the dirty dozen, continued: media notes

07 on friday night, as part of our ongoing campaign to ignore all of the sexy local attractions that make living in manhattan worth the hassle, joe and i tucked in at home with wine, stinky cheese, and the darjeeling limited. i go back and forth on wes anderson (like most people, i adored rushmore and am meh on both the royal tenenbaums and the life aquatic),* and this was an emphatic back (forth?).** i think i've stopped caring that his movies have heart-stopping sets and costumes instead of story arcs; those details zap more of my pleasure receptors than things like closure do. this time the weirdest zap came from - how to put this without feeling like i'm getting naked? - the use of my most unguessable password, an almost-forgotten, inherited secret that i'd never said aloud or even heard (before friday, that is). i actually yelped in surprise when i heard it. got that, internets? if you ever want to steal my identity, just watch the darjeeling limited.

08 we've started trying to watch dark shadows in its entirety, a project that is either the best or worst idea ever. on the plus side, we won't run out of material for years: there are 1,225 episodes, and netflix is sending us one nine-episode disc at a time (we're cheap like that). i loathe getting to the end of a good story, especially a good vampire story, so how good, right? then again, the vampire action doesn't get going until the second season, and we've got to wait at least six months for ghosts, even. that's like twenty more discs! and the first season is still being released (it was much less popular than the rest of the series, so it's languished in ancient-format obscurity for a long time), so we could conceivably get to the end of this extant pre-barnabas crap and then have to wait months or years for more of it. and-and joe already thinks we should skip ahead to season 2, so the likelihood of his losing the will to live sooner rather than later is quite strong. what do you think? if you were developing a '60s gothic soap opera ritual, how would you go about it?

09 much is being made - at the ladymag, at least, and in blogland - of "the genius of gossip girl," new york's april 21 cover story - specifically, the authors' contentions that the show is changing the way we watch television (because its popularity is so web-centric - i agree with that) and that it's "the greatest teen drama of all time." to borrow a marvelous phrase from tremble, gossip girl is a show i occasionally hate-watch and from which i gain nothing, apart from spiritual dead-leg; that said, i'm just a desiccated twenty-nine-year-old who maybe can't even recognize young and fun. am i a lone hater?

*and haven't seen bottle rocket, which is terribly lazy of me, i realize.

**the dirty subdozen: twelve things i loved about the darjeeling limited

01 "look at these assholes," delivered just as my uncle would say it in a message on my dad's answering machine.

02 natalie portman's fetching pixie cut in hotel chevalier. who knew her hair would grow out so prettily after v for vendetta? i would have no such luck if i shaved my head.

03 hearing joe dassin's "les champs-élysées" for the first time since AP french (i can be fond of it when i don't have to sing along).

04, 05, 06 marc jacobs (for louis vuitton) bespoke luggage! marc jacobs suits! natalie portman's impossibly bitchin' marc jacobs coat! i realize the hotel chevalier stuff shouldn't count, but internets, it was that lovely.

07 real cobra. proper.

08 the five hundred elephants hand-painted on the interior walls of the train. good on wes anderson for hiring local crafters.

09 the tragicomic nostrils of adrien brody.

10 anjelica huston's character's heavy black eyeliner. i'd be that kind of nun, too.

11 my sisters the brothers in the desert.
jack: wouldn't it be great if we heard a train go by in the distance?
peter: not really.
francis: it'd probably be annoying.

12 peter, after finishing jack's obviously autobiographical short story.
peter: i like how mean you are.
jack: the characters are all... thanks.


the dirty dozen, continued: california roll

04 as i twittered when we first got down to san francisco last tuesday, joe found us the cutest little flophouse in the bay area: hotel tomo, a best western ($110/night!) in japantown that's been given a japanese pop / video game makeover (wii gaming suites and afternoon sake socials! a giant robot SF hoodie vending machine in the lobby!). i don't think we were tomo's target market (japanese tourists, i think: a card in the lobby suggested we check out "undiscovered gems" like...lombard street), but i can't be sure: there was some sort of urban outfitters corporate convention winding up as we checked in. either way, i adored the heisuke kitazawa murals on our walls, the lobby screens that appeared to play spirited away on a constant loop, and dear god, the "do not disturb" signs.

earning sleep credits (come back later)

even our stealth portrait was cute.

