Sunday, September 30, 2007

Another Perk of Global Warming!

More brain-eating amoeba!

God, I've got to stop reading the news.

Oh, Jesus.

Seymour Hersh on the administration's plans for Iran. Hint: bombs away.
At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq. If Democrats objected, the Administration could say, “Bill Clinton did the same thing; he conducted limited strikes in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and in Baghdad to protect American lives.” The former intelligence official added, “There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.”
Question: what exactly do they give a rat's ass about? Honestly, I would really be curious to know. Oh, and ponder the deja vu in this:

“They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,” one recently retired C.I.A. official said. “They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. He added, “The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”

That theme was echoed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national-security adviser, who said that he had heard discussions of the White House’s more limited bombing plans for Iran. Brzezinski said that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.”

Spectacular! This military approach to all problems does seem to be the way to go. It's a shame we didn't know this secret before Bush/Cheney, because we really could have tidied some things up in short order.

Man, I'm So Glad Van Halen's Got the Whole Reunion Thing Going On

And that wacky David Lee Roth! Who can forget his skin-tight pants, his acrobatic dance moves, his whimsical videos, in which he is perpetually surrounded by hott chixxx. And his apparent inability to discern people from furniture.
"The bar's over there," someone said. Over there, as it so happened, was directly behind the sofa on which Mori, Alex, his girlfriend, and I were sitting. But that didn't slow Mr. Roth down, not a bit. He leaped up vertically, alighting on the sofa with one foot on a cushion and the other on my thigh. Then he balanced himself, grabbing the top of my head as a gymnast would a pommel horse, and leaped once again, this time landing in front of the bar.
I guess we've all felt that kind of desperate need to get to the bar. I'd love to see him try something like that on the reunion tour, though.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Weed Monster, Part the Second

Yes, there's more. And still more after this. It's really quite endless. BwHAHAHAH!

I have a beautiful back yard, envied by the neighbors because it is a lot and a half. In fact, I specifically chose my house because of its generous yard. I decided that nothing would be a better complement to my well-tended house than a pristine, elegant garden. I envisioned immaculate, mulched beds of bright and varied perennials—varieties chosen so that their seasonal blooming would be timed to maximize visual impact—mixed in with greenery, of course, and interspersed with colorful annual blooms. Shrubs of deep emerald, sea green, and fire red would be planted at tasteful intervals and provide shade and visual interest. Threaded throughout would be meandering flagstone paths. I would put in a stone bench on which I might enjoy my morning coffee and newspaper. It would be an oasis, a nirvana of natural splendor.

I first visited my local library and ordered an assortment of books off the Internet: planting guides, species and plant descriptions, manuals on evaluating and treating soil condition. I also brought out my grid paper and replicated my yard, to scale, on a ledger-sized sheet. I took careful tests of the soil for each of my proposed planting beds (twelve in all) and sent them off to a lab for expert analysis—my research having indicated that the kits available through home stores were far from precise. When the results came back, and with all of my data in hand, I came up with a detailed plan for execution.

The first warm day, I was at the home store buying gardening tools, gardening gloves, and a red wheelbarrow whose rubber wheel bounced in a satisfying manner when I ramped it over the walkway and onto the grass. You could say that I took my mission seriously.

At the beginning, I was rather surprised to discover how overgrown the yard looked; I guess that buying a home in the winter doesn’t allow one to take the full measure of the surrounding landscape and a fixer-upper perhaps implies a certain state of dilapidation. I began by the garage, which is detached. At the time, it was surrounded by waist-high plants that swayed in the breeze. As I worked, I unearthed relics from previous owners: an ancient rubber ball, a plastic toy Indian, its paint weathered off, from some long-ago child’s cowboys and Indians set.

And who could tell what were plants and what were weeds? I yanked randomly, this plant and that, hoed and hacked at swathes of green that looked, at that moment, irritating and ugly to me. The tiny, two-leafed, propeller-shaped plants that looked as though they could take flight if you unrooted them and tossed them into the wind? I initially decided they were beautiful, then, after a while, I began yanking the lot of them.

It took many weekends for me to see progress on all of this work. Along the way, I discovered pleasant surprises, like some fragrant lavender, a nest of peppermint leaves. And in most places, I began to get down to actual dirt. I was elated to be able to pull out my grid-paper map and start to work on placing my new beds.

I was taking a triumphant tour of my yard before the next phase of my project—the careful laying out of the beds—when I saw it. It was tangled in the chain-link fence that I share with my neighbors to the south; I couldn’t figure out how I had missed it on my earlier weed-pulling frenzy.

The thing had a small stalk or wood stem, with other stems growing off of it. The offshoots had small, delicate leaves; it looked to be a tree of some sort. I got out my pruning shears and proceeded to lop off the offshoots. I then went to my garage and unearthed a hacksaw that I had seen, left there by previous owners. I got down on my knees and proceed to saw the tree off at ground level. Of course, then I had to untangle the stems and the parts of the trunk that were growing through the fence and cut them out piece by piece. At long last, I had stuffed the last piece of the tree into my yard recycling bag. Satisfied, I moved on to cordoning off sections of my yard with string.

