so long, susan sontag. lady critics' collective sex appeal takes a decisive dip in your absence. thank you for notes on "camp", particularly
4. Random examples of items which are part of the canon of Camp:

Zuleika Dobson
Tiffany lamps
Scopitone films
The Brown Derby restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in LA
The Enquirer, headlines and stories
Aubrey Beardsley drawings
Swan Lake
Bellini's operas
Visconti's direction of Salome and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
certain turn-of-the-century picture postcards
Schoedsack's King Kong
the Cuban pop singer La Lupe
Lynn Ward's novel in woodcuts, God's Man
the old Flash Gordon comics
women's clothes of the twenties (feather boas, fringed and beaded dresses, etc.)
the novels of Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett
stag movies seen without lust
on camp, i took great interest in the living room scale [site presently busted], a checklist that determines one's social class based on furnishings (add points for hardwood floor, for instance, and subtract for naugahyde). we scraped past "high prole (working class)" thanks to inherited turkish rugs (+5 each) and took a big hit for one of my mom's sculptures (-4), though its market value is possibly higher than the rugs'. my favorite items on the list are "tabletop obelisk of marble, glass, etc" (+9) and "potted citrus tree with midget fruit" (+8); i can't imagine anyone other than a drug lord / soap star or miss havisham, respectively, having either of those. that's the lumpenprole in me talking, naturally.

saguaros are attractive in holiday mode; if we had a yard and could acquire one without going to jail, i'd be tempted to go for it. phoenix, in turn, is unlike southern california just enough that i don't feel the old resentment for balmy christmases. last night was desert-nippy and ideal for a few hours in front of joe's uncle's fire pit.

i've been congratulated many times for keeping my shit together among the joe-clan. it couldn't have been worse than several years ago, when i made such a bizarre effort to impress his family that they all urged him to leave me at the side of the road as soon as possible. woo hoo comparative normalcy of '04!


the christmas iPod is teaching me new and curious things about myself. i do not, for instance, need to have every track from the moon and antarctica at my fingertips; paying a buck for def leppard's "photograph," on the other hand, was essential.

the corporate world is also instructive. if asked by The Man to freelance at my old job, i will apparently say yes. one can argue that the gig will be good for my resume and that being able to buy cat food is always nice - and one would be right - but at the end of the day i know it's shit-eating.

earnest winter link 5: herr tremble's "can you believe it's christmas in brooklyn?" - that is, a festive photo safari in dyker heights.


southern california report: the ladies' restroom at the movie theater had a scale complete with a height/weight chart. even though i passed muster, ew.

lemony snicket's a series of unfortunate events (+1/2). gorgeous costumes - with the exception of young klaus, who spoils the neo-victorian vibe with too-modern sweaters and slacks. gorgeous gloomy sets as well, thanks in part to a member of tim burton's team. the snicket books as eye candy are a rousing success, but daniel handler's snarky asides and plot contortions are no match for jim carrey and several hammy cameos (meryl streep, this means you). carrey is partially excused, as count olaf is supposed to be everywhere, implausible, and annoying, but he's still overcooked. though i want handler to have lots of money, the unfortunate events are crying out for an adapted miniseries (an episode per book?) aimed at a slightly older audience. aired at prime time, that could justify a whopping budget, no? and no more product placement, please. the scene with the AFLAC duck hurt my soul.


craig, the baby turtle i rescued from chinatown two christmases ago, seems to be flourishing in my sister's care - originally the size of a silver dollar, he's now as big as joe's palm (and terribly handsome). go craig - like lindsay lohan, you're finally legal! he and his aquarium pal are spending the holiday in my father's bathroom. dad is convinced they are eating the sink, so he crept up on all fours (his lawyer-shoes were too noisy for stealth) to catch them in the act. exotic pet perk #73: they teach your parents tricks.


earnest winter link 4 (via caterina): i used to believe, "a collection of ideas that adults thought were true when they were children." among my favorites,
A friend of mine used to sing 'Oh my god! There's a snowman' instead of 'All we've got is this moment' to INXS's 'Need You Tonight.' He was convinced that these were the correct lyrics and tried to justify this to me by saying 'Well, they come from Australia, so they've never seen snow before.'

I had no good answer for Joni Mitchell's "gay pair of guys [who] put up a parking lot." My only thought was, "Okay, well, good for them."

I used to believe that a man had as many testicles as he had children. So I thought the Catholic guy next door had nine balls and that I'd only have two kids when I grew up.

When I went to nursery school we got to drink milk or water at certain times of day. I used to think that if you mixed them together, and drank it, you would turn into a dinosaur.
the congresswoman's constituents, in turn, think that joe will grant their wishes if they give him godiva chocolates (always godiva - yay upper east side!). they are welcome to believe this.


why do i love lukas? because when i click through to his flickr site (incidentally, dear, shouldn't los angeles have tanned you by now?) i get sidebar ads for cell phone stun guns ("Does Not Work as a Cell Phone, only Stun Gun"). santa, though these cannot be shipped to new york, note that i will be in california and arizona 12/17 - 12/31.

in other zappy news, i joined getcrafty just in time for the "knit your own uterus" thread, source of three of the best directions i've read in some time -
Push down gently on inner tube to make cervix look plump ("pouty", if you will).

Stuff body until it feels firm but cuddly.

Gently bend fallopian tubes forward into a curve, or however you wish to pose them.
if i could knit, i'd knit that. instead i've finished the johnny cash needlepoint and have moved on to a kathleen hanna portrait (a four-shade enlargement of her photo from the cover of le tigre). progress reports and pix - no lie, i'm working on it - to follow.


i'm starting to enjoy the meatpacking district. it smells like stew and is full of fashion types who should be shot from cannons into shark-infested waters, but it's terribly interesting. example, i found the Most Expensive Candle Ever: these folks will sell it to you for $280. i also found the Ultimate Useless Accessory (price unknown), a jewel-encrusted ear bud with three lengths of sterling chain (instead of wires and sweet music). "your hearing will not be so good now," said the clerk as she wedged one under the ring in my tragus. in related news, i bought a 7-pack of panties at old navy for $6. one pair features a mule and an elf.

david bowie (david bowie!) was sitting 20' to our right at the pixies show on saturday. that's unquestionably within underwear-throwing range, but i was wearing the cheap-ass mule/elf pair. faced with a heartbreaking choice when he took off before the first encore - watch godlike band, chase godlike icon? - i opted to stay put. i can only report, then, that he wore a hoodie and sneakers, rocked out for "caribou," and picked his nose through "u-mass." thanks to jodi j, i saw the pixies again tonight: naturally they played the song ("gigantic") i would have missed while weeping and crawling after ziggy stardust. crap.


closer (+++). goodness, what a vicious little film. recall the worst instants of your worst breakups, throw in the questions you were too squeamish to ask, add the revelations you were too kind to share, repeat a dozen times, and you've got closer. though the cast is Big Hollywood (Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Clive Owen [yes, he counts too]), the structure screams art house; to critics' dismay, patrick marber's adapted screenplay is heavy on events the audience never sees and telescopes anguish without development or resolution. given how vividly he and mike nichols present the flare-ups we do see, i don't really mind. i think the blue language (not so terrible, really, but there's quite a lot of it) is justified as well: sure, you don't want to bring clive owen's larry (or any of these characters) home to mom, but his dirtiest tirade comes right after he learns he was cuckolded on his very own sofa. a few hours ago. oh yeah, and it's been happening for a year. closer's only t&a - natalie portman's much-anticipated turn as a pole- and lap dancer - is one of the film's cleverest and least titillating scenes: larry and most of the western world have been led to believe that natalie (remember the countdown to her eighteenth birthday?) should be nekkid, and she gets there with such chilly poise that we feel like covering up. the last scene's 'revelation' recalls that feeling nicely: lovers are intimate strangers, and no kink or sentiment can change that. wow and ouch.


