we leave for CT on thursday night after the belle & sebastian show. menu planning has been impressively nuanced.
Do you want to go hungry? I thought not.
From: 1

[This Message Brought to You by the Producers of Hot-Dog Fest 2010 and That Queso is So Spicy, along with Event Sponsor: Monkey Nuts ™]

Dear Friends,

4 and I have collaborated to create a menu for the Connecticut weekend. In the spirit of:

a) Being prepared to feed 9 people
b) Having a Santana-smooth time
c) Indulging my zest for planning ahead

I offer you THE MENU, below. For additional ease, there are questions at the end which, when answered, will enable 4 and I to create THE SHOPPING LIST. Which will then enable us to:

d) Be prepared to feed 9 people
e) Have a Santana-smooth time
f) Indulge my zest for planning ahead


Yours in Efficiency,

Re: Do you want to go hungry? I thought not.
From: 2

bagel preference: none
cream cheese preferences: plain or jalapeno
salmon consumption: kodiak bear

Re: Do you want to go hungry? I thought not.
From: 3

So far only a request for Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk (a personal favorite of mine anyway). I think B&J’s is probably the way I will be going plus a vanilla of some sort. Chubby Hubby is a favorite of mine. And if people don’t care about toppings, I’ll just get lots of fun things like… chocolate sauce, cool whip (or do people like “real” whipped cream?), cherries, chopped peanuts, sprinkles and the blood of a Christian baby. Suggestions are welcome.

Re: Do you want to go hungry? I thought not.
From: 4

i favor coffee heath bar crunch, blood orange sorbet, and bitter tears; while i wouldn't dream of making sartorial decisions for others, i would note in passing that amassing said ice cream while wearing, say, a seersucker suit could result in the best photo shoot ever.

Re: Do you want to go hungry? I thought not.
From: 3

I had an Ice Cream Jones costume on hold, but now that the surprise is ruined, forget it!

Re: Do you want to go hungry? I thought not.
From: 4

i still want bitter tears.

Re: Do you want to go hungry? I thought not.
From: 1

Didn't you paint your bedroom that color?

gulls b/w

realizing (after seven years!) that a life in new york doesn't have to mean giving up the ocean was like growing an arm back. amanda was standing in the surf when i came in from the deep water; "you look relieved," she said.



i turned my phone back on as i walked down grand street last night; wabes and i had just seen SWINTON in i am love. i'd received this photo from joe, and a text message: "...that spells apple." your sweet nothings are quotes from the stand, right?



SURVIVOR: black swan green (david mitchell)*
CHALLENGER: arctic chill (arnaldur indriðason)

most of what i know of iceland makes me want to leap joyously from fjord to fjord, to make complicated music videos with michel gondry and to steep myself like an arctic monkey in geothermal pools in svartsengi; a few things do not, including the recent financial collapse, anthony bourdain's sophomoric no reservations iceland episode, and arnaldur indriðason's arctic chill. the first two are self-explanatory, but the third...hmm.

indriðason's reykjavik crime novels are a lot of fun; they aren't especially cerebral, but sometimes a girl needs to pretend she's tromping around iceland at christmastime solving murders. this reykjavik crime novel is weirdly flat; its english incarnation was translated by two people, one of whom seems to have died before the project's conclusion (arctic chill is dedicated to him). i would never be so tasteless as to make a joke about the concurrence of this translation and a death, but it is what it is; while some of the descriptive passages are satisfying, the dialogue is abysmal. i myself have only chatted with icelanders via e-mail,** so i'm probably in no position to comment on the relative choppiness of their speech, but in the name of THUNDERTOME, damn, the conversations in arctic chill were choppy. fold in the fact that many of them were about tensions between native icelanders and recent immigrants (a fascinating subject, presented movie-of-the-week or very-special-episode-of-law-&-order style here), and the fact that they were interspersed with inspector erlendur's conversations with his dying mentor, the abrasive and never-gendered marion briem ("the most sexually ambiguous character in crime fiction"), and...it's a weird book. can we speak instead of icelandic candy, which is amazing?

