Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I was going to give up wine for Lent. Maybe not such a good idea if I have to combat the job and the hair.

Other options? Well, there's always premarital sex, my belief in God, or just all out hope.
Dodgy Haircuts.

Why oh why did I ever get my hair done in layers again? It looks good for about a day...then to hell. The dry winter air doesn't help any, as the curls turn to waves and I end up with a headful of cowlicks. There's just nothing I can do to make it look professional or even remotely not-unattractive.

I'd get it cut again, only I'd like to have all the layers grown out. The shortest is about an inch short of chin-length; will take me to the hairdresser when that grows. Can I handle another month and a half of bad-hair-days, though?
Sounds great on a resume.

It just occurred to me after sending out nearly 300 emails (each with a different spreadsheet attached) this afternoon that I'm a rat who hits a lever and doesn't get a pellet for it. The electrical shocks don't stop, either.
A little quail-hunting, anybody?

Tasteless? Of course. However, if we can't make fun of public figures (or God, or his Prophets), then the Fundamentalists will have won, right?
Two tragic love stories

Anytime Hal picks up something by Jean Renoir, I get all excited. This week's treat was Renoir's 1938 film La Bête Humaine.

In his introductory talk on this film, Renoir tells us that Gabin approached him to consider adapting the Zola novel. They'd worked together on a number of other films before and were very fond of each other. They also liked trains; La Bête Humaine would give them ample chance to play with trains.

Jean Gabin as Jacques Lantier, a man caught up in a love triangle between the Stationmaster's wife and his engine. Kind of like The General, only different.

Where to begin in talking about this - there's so much. What really struck me was Renoir's Social Realism compared to, say the Soviet or Chinese versions. Examples of the latter two seem to be more caricaturing of the Working Man they're trying to glorify. Renoir seems to genuinely feel for and love his characters.

Like with many 1930s French films, there's a prewar darkness in this story: a crime setup that seems a precursor to film noir. Also, Simone Simon has a jaw set, a toughness under her beauty that seems characteristic of French female stars of the time period. (Probably a pre war thing, as I've seen pictures of her in later years where she's softened up a fair bit). She makes an excellent femme fatale, but still a bit off-putting.

To me, the train scenes were the best. Gabin and LaCarrette are almost like one with each other and their locomotive. The off-track interactions are interesting to watch as well; there is a natural rapport between them that was no doubt fostered by previous work together. Beautiful.

The second film, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, absolutely screamed for MST3K treatment. Another adaptation, this time of the Flying Dutchman myth, but with the added benefit of Pandora and her crazy box thrown in.

"The Loves of Pandora in Flaming TECHNICOLOR!" Oh yeah, flaming's the right word for this one. Don't know about for the Technicolor, though, as this one's a Kino release and thus is muddier than all get out.

Ava Gardner was something to look at, though I don't really understand why she was wearing peignoirs practically all the time; guess that that just indicates glamour or something.

After seeing him in Georgy Girl and Lolita, I'm afraid that I can never envision James Mason as anything but creepy. Still, I did feel for his Flying Dutchman, as thanks to Pandora, I got a glimpse as to what an eternity in purgatory might feel like.

"Kill me now, for the love of God!"


Hal's been chuckling for days at one of the exchanges between Pandora Reynolds and Jan van der Zee:

JZ: "And what would you give up for me?"
PR: "My life. I would give up my life for you. And you?"
JZ: "My redemption."

(D'oh! Trumped!)

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Hillary and Karl, sitting in a tree..."

Sorry, but that's all that came to mind when I saw this headline. So childish.

Of course he's going to be interested in her, for crying out loud. He's a political strategist; it's his job. Heck, I'd be more worried if he wasn't 'obsessing' about his party's opponents.
Virginity as an Anniversary gift?

Personally, I'd much rather take the money saved by not having my hymen reconstructed and spend it on a really nice vacation with my partner. At least I could put the potential snapshots of that experience in an album for posterity.
I have a bit of grosgrain ribbon at home along with a ton of old AOL CDs. I think I'm going to put a label over the AOL that says "Torino 2006," pass a bit of ribbon through the hole and make my own silver medal. I promised The Guy a gold medal if he brought an old DVD home from work.

I know an Olympic medal's an Olympic medal, but gosh darnit, they looked cheap this year.
Yesterday morning, I think I witnessed some of the most beautiful sport I'd seen in years. It was hard to take sides, as both Finland and Sweden played gorgeously. Ultimately, we chose Sweden, as they were the underdogs and had cooler uniforms.

A few observations:

1.) I think it so funny that NBC would caption the players names with what NHL team they played on during the professional season. As it turned out, one Finn and one Swede who were teammates in the US ended up on opposing teams during the Olympics.

2.) Have always loved Finn names; they're so fun to pronounce. This love was reinforced in listening to the announcers trying to keep up with the game: Timonen gaining posession of the puck, passing it to Numminen who'd send it over to Olly Jokinen to shoot for the goal has such a music to it: called to mind the Doppler effect.

3.) Goalies apparently had to stay right in the crease for Olympic rules. In NHL they can travel more. This, apparently was a bit problematic for both goalies who were quite young and more used to the professional rules. Lunkvist, Sweden's goalie (and their answer to Tom Cruise? Not in terms of wacky philosophy or personal life but in looks), said later on that he'd not gotten into a groove with the new rules until 1/2 way through the previous game. Also interesting was how the officials were calling some icing penalties and not calling what seemed like obvious others.

4.) NHL rules changed a few years back from three 20 minute periods to four 15 minute ones in order to accomodate more commercials. I stopped going to pro games after this happened...it seemed as though I was spending more time waiting for the next Dunkin Donuts raffle that they'd use to kill time between plays (commercial breaks) than actually watching hockey. Am glad that they kept the 20 minute period structure for the Olympics.

