101 in 1001: 013 donate platelets at least 12 times [completed 03.26.08]
finishing this one was kind of emotional, internets: the new york blood center and i have been through a lot together (particularly tiny bags of cheez-its and viewings of the transporter). this isn't the end of my platelet donation career, to be sure, but if i succeed in becoming ridiculously fit and get a celebratory tattoo, i'll be disqualified for at least a year (getting tattooed in a foreign country, now that i think about it, could bump me for good). i wanted to take some commemorative photos of my blood crawling through the lost in space tubes in the apheresis machine, but i didn't want to creep out the techs; maybe bodily fluid portraits will make the next list. or not.

101 in 1001: 017 work out at a gym at least 100 times [completed 03.30.08]
i should've put more into banging this one out before getting hitched back in '06; a few workouts a week would have been good prep work for, y'know, the most expensive photo session of our lives. that said, becoming a gym rat now got me past smoking when i finally decided to quit, and it's hard to regret that. it's scary to think of the shape my system was in when i first dug ye olde spandex pants out of the closet this fall: my pulse climbed over 200 for the first week or so, and i'd get numbness down one side during serious cardio (stupid to push that hard, i know). but! i can now tool away as furiously as i like. my little tyrannosaurus arms are developing real muscles (i made like wabes and took up rowing; since i still plan to go to iceland,* i'm, um, rowing there from new york in my head.) i have not lost reality-tv-worthy amounts of weight (women in my family muscle up before slimming down, which...is hard on our pants), but i won't say you can't bounce a quarter off of my ass.

*for my celebratory "no smoking hot damn look at all this money!" trip. it's going to take a while to save, thank you currency market, but it will happen.


the dirty dozen, concluded (with underwear):

09 shakespeare brought starlings to central park (and the united states)! it's news to me (though i'm guessing paul and pica have known for ages), and utterly charming (even though starlings can be horrible bullies). from the university of houston's john h. lienhard:
Shakespeare's plays are full of references to birds. In 1890 a drug manufacturer named Eugene Scheiffelin decided that New York should be home to all Shakespeare's songbirds. He brought thrushes and skylarks from England and released them into American skies. They failed to fight their way into our ecology.

But 1990 and 1991 mark the centennial of his third experiment. In 1890 he released 60 starlings into Central Park. A year later he released 40 more. This time his romantic gesture was a success. And what a success it was!

Times correspondent Ted Gup tells what happened next. For six years the starlings stayed in Manhattan. New Yorkers were delighted when they showed up in the eaves of the Museum of Natural History. Then they flew out into America. They reached the Mississippi River by 1928, and California by 1942.

10 the spring '08 darts season kicked off last night, and joe and his lads won their first match 12-6 (since they're now in a tougher league, this is unexpected and excellent). as in the fall, the team is called cobra kai; for additional info on the mental landscape of darts players, refer to other names from the tuesday master schedule. my favorite trend, though, is the monday teams' fixation on our troubles in albany: the gaf east is fielding 'spitzer swallows,' and the boys from crowe's nest will be known as 'client #9.'

11 via the ladymag, rufus wainwright's blackout sabbath:
I propose this: On a Saturday around the summer solstice (June 21st) for a 12 hour period (noon to midnight) wherever you are, let's all turn off the power at the same time, ie: lights, TV, phones, fridges, etc... Anything you can possibly do without FOR 12 HOURS. This time could be spent contemplating alone or with friends on the coming year and what personally one can do to save the planet. And at the end of the day, as darkness rolls in, a candle is lit and a list is made of all the things we can do that year to help the environment...
like RW (who prefaces his proposal with fond words for new york city's blackout of '03), i think outages are great fun (and i obviously love lists) - i think we might give this a try (i will win over the joe, who is less than keen on unplugging the refrigerator). scrabble in the plaza on saturday the 21st! my darts could be blunt enough to toss around in the dark by then, too.

12 via a beautiful diy project at design*sponge, needlenthread.com's (free!) video library of hand-embroidery stitches. so, so much easier to follow than the vague and teeny drawings in books; bless the woman who filmed these.

13 bonus! from luck: the essential guide, by deborah aaronson and kevin kwan, trustees of the society for fortuitous events:
Although most beliefs regarding things done by accident are inauspicious, mistakenly putting underwear on inside out is an exception, and if you happen to do so, wear it like that for the rest of the day for good luck. If you're having a bad day, try turning your underwear inside out, and your day should improve. Wearing red underwear when gambling, flying in a plane, or really any time you need an extra hit of luck is a good idea. Although if it's your wedding day, as some early English superstitions suggest, going commando is a much luckier bet.
jacob, megan, david, and meg, take note!