i think i've come full circle with tom wolfe. for reasons long buried in the sands of time, i read the bonfire of the vanities in seventh grade: to a twelve-year-old who knew fuck-all of new york, the cra-azy '80s, and wolfe's previous stuff, it was an exotic page-turner that, though detailed, kinda underwhelmed. i am charlotte simmons, on the other hand, is straight outta my backyard: all of the stanford kids remember wolfe's weird campus fact-finding missions in our junior and senior years. again i read quickly; again, i won't feel like re-reading any time soon. poor charlotte reads like a gothic heroine, or jane austen's fanny price:
She slumped back into the chair once more and stared out the window a few light-years into the darkness. This, she figured, was it. Right here was the point where she either cried out or she didn't cry out. Momma, only you can help me! Who else do I have! Listen to me! Let me tell you the truth! Beverly doesn't just return in the dead of night and "go to bed really late"! She brings boys into bed - and they rut-rut-rut do it - barely four feet from my bed! She leads a wanton sex life! The whole place does! Girls sexile each other! Rich girls with fifteen hundred SATs cry out, "I need some ass!" "I'm gonna go out and get laid!" The girls, Momma, the girls, right in front of you! Momma - what am I to do...
ingenues are useful when one wants to share research about big, bad university life, but they should be plausible and sympathetic. charlotte sounds like a time traveler rather than an innocent, and her Golden Child confidence ("The invincible truth was, she possessed a brilliance unparalleled here or anywhere else") sucks the pity right out of me. wolfe's constant reminders that she and her buddies are types rather than people ("Adam, essentially a literary intellectual, didn't realize he was listening to the typical depressed girl who has made the appalling discovery that she is worthless"), in turn, makes them unlikable and uninteresting. no more fiction, tom wolfe. please.


earnest winter link 3: my favorite crafty aussie has begun a month of softies, where assorted artists create dolls, monsters, and so on based on her themes (november's was "the accessorised elephant"). i haven't the digital camera needed to join the fray (still looking to steal george's in order to post needlepoint pictures), but it's a lovely project.

in other news, my refrigerator evacuation project yielded

bootleg taco salad

- 1 head green lettuce (shredded)
- 2 tomatoes (diced)
- 1/2 large white onion (diced)
- 2 c button mushrooms (chopped)
- large can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 c rough-grated (not powdered!) parmesan cheese
- cayenne pepper
- corn oil
- seasoned rice vinegar
- balsamic vinegar
- salsa
- sour cream
- a near-dead bag of tortilla chips

combine lettuce, tomatoes, half of the diced onion, grated parmesan and kidney beans in a large bowl. use ~1 tbsp corn oil to brown mushrooms and the other half of the onion in a frying pan on high heat; after 2-3 minutes, add a splash of water and sprinkle liberally with cayenne. brown for another minute, then spoon into the bowl and toss with 2 tbsp of the rice vinegar and a teensy bit of the balsamic. serve with a dollop of sour cream, a spoonful of salsa, and a handful of the pulverized chips.

vile-sounding, you say? o ye of little faith, even joe the gourmet god requested and enjoyed a serving, and he's never felt the need to stroke my ego by putting his life on the line with my cooking.


despite the midnight cheffery on wednesday, i think i bested my previous record for last-minute thanksgiving supply runs: i went to food emporium three times, the amish market at least five times, and the drugstore twice. much of that was the result of poor planning, but it should be noted that joe is an extemporaneous kitchen man and the amish mislabel their fresh herbs. fie on you, amish.

earnest winter link 1: at the robert's snow website, celebrated book illustrators auction one-of-a-kind snowflakes to benefit the dana farber cancer institute. if i had lots of money, i'd give these to everyone i know; if you have lots of money, please buy me this one. seriously.

earnest winter link 2: miranda july's learning to love you more invites visitors to accept assignments like "hang a windchime on a tree in a parking lot" and "make a paper replica of your bed." twee or no, the reports for #30 - "take a picture of strangers holding hands" - dragged my cynical ass out of a big funk the other day. i've made a few of my own in the interim.


camping on the sidewalk in order to get a good spot for the rose parade was miserable: i forgot to bring food and spent all night nursing a bottle of white grape juice fortified for babies, a drunk guy flattened my best friend in her sleeping bag, and we woke up covered with garbage. strolling to the upper west side this evening to peek at the macy's thanksgiving balloons, on the other hand, was quite nice: the neighborhood had quaint snowflake lights, i saw a 62' tumescent spongebob, and the browntastic natural history museum always makes me think i'm going to run into count chocula. i might not be awake for the parade tomorrow - midnight thanksgiving pie-baking - but i feel that i've done my part.


vegetarian public service announcement: thanksgiving chefs who have yet to do their serious shopping should approach tofurky with extreme caution. dirty uncle paul and i adventured with one a few years ago, and while the "giblet" gravy was excellent, the "bird" itself was the size and shape of an heroically stuffed dirty diaper. i suggest substituting a fancy risotto (joe will be preparing some with wild mushrooms and stinky cheese) and playing it safe. canadian veggie bacon, on the other hand, should be consumed as often as is socially acceptable.

at the other end of the sensitive new age spectrum (look away, boys), it seems that haunting girlfriends' livejournals can lead to that freaky menstrual synchrony thing. sara, erin and vicki, my condolences; personally, i'm still a slave to sarah k.'s Alpha Uterus.


job search update: i have yet to hear from the independent publisher who wanted people to work for free. i am an undesirable volunteer, ladies and gentlemen. still plugging away, though: today i knocked off fifteen application-pitches for a sassy lifestyle magazine. my head broke somewhere between match.com profile makeovers and "48 hours in san francisco." because writing is ugly.

how ugly? so ugly that i missed U2's free concerts around the city this afternoon. writing, why you play me like that?


poetry in motion taunts liberals as a general proposition. it's been especially provocative in the past few months, what with the omnipresence of a yeats stanza on the broadway line:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

(from "the second coming", 1920)

i'll spare you my recent cinquains on the same subject.


the grudge (+). longtime readers will recall that 2002's the ring gave me deep and abiding fears of japanese filmmakers, television sets, and people with long hair. this movie, then, was an inoculation: i reasoned that seeing asian horror in a weakened state - the grudge's reviews have been tepid - would beef up my filmgoing antibodies. it wasn't a bad theory, as substantial plot gaps and sarah michelle gellar's wooden reaction shots (i loved her as buffy the vampire slayer, but i acknowledge that she's a fairly bad actress) weakened key scenes' genuine spookiness. that said, the shower and my black cat are much more intimidating this morning.

dawn of the dead (2004) (+1/2). cheers to director zach snyder et al. for their soundtrack decisions: johnny cash's "the man comes around" is a solid zombie movie introduction, and richard cheese's lounge cover of "the sickness" in the 'how we learned to live in the mall' sequence supplies more than enough irony to salute george romero's original effort. genuine scares were few and far between, but i appreciated the filmmakers' recognition that power is frequently a question of who is and isn't allowed to pee.


i've giggled at the concept of cactus rustlers for years, but i'm beginning to identify with them. the helpful people in the plant district tell me that a three-foot piece of dried manzanita costs $45: "it's from california." so am i, bitches, and i'm not worth that much! thus began my manhattan branch-stealing crime spree. a fine scraggly piece from herald square gave me a taste for the business, and i skulked around central park for an hour yesterday. picking up deadfall isn't criminal, you say? tell that to the ranger who tried to bust me and my armful of sticks. i gave him the new york pass phrase - it's for an art project - and he let me go.

so now there are lots of grotty branches arranged above the bookcase in the apartment. they kinda look like a tree, and i've been embellishing with homemade foil snowflakes. this ghetto martha stewart stuff gets more and more engaging all the time.


saw ( 0 ). i'm willing to overlook weaknesses in any number of films: george hamilton's deeply tanned dracula in love at first bite, say, or the ewoks in return of the jedi, or helena bonham carter in anything. though it's a low-budget indie, saw gets no such pass. cary elwes squanders the goodwill he earned in the princess bride* by playing, perhaps accidentally, the least sympathetic 'hero' in recent memory. this could be the writers' fault - the character is an indifferent doctor, a philandering husband, an absentee father - but elwes's milquetoast-then-vaudeville performance is unquestionably his biggest crime. each and every audience member giggled through the last twenty minutes of the movie. danny glover, in turn, is utterly superfluous; as the 'sorta morgan freeman in seven, sorta captain ahab' figure, he's supposed to be avenging his dead partner and nailing the jigsaw killer once and for all. sadly, he spends most of his time making collages in his apartment; i don't even remember what happened to him at the end. finally, though horror movie logic is famously flawed, a guy who's 1) gone crazy in ten minutes, 2) hacked off his own foot, and 3) shot his only ally is never going to be a good Special Toilet-Prison Friend. begging for him to stick around, even if you're being menaced by a terminal cancer patient with weird puppets and a huge circuit city credit line, don't make no sense.

as we walked out of the theater, helpful employees handed us viactiv samples. unlike cary elwes, i am very concerned about my bone density - of the many varieties of Freaky Old Woman i could become one day, i fear Back-Hump Lady even more than Lipless Grimace and What's That Smell - and i consented to try them. they're more or less chocolate mint starburst, and nearly as disturbing as saw: ladies, beware!