5.) Was glad that Niitimaki was called MVP of the game. Lunkvist may have defended better this last time around, but the Finn goalie was quite formidable in his own right.

6.) The medal ceremony kind of depressed me. Why were the Finns so down in the mouth? Their performance had me on the edge of the seat, had my heart in my throat, had me nearly change who I was rooting for so many times it wasn't funny. The teamwork, the grace on the ice, even certain design elements on their uniforms (horizontal stripes vs vertical on their socks for example) were like so much visual poetry. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Personally, I blame the whole stupid Nike campaign of a couple Olympics ago which stated, "You don't win silver, you lose gold." Pathetic.

7.) Had to do some serious searching in order to find what the bronze medalist team was...the Czech republic, apparently. Since no Americans won, it apparently wasn't considered "of interest." We got to hear all about that loser who kept showing up to ski drunk because because he's "of local interest," but nothing at all on the local news regarding hockey. How provincial is that? Also makes you wonder what else isn't being reported because the media outlets don't consider it "of interest?" (Well, we know the answer to that one already.)

8.) The Swedes had that cuter'n a button accent going for them, but it was the Finns who really caught my eye. We all have our personal aesthetics, and I'm not afraid at all to describe mine. I am, after all, a fully-grown red-blooded American Woman. Hear me roar.

In all, a wonderful way to kill a couple hours. I wish I'd have caught more games, this was so much fun. Maybe next time around in Vancouver if I remember.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

So, we're getting up early tomorrow to catch what's being billed as the "Scandinavian Superbowl." I don't really have a dog in this fight, as my teams are out; really wanted to see either the US or Latvia.

I asked Hal which team he'd be rooting for: Finland or Sweden. I'd figured Sweden for how they'd taken the Latvians in after the Soviets invaded. He agreed that this was a reason to want them to win, along with the fact that they're the underdogs. We like underdogs.

As for Finland, he reminded me that there were the moomintrolls


Tom of Finland to think of.

Tough decision.

Firefox or Safari?


(Seriously, am trying to decide on one or the other, as downloads take so gosh darned long with my connection. It would be the mac version and, yes, beau bleu meets the requirements for both.)

Reality based fiction for women not otherwised covered by product already out there:

After college, living with her seven-sisters alum roommates, girl's pretty convinced she's gay. The devastatingly handsome, annoyingly macho mediterannean neighbor wears down her defenses and proves otherwise.


Happy in her little world of satisfying work and relative domestic comfort, girl doesn't give much thought to romance: would be nice, but probably more trouble than it's worth as previous experience has shown. All is turned topsy-turvy one week when both the adonis-like trumpet teacher and the awfully cute but totally not her type software sales engineer both ask her out. Each has his pros (both are cuter'n anything. The teacher loves college hockey, and the engineer indulges her in her love of the beach in the middle of the night in winter). Each has his cons (the teacher says her friends are all snobs. The engineer's a Republican -eeuh-). Ultimately, it's for the girl's cats to decide.


After a string of unhappy romances, girl calls it quits on love. Her best male friend (who she honestly thought was gay) eventually sets out to prove to her that nice guys do actually exist and that she was just choosing the wrong guy for the job.


Office politics, clear (but unprovable, the wily dog) cases of sexual harassment, departmental transfers, coworkers running interference for one another... Another forbidden romance blooms in the inhospitable conditions of corporate America.


Girl goes away for a while to get over the heartbreak of a romance gone sour with a hot-shot visiting professor in her department. Gets a cheap flight out to whereever her rail pass will take her, wanders around the mediterranean. Meets and befriends a sweetheart law student and they embark on somewhat of a "before sunrise" story. Returning home and getting back into the groove of things proves a lot easier for the girl. End of story? No - just the beginning: runs into the fellow she met in in Europe, who, as it turns out, is studying at another university in her city, or so he says. Is he on the up-and-up or is he a stalker-type (you never know)? Is this destiny?


Yeah, all pretty trite. Fun to come up with, though. Certainly better than bitchy twenty-somethings working for a fashion magazine, in my opinion, anyway.

Friday, February 24, 2006


After first having met The Guy, I do have to admit to being bowled-over by his looks...think Eastern European Hockey Player-type. In a black leather jacket, he looks like Stasi. I told him once that he was a dreamboat. Embarassed, he mumbled back, "more like dry-docked reality barge."
This begs the question:

Am I that removed from the fantasy life of your average young, single female in the big city now that I'm in my mid-30s, have no taste for glamour per se and never even thought of a man of my dreams, much less much less pined for him? Golly.

Maybe I should start my own anti-romance lit for non-chicks publishing company or something. Hmm. Food for thought.
Chick Lit

Another tenant in The Guy's building must be an editor, as they're always leaving galleys on the front foyer table with a note to other tenants to help themselves. It's always interesting to see what's left out and how long it stays.

About a week ago, I was on the phone with The Guy and he mentioned that he'd picked up some absolutely awful "chick-lit." I didn't bother asking why he was reading chick-lit; figured it was free and he was probably hoping to glean some insights into contemporary pop culture.

Asked him why it was so horrible - guess he found the premise annoying (bitchy 20-somethings working for a fashion magazine), the characters one-dimensional, the writing bland and full of product-placement and name-dropping. My reply was that this was the way people must view things in the fashion publishing world (after all, he knew how a lot of the "brand" and "identity" folks that he dealt with were like) and that, in the end, not everyone is going to be into Middlemarch or Swann's Way for pleasure-reading.