This sectioning-off portion of my project wasn’t as time-consuming as cleaning out the previous owner’s overgrowth. It was also the type of task I like best, because it called on my organizational skills and ability to establish order. I worked methodically around the yard, stretching string, tying it to stakes that I made out of pieces of wood that I found in my garage. Then I dug out the areas of the lawn that weren’t already beds, removing the existing grass and mixing in a rich topsoil. At the same time, I also sprinkled grass seed on existing beds that I didn’t want to keep. I tried to keep these grass-seeded areas to a minimum, because I understood that grass can take a long time to grow, and in the meantime you get a messy array of weeds, and as a rule, I can’t stand the thought of too many places in my world with that kind of chaos.

I was in my side yard planting some delphinium one weekend when I decided to take a break. My neighbors had come outside, and I walked over to say hello. I’m not terribly friendly with them, nor in fact do I know their names, but they seem like nice people. The wife smiled at me as she bent over to dexterously pry the leaves of one of her tomato plants from the fingers of a child, a little boy of about three—I believe they have four kids; several cycle in and out of their yard on a daily basis, so I’m not exactly certain.

“How are you?” I greeted her warmly across the fence with a small superfluous wave.

“Oh, fine, thanks. The kids, they keep me running.”

“Oh, I’m sure. Though, of course, I can’t say from experience.” I laughed perhaps too heartily; the thought of the filth and disorder that she must deal with every day filled me with horror. I remembered my mother weeping on her mop.

“I’ve noticed you’ve done a lot of work here.” She gestured toward my yard, with its mostly empty beds awaiting my carefully chosen array of plants.

“Oh, yes,” I said, pleased to talk about it. “It’s been hard, but what task worth doing isn’t? I like to do things well.”

“Well, much better than the previous people, that’s for certain. They just let things grow wild and didn’t seem to care what it looked like.”

“I assure you,” I told her confidently, “that will never be me.”

She smiled, bending to grab her little boy by the arm as he was preparing to shovel a fistful of dirt into his mouth. “Oh, hey,” she said, suddenly, seeming to remember something. “Since you’re being so thorough about it, you may want to get rid of that.” She pointed toward a spot on the fence, where a stalk was growing, entwined in the fence, its tendrils covered with green leaves shooting out on both her and my side. I frowned. It was in the same place where I had cut out the little tree.

“It’s no big deal,” she said, shrugging. “Just use some weed killer, that’s what we do. Away from the kids, of course.” She smiled apologetically as she raced off to grab the little boy, who was climbing up the fence on the other side of the lawn.

You Know What's a Fun Thing to Do on a Saturday Morning?

Getting up a dawn, wrestling a freaked-out cat with talon-length claws into a carrier, and hanging out at the vet's for a while. I highly recommend it. It's so refreshing. Especially if--and this part is essential to the experience--you do it before you've had coffee.

And I can confirm that my reliable source is indeed reliable, and the first volume, at least, of the Old Grey Whistle Test kicks ass. Live performances from the seventies of: the Wailers, the Ramones, the Damned, XTC, Emmylou Harris, the Talking Heads, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, John Lennon, the Police, etc. etc. etc. I skipped through some others on the disc, but most of it was great. And as a side note, I was completely dumbfounded that Michael Stipe once had long, flowing, curly hair.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Random Music from the iPod

1. when saturday comes, the undertones
2. coal to diamonds, the gossip
3. button my lip, elvis costello and the imposters
4. the ballad of el goodo, big star
5. the district sleeps alone tonight, the postal service
6. turtle and the flightless bird, devin davis
7. sullen girl, fiona apple
8. farfisa beat, squeeze
9. forget about it, alison krauss and union station
10. fat children, jarvis cocker

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Weed Monster, Part I

An excerpt from a silly story I wrote for class, inspired, if you will, by my goddamn overgrown yard. Anyway, empty auditorium and all, I figured why not. I may or may not post more.

I’m a person who likes things to be a certain way. I can’t say I was born this way, although I guess it’s possible that I have a certain genetic predisposition. My mother used to scrub every surface in our house until it gleamed. She would cry if my brothers and I came into the house tracking mud onto her freshly scrubbed and dried linoleum floors. She refused to have carpeting because of the dirt that can linger in them even if you vacuum and shampoo. She made my father install linoleum everywhere we didn’t already have hardwood floors. Because of the linoleum in the bedrooms, our house was a bit stranger than most, and my brothers and I were embarrassed to bring friends home with us. We concluded that our mother was high strung. And today, I’m certain that she was unhappy in her marriage and with being a full-time housewife and mother after getting her Ph.D. in physics. I’m not married, I don’t have any children. I’m a woman who has tried to avoid my mother’s fate, and yet in some ways I seem to have embraced it.

I used to live in a cramped one-bedroom apartment, a rental with nearly opaque windows and a perpetual film of grime over the sloppily painted white woodwork. I worked hard to keep the place tidy in spite of its obviously dingy natural state. On the whole, I think I succeeded in keeping order; and in any case, as small as it was, it wasn’t an endless universe to maintain to an acceptable level.

