Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Q&A with the Amazon Queen of My Heart.

In the spirit of all the inane Q&A sessions being offered up as "politically informing" lately, I propose another, different kind of Q&A. We here at May in the Bay* propose an interview with blogger Laura von Holt’s (The Famous Chronicles) on her birthday.

Now, Laura von Holt** is Famous. She is known by many names and sports many alteregos. She is sometimes Pumpkin (of Flash &), sometimes von Hottie, sometimes Stupid White Girl, and sometimes someone else entirely. To me, she is simply Wife. And Amazon Queen of My Heart. If you could campaign for such a job, she would likely also be President Elect of My Heart, but none of this happened democratically. She stormed into my life from Day One*** with a stunning coup d’etat, any other contenders for the role left so slaughtered in her wake that their never-to-be-born grandchildren felt the spray of blood. No one stood a chance. There was nothing fair about it. But that was how it was, how the history went. She wasn’t and then one day she was. My life was revolutionized ever since. While she may say I’m the boss of her, I think it’s pretty clear who’s the ruler of what.

(Let that function as sufficient biographical information. If you’re more curious, well, then, you’ll just have to go read The Famous Chronicles, won’t you?)

Moving along, swiftly along. LVH, on the eve of your 28th birthday, my and your readers are dying to know:

1. What was the best thing that happened during your 27th year?
2. What do you hope to accomplish in your 28th year?
3. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
4. What's the one thing you want most in the world? Besides a new iPod?
5. What would be your superhero power, if you could really have one power?
6. What have you learned about yourself or life in 27 years that you would like to impart to our combined readership?

I will post LVH’s responses when I get them, but don’t hold your breath. Her g-mail chat dot is orange, which indicates that she is away from her desk. Which further indicates she’s at a bar somewhere in the Village and is not likely to return to said desk till I wrestle her awake tomorrow morning around, oh, noon.

Nota bene: After May 1, we will return to our regularly scheduled programming, including, for the few interested (hi, Mom), the details of my own birthday celebration. I'm not being coy or waiting for you to ask, I'm just terribly, terribly behind at work. Which 100% explains why I'm blogging. Again. For, like, the fourth time today. Wow. I suck.

* Yeah, uhh, that's just me. But a "royal we" felt really good and right here.

** Hereafter, LVH.
*** This was approximately August something-or-other, 1998, at Sarah Lawrence College.

Ode to Burlingame's library.

I really miss the Primrose Road branch of the CA Peninsula library system. I am not knocking Brooklyn Public Libraries, exactly but . . . Oh, who am I kidding. Yes, I am knocking Brooklyn Public Libraries. I miss the pretty Primrose library and its Spanish architecture and willowy, drapey trees. I miss its little lion statues. I miss the ease of self-checkout machines. I miss the overeager, helpful, old lady librarians. I miss the immense fiction selection at even a local branch. I miss how clean the library was and how pristine the books were, borrowed by, cared for, and returned in a timely fashion by people who love books. But Brooklyn is not Burlingame, and neither does it have its financial resources. And neither do I have the financial resources to be buying and treasuring every single book I want to read, so there you have it: for now, I'm stuck with what is available to me. Bah.

White Apples, con't.

Last night, Dave and I turned in around midnight. I propped myself up with some pillows, intending to read “just one chapter” of White Apples by Jonathan Carroll, and Dave curled his body around mine. In a few minutes he was totally knocked out and snoring. But I didn’t notice at all—his snoring, his tossing and turning, or the clock ticking towards 3 am because I was so engrossed in the book. “Just one chapter” quickly became, you know, “just the entire book.” Ooops. No wonder I didn’t get up till almost noon today.

There are not words precise enough in all the romance languages combined to say how much I loved this book. I mean, really, any book that titles chapter 1 “Chocolate-Covered God” starts off with some serious brownie points anyway. To have the literary hijinkiness of Tom Robbins, some of the parable-like qualities of Jose Saramago, the mystery of Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami, worlds as wide as David Mitchell, and the sheer gorgeousness of prose of Michael Cunningham, Zora Neale Hurston, Anais Nin, and Victoria Redel . . . well, you are no longer Author to me. You are God. Suffice to say that, for me, Jonathan Carroll has joined the hallowed ranks of those beloved writers listed above. (Include on this list Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts also, though obviously for a different reason.)

One of my favorite moments in the book is how The Great Love Affair of All Time unravels because of semantics, to-may-to, to-mah-to style. It is sad, and frustrating, and most of all stupid, but that is what makes the moment so like life: that even two people that intimately know each other's souls can be undone in a second by language and meaning. That a whole chain of events can be set in motion by a simple wrong choice of words. (As a writer/editor, you know I'm eating that shit up because it makes my life feel like it has more purpose.)

Here are a few passages, just to whet your appetite. These were the ones I painstakingly copied down before I realized that, as when I read Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart (and here), if I kept up at this rate, I’d end up copying, word-for-word, his whole damn book. (Moral of the story: In some cases, it may be better to just give the book back to the library and resign yourself to ordering off Amazon.) Anyway, the passages:
"Patience never wants Wonder to enter the house: because Wonder is a wretched guest. It uses all of you but is not careful with what is most fragile or irreplaceable. If it breaks you, it shrugs and moves on. Without asking, Wonder often brings along dubious friends: doubt, jealousy, greed. Together they take over; rearrange the furniture in every one of your rooms for their own comfort. They speak odd languages but make no attempt to translate for you. They cook strange meals in your heart that leave odd tastes and smells. When they finally go are you happy or miserable? Patience is always left holding the broom." (13)

"If you are a success in life, there are places you must go and pay to be humiliated. It is an unwritten law that human beings must be tormented throughout their lives in one way or another. If you are fortunate enough to have risen to a social level where no one does it to you for free, then you must pay for the service. Trendy restaurants, exclusive boutiques, any Mercedes-Benz dealer, or your very own personal trainer saying how fat and out of shape you are being a few examples." (21)

"The great, the sublime Isabelle. Isabelle Neukor. Three quarters perfection, one quarter broken glass. But he would have walked barefoot back and forth across that glass, he would have eaten it if it meant he could have her." (40)

P.S. Don’t we all want to date someone who’d write about us like this? Even Isabelle’s flaws are perfected by such language.
"He loved picking people up at the airport. Loved the feel of airports--the comings and goings, the tremendous emotions that filled the air like ozone--partings forever, welcome homes after years away, the tactile immediacy of right this moment when so many things ended or began." (56)

Amen to this. This is the Airport, Perfectly. And Carroll is right, airports are such tactile, fertile, lush environments for story. (I’m still trying to get my pufferfish/airport/terrorist/stripper story to work but at least it's set in a place where so much is possible.)

Obama 4 Prez.: Q&A at MOMocrats.

Today, Senator Obama addressed MOMocrats' readers' questions, which they wish had been asked during the recent Democratic Presidential Primary Debate on ABC. That is, especially in place of the questions that were asked.

(Thanks to Cynematic for the tip and to MOMocrats for the original post.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

April 26, 1980.

I was born at eight in the morning 28 years ago today. My mother and father were married and mostly still in love. My mother had prepared every single thing perfectly so that I would come into the world gently, blissfully, ecstatically. She gave birth naturally, and to jazz, Art Farmer’s Gentle Eyes. My father fainted at the blood. My mother kept giving birth, coach or no coach, because she was calmly and surely ready for me. This is a pretty good metaphor for my entire life.

On that rainy Saturday, April 26, 2008* . . . Blondie came in at #1 for the third week in a row for their hit “Call Me,” the theme song for Richard Gere’s American Gigolo. A young mother and daughter (Louise Yvonne Faulkner, age 43 and Charmian Christabel Alexis Faulkner, aged 2 1/2) disappeared, still without a trace, from outside their residence in St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia. The longest jump by a jet boat was set on this day at 120 feet. And Channing Tatum came unto the world.

