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.