I liked the place and felt comfortable there. I knew the neighbors and could identify each of their footsteps on the hallway tile. I had lived there for ten years and expected to continue living there. Except that I got a notice shoved under my door. Like other old apartments in my apparently up-and-coming neighborhood, my building was going condo. And of course I could not afford to buy the place and stay there. So I was anxious; I had to figure out another place to live, in a neighborhood I could actually afford. I had to pack up my life and prepare for change.

I’m a freelance indexer who specializes in psychology texts, which means that my income is erratic and depends on the volume and variety of books being published. When the economy is bad, as it is now, publishers aren’t lining up to publish professional books. It’s a hazard of my skill set. I do what I can, though, and attend many professional society meetings to network and build contacts. I also have a listing in the Literary Market Place, which brings in the occasional job. I generally do okay.

Another one of the perils of freelance work, in the United States, anyway, is health insurance. I don’t have any, which is an irony for me, working on psychology titles as I do. I’m pretty certain I’m obsessive-compulsive (and maybe a few other things; reading lists of symptoms always makes me feel like I have eight or ten of them). In previous times, they would institutionalize you if you got bad, but these days, there are drugs to calm the chemical firings in your brain. Unfortunately, I can’t afford any of these drugs, so I manage the best that I can.

It took me a while to find a new place, given my limited budget. But about a year ago, shortly after Christmas, I bought a house, a two-bedroom bungalow. It was a miracle that I could afford it, really. But it needed a lot of work and was in a bad part of town. When I moved in, I washed down every surface; swept, vacuumed, and waxed all the floors; and painted three coats over the previous owner’s nicotine-stained whole-house avocado color scheme (I chose a soothing lemon shade). I vacuumed out the windows and crawled along the baseboards wielding a damp rag and a bottle of Murphy’s oil soap, orange scented. I bleached and scrubbed with a wire brush the filthy hexagonal floor tile in the bathroom. In attacking the kitchen, I used up five bottles of Lysol, because after a while I abandoned mixing it with the water and instead poured it directly into the drawers and cupboards. I would not deny that the entire endeavor was a lot of work that took me the bulk of the winter to accomplish.

When spring came, I turned my mind to the outdoors, to my yard.

You Love Me, You Really Love Me!

Out of curiosity, I signed up for Google Analytics. I love each and every one of the five of you! (That includes me, twice, I think, but I love myself too.)


My friend and I spent our lunch hour mocking perfect strangers' outfits. Those gigantic cowboy boots that make you look like a robot with no human limbs? Don't buy those. Ponchos? I say no way in any form, she comes down against the homemade variety that--this is important--has mismatched stripes, whereby, for example, green stripes don't match up with green at the seam but instead are skewed to meet red. We saw a woman wearing a tank top over a turtleneck. And, dear god, those tight, peg-leg jeans? Every person wearing those either looks like a stick insect or a gout-ridden lord.

We then came back and, after I dared my friend to make up a story about a nasty puddle we dropped her umbrella in, we tortured our OCD colleague with specters of germs and contamination. Don't worry, she totally had it coming.

Tomorrow, we make a 12-year-old cry.

Want to Know How Much Your State Is Paying

for the Iraq war? Sure you do.

Some Days, You Just Need a Pun

Such as
I'm going to write a thriller about a knight who returns home after a year in the Crusades, and finds his wife six-months pregnant despite wearing a chastity belt. It will be a locked-womb mystery.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oh My God, Did He Just Say Friedmanite Ideology?

I may have mentioned once or twice, I looooove John Cusack. Yes, it's my story that I once saw him on the street. I have witnesses. Sadly, he wasn't overcome by my fabulousness at a distance, which is points against his judgment. But what can you do?

Be that as it may, this video of him interviewing author and journalist Naomi Klein on her book The Shock Doctrine is pretty awesome. I could listen to him speculate on crisis capitalism all day.

Catchphrases I'm Working on Spreading

"M-Fer [sanitized, as necessary], I want more iced tea [or preferred beverage of your choice]."

"Feakin' out." I'm still working on the precise definition, but I think it refers to some state of nonanxiety that masquerades as anxiety.

And per the below post, I've decided I really really do want my own Chanel. I'd want to name it, though.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Out and Aboot

In reference to the accent quiz, I've decided to cultivate a Canadian accent, eh?

Stuff that amuses and/or raises eyebrows:

America's Next Top Model winner "boycotts" BET and Black History Month
, because
I am over this shit. WE ALL CAME FROM ONE BLACK WOMAN FROM AFRICA, THAT is our EVE! It has been proven by science, and I stand by it. If any other race had a chanel dedicated to just them, we would think it was racist. If any other race demanded a month be set aside for ONLY them, they would be considered racist. I am NOT living by this double standard any longer.
And she's so not racist, because she once dated a black kid in junior high.

Also, today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Little Rock school integration. Vanity Fair has a story about the two girls in an iconic photo of that time.

The housing market continues apace with its tanking
. I'm so pleased to be a homeowner.

Recount of 2000, the movie
! Coming to a theater near you fall 2008.

And I don't think I have to tell you about the perils of the cupcakes.

