as i mentioned a few days ago, joe hooked up with the local C team for the nydo's tuesday night league. i was worried that george and i had railroaded him into it - there's more than a little pageant mom in the way we deconstruct him when he plays. oh, he's doing the pre-throw flutter - he should lay off the five and just splash when he goes for the bull. i would have wanted to come along anyway, since we both know all of the guys he plays with and hey, the home matches are at our favorite bar, but i owed him the support regardless. luckily (pathetically?), darts-watching is great fun (if not the great-great fun of playing). there's the amusing transformation of big gruff pub regulars into whispery gossiping ladies - i'm solid enough on game strategy (and whispery gossiping ladies) that i can play along for that part (and the list-making and all-star scorekeeping, most arcane). then there's the unabashedly gleeful way they celebrate - one of joe's teammates, a greek guy who had been grumbling about getting hit by a taxi that afternoon when he was on his bike, squeezed his eyes shut and danced like a leprechaun when joe got a crucial ton in his last round of 501. full-fledged bear hugs all 'round when they won the match in the last game. i don't mind that i look like a groupie for coming along - i'll be asking to play in the spring. it's nice to feel like we're part of the neighborhood (yeah, i watched a lot of cheers at a formative age).

joe was in such a fine mood after the win that he's letting me post his spam poem. it has a great-escape*-liner-notes feel, maybe, but i think it's really about the wonder of darts.

Your friend is here

Czech Olympic Committee annihilates
Free games for all
Our present for your health

Join the Growing Fans of Dry Cleaning Bag
Big size - is success
Make your fat friends envy you

Contemplating Suicide?
Summer is almost here, be ready
We have what you need

Hey Ervin
You have got to read this before Tuesday
Big Day Tuesday

*and what's with damon albarn dissing that album? it's always been one of my favorites.


a post of imelda's turned me on to "you are what you watch" from alessandra stanley in today's times. as imelda put it, "[B]efore I start getting crap for talking about TV all the time, now that the other three networks (or should I say, the good networks) are beginning their seasons in the coming week, read this." it is quite the feel-good read for those of us who love the tube:
A favorite show is a tip-off to personality, taste and sophistication the way music was before it became virtually free and consumed as much by individual song as artist. Dramas have become more complicated; many of the best are serialized and require time and sequential viewing. If anything, television has become closer to literature, inspiring something similar to those fellowships that form over which authors people say they would take to the proverbial desert island. (People who say “Ulysses,” on the ground that it would use up more time than almost any other novel, would also probably bring “The Wire.”)


Television used to be dismissed by elitists as the idiot box, a sea of mediocrity that drowns thought and intelligent debate. Now people who ignore its pools and eddies of excellence do so at their own peril. They are missing out on the main topic of conversation at their own table.
the paragraphs on battlestar galactica are especially ego-boosting, as it's our current show of choice (i'm going to try to be starbuck for halloween, which will be either fantastic or deeply embarrassing). of course, the ego boost is all about the elitism stanley mentions near the end of the piece:
Before the Internet, iPhones and flash drives, people jousted over who was into the Pixies when they were still a garage band or who could most lengthily argue the merits of Oasis versus Blur. Now, for all but hardcore rock aficionados, one-upmanship is more likely to center around a television series — like metaphysical clues buried in “Lost,” whether the current “Battlestar Galactica” is an affront to the 1978 original (some bloggers sneeringly refer to the current incarnation as Gino, short for “Galactica in name only”* ) or who discovered “Flight of the Conchords” when it was a comedy team performing in concerts, not an HBO series.
good tv isn't really new, nor is the concept of water cooler and/or status shows, but its influence in, say, my office is still pretty incredible. when i was hiring someone for my old job, my cube neighbors less-than-half-jokingly said i should try to find someone who watches lost, the office, and 30 rock. i did, as it happens, and her happy patter with them emphasizes my comparative tv torpitude (i watch only lost, and i usually watch it a day late, which disqualifies me from the first half hour of chat on thursday mornings). pop media fixations are par for the course at a mainstream magazine like ours, of course - our tuesday production meeting began this week with the deputy editor leading the editorial staff in a lengthy facts of life singalong. does this happen at your office? and hey, what do you watch?