05 ever seen the episode of seinfeld in which kramer's trying to figure out how to cost-effectively transport recyclable bottles to a state where the redemption value is higher? used clothing from san francisco agitates me that way. there's an impeccably curated vintage tee place in los angeles that charges $35 and more* for the kind of shirts joe and i routinely find for next to nothing at thrift stores in the bay area. those finds are predictable in out-of-the-way places like woodland (a sacramento suburb), where hipster shoppers are few and far between, but they're mystifying on valencia street (the safer and more yuppily populated end of the mission), where it took me fifteen minutes to decide whether or not i really needed an orange windbreaker covered with patches from oklahoma ladies' indoor archery tournaments (the answer is obviously and always yes). then i realized it was only going to cost $3 - we were in a vintage-by-the-pound store - and i had to stifle a maniacal laugh. i should have bought an extra suitcase and filled it right there.

06 at pica's suggestion, we MUNI'ed with her and paul up to the de young museum in golden gate park (still under construction when we lived in town - the museum, not, er, the park). i can see why bajillionaires get married there: art and artifacts aside, it's easily the swankiest mega-gallery i've ever seen (ultra high quality hardwood floors, extremely complicated lighting design, a tower that overlooks the whole city). northern california has a very specific way of doing back-to-basics luxury that new york institutions like the new moma have a hard time out-sassing. it's sort of like how women on the west coast aren't as well dressed as manhattan women are, but they're more basically physically attractive. does that make sense? i think it has something to do with avocado. but the de young also has site-specific commissions from art darlings like andy goldsworthy and gerhard richter, so it's like a nymphet who just found out about comme des garçons. fair? not at all. but i'll ogle it anyway.

*i screamed in rage when i first saw those prices, but we each ended up buying something there.


101 in 1001: 074 tour the winchester mystery house [completed 04.13.08]

door to nowhere (exterior)

in case you didn't spend your formative years watching skull-faced WMH billboards whip by as you sweltered on the back seat of a volvo station wagon,
The Winchester "Mystery" House is a colossal construction built on a foundation of superstition. It's said that Sarah Winchester, heiress to the arms company, was told by a soothsayer that the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles would haunt her unless she moved from Connecticut to the West and built a house that could never be finished in her lifetime. Construction started in 1884 in San Jose, California, and kept going nonstop for 38 years until her death. Now the house's 160 rooms are haunted by her madness and packed with bizarre details: Staircases go straight into the ceiling, doors open onto blank walls, spider motifs abound, and candelabras, coat hooks, and steps are arranged in multiples of 13.

[the world's creepiest places]
the WMH is a particularly expensive tourist trap, as the mansion tour alone will set you back $23.95 (a behind-the-scenes add-on is another $5). it's also spooky as hell, and i would be no match for the extra-spine-tingling evening flashlight tours given around halloween and every friday the 13th. we were there the afternoon of sunday the 13th, as it happened, and i'm surprised that our guide didn't point that out; he was all about noncoincidences like how WATCH YOUR HEAD (posted everywhere, naturally) has thirteen letters. he also had seasonal allergies to rival ours, so we heard a lot about things like the hall snork of fires and the room squerf where sarah winchester died. i was kind of grateful for his mitigating squishiness, as we were wandering around in the brick and mortar equivalent of an old lady's delusions (she based each day's construction on the ghostly directions she received in the previous night's séance). stop by, if you're into paranormal kitsch and in the san jose area! just make sure you've got hay fever, or a sweetheart who does.


craft interlude: the supersecret baby project i mentioned back in (cough) august is finished and delivered at last.

the sockshund, a "welcome to earth!" gift for my dear friend valya's sweet baby james, came to be after my first attempt at a creature went horribly awry: i was originally stitching up a felt giraffe, but the tragic yellow cow-dinosaur i improvised would have traumatized the little man. i was too squeamish to throw the half-creature away, though, so i'd pull it out once a week, stare at it for half an hour while trying to come up with a saving tweak, then stuff it back above our armoire with a dejected sigh. the nursery theme rolled over to "puppies" after little J made his debut, though, and i was all over patterning a dog, so the sockshund was born. joe was a very patient consultant: when i was finishing up the face and tail, i'd stop sewing every few minutes and jump on him. "is this cute? is this cute?!"

anyway, sockshund! behold his hand-stitched notquitebabyproof wienerdogness!

sockshund (2 of 3)

trip photos are online as well; trip narrative is on its way. no, really.