VICTOR: stone cold david mitchell, icier than the wind from mýrdalsjökull.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 you're an icelandic author of crime novels. what's the next one called?

02 how do you feel about anthony bourdain?

03 have you ever had icelandic candy? would you like some? note that it's heavy on black licorice.

*previous battle here.

**(we're not going to count my spirited conversations with the disembodied lady on the icelandic language CDs a friend gave me a few years ago)

09.21.10: culture blotter {pavement @ williamsburg waterfront}

malkmus & co at williamsburg waterfront (4/5)

joe chose excellence and joined me for the pavement show! a solid choice it was, i think; unlike the superfans who snagged and lost their tickets to the summerstage shows last year, he had to wait but a day to walk across the williamsburg bridge for malkmus & co's first new york show since 1999. it must be said that the venue is kind of awful; i was expecting something like the prospect park bandshell with a hot view of the east river and manhattan, but the stage faced away from the shore and backed against the mccondos that have mushroomed up there in the last few years...so the whole thing felt a bit like a secret rave thrown by realtors. also, no lawn! but pavement were in fine form; i enjoyed the show (and the pre-show burgers and beer and backgammon) so much that i actually traveled the hipster superhighway to get up to the stage and take pictures. well done, steve and the gang.

guy: YOU. what’s your go-to song tonight.
LMO: elevate me later.
guy: ooooh, off the beaten path. i’ll pump my fist in the air for you if i hear it. i bet they’ll play it, i’ve been checking the setlists.
LMO: ...though I’d give my right eye to hear jo jo's jacket.
guy: if you wanted to hear solo stuff, you should have gone to see him in march! i did.
LMO: well, then you win.
guy: no, it’s not a contest!
LMO: oh yes it is.
guy: okay, it is.

09.20.10ii: ask kidchamp, round II {goat-cats, turf wars, research}

dear @kidchamp, why does my cat eat the shower curtain, and most importantly, how can i get him to stop?

it could have something to do with the fact that he's a siamese; like people, some cats have pica (that is, the compulsion to eat non-food items). check this out:
Anecdotally and in studies, Siamese cats seem most prone to pica, especially with woollen items. There are reports of Burmese cats being attracted to electrical cables (possibly attracted to plastics). This indicates a genetic predisposition.

In one British study of 152 fabric-eating cats, 55% were Siamese, 28% were Burmese, 6% were "other Oriental" and 11% were other breeds or randombred cats. Pica also ran in families with over half the owners reporting that their cats' siblings also ate wool or fabric. 93% started with wool and moved on to other fabrics. 64% also ate cotton. 54% ate synthetic fabrics. The wool-eating typically began between the ages of 2 and 8 months (a time period encompassing weaning and puberty) and there was no gender bias. In some cases, the habit was so established that owners had no choice but to provide an old garment for the cat to chew.
i'm guessing your shower curtain isn't made of wool, but the breed thing is crazy, no? steve's days of being left alone with my pendleton blankets are over, i tell you. health conditions like hyperthyroidism (which is common in older cats) can also cause increased appetite; is that a possibility? if your guy's due for bloodwork (cbc/superchem, which should be annual for all cats over the age of about 6; it's not a cheap panel, but it's thorough and vital), that could give you an answer. if he's healthy, it could simply be that he likes the sensation of chewing plastic (many cats do), or that he's bored; in that case, nastify your shower curtain with a taste deterrent like bitter apple or bitter cherry. some cats are also repelled by strong smells like lavender and lemon verbena, but they can't metabolize essential oils, which can be extremely toxic; since you're dealing with unwanted eating, not scratching or spraying, i'd stick with explicitly veterinary stuff.

how many months till we consider the blended cat family a success or total failure? must we always hurdle this baby gate?