Anyway, got the book from him: something called Fashionistas, from a newer Harlequin division. Thought it interesting that they are catering to all sorts of folks now: twenty-somethings, 'boomers,' African-Americans. They've even got a company that deals strictly in Spanish-Language editions (Funny, don't remember seeing any French, though it's a Canadian company). Wasn't too hard a read; finished it in like an hour and a half. The characters were pretty flat, though I got a kick out of the names (always funny in a Harlequin novel). The story? A little bit too close to home, as well, that's corporate life for you I guess. What I found particularly interesting was the role the male love interest was relegated into: almost nonexistent, save to move the plot along. I remember back in school talking about the misogyny of a lot of existentialist writers for their only including 'female' characters to move along a plot; guess we've come 'a long way, baby' with this new genre. The love interest (forget his name, that's how memorable he was. He did have a dog of some sort, though. Remember that.) might as well have been Camus's arabe, for all the character development we get. What goes around comes around, I guess.
Had been listening to more in your face music lately: stuff like Fela, later Miles, Xenakis, Andriesson. Sometimes a girl just needs her outside environment to match the inside one, even if everything's all a-clatter. Homeostatis, you know?

Was sitting at my desk, minding my own business (I work in a high-traffic area among people who often treat my space as a conference area, so have really learned to shut things out), when something soft, a little earthy and a little bit ethereal wafted its way into my cube. Something from the past that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

"Karen - you playing something?"
"Yes. Too loud for you?"
"No, no, not at all. In fact, turn it up if you'd like. Sounds like Miles."
"You gave the tape to me, you ought to know."
"Kind of Blue?"
"You honestly don't remember? I asked for recommendations for my son for his birthday? You mentioned this? I turned out liking it so much that you gave me an extra copy that you had?"
"Oh, yeah, of course. Of course...thank you for playing it. I didn't know that anything in my world could flow like that."

Am currently listening to it again: "All Blues," my favorite on the album (as if I could choose). I still can't get over having forgotten the music, the happy circumstances behind its discovery, that there are things in my life that can and do flow.
Karen came into my office to talk about skating this morning. Went on about the histories of several of the skaters, about how the rules have changed in these games (kind of like a la carte pricing, as opposed to the chiselling off of points that used to be done), about the girl I kept mixing up with Ali G. Guess she's bulimic; no big surprise there.

No Dorothy Hamills or Peggy Flemings in this bunch. Not for a long time, in fact. Heck, I'm at pains to remember the names of any Olympian (particularly skaters) since the girl from the west coast went and had her husband beat the girl from the Cape with a pipe.

I think that Karen still watches because she used to skate. She has mentioned being disappointed, though. Since they don't televise my sport, I don't bother watching and so have no reason to be disappointed.

Tarnished by scandals these past few times around and with a schedule that makes the event much less precious than before, the Olympics have long ago lost their luster. Between the new doping charges, incomprehensible structural changes of certain events and the reputed poor coverage, I wonder if the games aren't moving towards irrelevance.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Or better yet:

"If I had my way
I'd just walk through those doors
And wander
Down the Champs Elysees
Going cafe to cabaret
Thinking how I'll feel when I find
That very good friend of mine"

Yeah, that's more like it.

Quitting the job, subletting the apartment, running off on a cheap fare for a couple months would really fit the bill.
One of those days.

It's too bad that Chinatown's all gentrified and I'm a girl without a "partner in crime," as, given how today's going, I'd love nothing more than to blow off work and spend the rest of the day in a raunchy old-school downtown strip club like the former Naked I. That place had an awesome neon sign.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Yeah, finally got my light switch fixed (again...but for how long?). Had been working under romantic mood lighting for a number of weeks.

Not the results of the happy harbinger hormone surges, heavens no. More the obsessive need to ruminate and move the jaws without grinding the teeth, to dull sharp feelings, to pad the body in anticipation of further attack.

I guess I could dull the hurt by drinking; as a friend puts it, it'd be up in keeping with an august family tradition. That's always been an option as I do like my drink: red wine in particular with vinho verde running a close second. I could let the glass a night turn into two, three, even four, but I don't. I think it's because, always having been a heavy girl, I worry about calories and would rather eat than drink mine.

The body and the mind have been under a lot of stress the past year or two: recycling family-related problems are added to relationship, financial and work problems. Back in the beginning, the running and the dancing helped; then came the injury which put an end to all that (albeit temporarily for the dancing, anyway). It was during that time when the nervous eating started again. Anything I could stuff in my face, I would - sushi, potato chips, plain pasta, kid's breakfast cereal. I'd feel bloated and tired and sick afterwards, but never full. Am proud to say, though, that I never took the occasion to stick my fingers down my throat this time around. I may have gained a ton, but, by gum, my tooth enamel is still intact.

I'd learned my lesson with that. People notice: one day while having one of those impromptu meetings in the building's stairway, I forgot myself and made a gesture. My coworker, a short, rotund woman in her mid fifties grabbed my hand and started examining my fingernails. "Are you bulimic?" she asked. (gig's up!) "Uhh, no?" I answered, "I've always had problems with absorbing nutrients...ridgy nails run in the family." "Sorry," she answered, not convinced at all. "It's just that I am. Well, I'm recovering. Mine are a mess." She patted my hand, let it go and showed me her nails: what weren't bitten down were all spotty and had ridges like the Great Rift Valley. "I could get a manicure, as they are pretty ugly, but I want to have a reminder of what making myself puke does to me. Had to pay a fortune to get the teeth fixed. Ate the surfaces clean off." She laughed pretty happily, I laughed uncomfortably, we both headed our own ways.