04.17.08 {davis, ca}

i've missed you, internets! joe and i have been having a lovely time in northern california for the past week, and i've much to tell you of the winchester mystery house and san francisco dive bars and adorable japanese hotel furnishings, but my mother's ancient PC isn't especially interested in working with photos from my digital camera - and i want to upload pictures before i start painting the pictures with words. i'm particular.

that said, i have a few bottom-of-the-imaginary-swimming-pool cameraphone shots of the handy-dandy drug store sunglasses i picked up when we were in monterey visiting my sister (and getting disgustingly sunburned) last weekend, so i'm having a go at

101 in 1001: 067 find, purchase, and wear a decent pair of sunglasses
i'm ignoring some commonly accepted decents - "conforming to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc.," say, or "of fairly attractive appearance" - because really good glasses cost far more than i'm willing to spend, and because even those tend to look weird on me. i'm thinking "adequate; fair; passable," and i've decided that if i can manage a general online consensus for that kind of decent, the $16.99 i dropped at longs (when, by the way, did cheap-ass sunglasses get so expensive?) was well spent and the list item is history. what say you?


the dirty dozen: food, folks, and folks as food

01 sexy dessert of the month, thanks to a foodie coworker: nigella lawson's chocolate guinness cake (which, in the absence of a springform pan, converted to two dozen cupcakes quite easily: i just knocked the baking time down to 25 minutes and used foil wrappers so that the damp cake didn't stick). i have apparently started seeking opportunities to make weird cupcakes, so i was right pleased when george enabled me by getting a new couch and finishing the entertainment center he's been "building" in "jersey" for the past few months: clearly, New Furniture Food was in order. from what nigella (in that inimitable soft-core way of hers) calls the "magnificent...damp blackness" of the cupcakes to the you-can-almost-pretend-it's-healthy airiness of the cream cheese frosting, i (and the admirers of george's furniture) heart the chocolate guinness cake. it's a lethal new addition to my tiny dessert arsenal, like a...new throwing star for a carb ninja.

02 from popular mechanics, the 10 most prophetic sci-fi movies ever (titled "10 best sci-fi movies ever" elsewhere on the page, which sounds about right for the pop mech boys). sample quote, from #8:
[T]he idea that the government would actually promote euthanasia—a concept that also shows up in Children of Men—isn't as easy to shoot down as human-fortified snacks. In Soylent Green, the suicidal are provided with a clean, comfortable room. As the poison kicks in, a montage of nature footage plays, accompanied by your choice of music.* Never mind the fact that your body is then unceremoniously dumped into a garbage truck and carted off to a heavily-guarded person-milling factory. Considering that the alternative is a world increasingly packed with sweaty Charlton Hestons, this might not be the worst—or least plausible—way to go.

every now and again i miss writing press releases about science.

03 speaking of food and violence, i bought bacon for the first time yesterday. i didn't realize i was a virgin until i was already underground at food emporium, hovering in front of the refrigerated packaged meat wall, trying to figure out what sort of pork product would complete me if i were joe's half of the black bean soup we planned to make for dinner last night. cured? center cut? apple-something-smoked? who asks their vegetarian wife to decide this sort of thing? i settled on "the kind that only costs $3.49 and comes in a small package," which seemed to work. internets, give your vegetarian wife specific instructions in situations like these. or, you know, buy your own bacon.

*raise your hand if this got you thinking of your "farewell cruel world!" music (much better than thinking of sweaty charlton heston). should one go with something lovely and soothing (blur's "you're so great," say), or something that makes the end a relief (john mayer's "your body is a wonderland")?