting to be part of. And very accessible at the same time.

I was always rather proud that Ardis Krainik booted Pavarotti out of the Lyric--fairly early on--for cancelling so much. And then, of course, was incredibly graceful about it (as far as I know), sending him flowers when he was performing elsewhere, etc. I really liked that we didn't put up with his crap here in this town. That doesn't mean we didn't love him.

Pavarotti is--I just thought of this--on my logo. And sadly enough, the two men who are depicted on it are now dead. Barry White and Luciano Pavarotti, two big dudes with beards and hankies and thousands of women throwing themselves at them.

E lucevan le stelle,
ed olezzava la terra
stridea l'uscio dell'orto
e un passo sfiorava la rena.
Entrava ella fragrante,
mi cadea fra la braccia.

O dolci baci, o languide carezze,
mentr'io fremente le belle forme disciogliea dai veli!
Svanì per sempre il sogno mio d'amore.
L'ora è fuggita, e muoio disperato!
E non ho amato mai tanto la vita!