It’s 2:30 a.m., and I am awake to greet the midnight, dawn, and rest of the hours of April 26, 1980, because I have to catch the 4-something-a.m. train to meet Dave at JFK, where we will pick up a rental car and head to the Hamptons for the weekend. I’ve never been, and you know how I love to rub elbows with the rich and famous … or at very least eat where they eat, sleep where they sleep, and breathe the same air they do. Anyway, I’m excited. It’s still the off-season, that is, it’s not exactly beach weather, but that perturbs me not because I’m a bit of a snob about mainland beach water (this includes California, people. I have impossibly lofty standards, having grown up in Hawai’i.). And there’s plenty of other things to do. Like sightsee, and hopefully visit Duck Walk Vineyard, and swim in the hotel pool, and rent bikes, and take long walks, and feel sand between my toes, and eat delicious food, and drink copiously, and talkstory with Dave about every random thing that pops in my head, and not blog compulsively, and unplug from the world, and spend some time growing comfortable in my slightly older skin.

Am I exactly who I thought I’d be at 28? And exactly where I thought I’d be in life? Am I even exactly who I want to be period? No, no, and no, but thank god. It’d be a long and boring life if I had already obtained everything I could imagine for myself. Sure, I wish I were skinnier, hotter, bolder, and had an easier time talking to complete strangers. I wish I were less covetous, less bitchy, and more able to control my temper. I wish I had less stress, less work, more money, and more hours in the day. I wish I could rediscover that compulsive need I had, circa 1980–1998, to write, because it sure as heck would come in handy when I start graduate school this June.

But I have plenty to be proud of. I feel beautiful and comfortable and usually even sexy in my skin. I am occasionally damnably charming. I am a good procrastinator, an even better editor, and an excellent writer. I am the kind of best friend I would want to have, and I am a Wife like it’s both the passion of passions and a job for which I want a promotion. I have learned to cook and at least sew buttons back on. I have surrounded myself with the most incredible, diverse, vibrant, creative, kind, passionate, and fucking brilliant-est-est friends (from ages 12 to 60+) you can possibly imagine . . . but you don’t have to imagine if you’re reading this, because I probably count you in that group. I try my very best to live my dreams: I married the man I said I would when I was 17; I moved back to New York; I got into graduate school for writing; I got a tattoo; I’ve travelled to Jamaica, Tahiti and Moorea, Paris, and Tokyo. I wrote a libretto and eventually I will write another. I wanted to write novels, so I wrote three. I wanted to learn more about short stories, so I started writing five new ones this year. I try to acknowledge the things I’m afraid of and then do them anyway. I try to keep myself humble. I can be thoughtful and a great support system, but I also firmly do not believe in putting everyone’s needs before my own: a lesson slow learned and hard earned. I believe in the truth, in telling people what I really think, but I also have no problem with the occasional white lie, if it’s not hurting anyone (after all, fiction writers can’t exactly be sticklers for the truth). I am slow to befriend someone new, caught in the awkwardness and rusty disuse of those breaking-the-ice skills, but when I have embraced you into my life, you will know it, you won’t doubt it, and it will take a lot for me to ever let you go. If I love you, I will love you so much and so well that I will carry both your dreams and your grudges close to my heart. I can be a tenacious motherfucker. I forgive, but I don’t forget. I love and I am loved. Finally, I am my own best friend, and I am my own hero.

A reminder from the birthday girl to the birthday girl and all of you: “To 2008, then. May we all be unabashed and unafraid in our living.”

* Other stuff happened on this day in other years but I guess it was a slow news day in 1980. Except for, of course, the birth of me. Check out this website to see what happened on *your* birthday.

"tits and tats."

According to Style by Mary:
"Hard Rock pool is like a frat party. Everyone’s wasted and shakin their booty to Flo Rida. A wristband is required for entry, but style isn’t. Just flaunt your tits and tats."
Clearly, Hard Rock pool is where Wife and I *should* be having a joint birthday party. She's got the tits, I've got the tats, and who doesn't like a little Flo Rida? Unfortunately, Hard Rock pool is at Hard Rock Hotel. Like, in Vegas. And while I can see the two of us heading for Vegas, I can't see us bringing my, oh, 20 guests and the 50+ she was planning to invite. Sigh. Wife. I love you but you are not the easiest person to plan a joint party with, considering you move with such an entourage. You know, now that you're sooo superfamous.

(Thanks to Style by Mary for the tip.)

"Why do *you* run?"

SurfRunner wants to know.

Well. *I* run because . . .

1) I treat bacon, cupcakes, and doughnuts like the long-lost 5th food group. (I know, enough with this joke already, however true.)

2) I want Marisa Miller's body. (Haha, I know, dream on.)

3) It's EXCELLENT stress relief, because it's an hour or so that ALL I can do is run and listen to my iPod. I can't write or edit or procrastinate on writing/editing or feel bad for procrastinating. I can only run and listen to music. Soooo relaxing.

4) Because if you can push through that uncomfortable/semi-painful first part of the run, the endorphins kick in and you get the natural high part. Excellent!

5) If I run, I feel less bad about the bacon and doughnuts. haha. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)


4COL, txting is no LOL matter.*

The New York Times reports that the "informal style of electronic messages is showing up in schoolwork," according to a recent study.

Well, if these kiddies grow up and get graduate degrees in anthropology and find themselves trying to publish in American Anthropologist, I am so going to KTLLB (that is, Kick their lazy little butts in mayumi-speak).

* For translations of these and other text-speak, visit netlingo. Then you can join me in being alarmed at how many of these text speaks (used most predominantly by teenagers) involve blatant and raunchy requests for sex. What is this world coming to?! Or, at least, why are we so aware of the secret lives of teenagers now when we were blissfully shielded from "TMI" before? I think Dave and I are going to wait to have kids until scientists discern a way to "fast-forward" through the ages of 10-21.

Russell Brand's "Booky Wook."

It appears that Alduous Snow is not such a fictional character afterall. The apple of that hilarious character falls not too far from the tree of the real-life Russell Brand, who played the character in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall (recently reviewed here at May in the Bay). The British Brand recently wrote a book, entitled appropriately enough My Booky Wook, in which he discusses his rock-star lifestyle and for which he sports the same hair. And it won a British Book Award! Supposedly it's a tale of "bulimia, self-harm, heroin addiction, sex addiction and spells in rehab . . . [as well as] fame but also of redemption." Or, as Brand himself put it: "My life is a series of embarrassing incidents strung together by telling people about those embarrassing incidents."

Well, if that doesn't make you want to read his booky wook, I'm afraid nothing ever will.

E komo mai, "SurfRunner"!

Hahahaha, my dear friend "SurfRunner" caved in and started a blog today. I'm still not sure if I have the OK to link her actual name with her blog, but then again she titled her blog "Jog in Ocean" and cleverly pointed out that it is an anagram of her name. Because she works with all kinds of techie-geeky types, her anonymity is shot now anyway. I didn't actually believe that "Jog in Ocean" would spell out her name, but sure enough if you pick up a pen and paper, it totally works. Dude. "SurfRunner." Totally impressed. [Insert the jokes you love to make about how you, an engineer, can totally beat my ass down at Scrabble.] I know, I know already. Sheesh.

SurfRunner plans to write about her half-marathon training, and probably her triathalon training, and eventually probably her full marathon training. (Oy, I feel like such a schlub.) And she kicked off her first entry with wise insight about running: "It's a paradox. You have to speed up to slow down." Move over, Confucius!

In all seriousness, though, she makes an excellent point: that to unwind we have to unplug, and to slow down from the crazy world we live in, we have to go outside and, like, just be in that world.


Anyway. You know I'll be checking on her marathon training progress . . . probably while I eat my bacon and cupcakes and homemade doughnuts. haha.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"The rigidity trap": anthropology as it applies to (my) real life.