*on princess bride cast members, saw starring fred savage would have been ten times better: he was a famously evil frat boy at stanford with us, and i wish him ill. he's my favorite child actor story from school, though: in class with one of my friends, he answered a question loudly and badly. the professor noted this. "everyone was looking at me," someone narrated. "i felt so stupid."


i'm not happy about what happened yesterday (ODB died in a midtown recording studio*, dick cheney scraped by with a cold), but i have to titter at the image of the angel of death getting slapped around by his boss: wrong ol' dirty bastard! wrong ol' dirty bastard! also publications like the kansas city star are forced to use phrases like 'dirt mcgirt' and 'big baby jesus' today, and that's magical.

the weekend's other big news involves saw and viactiv calcium chews. more on that later.

*postscript: douglas went to ODB's wake. since when have i known people that are that connected, exactly?


let it not be said that the unemployed are unclean; verily, i have showered four times today. i have also discovered that elderly ladies in needlepoint stores are not the best assistants when one is trying to match an all-important background yarn color. as neither of us could tell the difference between light-light grey and light-light-light grey, i got to spend several hours unsewing poor johnny cash's stitchy-portrait. by the end of this project, my left index finger will most likely have fallen off.

accompanied said efforts with the unabridged audiobook version of tolkien's silmarillion. verily, it is rotting my brain; though i appreciate all things middle earthy, ingesting myth in such whopping doses - my god, the names! - is no good for a mortal woman. readers, note that tolkien began his work while laid up with trench fever. that said, useful points thus far:

- getting elves to join you in the west is like herding cats.

- sauron and the balrogs have been around for a very long time; they are those with which you should not fuck (aside: the encyclopedia of arda notes that the mithril-miners woke the last balrog in 1980. this explains the reagan administration.).

- ulmo, king of the sea, has little or no interest in you.

- viggo mortensen beware: marrying a being that is older / more powerful than you are = instant grey hair.


tragic news from mom:
I saw "Shall We Dance" a week or so ago with Wendy...very cute, with Stephen [sic] Merritt's "Book of Love" very appropriately inserted...if I can find the sound track I'm going to get it. (The one from Garden State is really good, too). I thought you'd be amused, though, at a review of SWD that made mention of "Book of Love" as having been written just for this movie...say what? It is done really well in the movie, but wasn't that written, like, 10 years ago?
mom is to be commended for indie knowledge (thanks to pre-terrible kroq and late '90s mix tapes) and a specific appreciation for the magnetic fields (she requested her own copy of 69 love songs years ago), but this is not a happy day: i wanted "book of love" for the first song at my wedding (though i've been beaten to it), man, and now it's associated with j-lo. worse, lazy people are going to think peter gabriel wrote it; worse worse, intrepid folk who hunt for the original will have to deal with the shock of going from peter gabriel's voice to stephin merritt's with no warning. much as i now love the latter, that's a recipe for disaster. no new fans for you!


on beating the blue state blues, my personal raging and sulking phases are mostly out of the way; sans mighty funds for 'freedom of information' recount efforts, i got to skip straight over denial. solace also from marry an american ("LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, DROP YOUR BORDERS") and sorry everybody.


i have long believed that the best and worst thing about democrats is our consistent overestimation of our countrymen; that has never been more true than it was yesterday. shame, voters, for institutionalizing bigotry in bans on civil unions; shame for flouting our forefathers by dragging your churches into our state houses. when i say i love america, i'm not speaking of you.

11.02.04 election notes from nyc: updated throughout the day

12:50 ratherism of the evening: if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun.

11:40 joe, safe and sound from his campaigning, has attempted to go to bed; from milwaukee, tom reports optimism for the region and utter disgust on ohio [o god: cbs just called florida for bush]. tom also offers to shoulder responsibility for a kerry loss, as he shook hands with him yesterday. the misanthrope in me says we all deserve to suffer if that goes down.

i should have burned giuliani's old bedsheets [don't ask] in a voodoo ritual.

10:50 goddamn exit polls - shame on you for fueling my optimism. i worried that my falafel guy's fox news cap and sarah'n'judd's republican doorman would be bad luck, and here we are with ohio teetering and florida ready to plummet. george bet joe $20 that we'd lose. george really, really wants to pay joe $20.

07:00 stupid lack of I VOTED stickers! today's page six: "PORN director Seymore Butts — star of Showtime's reality series "Family Business" — is giving away dirty DVDs to anyone who shows up at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square tonight with proof of having voted. "We'd like them to vote for Kerry, but if they voted for Bush and come to get a free Seymore DVD . . . well, that's a little telling, isn't it?" he says. Butts and porn starlet Mari Possa will distribute DVDs to randy voters beginning at 6:30 p.m."

05:40 "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Blue chips fell on Tuesday in a sharp reversal that trimmed gains in other indexes as Internet sites suggested exit polls had Sen. John Kerry ahead of President Bush in key states in the U.S. presidential election. [...] Shares of defense, pharmaceutical, health care and medical technology companies led the reversal."

poor george, three blocks away, reports that his voting adventure (at the same time as mine) took two and a half hours; sarah, a bit east of us, had no problems. my ex-Corporation was nice enough to give everyone the day off (quite upright of them, since most of the magazine staffs are liberal and a lot of people live and vote in jersey or beyond).

03:15 on pains and asses, it has been heartening to see new yorkers take up the "safe state, not quiet state" banner. mari and josh took one of the many weekend buses to philly for last minute get-out-the-vote efforts; a healthy number of his nyu law school classmates are volunteering, like tom in milwaukee, to monitor today. a solid contingent of young recruits - most of hell's kitchen's "drinking liberally," for example - are dean refugees; many others have been shocked out of previous states (see paul's post-nader thoughts) by this administration's atrocities. no one is happy about the way 2000 and the intervening years have gone down, but it's undeniable that we cynical twentysomethings - and liberals in general, really - got a much-needed zap in the pants. i'm starting to believe that the polls will reflect it.

02:15 the folks at whywehatebush.com have taken their overnight midtown sticker-sticking very seriously: on a single street between 5th and 9th avenues, i saw several hundred of their feisty little flags. a whopping two I VOTED lapel stickers on the same walk (my location, at least, wasn't handing them out). the word downtown is that voters closest to ground zero are waiting in two-hour lines; given that everyone i know who has lived there works elsewhere (rent incentives after 9/11 made wall street apartments available to a new slice of the population), that's got to be a pain in the ass.

10:15 [democracy plaza, rockefeller center] almost no line to vote at 48th street; i suspect that i spent more time in the booth than i did getting there. bearing in mind that i'm notoriously scatterbrained with directions, the machine was horribly confusing: bush/cheney and kerry/edwards were both listed twice, and flip big lever / flip lots of little levers / flip big lever / tell poll observer to flip big lever is more involved than it sounds. was pleased to see that the friendly crazy man from my building came out to vote. was a little concerned that he was the guy who checked me in.

lots of stages, virtually no people out here. foreigners are loving the air force one fuselage and the oval office photo op ("capture your moment in the seat of power"). spent a bit of time with the only traveling copy of the declaration of independence, andrew jackson souvenir china, a substantial collection of unlabeled pewter. bush's electoral flip counter has been placed 20' in front of the nbc experience store's YOU'RE FIRED display.

08:15 joe is off to last-minute pamphleteering for one of the congresswoman's allies [note: he works for a local official]. she called last night to change his location for safety reasons; this ally's opponent has been using unsavory people to intimidate campaign workers for the past few weeks. this is bare-knuckle politics, i guess - i made him promise to stay out of harm's way. hope he listens.


What can I give thee back, O liberal
And princely giver, who hast brought the gold
And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold,
And laid them on the outside of the-wall
For such as I to take or leave withal,
In unexpected largesse? am I cold,
Ungrateful, that for these most manifold
High gifts, I render nothing back at all?
Not so; not cold,—but very poor instead.
Ask God who knows. [...]

