brain dump 008 [another month bites the dust]

learning to love you more (the book) (yes, again), coming to...something near you september 20! neither amazon nor miranda july can tell me whether or not the book will include contributions from me or jen, and that makes me sad; i also can't really figure out if it's going to be in local bookstores. so many mysteries with the twee collaborative art.

someecards, "when you care enough to hit send." i was quite pleased to receive this one from george the other day; i am getting good at bar games (though it's been a while since i've really schooled joe, who was invited to join the team at our local pub). i sent this in return.

why blockbuster is gaining on netflix. count me with the scores of skeptics who commented on this salon piece; i live a few hundred feet from a blockbuster, so it is in fact much faster to return a movie to them than it is to send one back to netflix, but 1) that blockbuster is a joyless place and i don't wish to browse for exchanges there, 2) i object to the way the company censors some films, 3) i think they're still hunting my ass for some accidental late fee i incurred in 2003, which is unsporting, and 4) their website does not please the eye. fellow online movie renters, have you tried the blockbuster? has it met your needs?

cyrano de bergerac, starring jennifer garner and kevin kline. crap - i'm going to have to go see something on broadway. listen, cyrano has been one of my favorite plays since junior high - when, um, i impersonated the title character for a world history project (my nose kept threatening to fall off as i spoke - very awkward). also, the translation/adaptation is by anthony burgess! also also, as my father and i know, a great nose is the banner of a great man, a generous heart, a towering spirit, an expansive soul.

rick roll, noun. "When what you think is a link to something you want to see actually directs you to a video of Rick Astley singing 'Never Gonna Give You Up.' This is common in the WoW [world of warcraft] community: Awww! Rick rolled again, thought this was the new movie trailer." such a kind, gentle alternative to goatse! what really pleases me about rick rolling is the improbability of it cropping up in gaming forums (presumably populated at least in part by The Youth of Today rather than people our age) in the first place: what made them choose rick astley, of all people? there's hope for the future, maybe.

building on this week's theory that some things were better in the good old days, i'm on the verge of announcing that there is no good thrift shopping left in new york. okay, no good thrift shopping left in manhattan south of 90th street or in williamsburg. wabes wrote this morning with a request for (inexpensive) used furniture expertise for a newly local friend, and i nearly drew a blank. the place on 17th that yielded us two leather barrel chairs for $95 in '03 now wants thousands of dollars for miami vice-ish lacquered vanities, and housing works locations all over town have started auctioning their really good stuff online instead of keeping it in the store - so unless one of their very savvy merchandise people falls asleep on the job and the vintage hunters who turn up at the crack of dawn are away in the hamptons for the weekend, there's virtually no chance of finding something awesome and affordable in a random search. that's the heart and soul of thrift shopping, man.

this post is making me feel like andy rooney.


welcome back to kidchamp unplugged! i think our next door neighbor's wireless access, which he's been kind enough to share with us in exchange for picking up his mail, is permanently buggered, so we're reduced to making hay while the occasional open local channel shines. we could pony up for our own service, but i think this is the universe's way of telling me that i shouldn't be playing web games in silence when my husband is sitting two feet away. i have fond memories of the months in san francisco when we didn't even have a television; the cold war housewife who lives in my gall bladder secretly loved listening to the 2000 presidential debates on the radio while washing the dishes by hand. the news stories about al gore's wooden stage presence and haughty reaction shots were totally lost on me.

speaking of my inner housewife, i felt ancient as my assistant watched me unwrap a package from ebay this morning (our department doesn't get a lot of swag in the mail, so all news is big news). i don't really know what could have given her the impression that i'm still a zesty twentysomething - a karen o bong? - but i know discontinued fiesta ware didn't do the trick, nor did my visible annoyance when i found a flea bite on the underside of one of the pieces (simply liking old china isn't that bad; worrying about its quality for collection purposes, on the other hand...). this is, i think, what happens when frustrated nesters can't afford to live in entire houses apartments of their very own and tinker with normal things like fixtures and wallpaper: they fixate where they can, like on where their leftover chili lives. my leftover chili has very classic digs, so's you know.

at the other end of the inner housewife spectrum, the legendary embroidery goddess jenny hart wrote a solid guest column for getcrafty on why most needlework shop owners are stone cold bitches. my words, not hers: actually she talks about going to the national needlearts association (tnna) trade show and how, though a lot of mom 'n pop stores are going under, a lot of the folks in the business want nothing to do with people like her [and me].
I stood up and spoke to the group about the vibrant and active DIY market that's booming elsewhere- to a roomful of blank looks. And, a few who didn't like the suggestion that they were, possibly, just maybe, slipping out of touch with a very important market. I realized they didn't know where the new needleworkers and crafters had gone. But how do you tell them?