the dirty dozen, continued: "intentional shoddiness"*

05 behold the greatest installation ever:

coolest installation by far (1 of 2)

a bold claim, i know, but absolutely true for the fifteen minutes i spent wandering around the library / silver room at the park avenue armory on saturday. our first whitney biennial was pretty disappointing, at least at first; i was expecting splashy, transgressive stuff (c'mon, giuliani-era fecal art!), but most of the work at the main building was just mildly annoying (a giant litterbox?). thank goodness we continued down to the armory (especially since its exhibits closed yesterday): the grand old building was a spectacular backdrop for works that (for me, at least) were considerably more emotional.** poking around the aforementioned greatest installation ever, mk guth's "ties of protection and safekeeping," was like descending into the galley of a pirate ship and finding a magician's workshop; i felt like a little girl as i climbed the creaking staircase at the back of the library to get a better look at the swooping braids. i'd been to the armory before - a few years ago, with joe, for a dinner and awards ceremony for members of the national guard - but most of the rooms had been closed to visitors, and we didn't have time to explore anyway. now i want to go back every weekend, biennial or no - especially since the building is perpetually in danger of being sold off to developers and replaced with a mcskyscraper (the state can't afford to restore and maintain it, so it's slowly falling apart). find an excuse to see this place, internets: you won't be disappointed.

06 speaking of the biennial, my favorite fellow museumgoer was a skinny, expensively dressed fourteen-year-old who was wandering around with his mom and making loud pronouncements in a voice i associate with kids who are frequently told how bright they are. the three of us had just entered a room of shelves covered with ceramic figures (dozens of praying pilgrims, rearing horses, topless girls painted on vases). IS THERE A NUMBER FOR THIS?, he asked her as he peeled back one of his audiotour headphones. NO, THIS ONE EXPLAINS ITSELF, he concluded a second later.

07 my non-biennial goal for the weekend was to visit rice to riches, a high-concept rice pudding place in nolita. their vibe is actually kind of aggressive, but they sent us several vats of product at the office a month or two ago, and (to misquote mike myers) they put an addictive substance in their pudding that makes you crave it nightly. it's not cheap ($5.50 per person, as i recall), but servings are huge, and as a compulsive hoarder of non-recyclable plastic containers (anyone need four dozen yogurt tubs? i can hook that up for you), i was very pleased to come away with leftovers in their space-age little vats. you may carry on, rice to riches.

08 seriously, internets, materialize at the armory immediately. it's like crawling around in neil gaiman's brain.

joe, text

*in theory, biennial artist joe bradley's response to early modern art that was almost heroic in its methodical perfection and permanence. in practice, lazily stretched vinyl canvases that made me want to punch someone in the head (our friend dave had a similar response to the guy whose alter ego emerged to fill rooms with bad penmanship during self-hypnosis sessions).

**my last trip to the whitney was for kara walker's exhibition this winter, so i was expecting projects that were anything but hermetic.


the dirty dozen: spring back, fall forward

01 my new blogcrush is dinnerslut's marne (a seattle gal who writes about asking strangers to buy her food). i've liked every entry i've read so far, but my favorite is this one, for this:
I wonder if there will ever be a day where I can deal with my own problems without stacking them up against someone else's. I like to make lists and use hyperbole, though, so probably not.

02 speaking of sharing things with strangers, i've been in a work situation that's mostly unique to people who work for ladymags: our site features blog posts about a few of my colleagues' sex lives (they write under assumed names, but they're no secret in the office). we aren't the most transgressive publication (cough), so the content isn't usually that racy, but getting the occasional searing detail about ladies i'm really only comfortable seeing in a conference room or next to the xerox machine is, as the poets say, squicky. and said searing details really don't leave your head (seriously, corned beef?).

03 speaking of sex, i think brand-new governor paterson is oversharing. after all that's happened with spitzer in the last few weeks, i can get behind some disclosure: mentioning his infidelity as a general proposition was understandable and maybe even smart. mentioning that some of the women are now state employees? also prudent, maybe. that he hooked up at the days inn: starting to sound like bragging?

04 speaking of the days inn,

adventures with instant food: 'eco farmed' lundberg risotto
+ only six grams of fat in the whole box!
+ requires less attention than regular risotto does (a few well-timed stirs rather than twenty minutes of vigilance).
+ $2.19 (considerably cheaper than fully homemade risotto).
+ joe sez: "smells good!"
- due to dehydrated ingredients, tastes more like pilaf.
- takes more like 30 minutes to cook (=ten minutes of vigilance).
- needs fresh parmesan to really get tasty, so $2.19 is a lie.
verdict: a solid addition to a disaster preparedness kit (provided that your kit also includes olive oil and a big wok). not quite a no-fuss sexy dinner.

how about you, internets? any new sites, sex scandals, dehydrated food this week?


