luchador o'lantern (1 of 2)

feliz 'ween, internets - may all your soupbones and flying clotheslines find their marks.


as i was getting ready for work yesterday, i spied a lime-sized dust bunny on the floor next to one of joe's speakers, where the three-legged cat was perched like a gryphon. i picked it up to transfer to the trash and discovered that it was in fact a dead mouse; i shrieked so loudly that i'm surprised the missus didn't hear me from the shower. i have no problem with live mice, mind you (we hear them running inside our walls all the time, though we've never had evidence of one in the apartment) - grabbing a dead one with my bare hand, now, was unpleasant. i don't think the cats killed him: there were no signs of foul play and/or postmortem chewing. the mouse had, however, been carefully groomed - his fur was slick with cat spit. my pets haven't much in the way of killer instincts, then, but they can give prey beauty treatments. none of us - me, joe, or chuck and buck - would make it in the wild.

brain dump 010 [halloween, sort of]

jackie costume designs. jackie chan has a website for kids! a website for kids with a yearly halloween costume contest! a website for kids with a yearly halloween costume contest for which past entrants have drawn louis xiv jackie, thai woman jackie, and gandalf jackie! loving this site is exhausting me, but it's worth it!

results from record of the day's "what price did you choose?" (for radiohead's in rainbows album download) survey. i feel like less of a cheapskate (we paid £5) knowing that the self-reported average was £3.88. as one of the commenters quoted in pitchfork's piece on the survey noted, it's nice to have the opportunity to "tip" thom et al. if we decide the album merits it; i might go back and do just that.

black kids (formerly mata hari), the band responsible for dooce's "song of the year." it's called "i'm not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you," and it really is great - a mishmash of robert smith-ish yelps, shimmery cure-ish keyboards, and...generic happy shouting. the band's whole four-song ep, wizard of ahhhs, is downloadable from their myspace site (the link above). no word yet on how one would tip them, but they sure do seem to deserve it:
Black Kids are such good-natured pop-cultural sponges that they opened their fateful Athens Popfest set by reciting a screwball exchange from the Jim Henson-directed David Bowie fantasy film Labyrinth (a back-and-forth borrowed from Cary Grant's The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer).

rockula online, "what may well be the first page devoted to the 1990 cult-fave vampire musical." i mentioned this via twitter a few weeks ago, but it's hard to express the weird joy that is rockula in 140 characters or less. listen: it's about ralph, a vampire whose true love, thanks to a gypsy curse, is beaten to death with a hambone (by a pirate with a rhinestone-encrusted peg leg) once every 22 years. the pirate is thomas dolby ("she blinded me with science"); ralph's mother is toni basil ("mickey"). ralph is in a rap/rock band with bo diddley (really, behold: "he's the dj, i'm the vampire"). rockula never made the leap from vhs to dvd, but if you stumble across the cassette at your local rental place, internets, never let it go.


chicago, october 07 [part ii].

005 i want a ringer to accompany me to shows all the time. jen took us to the house theatre's the sparrow on friday night, and it was one of the best live performances i've seen in years (which actually does mean something, since we're comparatively good about getting out for music* and have seen a few notable plays in the last few months). the show was twee in the best possible way: as jen promised/warned us, hearts were worn on sleeves all 'round, but the house team's (elementary but) extremely clever staging and genuine exuberance (a far cry from the rote and hollow crap we see on broadway here) were absolutely winning. i was on the verge of tears fifteen minutes in. jen also let me sit up in the booth with her, guest headset and all, as she called a show (for another group) on saturday night; i've always known that jen is a drama ninja, but now that i've seen how coolly she delivers her team's cues, i suspect that she's a drama superhero ninja. i was so very proud.

006 apple picking in and of itself isn't all that exciting, especially since most of the trees (in both new york, per my coworker, and in southern wisconsin, as we now know) are stripped bare by mid-october and one is obliged to scoop up cheaters' apples from bins scattered around the orchard. it is extremely pleasant, however, to exit the city and leap around in the mud** for a few hours; even the rotting apples smelled good, and i got to continue my pastoral joe photo series.

007 the wedge is but one of many, many wisconsin foam hat styles, as we learned in the cheese ghetto surrounding mars' cheese castle in kenosha (just down the highway from apple holler): in our buzz through one shop alone, i saw cheese sombreros, top hats, baseball caps, and western wear. if i'd been able to find a cheese fez, i'd probably have bought it. i'm kicking myself a bit for passing on the cheese mardi gras beads.

008 if we were serious about owning a place before...age 40 or something, we'd move to chicago. even hipster-gentrified neighborhoods like wicker park offered three-unit buildings for around $700k (i don't even want to think about what a similar place in williamsburg would fetch these days).

on a non-chicago note, my family in southern california (los angeles and newport beach) is safely removed from the horrible fires we've all been hearing about. a friend's family has been evacuated from san diego, though, and jacob's parents are far closer to the irvine stuff than my father is - send gust-discouraging, wet blanket thoughts that way, please, o internets.