I also learned that 'crafting' was a dirty word to them (they are 'needleworkers', while 'crafting' suggests projects with popsicle sticks), and they don't spend a whole lot of time reading BUST, ReadyMade, CRAFT or looking at the interweb for alternative resources outside of the ones they already know. They need serious help. I was going to have to do double DIY duty: educate these retailers on how to attract our market ("Don't fear tattoos and pink hair! New needleworkers might have facial piercings -this is okay!") and appeal to our own community on why we should cross the thresholds of the shops that seem so, you know....squaresville to many of us.

there are several angles here: first is the old refrain about how alternacrafters don't get much respect from more traditional practitioners (it's not just the mean women at the needlepoint stores i visit here in the city - even the posters over at getcrafty, usually a fairly liberal bunch, leap at each other's throats every now and again when the legitimacy of "hip" work is championed or challenged). for practitioners of popular crafts like knitting, feeling the hate just means that you switch to a supplier whose personality jives with yours; for people like the needleworkers, who don't really have a forest of options, this means that 1) you lose out on potentially helpful advice from people who know a lot more about what you're doing than you do (my bummer) and 2) you go out of business once your elderly clientele dies (the vendors' bummer). i loved going to craft stores with my mom when i was little, goggling at the gorgeous materials and chattering about my projects to anyone who'd listen; if i found a place today that generated the same sort of excitement in me, i'd spend money there just to support the atmosphere. i miss it.


i need to stop starting things.

books i'm reading:

a free life (ha jin)
spud (john van de ruit)
haruki murakami and the music of words (jay rubin)
reading comics (douglas wolk)

these are books i'm actively reading, not books on my nightstand windowsill that i pick up once or twice a week; there are about a dozen more of those, jostling for space with the air conditioner and the alarm clock and water-warped back issues of the new yorker. the first two titles will be out of my hair by monday, as i need to review them for the november issue of the magazine, but this is still out of hand. even the cats know it: i tried to bring a copy of the clinton chronicle (our neighborhood paper) home to read the other day, and it sat on the corner of the credenza for 1.5 seconds before chuck leapt up and vomited on the front page.

craft projects in progress:

kathleen hanna needlepoint
stag beetle needlepoint
denim quilt
knitted quilt
supersecret baby gift

this too is silliness. the baby gift in particular should be out of the way by now: i find it terribly embarrassing that my friend is making a person faster than i'm able to make a present for that person. my big craft issue is that i design much more effectively than i execute. though i know just what the stag beetle's head should look like, for instance, i've spent hours and hours filling in the areas around his legs to avoid having to commit to specific stitches up top. on the quilts, i got very excited about what i wanted to do and plunged ahead without bothering to firm up my techniques. i should probably have known how to thread my sewing machine and purl, respectively, before settling in for the long haul. that's more than half the fun of casual craft, though - the occasional bliss of finding that improv along the way resulted in something far cooler than what you'd intended to make.

how predictable is it that a post about overload and unfinished things is itself turning into an unfinished thing? release it, the slacker on my left shoulder says, release it and hope for that improv effect you were talking about.

what are you juggling, internets? how do you decide which of the leisure things get attention?


brain dump 007 [late summer slump]

mexican grilled corn. one of two unhealthy taste fixations joe and i picked up from cafe habana in soho; the other is the michelada (a savory cocktail with beer, lime, salt, and copious hot sauce). the tyler florence recipe linked above is pretty good, even if, say, one is too lazy to buy and grate fresh parmesan and opts instead to use the three-year-old kraft stuff in the back of the fridge. the wednesday farmer's market at my office (?) has been featuring some fantastic (and fantastically cheap) fresh corn, so we'll be fattening ourselves with this for the rest of the summer.