best volunteer gig ever: reviewing entries for the 2008 saroyan prize. not sure how i got on the coordinator's mailing list, but i was asked a few months ago if i'd be interested in reading some of the books they were considering: they would send me the titles i selected, and i'd fill out a short questionnaire for each. free books and work that doesn't require going anywhere or talking to anyone? brilliant. also, i can read entries while i donate platelets (my final donation for my 101 in 1001 list is next wednesday): hot simultaneous do-gooding! if i could learn to write with my toes and dash off letters for amnesty international at the same time, manhattan would explode in a giant fiery ball of philanthropy, maybe.

iraq, part i: while i'm not typically a fan of 'issue' nonfiction (i leave the collecting of political and sensational books to the missus, who makes noise about reading them and then adds to the stash on top of the bookcase), i've been having a fling with gina wilkinson's between the devil and the deep blue sky. wilkinson, a young australian journalist, moved to iraq in 2002 when her husband took a job with unicef; as a "dependent spouse," she spent her time before the war as many resettled twentysomethings do (trying to find decent housing, joining the local community of transplants, falling in love with her new city). she's in baghdad, though, so her memoir is half expat journal, half stringer's dispatch; the narrative is a bit jerky at times, but it's fascinating (and reminds me of jen's tales of being the only tall red-haired girl in a village in rural japan back in the day); i'm happy to pass it along, if anyone's interested.

iraq, part ii: my friend tom forwarded a link to "scions of the surge," newsweek's march 24 cover story, on...his cousin tim. i mean, it's about a lot of people, but it details new tactics in iraq through tim, who's a captain in the army (and, like gina wilkinson, young and relatable):
Wright is a good student, a literate, humane man who proudly points out that West Point is a great liberal-arts school as well as a military academy. He has not been debased or degraded by war; he does not live only to survive for the moment. But the lessons of war and conquest change, and Wright, like the good student he is, has learned to change with them.
also a fascinating piece, and god, it's nice to read something encouraging about the situation out there for once.


101 in 1001: 010 attend a taping of (jon stewart's) the daily show [completed 03.12.08]

101 in 1001

being in yesterday's daily show audience with joe, george, and sister em was exponentially more fun than sunday's colon cancer challenge (or the anal walk, as it is better known among my friends) was unfun, so...i'm still ahead for the week, hooray! i'd like to say that i planned for us to have tickets the day after primaries and the day of spitzer's resignation* (the latter would have been particularly impressive on my part), but the truth is that i made a beeline for the reservations website as soon as the writers' strike ended and nabbed the first open date i found. they really put the fear of god in you, those reservations robots: i got several e-reminders of the blood oath i'd sworn to attend the 3/12 show, and yesterday's message warned me that failure to cancel or appear would result in my being blocked from future shows (and killed). the comedy central production assistants are fearsome in their own way, too: i wanted a picture of the (surprisingly non-tacky-looking) set, but several people in our section got their cameraphones yoinked when they tried to shoot, and i am a great big (stealthless) chicken.**

jon stewart himself seems, unsurprisingly, like an extremely nice guy: he answered audience questions for several minutes before the show and came back when it was over to call an audience member's husband (who was home with their six kids while she visited new york city - that's what he was referencing at the beginning of his on-air monologue). he's also extremely funny off-camera, and didn't look nearly as teeny up close as everyone warned me he would. long story short, he is still my boyfriend; in fact, since i can no longer ignore the fact that james carville looks like a ridley scott creature and have finally deboyfriended him, jon can have two spots. he has earned them.

*the "tainted gov" sequence ("eliot spitzer has one last weekend to throw the biggest orgy albany has ever seen") was eighties movie trailer brilliance.

**the one photo i did get right before we entered the studio is, though grainy and cameraphone-y, extremely representative of the situation on 11th avenue. that's not a blue tint, that's how cold it actually was outside.


as i was telling international wabes, who is on assignment in the UK and has no new yorkers to chat with about our governor and his ladies of the night, we spent quite a while trying to guess what this morning's post headline would be (a time-honored local sport). as usual, the news corporation came through with the earthy brevity that so endears them to me: it's HO NO!

i'm less pleased with the silda wall spitzer pic that accompanies the online version of the piece; ridiculing spitzy himself is one thing, and gawking at his wife is quite another. my heart went out to dina matos mcgreevey (aka the former first lady of new jersey) last night when she spoke, on larry king live, of how reporters hounded her after her husband's scandal. these ladies' situations are fascinating, but can't we, like, not compound their epic shittiness?