I just finished my second read-through of an article that will be published in the September 2008 issue of American Anthropologist: “Social Transformation and Its Human Costs in the Prehispanic U.S. Southwest,” by Michelle Hegmon, Matthew A. Peeples, Ann Kinzig, Stephanie Kulow, Cathryn M. Meegan, and Margaret C. Nelson.

The authors state: “Change is inevitable, but some changes and transformations are more dramatic and fraught with suffering than others” (in press). They discuss the idea of the “rigidity trap,” which basically boils down to, among other things, the idea that the harder you fight change, the more it’s gonna end up whalloping you upside the head. Obviously, these are my terms, not theirs. At the end of the article, they provide a list of reasons why people fight change: in their case, they speak of three archaeological cases (Mimbres, Mesa Verde, and Hohokam), but I find the concept to be applicable generally.

I hope the authors will forgive the necessary liberties I take with their meticulous scholarship, as I am an editor and writer and not an anthropologist but I see a crystal-clear parallel here to something that’s been rolling about in my head for the last couple weeks.

1. Absence of social options: If you don’t know people outside of your immediate comfort zone, it makes it harder to leave that comfort zone.
2. The limits of buffering strategies: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and do hedge your bets. But even if you do, you’ll never be prepared 100% for change, and “there are always tradeoffs” (in press).
3. Attachment to traditions: Be careful of getting so stuck in your ways, even if your ways are ones you enjoy.
4. Attachment to technology: If you take a bigger risk, you can reap a bigger reward. But often it is exactly those who should take the biggest risk and need the biggest reward who let fear dictate that the smallest risk and the smallest reward are the safer way to go.
5. Attachment to place: Home is where the heart is, yo. Home is the place that will still be there once you go away and come back. Home is where you hang your hat. Home is … not a place you should let yourself get “stuck” in, for love or money.
6. Path dependence: The combination of all of the above can paralyze you. “[Path dependence] describes how the development of certain technologies, institutions, or land-use patterns (especially in combination) often establishes a trajectory that becomes increasingly difficult to change, even if change is recognized as desirable” (Hegmon et al. in press).

Consider this brief and strange blog entry a shout-out to my sister Julieann at A Candid Life and another shout-out to Roman Gabriel Rimer. My sister and my brother, change is terrifying, fer sure, but I have a feeling the changes you are each moving toward will be worth it. And I have this feeling because I see the joy in each of you, having decided on change. I am so proud of and amazed by each of you for taking the first steps towards making your life the one you want to be living.

nota bene: "hottest swimwear."

Reading Wife's most recent post on the Hotel QT adventure, which I reluctantly turned down last night, I am reminded of another reason why I should cut down on the eating of cupcakes, the seeing bacon as a vegetable, and the homemaking of doughnuts.

Two words for you: swimsuit season.

And a further sentence for me: Swimsuit season is year-round in Hawai'i, and you have two weddings to attend in Waikiki between May and July, you idiot!!

nota bene: "homemade."

I was trying for an impossibly cool and offhand tone when I mentioned those doughnuts, but who am I kidding? I am really impressed with us that we made homemade doughnuts. Even if we totally cheated, using the idiot-proof recipe from Real Simple. I totally thought of the strawberry jam and crème fraîche on my very own, though! (We skipped the cinnamon in favor of the toppings, but I imagine it'd be just as good with [d] all of the above: cinnamon, sugar, fresh jam, and crème fraîche! What a glutton I am!)

Please also note: when I whine about having gained weight, will you do me a favor and remind me to (a) stop eating bacon like it's a vegetable and (b) stop making homemade doughnuts?! And (c) for that matter, get up off that ass girl and jog or something!!

Thanks, Internet. Thanks very much.

The Real Thing: Ben Carroll.

When we parted ways after Wednesday night’s lovely evening of Ben Carroll and meaty-cheesyness (‘inoteca, not Ben), Wife laughed that she couldn’t wait till we both got home and blogged about it. It’s sick, I guess, like something doesn’t truly happen until it’s been blogged about, but there you have it.

This is what I wrote at 3:21 A.M. as I sat at west 4th waiting for a Brooklyn-bound train to come: “Note what time it is. Who the fuck am I? It’s all Ben Carroll’s fault that I’m still out at 3:21 A.M. I mean, not really, because his set was done at, like, 10:30 P.M. But still.” What I meant was that while he did not physically keep Wife and I out till 3 A.M., his voice was so delicious and we were put in such a great mood by his music that 10:30 P.M. couldn’t possibly be the end of the evening, could it? Despite being quite moved by Ben’s performance, I didn’t blog when I got home, nor did I do it the next morning over coffee and homemade doughnuts with a side of strawberry jam and crème fraiche. Nor did I try to organize my thoughts for the entirety of yesterday, as Dave and I traipsed about the Brooklyn Museum, taking in the Murakami exhibit (more on that later). I needed to let the Ben and the ‘inoteca sink into my subconscious.

So. This time Wife beat me to the punch, and you can read her account of the evening here. With a few slight discrepancies of opinion—who, exactly, was it that said the monkey line? And, really, how much was that bill?—it’s a case of “to-may-to, to-mah-to.” We’ll call it "close enough."

The important part—with which I wholeheartedly agree—is that Ben Carroll is a very talented musician and songwriter. His lyrics are deft, clever, and poetic, the accompanying music catchy and memorable. Even better is hearing/seeing him perform live. Having often listened to his first album, Lover Undercover, by the time we saw him perform on Tuesday night, I could play the tracks in my head, back-to-back, without the help of my iPod. And yet, his live rendition of “Luv U So” (granted he did admit it had been a while since he’d sang the song and he hoped he remembered how it went) was an utterly different animal: never once did he falter for words or notes, but I could hear him take obvious, playful liberties from the recorded version that were refreshing and fun.

Ben’s voice is pure sex, so masculine and yet tender and somehow strangely earnest . . . and all this coming out of this metro, even androgynous frame. I can’t explain this well, and I'd be pretty embarassed if he ever ends up reading this, but I imagine it’s something like—though not as extreme as—the appeal that the-artist-formerly-known-as-Prince holds for women. Like you’re not 100% sure he swings your way, but you hope to every almighty god there is that he does.

It goes without saying that I write all of this objectively. As some woman who is not married like me might see it. Haha.

By far my favorite, favorite song off Lover Undercover is “Love U So.” While a song seemingly about a physically violent relationship, it is hottt. I’m sorry and I’m a bit embarrassed, because there’s nothing sexy about a wife-beater (the dude, not the shirt). But that song has been stuck in my head for the last four or five days now, and I still love it, as long as I don’t think too long or hard about its meaning. Really, in my head it sounds like this: “I am Ben Carroll and my voice sounds like pure sex, Dad-dy-y luvs you sooooo.”


1. LUV U SO (off Lover Undercover)
2. Precious, Precious (cover of Jackie Moore’s original)
3. Whatever song involved his friend playing the harmonica. Was guuud.
4. Heart Is a River (off Real Thing, his newest album)

All in all, I deeply admire Ben as a songwriter, singer, and musician. I really want to hit up another performance of his during his spring/summer residency at The Living Room, and I want to bring Dave along, because I think as a fellow musician, he will be able to truly appreciate Ben’s aesthetic. I also heartily encourage ANY and ALL of you--especially those of you from SLC, show your pride by supporting a fellow alum!--to sample his music, purchase his albums, and if you live in the nyc-area, to check out his performances!

As for 'inoteca: Mmmm. What can I say that Wife didn't say better? Fancy meat! Fancy cheese! And chilled red wine that sparkled almost as much as her eyes as she flirted furiously with the waitstaff. All in all? Completely delicious: the meat, the cheese, the bread, the wine, the wife.

Peace out.

Lassen & Hennig's red velvets are perfect.

When seeking The Perfect Red Velvet Cupcake, look no further than Brooklyn Heights's Lassen & Hennig's. I don't even think they make any other flavor of cupcake, but they hardly need to. Those red velvet suckers are perfect.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The things you do (or don’t do) for Love.