the new pornographers' challengers, streaming for free via myspace (via jacob). i can't say i'm comfortable with buying the album at target for the special price of $9.99; i do hope the corporate promotional partnership means that NP are making some substantial dough, though. how do you guys feel about the indie bands and the corporate partnerships? should i care that, for example, wilco pretty much handed sky blue sky to volkswagen?

turf of gangs and gangsters, a new york times "weekend explorer" piece on the history of hell's kitchen. it focuses more on the "hell's canyon" skyscraper effect than on the northward ooze of chelsea (a store called something like "pocket pooches" opened up the street last month), but there are a few passages that hint at it:
One block east, the Mr. Biggs Bar & Grill at 10th Avenue and West 43rd Street is on the site of a dive bar, the 596 Club, which Mr. Coonan owned in the 1970s. In 1977 he and his crew murdered and dismembered the loan shark Ruby Stein there. The torso was later retrieved from the East River.

Mr. Robbins said macabre stories about the 596 Club still float around Hell’s Kitchen. Old-timers remember jars behind the bar that held the severed fingers of guys who had crossed the Westies. There’s the one about gangsters rolling a severed head down the bar.

“I’ve heard a lot of that kind of stuff,” T. J. English, author of “The Westies,” said in a recent interview. “Normally you’d dismiss it as absurd, but since it was the Westies, who knows? That place was certainly the proverbial bucket of blood.”

Scott Rudnick, owner of Mr. Biggs, said the place had its share of ghosts when he first opened 13 years ago, but the introduction of karaoke nights “spooked the spooks out.”

mud, sweat and tears pottery. i was reminded of this studio's existence when i dragged a bag of old clothes down tenth avenue to the salvation army last weekend. i'd always thought it was a color me mine-style, paint-someone-else's-crap place, but it's an actual studio, and i think i need to take a class there. classes are $400, and i haven't got that, so i'll sock money away for a while and return to the whim when i've got a plausible stash. i have a secret theory that i'll take a bunch of these classes and be able to start making stuff like this,* and while that will never happen, i'll have a hobby to chat with my sister (baby jo, a badass ceramicist) about. that's also good.

pat kiernan's huge apartment. i've never been fond of cribs-style love letters to celebrities' homes, but i am so pleased to learn that pat kiernan, beloved host of the local morning news, has a righteous pad on the upper west side. it's as oddly endearing and canadian as pat himself: two of the family's favorite things are a painting of dancing pigs and a giant mountie.

one in ten benefit auction. beginning this sunday on ebay, a sale of beautiful handmade things to support eireann's mom (who had an aneurysm and a stroke this summer, and whose insurance isn't covering her bills). great cause, gorgeous art and craft - bid, bid!

how have you been passing the time, o internets? i've been up to my eyeballs in work at casa de ladymag for the past few weeks, but the load, she is lightening, and i plan to celebrate that all weekend.

*speaking of diana fayt's (amazing, amazing) ceramics, she's going to have stuff at candystore in the mission soon - you san francisco types should get on that. it's gross that i'm slowly turning into a shopping blogger, but pimping independent design is at least slightly acceptable, right?


joe and i are celebrating the big oh-one next week, and i've been trying to come up with definitive statements on what it's like to have been married for a year. it's surprisingly tough: we dated for seven and a half years (and lived together for most of that) before making it legal, as my grandfather put it, so it's not like we're just learning to play house. a thundering, is-that-you-god? voice in my head said YOUNG WOMAN, YOU'RE GOING TO MARRY THIS GUY AND IN FACT SHOULD PROBABLY PROPOSE TO HIM RIGHT NOW on a november night back in '99, so i can't say that i've been dealing with newfound feelings of solemnity now that new york makes us file our taxes together,* either.