A: honestly? twelve. i've caught chuck and steve sleeping together a grand total of twice since we adopted steve this past february - and chuck has always shared his house with another cat, and steve was about ten weeks old when we brought him home. your cats are used to being alone, and they're both adults; given that they've only shared space for a few months now, it'd be pretty shocking for them to have accepted each other already. if you actually do have a baby gate, take it down; unless they're drawing blood when they interact, they should be in the same space. have you tried the commingling-their-stinks-by-brushing-them-with-the-same-brush trick? we found that one particularly useful when jude would come home from the vet smelling like an alien.

what's the strangest fact you've ever had to check?

A: ah, fact checking. while i've never had to confirm that bill murray has a glass of warm milk before bed or that luke perry's house is haunted ("are you dead people?!"), i have lost valuable hours of my life trying to find, like, definitive spellings of celebrities' pets' names. i was once asked to figure out what happened to the maya, and i had a fedora and a big old bullwhip all picked out for myself by the time the question was rethought and retracted. probably the strangest thing i've actually had to check was whether or not it's possible for someone to be suctioned to an airplane toilet. (it's not.)
09.20.10: ask kidchamp,* round I {metal, owls, the alma mater}

dear @kidchamp, a) where can i find a titanium chain for my antler tine and b) would it be a bad idea to wear a titanium chain around my neck??

A: titanium's a fantastic material for accessories: it's light, tough, and physiologically inert, which is part of why it's used so often as a surgical supply (for artificial hips, screws, and so on). note that it osseointegrates (that is, bone tissue attaches to it), though, so if you ever develop an exoskeleton or acquire lady gaga's skeleton corset, you'll want to stop wearing the chain. as to where to find it, you've undoubtedly gathered that most titanium chains seem aimed squarely at the veiny-armed-guy market; the most delicate version i turned up is 2 mm thick and available in several lengths. if brick and mortar's your thing, i popped in to ask the girls at catbird about sources last night; they suggested going straight to the jewelry district. i would add that you might have luck with a jeweler/piercer, a la adorned; they have a lot of experience with alternative metals and could very likely point you in the right direction.

Dear @kidchamp, can you advise me on the best way to hash up an owl mask with minimum tears?

A: start with felt: good, sturdy felt if you can find it (i order wool felt from prairie point junction, and it is boss), squares from a craft store if you can't. the plastic masks you find at party stores would make a good base, though you might consider making your own template out of heavy cardboard and sandwiching it between two pieces of felt; it won't be as shaped, but you'll have more latitude for your base layer. hit google images for inspiration: think venetian bird masks, art masks (click on the question mark to see the full photo; that one's my favorite), the panels in watchmen when daniel dreiberg's making his nite owl costume. you can pull apart a duster for feathers (or find them in bulk at a craft store); personally, i'd stick to fabric, as it'll be more durable. upholstery fabric remnants are also a good bet; they fray nicely and are good for neutral colors with a bit of texture. use ribbon or a leather strip to create ties; elastic will get saggy over time, it does weird things to your hair, and it's not especially adjustable. as to the layering itself, invest in a glue gun if you don't have one, then make like my mom (maker of two full-body bird costumes, one of which she still uses twenty years later; i texted her for pointers last night): "Start w/a plain mask, then glue feathers in circular patterns from the outside in...but 1st, layer gold/brown felt w/stiff interfacing, cut into a 6" or so triangle, then bend it over nose part of mask and trim into right size for the beak. Glue on. THEN feathers."

what should a gal wear to her 10-yr college reunion (esp when all her fancy clothes have been in her closet since the 5-yr)?

A: her most flattering LBD (this is a good excuse to get a new one, if you feel like shopping; a good black dress pays for itself almost immediately) and one statement accessory (shoes or a necklace are solid bets), preferably one with a story behind it to serve as backup in case of foundering chitchat. "oh, this? i found it when we went up to seattle last year and stayed in this fun hotel with pet goldfish in the rooms..." my go-to dress is a short, grecian norma kamali for everlast i picked up for a wedding two years ago; NK's stuff is crazy-flattering, and her everlast collaboration is full of clever, durable materials.

internet, have you a secret titanium hookup (that sounds so cybernetic), owl mask experience, or reunionwear tips? how about an exoskeleton? do tell.

