head! bouquet! now!

i think we all knew that kidchamp was capable of degenerating into amateur floral arrangement by committee and/or multiple disembodied head photos in a week; don't act so surprised. our neighborhood wine shop has a bunch of shelves up front near the street where they display and sell vintage glassware, cocktail accessories, serving dishes, and so on; the pieces are usually inexpensive and nicely edited, so i ogle them while joe takes his sweet time with the booze (i still let interesting labels guide me, which still seems to work, so i don't hem and haw much over wine). last night they had this ceramic horse head vase (there's a 4"x2" hole for flowers along the mane) for a mere $12; it clearly needed to come home with us. i promised the amused australian wine guy that we'd bring back a camera phone picture of whatever we ended up arranging in the head; he was joking when he asked, but i jump at opportunities to show my flowers to strangers. call it the wholesome version of what bai ling does on the red carpet. i feel like i really need to bring it, so i could use some help: internets, what sort of flowers would you put in a disembodied horse's head? and what would you name said head? the naming is also key.

06.17.08: culture blotter {hamlet @ shakespeare in the park}

"...and a voice said ZUUL." (2 of 2)

[upper west side, via cell phone]
1: just find a bar to take cover in and i'll meet you there!
2: no, YOU find a bar, i'm going to get our tickets!
1: you're fucking crazy!

one of the nicest things about having a website is my apparent ability to make things happen by bitching when they don't (see: getting love from mcsweeney's, winning money with a scratch-off lottery ticket, winning a trip to iceland*). i learned last week of the virtual line for shakespeare in the park (that is, you can sign up for a lottery between midnight and noon and then check back in the afternoon to see if you've gotten tickets; in previous years, you had to actually languish on the street all morning). that was the good news; the bad news was that hamlet is only running through the end of the month, and we're going to be in california for a week as of this saturday, and the number of tickets distributed through the virtual line is comparatively teensy.

it worked, though, and i was all set for my dub-shakes fix when the apocalypse kicked up at quarter to seven. i can't say for sure that little dogs on leashes were taking to the air like box kites as i scurried past the museum of natural history, but i can't say for sure that they didn't. joe said a huge tree branch came crashing down at his feet when he was en route to the box office, which is why he was yelling so loudly on the phone. i probably should have hidden somewhere, but the storm really was more excellent than scary. also, i really do love shakespeare, damn it. how often is it situationally appropriate to yell that into a cell on a street corner in the middle of a hellacious thunderstorm? we both made it to the delacorte, where it poured for about half an hour, but the theater staff assured us that the show would go on if the weather let up at all; a few nights ago, they'd played through the rain and just pushed water off of the stage between scenes(!). we bought cheap hamlet garbage bag ponchos** in case it got bad again and settled in.

the show itself was marvelous in spots and disappointing in others. sam waterston (who played the last hamlet in the park in 1975) gave polonius a single, devastating moment of dementia (in act 2, he falls silent for about twenty seconds while instructing reynaldo) that was one of the show's emotional peaks; i think that vulnerability made his death much more tragic than it usually feels. i left the theater convinced that my favorite lines in act 5, scene 2 had been mangled - i could have sworn that "there's a divinity that shapes our ends" and "the readiness is all" were part of the same speech - but apparently i give my memory more credit than it's due (see: manhattan locations of wendy's, previous post). i could also swear that the play most certainly should not end with horatio taking a bullet in the head, execution style, but i am historically resistant to hypermilitary versions of the tragedies ('99 royal shakespeare company othello, i'm looking at you). michael stuhlbarg is a fine hamlet, especially in the first few soliloquies; his soft, breathy delivery is much more interesting than that of super-manly hamlets i've seen, and it pairs nicely with the hysteria of his manic scenes later on (he reminded me of jonny lee miller as sick boy in trainspotting). lauren ambrose was meh as ophelia (she didn't have much chemistry with stuhlbarg, so her insanity wasn't very tragic), and i really don't care to see anyone other than derek jacobi as claudius, but still: i love shakespeare.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 have you ever powered through a foul-weather show? was it worth it?

02 if you could cast one of the tragedies however you liked, who would you conscript? i'm going to have to think about that one for a while, but i'm pretty sure robert loggia would be old hamlet.

03 is it ethical to make a delivery guy bring you takeout in central park in the middle of a storm? (note: i did not do this.)

*trying this one next: what the hell, iceland? where's my trip?