I won't throw up, I won't get drunk, but I will get fat again if I don't find my way out of this funk. It feels pretty dark right now. I do my cardio kickboxing, I walk as fast as I can for two hours a day, I practice shimmies and backbends. Still not enough to combat the caloric intake or the pounds. I'm trying to knit me a spring sweater in a reasonable size in the hopes that when I see the beautiful thing (and it is nice - shelved the wool one for a pretty cabled cotton tank), I'll be so in love with it. A small motivation factor, but a factor nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's funny, but in a few works by a Francophone author from Morocco one can see these same balance-of-power issues being played out years ago. With the colonialists out of play, how does one keep their civilization and civil order without falling to Islamic Fundamentalism?

In other words, how does one, as another favorite African writer once put it balance le meilleur de la francité with le meilleur de la négritude?
(Had always figured myself as being a moderate or centrist sort given my ability to aggravate both sides of the spectrum of ideas equally.)

Hmm...my having posted a link and some complimentary words about a PJ O'Rourke article yesterday kind of started a tempest in my usually calm, tepid little teapot.

The Paleocon friend disagreed because he thought the article not harsh enough on the muslims who started rioting. The Lib dem friend objected on the grounds that O'Rourke is "Racist!"

Am taking both commentaries with a grain of salt. O'Rourke is a bit snarky, but not more so than your typical NYTimes, Guardian or Independent columnist. It's just that what he snarks on is generally not the things that mainstream columnists are allowed to be snarky about - hence the term racist, I think. As for the Muslim scourge bit, well, all I can say is that there's that problem of mismanaging immigrant populations being treated with political correctness (much like a bandaid over a gunshot wound...we're seeing similar issues in other former colonial powers/countries with gastarbeiter policies) that's been completely overlooked up to this point. Perhaps there wouldn't be any riots if the philosophical/emotional power gap hadn't been allowed to be filled by radical fundamentalists rather than ignored or avoided.
A perfect start to the day.

Today's the day for me to go to the Parking Office to get my new guest passes. Tried to do this a couple weeks ago during their evening Hour, but was just to cowed by the line that wrapped countless numbers of times around the office and went out the door.

Since someone poached my recycle bin, I'm going to have to pay a visit to the DPW garage to get another one, as well.

Seems fitting that I should wake up with a rash on my legs, my stomach in knots, my neck and shoulders tensed, and my teeth firmly clenched together. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Can you believe it?

Karen just mentioned that we're only three weeks away from pea-planting time.

Spring will be here in exactly a month.

In roughly five weeks, it'll be my favorite month of the year: National Poetry Month.

How time flies.
Geesh. This guy's got more one-liners than Carter's has Little Liver Pills.

"Welcome to Tuva, where Throat Meets Culture."

-Is it Pavel speaking, or is it the Yellowtail?
Pavel's latest eccentric project is to learn Romanian. Why Romanian? one might ask. Well, we'll just call it a labor of love.

O, ra˘mâi

"O, ra˘mâi, ra˘mâi la mine,
Te iubesc atât de mult!
Ale tale doruri toate
Numai eu s¸tiu sa˘ le-ascult;
În al umbrei întuneric
Te asama˘n unui print¸,
Ce se uit-adânc în ape
Cu ochi negri s¸i cumint¸i;
S¸i prin vuietul de valuri,
Prin mis¸carea naltei ierbi,
Eu te fac s-auzi în taina˘
Mersul cârdului de cerbi;
Eu te va˘d ra˘pit de farmec
Cum îngâni cu glas domol,
În a apei stra˘lucire
Întinzând piciorul gol
S¸i privind în luna plina˘
La va˘paia de pe lacuri,
Anii ta˘i se par ca clipe,
Clipe dulci se par ca veacuri."
Astfel zise lin pa˘durea,
Bolt¸i asupra˘-mi cla˘tinând;
S¸uieram l-a ei chemare
S¸-am ies¸it în câmp râzând.
Asta˘zi chiar de m-as¸ întoarce
A-nt¸elege n-o mai pot...
Unde es¸ti, copila˘rie,
Cu pa˘durea ta cu tot?

-Mihai Eminescu

O Remain

"O remain, dear one, I love you,
Stay with me in my fair land,
For your dreamings and your longings
Only I can understand.

You, who like a prince reclining
Over the pool with heaven starred;
You who gaze up from the water
With such earnest deep regard.

Stay, for where the lapping wavelets
Shake the tall and tasseled grass,
I will make you hear in secret
How the furtive chamois pass.

Oh, I see you wrapped in magic,
Hear your murmur low and sweet,
As you breqk the shallow water
With your slender naked feet;

See you thus amidst the ripples
Which the moon's pale beams engage,
And your years seem but an instant,
And each instant seems an age."

Thus spake the woods in soft entreaty;
Arching boughs above me bent,
But I whistled high, and laughing
Out into the open went.

Now though even I roamed that country
How could I its charm recall ...
Where has boyhood gone, I wonder,
With its pool and woods and all?

(Translated by Corneliu M. Popescu)


Couple things:

1.) I love this poem because it reminds me somehow of a Woody Guthrie song of longing and remembrance that always makes me cry.

2.) When I mentioned the love of a Romanian, mon ami de loin asked quite logically why anyone would bother learning Romanian as they all speak French. How to explain? "Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne comprend pas." There are languages who made their way into my being sheerly because people I love to distraction speak them. It only makes sense to want to feel a bit how someone else structures their thoughts and arranges their lips, tongues, palates.
More Sandburg, Damnit. Yes.


I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though I was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion.


Fish Crier

I know a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with a voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble in January.

He Dangles herring before prospective customers evincing a joy identical with that of Pavlowa dancing.
His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish, terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to whom he may call his wares from a pushcart.