*tip of the hat to esb, whose dear esb posts (which, fingers crossed, could soon pop up at mcsweeney's) are so very titillating that i had to yoink the concept.



SURVIVOR: black swan green (david mitchell)*
CHALLENGER: the likeness (tana french)

if i had venture capital and/or an intense desire to get into the film business burning a hole in me, i'd waste no time optioning tana french's books. my film version of the likeness, her second novel, would pack the theaters with every conceivable demographic: i'd have a crackling undercover murder investigation for the thriller fans, a stroll through the political history of irish landlords and tenants for the history buffs, a love story for the romantics, and a big old georgian house that would charm the shit out of everyone. for good measure i'd detonate megan fox at the end, and then i would go swimming in my silo of money.

french's first novel, the (THUNDERTOME alum) in the woods, introduced rob ryan, an angsty irish homicide detective with a freaky past and a feisty, pixieish, crappy-old-vespa-ridin' partner. said partner, cassie maddox, is the sequel's main character; after her adventures with rob, she transfers to the domestic violence squad, which is where the likeness finds her, literally and figuratively. a dead girl turns up in a famine cottage outside a small village, you see, and the ID at the scene says she's lexie madison, the fictional college student cassie impersonated when she was an undercover agent years ago. she's cassie's spitting image, so the irish police decide to pretend the dead girl survived her wounds, train cassie to impersonate her apparent impersonator, and send her into lexie's old life to find her killer. it's a ludicrous premise, but it's a stunt worth following: french spends at least a hundred pages reliving the bad old days of cassie's first stint undercover and retraining her to slip into someone else's skin. as in her debut, french's ant-farmer attention to her characters' emotional antennae is a thing of meticulous beauty; i can't think of another genre writer (and only a few writers of any sort) with her talent for building interpersonal tension one hair at a time. she's either the best coffee date ever or the worst frenemy i can imagine. as she made me use the word frenemy (the mexicorn of relationship discussions) in mixed company, i'm going with the latter for now - but either way, she's a fine read.

VICTOR: black swan green, but mitchell will sweat over french's last moments for weeks.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 would megan fox be difficult to detonate? how would you go about it?

02 do you think you'd be a good undercover officer?

03 which writers do you associate with supermeticulous interpersonal tension?

04 is there a neologism you hate as much as i hate mexicorn?

05 seriously, want in on this GRAVITY'S RAINBeh business? it will be the best reading group ever.

*previous battle here.


our little cat, jude, died a year ago today. his ashes are in a little tin next to my jewelry box in our bedroom closet; i can't imagine where we would scatter them, and sometimes i need to reach in and touch the tin before i go to bed. there are things i called him which will always be only his, but there are others which were only his and now slip out of my mouth when i'm talking to steve (a gregarious, knockabout, impertinent cat, as unlike jude as he could be; the little one was private, sad-eyed, and gentle). while that should be alright or even a good thing, something in my gut dissolves every time it happens. it always comes together again. it always dissolves.

from this week's new yorker, in a collection of notes by roland barthes:
July 29th
Bibliothèque Nationale

    Letter [from Proust] to Georges de Lauris, whose mother has just died (1907).
    "Now there is one thing I can tell you: you will enjoy certain pleasures you would not fathom now. When you still had your mother you often thought of the days when you would have her no longer. Now you will often think of days past when you had her. When you are used to this horrible thing that they will forever be cast into the past, then you will gently feel her revive, returning to take her place, her entire place, beside you. At the present time, this is not yet possible. Let yourself be inert, wait till the incomprehensible power...that has broken you restores you a little, I say a little, for henceforth you will always keep something broken about you. Tell yourself this, too, for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more."

plans for the indie-coming-of-age-movie-shared-house-in-connecticut thing continue apace.
Re: CT trip update
From: 1

BTW, as a side note, it seems like one of the bedrooms is an attic room--so maybe we shouldn't worry too much about an extra couple and just be happy no one has to sleep in the attic?