marriage is...handy at blockbuster, where the clerks have finally accepted that joe and i share an account (saying "it's under my boyfriend's name" scandalized them for years; husband is the magic video rental word, even though we still don't have the same last name). it's awkward at work, sometimes, as apparently no one in the history of women's magazines has ever been hitched for a whole year without reproducing (i'm afraid to reveal that we're not trying - saying that aloud would probably crack the walls). it makes me feel old, but lots of things make me feel old these days (my sisters' ages, uncomfortable shoes, the continued existence of the olsen twins); that's not particularly significant.

as a pre-wedding, sorta-shower gift, my aunt caroline gave us a pair of flameless candles. you'd think that removing fire from the candle experience would make it less exciting, but not so, not so: they make excellent reading lights, and i love being able to just leave one on my pillow if i wander out of bed (as i do quite often) to watch the rain, get a glass of water, what have you. what i've really come to love is walking back into the room, to the pool of light in the corner: joe asleep at one pillow, a cat curled like a potato bug on each of the other two. my guys!, i exclaim in my head. my family!** though i didn't know it then, that's why i asked paul to read that wallace stevens poem at our ceremony: how high that highest candle lights the dark. it's like that.

*which, by the way, was such a letdown; being married saved us a grand total of about $100 for fiscal year 2006. a marriage license costs $35 and a ceremony at city hall is $25; all told, i've saved more at barneys warehouse sales.

**i always want to take a picture of this, but it'd never work; everyone would wake up and howl.


hey, the wall street journal's giving the times's "modern love" column a run for its money! in this weekend's edition, "'til tech do us part" -
Marriage counselors say they're increasingly hearing couples vent about electronic clashes. More than that, they say, the inherent solitude of Web surfing -- keeping tastes in music, movies and literature locked on their own computers instead of visible on the bookshelf -- sometimes adds to intimacy problems. "People have grown up in a more isolated world, so that coming together to share domestic life is a bit more difficult," says Danille Drake, a marriage counselor in suburban Washington.

Of course, sharing can create its own problems in the event a couple breaks up. Peggy and Michael Andrzejczyk, a recently divorced Detroit-area couple, are feeling the digital fallout. Peggy, 50, and Michael, 49, are still using their joint email address, although it's meant they've had to see each other's online dating alerts. They split amicably, Ms. Andrzejczyk says, but it was still strange when he remarked on her potential dates: "That's a little uncomfortable, when your soon-to-be ex-husband says, 'Hey, there's nice guys on there. I like Number Three.' "

For Derek Powazek, 34, there are limits to what he'll share with his wife, Heather. The San Francisco couple has separate blogs; his focuses on digital media, hers on photography. Mr. Powazek says he sometimes sees her quoting his best jokes on her blog, and he tells her not to steal his material (she credits him after the fact). As for sharing one blog, the idea "never came up," he says. "It would be like saying, 'Let's share our underwear.' "

interestingly (or not), there's little or no friction between joe and me on any of those fronts. it could be that we're old enough that we didn't really come of age in said "isolated world" - hell, we didn't even bother to get cell phones until after college (which is part of why i'm so amused when parents bitch on the local news about how vital their grade schoolers' phones are. i say gps-enabled anklets are much less disruptive in class, and child molesters can't use them to text your kid).

we also aren't very proprietary about some of the most 'personal' gadgets in the piece. the ipod i got for christmas a few years ago, for example, promptly became community property, so worrying about one person's itunes infecting the other's device (a big issue for one of the couples profiled) is totally moot. where else would the music go? also, is it so hard to blip past a rogue track or, damn, just make your own playlist? i admit that sharing would be more difficult if either of us cared to use the ipod to work out or walk around town, but we hook it up to the stereo when we have people over (and take turns deejaying), and joe uses it on planes, and that's about it. on things we do use frequently and don't use in the same way, like the netflix subscription (joe will not watch my leprechaun or dekalog picks, understandably, and i have to be in a special mood for hitchcock or a western), i think common couple courtesy sorts everything out: he's got access to the queue just like i do, and i make sure he wants to watch whatever's up if i'm about to get something new and he'll be around to see it (i save the lauren-only picks for when he's out of town, say, or at the gym). there aren't, admittedly, many joe-only things on the list, but i seem to care more about it than he does. i can't imagine acting like the guy in the wsj piece who wakes up extra-early so that he can knock his wife's movies out online at the last possible minute; are we sure their problem is technological?

the one thing i won't share: an e-mail address. i don't mean that i need to have a supersecret way to communicate - joe has all of my passwords, and my cell phone doesn't even have one - i mean that joeandlauren4eva@gmail.com would be really scary.
Partly because online activities can feel so solitary, some couples look for ways to achieve togetherness in their digital lives. Sherry and John Cheung created a joint "johnandsherry" email address. Ms. Cheung, 28, says the shared address makes her feel more like she's part of an official couple.