From The Oxford Book of American Verse.
"I haven't actually looked at the satirical drawings. Mainstream American media, recognizing that the First Amendment encompasses the right to shut up, have left them unpublished."

P. J. O'Rourke, in his latest Weekly Standard piece, hits it out of the park. I love this guy.
Postcards From a Literary Jetsetter.

"Hello, Be.

I changed planes here. And I ate a hot dog. All the gates have well-lit displays of their destinations - I didn't have to look for a number.

It was exciting to stroll the gallery and see all those desitinations - Manchester NH, Dayton, Frankfort -and think, THIS is the real HUB!

Cue Carl Sandburg."

Much as I like it when Pablo sticks around, I do really enjoy getting postcards when he goes on walkabout.
"You know how in It's a Wonderful Life, every time a bell rings an angel gets their wings? Well, It's kind of like that with "Peace Train": everytime it plays, Hamas gets a couple bucks."

-The Guy on mechanical royalties and music we never could stand.
Three dreams:

1.) A commercial for a bio-diesel roadster: very impressionist in an Arnold sort of way with lots of slightly out of focus greens and blues flowing into each other around a racing car (which looked a lot like Trintignant's racer in Un Homme et une Femme). Interspersed with these images were ones of Yoko Ono (??) in a white racing outfit holding a helmet, looking quite beautiful, actually. She had makeup on and her hair, though still crazy, was nicely groomed. Slightly awestruck at how radiant she looked, I thought how nice a bio-diesel roadster might be.

2.) Was out walking in the woods with Hal. We found an abandoned stone house and decided to look inside. I heard a little *chip-chip-chip* ing noise down low and in a corner: turned out to be a saw-whet owl in a burrow. We looked around a bit and found several owls in burrows all over the building. I remember the laughter bubbling up in me at the delight of finding all these itty-bitty birds of prey everywhere. Hal thought it funny, too, though he wasn't giggling like I was.

3.) Ampersand had a temper tantrum and peed on the floor. She then sat in it and I was forced to give her a bath as a result. I put her in the kitchen sink, filled it up with bubbles. Surprisingly, she didn't struggle. Don't know if she liked it, but she certainly didn't seem to mind. Figured I'd test my luck and give her a shampoo: again, not a problem. Rinsed her off, towelled her as dry as best I could, then let her go. I was relieved to see that I could clean her up if she decided to do something dumb like soil herself again.


Guess I had a busy night, didn't I.
This* came to mind as the short answer to this question.

I don't really care what I'm doing, so long as it's adding value whatever venture I'm doing it for. That said, I'd also like not to be taken too much for granted or have colleagues poach my work.

Aside from all that? What else to say? If I'm getting paid to shovel sh!t I'll do the best possible sh!t-shoveling job I can. My identity and sense of fulfillment are not beholden to the work I do: the work I do is merely to fund the rich (and it is rich, trust me) life outside the office.

-via Yogo.

*"Y a pas, y a pas, y a pas d'sot métier/Y a pas, y a pas on est tous des ouvriers."

(There's no such thing as idiot work...we're all laborers.)
A little boîte à merveilles made its way to me on Valentine's Day. Meant for mon anniversaire, it arrived a couple weeks late (but in time to fete something else, obviously.) In it, I found a percheron and a mediterranean tortoise to add to my office menagerie. Found also an old, hand-colored map of the Loiret region - no rail lines included:

"Dites moi: où se trouve Ouzouer-sur-Loire?"

The most perplexing (and maybe niftiest) thing was the carnet: It was called "Denis Diderot's Notebook," but was blank. On the colophon, it said that the publisher took no responsibility for the contents of the book.

Calligraphie, from Diderot and D'Alembert's "L'Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers:" the first of its kind, and probably the main reason why this girl decided to switch specialties, add a couple years to her schooling and throw herself into a tête française. Who wouldn't if their school library had a facsimile copy and their favorite professor talked about building a camera obscura from the specs contained within?

I tried my best to be funny in my thanks, but apparently Gracie Allen doesn't translate so well...ended up receiving instructions as to what to put in the book (No hyperlinks. How about recipes, knitting patterns and translations? Though I may want to write in pencil, try not to as a journal should be, like the NYT Sunday Crossword, always done in ink.) I'm thinking of making up a lot of spicy stuff to fill the book with, then willing it to my friend in order to leave an odd, slightly scandalous history for his next of kin to deal with.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Nicholas Roerich noticed a device that spanned continents, cultures and epochs. For lack of a better term, I'm going to call it a modified trefoil:

-Madonna Oriflamma by Roehrich.

This was to be the standard of the Roerich Pact (essentially peace through cultural preservation). The three dots represent the common aspects of all cultures: Art, Science and Religion. The flags were to be flown in front of places of cultural importance (such as cathedrals).

Often called a Cultural Red Cross, I like to think of this as a precursor to the likes of UNESCO, and the symbol a more fitting one than the chicken foot we see so often nowadays at manifestations.


This was what confused me about the PEM ad: same words, different languages.

(Thanks to Hal, who 'learned' me Roerich when I thought he was another aspect of Rockwell Kent.)
If you meet the Buddha on the road-

This is so awesome. Much success to them!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'll always love the Peabody Essex Museum. I have no idea what this line in their latest WCRB commercial is supposed to mean, however: "Peabody Essex: Where Art Meets Culture." Isn't Art an aspect of Culture? What am I missing?
What's there to love about America?

Norm lists a thing or two (or three or four...)

I'd like to add one of my own: the general feeling of hope and of possibility that I've felt more strongly here than elsewhere. I've benefited greatly from it and continue to do so.