101 in 1001: 038 participate in a charity walk [completed 03.09.08]

101 in 1001

after wrapping one of the ugliest work weeks in recent memory (we're closing a particularly hefty issue of the ladymag, and approved text trickled in even more slowly than it usually does), i was looking forward to a restful weekend. i expected the universe to be extra-kind to me, truth be told, because i was going to be doing the colon cancer challenge on sunday. sadly, it's been about a year since i last tumbled down the stairs in front of our apartment,* and i really do have to do that annually, so i ate it (best fall yet!) saturday afternoon on the way to meet george and joe on the upper west side. i'm so accustomed to doing this that it doesn't really bother me any more: i just said "i'm okay!" to the handful of people who'd seen me and headed to the subway.

did you know that a skinned knee makes new york lose its shit? a skinned knee makes new york lose its shit. i ripped a hole in my tights when i fell, and a hole in black tights is kind of noticeable, but damn. several people offered to kiss my knee (shudder), several more yelled helpful things like AW YOU GOT A HOLE IN YOUR TIGHTS AND YOUR LEG BLEEDIN' THROUGH!, and people on the train (and at the shoe store uptown, when i finally got there) looked at me like i was deranged. go home and change after you eat pavement, internets, even if it makes you late, because the world can't deal with owies.

so, restful weekend, not so much. i had to be up at 7:30 for ye olde cancer walk on sunday morning, central park was colder than a witch's tit, i was trampled by mean post-run participants who cared more about their bagels than about not stepping on my face, et cetera. the lesson of this list item is that i should stick to the treadmill and the united way, which...fine by me.

i still love you, though.

*our stoop, such as it is, is made of slick corrugated metal, and any sort of precipitation (such as saturday's biblical rain) turns it into my personal death trap.


primary notes (hey, jacob's RI vote matters after all!): updated throughout the day

21:34 classy concession speech from huckabee (though i agree with keith olbermann that the "liberty or death" note was odd). mitt romney, that's how you should have rolled. in other news, the clinton campaign's nastiness is depressing the missus, who's flipped over to uefa cup coverage.

20:54 now the msnbc table (including rachel maddow!) is gnashing its teeth over fearmongering in the hillary ad. i'm...inclined to agree with fox on this one; the ad doesn't bother me. also, that matchbox twenty song will not get out of my head, so thanks, tables.

20:32 new rule for lazy commentators: if you say "texas two-step" on air, you have to donate $5,000 to charity.

20:22 cnn reports obama 58% / clinton 41% thus far in texas, and that there has been an unusually high voter turnout. today or altogether? it should be noted that texans were casting votes in this primary before i was born.

20:08 breaking on fox news: hillary's "3am" ad plays on voters' fear of The Terrorists, so she...might be awesome from a conservative standpoint. the round table loves her and hates itself for a moment.

19:56 reuters makes a first call: obama and mccain in deanland vermont! ben & jerry's for everyone!

19:48 breaking on fox news: a reporter "embedded with" bill clinton reports that he reports that there are no texas caucus shenanigans, despite what you might have heard! in vaguely related news, i predict that when bill clinton dies, fox news will bury a reporter with his corpse, like a pharaoh's manservant.

19:00 the missus flees to the gym, muttering about needing distraction. the vivacity of this season's political coverage gets to be too much even for him, which is kind of frightening.

17:56 npr's primary voter video interview stills remind me more than a little of the onion's "what do you think?" feature. interestingly, answers to the sample question i linked there (re: the killing of captain america) could all work as primary voter interview responses.

14:04 hey, it's postsecret for the politically inclined! i dream of barack and i dream of hillary collect "real dreams people have had about the political candidate[s]." the webmasters report that "[d]ue to curiosity and demand," they're going to start accepting dreams of john mccain. no word on cindy, which is fine: the irises of her eyes are the same color as her hair. she terrifies me.

13:00 according to (family ties writer) gary david goldberg, alex p. keaton would have a man-crush on obama, too.
I think that Alex might just be ready to take a chance. I can picture him stepping into the voting booth, closing the curtain behind him, taking a deep breath and then for the first time in his life putting his hand up to the Democratic Party lever. He’d touch it tentatively, trying to get comfortable. Take his hand off. Put it back. He’d grasp the lever firmly. Squeeze it. And as he was about to pull, we FADE OUT.
i realize that post is twelve hours old, but i had a massive poster of michael j. fox behind my door when i was nine. i need to keep tabs on rivals for his affection.

11:18 i only realized a few hours ago that the addition of today's republican delegates would put mccain over the top once and for all. bad day for formerly-heavy h! just now, UPI reported new poll results:
Among Republicans, if presumptive nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain,. R-Ariz., gets the GOP presidential nod, 17 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents said they'd like to see former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the ticket as vice president.
(almost) no one hearts huckabee.

09:15 joe (the missus) is beginning the first of the dozens of hillary gripes i expect to hear today. in mentioning her experience and mccain's, sez he, she is clearly softening obama up so that, if he beats her, he will then lose the general election and she can run again in four years. i thought i was the cynical half of this couple.

09:00 joe scarborough is replaying (part of) hillary's satellite cameo from last night's daily show. her delivery is far better than it was with amy pohler on saturday night live this weekend.