Re: CT trip update
From: 2

i propose we use the attic as a jail.

Re: CT trip update
From: 3


Re: CT trip update
From: 4

maybe one of us would LIKE the attic room. you know, theoretically.

Re: CT trip update
From: 5

i was just gonna say - broadly speaking, i like attics.

Re: CT trip update
From: 4

also i bought a backgammon set.

marcy ave, dusk


SURVIVOR: tree of smoke (denis johnson)*
CHALLENGER: black swan green (david mitchell)

i like david mitchell (an englishman)'s black swan green, a novel about being thirteen in worcestershire in the early eighties, even more than i liked number9dream, a novel about being nineteen in tokyo in the sortafuture. i like it so very much that i imagine i'll prefer it to cloud atlas, his violently celebrated novel about...being at least nine ages in nine places, or so i hear. this is an intellectual failing, if the guardian's steven poole is to be believed.
There is a certain kind of novel-reader who likes to engage the muscles of empathy, but not those of ratiocination. In the US Black Swan Green has been welcomed with relief by some who are pleased that it seems to represent a shucking-off of the ebullient architectural and fabular playfulness on display in Mitchell's previous work. See, they say, that annoying postmodern stuff was never really necessary. In fact, the playfulness is still there: the author has just snuck it under their radar by turning the dial down, from nine to about three.
don't be fooled; while it sounds like poole is giving black swan green fans a pass, he concludes by damning the book with faint praise.
Perhaps Mitchell has confined himself to such a rigidly conventional format - one year in the life of one boy in one village is almost a set of Aristotelian unities for a novel - as a kind of exercise, as though a talented painter were to spend a year filling in the crude line-drawings of a child's colouring book in order to concentrate on brushwork and palette. The result is impressive, but it makes one wait even more eagerly for the next large canvas.
say, i wonder what poole would have to say about denis johnson (an american)'s bone-dry noir in nobody move after the extravaganza of the bookprizetastic tree of smoke.
After the 2007 publication of Tree of Smoke, his stupendous 600-page Vietnam war epic, Denis Johnson might well have wanted to kick back and let off some steam. He does so in grand style here. Nobody Move is a terse little hardboiled entertainment that originally ran last year as a four-part serial in Playboy magazine. Relatively speaking, the author may be slumming it, but he can't help slathering the story's pages in his usual idiosyncratic brilliance.


He knows what to leave out, as well as what to put in. Reaching the end, the exhilarated reader is blindsided by the hint of something huge.
who was it who attempted to compliment meg white back in the day by saying she knew when not to drum? i'm also reminded of my oxford poetry tutor, a formidable woman who loved the sonnet i wrote about a gay biker i met at home in california and sicced her corpulent lap dog on me when i gave her a new piece on the high street chimneys i could see from my garden in england. but surely that's neither here nor there.

black swan green, as i was saying, is lovely. mitchell does a fine job of turning out a young narrator, jason taylor, who's eloquent and inarticulate in plausible proportions. jason happens to stammer (as does mitchell, apparently; he's done some fascinating interviews with groups like the british stammering association); in his mind, his stammer is an actual character (called hangman), and the way he choreographs his speech to dodge hangman's strangling fingers is cleverly done. the way an elderly belgian woman (a character from cloud atlas, as it happens) gives him shit for using look-at-me phrases in the poetry he writes in secret for the parish magazine, in turn, is hilarious, particularly since he regularly sneaks them into his descriptions of his neighborhood ("Venus swung bright from the ear of the moon."):
"Beautiful words ruin your poetry. A touch of beauty enhances a dish, but you throw a hill of it into the pot! No, the palate becomes nauseous. You belief a poem must beautiful, or it can have no excellence. I am right?"