Hmm. Chicken or egg? My friend the trainspotter has said on a couple occasions that most in his country aren't as good consumers as they could be (we were talking about health care in particular.) Mon ami du loin likes to say that we (particularly the females) tend to prendre la culotte. Yeah, you could say that.
Cane Toads Attack!

One of the fun things about movie night at Hal's place is, you never know what you're liable to end up seeing. Sometimes he picks up stuff at the library, sometimes at the Salvation Army. Heck, sometimes he even buys DVDs at the store, at full price. The programming is, to say the least, eclectic: one evening we ended up watching a souvenir video of some salt mines near Krakow, a Kate Bush video and a Samurai film. Another time, it was some british comedy from the 90s (by the guys who brought us The Young Ones), a Buster Keaton tour-de-force and a couple episodes from the David Attenborough's Blue Planet series.

Most recently, Hal brought home a documentary on the cane toad infestation in New South Wales (which we watched with something by Bunuel, more David Attenborough and a samurai film.) Originally brought in from Hawaii to control the sugar cane beetles, these toads, which have no natural predators and breed like Australian rabbits have been wreaking havoc on the ecosystem in the northeast for some time now. Since this documentary was made not quite 20 years ago, it left us with some nagging questions: what's the current situation with the toads? Has their spread been checked or are they taking over more territory?

Apparently they're doing quite well, thank you very much. Not a good thing for the other animals out they're coming in contact with. Not a good thing at all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Mouse that Roared

Gosh, how I love a modern-day David and Goliath story.
On the way home from work on Valentine's Day, I ran into a little package store to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner. It wasn't anything great. In fact, I highly recommend passing by the Kenneth Vineyard merlot. Really, about the only thing that can be said for it is that it's got amusing label: a photo treated to look like an etching of some guy wearing a cravat and coifed like Warren Beatty in the early 80s. Around this portrait, one is assured several times that this personnage is a "master of wine."

Of course, Hal's only comment on the wine was priceless: "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" he asked while contemplating the bottle. Sure does come up with some humdingers, that one.
"Always look on the bright side of life..."

Well, if anything, the new Abu Ghraib pictures will get folks' minds off the Muhammad Cartoon Controversy.
Is the morning-after pill really something so commonly prescribed? How exactly does the MA Pharmacy Board define this term? Like antibiotics? Insulin? Beta-blockers? Viagra? Or did they change it, sort of like our judiciary changed the definition of marriage?

As for doing the right thing, I'm not so sure that strong-arming a private business into following a particular political agenda is necessarily that. But then again, I don't count among my hobbies turning a chain store into my personal white whale, or chasing fashionable windmills.

-A favorite illustration by one of my favorite illustrators.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Personally, I've never understood the bitterness, as for me it's always been a holiday of construction paper and glitter, rather than of truffles or roses.

Happy Valentine's Day and good luck getting the glitter out of your carpets!

Monday, February 13, 2006

After my playdate with the shovel and the sidewalk, I went in, changed clothes and started knitting a sweater for my cellphone.

Hal went home to play around some more with his camera. He tells me that this is the bathroom window reflected on water droplets on his shower curtain.
Sunday's storm was a welcome change from the unhealthy, unnatural warm weather we'd been having the past month or so. Though it did slow things down a bit, and we were all forced to clean up, it really wasn't as bad as it was hyped-up to be.

For the most part, we stayed indoors watching movies. Eventually, however, cabin fever did set in. I went to shovel (a very, very easy task as the snow was feather-light) and Hal trudged around the neighborhood documenting goings-on:

Somerville's Best out doing what they do best.

One street down from me, I believe.

A strangely empty Broadway during the storm.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Of course, I'm not really one to get picked up in a museum or anywhere else as, having had people try to follow me home before, I tend to be very concerned about strangers approaching me.

That said, I will admit that the old engage-the-girl in a museum ploy did work once. Of course, it probably had to do with the fact that we were (and still are) pretty clueless. He was way too handsome for me and from out of town, so I figured that he just wanted someone to kill time with. Eventually, he did invite me over to look at his etchings and we did do just that. He is a printmaker, after all.
Sorry, but

tapas and cosmos aren't what draw me to a museum. Lower admission prices and well-curated exhibits...now we're talking.

It just seems so sad to have a sanctioned night like this. I know that they want to increase admissions and bring in a younger crowd, but with a date night? So uninspired. So not-spontaneous to be standing around, sipping chardonnay in a reception area decorated no doubt with Renoirs and Monets, making small-talk with a Banana-Republic clad m'as tu vu about how inspired you thought Girl With a Pearl Earring was.

Give me the old Free Wednesday Nights in the East-Asian wing where a girl could get picked up without pretense by a scruffy guy clutching something from Mishima's oeuvre... interrupting her reverie over wood grain patterns in block prints to ask if she was into 'tying the knot.' Those were the days.
Which leads me to a couple bumper stickers I saw this afternoon during my lunchbreak:

"So Many Right Wing Christians, So Few Lions."

-So Much For Tolerance.

"After we get through rebuilding Iraq, could we rebuild our schools?"

-Am not a betting person, but am willing to venture that the Iraq thing will probably be more successful since teachers' unions don't appear to be directly involved there.
What, no riots?

Funny I haven't heard any fatwahs out against this guy for apostasy or anything. He is insulting the beliefs of an awful lot of Christians after all. From what I've gathered living where I do, too, is that they're all "right wingers" and "just as bad as..."
Yes, I am cranky.