This Just In: Confidence in Hyphens Undermined

Another casualty of the internet age, the hyphen meets the same fate as the proper use of quotation marks. Also blame designers:

Another factor in the hyphen's demise is designers' distaste for its ungainly horizontal bulk between words.

"Printed writing is very much design-led these days in adverts and Web sites, and people feel that hyphens mess up the look of a nice bit of typography," he said. "The hyphen is seen as messy looking and old-fashioned."

Ah, "design-led," "old-fashioned." Methinks someone is subtly critiquing and undermining the thesis.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Heroes Blogging: Or, Look Away!

I can't hide it, look away if you don't want spoilage.

Credits: Joy! Adrian Pasdar! Nathan resurfaces. Also, David Anders, i.e., Sark from Alias. Intriguing.

8:20: Ooooh, and Nathan’s single, if strangely bearded and drunken. Nobody’s perfect. I can save him and resurrect his will to live.

8:22: Huh. David Anders, speaking Japanese, a samurai warrior. He’s so versatile. On Alias, it was all about the Russian.

8:25: Why is everybody sweating so profusely? Suresh, with strange dude with glasses who can turn metal into gold, nice restaurant that’s apparently not climate controlled.

8:30: Parkman and this “Molly” kid. He’s divorced too! It’s like an epidemic!

8:35: Claire’s like Buffy, in adolescent hell! But she’s of the people, defending the underdogs, so she’s cool, even if she’s busting her leg in the gym. Also, the kid talking to her? What’s up with the thing behind his ear? A lump behind his head? A pen?

8:42: Both Hiro’s dad and evil Petrelli mom marked for death? Note that the pictures sent to each of them is ripped from the same whole? Man, she’s evil. She’s like Mommy Dearest plus Martha Stewart, with a dash of Cruella deVille thrown in.

8:45: Hiro in ancient Japan, trying to set the warrior on the straight path, to make the girl fall in love with him. Silly? Charming? Trite? Winning?

8:50: Is this Twin Peaks? What’s up with Claire’s mom and the dog at the table? Are the weird camera angles just creepy? Are these people robots? I don't remember them being this odd.

8:55: Claire and Nathan talking! He’s so paternal, as in not at all. Jesus, he looks like freakin’ Grizzly Adams. And oh, look! Claire’s new beau can fly! Another Nathan offspring, perchance?

8:57: George Takai is dead!! Who pushed him?!!

8:58: Woooo!!! Peter’s back, sans memory, in some sort of cargo container! Somehow, he got his hair cut. Possibly this was the result of atmospheric reentry.

Thoughts: Where is Jessica/Niki plus the fam? I thought she took Molly with her after the finale. And what happened to Sylar? Was he distilled to essence of cockroach, and if so, how does he get back? Do we care about the brother/sister duo emigrating from Mexico? What’s her power? What's the emotional temperature on this season? Are we optimistic?

I Am Oh So Northern

Via, who doesn't specify exactly what accent she's sportin'.

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

In Which I Plug Movies That Pleased Me

Want to do a punk-apalooza?

24-Hour Party People, about the birth of punk, focusing on Tony Wilson, band manager, club manager, record-label president, and general man in the middle of things. A mock documentary, it's funny and self-referential. Plus, great soundtrack.

The Punk Years, a 12-part (half-hour per episode) BBC documentary miniseries on the history of punk. Johnny Rotten still looks absurdly cool, and he hates everyone. But it's okay, because he's Johnny Rotten.

And it's possible--no, make that probable--that I've been in my job too long, but I laughed my ass off watching Art School Confidential, the latest by Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World). The plot was kind of ridiculous and forgettable, but the art school absurdities were pretty fabulous.


I'm featuring 65% less pain! I'm off to mow and putter and be suburban. And just because I feel like it, a video in honor of the 90s music wars.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Don't Mind Me.

I just went to the store, where I bought: tuna for the cat, wine, and pain meds. Yes, my neck is still tweaked. Do you think the checkout kid thought I was gearing up for a hopelessly Liza evening (a vendor of mine uses that phrase to describe his habit of mixing alcohol with sleeping pills for maximum sleep punch[???!!!])?

I also got these menthol cooling patches that, frankly, just slap a noxious scent on the works. God, I feel old.

Um, Yeah, That's Why I Painstakingly Sewed and Trimmed That Slipcover

She loves it and sleeps there for hours at a time, meticulously covering it in hair. I'm so relieved.

Bizarre Things People Have Said That Make My Neckpain Worse

Since I do the whole 9-to-5 thing, I don't actually watch The View, although I have seen it on occasion. They've cycled in some new people, it seems, since I last dropped in. And one of them isn't quite sure whether the earth is flat or round.

I'm not sure which interpretation is more disturbing: the possibility that she never stumbled across a globe in her years of schoolin' (hell, I was an English major, and I managed that) or the possibility that, like global warming and evolution, the shape of the earth is now a matter of opinion.