Tonight, I got the following text message from Wife:
“I want you, Wexler, and mayumi in your hottest swimwear at the Qt. From [redacted]”

Now, when I get invited to events by other people, even at the very last minute, I usually like to say yes. Because New York is a place to have random adventures, because I will likely have fun (esp. if accompanying my Wife), and because I want to keep being invited.

Wife followed up the text with a phone call informing me that we had been requested at a friend’s Bachelor party at Hotel Q, which has a swim-up bar. A swim-up bar?!?!?! How deeply fucking awesome!

Then I thought about it. Wearing a swimsuit in public and being ogled by men is perhaps not an appropriate activity for a married woman. Even if I brought my husband along. Dave clearly did not want to attend this party with a bunch of people he didn’t know for some dude he didn’t know. If I had gone alone, I might have been able to get my car from Brooklyn paid for (according to Wife, at least) and perhaps even a drink or two. But with Dave coming along, it’s not like anybody’d buy him drinks, even if he wore his “hottest swimwear,” so the evening reeked of a night of fun we cannot afford.

Story of our lives, that: fun that we cannot afford.

So, with obvious reluctance and some silent pouting, I just turned Laura and the party down:
“Thank[s] for the invite. But I think we’d better sit this one out. Being a good wife and saying no when I want to say yes.”

Sigh. The things you do and don’t do for love.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"piece of me" : on celebrity.

OHH, SNAP. The situation has been heating up between Julia Allison and her reblogger.

Now, I've openly admitted before that I read Julia (and Mary and Meghan), followed by Reblogging Julia. And while even I've winced a time or two picturing actually being in Julia's shoes, I can't say it stopped me from reading (sorry, Julia!).

Here's the interesting part to me: When you actively pursue fame, are you obligated to accept the total package? This is not a new or particularly interesting question. It comes up every couple months in some celebrity rag or another, in the form of Little Miss Badass Hollywood (or Mr.) taking a swing at the paparazzi, and then ending up in oodles of legal trouble herself/himself. You see it raised in the profiles on actors and rockstars in the (slightly less cutthroat) magazines too, where celebs will wearily discuss the costs of fame.

But this situation with Julia Allison seems to shine light anew on the question, because Julia makes her living speculating about and commenting on the lives of celebrities (as Star Magazine's Editor-at-Large). In addition to that, Julia is a dating columnist for Time Out New York, blogs compulsively (that is, until her self-appointed recent "hiatus"), and has recreated an idea of herself as something of a "(wo)man about town." Julia has no trouble breezing through different crowds of folk, or reaping the kind words that have been said about her, but where she runs into trouble is with the unfavorable reviews.

Because it's 4:22am and if I don't blog this now, I likely never will, and because I don't really have anything effervescently new to add to the conversation about Fame, just more questions, I will just say: Girl, read the recent New Yorker profile on George Clooney (Profiles: Somebody Has To Be in Control: The effort behind George Clooney's effortless charm." By Ian Parker. New Yorker, April 14, 2008: pp. 40-49). There is a star who knows how to maneuver around and through fame . . . and still manage to have quite a decent dating life. Some pertinent quotes:

"He capped a conversation about paparazzi intrusions with a politic acknowledgment of the privileges of fame." (40)

"There's something ... old-fashioned about the way a public version of Clooney's private life has kept his actual privacy intact. He in incessantly winning but not confessional: the media gets its wine and cheese, and Clooney--without taking visible offense at any question, without ever taking the conversation off the record--holds on to his soul." (43)

"I do close down, there's no question about it. I've got a long driveway, and I've built fences, and in Italy I bought the house next door to keep the paparazzi out. And that's why you make the house like a playground, in a way, and your friends come over and you have a movie theater and you grill out on a Sunday night, and create the world that can be really fun and pleasant. Because sometimes it's not so fun to go out." (47)

starting "white apples," by jonathan carroll.

. . . and I can already tell I'm going to love it. This is what the author wrote about writing this book:
Most people have a number of love stories to tell. But truth and reason go flying out the window when it comes to telling them. Because our love stories are the ultimate air guitar. IE we stand in front of the bedroom mirror, wearing only underpants and black socks, imagining ourselves playing Jimi Hendrix-level
guitar in front of 20,000 adoring fans. We want to be heroic, beautiful, wise and sexy in the eyes of our lovers. Sadly and not a little funnily, it doesn’t often work out that way. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth, and that is the reason why so many people play air guitar and so few of us perform at Madison Square Garden.

I have always wanted to write a love story. Years ago I began one about three men, great friends, who fall for the same woman. I wrote one hundred pages and then realized it didn’t work. So I waited twenty years to get up enough courage to try again. Plain and simple, WHITE APPLES is a love story. If it works, it is a deep bow to women and the magic they are so capable of performing. It is about Orpheus and Eurydice, it is about what happens after death, it is about God. Perhaps most importantly it tells us the secret of zoos and what is really going on at that corner barbershop that stays open late most nights.

Duuude. Anyone who can write like that about writing itself has my vote. Jonathan Carroll, you're a god and you can air-guitar in front of me any day of the week!

Monday, April 21, 2008

birthday countdown . . .

Ohmygod, I am almost 28. My birthday is this Saturday. Husband and I are trying for a getaway this weekend. Wife (whose bday is May 1) and I are trying for a mutual party sometime in early May.

Roman Gabriel Rimer.

I am mad proud of my friend right now who is doing something she has wanted to do her whole life: change her gender to fit his self. She who was once Delia shall now, henceforth, be he. And if that wasn't fucking rad enough, he renamed himself "Roman Gabriel Rimer."

Aside from the joy one feels watching a friend become more comfortable in his skin, there's a metaphor there . . . something else to admire, something about not waiting a minute more to live your life as you desire to live it, something about living consciously in your skin, something about taking the time to befriend and truly know your own self. You know. Carpe-ing the diem.

Umm, Roman? You're my new fucking hero. When are we having your rebirth day party?!

Vote for Michael Moore's sake!

My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) Michael Moore

April 21st, 2008

Friends, I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.

So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you.

But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?' THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"

But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.

Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Michael Moore

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quote of the day: yes, that's it exactly.

"Sarah Lawrence gave me the confidence to jump in the water without knowing how to swim. I'm not claiming to be the most brilliant person in the world, but SLC
made me feel like I could do anything. No matter what happened, I knew I wouldn't fail. I could always find my way back to shore."

--Marjorie Miller '53, SLC alum and donor, from Sarah Lawrence Magazine (spring '08)

OMG, I am such a groupie.

As I sat there with my Sarah Lawrence Magazine and open, my cell phone rang with an unknown 808 area code phone number. It was a friend of my mother's, whose daughter just got accepted to Sarah Lawrence College. The whole family wanted to know about what I had thought about Sarah Lawrence. I said, "Well, first off, congratulations!" but what I should have said is, "Well, first off, how much time do you have, because I'm about to give you a dissertation on why your daughter should attend SLC, no matter how many loans you all have to take out to pay for it." Twenty-two minutes later, this poor woman had managed to get in about 15 words edgewise, and ended up cutting me off in the middle of a story.

Gawd, I am such a groupie.

Ode to my don.

I was just reminiscing about Sarah Lawrence with the Spring '08 issue flipped open in front of me, and my fingers clicking away on . . . and I have to say, even though I've already taken three semesters worth of Victoria Redel, I really wish I could take this class.

Memory and Fiction
Victoria Redel
Level: Open
Semester: Spring
In this course, we will explore the uses of childhood and memory as springboards for short fiction. How do writers move from the kernel of experience to the making of fiction? How do writers use their own past to develop stories that are not the retelling of what happened—but an opportunity to develop a fiction with its own integrity and truth? We will work from writing experiments and weekly reading of short fictions and novels.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

get the fucking country right at least, asshole.

