who has two thumbs and shouldn't be at work today? this girl! joe and i are both coming down with one of those protean winter malaises that cycles from the throat to the nose to the head to the why-does-it-feel-like-i've-been-beaten-with-a-lead-pipe?, and back again. i stayed home yesterday, but now that i've finished my book, watched most of the first season of top chef,* and started freaking out about what needs to get done for the ladymag before the end of the week, being home doesn't sound that great. besides, i get major brownie points for being here when i'm obviously ailing. until everyone else catches the malaise, of course.**

so today i shall tell you about things of great comfort. the first is susanna clarke's jonathan strange & mr norrell, a novel that came out (to fairly widespread acclaim) in '04 but somehow remained under my radar until last week. reviewers are fond of calling it 'harry potter for grown-ups,' but that's not quite right: it's more like jane austen for philip pullman fans, with a hearty dollop of neil gaiman on top (as far as i can tell, ms. clarke is a protege of his). it's the fussy-in-a-good-way story of two gentlemen, circa 1800, who re-popularize practical english magic. the style (scholarly footnotes and period diction) and subject (faerie) teeter right on the edge of twee, but clarke stays on the good side. check out the reviews on her site, or over at amazon; this is solid middlebrow stuff, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. i wish i'd passed over the mass market edition for the more durable trade paperback, as i'm passing my copy to george ASAP (and forcing it on jen and wabes after that).

the second thing of great comfort was tucked into my groceries at the amish market yesterday: a friendly girl from TAMEF (a local turkish-american cultural group) gave me a warm takeaway container of noah's pudding, a galactially old recipe that middle easterners prepare for their neighbors. i am not a big pudding fan - tapioca in particular makes me want to crawl out of my own skin - but this stuff, wheaty and toasty and full of unexpected goodies like apricots and pine nuts, was really good. it was so good, in fact, that i'm going to make some of my own and inflict it on those of you who are within dessert range.*** when i was little and couldn't say my name, i called myself noah: coincidence? i think not.

*now hosted, weirdly enough, by padma lakshmi, aka mrs. salman rushdie; she replaced katie lee joel from season 1. i feel certain that bravo will tap melinda gates for season 3.

**that's what happens when you don't give people their own offices, corporate america.

***not on the actual day of ashura, mind you - i'm not sure that totally co-opting someone else's calendar is cool.


as you've undoubtedly heard, thanks to ye olde manhattan-centric media, it's frigid (and was the coldest morning in two years, apparently) in the nyc. it's currently 18 degrees, though the wind is really complementing that quite savagely (it feels like 2).* this is nothing compared to what jen endures in chicago, of course, but we lily-livered locals are at defcon 3.**

my question of the day, then, is what's your outfit for Ze Coldest Day? doesn't matter if you're here, really - much like creepy internet predators, i'm still interested in what you're wearing.

as for me, i'm in:

a camo-print thermal shirt that was too small for the missus
a black b-rep tee shirt
handy-dandy $5 mossimo jeans from a ladymag fashion closet sale
gold toe lawyer socks, stolen from joe or my dad
black and yellow gola sneakers
a white cashmere scarf from the in-laws
my beloved black moschino pea coat, newly ninja'ed (read: i de-jingled the buttons with some spare thread)

and you?

*i always giggle when they say that on the news, like "it's gonna feel like the twenties out there!" - i imagine street sweepers doing the charleston and making booze on the sly.

**i've had stephen malkmus's "phantasies" in my head all morning: "wake up early in karakatu, alaska / we put our masks on to welcome the dawn - aaaauuuugggh!"


1: you know, i wasn't into piz sniffing veronica's butt for a while there, but i think i'm behind him now.
2: i'd be behind him more if he got a haircut. he has female newscaster hair.

we inherited a gargantuan wardrobe from our friendly neighbor across the hall. since nude ikea stuff frightens me, we gave it a deer head; i call him julius. if you need a deer head in YOUR life, you know, we can make that happen.

julius the disembodied deer head


what does one do with a chocolate version of one's wedding? i nearly ate it last night, but that didn't seem right.



when researchers get bored, you get a dozen useless facts. yay, boredom!

001 additional proof that our cat charles bronson is indestructible: according to the national cancer institute, black cats could have an evolutionary edge.
Black cats might be better able to hunt at night, [Dr. Stephen O'Brien] noted, "but there is another fascinating aspect which I noticed because I work with the Cancer Institute".

For instance, his team found that a gene called MC1R makes jaguars black when mutated. Humans also have an MC1R gene that, when mutated, gives some people red hair.