And Bill O'Reilly--salt of the earth, man of the people, possessor of his own television show--visited a restaurant in Harlem and was stunned, stunned to discover that he didn't drop into a gangsta rap music video:
O'REILLY: That's right. That's right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."
This is, of course, how our country becomes known for its enlightened cultural attitudes and racial sensitivities.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Light Copyediting Humor

Because I Am a Sheep

Hey, everybody else is doing it (and no, I wouldn't jump off a cliff; what are you trying to say?). Plus, proofreading, ergo music. Although I'm going to head back to the Sun Records Compilation I've got going on. Fan-TAB-ulous stuff. Ten songs on random from the old iPod.

1. destroyer, the kinks
2. all at once (it's not important), the secret machines
3. my mind's eye, the small faces
4. love's like a butterfly, dolly parton
5. i will kill again, jarvis cocker
6. what i'm looking for, brendan benson
7. 80's life, the good, the bad & the queen
8. loose, the stooges
9. hey jude, the beatles
10. go on ahead, liz phair

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fred Thompson: Hunk of Sexy Manliness or Basset Hound?

Views differ, however empirical evidence compiled by straight women suggests option two. To wit:
First of all, are women voters, taken as a whole, really so much like retarded kittens in our motivations? And secondly, doesn’t Fred Thompson pretty much look like a basset hound who’s just taken a really satisfying shit in your hall closet? Finally, even if we restrict our field of play to Republicans who have played prosecutors in the later seasons of Law and Order, I would much, much rather have sex with Angie Harmon, even though I’m not gay.

Is America Ready for a Woman President?

Come the Revolution, I'm Joining the Anti-Nut Army

The Hard Things In Soft Things Manifesto: “Why, I ask an uncaring world. Why does everything have to have the goddamn nuts on?”

Amen, brother, amen. Although in this case the enemy-of-my-enemy is indeed my friend, one must be careful that motivations of different factions in this struggle for justice don't get conflated. I submit and thus declare that we do not all oppose nuts on aesthetic grounds. For some of us, it's a matter of life and death, or at least moderate discomfort and not-insignificant whining.

From the Department of Surly Curmudeons: Whippersnapper Music Snobs Navel Gaze, or That CD Was Like So Transformative When I Was Fourteen!

Is 1997 the new 1967? Since I spent the decade of the 1990s in a cave in Estonia, musically speaking, I’m not going to weigh in. However, I do enjoy the prospect of my friend Jim’s head exploding at the word Radiohead.

I will observe that it seems like shooting fish in a barrel to pick a random year and list the great albums that came out--lo, a music revolution! And I will further speculate that whippersnappers who could barely remember the early nineties (now there was a watershed time for music, dagnabbit!) appear to be overrepresented, among commenters and likely among reviewers. More evidence that your music preferences, and emotional attachments to same, are solidified in adolescence.

But, dear god, the Spice Girls? Someone needs to explain that one. In other music news, Pitchfork weighs in on music.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Seven Years Ago

My grandmother, Helen Marie.

My friend, PK.

It's True, Our Society Is Shockingly Indulgent of Poor People

What happens when you lend money to poor people: Lessons learned.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Have It on Good Authority

Via my music yoda, I hear that this U.K. television series from the 1970s is pretty great and worth tossing into the Netflix queue.

From the Department of Surly Curmudgeons

I'm going to use that phrase from now on. Every day.

Resolved: Making undergrads read books by chicks and minorities is the downfall of Western Civilization.

The canon wars continue. Discuss.

Mood Barometer: Hurtling Fast Toward Late-Career Joan Crawford

Those Elusive Allies in Iraq: Explained

Of course! It all makes sense.

Responding to those who question his grip on reality, Bush today enumerated all 36 countries:
United Kingdom
Poland (don't
South Korea
Czech Republic
Bosnia and Herzegovina
El Salvador
The Shire
United Federation of Planets
Where The Wild Things Are
Mario World 2-3

Bush added that these allies are also aiding us in our struggle against Eastasia, with whom we have always been at war.

Those brave little hobbits. God, I love their spirit.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means

You know those days, weeks, months, where everything is a struggle, and you just feel tired and blue? Today, I cheered myself up with a lunchtime cruise of the makeup counter at Macy's. I love me some MAC lipstick.

Exercising great restraint, I bought merely one lipstick: Viva Glam VI (lovely mauve-not-orange, for people who care about these things; plus, proceeds donated to AIDS research). As she handed me my bag post purchase, the saleswoman cheerfully said, "Thank you for supporting AIDS!"

Oh dear. I hope not.

Ah, Angel

Want to know what happened after the series finale?

You May Ask Yourself

What David Byrne's listening to.

Signed on This Day in History

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Examination of Themes

Fact: My iTunes library contains no fewer than three songs about toupees. This isn't one. I do love it when they toss fried chicken, though. And it's nice to see Mary's still teasing her hair.

Wow, Does Anyone Else Think This Is Just Whackadoodle for the APA?

A speech given to the American Psychological Association, "Is There Anything Good About Men?" Turns out, people like women better than men! Possibly they need to hire a better PR firm. But men are better than women and created all good things and even improved childbirth, when they were able to get in on it and see what's what, and why didn't one-hundred women eons ago hop on a ship and explore? Or something. My head hurts. In my experience, this is where conference coordinators would whisper among themselves, "Who asked him to speak? Was it you? Was he our guy? Did anybody read the abstract?"

