09.27.08: mississippi mudslide

liveblogging a debate isn't nearly as fun as popping in all day to talk about a primary.* if you ever try such a thing, internets, be prepared to re-watch each exchange like four times - and maybe resist the urge to liveblog the soup you're making at the same time.

20:57 still recovering from the sarah palin beauty pageant video linked over at wonkette. swimsuit-related dry eye!

21:02 i always forget about jim lehrer's irisless muppet eyes. he seems like a nice enough guy, but they're terrifying.

21:04 ooh, barry's first shot at mccain (on deregulation)! why mccain isn't now noting that bill clinton's the one who signed the financial services modernization act in 1999...is beyond me. it wasn't bipartisan, but it was on our watch.

21:05 whoop, reducing broth volume probably means simmering without the lid. i am a great chef.

21:07 that overdone "wall street blah blah blah main street" construction could be this debate's drinking prompt. it's come up twice already.

21:09 nice eisenhower anecdote, john, but it makes you sound old. i'd steer away from coded messages to the greatest generation, as those dudes are asleep already on this coast.

21:10 multicolored heirloom tomatoes are lovely when they're intact, but this soup is totally going to look like barf.

21:11 don't remind us of the chairman of the SEC, john! we all laughed at you when you claimed you were going to fire him! fun fact: christopher cox was my congressman when i lived in the OC. less-fun fact: the OC went belly-up in 1994 (it was the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history).

21:12 "...main street" - drink! also, jim lehrer sounds like a marriage counselor.

21:14 i get that pork barrel spending plays well on the stump for mccain, but it's hardly the issue on everyone's lips.

21:15 was there a CSI joke buried in mccain's line about bear DNA in montana? palin would know. wait, touchy subject.

21:17 how do two giant bay leaves just disappear in a stock pot? fuck.

21:20 if we don't get the income tax under control, all of our jobs are going to...ireland. raise your hand if you would mind moving to ireland.

i stopped there, as i was getting soup all over my notepad, and pausing the debate every forty-five seconds got old fast. i think that though obama could've used better language when he agreed with mccain (a point rephrased is much harder for your opponent to replay in campaign ads), he was telegenic and sure-footed, which is all he really needed to be last night. i wanted him to kick mccain's deregulatin' ass across the stage, but obama's always had a long fuse; ideally, the undecideds will realize we could use a bit more of that. at the end of the day, what's said about the debate will matter more than what was said at the debate, of course: how was it with you and yours?

*which i attempted back in early february (apologies for the lack of a specific post link - i ripped that code out of the 'champ's template years ago and never figured how to reinsert it).

09.23.08: culture blotter {my bloody valentine @ roseland ballroom}

rocktober, the month or so in which joe and i do most of our concertgoing for the year, began not with a bang but a...something, at the first of my bloody valentine's two NYC shows at roseland ballroom last night. locals who caught their sunday show in the catskills warned that the complimentary ear plugs were a must-have rather than a suggestion ("you're gonna fucking need 'em to endure their noisy 20-odd minute climax"), and they weren't kidding: i actually needed one of the spare pairs i'd brought along, as the...something jiggled my first set right out of my ears and down to the grotty venue floor.

but i'm getting ahead of myself. my bloody valentine: a shoegazer band famous for using every pedal ever made and spending something like £250,000 (nearly bankrupting their record label) to create loveless (1991), their second album, which tops all sorts of critics' lists and sounds like seraphim snagged in a garbage disposal. they're genius if you're fond of a certain kind of brown noise and insufferable if you don't (poor jen had a rough time with my shoegazer phase when we lived in england; as a brooklynvegan commenter put it, "the only band that inspired more shitty bands than MBV, is Pavement." [sic]). i fall somewhere in the middle and vastly prefer a few of MBV's contemporaries (slowdive and ride); i turned london upside down to find the you made me realise EP back in the day, but loveless only joined my CD pile when The Man With 42 Blue Coats, my abrasive ex, made it my twentieth birthday present (right after we broke up, as i recall - very emo). joe discovered that copy and loves it (and is hipster-mean's polar opposite), so hey hey circle of life!

we squidged in our MBV-approved plugs and settled in for the main act at about ten last night, and as soon as the band kicked into "i only said"'s siren loops, joe lit up like a boardwalk carnival. it's a real pleasure to see the missus bliss out that way: having to wait for two hours as rude beer-fetchers knocked us across the floor was less than cool, but his holy shit that's kevin shields right there! face made up for it. i...don't have the best hearing anyway, and between the sonic assault (MBV show recaps - positive ones! - are full of superviolent descriptors, which is sort of weird when one isn't talking about metal) and the foam, i couldn't always tell which song i was hearing. i just barely heard the "thorn" chorus, but i'd known it was coming: i'd seen the set list for the previous show.

then, most of the way through "you made me realise" at the end of the set, came the something, a feedback apocalypse that's apparently closed all of this year's shows. it lasted roughly twelve minutes, came in at about 130 decibels (that is, above the threshold of pain and right around jet takeoff), and was loud enough to break up a kidney stone, as joe put it (as someone twittered, "my bloody valentine is shattering my bones"). forget feeling the crunch of the reverb in your sternum: this twisted around in my guts (i'd be willing to bet that a few of the people who left early went to throw up), got my skin buzzing, and made it hard to breathe. some people loved the effect and flung their arms out to absorb the waves, at least at first. me, i'm kind of shocked, strongly suggested ear plugs or no: sitting through the end of that show without them would have blown our eardrums. kids irish fortysomethings today!