Tonight, on our way to meet Craig for dinner, I did not have time to put in my contacts before we left the house. This bummed me out because I'm always convinced I might miss a famous person sighting--and tonight the missing contacts was also where the trouble started. I was walking along to the subway with Dave, mostly blind and thus totally oblivious, minding my own business and pantomiming for D. my imagining of what would happened if I tried to put my contacts on on the train, which basically looked like me stabbing myself in the eye and involved loud, comic noises.

Out of nowhere came this little voice behind me. "Do you want me to punch you in the eye? Should I punch you in the eye?"

I turned around to give the voice a strange look, and it was a little, twitchy, Caucasian man who was definitely mentally ill and possibly also homeless. I contented myself with a simple death glare and turned back around to continue my conversation with D.

At this point, Twitchy noticed the tattoo on my back. "Maybe I should punch you in the eye! You should get another tattoo. You should get another huge tattoo and die from the poison! You're probably already poisoned! You should die!"

At this point, I deigned to offer a polite "FUCK OFF" over my shoulder as I kept talking and walking with Dave.

But Twitchy liked my rough talk. "You should die! You should fuck off! Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you."

I offered several "FUCK YOUS" back, but his steady flow of deathtalk was impervious to my interjections.

Twitchy continued to follow me, like a shadow. "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you are trying to kill me. You Chinamen are trying to kill all the white people. You want us to die. You want us dead."

At long last I had him. "At least get the fucking country right, asshole."

Twitchy launched in, "Oh you're Japanese. I see you're a Jap. Fuck you, fuck you ... " Until his interest waned in favor of a pizza place.


(A) Actually, try American, asshole.

(B) Do you Caucasians out there ever have to explain your race to strangers--whether they think they're making polite conversation or know they're being an asshole? When did the memo go out that this is socially acceptable?!

(C) How the FUCK do you live in the middle of New York city, dude? Where have you been living, under a goddamn rock? Down in the unused tunnels with the rats? How have you avoided seeing and acknowledging and growing used to racial difference? Or do you do this to a different person every day?

(D) Why is it always the Caucasian crazies that say these things to me? Seriously. It's either "Go back to China" or "I've heard Asian [vaginas] are slanted the other way." Both comments of which I was at the unfortunate receiving end in the smackdab middle of New York city. Cosmopolitan, my ass.

and, finally,

(E) It's nice to know that pizza was more interesting than verbally assaulting me for my race.

same-same campaign.

I just stumbled on a very obvious benefit of my wife's and my "same-same" campaign. The same-same campaign is how we like to buy all the same stuff--same clothes, same purses, same jewelry, same makeup, same food, same cocktails--and then wear or eat or drink them together. (I'm guessing that a therapist might tell us we have boundary issues.)

Anyway, the benefit, the benefit . . .

Tonight Dave and I are meeting up with one of my high school friends, Craig. He is the same friend I met up with last Sunday for an art and music show. I just got out of the shower a little while ago and was trying to decide what to wear, especially based on how positively balmy the weather is. I had reached for an old standby, a very comfortable brown floral dress from Old Navy which I wear on its own when its warm and with jeans and a sweater when its colder, but could not for the life of me remember if I had actually worn it when I saw Craig on last Sunday. This is the problem with old standbys: if they standby so often you can't recall when you weren't wearing them. I struggled to remember, I tried to recall my day moment by moment, I checked my camera for a possible picture of the evening, I checked the weather of last Sunday to deduce my outfit based on temperature, I even asked Dave (who had worked that night and so couldn't come to the show) what I was wearing. None of it worked.

Then I realized: I had gone to Wife's apartment after the show. We shot the breeze and eventually decided to go to The Dove. And Wife, bless her heart, wanted to be same-same, so she put on a blue tank with a brown shirt, to be same-same-but-different to my brown tank and blue shirt.

This is what it takes sometimes to get dressed, ladies and gents: fierce deductive reasoning and a little bit of help from your Wife.

holyshit, no wonder I'm nauseated.

I've been feeling sleepy and dizzy and throw-uppy all morning and just assumed it was this new medication my doctor has me on. I'm supposed to take it on an empty stomach. But even if I don't eat for an hour after taking it, or wait two hours after having eaten to take it, or take it with two full glasses of water, I still feel like hurling. This medicine is nasty. But then I just realized that in the last 24 hours, I've eaten one pack of Welch's fruit snacks. And nothing else. Since late lunch yesterday with Laura. I did drink like 15 glasses of water, though, because it was so hot yesterday. But, dude, that's fucked up! I mean, I like food!! Shi-it. I'm going to go eat something rightnow. Promise.

On "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."

Last night I saw "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" with my favorite movie-going partner, Androooo. There is no one better to see movies with--especially raunchy comedies or the rare horror flick I actually deign to view--because with Androoo I don't have to curb my natural impulse to react to everysingleminute of the film. That is, I am my own peanut gallery.

We're definitely entering the season of light comedies, and there's nothin' wrong with that. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was, to my mind, a great kickoff to that season. First off, the movie was well-cast: especially, Mila Kunis as Rachel, Russell Brand as Alduous Snow, and Paul Rudd as a spacey surf instructor. I was especially relieved to note that unlike 50 First Dates, Forgetting Sarah Marshall did not employ famous actors/actresses in blackface/"brownface" attempting to pass as native Hawaiians. I have still not forgiven Rob Schneider or the producers of 50 First Dates for the character of "Ula," or for that matter for their attempt to pass off Lucy (Drew Barrymore) and Henry (Adam Sandler) as "locals" when they walked around saying "aloha" and "mahalo" every five words. (GRRRR . . . Just thinking about 50 First Dates now sets my teeth on edge all over again.) In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, producers actually cast actual local people to play the local people (two pro surfers Kala Alexander and Kalani Robb, among others). They followed this wise decision with another: to portray other non-local actors and actresses (such as Mila Kunis, Paul Rudd, Davon McDonald, etc.) as mainlanders who had come to Hawai'i and ended up staying, rather than trying to pass them off as Hawaiians or born-and-raised locals. I must also add that these actors were more successful portraying their roles than their counterparts in 50 First Dates.

To be clear, I'm not saying that the only people who can ever portray born-and-bred locals are actual born-and-bred locals. I'm not even saying that the only people who can ever portray Native Hawaiians are Native Hawaiians or born-and-bred locals. What I am saying is that Hollywood never manages to use non-born and bred locals/non-Native Hawaiians successfully in the roles of born-and-bred locals/Native Hawaiians. If Hollywood wants to do it, they better fucking do their research and make it more believable, because their attempts so far have been laughable. I mean, it wouldn't occur to Hollywood to cast an actor who couldn't manage brogue in the role of an Irishman; they'd get ripped apart in reviews because even the average moviegoer these days can sniff out a bad accent. It's the same way with people local to Hawai'i, except that having grown up there I see the whole culture in this metaphor of brogue. Everything is affected by the fact that these people were born and bred on an island in the middle of the Pacific: the way they talk (including accurate renditions of pidgin dialect), the way they walk, the way they greet each other, the way they talkstory, the subtle ways they treat insiders/outsiders. These are all parts of the "language" I think non-born and bred local/Native Hawaiian actors and actresses would have to become "fluent" in. In which case, isn't it just easier to hire some real locals and throw some work to the islands anyway?

Let me also add, while I'm on the touchy subject, that finally the use of limited Hawaiian vocabulary (i.e., the ever-popular bandying about of the terms "aloha" and "mahalo" and nothing else in a movie ostensibly set in Hawai'i; see 50 First Dates, Lilo and Stitch, and Blue Crush) was finally believable and effective, because the film was set less in Hawai'i than the specific context of the hospitality industry and the specific location of a luxury resort (Turtle Bay, an actual O'ahu resort, not far, in fact, from where I had my wedding last year). Fuck yeah, Hollywood. You finally figured it out. You can go over the top with cheese and the Hawaiian spirit and the two to three words of Hawaiian you know . . . as long as you set the movie in a luxury resort or Waikiki. Just so you acknowledge that your limited knowledge does not equal Hawai'i itself but, rather, a pale mainland version of it.