(elizabeth barrett browning, from sonnets from the portuguese)
we shall see what we shall see, america. kudos to all of the armchair idealists who got up and rocked the vote - here's hoping we're heard.


happiest of 'weens to you, fine friends! in the classic tradition of people with too much time on their hands, i have been cooking and sewing in preparation for the holiday.

spicy roasted pumpkin seeds

- ~2 c raw seeds (or whatever you can scoop from your jack o'lantern - mine was wee and fairly simple, but paul and jessie did fine work on theirs in berkeley)
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 tsp tabasco
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper

toss seeds, butter and tabasco in sealed tupperware container; combine spices, add to seeds, and toss again. spread seeds in single layer on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, stirring once, until crisp and golden brown. serve with big-ass glasses of ice water.

hummus for sarah and judd's swanky halloween eve party

(adapted from a mom-recipe)

- 2 cans (15 oz each?) chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (i used home-grown blue, which is a bit mild)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/3 c water
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1 tsp tabasco
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper

throw chick peas, garlic, lemon juice, water, olive oil and tabasco in food processor; liquefy. add more water if mixture isn't smooth enough. stir in tahini and spices; add extra kick (NOT cumin) to taste. drizzle with olive oil and minced parsley. curse grocer for selling you way more parsley than you could ever use. serve with chips, raw veggies, hershey's miniatures - whatever blows your hair back.


blood gnome (1/2). at long last i've concluded what should have been obvious: B movies with awesome titles are really just excuses for soft-core porn. don't get me wrong, blood gnomes really are evil - in addition to lusting for human blood, they spoil expensive film, rewind and tape over important videocassettes, and send annoying instant messages full of all-caps threats. the problem is that they prey on members of the BDSM community, so almost every scene of gnome mayhem is coupled with fat cops getting play-whipped or bettie page's bargain basement cousins licking plastic daggers (aside to nathan: this was definitely shot in the valley). unquestionably superior to generic attempts like delta delta DIE! and slumber party massacre 3, but for pint-sized horror i'll always come home to the leprechaun franchise.


::outside scoop on the sox, cont'd::

mark bellhorn, erstwhile strikeout king. judd and sarah claim MB has an inner woody allen voice that second-guesses and withers his every move. if that wasn't already so after his league-leading crapulence in the regular season, it must be now: despite key hits in games 1 and 2, he's riding the pine an awful lot. don't let the guy go on long walks alone, is all i'm saying.

pitching for jesus. as baseball's answer to kerri strug, curt schilling has earned the right to say whatever he wants in interviews: he could fart into the FOX microphones for all i care. that said, his shout-outs to the lord are getting a bit redundant. that said (and speaking of kerri strug), i suspect he's voting for bush and i sure as hell don't want him mentioned. god it is, then!

preteen girls in the stands wearing face paint beards to look like johnny damon. unequivocally weird. please stop that.


look, i can say it without shame: i've been following the red sox like a freak. a poorly timed nap on sunday kept me up for all of game 4 that night, and i would argue that anyone who can sit through five hours of tortured boston fan reaction shots without feeling something for their team is made of stone. compound that with the fact that two of my best friends would trade their limbs for a series win, and you've got my attention. for tom and the rest of the Nation, then, kidchamp presents

::amateur reactions to the ALCS::

the a-rod slap. this is where baseball needs to be more like soccer: in randy marsh's shoes, i'd have thrown his ass out of the game. given that marsh called him safe before he hit first base, though, i'm guessing a red card would have stayed in his pocket no matter what. pity.

the curse of the bambino. seems at least crippled after the sox took the league in the bronx on mickey mantle's birthday, no? i worry that the franchise's appeal will wane if they take the world series - i for one might have to start rooting for the cubs (if someone can explain the goat thing to me). it's bad luck to talk that way, of course. if the baseball gods are listening, we still fear You.

pedro's little friend. maybe the only thing about martinez that interests me. nearly throwing game 7 because terry francona wanted you to share the win: lame. throwing a tiny man from your home town for good luck: creepy. but unique!

more to follow.


shower song #714, "damn peter yarrow / or hung over?":

jake is alive!
or is he alive?
he left at one a.m. when the red sox game was over
then i read all about bill o'reilly and falafel
now it's twelve fifteen and the cell phone isn't ringing
don't make me thrift shop alone
no one should thrift shop alone


in belated honor of columbus day, i shall present an existing thing and pretend i discovered it: cello rock lovers, melora creager the bobble-head is upon you. accounts vary as to when the rasputina knitting factory dvd, in turn, will materialize.

feeling guilty (as i do every year) about replacing kirk cameron as the coolest person born on october 12, i followed a link to the "are you a good person?" quiz on his spooky evangelical website. to my surprise, i've broken all Ten Commandments (including murder - holding a feisty amount of hate in one's heart is apparently analogous). KC, then, can be the coolest 10/12 kid in heaven. but no bobble-head for him.

finally got around to an (anaemic) about / faq section - suggestions and questions would rock my world. how about it?


i'm now wearing this, by the way. it's more than a promise ring, not an engagement ring, exciting-scary anyway.


notaries are not only inexpensive (unless you have them come to your house or office, which costs $50 and up), they will tell you wild stories as they validate the transfer of "your" property back to your grandmother (for example). my encounter began badly - i was told yet again that i should grow my hair out in order to resemble my driver's license photo - but took an unexpected turn as i was wondering about the sort of person who would pay for a mobile visit: well, Notary 1 said and gestured to Notary 2, this guy was once called out to authenticate a woman's signature for the con artists who murdered her. in that case it made sense.


so unemployment is turning me into martha stewart - what of it? nature abhors a vacuum. i tinkered with the pumpkin pie = debate victory formula that worked so well for kerry/bush #1 and edwards/cheney and think i broke even: though kerry didn't dominate and bush reined in his facial tics (except for winking while talking about abortion - what?), i discovered a fine new recipe for 'death by chocolate' cake. i also discovered that walking around hell's kitchen with a big-ass cake is deeply weird.


tonight's wilco show at radio city did a fine job of washing last year's rockette christmas spectacular out of my mouth. it would be ungrateful to fault the venue for clashing with the band's aesthetic: i confess that i didn't hear of the gig at all until ticketmaster sent me a reminder. a skanky club would have been sold out before i woke up.

and, honestly, wilco seemed like they wanted to do a big genteel thing. a ghost is born is short on the foot-stompers i loved on summerteeth and yankee hotel foxtrot: "handshake drugs" is a keeper for the insistent beat and classic jeff tweedy enunciation, but the rest of the album has yet to grow on me.


good things about listening to ethan frome while working: i'd forgotten how relaxing it is to hear someone else read, i get to be a supereffective multitasker, and having a male narrator read mattie silver's lines in a drag queen voice adds a frisson of gender confusion to the literary experience. bad things: i'm almost finished already (whoops, short novel) and joining an online audiobook club is eighteen times more expensive than, say, netflix (unless you qualify for, no joke, the trucker discount). i found a free 15-day trial membership that promises to send me things like big sur and ulysses before they start asking me for $19/title - we'll see if i can get a little culture and get out prior to that.

found adam gopnik's tribute to richard avedon (in this week's new yorker) quite moving: now that i no longer work for The Corporation, i have the freedom to mourn people like him without worrying about how to pillage his legacy for a press release. PR is not an entirely evil business - i did get to promote people and events who deserved attention every now and again - but it did pressure me to think about grief and tragedy in a predatory way. yay for getting fired before i had to do that, eh?


spent saturday afternoon at a one-room tour of the brooklyn brewery in williamsburg, a gritty and cavernous factory space that came into being with the help of a former AP reporter who, while stationed in iran, learned to make beer in his hotel bathtub. was utterly charmed by monster, a fat and happy 'working' cat who may or may not have inspired a particularly strong microbrew of the same name. from time to time i share joe's fascination with williamsburg: overhyped and haughty or no, it attracts people with a warm and fuzzy dedication to making things.

at the other end of the spectrum, we aimed today for the cooper-hewitt national design museum on the upper east side. space was at a premium - andrew carnegie's mansion, though intricate and elegant and generally desirable, doesn't sprawl - but i got a kick out of the bedroom, where contemporary pieces were arranged to recall the original layout of mrs. c's living area. agoraphobe that i am, i also loved futureshack (designed to provide elementary but tenable transitional housing for refugees) in the yard.


pumpkin pie update: unequivocal success - i've since baked another and three miniatures. if i can learn to make my own crust (thus far i've been cheating with keebler's cheap and ready-made graham cracker variety) we might have a new skill on our hands.

mannequin update: judd and sarah brought over a bleeds-when-it-burns severed finger candle that will rest nicely on the lower torso stump. i hope to have a thoroughly gross body part sculpture by halloween.

debate update: chris's print media rundown surveys result coverage in swing state papers. i read lead stories in the new york times, the new york daily news, the chicago sun-times, the new york post and usa today: the last two gave kerry an edge, while everyone else called a draw. my personal bias prompted me to give up on neutral analysis a long time ago, but i'm encouraged by reports that kerry had an eensy-weensy effect on some undecided focus groups. i wish he'd mentioned that china actually wants us to hold bilateral talks with north korea - bush's refrain about how that would dissolve extant negotiation plans chapped my hide. then again, how many undecideds will bother to look past iraq and afghanistan when considering foreign policy? a medianstrip commenter wanted him to look straight at the camera and say I WON'T SEND YOU OFF TO DIE TO MAKE MY FRIENDS RICH, and that would have pleased me as well.