*by the by, i passed on my opportunity to buy tickets to see the spice girls this winter. they were going to be very expensive, and far away, and joe would have broken one of his own limbs to avoid having to come along, but i still feel that i've failed 1997 lauren.

**and hide in the corn. i really need to stop patterning my field trips on stephen king adaptations.


joe, seurat

chicago, october 07 [part i].

careful indie hair - short, razored, pixie cut - is serious business for the girls here. the el is a bumble and bumble ad, and/or a peter bjorn and john video. congratulations on your many hot ladies, illinois!

002 the el, speaking of, is pure disneyland, from the creaky, thunder mountain interchanges to the rickety turns that barely miss old pirates of the caribbean balconies. i've never understood why proximity to trains is such a big deal on chicago episodes of the how exorbitant is it where you live? real estate porn shows joe favors - living near the subway is no big deal for most new yorkers (i actually like being able to hear the trains when we're downstairs at pravda). i get it now - that noise would be awful.

003 jukeboxes are almost universally good. i got joy division two nights in a row, and the second was when we were at a microbrewery - can't see that happening at the anchor steam place in san francisco. microbrews are almost universally good, speaking of.

004 i can't get behind mies van der rohe. i enjoyed all of the chicago architecture foundation's river tour, but "less is more" is no good for me - my modern faves are goldberg's (river city, marina city). our guide claimed that he was once a janitor in mies's building, befriended his housekeeper, and ate his leftover roast beef (he lunched minimally as well, you see). if he's lying, it's an amusing lie.


say, have you ever seen my family's fake coat of arms? well, then.

the faux family seal (1 of 2)

as the story goes, when world war one went down and we were on the outs with deutschland, my great-grandfather (great-great-grandfather?) on my mom's side decided to...decrease the likelihood of personal political difficulties by making our extremely german family (the wagners) temporarily french (the de la tours). not one to rely solely on his ability to act french,* my ancestor backed up his cover story by creating a big, flashy signet ring with a coat of arms (the ol' tour) and a motto (tiens ta foi). who, after all, would bother to cook up fake heraldry and a fake slogan for a fake signet ring for the fakey mcfakersons? a shifty german, obviously, but it apparently worked (or was never needed at all, who knows). i'd forgotten the story of the bogus seal, but my mom used it on my birthday package,** which reminded me that i want desperately to inherit that ring. em and baby jo can forget it right now.

*i come from a long line of bad liars. on that side, at least - dad's is full of attorneys.

**how, one wonders, would old wagner feel about his motto stamped on a j.crew card? the american dream works in mysterious ways.


columbus circle, central park

speaking of blade runner, this was the view from my office this afternoon. i've always loved dramatic storms, but i love them even more when i'm twenty stories above the street - the corridors between the skyscrapers do such weird and wonderful things to rain and snow. can't beat the bilious, noirish sky, too - i get to pretend i'm a gumshoe rather than someone who's been hunting fashion people with a phone all day (how much is that sweater? how much is that sweater?!).

tom wondered what the cosmic pendulum would do after the stanford football win, and i was ready to say that i took care of the rotten end for all of us with my operatic vomiting the other night. i've got more to give, though, as i've come down with a terrifically sexy case of the flu (which had better be out of the way by the time we take off for chicago on tuesday; i am not at all interested in giving far-flung friends the plague in exchange for their hospitality). it's also looking like the broadway lockout (due to a labor dispute between the stagehands' union and a few owners who control most of the theaters) we've been hearing about all week might actually happen, in which case our plans to see the cyrano premiere tomorrow would be shot. lord knows i sympathize with underpaid drama types (ahem), but it's been a long time since i've seen jennifer garner in disguise; hmm.


such highs and lows in the nyc! on saturday night i was stuck to the couch, home early thanks to a bizarre reaction to a burrito (quod me nutrit me destruit, eh angelina?) and trying to watch television through my squinty allergic freak-eyes when mom called to tell me about the stanford-usc game.
With the win, Stanford football’s back on the national consciousness in a big way. “Cardinal Rule” proclaimed ESPN.com’s frontpage headline, “Absolutely Stunning” read SI.com’s. That the game went final at 11 p.m. Eastern made it the perfect lead story for that night’s TV shows and the next morning’s newspaper’s. Even the New York Times got in on the act, with the nation’s preeminent newspaper giving Stanford’s shocker top online billing, over stories on Medicare billing scams, and ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Congo.
we what? in something other than air hockey? fantastic! that excerpt from the daily is kind of disturbing (over iraq?),* but i loved the coverage of how excited the kids on campus were that night. they started a fire! my little successors!

on sunday george and joe and i went up to the ziegfeld theater for the super-special new-york-and-los-angeles-only screening of blade runner: the final cut (no voice-over, two unicorn scenes, no optimistic footage from the shining at the end). as we filed in, we saw

celebrities v. giant inflatable rats: straight outta 1982

LOU REED. i'm still working with the theory that i should never, ever say things to famous people, but i had a rough time with that one. we played the man's music at our wedding, internets (george maintains that "sweet jane" was a depressing choice, but it's one of my favorite songs)! the ziegfeld's crappy soda dispenser then cheated me out of the vat of diet coke with which i solemnize all movie theater visits, but that's 1) hardly a low compared to the previous night's death burrito and 2) watching blade runner with lou reed! 1982 indeed.