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 is tinnitis a performer's fault or a fan's? should MBV be liable if someone went deaf last night?

02 loudest show you've ever seen? was it worth the ringing ears?

09.19.08: international talk like a pirate day

Q: what's a pirate's favorite sarah palin* hobby?

A: arrrial wolf hunting.

*per the baby name generator, palin would have called me soup landmine. joe, in turn, works out to speck backfire, which makes me glad i'm vegetarian.

09.15.08: everything is green

it's just as well that our wireless was down for the weekend. on saturday night i got a call from paul, who did me the kindness of telling me my favorite author was dead. he thought it would be better to hear of it from him than to hear of it from the media, and i think he was right. one's best friend is usually right about things like that.

david foster wallace was supposed to become the sleek old seal of postmodern literature. he'd metamorphosed from the cockeyed, scarecrow-haired punk on infinite jest's dust jacket (though it was hard to imagine him breaking a sweat over prose, that photo always made me think his tongue would stick out of the corner of his mouth as he wrote something especially excellent) to a heavier, ponytailed grownup, like the big lebowski's Dude after a makeover. i always imagined that, when i finally met DFW at a book signing, he'd be a bit like The Dude. plus paul, plus my favorite high school teacher. i would tell him the story of how someone in oxford once asked if the infinite jest quote on my wall was something i'd written, giving me the biggest, most ludicrous compliment of my life.

i miss you sounds much better in french (tu me manques) than it does in english, both literally and figuratively: se manquer is a reflexive verb, and is closer to to lack. it's visceral in a useful way. i lack david foster wallace. we lack him.

09.08.08: frosting shot $1.50

understated civic engagement has been our unofficial theme for the past several days. on thursday we had tickets to the colbert report: i expected an all-palin show, as i'd seen something on colbert's website about endorsing her for president and she'd given her speech to the RNC on wednesday night, but our half hour was equal parts convention criticism, palin material (an interview with the remarkably game creator of draft sarah palin for vice president), and ron paul interview. such a winning kook, that ron paul! like jon stewart, colbert is charming in person - more so, perhaps, since his character compels him to amuse the audience at all times (he groomed his makeup artists as they walloped him with concealer between takes and made eyes at us as he studied cue cards). the production assistants were very aggressive about making the distinction between Colbert in Character and pre-show colbert - those few minutes before the cameras rolled were our only chance to rap with The Real Stephen, man, and we were not to forget it. i suppose that means that our interstitial entertainment was ironic, but i like to tell myself he's a coy man either way. the audience was small - about 100 of us, compared to the 200 or so who see the daily show - which was nice and intimate, though there was less collective body warmth to compete with the arctic conditions in the studio (seriously, are the lights really that hot?). i would go again, though joe feels that we should try to see other shows for the first time before repeating. conan o'brien? saturday night live? contemplating my next move.

on saturday evening we thumbed our noses at the hanna-related storm and headed out to sound fix records in williamsburg for the burg for barack, a bake sale / silent auction / miniconcert to raise funds for obama. it's sort of weird to watch a group reclaim their stereotypes:* as the ethereal songstress who came on first noted, "we're all doing what we can to get this man elected! we can bake cupcakes, and...there are a lot of good-looking people here tonight...and we can listen to indie rock!" we (read: joe), in turn, can eat baked goods like nobody's business, and the lemon bar i took down for obama was excellent. it was also oddly pleasurable to dig around in my pockets on the way out, discover that we had money left after cookie-buying, and dump said money in the collection box on the way out. "merf merf crowdnoise," said the woman at the food table when we passed her in the silent auction." "what?" i replied." "you two are just the happiest people," she repeated. "you smile all the time." that's a first for me, internets (like generations of women in my family, i am famous for looking angry): apparently this election is good for my soul.

sunday was the broome street block party, an event our friend melissa organized with sponsorship from transportation alternatives. she worked her ass off putting the afternoon together, and it turned out wonderfully: the street was covered with chalk drawings by the time we got there, ice cream-covered kids were ricocheting around the block like sticky little superballs, and a decent crowd gathered when the musical acts (including melissa's band, last year's model) got going. as is customary, i refused to dance, but i had an excuse: i donated blood at the health fair down the street (the poor van people only had four other donors all day; they tried to get me to take a sack of the surplus snacks they'd brought, but i couldn't inflict reduced fat cheez-its** on an unsuspecting public with a clear conscience). by the time i got back from the blood van, joe had patronized most of the nearby eateries (the roasting plant, doughnut plant, babycakes). i accused him of being pregnant and then made him queue with me at gus's pickles; he retaliated by going back to babycakes. so dancing would have been difficult for a couple of reasons.

now joe is covering for his counterpart down in washington DC, and i have switched to salad and salon. how was your weekend?