It is in a family of genes called 7-transmembrane receptors. A receptor acts as a doorway into cells and is often used by bacteria and viruses to infect cells.

"HIV enters cells through a 7-transmembrane receptor called CCR5," Dr O'Brien said. "So perhaps the selective pressure that allowed these mutations to survive in cats may not be to camouflage."
the whole study ("molecular genetics and the evolution of melanism in the cat family," from an '03 issue of current biology) is surprisingly interesting. it's probably led to more and scarier experiments with black cats, but i'm trying to ignore that.

002 contrary to popular belief, our three-legged rumpy cat might not be cursed; according to most geneticists,
The Manx allele is a dominant trait with variable expression from complete lack of tail (rumpy) to a foreshortened tail (stumpy). The allele has been referred to as a prenatal homozygous lethal (meaning M/M cats die in the womb) - but this is being questioned by Manx breeders. The Manx allele has been associated with several spinal cord anomalies.
...but ours is heterozygous and spinally sound - go jude go!

003 via popbitch, a list of every book art garfunkel has read in the last 30 years, along with his favorites. perfume and uncle tom's cabin are both on the short list, which frightens me more than a little.

004 per the IMDb, mischa barton's favorite book is a confederacy of dunces. if you believe that, i've got a bridge i'd like to sell you.

more to follow as the boredom progresses.


celebrities v. giant inflatable rats, the midtown errands edition.
the unions hate hate hate the building just east of my place here at casa de ladymag, so i had to stop counting their rats individually - they had a different one up in the same spot every day for two weeks (again, i think they need to look into organizing parades). not a group to ignore opportunities, the celebrities rushed in while they had the advantage. as i pinballed between 6th and 9th avenue getting last-minute christmas fripperies (on, say, the 26th), i passed michael emerson (ben, the leader of the others, on lost) in three different crosswalks. given his most well-known character,* it kind of made sense. on the phone with jake this afternoon, i passed carson kressley on 9th avenue in wraparound shades and a shearling jacket (him, not me - god). i was tempted to stop him and ask if i really should grow my hair back, as 75% of the duane reade employees who see my driver's license contend, but i remembered in the nick of time that one should never talk to famous strangers.

rats: 4.5
star: 10

on celebrities, i discovered emily holton today while following links from learning to love you more. her karl lagerfeld drawings (click on 'drawings' at far left from her main page) are bloody marvelous - go, bask in the awesome!

*though we mustn't forget that he was the gorilla man in 29th and gay as well.


via douglas, it's the 'five things you didn't know about me' meme! here are mine:

001 my co-delegate and i always brought a rubber chicken (crammed into my briefcase) to our high school model UN conferences. we called him earl, and used him frequently in security council speeches; he eventually wore out (his head fell off). his replacement was also called earl.

002 joe and i watched the shining on TV a few nights before we left for our wedding. i was so nervous about the upcoming ceremony (people staring at us!) that i kept fantasizing about how lovely it would be to get stuck at the overlook hotel instead (maybe even if jack nicholson was running around - to me, he was the least scary thing about that movie). the patterns in the carpet looked so warm and comforting.

003 i'm severely allergic to nickel. whoop, mentioned that in the faq. okay, an alternate: my first distributed poem (it was included at the front of a welcome packet to my elementary school), a product of my brief but intense hippie phase, closed with i want it to end so the fighting will cease / because i hate war and because i love peace. the fact that it scanned was nice, but - yeah. another kid wrote a song called "fight'in for the flag" - to this day, that apostrophe bothers me almost as much as my bad poem does.

004 i cross my eyes when i cut out and discard the "previous day's solution" to the times crossword puzzle, just in case i end up picking up yesterday's paper (wouldn't want to know any of the answers ahead of time).

005 for most of childhood, i was terrified of kraken. since i wasn't on, say, a submarine crew, i didn't worry about running into one - but i had to handle my encyclopedia of mythological beasts really carefully so as not to accidentally see a picture of one. if i did, i'd have tentacly nightmares for weeks.

for the passing-it-on portion of our program, i'm pointing at jen, wabes, sara, tom, and hannah (and anyone, bloggy or otherwise, who wants to play along). drop a link in the comments section if you like, or drop the whole darn thing there. tag!


we don't yet know why nyc stinks of gas* this morning, but it sure does; joe and i were frantic to be sure that the pilot light hadn't gone out before we left for work. the local news was already reporting that the stink is everywhere in the midtown/downtown area, so we left secure in the knowledge that if the cats asphyxiated, we'd surely go down with them. my office building has been sealed to keep out additional stink, so we're marinating in our collective sass and bitching about how hot it is.** it's unanimous: the maple syrup smell of '05 was much better.

on good stinks, like miss w, i can't quite let go of talking about the holidays - particularly the foodstuffs we concocted for them. if you do anise, i highly recommend the anise biscotti (yes, courtesy of emeril - shut up) i made on christmas eve; if you don't do anise, you can sub in a bunch of crushed almonds and amaretto (as i did on my second attempt). i would subject you to pictures of said biscotti, but joe scarfed them before the photo shoot.