rats: 4.5
star: 11

yesterday i finally got my copy of the learning to love you more book, with a note from the publisher saying that though they didn't end up using a photo of my banner, hey, thank you for permission anyway, and here's a 'thank you' freebie. i'm disappointed (particularly because a friend's project wasn't included either, and i like hers more than i like mine), but the gesture was nice. one of the concluding essays mentioned me and my phrase (which had been my little sister's idea), though, so hey! her text got used in an art book, which one could argue is a high to make up for what we did to her football team. how about that!

how did the cosmic pendulum treat you this weekend, internets? did you know that it tried to wallop jen with catastrophic weather for the chicago marathon, and that she finished anyway? my college roommates are superheroes, you know.

*and okay, the copy editing - let's not talk about it.


after waiting a few months for a surgeon who took my insurance to join my dermatologist's practice, i finally (and with no fanfare) got my Suspicious Moles removed last night. i'd never had stitches before, so i was quite fascinated by the weird twangs and tugs coming from over my shoulder (once my concerns that i wouldn't be able to throw darts while sporting sutures were assuaged). i finally realized why it was so compelling as i was going to bed last night: the crafter becomes the crafted, i whispered to joe.

i was stuck in the waiting room for two and a half hours, which gave me time to catch up on rumpled back issues of time and newsweek. the latter mentioned an online piece i then read this morning: "love me, love my tofu," on how "for vegans, it ain't easy dating green."
No longer is it enough to share an interest in piƱa colada or getting caught in the rain—today’s singles want to know whether potential partners are fit and how often they work out, among other personal details. And then there’s the friction between vegans and vegetarians.

It might sound counterintuitive; after all, neither group eats meat. But for many vegans—who also eschew animal products like the dairy and eggs eaten by vegetarians—love may not be enough to conquer ideology.
you know why? because some vegans are assholes. i should qualify that a bit: i admire their commitment, and i know several who are fantastic people. i've encountered others who proselytize in a way that would be wildly socially inappropriate if they were talking about anything other than animal rights - like, say, the magical love of jesus.
“I’m in a relationship with a murderer,” bemoans Carl, one of many vegans who wrote in to the “Vegan Freak” podcast for romantic advice. Carl, who didn’t give his last name, says his girlfriend is a regular vegetarian, and their differences are becoming a major source of tension. In the vegan world that’s not an uncommon dilemma.
you know what, carl? your girlfriend should leave you for paul williams.
“I know it sounds corny,” says Paul Williams, a 35-year-old vegetarian in Atlantic City, N.J. “But basically I want to date someone with a good heart that can understand why I’ve chosen to be a vegetarian.”

brain dump 009 [early october]

365 portraits, up-and-coming nyc photographer bill wadman's one-a-day project. his shots are mostly of assorted new yorkers, though the occasional celebrity pops up - see 05 september (buzz aldrin) and 25 september (maggie!).

vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe. this required a bit of tweaking. we doubled the pie's filling but only used a single batch of mashed potatoes, so there was a layer on top rather than all the way 'round. we also threw in two large diced carrots and 2 tbsp fresh basil (instead of the dried), and simmered on high for 25 minutes rather than 15: 3 cups of wine (nearly a whole bottle) and 3 cups of vegetable stock (we used the better than boullion vegetable base) take a long time to cook down. result: two full pies (we made two so that joe could stir some ground beef into his version), awesome welcome-to-fall leftovers for a week. probably the best veg shepherd's pie i've ever had, and i know my potatoes and stew, internets.

silent majority, "citizens against car alarms." i'm not (yet?) prepared to outlaw the things, but i've been inspired to acquaint myself with the intricacies of new york noise laws. last night joe (politely) asked the guys at the car rental place down the street to, y'know, maybe do something about the alarms that have been sounding every 30 seconds almost every evening (they park rental cars up and down our block at night). their response: "but how else are we going to find the cars?" they hit the alarms on purpose instead of walking down the street, you see. i might hate them more than i hated the people who'd block our driveway (and our costly parking space) on purpose in san francisco; the jury's still out.

"you, bill clinton and a bowl of chips," on increasingly chatty (read: creepy) messages from democratic candidates. the blogger suggests that the "howdy" tone differentiates the notes from spam; "[obama's] campaign also cleverly put a “Re:” in front of another recent email, presumably to make recipients feel like they were already invested in the conversation." ah, but spammers started doing that years ago; "Re:" is automatically spam unless i recognize the sender. i did read and enjoy the clinton note, as it was amusing to see bill whore so officially (if you donate to hillary's campaign in the next while, you're eligible to win a date to watch one of the debates with him). then, this weekend, i got a note from john grisham (subject line: "Fwd: Carrots") about how he will also be my date, and oh, hillary says bill should be eating carrots rather than a bowl of chips. um, what? i feel like writing the campaign to let them know off-putting this stuff is, but knowing the wiles of the clinton team, i'm sure some demographic must be eating it up. still, james carville would never have stood for it.