i think kerry did what he could without sounding mean or disengaged, and that's the most we could have expected. i've vacillated between thinking he had a fighting chance and thinking he'd get slaughtered; neither hope nor despondency seems particularly useful at this point. hunt down and brainwash some swing voters if you can, friends; wear a feisty shirt if you can't; practice crossing fingers and toes.

so the avenue q presidential debate was a good stunt, and certainly a new low for my adventures in unemployment and/or mental health: yes, i took candy from a stranger and stood in drenching rain waiting for puppets no one could see. in spite of the umbrellas obstructing most of the stage, i saw john kerry's felt twin pull a large piece of vietnam shrapnel from his nonexistent leg. i would have liked to see a laura bush puppet eat a cabbage patch kid, but we can't have everything we want.

i've baked a pumpkin pie and made spinach dip for tonight's real debate-watching, but the true star of the evening is the disembodied mannequin butt-and-leg i found in the street. can't decide if it should have blue toenails and a yellow thigh-ribbon for the election or a fishnet and a skull-and-crossbones sock for halloween. luckily, it's excellent either way.


getting to know new york, chapter 837: the big museum-ish public library at bryant park, the one with the lions in ghostbusters, is not the place to get a card and check out books. you may already know this, but the security guard at bag check did not, for he sent me to the third floor anyway. i choose, you see, to think of him as uninformed rather than as mean and nasty.

chapter 838: the lending library (at 5th avenue and 40th street) has an intriguing collection of books on tape, but beware - most of the good ones are abridged. so the point of these chapters is that i spent a very long time acquiring three ethan frome cassettes with which to improve myself while sewing.

much easier to begin decorating for halloween. we now have toothy rubber bats named jenna and barbara, as well as purple "spooky lights" that give the windows a festive gay pride look.

costume ideas (ongoing):
- milli vanilli (joe volunteered to be the dead one)
- mary kay letourneau and vili fualauu (i volunteer joe to wear his blonde wig)

costume ideas that aren't quite as tasteless (also ongoing):

- medusa at a day spa
- undead nader campaigners

working on it.

hey, manhattanites with nothing to do at lunchtime on thursday: contentions that the presidential debates will be as spontaneous as a john tesh concert got you down (gotta get my hands on a copy of george farah's no debate, speaking of)? try the avenue q&a presidential debate in father duffy square, from the puppeteers who brought us tunes like "everyone's a little bit racist" and "i wish i could go back to college." seeing little felt people say silly things about our country could lessen the pain of seeing kerry and bush do it.

there's also the wonkette drinking game for the big night itself; i believe dave and the kids downtown are planning to make merry along those lines. i too will finish my glass if anyone uses the phrase osama bin hidin'.


coffee and cigarettes (++1/2). as someone who'd never before seen a jim jarmusch movie, i was warned that he's sporadically awesome, self-indulgent, and exceedingly slow. no argument here, but as i saw c&c alone in the middle of the night, none of those seem like especially negative things. i'll admit that some of the early vignettes were notable pairings in really terrible scenes (roberto begnini + steven wright, iggy pop + tom waits, the lee siblings + steve buscemi), but others were brilliant (cate blanchett + cate blanchett, alfred molina + steve coogan, william rice + taylor mead) [throwaway side note: "cousins?", the comic alfred and steve piece, was filmed at galapagos on north 6th street, thus marking another appearance of williamsburg as los angeles (cf SEA in garden state)]. though sticking around for meaty recurring phrases and mood echoes tried my patience - cups and butts, shot beautifully or otherwise, can't be expected hold a film together - i'll credit jarmusch with some intriguing set pieces. especially if he promises never to use meg of the white stripes again (there's a reason she never talks - who knew?).

the passion of the christ (1/2). saw this one alone in the middle of the night, which exaggerated my two impressions considerably; 1) rosalinda celentano as satan is some freaky shit and 2) the rest of the film is shockingly, inexcusably boring. attending catholic easter services with my high school boyfriend's family and watching him whip jesus in their onstage passion play, now that left psychic scars. watching mel gibson shell out / rake in millions of dollars for what really did prove to be the world's most elaborate snuff film was a waste of my time. next time i hanker for biblical kitsch, i'm dropping my $2.99 on the ten commandments.


hullo despair and boredom, i see you're here at full volume - or what i hope is full volume, as i will not be a very useful young lady if you get much higher. i have been approaching unemployment with the understanding that the state of new york is paying me to 1) figure out what my next Day Job will be and 2) compose, revise and submit a hell of a lot of poetry, but i'm not doing very well with either of those. what could work for 1) is tricky to find and trickier to approach with my resume, and the requisite creativity for 2) ain't there neither. great recent contributions to society include my portrait of johnny cash and various household chores - no, i'm not a very useful young lady.


silly me, forgetting that dozing on a flight gives plane gnomes the opportunity to pour pathogens in my ear. i now have a magnificent affliction involving painless but constant and sleep-thwarting coughs and, this morning, the sudden certainty that i was rotting from the inside out. that has gone away, thankfully, but the hacking continues. it's acutely annoying.

mom's show on friday was a rousing success - norm's turned wood pieces complemented her sculptures quite well, and she sold three that night. inspired by her industry, i finally finished the debbie harry needlepoint (soon to be uploaded here, i should think) and designed a johnny cash piece. he'll be more intricate (perle 5, 18 pt.) and will take a long time, but i'm pleased with what's coming out thus far. discovered a needlepoint shop on the upper east side that seems to be the antithesis of trendy knitting joints - it has a workroom in back where middle-aged ladies chat and make flowers and cottages. if i tire of listening to JC as i sew him, i'll head up there.

good news on the publication front - norm at hazmat tells me that two issues are at the printer and should be on their way to stores soon. though i've misplaced my submission notebook and can't quite remember what he accepted, i should pop up in both volumes. onward! upward! burt ward!


unemployment mini-perks cont'd: the freedom to pick on cindy adams in mixed company. it's not especially productive to bag on gossip columnists, but the recalibration that follows a year of professional ass-kissing is a delicate process. great swings begin with little wiggles.

on the subject of snarky posts, i thumbed through the latest issue of zyzzyva in berkeley this afternoon. look, ma, i appeared in print by accident!
http://www.kidchamp.net/2003_06_01_archive.html: "6/28/03 - jay rubin translated the short story "kangaroo communique" for ZYZZYVA in the fall of '88 - probably the first time murakami appeared in english? i should give cranky editor howard junker et al. more credit.
today's fun facts, then, are that 1) howard junker (like santa claus) knows if you've been bad or good, 2) it's deeply weird to bump into yourself at the bookstore, and 3) i'd better write the best cover letter of all time if i expect to pop up as a poet in those pages.


any thoughts of returning home as the glamorous new york daughter died at the airport: for the second time in two weeks, someone looked at my driver's license and asked me why i cut my hair. at my boyfriend's request, i said.

counter guy: and why would he ask you to do that...?

me: ...so no one else would want to go out with me?

counter guy: right!

and this was in a friendly tone. setting aside the fact that it would take years to get my hair past my shoulders again, who the fuck says that to a complete stranger?

having established that i'm one of those rare people who actually looks worse in person than in her license photo, i then sat next to a little punk on the plane who said i looked like kelly osbourne. gentle readers, i long only for death.


and with that, whatever passes for normalcy in manhattan is once again dominant. a few last notes on the convention:

i attempted a wee social experiment by strolling around midtown on thursday in a big old hillary clinton tee shirt. i was hoping to get heckled, but as is the case in so many situations, apprehension quickly became boredom. the girl in the 'I heart GWB' shirt had nothing to say, there was no sign of the formerly massive police presence in front of the news corporation building, and the few groups of republicans on the sidewalk were more interested in hot dogs than in me.

on to dinner with joe, dad and part of my stepfamily. had an amusing conversation with caroline about the bush daughters' performance; due to my occasional cluelessness and her consistently down-to-earth poise, i briefly forgot that, oh yeah, her father is also a prominent republican who spoke at the convention. though i seriously doubt a stump speech would ever happen - she is in no way a budding conservative - at fifteen she could already teach barbara and jenna a thing or two. a good kid, that one.

on bushie's speech itself, it probably was the performance of his career. i've long argued that we should have a king and a prime minister: it's fine to have a public figure who tears up to satisfy the hoi polloi and cuts ceremonial things with giant scissors (W could, i hope, manage to do that), but it's unbelievable that the public refuses to hold him accountable for his administration's abject failures. we need a president who expects and takes substantive heat for his missteps, and a leader who trades solely on his personality will never have to do that. i'm sure america loved his visible emotion and didn't even notice his failure to mention osama bin laden, and barring a miracle from the kerry camp, that pure suspension of disbelief will win this election for the republicans. our faith, in turn, that voters will do their homework is kicking our asses yet again. god, i hate us.