Anyway, others wade through so you don't have to.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Weird Russian Shit

I mock with love, because a friend of mine is Russian. Via the source of the below-mentioned map of the world (fascinating and amusing site, although I wish I'd bypassed the Japanese anime porn; you're warned).

Queen Russian dolls.

Michael Jackson Russian dolls.

What Goes with a Nice Pinot Noir?

Oh, that's right.

See, I need to ponder this early because I am now a spy for The Man. It's the Cold War, baby, and those Communists and useless workers are going down!

Happy Friday, all! Thank god.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

As Someone Whose Bike Is Gathering Dust in the Basement

Although I did fully intend to ride it last weekend. The reason why I don't ride it more? The feeling that I'm defying death ever time I have to navigate the insanely congested major arteries surrounding my tiny island of bungalows. Bike paths? Hah!

And it's really nice that the secretary of transportation believes that bike paths and pedestrian walkways are not part of the transportation infrastructure.

Yeah, that's why that bridge collapsed in Minneapolis--the 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars sucked--sucked--by those ridiculous alternative forms of transport. Stupid greenies and virtuous tree huggers trying to force their way of life on the rest of us motorists.

Yes, And?

Via one of my usual dropbys.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Oh, Hell. I Knew I Forgot to Do Something

Roll over that old 401(k)? Put the lawnmower away? Plan my reproductive life in 1989?

Have You Heard of This?

A friend of mine sent along a link to, for the bookish types and/or people looking for book recommendations. It looks like social-networking meets book club meets netflix. I'm kind of geeked about it, although my book-reading rate is at an all-time low.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Speaking of Falsifiers of Metal

While it is very impressive that Def Leppard’s drummer drums with one arm, it does nothing to elevate their music from absolute crapitude.
So true, so true.

I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that there will be Heroes blogging, come the premiere. I'm expecting the lurkitudinous folks to dive right in (I'm looking at you, Nikki).

Yes, I am working from home this afternoon. Why do you ask?

In Contrast, Good Reminders of the Past

Discovering a new creative work or photo of a late friend, which, in addition to reminding you of them, adds a whole new facet to their life that you never knew about.

Monday, September 10, 2007

How Stupid Am I?

Some of you may know, I bought a nifty new electric lawnmower. It's kind of tiny and toy-like, but it's practically a monster truck compared to my old push reel. So every Sunday, give or take, I'm out doing the thing we Bungalow-ville denizens do, mowing, trimming, and aiming for maximal yard conformity.

I got home from work today, in the rain, and was rushing to get out the door again to meet friends for dinner. In the kitchen, I happened to glance out the window at my neighbor's fence. Lo! They had an electric lawnmower! How cool, I thought, I've started a trend. A bit odd to leave it out in the rain and all, but still. And wait, it's the exact same kind as mine....

And of course, it was mine. Moron that I am, I left it out all day, all night, all the next day, and out in the rain. And my kind neighbors obviously pulled it back from where I left it. Will I electrocute myself, do you think, if I go to use it the next time?

Your Mileage May Vary

By way of further explanation.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Best Articles I've Read This Week, Long Form

This lengthy Vanity Fair article on the 2000 election media coverage of Al Gore will make you cry in frustration and rage.

And this long blog entry on racism, alive and well in present-day America, will just make you cry.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

As I Step, Barefoot, into My Fourth Puddle of Vomit for the Day

I'm reminded of why these beasts are amusing. Sometimes.

More Evolution-in' in Action!

A bad first kiss can be a relationship deal breaker, according to an article on a recent study.
In a recently published article, Susan M. Hughes, Marissa A. Harrison, and Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. reveal that many college students have found themselves attracted to someone, only to discover after they kissed them for the first time that they were no longer interested. "In other words," said Gallup, an evolutionary psychologist, "While many forces lead two people to connect romantically, the kiss, particularly the first kiss, can be a deal breaker."
Ain't that the truth! Kiss like a spaniel? Move it along, dude, move it along. Somewhere there's specific research on the complex chemical reactions involved in kissing, which I'd be fascinated to see.

The above quoted paragraph applies to both the men and women in the study. Further down the article, discussing attitudes toward kissing in general of women versus men:
The UAlbany study also found sex differences in the importance and type of kissing. Males tended to kiss as a means to an end -- to gain sexual favors or to reconcile. In contrast, females kiss to establish and monitor the status of their relationship, and to assess and periodically update the level of commitment on the part of a partner.
What's interesting is that after I heard about this study on NPR, I poked around to find an article about it and came up with several. The first one I came upon, from CNN, carries this headline: "Women Judge Men on the First Kiss." The first paragraph begins:
Researchers in the United States say men and women have dramatically different attitudes to the first kiss of a new relationship. The scientists say while men consider the kiss is just a means to an end, for women it is a crucial element in finding a partner.
It's almost like there's this narrative of monogamy-focused women looking to get those naturally wanderin', sex-focused men into relationships. Women as choosers, men as perfomers, all as it ever thus was. Just look at the chimpanzees! Oddness.