Why? Because I was looking for my copy of De L'Amour and found that it was too water damaged to keep. Happened upon the Vagina Monologues and ended up reading them instead. Dirtiest waste of a half hour I've had in a while; ended up having to take a shower afterwards. (Sigh) Why do I do this to myself?
So American Idol beat out the Grammies viewership-wise the other night. All winning either of them means is that some sufficiently marketable act will get its product piped into CVSs and Targets throughout the country. From what I hear, the "upstart" competition seems a bit more sporting than the establishment one. That apparently translates into a better TV-watching experience for many.
Creeping Sameness

Oh look! Another mall store moves into Back Bay! No amount of marketing-speak applied like so much vinyl-siding (albeit in fashionable colors) will change that.

Aside from the fact that one will be able to get their iPods tricked out by Copley instead of at Lechmere, just how will this distinguish the area from, say, Cambridgeside, Burlington or North Shore?

(Disclaimer: I have two iMacs. I consider them tools, however, and worth every penny I paid for them. They are, however, not a lifestyle choice. My preference of walking the earth without the buds to a bobo Walkman permanently inserted in my ears IS, however, a lifestyle choice.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

“To see that something is well written and appetisingly written takes a lot of talent and there is not a great deal of that around.”

That a number of major publishers and literary agents would reject the works of a Nobel laureate and Booker Prize winner doesn't surprise me. Well-written does not usually mean good seller.

Am not a writer, nor do I have any pretentions towards being one. I do, however, have a pretty good sense of what is good, and most contemporary fiction isn't. With a few notable exceptions, I tend to prefer spending my limited pleasure-reading time with the canon of dead white male types.

-via India Uncut
He's on a roll here.

Go take a look at Nick's thoughtful post which touches on a number of points regarding the Mohammed Cartoon fiasco I've not seen broached in other areas. Excellent work, and not just because I agree with a lot of what he has to say.
Pattern Recognition





Perhaps I'm just thinking a little too much about this.

-via Yog-sothoth

-images via one of my favorite sites on the big, bad O-word.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bêtes Fauves

Ampersand's filled out quite a bit over the past few months. It seems that her fur has become easier to manage and her mood has improved considerably.

Hal calls her a badger now.

Guilty! Mamasan's been getting into a lot of mischief lately: recently, he got himself locked into the spare room over night and trashed everything he could lay claws on. I wouldn't speak to him or let him near me for a couple days.

Hal thinks that he's been taking jerk lessons.
Did not sleep well at all last night and the SSDD nature of my workplace is making me feel pretty rotten today. I'd love to be outside, wandering around the Mystic. I'd love to be home working on valentines, knitting, napping with the animals and perfecting my impression of Mike Brant's "Summertime." (Brrrr-CHAK! - it's a cross between Tom Jones and James Brown with some machine-gun-fire like scat-singing thrown in; wonderful!)

I'd love to be just about anyplace but here right now.
Last weekend, Harvard Film Archive ran a series of films on artists who died young. We caught the suicide series on Saturday which featured a promotional short on Elliot Smith as well as documentaries on Nick Drake and Israeli singer Mike Brant.

The Elliot Smith one was interesting in that, though it was only 10 minutes long, it provided an interesting view of the artist. For one thing, he looked considerably older than his choronological age (mid 20s). Also, when he wasn't performing, his movements and gestures gave me the impression that he was uncomfortable in his skin and possibly very shy.

The Nick Drake documentary was more atmospheric and to me, very stylized. Since Drake was a near recluse and died very young, there wasn't much material on him. The filmmaker did a decent job of it, though. I particularly enjoyed the chance to hear some of Drake's mother's music, which had a very obvious influence on his. I also found the talk with Drake's orchestrator a wonderful insight, as the lushness of the sound is what attracts me so to the music. In all, not a bad effort, given the how little the documentarian had to work with.

By far, however, the film that made the greatest impression was Mike Brant: Laisse-Moi T'Aimer. I'd seen Mike Brant albums around in used record stores, but never gave much thought to the musician, as I'd figured he was another Johnny Halliday clone. I've since learned that Brant was no Halliday; far from it. In fact his powerful voice, stage presence, and incredible heartthrob looks had set my heart aflutter as though I were a teenager.

Moishe Brand made quite an impression on Hal as well, sending him on a search for non-schlocky images of the Israeli Tom Jones. I particularly like this one.

Brant got his start singing at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings around Haifa, gained some recognition in Haifa and made his way to the nightclub scene in Tehran where he was discovered by Sylvie Vartan. She and her partner encouraged him to come to Paris; rather unexpectedly, he took them up on their offer. What followed was a meteoric rise to fame. Brant, however, was young and had a lot of ghosts in his past (he was the child of a holocaust survivor and a former resistance fighter. Spent the first four years of his life in a refugee camp in Cypress). Management changes and a trip back to Israel to perform for the troops during the Yom Kippur war exacerbated emotional problems; on returning to France, he checked into a mental health clinic for a short stay. Months after, he made his first suicide attempt. Just after leaving the Swiss hospital where he convalesced, he made a second, successful attempt.


When someone dies young, I always wonder what potential hasn't been realized. When someone young takes their own life, I feel more of a resentment at potential having been wasted. It was good to revisit (and in one case, discover) the works of these three artists. Sad, also, to realize that nothing more will be coming from them.

Monday, February 06, 2006

(Another pretty surprise from my birthday last week. Thank you to the Landlord family for sending me a bit of sunshine.)
That little image of my "Sabbath Angels" print really didn't do it justice, so Hal took a couple pictures of it. This is my favorite:

(Sigh) I really don't want to enter into the fray on this, but, well, guess I'm going to.

I'm a Catholic and grew up in that socio-economic class that's known as "white trash" and as a result have had to put up with all sorts of really insulting, awful stuff that has pissed me off to no end. This is why I really couldn't feel sorry for editor of the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons it did (I've seen them and they don't bother me. Of course, Piss Christ was considered "thought provoking" rather than insulting to a lot of people.) A fair bit more critical thought should have gone into that editorial choice.