shout-out for my hip mom: as of this friday, she's having her first gallery show in davis (~1 hr. east of oakland). if you're into art collection, i suggest you move quickly - she got too expensive for me years ago. beautiful work, ma - i'm proud of you.

i'll be in town 9/7-9/13 for her reception, captain paul's birthday, and other northern california festivities. as my car has moved on to a better life with sister emily in san francisco, i'm not especially mobile, but i have big plans for mastering amtrak.

lest i make john mccain's mistake of criticizing something i haven't seen, i've been tuning in for the convention. i think it was rather mean of the organizers to tell the bush daughters they were presenting an MTV video music award rather than introducing their mother; one would assume they might have turned down the banter if, say, they grasped the purported gravity of the occasion. don't make me conclude that they thought it was appropriate to make light of their undergraduate stupidity and their papa's sniffing'n'chugging - no one wants that.


we're pleased to announce that kidchamp can once again take to the web from the comfort of my very own floor. on a more responsible note, the job search will pick up speed, as i can browse positions for which i am over- and (more frequently) underqualified at least forty-three times more regularly. party people put your hands in the air!

it seems that mike of satan's laundromat was arrested and jailed for disorderly conduct, aka photoblogging, at the manhattan critical mass rally on friday. though the group's san francisco chapter has annoyed me for a long time, i fail to understand why the po-po chose to get nasty at that event. i won't lie: if a passive-aggressive kid like me can feel like leaping on conservatives when they swarm my adopted town, i can totally understand why bloomberg would want to police the garden and big ticket fundraisers. that said, the city's excessive allowances for charter buses (two full lanes of several avenues are out of commission, and that's in areas nowhere near the convention) make protest-related blockages look like crumbs. bike riders aren't mujaheddin, you idiots.

stephen king's the stand (tv miniseries) (++1/2). i hate stephen king for scaring the shit out of me in grade school, for telling writers to go with the first descriptors that pop into their heads, for repeated use of Magical Black People - but i love molly ringwald, and watching her seek solace from crowded house's "don't dream it's over" felt like coming home. sarah and judd's building had a cameo in the superflu-ravaged restaurant intro scene, and i dug that as well. the rest was heavy on honky, light on spooky - better than playing solitaire for five hours, not quite superior to watching taxis meet their doom in the pothole outside our apartment.


greetings, fine friends, from Occupied New York! brevity is the soul of escaping from internet cafes with one's pants and spare change intact, so don't expect much from me. i'm thisclose to having a connection at home, i promise - direct paycheck-sending vibes at The Man if you would like this to happen quickly.

a lot of the city is Famous People Broken, as were the elevators in my office building when mrs. kerry paid a visit to the execs a few months ago. ninth avenue in particular is quite soupy, as everyone's motorcades like to rocket down the street with bowel-loosening mufflerless police bikes. i was on the 1/9 yesterday afternoon with four very young people in solid grey fatigues; they seemed very annoyed when someone struck up conversation and they were forced to admit that they were secret service. i, for one, would have believed they were plumbers or DEVO.

republicans are easy to spot: they really are tall, swaggering, fat and cowboy hatted. they also have high decibel conversations about how asinine it is to tax the rich. we would like to tell them to go home or maybe throw fries in their direction, but at the end of the day we don't really like the look of those special plastic handcuffs that everyone seems to be carrying.

thinking about attending the 'save johnny cash' protest on the upper east side this afternoon. the details are fuzzy - damn the cafe and my inability to do in-depth research - but it seems to be about my speed. still kicking myself for missing the anti-bush-slogan wet t-shirt contest, even after being told that you're not allowed to wear a bra for that sort of thing. i can confront my fears in the name of freedom, really. hand me your fries.


poverty inspired me to take a vacation from SSRIs last week; realized this was a bad idea when 1) kill bill vol.2 led me to believe that i should in fact bear children and 2) i cried all the way through sylvia. the latter is plausible, the former unforgivable.

joblessness sucks. i miss the laptop.


all remains well, though by spotty internet access i meant 'none at all.' am promising myself that we'll pick up tony's spare computer this weekend. in the interim, i have become the world's best "price is right" bidder and developed a disturbing one-way relationship with ellen degeneres. knowing that, you're dying to hire me, right?

babel tower, a.s. byatt: better than possession. worth a read, especially if you find it at a thrift store for $2 like i did.

star, pamela anderson + ghost writer: vegetarians don't eat tuna. really - most of them gave it up first because of all those gill net shenanigans in the early '90s.

golda meir the danish modern sofa is no more. we now have grendel, comparatively styleless but fiendishly comfortable.


administrative note: as The Man took his laptop back, i'm spottily with and without internet access for the time being - don't feel unloved if your notes and/or eastern bloc spam aren't answered immediately (mikhail, nadja and yergei: wire me the balance - my rubles on the way!).

got the best unemployment care package ever from sarah and judd on saturday - cheap wine, toys, an office space dvd, a "take this job and shove it" mix cd - i don't deserve these people. i adore them, though.


look ma, i finally caught some theatre in new york: judd and sarah brought us as their 'plus two' for the moonshine project's the booth variations last wednesday, also known as their old television's stage debut. the telly didn't work so well, but the show was exciting - we like to see talented friends' ambitions pay off. the multimedia format and the narrative meat (edwin booth the shakespearean, the assassin's brother, the historical roadkill) have been getting impressive attention from the press (as have the performances, natch); i admit i'm a bit jealous of their p.r. rep's mad skillz. then again, skillz would have steered me around my upcoming Unemployed Epiphanies, and i'm curious about those.


collateral (+++1/2). the sort of two-lead tension (jamie foxx and tom cruise) that denzel washington and ethan hawke would have given their left eyes to pull together in training day. tom cruise is a bitterly funny sociopath, but foxx clearly gets under his skin; foxx is initially familiar to anyone who's had a few late-night conversations with friendly cab drivers, but his everyman heroics are ultimately, pleasantly, surprising. michael mann gives los angeles a look that's resonant for locals yet eerily his own (heavy use of light-hungry digital video was an excellent choice - tight shots seemed as distant as long-range scans of the freeway, and tom cruise slipping in and out of focus at the climax was brilliant). my only complaints are nitpicky: so cal coyotes are normally knife-thin rather than wolfish, and i have yet to meet someone who's actually used the l.a. subway. all in all, masterful direction, well-managed suspense, and tom cruise's best performance to date.


the bourne supremacy (++). as in bourne the first, the talented mr. ripley, good will hunting - say, most of matt damon's bigger roles - his emotionally-troubled-asskicker characters are most affecting in the rare moments when he's told to play vulnerable, and there aren't enough of them here. as before, the cinematography is excellent, and the culminating chase scene is satisfying and original. i like watching MD beat the crap out of people really efficiently, but those very valid beefs that propel him around the world don't register on his face very often - so why should i care?

garden state (+++1/2). ends on an emotional high note that, while technically a bit weak and unfinished, is very welcome to the twentysomethings zach braff is chronicling. little moments here - natalie portman's eulogy in her pet graveyard, the hospital meeting where she makes braff's character listen to the shins on her headphones - are exactly right, as are all of the soundtrack choices (particularly iron & wine - i hope sam beam rakes in piles of new fans as a result of this). ZB's touches of absurdism keep the big themes from plodding too heavily, and i'm willing to forgive him for the too-polished speech he delivers toward the end, as 1) the los angeles restaurant in an early scene is actually SEA, my beloved thai place in williamsburg, and 2) he actually appears to read his garden state blog. bottom line, i like watching someone my age try to make sense of himself. if he did it too well, the combination of talent and success and self-awareness would be too much; as of now i just get to be happy for him.

the village (+). so glad we saw this at the ziegfeld (c. 1927, frantically stylish theater, site of glitzy nyc movie premieres) - were it not for the elegant surroundings and the primally satisfying act of eating popcorn at 12.30 at night, i would have revolted and demanded my money back. though i didn't catch on to The Trademark Twist, i was thoroughly unfrightened and unimpressed (mind you, i used to quake in terror at the care bears movie - if you can't frighten me, you might as well retire from the movie business); the movie was visually interesting, and that's about it. the new york post ran a scathing review that roasted shyamalan's apparent persecution of the bush administration (using warning colors and indistinct threats to keep the population in line, a leader with the name 'walker' - okay, they may have a point); perhaps watching the village with that in mind would make it marginally diverting. me, i'd see fahrenheit 9/11 instead and wait for the DVD. bleh.