I know I'm probably the only one who finds this stuff fascinating, but if you're bored or likewise procrastinating exercising, yard work, or other productive endeavors, there's a good article on these types of gender-based studies and their interpretation by the media here (and she's done a weekly series at her blog as well). Hint: in manner of marketing cosmetics and other products, women as news consumers are sold anxiety.

Is My Kitchen a Showplace? Why Yes, Yes It Is.

Here's some more of what I've been doing round about the house.

Ottoman slipcover, sewn by yours truly. It's a lovely faux suede/velour touchy fabric. Of course, there's already a cat-vomit stain on it. But, joy! It's machine washable.

And I know you've all been waiting for the debut of my ethereal, insanely expensive refrigerator, with freezer on the bottom. It's actually a very handy configuration and eliminates the annoying crawling around once necessary to root through the crisper drawers. Now I can see, at eye level, when I have stuff rotting.

See, there's the omnipresent feline apothecary on the countertop. On the fridge are magnets that I made from postcards of vintage pulp comic covers. (I was looking for these, which I love, but I couldn't find them anymore except online. And I should pay $10 for shipping $10 worth of magnets? Ha!)

A closeup:
I also mounted cork boards on magnets on which I can organize all the stupid papers I have floating around: city citations, pilling direction cheat sheets, doctor information, and so forth. They're going on the side of the fridge, concealed yet handy and accessible. I'm planning on moving toward a more arty treatment of our former fridge munchkin, family, and friend photo gallery.

It's the insane ingenuity of Martha Stewart mixed with the practical applicability of Real Simple, with a dash of one-of-a-kind chic style, no?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Can't . . . Look . . . Away

Who's Dated Who: Six degrees of separation meets E Hollywood Reporter.

Want to know who Barbara Walter's has dated? Yeah, me neither. Yet, Henry Kissinger? Richard Pryor? I think that may be my brain coming out of my ears.

Also: Henry Kissinger is a Gemini? Who knew?

Well, That Answers That

Breathe a sigh of relief, friends. The status in Iraq is that we are "kicking ass."

Whew! I was worried there for a while. Back to our regularly scheduled economic meltdown.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Jokes, They Write Themselves

Brought by Bush on his recent trip to Australia: 250 secret-service agents, guns and ammunition, his bullet proof, grenade-proof, chemical- and biological-weapons-proof limo, approximately 20 vehicles for the motorcade, and "not one Jumbo jet, but three, as well as another two aircraft that carry aircraft."

And yet, this (via the Associated Press):
SYDNEY, Australia - Members of an Australian TV comedy show, one dressed as Osama bin Laden, drove through two security checkpoints Thursday before being stopped near the Sydney hotel where President Bush is staying.

The stunt embarrassed Sydney police who have imposed the tightest security measures in city history for a summit of leaders from Pacific Rim countries, including Bush.

Police arrested 11 cast and crew from the TV program, "The Chaser's War on Everything," and impounded three vehicles, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., which airs the show, said on its Web site.

Cast members put together a sham motorcade, hiring two motorcycles and three large cars on which they put Canadian flags. Police waved the motorcade through two checkpoints before pulling it over near the Intercontinental Hotel where Bush is staying.

Cast member Chas Licciardello got out of the car dressed in a white tunic and cap and wearing a long fake Osama bin Laden-style beard.

"No particular reason we chose Canada," cast member Chris Taylor was quoted as saying on The Sydney Morning Herald's Web site. "We just thought they'd be a country who the cops wouldn't scrutinize too closely, and who feasibly would only have three cars in their motorcade -- as opposed to the 20 or so gas guzzlers that Bush has brought with him."

The First Step on the Long Road to Harvard

Another tot to whom I am auntly, a foremost scholar on dinosaurs (although her theories on communication and language are still controversial) and a fashionista in her own right on the leading edge of the leggings/tights-as-pants craze, embarks on her long educational path this week. She's starting preschool.

Knock 'em dead with your bad "ABC"-singing self, girl!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Answer to the Thorny Question: How Do You Notify Your Damned-to-Hellfire Friends and Loved Ones After You've Been Raptured to Heaven?

There are times when I just adore the myriad ways that we ingenious humans devise to use the Internet: communication, shopping, dating, political networking, job hunting.

And now, it's provided the answer to one of life's most difficult dilemmas for the God-fearing. You pre-plan for potential death and dismemberment, why not pre-plan for Rapture? Well, now you can. Says the website:

After the rapture, there will be a lot of speculation as to why millions of people have just disappeared. Unfortunately, after the rapture, only non believers will be left to come up with answers. You probably have family and friends that you have witnessed to and they just won’t listen. After the rapture they probably will, but who will tell them?

We have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven.

And it's free! But they do take donations to do God's work, you know, until the day.

"From Managing Editor to Madam"

It's possible I'm not defining my job search broadly enough.

Hmmm, a co-op brothel in Canada. . . . Doing good for the downtrodden + living in Canada. Sounding good. Betcha the hours suck, though.

Ooooooh, New Gizmos!