One final word of praise on the "Hawaiian" subject? The soundtrack was actually good. There were no cheesy, Waikiki, beach-boy, predictable ukulele music--except when it was called for during cheesy, Waikiki, beach-boy, predictable type luau situations. As listed on, the soundtrack does not appear to contain much of the contemporary Hawaiian music played in the film, such as a song by Izreal Kamakawiwo'ole that is not "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World," which is a damn shame.

Moving along, not so swiftly . . . the film was full of some really sharp one-liners, many of which were given to Paul Rudd, in his role of spaced-out surf instructor, such as when his character ("Chuck") gives himself a Hawaiian name ("Kuno") off the Internet. Chuck/Kuno then goes on to give our worldweary hero, Peter, a Hawaiian name too: Pipiopi, or something like that, clearly made up on the spot and denoting "these are the sounds that went through my head when I looked at your face." Chuck/Kuno also has the distinct pleasure of muttering: "Come on out! Oh, the weather outside is weather..." and "When life gives you lemons, just say 'Fuck the lemons,' and bail." There's another quick moment at the beginning of the film where Peter is trying to sleep around to feel better about himself and manages to land a gorgeous African-American model, who, in bed, lays under Peter barely moving, laconically saying, "Uhh. Uhh. Uhh. Uhh. ... I just came." Russell Brand, playing British rockstar Alduous Snow, has another one of the real zingers. When asked by host/waiter Matthew (played by Jonah Hill), "I have a question for you real quick. What did you think of my demo? Did you get it?," Alduous Snow responds, not unkindly, "I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life."

I also really loved the moment when Peter is videochatting with his half-brother (Brian, played by Bill Hader) and half-brother's wife (Liz, played by Liz Cackowski) and they begin to squabble. The wife resolves this argument by reminding her husband that they're "on the same team"; they then give each other a high-five. Folks? Welcome to my marriage . . . on the big screen.

Also, if Peter's musical puppet show "Dracula: The Musical" were real? I'd totally be buying tickets. That shit was hot.

The film was well paced, although I do think it faltered a bit on the more major plot points, as these light-hearted raunchy comedies often do. Was Peter so different when he first got together with Sarah? How had he come to "sink" so low--to growing roots on the sofa, eating giant bowls of cereal, and living in the same pair of sweatpants all day long? What had she been attracted to in the first place? Didn't he seem like the kind of guy who had been himself from the start, and only experienced true epiphanic change during the timespan of the movie? What was it about Peter that Sarah had broken up with? Even in their big fight scene, it was not clear what exactly had changed about Peter that made him so unbearable to be with. Was it the lack of excitement in their sex lives (which is implied by Alduous Snow's rather acrobatic tactics, even on stage or on the public beach)? Was it the fact that Peter had "let himself go" in terms of attractiveness? Was it the fact that Peter was not as famous as she was? Was is the fact that Peter was not living his dreams? None of this was clear, not even when Sarah, furious and crying, declares that she did try to save their relationship. This unclear topic of what's the matter with Peter is also conveniently forgotten when Sarah decides she wants him back. And how did the rest of the audience and Sarah forget that Alduous Snow had genital herpes? This really bothered me! Peter, put on a condom if you have to oof her, I wanted to shout. Instead, I made a noise of disgust and declared loudly, "Rachel is way hotter!"

But, all in all, the film was pretty damn great. I don't think I stopped laughing once all the way through it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

law & disorder.

Wife posted about the conversation we had while planning our birthday party when we were supposed to be on a strictly writing date. But I think it was more along these lines, Wife.
Me: Oooh! We could have a Law and Disorder party! There's a place called Crime Scene Bar and Lounge! And another called Death & Co.! And people could come as cops or criminals! How cool would that be?!

Isn't it weird to have a death-themed birthday party?

Oh, yeah. Right.

Point taken: "maybe we should go with something more along the lines of "we're glad to be ALIVE" . . . but I still maintain that I totally want to have a law & order themed party some day. Hi, Internet. DO NOT STEAL MY IDEA OR I WILL TOTALLY BEAT YOU UP.

rib-eye gate 2008.

Wife was full of more information on cows and steaks. Read and learn, people.

Bah to you, Facebook.

In answer to the application "What musical instrument should I play," Facebook told me:
You Should Play the Saxophone
You are charismatic, friendly, and very uninhibited. You have a lot of personal expression to bring your music. Improvisational and informal, you can't deal with an instrument that has too many rules or complexities. You are much more interested in creating unique solos than immersing yourself in music theory. You have a lot of style, and you definitely are one smooth operator. And while you may not play perfectly, no one's going to accuse you of being boring. Your dominant personality characteristic: being very outgoing. Your secondary personality characteristic: your flair for the unique and dramatic.

Well, bah to that. My father was a saxophonist. I see where that lands you. CELLO OR BUST!

what's wrong with a rib-eye?

Wife wrote an impassionate and indignent post about not paying $27 for rib-eye. Which I'm guessing may later be followed by a second, even more impassioned and indignent post about how either the rib-eye or the overindulgence in champagne made her throw up this morning . . . if she ever makes it out from under the fog of her hangover, that is.

Ummm, ooops. I don't even know why rib-eye is not worthy of $27. If she's a bad rancher's daughter, I'm a bad rancher's daughter's wife.

This cow diagram kind of helped. At least I know what I'm eating when it ends up on my plate. But I'm hoping later that Wife can draw numbers in descending order of "bestness" so I know how much to be paying for my steaks.

Also? WOMAN! You went to Kingswood without Androoo and I?! Harrumph!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: should I bother?

Dave Eggers's well-known memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, has been on my "I should really read this so I can participate in literary conversation in which wry, random, vaguely snobby, and concise one-liners are prerequisite" list for years. But, I have to say, its door-stopping size and that title (!!) have always intimidated me from actually beginning to read the thing. On my recent jaunt to the Brooklyn Library, I decided to finally give Eggers a go, but now I have a different problem: after spending a whole night just trying to get through the preface, acknowledgments, table of contents, and so forth, none of which is particularly, umm, precise, I'm a bit off-put by the task of the rest of it. The tone, the tone, the tone . . . it's so self-conscious, and precocious, and self-aware, I can hardly bear it. Reading through just the material preceding the actual work at hand, I feel as if the author is so wry and sharp-witted he can anticipate and counter every possible reaction to or criticism of the book before I can even think it.

I know, I know . . . cancer, dead parents, orphans, poverty, yada yada = moving "Literature" with a capital "L," practically handed a Pulitzer on publication, that everyone is supposed to read. But I don't want to do the things I'm supposed to, I want to do the things I'll actually enjoy. Life's too short.

So. Here's my question: Those of you who have read it, should I bother?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


pictured: the opening of my wife's champagne lounge at the Public Theater. haha.

dining al fresco: ready or not, here we come.

The last two days were Dave's "weekend," so we were out and about in spring, busy enjoying ourselves. Yesterday, it was a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, through City Hall Park, across Chambers St. to the 1 train, then up on the subway to Christopher St., where we met Wife at Bar Q on Bleeker @ Grove St. On the way home (for Wife) and to the subway (for us), we even ran into a man and his daughter who had hauled a heavy-duty telescope to the little triangle between Bleeker/Avenue of the Americas/Carmine St. and set up shop to look at the moon and try to stop Jupiter and its rings. The father was nice enough to let anyone who stopped look, and the telescope was so powerful you could see its craters and its "mare," its seas, which were the dark shadowy parts. Then the father told us there was lava on the moon, and that was what had created the mare. Totally cool, and totally random.

Today it was the 4 train to the Bowling Green stop, from which we walked through Battery Park, through the Financial District, alongside the South Street seaport, past Piers 11-17, around the Fulton Street area shops and bars and cobblestoned streets, under the Brooklyn Bridge, through City Hall Park, all the way across Chambers to the Esplanade, and then down the Esplanade to Southwest New York, where we celebratorily dined al fresco on greasy nachos and summery drinks: a mango mojito for Dave and a frozen passionfruit margarita for me.