"Beauty is not excellence. Beauty is distraction, beauty is cosmetics, beauty is ultimately fatigue. Here"--she read from the fifth verse--"'Venus swung bright from the ear of the moon.' The poem has a terminal deflation. Ffffffffft! Dead tire. Automobile accident. It says, 'Am I not a pretty pretty?' I answer, 'Go to the hell!' If you have a magnolia in a moonlight courtyard, do you paint its flowers? Affix the flashy-flashy Christmas lights? Attach plastic parrots? No. You do not."
both she and jason ("Once a poem's left home it doesn't care about you") have fine things to say about poetry; mitchell has fine things to say about the falklands, and bullying, and hauntings, and moon-gray cats (who pop up just often enough to be pleasing rather than gimmicky - i'm looking at you, john irving). black swan green is cleverly quotidian, clumsily dashing, and occasionally painfully pitch-perfect; as a few readers have noted, it could be literature's answer to my so-called life. steven poole can suck it. from daniel zalewski (an american, if i'm not mistaken):
[A]s a reader, I don't want to be without the verbal play and inventiveness of the generation that came before Mitchell's. There has got to be a way to write fiction that pays attention to people at the same time that it represents the breadth and complexity of the kinds of societies we live in now. Mitchell is the rare novelist who makes me see that path clearly: it starts among suburban houses, passes through a meadow where boys are fighting, and somewhere up ahead leads into a shrinking wood, populated by ghosts on skates, lunatic beekeepers and Gypsies crouched around a dying fire.

VICTOR: black swan green - not because mitchell mopped THUNDERTOME with johnson, but because at the end of the day, the empress can execute whomever she likes.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 do you think british reviewers expect more of british authors (and british audiences) than they do of american ones? i realize how broad that question is, but hey, i'm american.

02 have you ever been mauled by a lap dog?

03 why are the english so possessive of their urban symbols?

04 fellow poem-writing types, are you guilty of the flashy-flashy?

05 would you be interested in joining up with GRAVITY'S RAINBeh, a gravity's rainbow-reading support group for folks who tend to get tripped up around the banana pancakes scene? we'll read about fifty pages a week, i think; i'll post a weekly introduction and a few questions in dedicated posts here on the 'champ, and anyone and everyone are invited to read along and comment, provided you don't read ahead (brothers karamazov reading group, i'm looking at you). hateration, holleration encouraged.

*previous battle here.


101 in 1001 {II}: 011 contribute work to a gallery show [completed 08.31.10]

once upon a time, i heard of a contest; it involved tearing across the city to secure a blank tote bag, spending a week reimagining said tote bag, and potentially ending up in a gallery show. i just love tearing across the city for random things (as the people who saw joe and me switching shoes to race across williamsburg could tell you), and i finally had time for a nice and complicated project; i was on this. two fridays ago, i took a cab down to the school of fashion at parsons and grabbed my blank bag.

the raw bag

on saturday i sent esb a rambling email about bags and textile portraits and technique and laura palmer and fashion and david bowie. bowiebowiebowie, she said, and who am i to argue with that? on sunday i got advice and a bunch of linen thread from the ladies at purl soho. on monday i picked up contact paper and blew out a bowie-photo at kinko's for a rough template; by monday night i had a viable source sketch and was a little one-woman sweatshop. a word of advice to you, internet: should you find that you have to embroider a tote bag at some point in your life, go through the extra step of taking said bag apart. i didn't, so i had to do the whole thing upside down and have a lovely pointillist bowie on my right thigh.

embroidery detail

i actually didn't start listening to records as i sewed until thursday night; on friday morning, for my last three hours of satin stitches, i played low (twice), heroes, and the first half of changesbowie. i tub-dyed the whole thing friday morning (per jamie and one of our fashion editors), hid it from steve overnight, and climbed up to the roof to take submission photos on saturday morning. on saturday night i kept grabbing joe's arm. i want to win, i hissed.


yesterday i won,

le show

and yesterday evening joe and amanda and i had semi-cold cans of beer at the gallery show. and tiki drinks at painkiller. and banh mi and pho at an choi.

{full project set here}