**still in their packages since the rain never really picked back up, but i can't wait to have an excuse to wear one: they're covered with the show's skull logo. hamlet ponchos!


the off-smitten head


one of my favorite things about living in san francisco was our near-constant access to great shows. it was occasionally tricky to get tickets to see, say, belle and sebastian at the warfield,* but seeing le tigre at the great american music hall or tanya donelly at bimbo's was like rolling out of bed. with bimbo's shows, that was almost literal: we usually walked there and walked home. hooking it up in new york, on the other hand, you have to be prepared to cut someone. people will queue for an hour for free frozen yogurt in this town; imagine what they'll do to see vampire weekend at a small venue. i usually can't be bothered with jostling for tickets, but i have felt feisty this spring: we have four shows coming up! behold!

22 september: my bloody valentine at roseland ballroom. long ago when the earth was flat and the british pound was worth less than $20, we got tickets to see MBV in glasgow on july 2nd. joe is one of those guys who feels that loveless is one of the greatest albums of all time, and i can be a competitive little brat: i figured we'd be able to win any music geek throwdown with that show under our belts. oh, and glasgow is one of the finest cities on earth (high point of our honeymoon, hands down). then we found that airfare was going to be a thousand dollars apiece; then the roseland shows were announced and i got tickets for those. internets, do you know anyone who'd like to see a free show in scotland? seriously, the ticket agent is making it really difficult for me to resell. i'd rather just give the gift of shoegazer: drop me a line.

1 october: echo & the bunnymen at radio city. o maladjusted '80s marvelousness! i've loved these guys since i first heard "bring on the dancing horses" on a taped-from-TV** copy of pretty in pink. they're performing ocean rain with a full orchestra, and i don't care that ian mcculloch has started sounding like neil young instead of post-punk misanthropy incarnate. "the killing moon" live! with an orchestra! i miss wearing velvet all the time.

3 october: hot chip at terminal 5. "over and over" showed up on new york noise a few years ago and has been stuck in my head more or less ever since. i was disconcerted at first, but it's a marvelous song (and video), so i've adapted. i imagine there will be a lot of fancy, fancy hipsters at the hot chip show; OK with me, as long as they bathe.

29 november: jim gaffigan at town hall. crowded house came through town recently, and joe (who feels more strongly about neil finn than anyone i've ever met) decided we didn't need to get tickets because they were something like $50 apiece; now we're spending only a bit less than that to hear a man talk about hot pockets. i blame george, who mentioned gaffigan's sexy tour when we were heat-dazed en route to new jersey last saturday and had the collective IQ of a raisin. it'll be fun, i'm sure, but i...yeah. hot pockets.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 is free frozen yogurt better than vampire weekend?

02 what's the greatest album of all time?

03 did i go to wendy's twice yesterday?

*jacob and i met a girl at that show who later appeared in a dvd extra for season 3 of the L word.

**i think it was the first dubbed movie i ever saw; i didn't realize for years that jon cryer wasn't actually calling james spader slime.


joe was being a hero and installing our front-room air conditioner (just in time, sweet christ) as MSNBC was chronicling hillary clinton's epic tardiness on saturday, so i was alone in enjoying the paris-hilton-goes-to-jail coverage of a motionless SUV in her driveway. i kind of wish i'd been alone to watch the whole speech, since i lost it about two minutes in; i think i managed to say "oh, look at her" before my voice broke, and i was useless thereafter. her voice was tight and flat, up in the back of her throat, and as tyra banks would note, she had dead eyes; for the first few minutes i felt little more than sympathy. the "more" was a bit of self-pity, i think: i didn't vote for hillary, but it was satisfying to have a woman in this race (even one who behaved as badly as she ultimately did), and i don't think i realized that until she stepped out of it.

content-wise, i think the speech was fair to middling: her initial comments about obama (and the weird tone of her refrain) would have been more effective minus the body language, but the woman's had a rough year: it's hard to fault her for looking deflated. saying "yes we can" was going the extra mile for the shit sandwich, if you will, and settles her account after last tuesday. as for the many comments about the women's movement, given the foul-weather solidarity i was chewing on, i had no problem with them (except for the bit about shooting fifty of us into space, which...well, i'll pass). at the end of the day, hillary's Old Bitters will need more coaxing to get behind obama, but i think she initiated the next phase of this election with grace. i hope people get tired of hating her.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 was HRC's speech really moving and brilliant, or is the press just feeling extra-friendly because she finally did the right thing?