*they're right about that, thank goodness.


for most issues of the ladymag, i review a book or two. this happens in more or less the same way every month: a colleague swings by with a handful of advance copies, and i grab the ones that seem least likely to be chick lit. sometimes she hasn't finalized her lineup and i'll be influencing whether or not we feature the books at all. recently we've been skipping this step, and i agree to read things we already know we'll feature. that's a good thing and a bad thing: i know my piece will be published, but i also know i have to say something positive no matter what (our entertainment coverage amounts to recommendations rather than reviews - the section is so small that we don't really have space to tell people what they should avoid reading). we also don't really have space to say much period (these things are 50 words long at best), so these reviews are basically title/author + major plot point + short string of compliments. you can tell i've had trouble with a book when the compliments are about the cover art. what a hat!

so i've had a lot of practice, is what i'm saying, with blurbs. if i somehow became a celebrated author and up-and-coming writers started asking me to add pleasant sentiments and my name to their dust jackets, i could totally hook them up.

i was poking around online the other day to check on a book i'd reviewed a few months ago. i'd actually enjoyed reading it, so now that it's available to the public, i wanted to see if it was doing well. you can see where this is going, right? the first editorial review on its amazon page (after the publishers weekly paragraph) was by me (attributed to ladymag, of course, but written by me). i then went to the author's website, and same deal: my blurb first, above the washington post, the san francisco chronicle, and a few dozen others. i suspect it's on the book itself, or will be. um, glad i could be of help? i always assumed i'd know i was blurbing if i ever did it, but it can apparently be a totally unconscious thing. are the others written by people like me, in situations like mine? don't trust blurbs, internets! or, trust blurbs, but not mine, unless i've told you i wasn't rewritten and/or forced to be nice. maybe we can have a code word: if a paragraph contains the word peanut, it's a lie.

that one excepted, of course.


101 in 1001: 077 visit a working farm [completed 09.16.07]

wee sheep

nothing says "onset of autumn in new york city" quite like a...county fair. i've had my eye on the queens county farm museum for months now, and i can spend inordinate amounts of time ogling baby animals and/or majestic vegetables, so this was clearly the weekend to make the trip. we figured it would take a while to get from manhattan to a working farm, and we weren't wrong: we spent half an hour on the E train and another forty minutes on a bus that stopped every 500 feet. joe gets the supportive spouse of the day award for coming along, since as far as i can tell, he shares neither of my fascinations. no, that's unfair: he appreciates cute beasts every once in a while. he doesn't tear up when he sees small sheep, though, which is probably normal and healthy. i do wish he'd been willing to stick around for the pig races.

points of interest at the queens county fair:

the petting zoo. i paid an extra $2 to mill around with a bunch of three-year-olds and let animals make out with my hand. i'm not sure that it occurred to the staff that even goats will get full and misanthropic after two days of constant feeding (everyone got a big cup of alfalfa pellets), so most of the little guys were hiding while their greedier parents jostled for treats, but i had to say hello anyway. then i couldn't touch anything for two hours because the bathroom line was huge and i was covered with chunky goat spit.

the livestock tent and craft barn. big advantage of hitting a citified fair rather than a full-fledged state fair: the livestock handlers are hobbyists rather than professional farmers, so their animals are pets, not food. it's possible that someone will eventually eat the stupendous pigs that were snorking around next to the petting zoo, but it seems unlikely. this is what i tell myself, anyway. the craft barn was full of the mean needlepoint ladies i bitched about a few posts ago, but it also had puppies in hats and an unironically awesome bloody needlepoint jesus. the simplicity of the jesus (half cross stitch all the way!) plus the cheekiness of the knitted anatomical heart i spied next to the puppy give me hope that something like my debbie harry piece might pass muster next year. i would like a county fair ribbon, even an honorable mention (which i suspect is what the judges issued to things they didn't want to actually compliment).

the bavarian beer garden. lo, something joe actually asked to visit! it was two in the afternoon, and we were still recovering from last night's darts'n'pints training session (aside: the missus is now an official member of the local darts league. though george is storming an irish castle this week, he and i will be shocking and aweing local pubs with our cheers for joe soon), so we took it easy on the beer. we ja!ja!ja!ed heartily with the polka band to make up for it. there is something about gawky teenage boys leaping around in lederhosen that just makes my heart smile.