*very 2001: a space odyssey, really.

**dear blood banks of america: if you're going to give the people fruit punch and regular old cookies, you might as well give them the real cheez-its. even mayor mike eats them.

09.04.08: the dirty dozen, part III {lipstick}

10 i had to sign for a very heavy, very serious looking inter-office envelope from human resources the other day. "i'm handing out a bunch of these today," my mail guy said, his voice full of doom. alas, i thought, i'm getting fired. it's a ladymag dirty bomb (i imagined some forcible retirement in an explosion of tainted lip gloss; we've been watching a lot of the last season of the wire and the first season of the x-files*). actually, it was a box from a fifth avenue jeweler: it's my five year anniversary with the company. have i really spent a sixth of my life working for Big Media? i spent a few months freelancing after the unceremonious end of my career as their PR lackey (thank god; that was a dark year, to put it mildly), but i interned in '03, so - yeah, i guess that's right. weird.

11 our stable of print subscriptions is getting crowded: we puttered along with just the new yorker until last year, then a year's worth of free esquire jumped in, and now we're getting new york (not bad, but hard to keep up with on a weekly basis), readymade (cool, but it's getting auto-archived until i can put a stake in a few ongoing craft projects), iceland review, and now one story. per their "about" page,
One Story is a non-profit literary magazine that features one great short story mailed to subscribers every three weeks. Our mission is to save the short story by publishing in a friendly format that allows readers to experience each story as a stand-alone work of art and a simple form of entertainment. One Story is designed to fit into your purse or pocket, and into your life.
i just read my first story, thomas grattan's "foreign girls," and loved it; this newest mail-friend doesn't come cheap, but it's most welcome. i might start keeping a little fan of stories on my coffee table, provided that i can convince the cat to leave off puking on it (everyone's a critic).

12 hey, what's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? pits are adorable. i admit that i've been avoiding political conversations with non-liberals for the past few weeks (not cool to yell at friends, and i'm too far in the tank for obama to debate politely at this point); after sarah palin's faux-populist, condescending, phonetically teleprompted "there is no spoon" performance last night, i might have to start avoiding television, too. at the very least, i'm starting the election season equivalent of a swear jar: every time that woman's bullshit turns my knuckles white,** i'm dropping in more funds for the democrats. anger management. baby steps.

*it is horrifying, by the way, to go from the unstoppable pulchritude of smooth-cheeked young david duchovny on our tv at home to jowly sex addict david duchovny on californication billboards now in times square. he was only a few years older than i am in his early days as fox mulder; is that the sort of decline i can expect in the next decade? turning thirty sounds worse all the time.

**the safest option. a palin-themed drinking game would end badly.

09.02.08: the dirty dozen, part II {the seduced seducer}

07 fall/winter (when fragrances are launched) is a magical time at the ladymag. i generally end up with our sample of the newest jo malone cologne, which works out well: i love the stuff, but who drops nearly $100 on an odor? i also get to sift through wonderful, cracked-out ad copy: god bless press packets for perfume. a few of my favorites from the class of '08:
This bottle of sculpted glass shimmers with a new golden glow. The gold blends with the silver and creates the instant desire to possess it.

Such a mirage, a voyage to the ends of the senses.

Although at first glance, Antonio Banderas appears as the initiator of the game, it is his partner who leads the essence of the courtship, leaving Antonio in the irresistible role of "seduced seducer."

08 mean beans: spicy green beans spiked with cayenne and dill, made by a local pickler (rick's picks) and worth every penny of the $8 a jar costs at whole foods or the farmer's market, speaking of expensive sensory experiences. i'm already soaking carrots in my first jar of leftover brine, and could actually be convinced to brunch someday if i can bring some of these for bloody marys. pickle (or giardiniera) fans, take note.

09 i keep forgetting that, though joe and i hunkered down in front of our giant cable-dispensing idiot box for at least three hours a night last week, most people were more moderate in their democratic convention coverage consumption. if you weren't tuned in for john kerry's speech on Red Meat Wednesday, go watch it right now: it's easily the best speech he's ever given, and second only to obama's, i would argue, in terms of the whole convention. his 'senator mccain vs. candidate mccain' breakdown was fantastic, his denunciation of torture was awesome (why didn't anyone else talk about shutting gitmo down?), and the cold, controlled fury of the whole performance* was just stunning. i like an inspirational speech as much as the next girl, but smackdowns like that are things of beauty. speaking of - no, still not ready to talk about sarah palin.

*as salon's walter shapiro noted, "bill clinton, in contrast, opted for the rapier rather than the shiv." his point seems to be that kerry was brutal, but the shiv image works because kerry had clearly been whittling for years.