*i love it that this story has already made it as far as the BBC. when you jump on our local news like this, world, you encourage us to continue thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe - and really, our delusions of grandeur are robust enough as is.

**the art department is particularly fond of bitching; i once heard them go for half an hour on the smell of someone's soup.


yesterday morning, i got an invitation to a golden globes party (in los angeles) for children. while i'm all too familiar with the weird science of blast lists after my year of sadness in PR, it's still kind of fascinating to me that someone somewhere felt that i would generate a media hit for their client. if i had a definitive beat, and lived on the west coast, and didn't fear wee ones, i suppose i'd be tempted to go, if only to give my handler a break for the afternoon.* as is, i'm just happy to be on the other end of the pitch.

have i mentioned that we finally got our wedding dishes? we finally got our wedding dishes, just in time for christmas dinner (you don't really need plates for fondue, but we held them under our forks anyway). we ordered (commissioned?) them several months ago, but it took the artist a while to find a creamer with a lid (she glazes her designs on pieces she picks up at thrift and vintage stores). three of my favorites:


joe recognized the background on the larger two - his late grandmother had dishes with that pattern. lincoln doesn't really add to our cold war kitchen theme, nor does the moose design (our fourth request - when picking the set, we told sarah which colors and motifs we fancied), but the ensemble is just what we wanted. get yer china from sarah cihat, everyone! she rocks!

on a far sadder note, the o.c. finally bit the dust. it's no surprise - mischa barton knew she was fleeing a sinking ship when she took off for the big (cough) screen last year, as did most mischawatchers - but it's a loss. joe considers peter gallagher's eyebrows his honorary mentors, and (like ryan) i was developing feelings for taylor townsend (even though autumn reeser is an unabashed - gulp - scrapbooker). oh, post-marissa show. you were too pleasant for this cruel world.

*that's no small thing: working industry parties is like hooking and zookeeping at the same time.


full disclosure: my aforementioned jaunt to the office the day after christmas was all about posting this picture. i didn't actually bring the camera to the office, so that was a bit of a bust, and i ran out of charge when i was uploading images yesterday - the universe doesn't want me to photoblog, apparently - but here it is, damn it: my favorite yuletide image of '06.

christmas in hell's kitchen

this sums up what i love about my neighborhood (and dive bars) quite nicely: if you're having an orphan holiday, hey, come on down and have a sandwich (from carnegie deli, no less - those are meat snowballs, really, not sandwiches). i was tempted to join them, even though joe and i were having our time-honored christmas fondue and he lacks my fondness for rudy's. consider palo alto, by contrast, where a local once posted for students in the stanford daily classifieds (STRANDED FOR THE HOLIDAYS?) in order to find cheap servers for their thanksgiving dinner. this sign killed my customary misanthropy for a few hours. yay neighbors!


feliz ano novo, friends - after a week of but a single covert visit to my computer at the office, it's good to be back in touch. your company is particularly delightful in joe's absence (he's with his parents in arizona for a week - i couldn't afford the ticket or the days out of the office). over the long weekend, like a primitive community whose only missionary succumbed to the local plague, i found myself reverting to the basest customs and practices (recycling pants, consuming only vegan chili, weeping at the end of both what a girl wants and flashdance). coming back to work today got me into a clean pair of socks, at least, but i'm still communicating mostly in clicks and growls. fortunately, this is somewhat expected after the holidays.

spending new year's eve alone was surprisingly nice. i was invited both uptown and downtown, but as the evening wore on and the police started blocking the streets around the apartment, i recommitted to doing as i did for the blackout of '03: i surrounded myself with candles and cats and ignored the crazy-ass yelling outside. i felt a bit lame when i stuck my head out of the window at 12:00 and everyone was kissing in worldwide plaza - robert doisneau via hell's kitchen - but i liked ending the year on a solitary, contemplative note. well, solitary and contemplative with a few breaks for tony's x-men game. apocalypse won't defeat himself.

and yours?

ps: tom's got a new (daily political) blog - huzzah!