Apple's introducing its new products for the holidays. Hold me back! Now featuring an iPod that's essentially an iPhone without the phone (same interface, same internet access); an iPhone that's $200 cheaper; and a video Nano.

Man, though, I hate how my shiny new gadget looks a Commodore 64 in less than a year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Boy, Didn't Alanis Morrissette Have It Right, Even if She Was Thwarted on the Definition of Irony?

While enjoying the last sip of my lovely Spanish red wine, something hits my lip. Cork, perhaps? Nope. A giant black fly. Ewww.

And here's some real irony (because I was an English major, I'm compelled to demonstrate my understanding): the label art includes a bug.

Childbirth Just Got a Whole Lot More Fashionable

Togs for women to wear during labor and childbirth: "'posh and precious skirts, tops and robes to labor in' ... so that 'loyal fashionistas' can feel more like themselves."

Excellent! Of course, we all know I'm totally the person they're marketing toward.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Not Convinced that Our Healthcare System Is Screwed?

If you're not, congratulations on your spectacular health insurance. Can you let me know where, so I can send in my resume? In other news
Almost 1 in 4 of all children in the Virginia foster care system is there because their parents couldn’t afford mental health care. Because the parents can’t afford mental health care for their children, whether it’s unavailable or unaffordable, they give up parental rights so their bipolar, schizophrenic, and depressed children are eligible for Medicaid.
Is this one of those market efficiencies I keep hearing about?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

In Follow Up to Below-Mentioned Men's Room Scandal

I really hadn't thought about the Craig brouhaha in these terms, but this is a really good point.
By the cop's own admission, he (the cop) "pumped his foot slowly up and down in response." In other words, Craig asked for sex using an arcane code extremely unlikely to "alarm, anger, or disturb" -- according to the the equally arcane code defining disorderly conduct in Minnesota -- an uninitiated fellow-lavator, and the cop knew what it meant and said yes.
Where's the victim?

(3) What I find more astonishing is the definition of "disorderly conduct." By this reckoning, ten years and thirty pounds ago, I had disorderly conduct foisted upon me approximately...let's see...15,923 times.

Per week.
Give or take.

But, even if they're unwanted advances, that's the natural order of things, right? Whereas men have to be protected from the unwanted advances of men at all costs (why? because they're worried they just might succumb to a particularly persuasive piece of foot telegraphy?).

Given the constant, daily harassment women endure (come on now, don't tune out; stay with me, here) -- harassment that makes us compress our daily activities into daylight hours, that circumscribes where we go, who we go with, and even what we wear; intrusive harassment, ruin-your-day, make-you-feel-powerless/angry/depressed harassment -- the overzealous prosecution of the toe-tapper really pisses me off. It's like those sophomore discussions one has of human trafficking, in which someone invariably says "but what about the men?", and then the rest of the discussion, in some form or another, is overwhelmingly preoccupied with those minority cases. Heaven forfend we don't keep men front and center, even if it makes lousy Bayesians of us all.

Look: if there'd been groping, a physical risk, or even just a persistent advance in the face of a single "no" (which doesn't seem to have ever been uttered), I'd be supportive regardless of the gender base-rates involved. But "he tapped his foot and looked at me funny"? Please! Men! Grow a pair!
Some of the conversations I'm seeing (e.g., here and here) in response to this include arguments that the issue is the illegal act that the behavior will lead to, similar to a john soliciting a prostitute. Even given that that wasn't what he was charged with, I guess it's fair as far as it goes.

But the, um, zeal of such a sting operation is puzzling. Is the purpose here to protect unwilling people who are propositioned (the "disorderly conduct" and peeping justification)? As above, women deal with it every day, in many many contexts, and they're not encouraged to seek police action. The response to bathroom peeping Toms on my college campus back in the days of yore--a scourge my freshman year--did not involve elaborate security stings. When there was a response at all--boys will be boys, after all--it involved trying to catch individual offenders as it happened until, ultimately, there was the elegant and passive solution of door locks. No attempt at rounding up the pervy pervs who peek at women in bathrooms.

If the crime is the sex act in public, and the victims are people who are forced to be exposed, then surely there are better and more efficient ways to go about preventing it than parking a policeman in a bathroom stall, awaiting suspicious foot tappings. More random security checks? Cameras? A bathroom attendant? And also, it might make sense to arrest someone for actually doing the thing you're accusing them of. Just a thought.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Shouldn't I Have Better Things to Do? Possibly.

But websurfing is just so ... enticing. I bring your attention to:

Clowns versus the KKK

via this place
, which is pretty damn good. Check out the linkblogs and click click click.

Are You a Thug? Yes? Need a Lawyer?

Call the Thugs Lawyer! And be sure to read the small print. Hmm, maybe I need to consider other career options and choose a kick-ass nickname to go with.

Thanks, Ms. LW.

Yo-Yo Dieting: Not Limited to Bipeds

Having made yet another heroic expedition to the vet, I find out that, whereas the cat was worrisomely skinnifying mere weeks ago (necessitating interventions, treatment, various food switching), now she is porking out. And we must worry worry and adjust accordingly. Jesus.

I give up. Honestly. I blame the culture and the fast-food industry.