'the amazing maize maze.'

101 in 1001: 055 walk through a corn maze [completed 09.16.07]

randall flagg

hot double-item-completing action! this is what hitting queens was all about. it was a beautiful day, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, and joe was a good sport about my constant stephen king jokes. totally worth it.


curse you, berlin, for shrinking my posse! wabes left for germany yesterday, and while i'm thrilled for her and know her year of research will be fantastic (she's too modest to say so, but our girl had fellowship committees competing for her), i couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for myself - and a bit sheepish. i've grown so accustomed to having my girlfriends scattered across the country that i never quite wrapped my brain around how close she was. we met up every few weeks, sure, but now that she's on the other side of the atlantic - i feel like i pissed away so many opportunities. i'm a huge flake, operatically (and genuinely) affectionate in person but virtually unreachable for making plans or catching up from afar. i could make excuses for it - i'm awkward on the phone, i have limited internet access, i'm nesting with the cats and the wife - but at the end of the day, i'm just flaky.

the war on this begins with our trip to chicago next month to see jen and tom: in jen's case, i've been promising a long-distance visit since, well, about 1997. i will also return phone calls, make concrete weekend plans, write beautiful letters, and send a boy to the cratchits' with a turkey! really, internets: i'm going to work on this. and wabes - you're missed.

from lovely ladies to nasty men: pica (the former) comments on the recent release of jack kerouac (the latter)'s on the road (original recipe):
[S]ounds like a marvelously ugly, hateful all-American text. Tasty, like Rocky Mountain oysters dipped in ketchup. I never made it past Kesey and Ferlinghetti as a teenager: I don't think Kerouac or Cassady ever seemed much like kindred spirits; they seemed more antsy than zany. On the road with a bunch of semi-closeted misogynists? Sounds pretty boring to me. I think I'll read popular science books and Camus instead.
kerouac was, well, a marvelously ugly, hateful all-american, which brings me to a question pica asked a few months ago:
Could you read, and love, a literary work by someone whom you personally know to be a crappy human being?
my answer at the time was OH HELL NO! - or it would have been if i could comment on vox blogs (you have to have an account). my answer with old jack kerouac in mind is - apparently yes. i've little (personal or professional) patience for the beats (burroughs in particular - if i had a time machine, i'd head for tangier in the '50s and punch him in the face), but under the influence of my hippie freshman roommate, i read a shitload of their stuff (and wrote several papers on them). kerouac, the chigger, got under my skin: to this day, for me, two of the most resonant passages in modern american lit are his (one from on the road, one from dharma bums). it breaks my heart to know that you'll never read on the road, pica - it's a frequently tiresome book from a frequently tiresome man from a fr - anyway, but its moments of brilliance are more than worth a few hours of holding one's nose.


101 in 1001: 093 attend a lecture at the 92nd street Y [completed 09.05.07]

101 in 1001: 093 attend a lecture at the 92nd st Y

michael palin and lorne michaels, boom goes the dynamite! i'd forgotten about this list item altogether for a while, and when i first consulted the Y's fall lineup i thought i might have to sit through an evening with don delillo in the name of progress. fortunately his event isn't a lecture. lorne michaels interviewing michael palin wasn't a lecture either, you say? ah, but the event calendar disagreed!

as michael palin has been reading from his new book (diaries 1969-1979: the python years) all over town this week - a friend of ours interviewed him about it a few hours before we saw him, actually - it probably wasn't very clever to pay $26 a pop for the Y event. i wanted to have a look at the facilities, though, and they are in fact lovely - hey, those panels!* when my poetry and joe's government work have made us wealthy, we'll become members and attend so many of these things that their individual prices will be laughable. they'll be free for members, actually, but that's not the point.

financial issues aside, who could regret going uptown for the IT'S man? were it not for his efforts (and for mtv's late-night python marathons back in the day), i'd never have convinced anyone to date me in high school. in college, my mom got first dibs on the guys in her freshman dorm for being the only woman who could play bridge; thirty years later, i was the only girl who knew the lyrics to the lumberjack song. a bit easier, really, and the advantage disappeared at college, but thank you, fellows.

*yes, it's pathetic that i snapped an empty stage. it's tough to sneak a photo when one can't disable one's flash, internets, and i didn't want to be rude (or kicked out).