MMMMmmm. Look at those nachos! So grande, and delicioso. (That's a real word, according to the Internet, not something I stole off 13 going on 30, I swear.)

Man, I always forget about Southwest New York because, you know, 3/4ths of the year it's too damn cold to eat there. It's not that their food is particularly remarkable, but there is nothing that quite tops off the advent of warm weather like sitting there in the marina, watching the sun set with some salty, greasy food and some frozen drinks the size of your head between you and some very good friends. Today, though, because our plans were not planned, it was just the hubby and I. And around us? A million suits having company parties.

Of course by the end of the meal, the sun was slowly setting and I was shivering from the frozen drink and the dropping temperatures, but whatevers, man. Totally worth it. Look at that sunset over the words of Whitman. Sigh.


* Interesting note: I always thought that entire quote along the marina promenade was from Whitman but learned today the words are only half his. This part of the fence--"City of wharves and stores! city of tall façades of marble and iron! Proud and passionate city! mettlesome, mad, extravagant city!"--is Whitman, but the other half--"One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store, or some other sign that people do not totally regret life."--is Frank O'Hara. (At least according to this site.)

yo, moonvertising?! check it!

spiked bubble tea? CHECK.

Told you I had to have it.

Look how happy I am. Note how easy it is to make me happy. In one hand, spiked green tea bubble tea. And flanking me? Husband and Wife. Sigh. Happiness.

Wife, as pictured with her effervescent and refreshing "Filipino spritzer." ("Ehh ... psst, psst!")

Husband, as pictured with his distrust of fancy places plain on his face. Also, the edge of his water glass. Not pictured? His two sidecars. Yumm.

All in all, an enjoyable experience. We had Kumamoto oysters, hamachi, and kanpachi, with delicious dipping sauces. We had fatty pork belly, kimchee, and daikon in soft steamed buns. We had the Q cocktail, the Filipino Spritzer, the spiked bubble tea, and sidecars. We had tea-smoked chicken, sticky rice with smoked sausage and edamame, korean style baby back ribs, and grilled eggplant. We had chocolate-cardamom-star anise ice cream and lychee black tea sorbet and peanut butter and chocolate tartlett. We had all these things and then we waddled joyfully home.

Bar Q is still quite new, which became evident from the still-zealous and attentive staff and the still-sparkly bathrooms, not to mention a photographer scurrying around outside, surreptitiously taking pictures of the restaurant through the window that read "Bar Q." Though accidental, it did end up being sort of fun being in a place that was so new. I felt special. I felt like I should eavesdrop on people's conversations for the potential of learning something about the kind of people that make it their business to try the new all the time.

Finally--and I hate to be the one to say it--it was a fine experience, and one I'm glad I had, but not particularly remarkable. The drinks and food were good . . . but our lives were not changed. Our lives went on as they had before the fancy barbecue and delicate and miniature ice cream scoops.

But the next time we drop nearly $200 on dinner, I hope it's for life-changing food.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

some enchanted evening ...

I would really like to be able to (1) find two measley little tickets to South Pacific and (2) afford them. Is that too much to ask? I know and love, like, every single song in the whole damn score. I grew up with these songs, again thanks to Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus. And while it is sold out until something like July, I am being taunted by reviews all around: in The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine. Every theater/music connection I have brings me back to a sold-out screen or at best the possibility of some very awesome seats . . . for $125 a pop.

It's my fucking birthday. Why can't I have what I want?! Whine, whine, whine!

this cocktail has my name all over it.

Seriously. Spiked bubble tea? Can life get any better?

I am so going.

Monday, April 14, 2008

MK + Ashley Olsen =

their twin. Big fucking surprise.

Tonight Wife sent me a link to a morphed baby she had made on Morph Thing out of two of our friends that are in real life pregnant. It was a really cute baby, but that's not a big surprise because they are two rather cute people.

Morph Thing: the online face morpher seems to be yet another site where you can create a log-in and then waste time at work. So, it is cool.

But, however, who was the dumbass that morphed twins to see what they were going to look like?! Ummmm, let me take a wild stabbing guess here at what Mary Kate + Ashley would look like ... an Olsen?!

Quotes of the day from a smart-ass.

I don't know who Laurence J. Peter was . . . but he was a pretty smart dude and he said some real smart-ass things. Such as. {clears throat}

"Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise."

"If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?"

"If you don't know where you're going, you will probably end up somewhere else."

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

"Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it."

"There are two kinds of failures: those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought. "

(From Brainy Quote.)

christ, now I'm on a roll: more nostalgia.

(This picture is just nostalgic for how skinny I was, circa Halloween 2003.)

(Awww, look at Dave and I dancing at Wife's and my 23rd birthday party.)

("A Cautionary Tale," circa June 2003, after the finale wrap party of Sex & the City, at our apartment, Astoria, Queens, NY. You think this is bad? Beware what will happen this May after the movie. A.k.a. My wife: the early photoshoots, before von Hottie was even a tickle in her brain.)

(Wife and I, youngbabies, in the West Village, August 2003. She looks like she wants an engagement ring or something, but woman, look at my face. There is such love for you there. You don't need a ring.)

(Wife, Lukie-Luke the Artiste, and I in SoHo, August 2003, outside Sweet and Vicious.)


Earlier this spring, I was visited by two of my best girlfriends in the world. Unfortunately, these visits happened separately: Jules (in February) and Trace (in March).

Well, tonight I was going through my old CD wallets looking for some computer program install disks when I found a CD, entitled "Julie's photos from Spring Break 2004" in my own recognizable Sharpe scrawl.

Curious, I popped the CD into my computer and found pictures that I had either (a) never seen or (b) totally and completely forgotten about. Ohmygod, lookatus! We're babies!! We are so adorable!

(Pictured here, L to R: Laura/Wife, her baby sis "Tenderly," May, and Trace)

(Pictured here, L to R: Elsie, Jules, Trace, May, La/Wife, and Tenderly.)

(Pictured here, L to R: Trace, May, and Mahi'ai. We three plus Jules all went to the same elementary school together in Hawaii, if you can believe it, and there we were sucking down the drinks in the middle of Manhattan. Life is way stranger than fiction.)

nuts & bolts.

What sunk the Titanic? Some rotten rivets. Damn.

blind or deaf?

This is a terrible question, and not even an inventive one, but if you had to choose, would you rather be blind or deaf?

I've been thinking about this lately as Dave and I hobble through high school reunions and creak at the knees and back through our apartment. There's no denying it. We're no spring chickens anymore. And while I'm not terribly vain about wrinkles, I hate the idea that I'm slowly getting (a) blinder, (b) deafer, and (c) fatter. At least I could hypothetically fight (c): that there being the reason I should be running the Brooklyn Bridge rather than eating a bacon cheeseburger. (Tomorrow, tomorrow...). But the blindness and deafness? I guess I could start learning braille or reading lips, but it would help to know which was going to go for good first.

This is a terrible subject. You might wonder why I'm still writing about it then. Part of it is that a big birthday is coming up--APRIL 26, SEND ME PRESENTS!! Whoa. Sorry about that. I turn 28 this year. I have this vague idea that I should be more vain about this too and not broadcast my age on the Internet, because later in life I may be wanting to shave off a year or five somewhere, but whatever.

But another part of it is this. Last night I met up with a high school friend at this art/music show called "Women's Voices, Women's Vision." There was a very talented mezzo soprano singing in some of the pieces, but I found myself questioning/wondering about her choices of body language while singing. I actually wrote this in my little notebook:
The mezzo-soprano L.R. seems to have a very beautiful instrument but her expressivism could use some work. Her body movements are so abrupt, and her facial expressions do not seem to connect with either the piece or the audience.

Then I wrote:
Why is she having someone escort her on- and off-stage? What a soprano! What a diva!