"It's a 'We're the Cheungs' type of thing," says the telecommunications manager in San Ramon, Calif. She says she's more likely to use it when she's writing her married friends (many of whom also share addresses) because they understand she's operating as part of a unit now.

But Ms. Cheung's friend Hui-Lin Grecian balks at writing to "johnandsherry." Ms. Grecian says she worries Mr. Cheung might forget to pass along a message if he checks the email first or might feel left out if she fails to include a greeting for him, as well. "A little more thought has to go into it," Ms. Grecian says.
GROSS. we have an official couple thing, too: i call it an apartment.

as for the blog, sadly, it is like underwear-sharing: joe is perfectly welcome to use it, if the spirit moves him, but he ain't interested. and i don't take it personally.

how about you? david and meg, paul and pica, kolz and wabes - what's it like to co-blog, or to have co-blogged? folks in general, do you play well with others?


brain dump 006 [hey, august]

worst casserole recipe of all time: combine 1 cup uncooked wild rice (rinsed), 1 lb. fresh mushrooms (sliced thick), 1 cup onion (minced), and 3 cloves of garlic (minced) in a 3 quart casserole dish; add 3 cups of vegetable broth, cover, and bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half.
excellent if predictable and not particularly healthy fix for worst casserole recipe of all time: dish up a bowl of baked casserole, stir in a dollop of sour cream, and salt and pepper the shit out of resulting mixture.

flexible pet ownership. like zip cars, but with live dogs! after paying $150 to register, $99.95 for yearly account maintenance, $49.95 per month, and $24.95 per weekday (plus applicable sales tax), you can rent your very own dog. wow, so people who aren't committed and/or responsible enough to have a pet of their own can bypass hanging out with the lonely dogs at the pound and hire animals like bikes! apparently the FLEXPETZ dogs are rescues and/or need homes, and i'm all for them getting attention, but implying that an animal's company is a commercial product seems, to me, like a good way to encourage people to treat them like objects. that business plan makes my skin crawl.

101 in 1001: 024 grow kitchen-worthy herbs from seeds [completed may 07]
i'm calling this one; it never got to the explosion-of-herbs stage i was hoping for, but we did manage to garnish a wee salad with the basil shoots i thinned on day 29, and that's a technical pass, i say; the rest of the basil croaked a month ago and i don't have much of an interest in sending away for more of those weird chia growing sponges. melissa has since given me a bunch of really kick-ass dirt (she and our friend dave actually do their own composting, the rock stars) and some carrot and lettuce seeds, though, so i'll certainly experiment again. i just won't, um, link said experiment to a public list.

the mole. joe and i just finished the first disc of season 1, and god, that show holds up (we watched season 2 when it aired on tv back in - '02? - but had never seen season 1). i'm glad anderson cooper got to get back to the casting of the news, but he was a fantastically arch host. why the long form game show evolved into shit like age of love and couldn't have spawned a bunch of spy-themed mole spinoffs is beyond me.

the eyelash perm (at last!). "first, lashes are individually curled over rubber rollers. next, two solutions are applied (the smell is reminiscent of a perm), followed by conditioner. then you're off, to bat those thick, come-hither fringes at any eyelash curler or makeup guru in your way." sweet lord! i didn't even know what eyelash curlers were until like two years ago; they looked like props from marathon man to me. folks will process anything these days (vaginal rejuvenation patients, i'm looking at you).

oh, that interview i was so nervous about in california ended up needing to happen while i was in california, and...no. the prep i would have needed to do to acquit myself well would have sucked up most of the vacation, and we were helping a friend move when it would have taken place, anyway. i'm still beside myself, though: how often does a ladymag give you the chance to talk to the speaker of the house?