On the other hand, burning down embassies and carrying signs around exhorting Muslims to slash the throat of Danes, English, French, Westerners in General is a reaction that deserves some serious tough love.

In a nutshell? There is such a thing here as freedom of speech. People say stupid, vulgar, offensive things every day (especially in the newspapers), unfortunately, and I wish that people would think more before speaking. On the other hand, there's the whole reaction we've been seeing over the last week (no doubt fomented by certain groups) is just completely out of hand; why even bother trying to reason with people who are vandalizing buildings and threatening to cut others' throats?
Le trahison des images.

Was in desperate need of something to stanch the flow from my nose on the trip back to Buffalo last month. That's the only reason why I would pay nearly two dollars for two lousy Dayquil tablets.

It was kind of funny how this particular package was really trying to highlight the value-added aspect of the special enclosed drinking cup:

As, God's Honest Truth, this is what came along with the pills:

These were definitely worth the extra fifty cents or so. In fact, I made a point to buy several packages so that I might have a matching set of drinking cups to go with my new china.

Hal's decided that he wants to work for Mechanical Servants as he'd love a chance to get paid to come up with these sorts of innovations for "people on the go."
Am finally starting to feel a bit better thanks to the drugs I got from the doctor last week. I don't often get prescriptions, so it was kind of exciting to go to the pharmacist, place my order, wait around, then sign off on everything. (Guess you could call it a break in the monotony of my normal routine.)

Anyway, am taking amoxicillin and a cortisone nasal spray. Not major stuff, but kind of interesting in that there were very specific and oft-repeated instructions on how to administer both. I learned from the label, for example, that I was to take the amoxicillin "by mouth." Good to know, as before now, I'd only ever had antibiotic suppositories.

The administration of the Flonase, I gather, must be extremely confusing, as I got this special, pharmacist-affixed sticker on the box:

On a box that says quite clearly, "nasal spray." Who'd a thunk it?

Friday, February 03, 2006

The power of the Innernet

I posted this little throwaway of a survey as a reference for those who email it and its variants to me several times a day. Wouldn't you know that, just a few days after posting, a package arrives with a couple silk pouches filled with string upon string of freshwater pearls?

It ain't easy to render me speechless, but this did. Guess I really can't say much else aside from Thank you.
Something tells me that the women suing the Walmarts in Massachusetts to stock the morning after pill would sooner boycott the stores than get their prescriptions filled there. That's not the point, though, is it. Nor is fact that there are probably (and I'm being conservative in my estimates) at least three times as many CVSs (CVS carries this form of contraception) as Walmarts with pharmacies in Massachusetts. The point is that Walmart is evil, isn't it.

Now, I'm not a big Walmart shopper: have walked into one or two, but find them to be rather depressing inside. I don't think that they're the antichrist, it's just personal preference (I like Target better). When people start getting their panties in a bind over them and do crazy "activist" things like bringing up frivolous lawsuits, making up stories, etc, my tendency is to be more sympathetic towards the Walmarts. I also tend to think that those who are pulling the aforementioned shenanigans have way too much time on their hands (not to mention un-worked-through resentments towards their parents), and too little understanding of how the economy outside their boutique and organic food chainstore worlds work.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Do I detect a theme here?

Stained glass window at Napi's Restaurant on Freeman Street in Provincetown.

The Lobster Pot on Commercial Street. Sadly, it's closed whenever we visit. Might have to stop by sometime in the summer (ugh).

The makings of a ceramic bouillabaisse at a jewelry store on Commercial Street.

My birthday present to me this year turned out to be a lithograph called "Sabbath Angels" by Chaim Gross. Caught a glimpse of it in an antique store and was immediately drawn in.

Though a great fan of his sculpture, I'm not too crazy about some of his painting or print work, as it strikes me as being a bit too...too...baroque, maybe? What pleased me about "Sabbath Angels" was the angularity, the play of light and shadow (are they angels or tree branches?), the colors, too. It really helped to have a watercolor of his on the same subject (called "Shabboth") with almost the same composition beneath the print.

Tourists by Chaim Gross

Mother and Daughter by Chaim Gross. Both of these sculptures used to be in front of the Provincetown Art Association Museum.

Anyhow, conditions were perfect: the mat and frame were suprisingly complementary, the price was right. I was willing to give up my birthday dinner for the angels. The Voice of Reason chimed in, however, and told me to wait until the following afternoon. If my print was still there, it was meant for me.

Glad I listened, as I ended up with both my favorite dinner (Ross Grille's Tuscan Cod with a bottle of Truro Vineyards Chardonnay) and the print.
Each year, we like to end our trip with a visit to Race Point Beach, at about the northernmost part of the National Seashore. There, I like to orient myself in order to send greetings to my friends across the Big Blue. Pictures are taken, weather permitting. This time around, the weather was more than permissive (no wind and about 50 degrees). It seemed more like mid spring than mid winter.

Ranger Station, Race Point Beach

View of the Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown, over the dunes

Of course, little things give away the fact that it's "off season." The lack of crowds, for one. Also, since the sun is at a smaller angle, longer shadows are cast:

(Isn't it great when Nature sets up her own natures mortes?)

Sometimes people like to get into the Environmental Art game and create:

Hal calls this one "Andy Goldsworthy for Lazy People."

My contribution: a little dance I like to call "Limbo for the Lazy and Not-So-Limber."

It's kind of humbling, though, to think that whatever efforts we make (whether to secure immortality or otherwise) are going to be dwarfed by Nature's random and fleeting movements:

Compass Grass

Still Life with Wet Rock

Sandflea's Eye View