This was all before I discovered that the woman was blind. Then I felt like a real fucker, but I did comfort myself with feeling indignant on her behalf that they had asked a blind singer to be part of a show called "Women's Voices, Women's Vision," without any acknowledged sense of irony.

Anyway, all this got me to thinking about losing either the gift of hearing or sight. I don't think the question has as much impact if one was born blind or deaf. So imagine being born with both, and then try to imagine having one or the other taken from you. It totally baffles the mind. I brought it up tonight with Dave over our delicious dinner of burgers and fries. I asked him what he would pick, and Dave answered, as I sort of thought he would, that he'd rather be blind, because he would not want to give up music. Despite my suggestion that it would be rather difficult to learn music if you couldn't read music, Dave pointed out that you can, in fact, be a blind musician. You just learn by rote memorization. "Think of IZ [Kamakawiwo'ole]," he said. "Iz never learned to read music." Or, for that matter, think of the mezzo-soprano with the gorgeous voice who has no way of being aware of her facial or body expressivity.

Then Dave turned it around and acknowledged that you could also be a deaf musician, although that concept seems to be an oxymoron. "It's like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. He went deaf, so he never even heard it performed. But he heard the music in his head."

I tried to digest this. Couldn't. I said, "Damn. Beethoven heard the Ninth Symphony in his head? I just hear ringing in mine. Wait. Isn't ringing in your head a sign you're going deaf? Maybe if I transcribed the ringing in my head, it'd be, like, the Tenth Symphony."

Ha. Ha. This subject is not funny, but I have to get my kicks somewhere, folks.

Dave went on to explain that Beethoven composed the Ninth Symphony by cutting off the legs of his piano so that it would rest on the floor. That way, he could feel the symphony by the reverberations and vibrations on the floor. How fascinating is that!

As for me . . . I'd rather go deaf. I would be much saddened at the loss of music, but when I think about losing sight, I cannot envision it. I am too much in the look of the world. I'd have to learn braille, learn to write with braille or on a computer or something, I don't even know how the blind do it. I'd have to learn to write about the physical and spatial appearance of places I could go and people I could be with, but I'd never see either. I'd have to go the rest of my life without seeing Dave, even if I knew he was right there. I'd never get to see my mother's joy when we see each other after a long absence, or see a room ripple with the joy of being around Laura von Holt. I'd miss my friends' smiles. As a deaf person, I'd miss their laughter and their voices, but I wouldn't have to give up their words: I could learn to read lips, or they could write what they want to say down for me. But if I were blind, I'd never see any children that Dave and I have someday. Even if I could hold them, hear them, smooth their hair, I couldn't ever see them.

After explaining this to Dave, I realized I wanted to blog about all this, so I stood up from our unfinished meal of respendent grease to get a pen and paper.

I said to Dave the famous Schwarzenegger line: "I'll be ba-ack." With my best impersonation of the accent.

To which he replied, "I'll be Beethoven."

Try not to groan to hard on your way out.

P.S. If you had to pick, what would you choose: blind or deaf?

"oops," indeed.

Day Six of the "oops"-I-haven't-gone-for-a-healthy-fat-melting-run streak: Looked at the clock. It was almost 4:30 pm.

What I thought: I should really go for a run now. If I go right now, I can be back before the sun sets and it's too cold and dark to run. I should go put on running clothes and shoes right now. It will be over before you know it. You should really do this so you can fit into skinny spring and summer clothes. Consistency is key. Running every couple days, even a little, is more important than running so long and hard you don't want to run for another whole week. Go right now!

What I did: Went to Five Guys and got a big juicy cheeseburger. With bacon in it. And mayonnaise, A-1, grilled onions, and sauteed mushrooms.

Hahahahahahahaha. Ooops.

SatC movie spoilers!

I don't want to ruin it for everyone, but I'm always ready to ruin it for myself. Click here only if you want "Sex and the City" movie spoilage.

(Thanks to Wife for the tip. From Defamer via Wifey e-mailing.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

bullet points for my wife.

This elegantly penned missive to me is sort of about me, and sort of about The Excellent Us that is my wife and me, and a whole bunch of about my Wife's last night.

* Here is a part I really like:
"You are the loveliest creature on God’s (kind of decaying) green Earth. Let’s face it, I keep this blog because I believe the internet was invented just so I could dominate it and so you and I could use it to re-re-re-re-proclaim our love for one

* I do have so many reasons to love her . . . but as A.R. as I am, I've sort of lost count on the list.

* I'm only on journal #82. But I see your point.

* I would wear fancy dresses with you while the world sits in jeans any day of the week, baby.

* I would totally be into a pub theater, as long as you don't have to foot the whole bill of starting it.

* Your hairdresser's party sounds like a Sex and the City episode. In fact, one in particular: "Cock-a-doodle-do," circa Season 3, Episode 18.

* "The von Hottie" is a much more appropos name than "Germajesty."

* If the bartender is the one I think it is, I am Very Glad Indeed that he was not working that night. I do not like that bartender. Not least because he made me open my birthday chocolates last year. Or because, no offense, I'm not sure the Red Lion is the place to cap off a night of drinking when one's been at the Brandy Library all night. Unlike you, I have very snobby standards. (Only, haha, I can't afford them.) Or for other reasons that involve you, and him being a sleazeball, and me needing to always defend your honor, whether or not you need or want me to.

* I will always, always remember that night back in college, that "tea party," and that man. And for that matter, those dresses. We were so adorable in college. I mean, we still are but now we know it. We were adorable then because we were unaware of our adorability.

* I love having iced coffee, band-aids, and hangovers dedicated to me.

... and, finally, one last bullet point ...

* I find it *hilarious* that you blogged an open letter to me as I lay in bed reading Truth and Beauty, which is a story about the superclose friendship of two writers and twinned souls: Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy. I read this book and the whole time I think: LAURA! LAURA! LAURA!! I realize if I had a book in me like this (and it is a wonderful book), it would be about me and you. Without the disfiguring surgeries and without the cancer. But otherwise exactly like this book.

Reading "Truth and Beauty," by Ann Patchett.

"We had written in college and graduate school and had our small successes, but we were writing to impress our friends, our teachers, possibly ourselves. Now writing meant something else entirely. Without writing, Lucy was just another patient in the surgical ward ... Without writing, I was another waitress like all the waitresses in Nashville who were waiting for their big publishing deal. They wrote songs. I wanted to write a novel. I was starting to see it was all pretty much the same thing. Lucy and I had ceased to be distinguishable from everyone else and every day the ground was getting softer, swallowing us up a little bit more. We had each come to realize that no one was going to save our lives, and that if we wanted to save them ourselves, we only had one skill that afforded us any hope at all. Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon." (62)

--from Truth and Beauty: a friendship. Ann Patchett. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

anthropology in the news.

I enjoy my job, but sometimes when I've spent all day reading about what the ancient ovens and crumbs of Ethiopia tell us about the people of yesteryear, I personally begin to doubt the relevance of anthropology to the rest of the world, removed from academia.

But, however, in the last week, I've been cheered by anthropology making the headlines that cross my computer screen TWICE! No doubt there are more examples, but these are the ones that came to me randomly, which was exciting. Hey, I'll admit it: you gotta get your thrills where you can.

Corbett, Sara
2008 "Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?" The New York Times Magazine, April 13.

Kramer, Jane
2008 "Our Local Correspondents: The Petition: Israel, Palestine, and a tenure battle at Barnard." The New Yorker, April 14: 50-59. [which reads like a "Who's Who" of the American Anthropological Association.]

A list for my ladies: men to avoid.

Today Gawker told us what celebloggers overblog.

Naturally the first thing I did was go check out each of their blogs, because clearly I don't have enough procrastination in my life as it is.

And then I found Greek Tragedy's brilliant list of men to avoid, which seemed worthy of linkage. Ladies. Nota bene that shit.

(Thanks to Greek Tragedy by way of mockery of Gawker.)
All rights reserved by author. In other words, NO STEAL. My watchdog (grrrrooowl) is Sitemeter, feel free to check me out.