Sunday, July 25, 2010

At Halcyon Hill a dying sun slipped behind the trees as Frannie strolled in the garden with her only confidante.

"I don't know what's happened to Edgar," she said, sipping disconsolately at her Mai Tai. "He used to care about things...about us... You know, it's funny, but when Eddie was in France during the war, I used to miss him terribly. He wasn't with me, but he was, you know... Now he's with me, but he's not...and goddammit, I like missing him the other way more!"

Her eyes were brimming with tears now, but she didn't brush them away. She was lost in another time, when loneliness wasn't barren but beautiful, when snapshots and love letters and the honeyed voice of Bing Crosby had eased her gently through the most difficult winter of her life.

But now it was summer, and Bing lived just over the next hill. Why hadn't things worked out?
Tales of the City

Monday, July 19, 2010

yummers summers

  • Quinoa, cucumber and chicken salad, in a dressing made from homemade pesto, mayo and lime juice. When the quinoa was just off the heat I stirred in pesto and let it absorb during the resting process.
  • Fresh strawberry smoothie made with frozen blueberries and peaches, wheat germ, flax seed, splash of lemonade.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

emoticon economics

I have been thinking a lot recently about smiley face inflation. What will happen when it reaches a panicked peak? Will there be long lines before work to buy attention and happiness? Hoarding? The shoe leather cost of new parentheses and semi-colon keys?

Sometimes these days the absence of emoticons has more meaning than their presence. Plain text can have an air of seriousness or impersonality without them, no matter what's being said, or how. With so very much text being flung back and forth--so many words--the stakes continue to be ratcheted up fast. What will happen when we expect smileys in everything but legal documents? (Can you imagine the blizzard of smilies a divorce decree--for example--would require if people's real "feelings" were expressed in them that way?) How much umbrage and misunderstanding? Confusion? Extra extra extra long messages? Will written sarcasm and irony fade out, frustrated at being taken at face value without the soundtrack of smiley faces to point us toward our proper reactions to it?

I once idly asked a friend who uses smiley faces a lot what it "meant" in her case--what she generally intended with them (I don't mean in individual cases, which I tend to overanalyze, but as a general gesture). It turns out I was entirely wrong in how I had guessed them, despite knowing this friend pretty well. Despite knowing this friend in strong part through written communication. I could see it--I could see all the acres of textual communication between us and how the smileys had varyingly colored communication depending on a thousand different things, as a kind of vague congenial buttressing, but that how they were sent was not necessarily how they were received. Which is no different from words--you can't control how they get read--but emoticons are a different kind of communication lubricant. They sort of ease the transmission of words from one person to another, diffuse conflict.

But words aren't easy things. They're words. I was recently reading a stream of my Facebook posts and noted how the smiley faces in them read afterward: they read like nothing. They looked gratuitous. They didn't even particularly impart an air of amiability. They were just filler. They reminded me of bad performances in good movies that don't seem so bad first time around, because you're just trying to understand what's going on--later you realize just how bad they were. Words are still much more powerful creatures than emoticons once any immediacy in communication is over.

But when the immediacy is there and with smiley inflation ever-growing... I don't know! Stock up, I guess.

Friday, July 09, 2010

one more

It's when the bones in a lady's boobs--they get sore. Because the vaginalistic cells are expanding. Whammy! You girls, you talk about it a lot and I know it's your little friend. And then you gotta wear protection. And then the belly button is inflamed and then engorging of the fall-a-cule. And then nine months later is the miracle of life.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

drinkin likka

It's good to have a drinks cabinet. It's a nice part of the adult idiom, a well-stocked bar with a modicum of proper equipment and some good, basic liquors. I used to tell people that the reason I moved downtown was too many Doris Day movies: I wanted to come home from a busy day at work, toss off the jacket from my tailored suit, sigh, and step to my view of the city with a drink in hand I'd mixed at my chic drinks caddy. I'm not sure I've achieved any of that, down to not making the best use of my liquor tray, but I still think it's important to have one. Here are some things mine include:

  1. Dregs of good stuff from various guests
  2. A Popener brought back by a friend from Rome
  3. Gold tequila that really needs to be turned into a punch or something, to make room for a better kind
  4. Vermouth--very good to have on hand for cooking when you're not good at having an open wine bottle in the fridge door
  5. Pimm's No. 1. Absolute necessity.
  6. Back-up bottle of Pimm's.
  7. Rose's Lime Juice, which is key for a Raymond Chandler gimlet, but also turns out to be handy to have around for culinary purposes (I have thrown splashes into salad dressings and smoothies when no fresh citrus is available)
  8. Hendrick's Gin...great stuff
  9. A beautiful bottle of Death's Door gin, which I won as a prize this week! (more on how and where soon)
There are other things lurking on the tray, like a jigger, a nice drink shaker, bitters, and Grenadine, and the whole thing gives me a nice feeling of satisfaction to look at, to know I can make a drink when I need to. Still working on the other Doris accoutrements.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


This little message from Netflix is meant, I guess, to make us feel excited about the world of unseen films waiting on their website, but it's awfully bald. It gives me a jolt every time I see it, down to the period at the end of the declarative sentence that lends it an air of creepy control rather than happy advertising urging us toward something.

Your taste preferences make movie discovery easy EVERY CLICK YOU MAKE WE'LL BE WATCHING YOU • WE PLANT COOKIES IN YOUR BROWSER WHERE THEY HIDE AND REPORT BACK • WE CAN DIVINE YOUR TASTE BY SIMPLY LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER...blah blah. It would be scarier if Netflix weren't often wrong about its guesses, though. BASED ON YOUR INTEREST IN [some crap I clicked in a fit of boredom or research] WE SUGGEST [some similar crap that makes me recoil in horror]...blah blah. Sometimes Netflix is "right" about one's taste, but the whole thing is a crude enough mechanism that it all feels less Borg than it might. But still.

Computer dating sucks, man! We didn't have anything in common.

Monday, July 05, 2010

it's too hot

Here's what I want.

In a clearing in an easy, un-scary forest, at night: a deep, wide hole is carved in the packed dark earth, done carefully and slowly so no trees' roots are jarred and none of the dense earth shifts too much. Some kind of nice clean insulation and squishy packing is added, and on top of that is installed a temperature-maintaining and completely moisture-impermeable liner, extremely thick, with handy ridges for sitting and climbing built into it. I'm picturing this hole about 8 feet across and about 12 feet deep.

The construction of this hole--a very large cup buried in the earth, basically--is as solid as it can be, with a wide plinth and paving around it that prevents any dirt from entering. There are kerosene lamps all around casting a nice glow; not creepily flickering against the trees, just nice.

Then a very clean tanker from the Schweppes factory arrives, full of sparkly carbonated water and gallons of it are siphoned into the earth-cup, until it's about 2/3 full. The delivery person hands me a can of ginger ale and a straw and leaves. Another truck comes with some very large ice cubes, maybe a foot square, and 5 or 6 of them are dropped in. That delivery person leaves.

I throw every single thing I'm wearing on the wide sturdy bench nearby and drop naked into the cup with a deep splash, which creates a big disturbance in the water, but doesn't overflow much. I bob out to reach my ginger ale, open it, put the straw in it. A giant hand reaches in and with its finger sets all the contents of the earth-cup aspin--me and cubes and sparkly water. I don't know how I'll get out, but that's where I want to be.

vegetable love

These bags come with ridiculous packaging and promises, and make you feel like a sucker for buying anything with AS SEEN ON TV on the outside, but they work. Especially in this season when it feels like (as MFK Fisher would say) we are eating produce a few minutes faster than it can rot. I haven't used them for fruit much, just veg, but I love the little reprieve they buy me so I can count on my cucumber a few days longer, or my lettuce. Not nearly as many fearful discoveries in the sometimes scary Produce Drawers of the fridge. Less limp, wet, rotting; more eaty. Yay.

Thank you, CMT!