Before the pint at my elbow,
before my elbow - before
our evening's table,
or tables, the sea
swallowed monks -
if we believe the plaque
beside your pint.

The waves believe Swansea
is feverish: muddy arms
choke her each spring.
The cells stood where we sit.
The sea cured their studies.


if the city is on high alert for terrorist activity, upper midtown hasn't gotten the memo - the security guard at my bank of elevators has a new metal detector, but he uses it to scratch his bum more than anything else. The Company made me post bloomberg's info on their site - shockingly, i still have administrative access to the corporate portal and the tool that sends blast mail to all 20,000 minions - but in practice their safety protocols consist of showing us the stairwells and counting drunkenly over the public address system. i am less than concerned about explosions. i am very concerned about whether or not the ambiguously gay duo will beat bush and cheney, however, and donated $25 (don't sniff, i'm unemployed) to the kerry campaign yesterday. it made me feel better about being stuck in office purgatory. speaking of, it sure is fun to poke around on the FEC website. who knew hollywood was secretly supporting kucinich in the democratic primaries?


today's very iffy analogy for the situation at the office: it's like getting dumped for something incidental - having small breasts, say - and then having to make dinner for your ex's family. you'd like to serve bad shellfish, but they don't know what's happened, it wasn't their fault, and satisfaction isn't worth assault charges. they should know he's an ass, but it's not like they'd be loyal to you. so you cook really well.

i told you it was iffy.

actually i just come home very tired. i liked these people, and i'm naive enough to be hurt when they act like nothing has changed. an odd, cold pride is keeping me businesslike, but the full-body ache has set in by the time i get back to the apartment. i should be grateful that i'm young and mortgage-free, and i am - but i'm in debt, and job interviews are my kryptonite, and damn it, i thought i was doing well.


decisions have a strange way of making themselves sometimes. no more agony for selling out, as The Company pronounced me canned on wednesday. any twinges i'd have felt about a decent situation going south seemed ludicrous after the first few hours - they immediately started treating me like shit. normally i'd revel in being right about corporate america, but i don't get severance and am locked into filling in until they find someone to replace me. this, friends, is hell.


on those [notes/calls/weekends] you're owed - it's not that i don't love you. i just need some alone time.

on cruelty

my mother left for the weekend on friday afternoon. on saturday the petsitter (an utterly unimpeachable family friend) called to say that one of our three cats had gotten outside overnight and was hurt - my sister's, a grey guy named winston with the disposition of a lamb. one of his claws had been ripped out and was dangling by a membrane - he seemed otherwise fine. mom told julia (sitter) to care for him as best she could, and that was that.

mom took a closer look at winston when she got home and saw what julia hadn't: on his front paws and left hind leg, the other nails were gone. at the vet's office today, she was told they had never seen anything like it, that no accidental injuries would look that way. i told her to file a police report, and the doctor agreed.

in short: someone caught winston and ripped out both of his dew claws and four of his joints on each of three paws, leaving a single digit. they tore so hard that the flesh under the nail beds came out as well. mind you, winston never used them anyway - he was too shy to meow, much less scratch so much as an inanimate object.

i am neither vengeful nor violent. that said, and i mean this literally, wish me luck with someday running across the son of a bitch who tortured winston. i would ruin his hands as slowly as i possibly could.


what i learned at work today

goats live in towers. no, really.


no more green room coffee. jittery already (green room!).


and by the by, jen was an excellent house guest. she requested "our" new york, so we took her to the excellent sea in brooklyn (both my favorite thai place and my favorite restrooms), the future perfect (where our friend the proprietor offered to purchase MRIs of her neck for an art project), warmup at ps1 (superlative peoplewatching, and the marvelous 'permanent vacation 2004' - mechanical ghosts relaxing in a hot tub - on the second floor), a lyle lovett concert in battery park. we were too late to sit with the early picnickers for the park show, but hearing "if i had a boat" from behind the stage as we picked grass and talked about our grown-up lives wasn't bad at all.

got my second favorite work request (after the one from the dipshits at "entertainment tonight" who called and wanted to borrow the giraffe we'd used for a photo shoot in africa) yesterday: in a series of events that i will probably never quite understand, i was asked to help write a five-minute introduction for john kerry. i have indeed written speeches, but most of them were about bad security council resolutions or how to keep a navel piercing from getting infected. fortunately we found a professional at the eleventh hour.

as you've undoubtedly heard, the "kerry's choice" new york post editions featuring dick gephardt are worth quite a bit of money on eBay. i feel foolish for failing to buy twenty of them when i heard the news at the office, but it is my role to utterly fail at jumping on lucrative things. i have accepted this.

this weekend's special guest is the mighty sara of southern california. i don't think she'll be interested in ps1's hot tubbing ghosts, but we're trying to hook something up with tickets to letterman or conan o'brien. if folks can ask me for african giraffes, i can certainly ask for late show tickets.


oo, here's another one (see previous entry) -

monty python and the holy grail

I was convinced by a friend to watch this, and regretted it. I think my IQ dropped about ten points, and would have dropped further had I not fallen asleep in the middle of it. If you find pure ignorance and immaturity funny, then maybe this is for you, but I'd rather spend my money on something that makes sense, makes you think, and means something. I don't understand why Monty Python is so popular, and it embarasses me that it is, specifically among people I know. It's sheer brain rot, and whatever time you spend watching it is a total waste.


via bluishorange via waxy.org,
Here's a fun game... First, look up the most popular and critically-acclaimed books, movies, and music on Amazon. Click on "Customer Reviews," and sort them by "Lowest Rating First." Hilarity ensues! It's the Amazon.com Knee-Jerk Contrarian Game!
okay. (truncated liberally for maximum personal amusement)

the velvet underground & nico

I've listened to this album repeatedly, and I just don't like it. Why should I settle for a band with very little musical talent? There are so many other bands that have good songwriting AND talent to spare that I don't see the point of dripping praise upon Andy Warhol.

I wonder if anybody has ever compared Velvet Underground to Phish. I think this comparison perfectly demonstrates the difference between bands with opposite levels of talent.


manhattan should go ahead and get pretty again; heather champ's san francisco photos are breaking my heart. a pesky case of nostalgia that first cropped up a few weeks ago came to a head today in a package from my father; pending a quick trip to a notary public, i won't be associated with the old russian hill apartment any more. i hated fighting over that place with my satanic uncle, and i love running into friends on the street in new york...but getting the legal documents makes the breakup twinge one last time.

on a more positive note, jen of chicago will be joining us in our microscopic hell's kitchen apartment this weekend. she'll be the first of the college roommates to visit since i sold my soul to The Corporation - i'm reasoning that maybe if i don't clean the apartment, she won't think i've turned into a yuppie. there are other indicators, but that's the one that gets me out of a date with the toilet brush.


the neighbors' parrot is back today, sassier than ever and a bit...pudgy? you can tell me that this is a hearty replacement parrot, that the original really was brutalized by midtown pigeon gangs and left for dead, but i won't believe you.

the best thing about the infinite cat project, aside from having an excuse to stare at cats staring at cats staring at cats, would have to be the said cats' names. 'cutter bean'?


our neighbors have (had?) a spunky green parrot. his half-a-cage was fixed to their window like an air conditioner; we both spent a lot of time peoplewatching and dropping things on the sidewalk. i'd whistle at him, he'd braap at me - it was a nice arrangement. i fear he didn't weather the thunderstorm on friday night very well - the cage is on its side, the window sill is covered with poop, and one green feather is stuck in the fire escape. i hope new york is kind to feral parrots.

jason forrest's the unrelenting songs of the 1979 post disco crash is not for the faint of heart, but the first listen was a good one; given my traditional fear of electronica, that's saying something. imagine, say, a biker bar jukebox becoming sentient and galloping off to pick a fight with the sushi bar next door. it's kind of like that.


Q: what do you call a fat goth?
A: vampire the buffet slayer.

courtesy of The Man, i saw madonna's show at madison square garden on wednesday. she's more spectacle than musician, of course, but she's one of the more effective spectacles i've seen. after a few hours of 'heavy hors d'oeuvres' and open bar + the skanky champagne and strawberries they sell on the arena floor, i found myself shouting that is TRUE! during "express yourself." in fact, it was.

the faustian transaction was that said hors d'oeuvres were secretly full of chicken. hell if i know what that tastes like - i haven't eaten it for more than ten years. so a little bit of my soul died when i realized the meatless egg rolls just weren't. sadly, punk rock vomiting hasn't been hip since college.


though i strongly dislike david lodge (nice work, read for a class in england, was basically elizabeth gaskell's north and south as written by david sedaris [also strongly disliked]) and have traumatic memories of henry james, i'm all over the british museum is falling down, DL's novel on HJ's life. anyone read it?


so slowness was my first encounter with milan kundera, as it was $1.50 at one of the stops on our thrift store circuit and, hey, french instead of czech! which is not to say that i read it in french, but i found that exciting. blurbed as his "lightest novel," it may not be the gateway to a big kundera adventure - paul claims to have issues with him, and something he, paul, considers problematic would hand me my ass halfway through the first chapter - but i would have it known that i quite enjoyed the genital descriptions. they are as if - the gentle narrator from gogol's dead souls drained the bile from the evil cocks in naked lunch. does that make sense? look, it's not scary at all:
The penetration did not take place. It did not take place because Vincent's member is as small as a wilted wild strawberry, as a great-grandmother's thimble.