02 do we have to lump the hillary nutcrackers in with misogyny that won't be missed? i'll be honest: i thought those were pretty cool.

03 would hillary have been able to beat kerry? or, to flip on the clinton axis: would bill have been able to beat obama?


so the other big news in these parts (after, you know, the eating of breakfast) is the constant expiration of little creatures. ever heard the drowning pool song "bodies (let the bodies hit the floor)" (featured prominently in previews for stop-loss, that ryan phillippe iraq movie)? joe has a friend who was having sex when his CD changer switched from booty music over to that track; it's possibly the best never-to-be-heard-in-the-sack song ever,* and we dissolve into giggles whenever we hear it. anyway, it's become the little three-legged cat's song, as he's destroyed at least five mice in the last two weeks. i should never have joked about my domesticated cats' crappy hunting abilities re: the mouse they groomed to death a few months ago: i had to pry a live and tragically suffering one** from jude's jaws two weeks ago. another, fatally head-chomped, used its final moments to crawl near the base of a heavy swivel chair (and get swept beneath it in our initial corpse search), and we spent a week and a half gagging and buying up every nastily-scented odor-killer duane reade would sell us (we thought the body was unreachable under the floorboards). the one we found yesterday morning? internets, don't let your cats watch the end of braveheart.

the mice are coming from a hole in the floor under the radiator. our super knows this and claims he will come by to plug the hole. the three-legged cat knows this and has stopped sleeping on my pillow so that he can guard The Mouse Chute; he parks three feet in front of it and sniffs creepily, like a ringwraith. as i will not use poison, traps, or those horrible glue panels while the hole is open, this is his time to shine; given how many cat activities he's automatically denied, being tailless and three-legged, maybe i should be glad he's found a hobby. no, i'm ready for mausfest to be over.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 other contenders for Worst Sack Song?

02 speaking of heavy metal, have you yet had the pleasure of reading enter sandman: the children's book?

03 do you think one of those sonic gopherbusters would keep mice from leaping into my gimpy cat's mouth?

04 why do air fresheners, scented candles, and "odor neutralizers" smell so terrible?

*though i concede, as others have noted, that fogerty's "centerfield" is strong competition.

**i am so, so glad the poor thing died on the fire escape a minute after i placed it there to stall for time. i am in no way equipped to mercy-kill; when i was a kid and my pet mouse was dying of cancer, i made my mother take her to the vet to be euthanized.


i never bought the idea of breakfast as the most important meal of the day. i figured it was propaganda from The Breakfast Industry, like how dairy farmers tell me every year or two that that consuming too much soy will make my toes fall off. why would i waste valuable shoe-choosing time on food when i've always been able to just have a cup of coffee and go? the women in my family who aren't bakers are endurance artists: we like to see how long we can go without eating, peeing, seeing the sex and the city movie* (hell will freeze over first), and so on.

new shit started coming to light this winter, when i developed a soft spot for the corporate cafeteria, of all things. it's good-looking to begin with; when storms make fun blue shapes on the glass roof and the giant space shrinks to pools of light around the early-morning fruit and frittata stations, it becomes a little fairyland (ladymag employees - and ladmag employees, for that matter - sort of look like forest sprites anyway, so there you go). i'd stop there for grapefruit juice just to have an excuse to check out the snow-ceiling; eventually i started getting juice every day, and last month i gave the scrambled eggs a try. presto, breakfast-craving freakishness! within a day or two, my body started expecting food in the morning. my little box of breakfast would make my stomach growl audibly on the elevator ride up to my floor, which must have endeared me to the forest sprites. i assumed that would be the beginning of the massive flab gain i expected after quitting smoking, but that's the kicker: i started losing weight, more quickly than i was while simply working out. so all that stuff about waking up one's metabolism is...true?

so my message for you, internets, is that breakfast is a good thing, which you already knew. in fact, i blame you for failing to convince me sooner. also, after eating scrambled eggs for like a month, i've hit a wall: any ideas? also also, brunch is still for suckers.

*can i weigh in on stuff like anthony lane's review and its infamous david hughes illustration** if i don't? let's chance it: both made me cackle, even though the former speaks fondly of audrey hepburn and the latter reminds me of chuck klosterman (he's illustrated CK's stuff in esquire).

** much has been made of how he uglies up gals (misogyny, misogyny!), but if anyone's to blame, it's the art director who gave him the assignment; hughes is gloriously grotesque as a rule.