Why is it so small?

I put that question directly to Vincent's member and frankly, astonished, it replies: "And why shouldn't I be small? I saw no need to get big! Believe me, the idea didn't really occur to me! I was not alerted. Vincent and I both watched that odd run of hers around the pool, I was eager to see what would happen next! It was a lot of fun! Now you're going to accuse Vincent of impotence! Excuse me! That would lay a terrific burden of guilt on me, and it would be unfair, because we live in perfect harmony, he and I, and I swear to you, we've never let each other down! I've always been proud of him and he of me!

The member was telling the truth.
if someone demystified nipples thus, i'd be able to tackle the whole western canon and go to nude beaches.


behold emeril's artichoke and spinach dip recipe. i have little or no faith in him as a rule, but this stuff was good - even in my talentless hands. the secrets are lots of cayenne, extra cheese, and saving some to re-heat the next day.

my little cacti-in-jars project is tootling along nicely. i found three species that are spiky enough to scare the cats away, and a weird little succulent that scares all of us away - a living stone, also known as 'that fucked up plant from invasion of the body snatchers.' part of me hopes it will die before it flowers.

thursday is a weekend night for me, too - no thanks to The Gipper, but because The Corporation granted me a free friday in june. i feel no need to contemplate reagan in exchange for sleeping in tomorrow. as a liberal hailing from orange county, the ronnie-est county in the country (really, check the voting records), though - and as a jelly belly enthusiast (have you ever strolled through a presidential portrait gallery made entirely of candy?) - i'll admit that i'm hankering for closure.

good riddance to bad rubbish.


liz smith on becks today:
What is on the cover [of Vanity Fair], this person called "David Beckham"? Horrid, dark pictures of a half-naked man covered with hideous tattoos, grim, foreboding and to what point? Is it the point stated by the British soccer star himself, that he "woke up one day, and I'd been voted the gay style icon of the year or whatever." Well, "whatever" is more like it, since I think most gay men have better taste. Maybe I'm just sick of half-nude people covered in tasteless ink with diamond studs in their ears!
this, mind you, several paragraphs after she praised whitney houston for her levelheadedness. reading the gossips for work: awesome.


donating blood was stupendous:

1) i was the only volunteer in my department, so everyone else looked like selfish pussies,
2) i've finally caught up with my donating cat (sorry about that, man),
3) the passive accomplishment is immediately and immensely gratifying - good job, veins! and
4) eating junk food in an RV while the people on either side of me passed out was kinda like being on road rules. yeow.

i've decided that breedster ("ingestion, defecation and fornication") is not for me. the premise - creating social networks by role-playing a little bug and mating with strangers - is fine, but once one has a few offspring and makes pictures on the grid with poop, there's little more to be done. worse, a rampant STD put a stop to everyone's breeding (thought i could avoid it by only mating with virgins - i'm very upset), so no invitations for new players. the bright spot in all of this was lukas's demonstration that he can be as two-dimensionally sleazy as he is via anecdotes: i gave life to both him and sara, and darn it if they didn't make incestuous bug-love with each other. well played, you appalachian rogues.

in its stead i give you the kingdom of loathing ("an adventurer is you!"), an old-school parody of medieval role-playing fun. i think it's what would happen if you threw 1000 blank white cards in your bag with a fat deck of magic: the gathering cards and they had a malevolent baby. my character is an accordion thief named vim; come play, and we'll start a clan with a plan.


apologies, dear readers: in executing my diabolical plan to cut george tenet out of the CIA, i managed to destroy The Corporation's laptop and doom my home computing. i should have a new one by this weekend, and then i will rock and roll.


the worst eateries in new york city, presented alphabetically and with considerable bias:

cipriani 42nd st. at $350/plate, probably the most expensive meal i'll ever eat. fortunately, the evening was a work event and i wasn't left on the hook for so-so risotto, indifferently roasted veggies, and wine that never arrived. gorgeous location, but that only got my hopes up for the food.

fetch. joyless t.g.i. friday's-type american food served in a room decorated entirely with photos of dogs. when i agreed to have green peas folded into my macaroni and cheese, i assumed they had a good reason for the suggestion. they didn't.

nobu next door. resident sushi snob joe called the miso soup remarkable and the fish run-of-the-mill. i had bland tempura and a warm mushroom salad that tasted like a gin & tonic and caused me to vomit with great gusto an hour later. not what one would expect from the restaurant that brought us iron chef japanese.

2nd ave. deli. if you like pastrami, this is your mecca. if you're a vegetarian, you're fucked: they're kosher, and you'll be gnawing on half-dill pickles and bland spaghetti while your meat-eating tablemates roll twitch in near-religious ecstasy.

yet another sign of the apocalypse: the magnetic fields on Page Six.

AS the Magnetic Fields' vocalist/pianist Claudia Gonson was about to play a sad song at Town Hall on Thursday, she lay her hands on the piano and said, "R.I.P. Tony Randall. R.I.P. Tony Bennett," which made the audience members collectively gasp in horror because Bennett, of course, is still with us, reports The Post's Mary Huhn. An embarrassed Gonson called up to her friend "Fiona" in the balcony to ask, "Did you mean Tony Randall?" Even the usually poker-faced singer/ukelele player Stephin Merritt had to hold back his laughter due to the silly mistake, and the band had to recompose itself before launching its next tune.

found a poem from npr at rosebaby's site. it made me cry too.
The Two-Headed Calf by Laura Gilpin

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.


a) i joined a gym. no, really. operation infinite pulchritude has begun again in earnest, and i have the spandex pants with CHAMPS written across the ass to prove it.

b) the magnetic fields show was not as outstanding as i'd hoped it would be. the material from the new album is alright, but i was more excited about the stuff from 69 love songs and the pieces of april soundtrack. the opening act, on the other hand, was ridiculous - andrew bird, this crazy violin-playing kid who whistles more effectively than most people speak. his voice is very jeff buckley, and he's got the infinite pulchritude (trust me, click on his artist entry) thing down. go see him.

c) at phil and lesley's insistence, got my first and hopefully only lap dance last night. i was unable to look at the young lady attempting to amuse me, but we did have a nice conversation about her $1000/month two-bedroom in park slope. emboldened perhaps by this gym nonsense, i also gave my first lap dance (to joe) (hi mom). it should be noted that i'm possibly the worst dancer on earth, so i paid homage to cameron diaz in charlie's angels - for a clothed, non-enhanced girl doing the sprinkler dance in a room full of strippers, i was pretty proud of the $1 i got from some random guy.


a birthday boy on the executive floor gets the first edition of a Frighteningly Notable American Novel at his luncheon this afternoon. i was allowed to touch and get misty over said novel; my boss took it away when i started smelling the binding. i can handle watching ugly $10K handbags change hands, but $10K books are another story.


Q tell me about your spiritual beliefs (if any) and what you look to for enlightenment in that area (ie. a particular book).

i'm an atheist or a pantheist, depending on how one chooses to define either of those. i don't believe in god, heaven, or hell; i believe that humans are no more or less significant than cats, blue whales, japanese beetles, etc. i think texts can be inspirational, but i don't believe in objective truth.

Q if you could change one thing about yourself : physical appearances or a particular ability, etc. what would it be?

it would be nice to require less sleep, and i've always wanted connected earlobes.

A if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be & why?

iceland: friendly locals, quaint national holidays, ludicrous natural beauty (an odd draw for me, as The Great Outdoors and i are not close). a friend of a friend used to have pictures of her visit to icelandic hot springs on her personal site - i think my obsession began with those.


Q What is the worst book you've actually read to completion? Why did you do it? Please exclude all assigned readings (no Henry James fallback plan).

A setting aside the five jillion questionable fantasy paperbacks i tore through in early puberty, i'm afraid i'd have to say great jones street, don delillo. somewhat liking libra gave me false confidence, and i thought DD was essential for the aspiring hipster. actually it was sluggish, wanky, and utterly unenjoyable. but i'd paid good money for it, damn it.